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Necessity Is The Mother Of Adventure

. . or words to that effect!

When J and I wandered back down here to Okçular we never dreamed that weeks later we would still be here feeling locked in by the bitterly cold weather that has hit the country. I mean, this time last year we were having a whale of a time playing the backwoods man (and woman) and building stone walls and then more stone walls! We were working outside in shirtsleeves and waking up at the crack of each beautiful dawn.

About the middle of January we made a run for it as a minor blizzard set in but we were soon back enjoying every moment of life in the mountains.

This year the polar north winds set in a couple of months ago and are showing no signs yet of moving on. We huddled around the fire in our centrally heated house and worried about how things would be up at the cabin – then we worried some more. With temperatures regularly in minus double figures up there we worried about what temperature wine, beer and home-made marmalade freezes at and the after-effects. Well, you would, wouldn’t you!

Photos appeared from friends who live up there in the mountains – photos that caused us to admire their toughness and fortitude but did nothing to stop us worrying about the wine and marmalade! Here are a few from friends Emine and Armağan . .

The days passed with little change and we remained huddled around our fire devoid of any spirit of adventure but well reinforced with spirits of a different kind! You could say that the spirits were willing but the flesh was weak!

More days passed until suddenly an ashen-faced J stood in the doorway, shoulders slumped. She had just been to the wine store only to find that ‘There are only a few bottles left!’ It was crunch time. The thought of running out of wine and having to pay retail was altogether too much. An emergency run to our favourite winery up in the mountains was a must. When push comes to shove (and it very well might do up there) there is only one thing an intrepid mountain man (and woman) can do – go for it!

With absolute faith in Turkey’s ability to keep its roads open we set off the next day just before 7am. Now Turkey, for some obscure reason decided to stay on summer time this winter so it was pitch-black and even down here we were seeing temperatures below -3C! Sensible and cautious driving was called for.

As usual, the roads were amazingly clear and despite a -7C at one point we made good time to our supplier in the back of beyond. By then the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and once loaded we decided to stick with the main roads and head to the cabin for a quick recce and damage control.

As we climbed over the last ridge that brings the lake in to view we were astonished – it had disappeared behind a grim layer of grey cloud and everywhere looked bleak.

Not the usual view we, or you, are used to seeing from the cabin

even the pine-needles are frozen solid

Sami’s pide (pizza) place on the beach

Now, as it turned out, everything was fine with the cabin and so feeling much relieved we set off back to Okçular with its central heating and un-chilled wine. The roads were clear, the sun was shining and all was well with the world! Until we got within a few miles of the climb up to the pass at Karabel on the Antalya-Fethiye road and it started to snow.

Karabel was a nightmare of stalled cars and trucks parked at all angles. Instinct took over, all I knew was that I needed to keep the bloody thing moving – if there was a gap then go for it – ‘Vorwärts Kameraden! Vorwärts!’ ‘Onwards and upwards!’ It felt like inches at a time but we made it to the top, the only car that did, due in no small part to the weight of a boot overloaded with boxes of wine and a wonderful truck driver on his way down who stopped and let me scrape by. As we drove sedately down towards Fethiye I vowed never to forget the snow-chains again!

What is amazing is that two days later a dear friend Türker decided to go for a driving adventure of his own up to the lake. These are his photos – Odin, you bastard!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü for the time being

ps thanks again to Türker, Emine and Armağan for the photos – a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Shall We Retire To The Lounge

We had a splendid lunch today – Spicy Rabbit Casserole, of course! We were joined by two dear friends and their children who are all part of our family really together with two of their friends. Now, I don’t do photos of food as I’m usually far too engrossed in eating and enjoying it. Suffice to say it was magnificent!

rabbit

so as not to disappoint the ‘foodies’ amongst you, here is one from earlier

Later, in the very best English tradition, we retired to the lounge to take tea, chat, admire the etchings, and ‘Sing-along-a-Bach (and Beatles)’.

sing-along-a-Bach

musical duo

thanks to our musical duo – if only we’d had a piano as well – or even a Casio!

Today the world felt a better place for a while, unless you were a rabbit, of course!

Alan Fenn.

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Afterthoughts

In a few days time J and I will be returning back to Okçular. My abla (older sister) will arrive soon enough for a month-long stay and whilst she is here Number 1 Daughter will join us for about ten days. They are more like mother and daughter and having them around is going to be a joy.

We’ve hardly shown our faces at the ‘other house’ these past many months and there will be much dusting, mopping and ‘cobwebbing’ to be done. No doubt there will be the odd corpse . .

cobwebs

. . metaphorically speaking!

It will probably be at least a couple of weeks before we are back up here with both of our ‘guests’ in tow. The weather is on the turn – Autumn is arriving up here where night and day-time temperatures are at least ten degrees Celsius lower than Okçular. When we return it will be soba-time in the evenings!

