Incredible Okçular!

Colours

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?

sadsparrows

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

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sunshine00034_1

Gorse

Asphodel

Asphodel

mysterious water tunnels

J discovers mysterious water tunnel

Golden Drops

Golden Drops

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pure white Crown anemone

pure white Crown Anemone (Okçular exclusive?)

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Crown Anemone – three generations

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemone

Crown Anemones

deep purple Crown Anemonesuch depth of colour

OkcularOkçular

Daisy, Daisy

Daisy, Daisy give me . .

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

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

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Gird Up (Y)our Loins

. . with apologies to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who is perhaps better known by his pen name, and to a certain walrus and carpenter of renown.

Charles Dodgsonaka Lewis Carrol

‘The time has come,’ the Boffer said,   ‘To deal with many things,   With signatures and rubber stamps,   and jumping through some rings,   With copies, forms and bureaucrats    a-pulling at our strings.’

walrus carpenter

Yes, you guessed it – we were setting out to renew our İkamet Teskeresi (residence permit). Having lived here permanently for more than 17 years we were delighted to be going after a permanent permit at just TL55, having coughed up TL4,296.04 for our previous 5 year one!

goc-idaresi-teslimthe new residence permit

Nothing is ever static and during our time here we have watched, sometimes open-mouthed, as Turkey has changed and evolved. In dealing with various bits of bureaucracy there have been good times and not so good times. I remember after one episode, in our early days, of jumping up and down and banging my head against a filing cabinet, our dear friend and helper, Emine, putting her arms around me and saying, ‘Alan, you must have acceptation!’ She was right! This country is going through some monumental changes in a very compressed time scale and not everything works out as planned or wished for.

bureaucrat

The bureaucracy in Turkey was not set up to frustrate and screw us foreigners – it frustrates and screws everybody without discrimination! That, folks, is the nature of the beast wherever you reside in the world. Mind you, you wouldn’t think so as you swan over the various forums and FB pages related to the subject here. Some people are downright offensive, using abusive language that is really unhelpful to put it mildly. An insulted civil servant is unlikely to look very favourably on you or your bits of paper, or the poor sod in the queue behind you – I know, I used to be one! Listening to some folks going on I wonder why they are here, they seem to hate everything and everyone and believe everything is done better ‘back home’!

So, gird up your loins because, whenever possible, preparation and doing things in good time is key to success and a calm life. That being the case, a few weeks back we went to our local police office and enquired from our charming and helpful police lady what we would need. We came away with the list and set about pulling it all together. Keep in mind that we are dealing with Ortaca, Muğla and different towns/areas interpret things differently. Bodrum, I understand, requires a computer generated and filled application form – Ortaca hands you photocopied forms and tells you to use a black biro to fill in the boxes. My advice is to go with what they require locally and not start arguing about what you read online. Also, have an expectation that things will change between asking what is needed and handing stuff in – it happened to us! Evolution! In a couple of years we’ll all be looking back on these turbulent times and having a good laugh! You only have to read the expectations/mission statement of the new agency to realise that.

So, having got our updated list, we set about getting as much done as we could. We already had the usual colour photocopies (x2) of passport and ikamet, biometric photos and, just in case they want it, copies of our financial situation. The new requirements were: 1. for a statement from the kaymakam that we had not needed financial assistance from the state. To get this we needed to each write a dilekçe (petition) – we were given an example and assistance to complete this; 2. from the State Prosecutor’s office, using a simple form, we obtained a chit stating that we had no convictions – past or pending (Adli Sicil Kaydı); 3. a chit from the İlçe Nüfus (area population) manager confirming our residence at our address (Yerelşim Yeri ve Diğer Adres Belgesi).

Add to the above: (x2) colour copies of your Tapu Senedi (title deeds for your house) and, in Ortaca at least, you should be set up. We have to hand a form from the SGK confirming our health care coverage even though, as UK citizens, we are exempt because of our age – you may need to produce evidence of cover depending on your age. Finally, in our case, we paid our TL55 and included the receipts, having first taken copies. Actually, we have copies of everything and then some just in case things change again over the weekend! Now, we did all that and completed our weekly market shop and were home in time for afternoon tea – so, it wasn’t that daunting!

All of the staff who dealt with us so pleasantly and helpfully had only been informed of the new requirements five days before – think about that for a moment!  In all our years here we have been met with mostly smiling, helpful, tea-providing civil servants on minimal salaries. It is small wonder that there has been the odd misery-arse but, do you know, I can’t recall a single one of them!

Just two more stories and then I’m done: whilst we were in the police office there was a friend there who had forgotten to renew her passport which also cancelled her ikamet. There were two fees and three fines to pay as a result which couldn’t be avoided. By the end of the day all of the paperwork had been sorted (she’d been to Istanbul and got her passport extended a few days previously) and the forms sent off to renew her ikamet and she and her husband had been provided with tea with the chief of police! Their attitude had been great throughout and they got their reward.

Next there is a friend who speaks little Turkish who decided to do all the legwork for his ikamet himself, including dealing with a supposed monster in uniform behind a desk in Muğla. He approached his meeting with her with some trepidation! Everything went like clockwork and the ‘monster’ turned out to be charming! His great attitude saw him through as well!

success2

attitude = success (mostly)

These stories confirm what we have found over nearly 18 years here – if you want respect, give it; if you want a smile, offer one; if you want to be dealt with calmly, be calm. One other thing, and I really recommend that you do this, once everything has been done and dusted – and even if there were moments when you or the bureaucrat were stressed, go back with a big box of pastries and say ‘thank you’ and smile. The effect and the ‘fall-out’ is amazing – trust me! And those behind you in the queue will tell stories about you to their neighbours and grandchildren.

Before I go, a word about ‘Girding Your Loins’ . .

Gird-Up-Your-Loins-2‘Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more!’ W. Shakespeare – Henry V 3.1 but that’s another story.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps let me say again, this is what works in Ortaca – you need to sort out what is needed in your neck of the woods.

Incredible Okçular!

A Little Ray Of Sunshine

It’s been a wild and woolly few weeks with Lodos winds and storms of biblical proportions hammering much of western Turkey. It seems like only yesterday most of us were worrying about the lack of water in the country’s cracked and dried-up reservoirs. I say most because there is at least one person with a hot-line to the almighty – Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu. As Istanbul’s water reserves evaporated to crisis levels, Eroğlu is quoted as saying, ‘If the water is cut in İstanbul, then I’ll cut my mustache’. He obviously knows a thing or two because . .

veysel-eroglu

. . as you can see, the minister is still sporting a fine set of bristles

Anyway, back to the immediate weather situation. As I said, it’s been a bit disruptive – J and I had managed to pull together a nice little outing to Istanbul for a few days. With a bit of juggling and goodwill from friends we had well and truly got our ducks in a row. Our young friends from Tehran were flying over to attend a concert or three in the big city. We had agreed to meet up, spend some time together and attend one of the concerts with them. Meanwhile, dear friend Ahmet of designing amazing machines fame was inked in for a great evening of feasting, raki and raconteuring. Added to that, Mark and Jolee, the Senior Dogs in Istanbul were making a special trip from their island retreat of Burgazada to meet up with us for more great chat, eating and putting the world to rights. We had our plane tickets for what was promising to be a few days crammed with pleasurable stimulation and delight!

 First indication that all was not well with the world of aviation was a call from Turkish Airlines to tell us that our flight, along with a couple of hundred others, was cancelled due to bad weather – the ‘Lodos’ was on its way!

lodos Istanbul

Lodos weather Istanbul

Now, Turkish Airlines may have been grounded but the minister mentioned above is not the only one with celestial connections – those roughie-toughies from Iran Air know that the gods are on their side too, and our young friends breezed in from Tehran – no hassle! Their problems began when they went to get their tickets for the concerts they had flown from Tehran to attend. Sorry! Not just the odd concert cancelled, the whole bloody, week-long festival had been shelved, the organisers just hadn’t bothered to tell anybody who didn’t speak Turkish. Black mark there, then !

dogs pic

Meanwhile, out on Burgazada the Senior Dogs were kennel-bound because all the ferries had been cancelled. Even if we had made it to Istanbul there would have been nothing else for it than to hunker down against the belting rain and howling wind in some local meyhane and get stuck into a bottle or three!

meyhane

trust me, Turks really know how to enjoy themselves despite a few killjoys in Ankara

I’m pleased to say that stuck down here in Okçular we were able to exercise the healthy option and take advantage on Sunday of a few hours break in the weather when the sky cleared and the sun shone. Instead of downing some spirits we lifted our spirits with a wander around to our beautiful Kocadere Valley. As ‘Bones’ used to say, ‘It’s life Jim, just not as we’ve known it these past few weeks!’ Enjoy!

crown anemone red

Crown Anemone

giant orchid

rain drops on a Giant Orchid

crown anemones

Crown Anemones

wild cyclamen

Cyclamen

sunshine0011_2

Okçular’s crown jewel – Alkanna mughlae

Sea Aster

Sea Aster

Monk's cowel

Monk’s Cowel

Giant Orchid

a beautiful Giant Orchid

Alan Fenn, stuck indoors again with nothing better to do!

Stuff

Cycle Recycle

I have a deep aversion to parting with things – J says I’m a compulsive acquirer and hoarder, which is hurtful because I firmly believe that if I hang on to something long enough I will eventually find a use for it. When something breaks down and is unrepairable I strip it for every nut, bolt, rubber foot, clip, plug and cable I can find and store all these bits and bobs neatly in containers to await the day of their recycling.

bins2

I use old ice cream containers but you get the idea

I think such frugality saves fuel on trips to the purveyors of these things and is therefore good for the planet. It is also why, when I do have to buy some new bits I always double up on what I need for the job. As I say, they’ll come in handy at some time.

Anyway, let me get back on track – as some of you know, J has been having treatment from a physio team in Muğla on a daily basis. This is now week three of being heated up, pulsed with electricity, gently twisted and manipulated by a charming lady, cranking a wheel, stretching up a ‘finger-ladder’, pulling a strip of giant balloon elastic and hauling her arms up and down on a pulley-thing. We both realise that doing this daily journey for any length of time is not realistic so I began to cogitate on how to bring as much of this equipment home as possible.

Yucelen physio

We made the charming physio a very good offer but she declined with a blush – I think I may have phrased the offer too loosely! So, I took some photos of the gear and, when we got home, I wandered into my workshop and assessed the stock situation.

physio wheel

IMG_7356_1

IMG_7358_1

So it was that a bicycle wheel, a few bits of steel, a couple of wheels from a garage door and a rack for ‘clocking-in’ cards were recycled and pressed into service.

DIY physio exercise wheelfresh coat of paint, looks like new!

DIY physio exercise wheel

J up to speed!

IMG_7366_1

DIY physio exercise gearthat works too!

DIY physio finger ladder‘clocking-in’ card rack – don’t ask – it’s an antique!

IMG_7387_1efficacious!

Now, I went through my electrical bits and I reckon I have everything I need to knock together one of those things that make your muscles jump about and I did offer to fix J up really good. I feel a bit miffed because, after all I’ve done, she declined!

junk1

frank1

Personally, I rated my chances . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

Truckin’ Hell!

physio wheelJ has been having physio at a hospital in Muğla every day these past couple of weeks. There’s a lot of pushing, pulling, twisting and turning of items reminiscent of the crank in Victorian prisons. It’s just a bit of a driving chore that, for me, has been relieved by the pleasure of spectacular views as we travel the D550 road that starts (or ends) from the Marmaris turn off of the D400. As it climbs behind the village of Akyaka, it zig-zags through a series of billiard-table smooth hairpins before peaking at 670mts above sea level. It is, in my opinion, a beautiful piece of highway engineering.

 

sunset

We’ve watched it grow over the years from a bumpy, pot-holed little lane into a wonderful, motorway class super-highway! It has real ‘Weeeeeeeee!’ qualities – especially on the downhill run when every bend seems to open up ever more glorious vistas over the Bay of Gökova. If you get your timing right the sunsets are amazing.

So, ‘Why ‘Weeee!’ and not ‘Ahhhhh!’?’ you may well ask. That has much to do with the fact that sweeping bends and hairpin bends are great levellers of the playing field between our FIAT Doblo and your average BMW 5 series! Now, with ‘duel’ lanes up and down, trucks grinding up or down using their crawler gears are no hindrance to anyone and so there is much less risk to other road users from self-flagellators chancing life and limb with idiotic, penile enhancing overtaking manoeuvres. Driving is very pleasurable.

That said, since the road has been upgraded, we have often commented on the lack of any run-off areas and the chances of a runaway truck looming in the rear-view! So, we were pleased to see a run-off of a standard to match the quality of the road being constructed just prior to the last hairpin. Compared with the mound of sand currently provided on that bend it is an impressive bit of gear!

truck run-off Gokova hillImpressive as the engineering is, it has come a little bit late for these guys just a few hundred metres further down at the bend.

truck crash

truck crash2

truck crash3

the driver and his mate have finished with the police and are sitting awaiting the salvage crew – the cab hangs over the abyss!

truck crash5

J’s nifty camera skills have brought you these world exclusive pictures.

Alan Fenn and J looking forward to another round tomorrow!