Stuff

Let’s Get Out Here

Despair is a terrible thing! For example; J often despairs at my collecting stuff, or hoarding as she usually refers to it. ‘Slim your life down’, she tells me. ‘Get rid of the clutter!’ Secretly I think she despairs at the thought of me shuffling off and leaving the house-clearing to her!

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a few from the bottle collection – you can just make out the antique dust that I collect as well

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 tiny part of the ‘dead animal’ collection

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the ‘glass eye’ collection

Truth to tell, I only ever owned one glass eye and that I used to keep hidden in a handkerchief. It used to cause great merriment/alarm when I’d pretend to sneeze and send it rolling across the restaurant table or plop it into a beer glass at the pub. Anyway, I’m only showing you these to illustrate that my stuff is not ‘clutter’ and is, in fact, a source of great interest and enlightenment.

This time of year when we are hibernating away from the excessive heat and doing little else but reading, sleeping and eating I find that I despair of conjuring up anything remotely interesting to blog about.  So it was that I turned to one of my bits of bookshelf for inspiration and was reintroduced to two delightful little gems of pure ‘Englishness’ published by the Southern Railway in 1936. They hark back to the days when trains wandered along branch lines and stopped at places that have long ago fallen to Dr. Beeching’s Axe, and are full of warm reminders of carefree days of childhood for nostalgia buffs like me – I love stuff like this!

SPB Mais Southern Rambles

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‘the ancient village charms modern youth’ – so quaint

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as they wander from Oxted to Tubs Hill

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gazing down from Toy’s Hilldolcis shoes ad

in their Dolcis suede walking shoes!

Where, you may wonder, is all this rambling leading us? Well, one of the books is titled ‘Let’s Get Out Here’ and that is almost exactly what J and I are doing for a couple of weeks. We are ‘Getting Out Of Here’ and heading for the UK for a good dose of positive at the Socialist Party Summer School followed by lots more positive enjoying time with family. So, ‘Hadi, bye-bye!’ as we say in Okçular, ‘I might be some time.’

Was that a sigh of relief I heard?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

The Spoils Of Victory

‘To the victor, the spoils’ (or words to that effect); 1832 by Senator William Learned Marcy (1786-1857) of New York. In the context of what he was talking about, war, I doubt he was a very pleasant individual – although a very typical Western ‘chicken-hawk’!

Anyway, back here in the present, it seems like an apt title to a post as I look back on two very different victories.

First; those of you who read these rambles or follow  my Facebookache feed will know about the battle to stop a very damaging geothermal project here in Okçular. Well, it took a bare three weeks but in the end it was stopped in its tracks by the resistance of the village; the unrivaled knowledge of the team that led the successful fight to save Yuvarlakçay and İztuzu Beach and the fact that the proprietor of the project was arrogant enough to think that he could drill within 25mts of our village cemetery and get away with it – he didn’t! He was served with a closure notice and told to get out, cap the well and clean up the mess.

A victory, then? Well, some and some! Here are few photos of the ‘spoils':

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the lubrication/slurry pit now filled with rubbish from three weeks of abuse

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There is still equipment waiting to be removed and it will be ‘interesting’ to see what ‘cleaning the site’ means. That said, it remains a victory!

Second; I have been much distracted by the exploits of my grandson and his crew-mates from University of California, Berkeley rowing team known as the Cal Bears at Henley Royal Regatta this year. This young man has, with his team-mates,  worked his way into the Henley record books by setting a new course record for the class whilst winning the Visitors’ Challenge Cup. As stroke his roll was key. J and I are nearly as proud as his mum and dad – bathing in the glow of reflected glory, indeed!

So, do indulge me just a bit longer and browse the photos and enjoy the video:

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the fabulous Cal Bears crew

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the moment of victory

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 the silver – Visitors’ Challenge Cup

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the boy with the silver

. . to the victors

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proud mum

. . and finally, the record breaking race.  So, two very different battles with two very different victory spoils – both pretty special! Thanks for your indulgence . .

Alan Fenn, from a reprieved Okçular Köyü

Stuff

And This Little Piggy

After a long and enjoyable day out with new friends yesterday, J and I crashed early and were well and truly blotto by about 10.30pm.

Cue: ominous sound of car outside, gate being opened and door bell jangling followed by very dozy bloke staggering downstairs, opening door and gazing blankly at neighbour. ‘Domuz! Domuz!’ (Pig! Pig!) he said, ‘Do you want it?’ ‘Tamaam!’ I mumbled as I contemplated a ‘night of the long knives’.

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the piggy in question

To set the record straight, our neighbours do not go out hunting much these days but they will shoot those rogue pigs that come and raid their gardens and crops, often causing utter devastation. Whilst I will never encourage hunting and would much prefer just to catch the odd glimpse of these wily creatures as they go about their business, I’m not going to turn down the chance of some delicious wild pig meat.

Anyway, last night I was in such a dopey state that I decided to put off the butchery until this morning. Six o’clock seemed to come around very quickly!

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yes, I would be crass enough to have a glass of Chardonnay with wild boar casserole

Cue: in the early morning light a ‘Boffer’ stands and contemplates the task ahead – the beast looks bigger than it did last night. Oh,well, best be getting on with it, then! Now, J and I have long ago stopped eating offal and so I no longer paunch (gut) these animals.

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I never claimed I was a proper butcher!

I simply skin, joint and fillet and then return the remains to the mountains where the local wildlife will benefit and make short shrift of the process of disposal.

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in the hearse ready for ‘Table Mountain’ – the foxes, jackals, martens, birds and others will be very happy

So, as I write this and whilst the freezer does its thing, J has been preparing a traditional Italian/Milanese dish called Osso Buco, click the link for the recipe.

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Osso Buco

If you don’t have any wild boar meat then bear is a good substitute (so it says) – do not go hunting bears, or pigs for that matter – promise! If you really are intent on becoming a survivalist then I recommend John Wiseman’s ‘SAS Survival Handbook’.

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Oh, and it’s not a good idea to eat bear if they’ve been eating salmon – it doesn’t taste so good.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

Sweat Shop

Exclusive!

Last week, undercover reporters from the Daily Male gained access to a sweat shop in south western Turkey. What they discovered and recorded with their secret cameras was shocking!

In one room they found an Old Age Pensioner is being held in conditions of absolute segregation and subjugation – forced to slave over a 1956 Husqvarna sewing machine in temperatures that could fry eggs!

sweat shop worker

Our reporter crept into the sweat shop unnoticed by the security personnel and managed to speak to the terrified worker on condition of anonymity. What she learned was heart-rending!

Q. Ali (not real name), how did you end up here?

A. Well, it was like this; one day I was at work in the UK when my back gave out. When I came to I was in this sweat shop in Okçular where I was forced to take things easy and get involved in projects and things I’ve always wanted to do. I was forced to take up photography and go swimming and walking and building radio-controlled planes and traveling around – it’s been terrible! I even had to drink the odd rakı when they knew that all I craved was good, English bitter beer. It’s been torture, the bastards! Then there’s the wonderful climate and waking up to those bloody birds chirruping in the trees – it’s so hard sometimes, I can’t tell you!

Q. So, what are they making you do now?

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A. Well, as you can see, the jeans of the overseer had got a bit tatty and in need of repair so rather than go out and get a new pair like any normal person she forces me to use my long-forgotten skills as a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ to repair them. I tell you, it’s hell!

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Q. Do you want to get out of here? I could help.

A. Funny you should ask that because I’ve wondered and thought about that a lot just lately what with the UK election being in the news and the Tories getting a majority and all that. Truth to tell. I’ve been trapped here for so long now that I don’t feel that I belong back there (in UK) any more. So, thanks for the offer, but, no thanks. I’ll stay here and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – or words to that effect. Anyway, my residence permit is valid until 2099 – or will be when the post office delivers it!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

Cereal Killer

quintus_horatius_flaccus‘Ille salubris aestates peraget, qui nigris prandia moris finiet.’ so says Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known to us non-grammar school oiks, as Horace in his 35 BCE piece called Satires. It roughly translates (so I’m told) as ‘A man will pass his summers in health, who will finish his luncheon with black mulberries.’ Those Romans knew a thing or two about mulberries, I can tell you!

J and I scatter dried mulberries over our morning muesli, we love the chewy texture. This time of year we are able to gather the ripe berries of Morus nigra, the Black Mulberry, from the young tree right by our gate and add them to the dish. Not only are they finger-stainingly good they are delicious!

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Move on to around 1649 and a chap by the name of Nicholas Culpeper produced his The Complete Herbal. Based on a combination of local lore, science and astrology and published in plain English the book has remained in use ever since.

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Here, according to my copy of Culpeper’s, are the medicinal virtues of mulberry: The ripe berries open the body. Unripe and dried they stay the fluxes, laxes and women’s courses. The bark of the root kills broad (tape) worms in the belly. The juice from the berries made into a syrup helps inflammations and sores of the mouth and throat. A decoction of the bark and leaves is good to wash the teeth when they ache. The leaves, bound in place, stay bleeding of the mouth or nose or the bleeding piles. Quite how one would bind stuff in place in the case of piles is not explained!

In modern times the bark is still used as a laxative and intestinal de-wormer and a syrup of fruit helps overcome fever. They are rich in ‘grape sugar’ which is easily assimilated and provides energy. The leaves contain compounds that help suppress high blood sugar and have long been used in the treatment of diabetes. Compounds in the leaves of Morus alba White Mulberry have proved to be effective in suppressing the progression of atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in our arteries. It does this by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, the so-called bad cholesterol), which is a major factor in the development of atherosclerotic plaque.

round the mulberryChances are, like me, the only thing you knew about mulberries before today was the nursery rhyme from Mother Goose. But why go around a mulberry bush? Wouldn’t a myrtle be as good, or a honeysuckle? Not according to the ancient Celts, who believed that dancing around a mulberry bush at the time of the summer solstice would help protect them from fairies. (Not all fairies are nice, most are malicious, and they reach the height of their magic powers at the solstice.) History does not record how successful this strategy was for the Celts and the fact that there aren’t too many of them around begs the question!

Who would have thought it? No wonder Silkworms are so healthy and full of life! Old Horace, the Celts and Nick Culpeper knew a good thing when they found it. The crazy thing is that, around here at this time of year, mulberries are to be had in bucket loads for free and nearly all the townies we see enjoying ‘the nature’ turn their noses up at the thought of eating them and getting ‘dirty’ fingers.

As for the ‘Cereal Killer’ on the title – well, I put mulberries on my cereal and they kill off any intestinal worms that may be lurking – I know it’s a bit ‘loose’ but then they cure that as well!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü