A Half-Braked Idea

Gulay and SerifeEven occasional readers of this blog will know about Gülay Çolak. Gülay is paraplegic, paralysed from the chest down after an appalling accident about 15 years ago. What is not paralysed is her love of life (most of the time) and her indomitable spirit. Her attitude has won her countless admirers and friends. Here she is with her daughter, Şerife, at the Çaliş Christmas Fair.


During the past eighteen months or so, she has had a rough time with ulcers on her foot that failed to respond to medication. After two failed skin grafts the prospects for her were not good and the cause of the problem lay in her inability to exercise properly and get her blood pumping around her limbs.

So it was that a good mate of mine, Ahmet, and I put our heads together to find a solution. We designed and built a prototype exercise machine that would work-out her arms, heart, lungs and get her legs moving. I’m not going to bore you with details all over again, you can read about that here and watch a video here.

The machine worked, her ulcers healed and the exercise routine is helping to ensure that there should be no recurrence.

If only life were that simple! Gülay has now developed diabetes, and this, too, is directly related to her inability to work-out properly.

It was head-scratching time again! Gülay has considerable strength in her arms – you wouldn’t want her to put you in a head-lock, for example! Exercising on her machine with those arms was altogether too easy and she was hardly getting puffed on her 40 minute sessions – something had to be done to put some serious ‘grunt’ back into the job.

There have been various suggestions made, from fitting one of those fan things you see on rowing machines to nicking an electric retarder from a long-distance coach! Come on guys, I’m working out of what amounts to a garden shed! My idea, based on what I know I can manage, was to fit one of those disc brakes that you see on modern mountain bikes. Great idea, but could I find the parts? Could I hell-as-like!

In the end, in desperation I messaged a friend, Jane Akatay, from Land of Lights newspaper. Jane knows everybody in Fethiye and she facilitated contact with Gareth Patten, a cyclist and, as it turned out, all-round decent chap (even if he was ‘born in Wales, by the grace of God!’ (according to his FB profile)).

Gareth FethiyeSpor

Gareth is the flagpole for FethiyeSpor!

Gareth understood instantly what I was trying to achieve and sourced the parts to do the job. When we met up in Fethiye to exchange bits for bobs – a bob was a shilling in old money – this splendid fellow refused to take payment. Said it was his contribution to the project – how generous is that? Thanks, Gareth. When you meet Gülay you’ll no doubt get one of her special hugs/head-locks!

Gareth's packet

Gareth’s contribution – just about perfect!

From here on the pictures can do the talking – it was a bit of a struggle over two days to get the thing set-up as precisely as it needed to be considering it’s not fitted to pre-positioned mounts. Suffice to say, it works a treat and is now back home with Gülay. She is busy preparing for the big, four-day Marble Fair in Izmir where she and her family are honoured guests of the Denizli Marble Manufacturing Chamber. She has a commission for a whole bunch of portraits, painted on marble, of the various bigwigs like provincial governors and mayors, to get finished and I didn’t want to bother her by asking for her to pose with the finished machine. I’ll get some pics when she’s back home and not so stressed.

here she is with a couple of the not-quite-finished-yet portraits


Stage 1: wreck a perfectly good crank

disc crank

Stage 2: fix disc to mutilated crank

create lash-up

Stage 3: create lash-up to fix position of calliper mounting bracket

calliper mounting bracket

Stage 4: callipers mounted and aligned (above and below)

disc and callipers mounted

Stage 5: and her special leg supports re-fitted

micro-adjustable brake control

Stage 6: micro-adjustable brake control fitted


Stage 7: cabled up and waiting to be reunited with the other bit – job jobbed!

So, once again, thanks Jane for the intro; thanks Gareth for sourcing and gifting the parts.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


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!

Incredible Okçular!

Adieu Provence

. . with apologies to author Peter Mayle – not that I think he ever wrote a book of that title, but just in case!

‘Adieu’ is not really appropriate; ‘RIP Provence’ would be a title more to the point. J and I have lost a friend, a Provençal Lady of great, if delicate, beauty who lived her life very close to the edge. We would visit her every year without fail at about this time – an assignation that we kept secret from everyone else for fear that her uniqueness (certainly around here) might lead to her violation.

Now it is over and she is gone – swept away in a terrible landslide that carried off her and her home, leaving nothing behind but loose scree and the tracks of a bulldozer. We were there today to fulfil our promise made several years back to visit each year, pay our respects and compliment her on her new Spring outfit. It was not to be. So sad!


the new track above her home . .


. . and the devastating consequences!

Her demise could have been avoided had some petty bureaucrat paid attention to her situation before sending a bulldozer to drive a new road into the mountain above her home. The machine dislodged great amounts of rock and soil which crashed down the mountainside carrying everything before it.

We are devastated! Here are a few photos – ‘In Memoriam’, if you will. Try as we might, we never found another like her and that valley where she lived will never be the same. She is gone but will never be forgotten!

Orchis provincialis 03_1

Orchis provencalis – Provence Orchid  It was never possible to get really close, living where she did on the edge of a near-vertical cliff – these shots were taken with a long lens and a lot of knee-trembling!

Orchis provincialis 06_1

her trademark green and brown polka-dot skirt is visible

. . one of her distant relatives was there to shed a few tears, too


Alan Fenn, (in mourning)

Incredible Okçular!

. . It’s A Duck!

The last post (blogging as opposed to bugle calls) had J and me diving out of the house for a breath of fresh air between the downpouring, monsoon-like rains. We decided to wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and check the water flow situation and see what we could see along the way. Flowing water is only visible in the valley after heavy rain as it generally flows underground so it would be a chance to get a few photographic impressions.

Kocadere is, in my opinion, an impressively beautiful place and it’s hard not to feel a sense of deep satisfaction at having been instrumental, along with many others, in helping to preserve its uniqueness whenever I walk there. It is, after all, the home of many rare or beautiful species of flora and fauna.

Iurus dufoureius ssp asiaticus (4)_1

Iurus dufoureius – Europe’s largest scorpion and one of the rarest

Alkanna muhglae

Alkanna muhglae – in all its glory

Lyciasalamandra fazliae

Lyciasalamandra fazliae – Fire Salamander


rushing water and towering cliffs


Whilst we were poking around inside the valley we spotted these beautiful Horseshoe Orchids . .

Horseshoe Ophrys

Ophrys ferrum-equinum – Horseshoe Ophrys

Horseshoe Ophrys

. . amidst masses of Crown Anemones.

crown Anemone

We also gathered an audience who were very curious about what we were up to . .

kocadere sheep
The real highlight of the day happened on the way to the valley when we had to divert off the track and through an olive grove because of flooding. There, under a couple of the trees lay a group of Ophrys (a large family usually referred to as Bee Orchids) of a species that I had not seen before.

Orchids in general and Ophrys in particular can be notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole because of their ‘life-style’ which is best described as promiscuous! Here is a quote from the research unit at Reading University;

‘Orchids can often generate great taxonomic challenges due to interspecific and even intergeneric hybridization. However they are often eye-catching and something people want to be able to identify with confidence. With Ophrys, at least, the more specimens you see the more convinced you become that the plants are not following any rule book when it comes to behaving as species, and genes flow between one species and another to form recognizable hybrids and sometime these give rise to new species.’

In other words, they sleep around a bit and not just with their own! (if I may be permitted such a politically incorrect term) Anyway, when we got home out came my various reference books and for me it has to be Ophrys isrealitica so-called because it was first recorded and tagged in Israel in 1988. I sent photos to various (orchid) groups who did not dissent and also put it up on Facebook for those who are interested because, although not rare for the Eastern Mediterranean or several of the Aegean Islands, it has not been recorded this far west here in Turkey.

There was one person who questioned the ident, but as a non-academic enthusiast without access to sophisticated DNA analysis equipment – if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck!

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

Ophrys isrealitica

And it’s another new species for Okçular – I think that is 39 now!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps the stormy weather seems to have done many strange things including messing up my previous WP theme. I’m not that enamoured of this one, but it will have to do until I summon up the will to do something about it.

Incredible Okçular!


The rain has been, and still is, incessant. We are pretty safe here as we are a little uphill from the village which lies on a flood plain. Even with the new drainage system, Karagöl (Black Lake), below our house, is as big as we’ve ever seen it. The occasional break in the weather is a prompt to rush out and bring another stack of logs, or, if it looks like it might last beyond half an hour, get our boots on and get out for a breath of fresh air.

Karagol Black Lake Okcular

a couple of views over Black Lake and the village

Karagol Black Lake Okcular2

When the sun shines there is no doubt that we made a fabulous choice to call this place ‘home’. That said, there have been days upon days lately when there was nothing else to do but huddle by the fire with a good book, or gaze out of the windows at a world turned grey and khaki and hope that this was not going to be another day of lightning strikes and problems for the electricity supply. Added to the oppressive weather we have had our shaky-at-best mobile internet link to the outside world reduced to a crawl for a couple of weeks. Today we have a signal again which claims to be 3G – it certainly isn’t, but at least it is working.

So, apart from building a few new nest boxes and constantly feeding the wild birds – which scoff everything we put out (a lot) in a few hours (and then stand around in the rain looking in the window in a most dejected way), what have we been doing?


Walking and enjoying the beauty around us whenever we can is the answer to that. Despite the miserable weather, Mother Nature has bumbled on doing what she does so well and carpeted the area in flowers. In the absence of anything else of excitement or interest to report since I last was able to amaze and excite you with my scintillatingly witty and informative postings, here are some more boring old flower pictures taken during the odd moments when it was possible to walk without the need for flippers and a mask! The ‘Colours’ of . .

sand crocus

Sand Crocus






mysterious water tunnels

J discovers mysterious water tunnel

Golden Drops

Golden Drops


pure white Crown anemone

pure white Crown Anemone (Okçular exclusive?)


Crown Anemone – three generations

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemones

deep purple Crown Anemonesuch depth of colour


Daisy, Daisy

Daisy, Daisy give me . .



ophrys fusca

first Sombre Bee-orchid of the year

Giant Orchid

Giant Orchid

fritillaria carica

Fritillaria carica ssp carica

I’ve been at this since 7.30 this morning and it is now 12.30, the sun is sort-of shining, so you’ll be relieved to know that this is your lot! Apart, that is, from Donovan’s rendition of ‘Colours’ from way back when which J says I should apologise for!


Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü