Stuff

Hour By Hour

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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!

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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.

 

Stuff

From One Day To The Next

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The British will tell you that the dis-United Kingdom doesn’t have a climate it has weather! Much the same seems to hold up here in the mountains where weather comes and goes with a randomness induced by these very same mountains. The locals tell us that the two ends of the lake have different weather – when it’s raining there it’s sunny here – and we are only talking a handful of kilometres.

Between the ‘weather’ we admire the beauty of the masses of wild almonds that are in bloom. They grow everywhere in the hedgerows and at the edges of fields and leave the impression that we are in the middle of a candy floss forest.

J has been beavering away on her vegetable plot adding peas, beans, potatoes, coriander, parsnips, Swiss chard, parsley and cabbage to the onions and garlic planted earlier. A new plot has been cleared and made ready for melons, tomatoes, etc. Now we just have to hope that the wild pigs don’t decide to pay a visit!

In the process of plot preparation J was delighted to find that we will have some of the amazing Rhinoceros Beetles for company. If these wonderful creatures interest you here’s a link to a post I did a couple of years ago – any bug capable of lifting the equivalent of 60 tonnes has got to be worth time. click here

I’ve been doing what I do best and using even more rocks to create steps and improve the way up to the cabin.

Finally, to tie the title to the rest of this mundane prattle, here’s the day after the storm pictured above:

‘Still Life with Trees and Lake’

Whatever you are doing, enjoy life whilst you still can. Alan Fenn

Stuff

Loveliest Of Trees

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Alfred Edward Housman is, without doubt, my most cherished poet. He published only two books of poems, A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems and yet many of us know his beautiful, balanced, evocative verse without knowing anything about him.

Here his words that could apply to Syria or Afghanistan or Yemen or a child in Mosul whilst we are safe in our illusions:

They say my verse is sad: no wonder;

Its narrow measure spans

Tears of eternity, and sorrow,

Not mine, but man’s.

………….

This is for all ill-treated fellows

Unborn and unbegot,

For them to read when they are in trouble

And I am not.

. . and here on the beauty that surrounds us that we so often take for granted.

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

 

Now, of my three score years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

 

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

Alan Fenn

Stuff

Before Your Very Eyes!

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A mighty conflict has been going on in my head between, on the one hand, conscience and on the other imagination/motivation. I suppose ‘mighty conflict’ is a bit hyperbolic, over the top even, but when one doesn’t have to worry about a boss or paying the mortgage little niggles can become big niggles.

I bet JRR never dreamt that little ‘Niggle’ would  turn into a bloody great big niggle when they strung the films out over how many Christmases?

Anyway, back to the plot. My niggle was finding something, anything, to stick up in a post. The old grey matter was not cooperating! Days passed! Then, this morning, there it was staring me in the face – a Cockchafer! No, no! Not a worn out ‘athletic support’ as we used to call them in polite circles.

I’m referring to to the real McCoy – Melolontha melolontha aka the Common Cockchafer, a fine and rather handsome beetle! He, for indeed he was a he, was lying on his back (a very common position for this species) legs waving in the air and looking very forlorn.

Beetles, having started their evolutionary journey about 300 million years ago, have done very nicely until encountering a problem with Homo sapiens and their, roughly, 6000 year-old ‘civilisation’! Flat, smooth surfaces are a pain in the back when one has landed on one’s arse and there is nothing to get a grip of in order to perform a forward flip! I mean, one just lies there, waving one’s legs in the air and looking stupid!

When seen with their best feet forward  Cockchafers are a pretty photogenic lot.

This is George. How do I know this is he and not Georgina? because George has seven ‘feathers’ on his antenna whilst Georgina has only six. Why does he need so many? Good question and as you have probably already sussed it has everything to do with ‘Makin’ Whoopee’. When the fancy takes Georgina she pumps out the pheromones and George, who’s usually hanging about on the off-chance of a bit on the side, will get those antenna tuned in anywhere up to a couple of miles away! Day or night it’s all the same to our bug-eyed Romeo and he will track this amorous lady down – even if it kills him! Love, they say is blind, and certainly where Cockchafers, brick walls and smooth patios are concerned it can lead to a  frustratingly long, slow decline of the libido.

So, when (not if) you next see George on his back with his libido limp and his legs in the air do him a favour and jack him up the right way, find him a tree and wish him ‘Better luck next time, mate!’ because, after all it’s a miracle that he’s got as far as he has.

Alan Fenn, indulging in some Coleopteraphilia.

ps here’s a bit of Ella ‘Makin’ Whoopee’.