With that in mind one of the jobs was to ensure that the supply of winter wood was stacked and covered.

winter wood pile

job jobbed!

It’s been fun and very satisfying these past months with so much more achieved than we thought was possible. We’ve feasted on fruit and vegetables from our own efforts and the generosity of our neighbouring smallholders.

melon

garden fruit

We have no idea what these fruits are, the locals call them ‘golden strawberries’ and they are delicious.

golden strawberry 2

golden strawberry1

A dragonfly pool has been created and established – it can only get better with new creatures discovering it regularly. Enough well-aged goat manure to last a few years has been delivered and J has started preparing the veggie garden for winter sowing. The weather now is blue skies and distant horizons – it is beautiful and very comfortable to be around and about.

If Mother Nature is kind the rains will begin soon and our neighbours will breathe a sigh of relief and no doubt pray for more and a lot of snow. The village reservoir has been bone-dry these past two weeks for the first time that anyone can remember. We have been fortunate because we are tapped into a source that is fed from a huge marsh area way up the mountain.

Doganbaba baraj 2016

Okçular is much more bio-diverse than here but cannot compete with the dawns and moon-rises over the lake . .

moon over salda lake

or weird spiders . .

strange spider2

strange spider1

Finally, we have been enjoying one of nature’s glories – Bee Eaters in their thousands are passing through on their way south. Unlike Okçular here almost everyone keeps bees and again, unlike Okçular, there is very little shooting of these beautiful birds. The locals prefer to clap their hands and shout out ‘Defol! at them in the hopes that they understand Turkish!

Bee eater

Please excuse the ‘softness’ of these images, they are taken at extreme range with an ancient, totally manual 500mm reflex lens.

Bee eaters1

Alan Fenn, at the turning of the season!

Stuff

On Gold ‘n’ Pond

Posting about our life here in Turkey is not like reporting from the front line. Our days flow by gently, filled (mostly) with little pleasures and small achievements. We are pretty contented as we survey our life together and the views around us, especially up here in the mountains.

lake5

the view from just around the corner back to the cabin

Life may not be fast-flowing but, as I said, it does have its moments – here are just two:

The pond I’ve been rabbiting on about is sort of complete. There are always going to be new plants to add, new creatures to encourage and cosmetic touches here and there. J and I went off up the mountain to the source of all our water to collect reeds, other plants and mud.

pond6

pond7

not very exciting, I know, but this is a good beginning

The other event was much more exciting especially for my grandson and his doting mum (aka Number 1 Daughter). Some of you will know that grandson is a considerable athlete and rows for the Great Britain Under 23s/Junior squad. With his graduation from UC Berkeley a short while ago his junior career has culminated with a gold medal at the European Universities Rowing Championship in Poznan, Poland. Eurosport was showing just one hour of rowing and by pure chance we were lucky enough to catch his race and the presentation on TV.  We were also surprised and delighted to see Number 1 Daughter three times as she bounced about at the finish line! Is that amazing, or what?

In the following photos grandson is the stroke at the ‘back’ of the boat.

rowing1

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3/4 of a length – beautifully judged

rowing3

champions – grandson on right

rowing4

what does one do with a goat???

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congratulations chaps!

Now he moves on to full time rowing with the GB senior squad – he won’t get very rich but at least his mum is relieved from the pressure of pumping unbelievable levels of calories in to him on a daily basis (somewhere around 4700kcal per day – it’s a lot more complicated than just counting calories). Such is the saving that she can afford a holiday this year and is coming out to visit us – how great is that!

Alan Fenn, on gold ‘n’ pond – geddit!

Stuff

Life, The Pooliverse And Everything

Last post had me and my mate Big Al beavering away, as beavers do, making our home pool.

beavers

Now, I was going to wait until I’d completed the building phase including the artfully placed tree trunks and rock features before inviting your gasps of admiration and incredulity. Trouble is we are now in the middle of a mighty thunder storm and I am not willing to work outside and risk getting struck by lightning for a second time! I am also at a loose end so here we go . .

pool construction1

With the land sloping away it was necessary to construct strong retaining walls – seems a pity that they will be hidden by the liner

pond construction2

the bottom was padded out with left over wall insulation boards before the liner was positioned

pond construction3

an extra layer to aid plant growth was added by a retired kamikaze geezer

pond construction4

the overflow checked out

pond construction5

the progress so far – next will come the cosmetic bits on the outside and the various habitats on the inside for plants and creatures

To be continued . .

During the construction stage my mind ever wandered off back in time to the days of the ‘Perishers’ cartoon strip in the Daily Mirror. Dear old Boot was always fascinated by pools and their inhabitants, just like me.

eyeballs

Alan Fenn, engrossed in the Pooliverse

ps in case you were wondering the first time I was struck by lightning was the day J walked in to my pub and asked for ‘A half of Guiness, please.’