Cabin Life

At Risk Of Being Boring

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After the excitement caused by the last posting about bottling your own rakı it’s time to come down to earth and get grounded in ‘normal’. And ‘normal’ for J and me equals pretty, bloody boring for you!

Mr Bean

I mean, if this blog is to maintain its position in the Google Premier League then I have to post regularly whether I, or you for that matter, like it or not! Algorithms rule so here we are, I’m trying to make the ordinary scintillatingly interesting and you’re trying to pretend you are not bored out of your brain.

Our life here at the cabin is mostly quiet and simple. We harvest our veg – potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, aubergines, melons, cabbages, tomatoes, beans, tobacco. There’s been an apple, a plum, a few peaches and the cennet elması/paradise apples/persimmon are coming on a treat. Dried they are scrummy!

We weed, grub out or layer the hedgerows, find interesting things to do with rocks and, after the success of this past season, widen the veggie plot and add plenty of goat manure.

Just in case you get the idea that the only person who works around here is J let me ask ‘Who do you think built the path? And who is up the ladder waterproofing the woodwork?’

When the cabin was built the exterior was done over with varnish – in my opinion a big mistake. It never lasts very well in extreme conditions like we experience up here. Hot summer sun and ice, snow and -20C in the winter. I use this stuff and find it works very well – it waterproofs wood, stone, concrete, you name it – they even use it to waterproof the domes of mosques!

Alan, back to the job in hand!

Cabin Life

Off Piste!

Off Piste we are not! Our boule piste may not be up to league standard but they are good for a laugh – especially for me as J is on a losing streak these past few days. Comments of empathy/sympathy can be attached and I will enjoy responding!

But enough of all that ‘off piste’ stuff, off grid is what this is about. I mean, no mains electricity equals no electric ovens so what to do when you fancy roast chicken, jacket spuds and roast onions? The answer is in the can!

 

Forty five minutes later . .

Go on. Admit it, you’re impressed, aren’t you?

Alan, on the frontiers of technology!

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.

 

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Flushed!

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Yesterday, you may recall, ‘Shit Happened!‘ Today? Well, today is another day!

This morning we both felt a tad moribund. The need to go to the loo being counteracted by the chipped lip of the plastic paint bucket that was filling the toilet role (such a way with words). The garden beckoned but the prospect of no water for five days, and no rain forecast either, had us reluctant to plant seeds and, instead, wandering around the garden hacking viscously at baby thistles and the like!

Meanwhile, after the visit yesterday by the Forestry people and the Jandarma, all was quiet on the Western front. The monster was also moribund – but more so.

Five days was looking more like five months, five years or maybe never! The Forestry people were back in some force with much coming and going. Enveloped in our ever more dense cloud of pessimism a small miracle occurred. Our neighbour Sadık arrived in his battered old Tofaş (an old-style Lada by any other name) with a great coil of water pipe tied on the roof. Knowing our situation, and being our plumber, he had taken it upon himself to get us sorted one way or another. Within twenty minutes water was flowing!

Sadık, a true neighbour, a squire and a gentleman!

This wonderful fellow has sorted a temporary arrangement that will see us through until the situation at the source is finalised. And finalising it (to paraphrase Capt Oates) may be some time!

Once Sadık left, again refusing payment, ‘We can sort it all later.’ (you recall he repaired the ravages of winter on the watering system), the Big Nobs arrived in force. The Forestry Chief for our province arrived with various Deputy Chiefs in one of those very intimidating 4x4s. We haven’t seen him for over a year when he donated a wad of trees for our garden. It was great because he was so interested to see what we had achieved since his last visit. The pond was a smash hit as were all the trees and J’s garden and compost heaps got special attention. Then they were off to assess what our new neighbour had been up to with his hired digger. Such a site visit by such high-flyers does not auger well for him.

And so it proved. What he has ordered done is totally illegal and he must answer for it before a judge. The owner-driver of the digger machine has had his machine and low-loader impounded and it will be parked outside our village muhtar’s office until there is a resolution by the judge. I don’t know if the driver has been charged but the loss of income alone will be devastating. A clear warning to others to ensure that, before you half pull a mountain down and fill a ravine and water course, what you are doing is legal!

So, life is pretty much back to normal and our moribund has done a bunk!

Alan Fenn, flushed and showered too!

ps after 20 years and a lot of political upheaval folk still ask us what it is that binds us to Turkey – the answer is all around us – Turks!

pps the Forestry Dept has undertaken to gift us a bunch of lavender plants – special delivery expected some time soon.

Stuff

Dicing With Death

Quite a lot of people, whole families, die unnecessarily in Turkey every year. The killer is silent. Usually strikes at night when folks are asleep. And it is mostly poorer families who are the victims. The killer is well known with plenty of information and warnings distributed about how to stay safe. Still people die!

The killer is carbon monoxide and the weapon of choice is usually poorly maintained domestic solid fuel heaters.

Here in Turkey they are know as a ‘soba’. They come in all shapes, sizes and shades of brown, They are very cheap to buy and when properly maintained, incredibly efficient! Despite there being a safe, optimum length for the flue pipes they often span great distances across rooms because the hot pipe is a source of considerable heat distribution.

Until we built our cabin J and I had never owned or operated a soba. That we needed one, given the sub-zero winter temperatures, was a given. Our choice was one of those cute little jobbies with an oven built in that you can see above. Mindful of the dangers from lack of care/maintenance we have kept an eye on carbon build-up and carried out regular cleaning.

All had been well until we arrived for this stop-over. The days are a delight but night time temperatures are regularly quite a few degrees below zero. The cabin was cold so we got the soba going right away – except it didn’t! Smoke billowed out into the room and there was nothing for it but to open all the doors and windows and allow the fire to die down.

When it was cool enough I removed the fire bucket and pried open a couple of the easily reached flue pipes – they were clear. There was nothing else for it (by now it was evening and dark) but to put double quilts on the bed, have an early night, cuddle up and hope we didn’t get hypothermia. I can tell you one thing, it was so cold I went the whole night without getting up for a pee once let alone the usual three! Mind over matter or what!

pretty clean – no problem there

This morning, after reviving coffee, it was down to the job of a total strip down. What we found was horrifying and a lesson in not getting complacent! The speed of this build-up was staggering.

Common sense kept us freezing cold last night – by not chancing our arm and trying to keep a small fire in it also kept us alive! That said, I leave you with the following:

and

Tonight we sleep cozy, just one quilt and I bloody well know my bladder is not going to hold out!

Alan Fenn, up here!