Stuff

Feckless

In a few days J and I will be heading back to Okçular because there are boring things that have to be done before we head to the UK. Things like laundry and ironing and banking and stuff like that. Like I said boring!

The time has flown by what with one thing and another. The cairn got finished and the pair of us are pretty pleased with our handiwork . .

cairn1

cairn2

You can see the extra pair of solar electricity panels that we brought up and fitted. They have made a huge difference to how and what we can now use. Add a couple more and I can see us laying on a son et lumière come next Summer’s solstice!

Daily work clearing the remaining rocks was interrupted a couple of times by monumental thunderstorms – they weren’t confined to the mountains either as the coastal resorts copped it as well.

storm1

storm2

The fresh stuff from J’s veggie gardening has been really enjoyable – the onions would grace a garden society show and the courgettes are prolific enough to warrant much searching on the internet for ‘things to do with courgettes’, none of which fell into the category of ‘adult entertainment’!

The storms gave us some beautiful dawns and evenings . .

storms3

storms4

What else? Well, we had a friend visit for a couple of days and we all got more than we bargained for when the people at the accommodation that was booked told us there was a problem. Never had the decency to tell us and we were left with no option but to bed our friend down on the floor because, this being the main holiday of the year for Muslims, everywhere else was booked solid! We managed and he had a good experience, or so he said!

On one of the dodgy storm days J decided to test the waters of the lake . .

lake swim

. . whilst I interfered in the private life of Onychogomphus forcipatus – Small Pincertail dragonfly. They are amazing – they lay their eggs in the lake and there the nymphs grow and develop. When they are ready to emerge as dragonflies they crawl from where you see J at the water’s edge all the way to where I am standing, a distance of around 200 mts! Here they crawl up into the sedges and the transformational miracle begins – it is fascinating!

exuviae1

Exuviae, the exoskeleton left behind when insects and spiders get too big for their boots

exuviae2

small pincertail dragonfly

it’s astonishing what comes out of the packaging!

So, what was all that ‘feckless’ stuff in the title? Well, I thought many times these past days that I should/would like to write a post but was always too much what the dictionary clearly understands me to be – ‘feckless ˈfɛkləs/ adjective: feckless lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible’. I was completely without feck! No, that is not strictly true because, actually, I felt pretty relaxed, laid back and cool about life so really I didn’t give a feck!

Alan Fenn, in a feckin’ cabin in the feckin’ mountains

Stuff

Things That Go Bump

”fae ghosties and ghoulies and lang-legged beasties and things that go bump in the nicht… guid lord, deliver us” – so goes and old Scottish prayer – no wonder they voted to stay in the EU!

things

I mean, a body needs their sleep and so, in the event that these ‘things’ are disturbing and disrupting a good nights rest then one can call in the power of the EU and its amazing array of regulations in order to bring some peace and tranquillity. I mean, there is bound to be something that says the dead shouldn’t be up and about, especially after midnight when the discos have to close down!

My question is, ‘What about squirrels at dawn?’

Where’s the enforcement of regulations to curb the antics of Caucasian/Syrian/Persian Squirrel – Sciurus anomalus? The little sods are a bundle of energy and and they start their day with a game of rugby on the roof of our cabin. The fact that they were here before us, living in the big, old pine is neither here nor there!

syrian squirrel1

syrian squirrel2

syrian squirrel3

zoom in on those ‘pinkies’ – formidable!

Then there are other ‘ghoulies’ that prey in innocent, passing victims . .

small pincertail1

small pincertail2

small pincertail3

Small Pincertail/Green-eyed Hooktail – Onychogomphus forcipatus – female

small hooktail4

the male

. . long legged beasties and the things that go bump in the night?

J

Not true, actually, well she is certainly long-legged, but she sleeps gently and quietly, rises at a reasonable time and is mostly not scary at all!

Alan Fenn, back home in the mountains.

Stuff

Yes, We Cairn!

Those of you who loyally wade through these interminable whitterings about country life up here in the mountains might just have noted a recurring theme; Rocks!

We have rocks! More rocks than exist in the asteroid belt! Really! As we slave away to clear yet another few square metres more of the buggers seem to appear – or is it my imagination? It’s a bit like a stick of Margate Rock, you can never get to the end of it and no matter how hard you suck ‘Margate Rock’ will outlast you!

margate rock

It’s not that we haven’t used a bit of initiative for ways to use up the bloody things. We’ve filled in ruts in the track up here to the cabin; we’ve stacked them around the edges of the plot – it doesn’t look that pretty but give the weeds time!

rocks1

We’ve built little rock circles around the trees and vines we’ve planted. We think that painting them pastel shades will liven the garden up a bit!

rocks2

Then we’ve built a wall to retain a pathway and give the roses something to look classy against. And there’s a very nice terrace area under our magnificent old pine tree where we can collapse and swallow beer without tasting it after several more tons of rocks have been moved from A to B, or C, or bloody Z at this rate!

rocks3

I know it’s a mess, it’s another ‘work in progress’

rocks4

Then, of course there are some nice steps that we’ve made to meet health and safety regulations;

rocks7

Today saw us begin another bit of walling to tidy up the area in front of the great big retaining wall;

rocks5

OK, sometimes we need to get at the bottle before we finish for the day and collapse! Yesterday it lead to a moment of sheer, blindingly obvious inspiration – Leonardo would have been proud. Edward DeBono would know that we once read his books!

rocks6

A cairn! We’re building a cairn! Our neighbouring smallholders have been arriving to admire it as the word has got around – they are incredulous! They cannot believe what they are seeing with their own eyes.

There is one small, dark cloud that is floating about – as there is a limit to how far up I can chuck a shovel-full of stuff, and I do not intend to get into any scaffolding work, then it follows that there is maximum cubic capacity to what I can build and fill. So, it is at this point, dear reader, that you come in – as there are still tons of rocks to find a home for, what do you suggest?

Alan Fenn, (with Joe Brown up a pile of rocks)

Stuff

Bewitched! A True Love Story

Many moons ago my dear friend Ahmet related a story to me – in very much his own words, it went something like this . .

‘My father was a judge and when I was a child we seemed to move around quite a bit. Traditions were strong in those days and we would always journey back to visit our elderly relatives whenever a Bayram (holiday) came around. Both my mother’s and my father’s parents came from Nazilli in Aydin Province and that is where the family homes were.

eskinazilli

There was a time when my father was based in Fethiye and so, when a holiday came around, we would hop on the bus and journey back to Nazilli to spend time with my Grandma at her house. I loved that house with its wonderful, mature gardens and its amazing method of heating that was modelled on the Roman system that allowed hot air to circulate under the floors. It was a perfect childhood playground.

Anyway, back then, one of my strongest memories was of this strange old woman who always seemed to be visiting with Granny. I met her during these trips to Nazilli – Nazik was her name. We were little kids, around four or five years old I suppose. Everybody called her Nazik, which means ‘polite, delicate, kind or gentle’ in Turkish. That was her name, rather unusual! Even then!

She used to talk with my grandmother mostly. They seemed more or less the same age but then everybody looks old to a child! I did not know where they were friends from, or how they met. I did not know if there was a relationship with our family. Maybe, at that age, I was not aware of relations at all!

Now, when I say her name, Nazik, you may think of an old Turkish lady with a scarf. And so she was but there was much more. Looking back (and if I may be very politically incorrect) she was proof positive of the theory of evolution! Truly! So she used to be very, very much something like an ape! Something in between – the missing link between the chimps and homo sapiens! You would really be surprised! Probably, the only difference was that her feet did not look like a hand, but she’d got real feet!

ape_copy

Surely, she was a major attraction for us kids. We used to play outside, in the garden, and when we got tired, we would go in and peer secretly, we thought, around the door. Or, like glasses in a cupboard, sit in a row, leaning back to the wall and watch her speak with my grandmother. All the while fixing our eyes on her with curiosity! She used to be very interesting for us, so we really could not take our eyes off her. Surely, within some time, our grandma would get the point, and worrying that Nazik would understand the reason, would chase us out yelling, trying to scare us all. With our small meatball like puffy feet touching our backs, we would run away like kittens back to play in the garden. This used to be repeated until we grew tired of it!

