Self Indulgence

There was a time, when vicars, elders and assorted priests had a role in society and pleasuring oneself was considered a sin, when a bit of self-indulgence was thought to lead to blindness and/or paralysis! Not true, folks! J and I are living proof that a little of what you fancy does you good. Repression leads to all sorts of strange hang-ups, as my mother could have confirmed were she not ‘bereft of life’! This chap has been caught early as his eyesight has only just started to dim!


before you rush to order, this is a spoof ad – I know, I checked it out!

So, onwards and upwards – things can only get better! Having had a few weeks of feeling the need to be around because of the geothermal drilling business (see here, and here) in the overwhelming heat at this time of year plus dealing with some residence permit issues (who hasn’t had those!), we needed to indulge our inner and outer selves and escape to the tranquility of the mountains. There is something about being pretty much alone and surrounded by a world much bigger and wider than those irritations that tend to seem so large at the time – somehow, they just melt away – at least temporarily.

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We didn’t want to spend much time on the road and so we decided to head for Girdev Lake and spend a couple of days at the Girdev Camp owned by İlhan and İnci Kurt. Situated 1800mts above sea-level the lake is always beautiful and at this time of year the herders will be there with their sheep and the environment should be wild with life! We were not to be disappointed. Whilst there we also met a young woman named Raz who woke up one morning in her native Cornwall and said, ‘Raz, old girl! You are at a crossroads in your life – why not take a walk to Istanbul.’ (or words to that effect) So she did! Read her  intermittent blog. Then she bought a bike and cycled off and ended up at Girdev Camp for a while. Where next Raz?

Day one it rained cannonballs for a bit, but mostly the sun shone, the clouds were fluffy and the air was like champagne!

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raining . .

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. . cannonballs!

Girdev is a bit like the wilderness with the edges rubbed off – sufficiently off the beaten track to discourage the casual visitors and yet close enough for those willing to trash their tyres if needs must (of which more later)! How long it is going to remain free of mass tourism is open to question because the machines are out in force scraping and rolling in preparation for asphalt. Will they go all the way? It looks very likely. Add in the electricity that is now there and the hopefulless business ventures lining the side of the road won’t be far behind.

Anyway, whilst it lasts, let’s make the most of it and enjoy the wonders! Here’s one that left me amazed – countless billions (not a typo) of Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselflies everywhere. I have never seen anything like it!

 Small Red-Eyed Damsefly011

 Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (female l. male r.)

Erythromma viridulum - Small Red-Eyed Damselflies

. . and then there were these:

Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus

Ochlodes venatus – Large Skipper

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Melanargia russiae Russian Marbled White

Melanargia russiae – Russian Marbled White

. . and then there are the mountains:

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ancient juniper Girdev

with ancient Junipers

mosque in the middle of nowhere Girdev

. . and a mosque in the middle of nowhere

girdev cheese making

a lesson in cheese making from a local expert

lunch with goatherders

. . and lunch with delightful goatherders

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. . who live down there

Some random flower pics:

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girdev flowers2

girdev flowers 3

girdev flowers 4

girdev lake 4

final view of Girdev Lake

So, what do you think, folks – splendid, or what?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps when we got back down from Girdev and on to a bit of tarmac we realised we’d probably been driving for miles on a flat rear tyre. It was utterly trashed! The inside and outside walls were ripped like this all around! In the nearby little town the ‘Lastikci’ dug-out a nearly new replacement for the spare, checked everything over – 100 TL/£25 – job jobbed!


pps for those of you who have been totally enthralled by this scintillating post, here’s a link to an earlier expedition with a certain professor who shall remain nameless to protect his reputation!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

World Exclusive! Okçular Ex-pat Spots Previously Unknown Species Of Bird

There was great excitement today as our region’s local newspaper ‘Güneyege’ hit the news stands and it was revealed that Okçular ex-pat resident, John Codling had become the first person to photograph a previously unknown species of bird.

Avid nature lover, bon vivant, amateur photographer of considerable skill and all round good egg, John was with a few friends attending the village picnic day at our neighbouring village of Kemaliye. The picnic this year had proved to be a great bore compared with other years when there had been plenty of singing, dancing and raki to be had, not to mention side stalls and the odd brawl! Kemaliye picnic day was something to be talked about for weeks afterwards (and sometimes longer for those carted away by the Jandarma!).

Anyway, this year all that changed and the picnic became nothing more than a glorified political rally because, would you believe, even the Minister of State for Industry turned up to make a speech in support of the muhtar who this year will be a candidate for the current ruling party. All a bit like having Tony Benn (alright, alright, I’ve been away for a long time!) turn up to support the election for chairman of the parish council – but it really happened. This surely put the dampers on any partying (as opposed to political partying) as huge numbers of Jandarma, black 4x4s and ‘Men-in-Black’ with funny wires coming out of their ears and very suspicious bulges under their jackets suddenly appeared. They didn’t stay long but somehow the zing had gone out of the day and a sort of melancholy settled over our group.

This was broken momentarily when I spotted ‘something’ on a rock not far away; I pointed it out and John, true to his calling of building a vast collection of pics of Okçular’s wildlife, leapt from his seat and set about getting some close up shots. His unusual speed of movement attracted the attention of a group of kids who, being kids, set about scaring the bejeezus out of whatever was there by getting between camera and subject. John also attracted the attention of local ‘Güneyege’ reporter Zayit İzmir who is a newshound of great initiative and resourcefulness as attested by his regular, two-page spread in the paper. Zayit was too late to see what all the fuss was about so he set about ‘pumping’ some of us for information. He then demonstrated his quickness of mind for a scoop when, using his secret mini-camera he got a shot of John’s camera’s screen as John was reviewing his pics.

Zayit’s audacity and cunning meant that he got the drop on John, who has been faffing about trying to sell his photos of this new species to the Sunday Sport for loads of dosh. John’s tragedy is Zayit’s triumph as this previously unrecorded species was named ‘Yusufçuk kuşunu’ (Dragonfly Bird) and unveiled to the world.

ps Zayit was later asked to refund his bonus when the creature was identified as the Odalisque damselfly Epillage fatime.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü