Stuff

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!

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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)’.

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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.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Count Your Blessings

My mother used to say that a lot. ‘Count your blessings, you little sod!’ she would say, with the emphasis on the ‘little sod’. This was usually in response to my bemoaning the fact that my measly pocket money would never run to a sherbet fountain and a Matchbox toy.

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either, or

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The ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ where I pondered the imponderable and suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is no more. Felton’s News Agency in what passed for the High Street, Minster, Sheppey – news, fags and sweets to the left, toys to the right. Now it shares the same fate as the rest of the planet – ‘We’re doomed, Mannering! Doomed!’

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But I digress! Where was I? Oh, yes, blessings and the counting of said.

What got me thinking of ‘blessings’ was chance meetings (and believe me, they are ‘chance’) with various, mostly British, ex-pats. Conversations invariably run to what is wrong with the government; the new road between Ortaca and Dalyan or with the way things run here in Turkey compared with . . It can be eye-glazingly  depressing!

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Very occasionally someone will show that they have some understanding and concern for what is being perpetrated in our region by NATO/FUKUS and yes, Turkey. I find it amazing that there are people from the UK living here where they are called ‘ex-pats’ who are complaining bitterly about the, always ‘illegal immigrants’, getting into the UK and taking the jobs and scrounging benefits!

Me? I’m happy to describe myself as an economic migrant and thank you Turkey for taking me in!

Just over twenty years ago I was told I couldn’t work any more after being diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable spinal condition. I was told I’d be in a wheelchair within five years – a living death sentence (I don’t do pain/suffering very well).

J and I had long ago fallen in love with Turkey so we decided to burn our boats and grab a bit of paradise whilst we could. Seven years into our life here my back gave up the ghost. Unlike the UK, which gave up in advance, here I was found an eminent spinal surgeon who delivered a miracle! These days I grunt and groan when doing jobs but I can do them.

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Our life here is comfortable, interesting and filled to bursting with good stuff. I cannot influence what is going on in the world by very much. I can appreciate things like having a full service and preparation for the MOT on the car that included a new set of tyres for the Lira equivalent of £400! I can enjoy the company of good and dear friends who share our view of the world and enjoy lively debate on so many diverse subjects that do not include football or grandchildren! I love being up here in our mountain retreat by a lake even though it means I’ll be moving even more stones and rocks and groaning at the after-effects! I can appreciate every sunset and sunrise. Above all I can appreciate that, whatever ‘fate’ throws my way, I have a life that countless millions can only dream of. I don’t care very much that I have to drive half way to Dalyan or Ortaca to get on to the opposite carriageway on our new, improved ‘motorway’!

I just don’t care! Alan Fenn.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Lazarus Rising

Six weeks! Is that all it’s been? Six weeks! It feels like six months – six years even! More like six episodes of the ‘Walking Dead’!

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I’m talking disease! Bubonic Plague and Necrotising Fasciitis (there’s a link for the morbidly inclined) all rolled in to one! Six episodes back J went down with it. Four days later I followed suit and we sank together into the realms of choking snot, blinding headaches and choking coughing. Then my sister arrived for a month-long visit and walked into the maelstrom – she did not resist for many days! Thank you god!

I don’t recall too much about how J and sis were, being a bloke I was totally focussed on my own misery and the endless stream of ‘ectoplasm’ emanating from my sinuses.

ectoplasm 

I mean, seriously, you don’t know what’s living in this stuff!

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A week into sis’ visit Number 1 Daughter arrived to join the party. At this point I should be saying ‘Poor sod!’ but by some miracle of the blessed-somebody-or-other she remained uncontaminated as those around her dissolved and putrefied!

We certainly did our best to give them some good times between the splutters.

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Number 1 looking disgustingly healthy!

We squeezed in a few days up here at the cabin as our visitors had been nothing short of desperate to see the place. Whilst they were here good friend and neighbour Ramazan did them a slightly frazzled chicken, jacket spuds and onions in a tin that was rapidly seen off with a few glasses of beer and wine under the big, old pine tree.

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country kitchen

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Sis and Number 1 have gone back home now – refreshed I hope. We needed a few more days recovery before we felt fit enough to drive back up here to the cabin. Once here we quickly learned that the mind may be willing but the flesh was decidedly weak! Just a few minutes work with a pick or shovel and we were gasping.

Anyway, after a few days of this sweet, mountain air we feel that we are almost back to our normal, energetic selves. The vegetable plot has been cleared and manured and we are half way through sorting the fruit/nut trees. The pool has its new aerator going and looks really healthy with new plants settled in. J has made some splendid green tomato chutney and we have harvested a load of melons and pumpkins. Life is steadily getting back to normal.

As for Lazarus, I’m in total empathy. I know how he felt when JC raised him up. As my dear old mother used to say, ‘Bloody ‘ell! You look like death warmed up!’

Alan Fenn, back in the land of the living!

Stuff

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.

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garden fruit

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

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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.

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

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or weird spiders . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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3/4 of a length – beautifully judged

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champions – grandson on right

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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!