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!

Stuff

Do What You Do Do Well, Boy!

Well, here we are. Déjà vu all over again! We were feeling deprived and it was something J and I just couldn’t put up with. (and before you pendants begin to stir) No, being away from our mountain retreat any longer was something up with which we could not put!

I mean, look at the view – who wouldn’t want to be here?

It feels great to be here. Within minutes of arriving everything was checked out and working fine. The fire was lit, the solar systems were providing hot water and electric power and all was well with the world. One hour in and we were out in the garden doing what we do so well, picking over the veg plot, planting onions along with the odd, lonely little petunia and moving piles of rocks about!

this is ‘Happy’. ‘Grumpy’ is on the shovel!

Oak logs were sorted to keep the fire in overnight – temperatures will drop to minus or just below. The wheel barrow has a newish wheel. The pond looks great. The wild pigs have had a root about but have done no damage so all is well with the world.

Alan Fenn, up here.

ps ‘do what you do do’ got me thinking. How many times can ‘and’ be followed by ‘and’ in a sentence and still make perfect sense? Answers on a postcard (or in a comment).

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Afterthoughts

In a few days time J and I will be returning back to Okçular. My abla (older sister) will arrive soon enough for a month-long stay and whilst she is here Number 1 Daughter will join us for about ten days. They are more like mother and daughter and having them around is going to be a joy.

We’ve hardly shown our faces at the ‘other house’ these past many months and there will be much dusting, mopping and ‘cobwebbing’ to be done. No doubt there will be the odd corpse . .

cobwebs

. . metaphorically speaking!

It will probably be at least a couple of weeks before we are back up here with both of our ‘guests’ in tow. The weather is on the turn – Autumn is arriving up here where night and day-time temperatures are at least ten degrees Celsius lower than Okçular. When we return it will be soba-time in the evenings!

With that in mind one of the jobs was to ensure that the supply of winter wood was stacked and covered.

winter wood pile

job jobbed!

It’s been fun and very satisfying these past months with so much more achieved than we thought was possible. We’ve feasted on fruit and vegetables from our own efforts and the generosity of our neighbouring smallholders.

melon

garden fruit

We have no idea what these fruits are, the locals call them ‘golden strawberries’ and they are delicious.

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golden strawberry1

A dragonfly pool has been created and established – it can only get better with new creatures discovering it regularly. Enough well-aged goat manure to last a few years has been delivered and J has started preparing the veggie garden for winter sowing. The weather now is blue skies and distant horizons – it is beautiful and very comfortable to be around and about.

If Mother Nature is kind the rains will begin soon and our neighbours will breathe a sigh of relief and no doubt pray for more and a lot of snow. The village reservoir has been bone-dry these past two weeks for the first time that anyone can remember. We have been fortunate because we are tapped into a source that is fed from a huge marsh area way up the mountain.

Doganbaba baraj 2016

Okçular is much more bio-diverse than here but cannot compete with the dawns and moon-rises over the lake . .

moon over salda lake

or weird spiders . .

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strange spider1

Finally, we have been enjoying one of nature’s glories – Bee Eaters in their thousands are passing through on their way south. Unlike Okçular here almost everyone keeps bees and again, unlike Okçular, there is very little shooting of these beautiful birds. The locals prefer to clap their hands and shout out ‘Defol! at them in the hopes that they understand Turkish!

Bee eater

Please excuse the ‘softness’ of these images, they are taken at extreme range with an ancient, totally manual 500mm reflex lens.

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Alan Fenn, at the turning of the season!

Stuff

Breakfast At Tefenni’s

My little ‘Piece of Paradise’ is away in the realm of the Great Satan visiting family. I admire her intestinal fortitude since a number of countries around the world have issued clear ‘health’ warnings to their citizens to avoid the place like the plague!

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Let’s face it, apart from the places their armed forces are bombing the crap out of, the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ is about the most dangerous place on the planet! (16200 intentional murders per year – 44 per day, excluding those murdered by the police)

So, whilst J has been in hell I have been in paradise up here at the cabin. With nothing to distract me I’ve been pottering around doing useful things. Things like servicing the shower taps; making compost bins;

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complete with its own watering supply

there’s been some new shelving put in the cupboards; the main door needed easing; an extra pot stand and a new, practical table top made and fitted for the balcony.

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halfway decent!

Then, following the current fad for photographing food and sending it to the person opposite, I thought you might like to see what I had for breakfast this morning.

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Home made muesli, home grown grapes, figs and melon – well, OK, the muesli was mixed up from different packets with a few additives and the grapes and figs were home grown by someone else. But the melon was ours grown from a seed planted by J’s green-fingered hand – honest, it was!

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I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here it is with the cairn in the background.

Anyway, I think I need to explain a couple of things. First is the title, ‘Breakfast at Tefenni’ – well, it’s the name of a small town about 30kms from here and just like the muesli, figs and grapes is stretching the truth a bit because I’m not there either.  Still, as J is much closer to Tiffanny’s than I am, I thought it was quite clever and gives this load of twaddle an arty feel! Second is this ‘little piece of paradise’ thing – Turks tend to call J ‘Cennet’ – (pronounced ‘Jennet’ and pretty close to the sound of her name in English) – Cennet means Paradise in Turkish and often leads to smiles and winks in my direction! Turks can also be a right lot of soppy romantics as a search of Google images for the same would show. To save you the trouble I’ll leave you with this:

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Alan Fenn, up those steps somewhere – not really, it’s back to the grindstone!

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Feckless

In a few days J and I will be heading back to Okçular because there are boring things that have to be done before we head to the UK. Things like laundry and ironing and banking and stuff like that. Like I said boring!

The time has flown by what with one thing and another. The cairn got finished and the pair of us are pretty pleased with our handiwork . .

cairn1

cairn2

You can see the extra pair of solar electricity panels that we brought up and fitted. They have made a huge difference to how and what we can now use. Add a couple more and I can see us laying on a son et lumière come next Summer’s solstice!

Daily work clearing the remaining rocks was interrupted a couple of times by monumental thunderstorms – they weren’t confined to the mountains either as the coastal resorts copped it as well.

storm1

storm2

The fresh stuff from J’s veggie gardening has been really enjoyable – the onions would grace a garden society show and the courgettes are prolific enough to warrant much searching on the internet for ‘things to do with courgettes’, none of which fell into the category of ‘adult entertainment’!

The storms gave us some beautiful dawns and evenings . .

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storms4

What else? Well, we had a friend visit for a couple of days and we all got more than we bargained for when the people at the accommodation that was booked told us there was a problem. Never had the decency to tell us and we were left with no option but to bed our friend down on the floor because, this being the main holiday of the year for Muslims, everywhere else was booked solid! We managed and he had a good experience, or so he said!

On one of the dodgy storm days J decided to test the waters of the lake . .

lake swim

. . whilst I interfered in the private life of Onychogomphus forcipatus – Small Pincertail dragonfly. They are amazing – they lay their eggs in the lake and there the nymphs grow and develop. When they are ready to emerge as dragonflies they crawl from where you see J at the water’s edge all the way to where I am standing, a distance of around 200 mts! Here they crawl up into the sedges and the transformational miracle begins – it is fascinating!

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Exuviae, the exoskeleton left behind when insects and spiders get too big for their boots

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small pincertail dragonfly

it’s astonishing what comes out of the packaging!

So, what was all that ‘feckless’ stuff in the title? Well, I thought many times these past days that I should/would like to write a post but was always too much what the dictionary clearly understands me to be – ‘feckless ˈfɛkləs/ adjective: feckless lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible’. I was completely without feck! No, that is not strictly true because, actually, I felt pretty relaxed, laid back and cool about life so really I didn’t give a feck!

Alan Fenn, in a feckin’ cabin in the feckin’ mountains