Self Indulgence

There was a time, when vicars, elders and assorted priests had a role in society and pleasuring oneself was considered a sin, when a bit of self-indulgence was thought to lead to blindness and/or paralysis! Not true, folks! J and I are living proof that a little of what you fancy does you good. Repression leads to all sorts of strange hang-ups, as my mother could have confirmed were she not ‘bereft of life’! This chap has been caught early as his eyesight has only just started to dim!


before you rush to order, this is a spoof ad – I know, I checked it out!

So, onwards and upwards – things can only get better! Having had a few weeks of feeling the need to be around because of the geothermal drilling business (see here, and here) in the overwhelming heat at this time of year plus dealing with some residence permit issues (who hasn’t had those!), we needed to indulge our inner and outer selves and escape to the tranquility of the mountains. There is something about being pretty much alone and surrounded by a world much bigger and wider than those irritations that tend to seem so large at the time – somehow, they just melt away – at least temporarily.

girdev camp023

We didn’t want to spend much time on the road and so we decided to head for Girdev Lake and spend a couple of days at the Girdev Camp owned by İlhan and İnci Kurt. Situated 1800mts above sea-level the lake is always beautiful and at this time of year the herders will be there with their sheep and the environment should be wild with life! We were not to be disappointed. Whilst there we also met a young woman named Raz who woke up one morning in her native Cornwall and said, ‘Raz, old girl! You are at a crossroads in your life – why not take a walk to Istanbul.’ (or words to that effect) So she did! Read her  intermittent blog. Then she bought a bike and cycled off and ended up at Girdev Camp for a while. Where next Raz?

Day one it rained cannonballs for a bit, but mostly the sun shone, the clouds were fluffy and the air was like champagne!

girdev camp017

raining . .

girdev camp019

. . cannonballs!

Girdev is a bit like the wilderness with the edges rubbed off – sufficiently off the beaten track to discourage the casual visitors and yet close enough for those willing to trash their tyres if needs must (of which more later)! How long it is going to remain free of mass tourism is open to question because the machines are out in force scraping and rolling in preparation for asphalt. Will they go all the way? It looks very likely. Add in the electricity that is now there and the hopefulless business ventures lining the side of the road won’t be far behind.

Anyway, whilst it lasts, let’s make the most of it and enjoy the wonders! Here’s one that left me amazed – countless billions (not a typo) of Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselflies everywhere. I have never seen anything like it!

 Small Red-Eyed Damsefly011

 Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (female l. male r.)

Erythromma viridulum - Small Red-Eyed Damselflies

. . and then there were these:

Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus

Ochlodes venatus – Large Skipper

girdev stayover minis034

Melanargia russiae Russian Marbled White

Melanargia russiae – Russian Marbled White

. . and then there are the mountains:

girdev stayover minis060

ancient juniper Girdev

with ancient Junipers

mosque in the middle of nowhere Girdev

. . and a mosque in the middle of nowhere

girdev cheese making

a lesson in cheese making from a local expert

lunch with goatherders

. . and lunch with delightful goatherders

girdev mountains2

. . who live down there

Some random flower pics:

girdev flowers1

girdev flowers2

girdev flowers 3

girdev flowers 4

girdev lake 4

final view of Girdev Lake

So, what do you think, folks – splendid, or what?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps when we got back down from Girdev and on to a bit of tarmac we realised we’d probably been driving for miles on a flat rear tyre. It was utterly trashed! The inside and outside walls were ripped like this all around! In the nearby little town the ‘Lastikci’ dug-out a nearly new replacement for the spare, checked everything over – 100 TL/£25 – job jobbed!


pps for those of you who have been totally enthralled by this scintillating post, here’s a link to an earlier expedition with a certain professor who shall remain nameless to protect his reputation!


Piste Off!

In a past life, J and I were once licensees (in modern parlance) of a very lively village pub. I preferred the term ‘landlord’ and ‘landlady’, as did most of our punters, because it conferred greater gravitas on us guardians of such a warm, inviting and noble, British tradition.

inside Green Dragon, Hobbiton

to illustrate, here’s a shot of the very traditional Green Dragon pub in the village of Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth

Traditional pubs are glorious places that breed gloriously eccentric ‘Guv’nors’ and punters alike. Well, they used to before they were all taken over by pub chains and themes! I was known as ‘Basil’, after the character in ‘Fawlty Towers’, for some obscure reason. Another landlord I knew well had a pith helmet with ‘Pith Off’ written on it. Instead of politely calling ‘Time gentlemen, please!’ he’d don his helmet and bellow ‘Pith on, now pith off!’ The locals loved it!

Shepherd_NeameAll this waffle brings me neatly to the point of this post – the weather of late has been somewhat confining, a condition that leads to feelings of paranoia vis-a-vis the malevolence of the ‘gods’. I was getting well-and-truly pissed off (to use a very traditional Britishism) and beginning to fantasise about village greens and cries of ‘Owzat!’ and pints of Shepherd Neame’s finest Kentish bitter beer. And so was born the idea of pithing off to the piste in search of early bulbs and other delights by way of a compromise. Did you follow the logic of my drift with this? Not boring you, am I? Excellent!

So, J and I set off for the mountains by way of the village of Üçağız about forty minutes drive east of Kaş on the south coast. You can read about it by clicking the link. It’s a place we like very much, but only out of season before the day trippers inundate this tiny, largely unspoilt village. We were using it as a jumping off point for an up and over a couple of mountains drive, but more about it another time.

We were heading, via the rabbit hole, for our secret hide-away in the mountains; there to explore backways and track-ways and lake-sides, as yet, untrodden by us. Snow, rushing streams, mountain meadows, clean, crisp air, the chance of finding some different flowering plants and no day trippers! We were not disappointed . .

lake from the snow line

lake from the snow line

Crocus olivieri ssp olivieri

Crocus olivieri ssp olivieri

C olivieri and Euphorbia

hiding away with a Euphorbia

Crocus fleischeri

Crocus fleischeri


luminous lichen

Crocus fleischeri

Scilla bifolia

Scilla bifolia

Colchicum minutum

Colchicum minutum

Colchicum serpentinium

Colchicum serpentinium

Colchicum triphyllum

Colchicum triphyllum

Colchicum triphyllum

happy campers at the ski centre

J and friends ‘Off Piste’

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

strange buds turned out to be . .

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

Crocus biflorus ssp isauricus

Colchicum triphyllum

Crocus triphyllum

red Anemone coronaria

Anemone coronaria

Iris unguicularis v carica

Iris unguicularis v carica

So, there you have it – from pissed off to off piste! Was it worth wading through the dis-jointed verbiage to see such beauties? Be happy to hear from you either way.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Shepherd Neame




ps Was that better than a pint of ‘Shep’s’? Probably not!


Kaçkar Captures

Back during the heat of summer J and I travelled up north and met up with friends on the Black Sea coastal side of the Kaçkar (Kachcar) Mountains. We were hunting out Carpathian Blue Slugs and you can read about it in this post.

The Black Sea region has a lot of rain and I seem to remember that it tipped it down every day mixed in with some drizzle – it was refreshing after the temperatures back home in Okçular! Anyway, I’ve just discovered some ‘little camera’ shots whilst idly swanning through some folders (just like the last posting). They capture the feeling and mood of the Kaçkars beautifully for me – hope you like them too. If you don’t like pics of flowers in the rain you should get back to doing useful things . .

In no particular order:










this was the dog’s dinner – I insisted on having a slice; delicious!


J choosing socks


friends feasting


Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


Amasya Revisited

Earlier in the year J and I were on our way from our home in Muğla, in the SW, to meet up with friends on the Black Sea side of Turkey for a few days. Our plan was to hunt for Carpathian Blue Slugs in the Kaçkar Mountains.


We decided to break the journey and overnight in Amasya, a town that had made a real impression on us when we had stayed there quite a few years ago. Read about that trip here.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve just done a bit of rare tidying of some of masses of photos in folders that clutter-up my desktop and I’ve rediscovered these shots taken about the old town. I’m sharing them ‘as is’ not because they are good photos, they are not, but because they gave me a really good feel about Amasya again. If you told me I had to live in a town, this place would be my choice. It has history, charm, culture, charm, is cared for, charm, gives of warm fuzzies, charm, but above all it has charm! You can do your own research or click here, otherwise enjoy these sometimes blurry and over-exposed images of a lovely town taken by night and very early in the morning – hence the camera shake!

Pontic tombs Amasya Turkey

Pontic Tombs behind our hotel

Amasya back street

back lane

blurred vision Amasya

blurred vision

Amasya old town

mosque Amasya old town

old tap Amasya old town

Amasya river side


Korprubasi Mosque Amasya

Köprubaşı – Head of the Bridge Mosque Amasya



Mosque and Tombs and Hamam and Ottoman house restorations

Amasya Turkey

town club amasyathe Town Club Restaurant where we first dined all those years ago

If you have the opportunity to visit this delightful town then do it – it will not disappoint you.

Alan Fenn, missing Amasya!


Down The Rabbit Hole

‘Down the rabbit hole’ is, to quote Wikipedia, a metaphor for adventure into the unknown, from its use in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is also a slang expression for a psychedelic experience, but that is a different story – or maybe not!

down the rabbit hole

J and I have been a two-man escape committee quietly seeking a rabbit hole to disappear down to escape the summer heat for some time. A place, in fact, that lends itself to a bit of ‘California Dreaming’ any time of the year.  To be able to vanish and then reappear in a somewhat different world has its appeal. A world that could be on a different planet, Mars for example, now that would be really rather nice!

reflections on 'Mars'

one of two places on Earth that (supposedly) resembles Mars

medicated mud-pack

with medicated mud-pack

upside down world

A world where images are turned upside down and where a unique species of fish lives, that would also be really nice.

longhorn beetlewith very friendly alien creatures

Adding in a few ponds and streams to paddle around in and new tracks to explore would be really, really nice. If you then sprinkle the mix with the odd wild white rabbit being casseroled in a delicious, peppery sauce then, to my mind, you are talking ‘Wonderland‘!

peppery rabbit casserole

good company

in good company

wild flowers

with beautiful wild flowers


and berries

Martian cabbages

and Martian cabbages

very welcoming Martians

very welcoming local ‘Martian’ bureaucrats




Wonderland, the alternative view

Alan Fenn, following the White Rabbit!

ps you might think that I’ve forgotten to tell you where the entrance is . . I haven’t!