'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Weathering The Storms

So, back at the start of this month I told you about a visit J and I had made to a next-door village where the locals were praying for rain and feeding the multitude. Ever the sceptic, I came away with a smile on my face and a full belly. You can imagine my dismay when the heavens opened the next day!

A few days passed and then another nearby village held a similar ‘do’ and lo and behold the gods responded yet again! Then, last Friday, our village up here in the mountains threw their two pennyworth into the mix – why was I not surprised when it absolutely piddled down during Saturday and Sunday? It’s enough to shake my faith in science I can tell you!

cloudy weather

stormy weather and still beautiful

We also had an onset of cabin fever – let’s face it there is a limit to how much reading or travel scrabble one can cope with. That, plus the fact that the lack of light had the solar electric system screaming alarms at us as the charge ran down.

As luck would have it there was a break in the rain (but not in the cloud cover) that gave us a chance to get out and walk a bit first thing and enjoy the lovely flowers and then we drove a short distance to another lake to see if my trusty, 40 year-old manual 500mm reflex lens could capture anything worth keeping – you decide. No names, just enjoy the photos.

dog rose

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earth star

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there were thousands of these strange, beautiful creatures

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pretty flamingo3

. . and a few Black-winged Stilts . .

Blac-winged Stilt

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Alan Fenn – glad to see the sun today!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Odin, Send The Wind And The Rain

I’m not sure how to put this, but I do have a confession to make. A couple of days ago, for the second time in my life, I was with a group of people who were praying for rain! Really!

This time J and I were at a nearby village called Işıklar about 20 minutes drive away over the hills. We’d been invited by our new friend and family doctor who, in turn, had been invited by the muhtar/village headman. The fact that the village was laying on food for everyone who attended had, I’m sure, no bearing on the numbers who showed up!

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locals and guests tucking in

J and I had planned to get there a little early and have a wander about. It was not to be! I’d no sooner got a couple of shots of a beautiful acacia and the ancient graveyard with its very interesting wooden ‘gravestones’ than we were collected by a welcoming local who escorted us to the communal feasting.

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Part way through the feasting we were all called to order by the imam. Those of us at table remained where we were whilst the devout gathered in two groups in the mosque yard – men in one and women in the other. Five minutes of exhortations for rain for the animals and rain for the crops followed with many an ‘Amin, amin, amin!’ (Amen!) in response.

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I had no wish to be disrespectful of these kind people so kept photos to a minimum

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It was interesting to note that whereas normal Muslim prayers are made with the hands cupped upwards, in this instance they were cupped downwards. Once prayers were over it was back to the all-important business of eating, chatting and socialising.

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so, here we are feeling replete with Şafak, our delightful new friend and family doctor, and our community nurse and her daughter (photo courtesy of her son)

Anyway, I told you that this was the second time I’d been involved in one of these ‘rain-dance’ things. The previous time was way back in 1963 and I was a young squaddie doing basic training at the Parachute Regiment Battle Training School in Brecon, South Wales.

Brecon Beacons1

As any fool do know, Wales is always wet – bloody wet! Now, on the day in question it had not been raining but, having spent hours crawling about in the bogs, we were soaked through and feeling very sorry for ourselves. Our platoon sergeant was a certain Danny ‘The Beast’ Hadden and he was not known as ‘The Beast’ without reason. Here he is cropped out of a group photo – this was one of his good days as you can tell. Focus on the eyes and tell me if you can see a soul in there!

Danny 'The Beast' Hadden

Anyway, Danny was probably the best psycho-type (you decide which) on the planet in those days. He could see into your innermost, secret self and select just the right triggers to get whatever he wanted. He was a master manipulator. He knew we were terrified of him but he wanted more – much more!

He had us line up on a track rather like the one above and made great play of ensuring that we were facing east towards the Land of the Gods. Then, on our hands and knees we raised our arms towards the heavens and called out ‘Odin! Mighty Odin, send the wind and the rain!’ This we did three times and as we finished the third incantation the heavens opened, there was thunder and lightning and a deluge to float the ark! Now we were not just scared of the Beast, we were in total awe! Naive little sprogs that we were, we hadn’t the nouse to realise that you only have to look towards the west to see the squalls coming in to impress a bunch of shaking, miserable recruits.

