Well, we are home in Okçular after a couple of weeks up at our mountain retreat. One thing has to be said (after ‘it’s great to be here’), efficient central heating and a glowing open fire in a concrete house at sea level isn’t a patch on a soba in a well insulated wooden cabin at 1200mts! That is a fact!
not ours, but you get the picture!
So, what have we been up to these past two weeks? Getting utterly knackered slaving away on the plantation – up at sunrise and collapsing, exhausted in to our pit by eight thirty in the evening, that’s what! Certainly too knackered to write some silly blog post! I tell you, this village small-holding lifestyle is no walk in the park!
I know, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!
The prime objective this trip has been to clear the land of scrub, brambles and the most evil, thorny stuff you’ve ever met plus, to get a terrace retaining wall built from local stone. Our secondary target was to get the land prepared and planted with fruit and nut trees. Did we succeed? Let’s find out . .
The first wall building crew to put themselves forward were nothing if not everybody else’s brother who was an expert on sweet f-a! They disappeared back down the track a bloody sight faster than they arrived with much ‘Allah allah’ing! (Good God/My God!).
After taking more advice we were introduced to Hussain from a neighbouring village who proved to be not just a hard-grafting, stonewall making usta (craftsman) but a true gentleman to boot. Next day he and his equally hard-working side-kick got started,
Hussain usta – a gentle giant
The first day was spent collecting trailer-loads of large stones
and the next on getting started
Then, as happens with the best laid plans – the weather took a hand, site work paused for two days and we were left to gaze out of the window as the rain poured down followed by a healthy dusting of snow.
familiar views as you’ve never seen them before
another day, another sunrise
By this time, and remembering that this was only day five of our little sojourn . ,
I was feeling a little bit glum and a lot frazzled – J has warned me that if I dare to put up the photo of her, taken a few minutes earlier, she will kill me or, worse than that, haunt me for all eternity. I am a bit silly sometimes but I am not a total idiot!
So, back to our narrative – whilst all this stuff was going on J and I were attending to a few things of our own like building fences, grubbing out nasty, brutal thorny stuff, layering hedges and building shoe racks and towel rails.
Gülay Çolak’s beautiful nick-nack box
Week two and the workers are back on the job and progress is a joy for us to behold – what is appearing is exactly what we wanted.
It’s also been an interesting period for us as we have learned a little about managing our supply of solar electricity when the weather is overcast. In the summer we can clearly see that there will not be a problem with long sunny days and short nights. This started as a project for Summer time but we love it so much here that we want to spend time in the Winter too. There is always the option to up the number of solar panel and batteries if needs must.
As an aside I want to show you some of J’s beautiful needlework together with some felt-work we picked up in Mongolia that are quite at home up here in the cabin . .
In the middle of all this we had a surprise visit from our very dear ‘son’ who had somehow engineered it to bring a great friend of ours and fellow eco-warrior, Süleyman, a man who is perhaps better described as a ‘blood brother’ after some of our exploits together. They came for breakfast and had the good sense and manners to bring everything needed to feed a family of six plus the workers!
old friends and new – the best breakfast surprise (our ‘son’ 2nd r (suitably masked), Süleyman r with two of his colleagues)
everybody has an opinion about making tea
9th SS Panzer Division – Mark IV Tiger tank
Now, in the midst of all this jollity we had momentarily forgotten that we had come to a financial arrangement with the muhtar (village headman) of our next-door village to hire their digger machine. They used to be a town until the recent reshuffling took place and so they happen to ‘own’ a number of useful toys one of which is the above pictured.
The Panzer man’s job, as carefully described to him, was to level and smooth off the areas above and below our new stone wall. Simple enough, you might think, but you would be taking too narrow a view! In this monster’s driving seat sat an individual trained by the devil and crazy enough to fight the Battle for Stalingrad single-handed! The man was a Berserker! Between our chatting and a few sips of tea and a bit of bread and cheese he had pretty much undermined our wall. People screaming and throwing rocks at his cab did little to stop him until the red mist lifted for a moment and we were able to get him to put most of the soil back where it came from!
It was the same on the top section, he had to be watched like a hawk or he’d be digging holes, apparently at random, all over the place. Eventually we got what we wanted, sort of, the top was level and the bottom bit was gently sloping albeit with a great mass of bloody great rocks we didn’t know we had until Atilla the Hun dug them out!
that’s pretty good, considering!
In the end, we didn’t get on as far as we had hoped. The mad SS Panzer Grenadier had unearthed so much rock that we have to get a tractor with a ‘hook’ plough in to drag it all up and the wall builders will come back and do the heavy lifting to get it out of the way. The ground is too wet after the rains to use the tractor so we have to wait for a few drying days before the job can be finished. In the grand scheme of things I don’t suppose it will make very much difference but it would have been nice to get those young trees in and settled.
There is also a nice little ‘top terrace’ that will be perfect for lounging, brewing tea, cooking with my wok and tin chicken roaster and taking in the view with a glass or two!
Not to mention this character whose owner, we heard, is very ill – the dog seems to have adopted us while we are around and he has proved to be a very well-mannered and gentle creature. He is welcome!
A number of you have commented that you would like to see a ‘full-frontal’ view of the cabin so here you are . .
Alan Fenn, back from the Eastern Front