'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Economic Migrants

So, after being totally traumatised when Muğla central police station lost our original application for long-term residency during the change-over from the old ways of doing stuff, the new staff and system have completely redeemed themselves.


I do understand that police stations can’t actually lose anything and anyway, I doubt the paperwork is lost – I bet it is still in the bottom of some filing cabinet drawer along with a whole bunch of other applications from people we know!

Six months, almost to the day, since the applications were re-submitted, an SMS arrived – they were on the way from Ankara! The tracking system functioned fine and on the first working day after they arrived in Ortaca the delivery guy rang to get our location. We’ve even had an SMS to tell us they’d been delivered to us in case we hadn’t noticed!


These days the permit arrives in a white wallet sponsored by Turkish Airlines ‘Miles & Smiles’ – you can’t keep the world’s favourite airline down!


look carefully at this photo and you’ll see that Ortaca police are also kind to street animals

Thanks go to the delightful and very helpful police lady in Ortaca who got all the duplicates together and then rang and pleaded with Murat at the Migration Directorate in Muğla to see us and get everything sorted asap. He did! Forty minutes after we walked through his office door we were on our way home – job jobbed!

Unless the elixir of life turns up in the form of a wine bottle we’ll never have to go through this stuff again. These long-term permits are valid until 31st December 2099 – gawd help us if we forget or don’t last long enough to renew – trust me, you really don’t want to fall foul of the bureaucracy here!

Alan Fenn, a legal, long-term economic migrant in Turkey.


Bottled Out!

It was back in the halcyon days of my youth, when I was misguided (or misled) enough to believe that ‘serving Queen and country’ was actually a beneficial thing for the majority of the world’s population, that I first heard the word ‘bottle’ used in a different context from that of a glass thing with alcohol inside.

iron maiden para

‘Trooper’ – Iron Maiden

In my old regiment, being tagged as someone who had ‘bottled it’, or ‘bottled out’, or ‘lost his bottle’ was on a par with admitting at an Iron Maiden concert that you preferred Cliff Richard. You would carry the scars for the rest of your life!

The ‘lost bottle’ in question is thought to derive from Cockney rhyming slang – ‘bottle and glass – arse’, an organ which is generally reckoned to ‘twitch’ when under extreme pressure!  It is one of those weirdly British terms and refers to a person who has undertaken to do something and then ‘chickens-out’ – loses their courage at the last moment. This was not considered a very useful character trait in the Paras.

As a 71 year-old ex-para I can cheerfully admit that last Thursday, when J and I looked at the weather forecast for the mountain area where our cabin is situated, our collective ‘bottles’ were most definitely dropped! Ice, snow, sleet and temperatures predicted to drop to -16C (that’s 3.2f for the un-reconstructed)! It was time to bail out and take to our heels and aren’t we glad we did.


when this . .


changes to this . .


 . . and this, we knew we’d made the right call. Mind you, it can be very beautiful once the skies clear. This from last winter when we were photographing crocus in the snow up there.


Alan Fenn, snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug in Okçular Köyü


So Here Is Dawning

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!

man at work

solar powered!



finished product

Finally, to make getting this far worthwhile, this was our dawn (not Photoshopped) this morning, 25th December 2015 – worth getting up for?

dawn christmas 2015

Alan Fenn, Crimbo down the rabbit hole


Limited Shelf-Life

You may recall from a few posts back that this lot arrived . .

Turkish village firewood supply

. . 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!’

Do you know, the sun came out!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü



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.

wooden chopping board

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!cabin doors

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.

crack of dawn

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.

Okcular school white flag

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 the top table

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.

Okcular school presentation

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.

Ortaca education manager

special flags

flags a-flying

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!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü