Cabin Life, Stuff

Long Time No See

‘Where’ve you been?’ I hear you say, ‘I’ve missed you!’ Huh, pull the other one!

Truth to tell, life just got filled up with stuff – like much loved friends arriving for a visit after too many years; then we were off to the UK for family and SPGB Summer School, sans computer. Before we knew it a month had gone by and, back up here at the cabin, we were buried under mounds of courgettes and tomatoes. You can’t give this sort of stuff away because everyone else is trying to dig themselves out from under as well!

So, what to do – make chutney! Green tom chutney; Red tom chutney; Spicy green/red tom chutney; Spicy garden veg chutney – chutney! 

Oh, and then there are sun-dried toms . .

Hard to believe that 5 Kgs of toms will only fill two medium-sized jars once dried. J stores them in olive oil and adds peppers or garlic and the resulting oil is scrumptious!

Then, of course, we have been facilitating friend Jane Akatay who is producing articles and a book about the region, with the emphasis at this time of year on the wonderful Lisinia Project and the lavender harvest and processing. Lisinia is multi-faceted and is focussed on saving and, when possible, rehabilitating injured wildlife; creating, with the help of government, thousands of acres of organic lavender in cooperation with villagers; cancer awareness and the production of pure, organic products that sustain the project without any outside donations/funding. The Project deserves a post of its own so here are just a few photos:

 

Even the hills in the distance have been recently planted – in a few years the sight and scent is going to be amazing!

Jane with Lisinia Project founder Veterinary Surgeon Öztürk Sarıca

‘Still Life’ with Products

A few of Lisinia’s ‘patients’. There are wolves, wild boar, jackals, storks, various raptors, herons, etc – some will be rehabilitated and released – most have been too badly damaged to ever lead an independent life.

Mother was shot and this lady has no fear of people!

What other excuses have I for neglecting you?

 

Well, we’ve just ‘invested’ in 2xtwo hundred amp hour gel batteries – now, these things are monsters weighing-in at 88Kgs each but they have given us a comfortable excess of power storage. So much so that instead of driving down to Okçular every fortnight we can now tune-in and watch MotoGP up here without fear that the lights will go out!  Then there’s reading – loads of reading. And actually making time to do nothing more than watch the Water Lilies blossom – Life is Good!

Alan Fenn

Stuff

Amazing, Really!

The world, it seems, is going to hell in a basket! The trashing of the means of survival is a uniquely human trait – apart from lemmings we appear to be the only species that thinks there is a better world on Mars or in the afterlife!

Actually, that is not strictly true (or even true at all), there is no real evidence that lemmings are as stupid as humans! And despite our moronic, blinkered belief that we were granted this world and all that is in it to trash as we please by some imagined Abrahamic deity a  few thousand years ago, by and large, and unlike lemmings, we have failed to grow up into adults.

Meanwhile, Mother Earth-Toprakana-Gaia – struggles on and still manages to amaze us if we bother to notice. Yesterday she provided just such a display of the ‘Amazing! Just amazing, really!’ J and I were walking along the amazingly white beach of our amazingly (nearly) unique magnesium lake. It is my habit to dawdle and poke about in the undergrowth in the hopes of finding creatures and/or flowers that pique my interest.

this is the beach habitat/environment

There, in bunches of sedge scattered between fifty and two hundred metres from the water, were thousands, possibly millions of dragonflies bursting out from their larval stage into the full glory of adulthood. Truly ugly ducklings (for some) into beautiful, graceful swans!

Here is one of the ‘swans’ that has taken a fancy to J followed by images of the amazing transformational process. The species is Orthetrum cancellatum – Black-tailed Skimmer. They are common all over Europe and much of the UK which takes nothing from the spectacle of this mass emerging.

the process begins

everywhere, in countless numbers

meet the fragile, beautiful débutante

and a reminder of just how amazingly beautiful this creature is

Anyway, back to my opening gambit – I’ve discovered how, when the time comes, that I can actually go to hell in a basket – amazing really!

Alan, still being amazed after seventy two years!

Stuff

Eye Of The Beholder

‘Beauty’, they say, ‘is in the eye of the beholder!’ Unless you happen to be Colonial Marine Private Hudson, (Aliens, 1986) that is, in which case when Sergeant Apone says ‘Look into my eye, Hudson’ is not an offer of affection or comfort!

Anyway, enough of Top Sarg Apone, back to the plot: there is a sort of link between the Alien stars of my all-time favourite movies and what has been going on around the pond at our plot up here in the mountains. A couple of weeks back this fellow arrived and began patrolling whilst grabbing the odd flying morsel – what you might call ‘not-quite-fast-enough-food’!

Libellula depressa – Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

He has a strategically placed stick that he uses as his OP (observation post) when he isn’t on the prowl. The species is well known for its practice of early colonisation of new ponds, ditches, etc. It is also renowned for its aggressive defence of its newly conquered territory. Chasers are not called ‘Chasers’ for nothing!

So, apart from acting the territorial control freak, what else might this splendid looking creature be doing? Correct first time – waiting to molest the fairer sex!

And in this instance, in my opinion, she really is the fairer of the two. Handsome and striking as the male is, the female is gorgeous – a golden streaking, twisting, hovering beauty. As she rockets across his territory the male surges out and seizes her behind the neck. He will have already transferred a sperm sack from his primary genitalia near the end of his abdomen to his secondary where the female will be able to access it.

pair from a different species ‘in tandem’

Many species oviposit together with the male assisting the female in getting her eggs where she wants them. Our Chasers do not. After coupling for about a minute or less, the female will begin laying eggs whilst the male patrols and protects her. She may spend several minutes doing this before vanishing off in to the wide-blue yonder! The male meanwhile settles back into his soldierly routine and awaits another passing fair maiden!

So, what, you might ask, has all this got to do with Alien film stars?  A lot actually – there are eggs and stages of development and startling ways of catching/killing prey. There are many family likenesses. Let’s make a start:

remember these culinary accessories?

I think Aliens evolved from dragonfly nymphs (the larvae) and anyone who thinks differently is a Flat-Earther! I mean, come on – look at this!

 

That said, Aliens have never got beyond the ‘bloody hell!’ stage whilst dragonflies have learned to ‘grow’ into the most amazing of creatures that will dazzle you with their beauty.

female Libellula depressa emerging from the larval stage – one of nature’s greatest wonders

Alan Fenn, out there with the Stars!

ps looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here

Stuff

Hour By Hour

Looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here.

We had a couple of friends pop up to visit for a couple of days. ‘L’ is a ‘Twitcher’ with a very expensive set of binos – I was a camera guy who left his kit back in Okçular. Well, not all of it, just the bloody camera – all the lenses arrived to sit useless in the bedroom!

Anyway, the weather has been variable and dramatic so we grabbed a window of opportunity and drove over to nearby Yarışlı Lake where around fifty Flamingos were reported. It was well worth the effort especially for ‘L’ as there were several hundreds of them and they staged a couple of flybys en-masse just for us!

There were also Avocets and Stilts around along with a bunch of Squacco Herons and Ruddy Shelducks.

Being sans camera I take no credit for these beautiful images. The herons in particular were very tolerant, probably because local shepherds graze their flocks along the shores of the lake, we were often within just a few metres of them.

As I said, the weather has been variable and we were soon heading for cover in the car and heading back to the cabin. Here’s how it changes hour by hour and even minute by minute . .

overcast and still

clouds building and still still!

it’s on its way!

And now it’s piddling down – again! Mind you, we gardening types are very happy with that. You have to admit, this blogging about our life here is brimming over with . . something!

Alan Fenn, holed up in the ark!

Stuff

Amazingly Chuffed!

Looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here

J reckons I use ‘Amazing!’, complete with exclamation mark, a lot. Maybe so! I see it as a positive because if I can still be amazed by the relatively normal at my age then that has got to be good – right?

So, what amazed me recently? Well, we were sitting by our pond enjoying a beer in the last of the evening sun when it started to ‘rain’. Except it wasn’t raining rain and the ‘raindrops’ spattering all over the pond were in fact little beetles arriving in their thousands and dive-bombing into the water. Having run the gauntlet of the many pond skaters intent on a bit of fast food and struggled through the surface tension they were off like little bonitos to explore their new home.

I’ve never seen this on such a scale before and I think it was amazing!

‘Wonderful!’ fits in just below ‘Amazing!’ and there is lots about the pond that sits in that category. It is alive with creatures that have made their own way to it and settled in.

Great Diving Beetle

Long Water Scorpion

European Green Toad

Water Boatman

There are also Common Black Diving Beetles, Whirligig Beetles, Pond Skaters and much more. There are also four young Grey Mullet that have survived over the winter and seem to be thriving. OK, they didn’t fly in or make their own way here, I netted them in a pond up in the mountains and carried them here in a bucket! All-in-all I’m delighted with the pond and can’t wait for the dragonflies and damselflies to emerge.

So, apart from sitting around and drinking beer, what else have we been doing? Well, J has been beavering away on the veggie patch. When you consider that just over a year ago this was a stony, compacted desert the transformation is ‘Amazing!’

There is an ‘Amazing!’, satisfying calmness to our life when we are up here. Not that Okçular is frantic or stressful you understand. But picking caterpillars off the leaves of fruit trees or watching, beer in hand, beetles plop by has a certain . . something. Add to that mix the ‘Loveliest Of Trees’ . .

. . cooking alfresco . .

. . completing the ‘Grand Entrance’ . .

. . and doing useful things like making an ashtray from recycled materials after J discovered yet another butt-end in the garden!

And now you are amazed that anyone could find any of this stuff ‘Amazing!’

Alan, off looking for beetles and caterpillars.