Now, I expect you are about to point out that the part of this tale that is set in Wales was totally predictable. But what, I hear you ask, is all that nonsense at the mosque praying for rain about? Well, as I sit here writing this (3pm Tuesday, May 3rd) we have thunder and lightning with torrential rain and hailstones hammering on the roof of the cabin!  Oh, ye of little faith! You are free to think whatever you like, but J and I are eagerly checking the ten day forecast and awaiting an invitation to yet another neighbouring village for more free food rain prayers – lord knows, we could do with it!

Alan Fenn, stuck in a cabin in the mountains

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

I Resemble That Remark!

In my last posting certain individuals, who shall remain nameless, like Jack Scott and Lesley Mason made some disparaging comments that implied that J did all the heavy work around here whilst yours truly sat around taking snapshots and offering advice.

To pinch a line from the Marx Brothers, ‘I resemble that remark!’ I felt deeply hurt and cut to the quick because, actually, the reality here in our mountain retreat is quite the reverse – 100% the other way round and I have accumulated the evidence over the past two days to prove my point. But first I need to set the scene . .

lakeside sunrise

sunrise yesterday

We were up early so as to make a start at clearing the undergrowth down the side of the plot. We needed to expose the tons of rocks that we want used up to construct the stone terrace across the area for cultivation. Those of you wondering about the gang due to start the other day – it’s a long story for another time!

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this gives you a bit of an idea of the task

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Exhibit A – first clear evidence of who does the graft in the thicket!

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Exhibit B – drags all the stuff out and burns it

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Exhibit C – whilst J stands around looking decorative and posing for photos

Meanwhile, we were never too busy or whacked out that we forgot to enjoy what lies on our doorstep . .

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our neighbour’s beautiful almond tree in blossom

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mistletoe

complete with mistletoe in bloom (zoom in to see it)

Any road up, as they say in Yorkshire (in deference to a certain lady of my acquaintance), time to get back to the truth, the nitty-gritty of who does the heavy lifting around here . .

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very neat and tidy

hedging tools

tools of the hedger – and if J says those are her gloves, she’s lying!

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another view

blisters

Exhibit D – so, whilst I was working my fingers to the bone . .

a hot shower

Exhibit E – J was pampering herself – I rest my case

Alan Fenn, recovering with a couple of rakıs.

ps knowing that at some point J is going to read this stuff I want state for the record that a) this post is a pack of lies and a total misrepresentation of the truth. b) I’m pleading the 5th, and c) I’ve applied for the witness protection programme!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

We Plough The Fields

With commitments to honour we’d been away from our mountain hidey-hole for three long weeks – we were craving a fix and there was stuff to be done!

There was a great pile of firewood to be set about so first things first it was off to town for a felling axe, a sledgehammer and a couple of wedges. Suffice to say we have made a start on splitting and stacking about ten years worth of tree trunks!

a lumberjill

That was followed up with a neat log box to replace the tatty cardboard boxes that have been littering the area behind the cabin door. J prepared a great soup for later and then we joined forces for barbied fish and a salad to die for! Life is good!

Yesterday, of course, there was the mandatory spicy rabbit casserole with our dear ‘son’ at our local watering hole. Will we ever get tired of this dish? Hard to imagine such a thing, especially when it is preceded by an amazingly spiced-up Tarhana soup!

spicy rabbit casserole

Meal done and dusted we were joined by the local forestry manager. Apart from being a really nice guy he turns bits of what he so carefully husbands into splendid toys for his son.

wooden toy truck

wooden toy aeroplane

toy truck

Meanwhile, we were in negotiation with locals to get sorted with dry-stone walled terraces so that the plot can be ploughed, manured and readied for fruit and nut trees. Already, even up here at 1200 mts., life is stirring with almond trees and crocus blooming. We needed to get our fingers out in order to get everything prepared. We were promised the digging machine for next morning – in the event, at five o’clock this evening, there was much roaring of engines and work started.

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An hour later the first trench was cut and the walling will begin tomorrow – now that feels like progress!

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halfway there

Meanwhile, the neighbours were keeping an eye on things . .

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The lake was as blue as ever . .

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The mornings are misty and moisty . .

misty moisty morning

And the nights are mysterious . .

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Alan Fenn, Archers – an everyday story of country folk.