J and I packed the car full of tools and ‘stuff’ yesterday and fled down the rabbit hole. Yesterday evening we sipped a glass or two and watched the full moon rise over the mountains.
Today, J spent a few hours of her time on her hands and knees scrubbing the last traces of the workers’ boots and tools from the shower-toilet room – no easy task but the results are pretty, damn good!
My time was spent cluttering up the place by turning scrap wood into a divan that is suited to lounging about on and useful for sleeping should we ever have family/friends stay over. It too looks pretty damn good!
Finally, to make getting this far worthwhile, this was our dawn (not Photoshopped) this morning, 25th December 2015 – worth getting up for?
. . our supply of villagers’ firewood. It included four (or was it five?) monster lumps that, dint of their sheer size, were relegated to the end of the queue. Their day had come!
J and I have been hard at it ( in a wood-cutting sense) putting in four or five hours every other day, with a day off for recovery in between. The results are pretty impressive:
by my reckoning there are at least 9 cubic metres of firewood there and we haven’t finished yet!
I’d managed to cut up two of the giant trunks into log-sized discs and, using a sledge-hammer and steel wedges, had reduced one trunk to usable size. That had taken me two days! This morning, after nearly two hours of huffing, puffing, grunting and groaning I’d split one disc and a few odd logs when who should turn up but J’s young garden helper, Samet.
a reminder of the size of these things – and of J’s cavalier attitude to safety foot-ware!
Now, Samet is a very strong young man who is used to doing all the things village farming lads are expected to do. So, when he had finished his garden jobs, I seconded him to the woodcutting division!
Bloody hell! Talk about rubbing it in – within an hour he had reduced four of those discs to matchwood (in a manner of speaking)! J could barely keep up with him as she barrowed the logs away to the depot.
‘Hey, old man! Easy-peasy!’
Freshly showered but feeling distinctly past my sell-by date I surveyed the scene of youthful vim and vigour. Memories of how things used to be – those days when ‘tabbing’ across the ‘ulu’ with 120lbs of gear on the back was considered a bit of a jaunt! Back then I wouldn’t have just given young Samet a run for his money – I’d ‘ave bloody ‘marmalised’ him! Whoever wrote that twaddle about ‘age shall not weary them nor the years condemn’ knew a thing or two! The video has a lousy sound track so use your discretion – that said, has-been old farts like me will still get dewy-eyed at the memories it dredges up.
What was really nice was that J came over, put her arms around me and said ‘ I think you are still strong – in fact, I know you are!’
Yesterday, from outside I heard the phone ring. J answered, ‘Günaydın Bayram. Nasılsınız?’ (Good morning Bayram (our muhtar). How are you?). I turned back to the job in hand at my temporary workbench of making a chopping board that would fit over the kitchen sink.
stow the silly remarks, that includes the assembly jig for clamping and glueing
Conversation over J wandered to the cabin window, took a couple of photos of the only worker around, and said ‘Bayram is asking us to be at the school tomorrow. Something about a white flag and some people who want to meet us. I told him we were away but would try to be there.’ He had, apparently, sounded disappointed that we were unable to commit.
Now, the reason for our prevarication was simple enough – ‘the workers were revolting!’ Well, not exactly ‘revolting’ – not even remotely. Let me explain; the electrician had missed out fitting a socket in what will be our ‘cozy’ corner. When the fridge was delivered there was no electricity and so service were waiting to complete the installation/guarantee process. Finally the carpenters, with just a few hours of work to finish off, had bogged off to a thermal spa for a few days! All of these guys were scheduled for Tuesday.
Tuesday was the closest we could get to a ‘definite maybe’ time with any of them and as we have learned from experience, there are 24 hours in any given day give or take a few more either way! Having seen the electrician who was carping that he was busy and would ‘do his best’ to make it at some point, we put him off until our next visit. We then spent an anxious day fretting as the hours slipped by. Just as it was getting dark the carpenters arrived and set about blasting saw dust all over the place!
bedroom and bathroom surrounds nearly finished – just the main door to go
In the middle of it all the service arrived, took a few interior photos to show their friends on Facebook, and sorted the fridge.
So, with everything that could be sorted sorted, we were up at the crack of dawn this morning and ready to hit the road back to Okçular.
sunrise over the lake
We had no idea what was planned at school. What we found was a playground full of children and their parents and friends. Tables and chairs were laid out by classes with tables already laden with food that each of the families had provided.
J and I were met and escorted to the ‘protokol’ table populated with the mayor and a multitude of managers and other ‘suits’!
view from behind the roses at the top table
Speeches and explanations of the White Flag followed: it seems that our village school has been thoroughly inspected and has qualified to fly a special flag that denotes that it has passed all the health, hygiene and clean environment criteria. It was a great compliment to the regular staff and to Yeliz who takes care of the gardens and general cleaning.
Okçular school staff together with Education Manager, Mayor and Muhtar
It was also an honour for J and me to be included and for the contributions to the school that money from the Okçular Book Project has made over the years to be recognised by the senior education manager.
Now we are back home we have a week to prepare before we return back down the rabbit hole together with a lot more tools and my trusty ‘Work Mate’. Having failed to find anything we like very much to furnish our lakeside cabin in the mountains I’ve decided to do most of it myself starting with the divans for the ‘cozy corner’. Tomorrow it’s back to the pile of logs lying outside the gate!
So, here we are, ‘feet under the cabin table’ as the saying goes! It’s all a bit shambolic with boxes and tools lying around and the odd piles of sawdust that keep reappearing in different corners.
That said, there are spuds baking in the soba and I’m sitting here writing this powered by solar electricity and J is reading Private Eye. We have ice-cold spring water for drinking and super-heated hot water for showering (when the cabin gets finished tomorrow). The temperature outside is minus 3 or 4 but we are cozy and, most important of all, the bed is made and we will be spending our first night here. Just three months and two days since we acquired the title deeds – how cool is that?
we asked for a basic bed frame knocked up out of scrap and that’s what we got!
ready and waiting
When we first arrived for this visit we were delighted with the obvious progress outside . ,
the beautiful, old juniper wood steps – at least 100 years old and good for a hundred more
balcony with a view
solar hot water system and my ‘depot’/tool box
inspecting the kitchen cupboards and drawers
the chippy began fitting the ‘antique’ doors
we have no idea who this guy is, he just wandered in and began offering advice – on absolutely everything, as one does in Turkey!
assembling the soba/oven – so, where does this bit go?
another job jobbed!
that chirpy chippy again
(just realised that apart from the glitch that prevented comments, a chunk of the post has disappeared into the ether as well)
watch and learn boy!
Boffer getting in on the action
not half bad
Electric solar panels installed and after I threw my teddy in the corner when the ‘electrician’ decided that connecting them together the way the manufacturer said a 24v system should be connected was all bollox rubbish, (the fact that he shrugged when I found the cut up connectors and started bouncing off the wall did not endear him to me).
once sorted we had damn nearly 230v AC output!
final connections from the plumber before he ran out of silicon to bed the shower = oh well, tomorrow is another day! (drill powered by the sun)
It’s a bit shambolic but we’re in, the wine is breathing in the corner, the raki is chilling on the door step, the boza is on the shelf and all is well with this corner of the world!
Alan Fenn and J, happily ensconce down the rabbit hole.
J and I had been expecting to be zooming up to our mountain hideaway tomorrow (Tuesday) for the finishing off of our cabin, but ‘the best laid plans . .’ etc, etc! Well, ‘Burası Türkiye!’ ‘This is Turkey!’
we view certain things differently, J will immediately notice the spelling mistake – doesn’t worry me, I’ll find a use for it some day
Since we were last there, we have been gathering up stuff that is surplus to requirements here and boxing them up ready to start their new life up there. J has been gleefully clearing out cupboard-loads of stuff that hasn’t been used in 18 years but that I have been reluctant to get rid of because ‘ it might have come in useful one day’. That day has arrived! My plan-ahead, long-term strategy (J calls it hoarding) has been vindicated!
Between cleaning the dust off suddenly useful stuff/objects and packing them in boxes there has been time to clean up some long-relegated-to-the-garage wooden shelves and put together a couple of stools made from firewood.
we bought the tea maker in Erzurum 15 years ago – never been used
Anyway, back to the ‘best laid plans’ scenario – the chippy had been hoping to have the kitchen units and the wooden windows finished and ready to install but several days without power at his workshop set him back. So, Thursday will be the Grand Opening Day and, with a bit of luck and a tail wind, if all our threads come together we may well be able to spend our first night in our new hidey-hole. What is amazing is that it is just three months to the day since we first had the title deeds in our hands!
The delay was just as well, because at 10 o’clock this morning we had a somewhat delayed delivery of this lot . .
our annual supply of villagers’ firewood
three hours of graft later we’d made a serious impression on it as you can see (not)!
Burası Türkiye! In so many wonderful, unexpected ways.