Stuff

Amazingly Chuffed!

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J reckons I use ‘Amazing!’, complete with exclamation mark, a lot. Maybe so! I see it as a positive because if I can still be amazed by the relatively normal at my age then that has got to be good – right?

So, what amazed me recently? Well, we were sitting by our pond enjoying a beer in the last of the evening sun when it started to ‘rain’. Except it wasn’t raining rain and the ‘raindrops’ spattering all over the pond were in fact little beetles arriving in their thousands and dive-bombing into the water. Having run the gauntlet of the many pond skaters intent on a bit of fast food and struggled through the surface tension they were off like little bonitos to explore their new home.

I’ve never seen this on such a scale before and I think it was amazing!

‘Wonderful!’ fits in just below ‘Amazing!’ and there is lots about the pond that sits in that category. It is alive with creatures that have made their own way to it and settled in.

Great Diving Beetle

Long Water Scorpion

European Green Toad

Water Boatman

There are also Common Black Diving Beetles, Whirligig Beetles, Pond Skaters and much more. There are also four young Grey Mullet that have survived over the winter and seem to be thriving. OK, they didn’t fly in or make their own way here, I netted them in a pond up in the mountains and carried them here in a bucket! All-in-all I’m delighted with the pond and can’t wait for the dragonflies and damselflies to emerge.

So, apart from sitting around and drinking beer, what else have we been doing? Well, J has been beavering away on the veggie patch. When you consider that just over a year ago this was a stony, compacted desert the transformation is ‘Amazing!’

There is an ‘Amazing!’, satisfying calmness to our life when we are up here. Not that Okçular is frantic or stressful you understand. But picking caterpillars off the leaves of fruit trees or watching, beer in hand, beetles plop by has a certain . . something. Add to that mix the ‘Loveliest Of Trees’ . .

. . cooking alfresco . .

. . completing the ‘Grand Entrance’ . .

. . and doing useful things like making an ashtray from recycled materials after J discovered yet another butt-end in the garden!

And now you are amazed that anyone could find any of this stuff ‘Amazing!’

Alan, off looking for beetles and caterpillars.

 

Incredible Okçular!

‘Amazing!’

‘Amazing!’ is all around us – staring us in the face and begging to be noticed. ‘Amazing!’ is in our gardens, behind our cupboards, down the street or lane outside our houses. ‘Amazing!’ is everywhere – if only we are patient and take a few moments to observe – the ordinary becomes extra-ordinarily – ‘Amazing!’

These shots are all from my garden – I don’t pretend to be much of a photographer or that these are great photos – it’s just that, for me, these are amazing subjects . .

beautiful compound eyes of a fly

the amazing and very beautiful compound eyes of a fly

eyeball-to-eyeball with a young Leopard Snake Elaphe situla often referred to as Rat Snakes they are constrictors that feed on small mammals and lizards

Hyla arborea – Common Tree Frog these are the noisy little blighters that keep you awake at night and they can change colour very quickly

Libellula depressa (m) 2_1

Libellula depressa – Broad-Bodied Chaser common and found all over Europe – how often do we notice?

IMG_1332_1

A grumpy-looking Chamaeleo chamaeleon – Chameleon sitting on my hand whilst being transferred from kitchen to garden

Fauna302_1

Robber Fly – Asilidae family sucking the life out of a hover-fly

Saturnia pyri – Viennese Emperor Moth, Europe’s largest – this one has just hatched and is still pumping up its wings

a detail of the wing of an emperor moth

. . and finally something with an ‘Ahhhh!’ factor for everyone . .

Syrian Squirrel (up close)_1

there is a family of Syrian Squirrels living in a tree just outside the garden – they are regular visitors to the bird tables

That’s it for this time – more later.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

You Marque My Words

I’m an ‘amazed’ person; much of my life is spent saying ‘That’s amazing!’ J is always saying that I’m a very easily amazed person, which I also find amazing because it it true!
I’m amazed by the things I see and learn as I explore in the realms of what used to be called ‘Natural History’ – and I’m constantly amazed at the skill and artistry of craftsmen and craftswomen from around the world and throughout time. Engineers who have created amazing machines; quilters who create amazing works of art with scraps of material; artists who create amazingly atmospheric images with barely a detail; carpenters who created amazing structures without the use of screw or glue like the mimbar in the mosque in Birgi. And now I’ve been amazed by, what I can only describe as, ‘Marqueteers’ – creators of amazing marquetry.
For those not familiar with this form of decoration, it is the use of thin pieces of different types and colours of wood which are cut and inlaid to form ‘pictures’ or geometric designs. It was popular with my granny and her generation and, by default, with Mr Skeets my woodwork teacher at school who was old enough to be my granny. It was also a much favoured DIY type project in the 1960s.
On our recent trip to Tuscany, J and I went with our friends to the lovely old town of Lucca. There, amongst other things, we paid a visit to the Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi (we also got free admission as Old Aged Pensioners from the EU – our Aussie friends left out an ‘a’ and an ‘l’ and were let in as Austrians). There is a lot of interesting stuff to see, particularly relating to religious artifacts, but what had me utterly amazed were these . .

what you are looking at is a flat panel – the least amazing and ‘normal’ example

marquetry door panel – now check the detail in the other door below

door panel detail and ‘No! you are not looking through it’

. . and then there was this . .

as you look at this amazing piece, remember that you are looking a flat panel created in the same way as the 1960s DIY picture above

These are just a few representative examples of what is on display; each piece is between two and three metres high. Flash was not used for obvious reasons – the guard would have confiscated my camera!

‘Amazed’, Okçular Köyü

Wanderings

Tripping In Amasra

‘Amasra. Oh! you must see Amasra.’ ‘Amasra is beautiful!’ Amasra is this; Amasra is that! So, today we went to Amasra; it was a very interesting day out.

The drive over the mountains from Safranbolu is a real delight that should be sampled at a gentle pace, if for no other reason than much of the road has not been improved – yet! The scenery is so different from what we are used to in SW Turkey; here the woods are mostly mixed with coniferous and deciduous trees vying with each other for space and colour. There was one long section in particular that was just splendid with the road covered by a tunnel of cınar (Oriental Plane), dappled by the greens and yellows and browns of Autumn. Sugar loaf hay ricks were scattered all over the place and ‘Heidi’ houses clung to the steep hillsides.

The drop down to Amasra gives great views but few safe places to stop and admire them as you ride the switchback into town. With its two harbours either side of a narrow peninsular and a narrow bridge to an island that is home to more of the town as well as the castle, the setting is beautiful as well as unique. We were there late in the season so there were few tourists about and although the town gives the impression of making few concessions to tourism the shaded pedestrian area near the centre gives the lie to that with the streets lined with small shops all selling the same ghastly tat from China.

Lunch was a delight taken at a small harbourside restaurant. Coming from Muğla we struggle to find fresh hamsi (sardines) so that was our choice and what arrived at table was a great plateful together with a huge and imaginatively presented salad; all for just TL10 a head! Cheap at twice the price!

Later we wandered the island part of town and J managed to sneak in some ‘Brownie Points’ as we trekked to the lighthouse at the highest point – just like the castle at Afyon, it was worth the effort for the all-round view as well as our constitutions.

We drove home the long way round by heading West towards Zonguldak before turning South and up a long climb through a river valley that leads, literally, into the arse-end of Karabük. I’ll come to that in a minute, first I want to comment on the railway that climbs up the same valley – sometimes on the same side as the road, sometimes clinging to the vertical rock face the other side of the valley and sometimes disappearing for miles into tunnels before reappearing. What a feat of engineering, and what a sight it must have been when steam engines, often in fours, hauled the huge lines of coal-laden trucks up to the steel works at Karabük, 1300mts above sea level.

Anyway, back to Karabük and its arse-end. As we arrived at the edge of town the diversions began and then continued into the centre. Road works were everywhere and as is often the case the diversion signs soon disappeared, never to return. It was chaos – bedlam – road rage and stupidity all rolled into one great mess! We got drawn into the gyrations and once in could find no way out. Eventually J nobbled four Zabita guys to get help – go across here one said and around there – but that’s against the traffic flow in a single lane – no problem said he, no police – and he was right, it worked like a dream and after 45 minutes of frustration we were back on track in about 3 – ‘Burası Türkiye!’ ‘This is Turkey!’

A&J

fan-bloody-tastic!

colours
harbour art gallery