Years passed. Years without ugly, old Nazik and soon enough the memory of her faded.

One day, when I was visiting Granny at her home I noticed an old faded photograph of a gentleman in a frame. White hair and moustache, a really nice face, smiling, handsome maybe. No, no, definitely handsome. Taken a long time in the past, and surely, you can tell.

Who is this man Grandma?

Oh, son! You haven’t met him, my brother. He died before you were born.

Really, what a nice looking man he was. Didn’t he have any other relatives, kids, wife?

Yes, sure he had. Nazik was his wife!

What? How come? Nazik, that old witch, and this fine, handsome brother of yours? How was that possible?

It was then that she started to tell the story:

Part of our family is from Afyon. Some kind of a landlord. Their surname was Kabaağaçlı there is a close relation with the famous Çevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (Fisherman of Halicarnassus). There was another family in the town. They were very wealthy and they had a beautiful daughter.

This great uncle of mine, a handsome, young and wealthy man is mature enough to consider a marriage. He starts dreaming of marrying this beautiful young girl from a rich family. He decides to snatch her and elope, a common practice in those days.

eloping on horse

this is how he dreams it will be

He plots and tries to find a way to make an arrangement with the girl. The girl has a maid, a foster child of the family and our hero, having poured his heart into a letter asks the maid to deliver it to her mistress. Soon, the maid brings a reply. Reading it he thinks the girl is also in the mood, or hopes she is. The letters pass back and forth each more passionate than the last. Finally, he writes a letter to the girl, saying he will be waiting at the fountain, early in the morning on a particular day, to take her away.

Early in the morning of the fateful day, before anyone in the household is awake, she is waiting with her pack by the fountain her face covered by her peçe (veil). Soon enough, our handsome, proud hero comes by on his fine stallion, reaches down and sweeps the girl up onto the horse behind him.

After riding for several hours our couple arrive at a cottage that our hero has organised and prepared for them. Can you imagine the passions, the excitement, nerves a jangle from the vibrations and the motion of the horse?

They jump off the tired horse and go into the house. Two young persons consumed by passion stand in the defining moment of their lifetime. Hearts beating as if to break out of their chests they look at each other. So my great uncle moves to open the veil. Of course with a bişmillah! (‘In the name of God’ or ‘In the name of Allah’)

With the expectation that he will see the face of this beautiful girl, he opens it and there is the face of Nazik!

As his eyes open wide in shock, Nazik takes his hand. ‘What you see is not who I am.’ she says. ‘Who I am is what is hidden inside of me. Who I am is the one who poured out her heart to you in those letters for it was me who wrote them and not my mistress.’

What do you expect was his comment? ‘So this was my kismet!’ (my fate) he said.

Well, my grandma told me the story of an ever happy couple who really lived the happiest of lives of anyone she had ever known. How passionate they were for each other, and how they managed to get along so well all their lives.’

At this point Ahmet was crying – and so am I!

Now, Nazik and her husband Sabri Dayi were childless and so they adopted two orphans, a girl and a boy, and raised them as their own. Here is a photo of Nazik, Sabri and their adopted son and his bride on their wedding day.

the witch Nazik_copy

20160403_141037_copy

standing, back row left is my grandmother Sakibe – my grandfather Tevfik is standing, back row third from right. Nazik and Sabri, her dashing Prince Charming, are seated with children on their knees. Is it possible that these are the orphans they adopted?

So, there you have it! This is a love story – a true love story. I hope it has warmed the cockles of your heart in these difficult days and shown that ‘human nature’ is not always as it is painted and that a book should never be judged by its cover!

Alan Fenn, (somewhere in the mountains)

Stuff

Time Lapse

I need to prioritise more and that is a fact! When we wandered back to the cabin this last time we knew that all the big, pressure jobs were jobbed. We were going to relax, potter, wander about, do the odd things that were always waiting, blog and J was going to spend time preparing her presentation on a moneyless world.

Isparta Rose

Nothing short of stopping to smell a few roses – our beautiful Isparta Roses!

It was not to be – good stuff as well as jobs got in the way!

Friends flew in from the UK and spent a week based at the hotel across the lake. They were, by turns, amazed at the beauty of the lake and surrounding areas, thrilled as para-gliders descended from the mountains, caught ogling men in rubber and roped in for interview as obvious foreigners.

paraglider

diver

IMG_8534_copy

Then J decided that she absolutely needed a garden table made from a pallet . . .

pallet table1

pallet table2

I’m entitled to look happy, it could have ended up like this . .

pallet table 3

Anyway, back to the narrative – the lovely guy who built our dry-stone wall presented J with a bag-full of mixed seeds . . .

mixed seeds

. . . which required that irrigation system be expanded to incorporate the vegetable garden!

veg garden irrigation

Meanwhile, Ruddy Shelducks are flying over the cabin every morning and down to the lake –

ruddy-shelduck-birdingturkey

image from chum at ‘Birding Turkey’

 . . . and we watched Pine Processionary Moth caterpillars digging in to pupate (I know I’m going to be vilified in some quarters for not murdering them (and neither of us smoke)).

pine processionary caterpillars

welcome

. . and put up the sign my dotty sister sent from UK!

Then there was the day we took our friends to the village of Akçaköy, birthplace of the great Turkish author and activist Fakir Baykurt. (J is going to translate some stuff about him and then I’ll write a post some time) ‘Fakir’ means poor or impoverished in Turkish and Akçaköy, the home village of the blacksmith and the carpenter who built our cabin, must look pretty much as it did when he lived there.

Akcakoy1

a couple of examples of occupied homes

Akcakoy2

Recently there has been a very interesting collaboration between the state, which granted access to land around the village, a very interesting local veterinary environmentalist who donated plants and the villagers who provided the labour. The objective is to plant vast acreages of lavender which will be tended and harvested by the villagers and sold on to the veterinary who will process the crop at his facility which produces natural lavender and rose products. We were amazed at the scale of what has been achieved in a very short period of time.

Akcakoy lavender

lavender stretching off into the far distance

All of this, though, was not the main object of our interest in Akçaköy. A year before Fakir Baykurt died in 1999 a library, dedicated to his grandmother, was opened in this still impoverished village. It is open to all but is there specifically for the children who use it five days a week. It is an astonishing legacy from a man, born into poverty, who, because of Atatürk’s dream and the vision of others like İsmail Hakkı Tonguç, went on to graduate from one of the Village Institutes. With the gift of enlightenment he grew into one of Turkey’s great men of letters – a ‘wordsmith’. His life and the library he left to his village has inspired generations of village children to read and study. His true legacy, however, is to be found in the well-above-average passes of children from Akçaköy moving on to University.

Here are a couple of photos from the village library, the story is for another time.

Akcakoy library1

the reference room

Akcakoy library2

one of the reading/study rooms

Ak.akoy library3

friend Patrick ‘salutes’ the source of a great concept

Finally, as we drove in to the village we were spotted by the family of our blacksmith and greeted like long-lost family.

Akcakoy4

. . and whilst there are butterflies and beautiful knockers to be found I’m there with a camera!

scarse swallowtail

Scarce Swallowtail

beautiful knocker

So, ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ got in the way of a bit of blogging resulting in an overly long tale. We came back to Okçular in time for Children’s Day and I’ll tell you about that and the surprise that went with it in a few days.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü