Incredible Okçular!

Mists And Mellow Fruitfulness

J and I love this time of year – the temperature is perfect, it rains, the sun shines, the shades of green and brown are gorgeous as leaves fall and plants of every sort grow – thrusting their way through barren layers of summer and out into the sparkle of spring. The smells of leaf-mould and mushrooms and damp, rich soil – the twittering of ‘garden’ birds and the calls of buzzards and ravens. Everywhere you look and listen and sniff, stuff is happening. There is new energy – from Mother Nature and from us!

An old friend has returned after a summer spent gadding about the forest chasing food and the ladies – now he just craves a bit of peace and quiet and his place in the sun . .

Tawney Owl

. . Owl is home again for the ‘winter’.

J is composting furiously as the pruning mounts up ready for the macerating machine . .

macerating machine

compost bins

hot compost heaps

. . and ‘Yes, they really do get that hot!’ I’ve poached eggs in the compost heap before now, if you don’t believe me go here and check it out.

The colours of autumn are a delight to the eye and often it is the smallest of things that make the biggest impression – ‘suns’ glow . .

autumn colours

. . and ‘stars’ twinkle . .

autumn berries

Common Copper

. . and a Common Copper glows in the sun.

There was even time and energy for a bit of ‘reverse lens’ macro photography fun . .

Huntsman Spider macro

. . staring down a Huntsman Spider

Finally, this being our so-called autumn, here are a couple of aptly-named flowers from this time of year – both are so delicate and beautiful and so worth taking a few moments to pause and enjoy.

Scilla autumnalis Autumn Squill

Scilla autumnalis – Autumn Squill

Spiranthes spiralis - Autumn Lady's Tresses

Spiranthes spiralis – Autumn Lady’s Tresses

Spiranthes spiralis - Autumn Lady's Tresses

This orchid is such a tiny thing, so easy to miss and yet close up the flowers appear to be made of crystalised sugar . .

Spiranthes spiralis - Autumn Lady's Tresses

With the exception of the red berries, all the machines, creatures (human and non-human) and plants live in and around my garden!

Autumn. It surely is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


The Way To a (Wo)man’s Heart Is Through Her . .

Even occasional readers of the twaddle on this blog will know about J and her compost heaps – her passion and love for that which enriches her soil knows no bounds! A few years ago, a professor of horticultural science from our local university suggested that she should accompany him to meetings with local farmers in an attempt to educate them on the benefits of composting. She is also very enthusiastic for the creatures that show their appreciation of her efforts by moving in to the centrally heated, organic warehouses that are her heaps. (these heaps get hot enough to cook in and to prove the point, I did) Huge grubs are proudly displayed; mouse nests are carefully moved and blinking great, fat toads are gently transferred to new homes away from the dangers of her garden fork whenever she sets about the job of moving her ‘pride and joy’ from bin to garden.

a pat in the right place

Now, J and I have been together for a long time – a fact that never ceases to surprise and delight us. Expectations that a hot-house rose from Zambia, or a half pound box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray will be all that is needed to curry a favour or two, have faded as cholesterol and blood pressure pills (together with a red meat, salt and fat free diet) have kicked in. However, with age and experience comes a wily cunning – I know exactly how to woo the lady of my life, and set her Yorkshire heart a flutter. The days of climbing up the vine to her balcony, rose clamped between teeth, may be over, but a pat in the right place at the right time is all it takes!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


How Do You Like Your Eggs, Sir (or Madam)?

A couple of posts back when I was extolling the virtues of J and her miraculous composting skills, I made a throw-away remark that such was the heat generated in her heaps/bins ‘. . . you could coddle an egg in there or slow cook a casserole!’ not that I had ever done either, you understand. It was, I thought, just one of those neat little concoctions that strung things along and added a bit of colour to the sentence. A throw-away remark!

So, it came as a bit of a surprise (and a twinge of guilt) when someone, whose own writing I admire greatly, came back with a comment on the post ‘. . . do you really coddle eggs in there?’ a comment that was followed up by an email about her granny’s egg coddlers. That thown-away remark had been well and truly ‘fielded in the deep’, as John Arlott used to say.

Now, I have never owned an egg coddler, the closest I have ever got to one was in the pages of ‘Antiques’ magazine in the dentist’s waiting room. Something had to be done; I know I’m full of ‘bull’ but pride doesn’t want others to think the same. I wasn’t about to try cooking a slow casserole but I could try poaching an egg without exerting too much effort and if it didn’t work I could always slink off into a dark corner somewhere and suck my thumb! The results are shown in the following photos; and no comments about ‘Photoshop’ either, if I’d used that I’d have doctored the burnt bits on the toast!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

in the cooker

on the cooker


ransom note with date


on toast




'scrummy in the tummy!'

Zen and the Art of Composting

Charles ‘Turnip’ Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (18 April 1674 – 21 June 1738) creator of the modern crop rotation system and avid turnip grower.

Joseph Foljambe, inventor of the Rotherham Plough in 1730, quickly superseded by the Scot’s Plough of 1763.

. . not the inventors of the seed drill

Jethro Tull (1674–1741), English agriculturist, often credited with inventing the seed drill (or was that some ‘Flower Power’ rock band?) Actually, the seed drill had been in use in the Far East for a couple of thousand years, but who wants to get between an Englishman and his version of history?

Sir Albert Howard, inventor of compost at Indore in India just before World War I. Really? Yes, really! That is what any decent English History of Agriculture will tell you. Forget what all those ‘Johnny Foreigners’ say, compost is as English as television, rocket engines and the first man on the moon! Aren’t you proud? Aren’t you proud to be English? (or hacked off because you are not?)

But I digress, where was I? Compost; or more precisely, Composting, is an art form. I know this from my many years of living in the shadow of J who, in my opinion, rates up there with those other greats of English agricultural innovation and development.

J makes compost. Or rather, she ‘nurtures’ compost, it’s in her genes, inherited from her gardening father Len whose motto: ‘Now then – just stop and think a minute!’ is the bane of my life. J has made compost ever since she had her first window box as a student in a basement flat on Holland Park Road and found it a convenient place to empty the tea leaves. From such modest beginnings she has morphed into a proverbial ‘Stig of the Dump’, ever enthusiastic but often disheveled and festooned with garden trimmings and blobs of brown stuff.

She is to conventional composting practice and wisdom what Richard Dawkins is to Pope Benedict. J composts everything – garden waste; kitchen waste, cooked and uncooked; dead birds, lizards and polecats that are the left-overs from the murderous nocturnal activities of our bloody moggy; almost anything that is decomposable will be used. And, she adds nothing by way of chemicals, minerals, accelerators or activators. These heaps will attain internal temperatures in excess of 66*C (150*F), you can coddle eggs in there or slow cook a casserole – it is awesome! The results are great mounds of sweet-smelling, rich, brown, run-your-fingers-through-this-and-give-them-a-sniff compost that teems with wildlife and feeds our otherwise barren and stony garden. Everything grows at an accelerated rate; one tree reached 70 feet in eight years! Whole new species have evolved on the revised time-scale J’s stuff provides! There are grubs in the heaps so big that your average Indigenous Australian searching for ‘Bush Tucker’ would discard his Witchetty grubs in disgust!

J cannot stand waste in any shape or form, so a few years ago we acquired one of those macerator things. What an amazing machine – a ‘time machine’ in fact because now I don’t just get to prune all the trees we were stupid enough to plant, I get to spend hours a day feeding all this extra stuff through the machine and clearing it when it jams up! Mind you, J says it is worth it, and who am I to argue with (such an) authority! The ‘Proof of the Pudding lies in the Soil’, or words to that effect!

And the ‘Zen’ bit? I expect you’re wondering about that – well, Zen is about contemplation of the ‘Life Within’ and J spends hours doing just that – ‘Where are you? Come and look at this; smell this stuff – it’s the source of all life, don’t you know!’

Ommmmmmmmmmmmmm; Ommmmmmmmmmmmm.

J and her 'bins' - the compost is to the left (she does not approve of being a 'celeb')
the 'Fount Of All Goodness'

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü