Wanderings

Operation Market Garden 2.0

Well, we are home in Okçular after a couple of weeks up at our mountain retreat. One thing has to be said (after ‘it’s great to be here’), efficient central heating and a glowing open fire in a concrete house at sea level isn’t a patch on a soba in a well insulated wooden cabin at 1200mts! That is a fact!

soba

not ours, but you get the picture!

So, what have we been up to these past two weeks? Getting utterly knackered slaving away on the plantation – up at sunrise and collapsing, exhausted in to our pit by eight thirty in the evening, that’s what! Certainly too knackered to write some silly blog post! I tell you, this village small-holding lifestyle is no walk in the park!

salda sunrise

I know, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!

The prime objective this trip has been to clear the land of scrub, brambles and the most evil, thorny stuff you’ve ever met plus, to get a terrace retaining wall built from local stone. Our secondary target was to get the land prepared and planted with fruit and nut trees. Did we succeed? Let’s find out . .

The first wall building crew to put themselves forward were nothing if not everybody else’s brother who was an expert on sweet f-a! They disappeared back down the track a bloody sight faster than they arrived with much ‘Allah allah’ing! (Good God/My God!).

After taking more advice we were introduced to Hussain from a neighbouring village who proved to be not just a hard-grafting, stonewall making  usta (craftsman) but a true gentleman to boot. Next day he and his equally hard-working side-kick got started,

Hussain usta

Hussain usta – a gentle giant

Hussain usta2

The first day was spent collecting trailer-loads of large stones

Hussai usta3

and the next on getting started

Then, as happens with the best laid plans – the weather took a hand, site work paused for two days and we were left to gaze out of the window as the rain poured down followed by a healthy dusting of snow.

cabin rain1

cabin rain2

familiar views as you’ve never seen them before

cabin snow1

cabin snow2

another day, another sunrise

By this time, and remembering that this was only day five of our little sojourn . ,

frazzled

I was feeling a little bit glum and a lot frazzled – J has warned me that if I dare to put up the photo of her, taken a few minutes earlier, she will kill me or, worse than that, haunt me for all eternity. I am a bit silly sometimes but I am not a total idiot!

So, back to our narrative – whilst all this stuff was going on J and I were attending to a few things of our own like building fences, grubbing out nasty, brutal thorny stuff, layering hedges and building shoe racks and towel rails.

fence making

shoe rack

gulay's Gallery

Gülay Çolak’s beautiful nick-nack box

Week two and the workers are back on the job and progress is a joy for us to behold – what is appearing is exactly what we wanted.

stone wall5

It’s also been an interesting period for us as we have learned a little about managing our supply of solar electricity when the weather is overcast. In the summer we can clearly see that there will not be a problem with long sunny days and short nights. This started as a project for Summer time but we love it so much here that we want to spend time in the Winter too. There is always the option to up the number of solar panel and batteries if needs must.

As an aside I want to show you some of J’s beautiful needlework together with some felt-work we picked up in Mongolia  that are quite at home up here in the cabin . .

needlework

Mongolian feltwork

In the middle of all this we had a surprise visit from our very dear ‘son’ who had somehow engineered it to bring a great friend of ours and fellow eco-warrior, Süleyman, a man who is perhaps better described as a ‘blood brother’ after some of our exploits together. They came for breakfast and had the good sense and manners to bring everything needed to feed a family of six plus the workers!

friends

old friends and new – the best breakfast surprise (our ‘son’ 2nd r (suitably masked), Süleyman r with two of his colleagues)

tea making turkish style

everybody has an opinion about making tea

9th SS Panzer Div

9th SS Panzer Division – Mark IV Tiger tank

Now, in the midst of all this jollity we had momentarily forgotten that we had come to a financial arrangement with the muhtar (village headman) of our next-door village to hire their digger machine. They used to be a town until the recent reshuffling took place and so they happen to ‘own’ a number of useful toys one of which is the above pictured.

The Panzer man’s job, as carefully described to him, was to level and smooth off the areas above and below our new stone wall. Simple enough, you might think, but you would be taking too narrow a view! In this monster’s driving seat sat an individual trained by the devil and crazy enough to fight the Battle for Stalingrad single-handed! The man was a Berserker! Between our chatting and a few sips of tea and a bit of bread and cheese he had pretty much undermined our wall. People screaming and throwing rocks at his cab did little to stop him until the red mist lifted for a moment and we were able to get him to put most of the soil back where it came from!

digger frenzy

It was the same on the top section, he had to be watched like a hawk or he’d be digging holes, apparently at random, all over the place. Eventually we got what we wanted, sort of, the top was level and the bottom bit was gently sloping albeit with a great mass of bloody great rocks we didn’t know we had until Atilla the Hun dug them out!

digger frenzy2

that’s pretty good, considering!

In the end, we didn’t get on as far as we had hoped. The mad SS Panzer Grenadier had unearthed so much rock that we have to get a tractor with a ‘hook’ plough in to drag it all up and the wall builders will come back and do the heavy lifting to get it out of the way.  The ground is too wet after the rains to use the tractor so we have to wait for a few drying days before the job can be finished. In the grand scheme of things I don’t suppose it will make very much difference but it would have been nice to get those young trees in and settled.

There is also a nice little ‘top terrace’ that will be perfect for lounging, brewing tea, cooking with my wok and tin chicken roaster and taking in the view with a glass or two!

top terrace

Not to mention this character whose owner, we heard, is very ill – the dog seems to have adopted us while we are around and he has proved to be a very well-mannered and gentle creature. He is welcome!

Dog

A number of you have commented that you would like to see a ‘full-frontal’ view of the cabin so here you are . .

cabin shot

Alan Fenn, back from the Eastern Front

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

I Resemble That Remark!

In my last posting certain individuals, who shall remain nameless, like Jack Scott and Lesley Mason made some disparaging comments that implied that J did all the heavy work around here whilst yours truly sat around taking snapshots and offering advice.

To pinch a line from the Marx Brothers, ‘I resemble that remark!’ I felt deeply hurt and cut to the quick because, actually, the reality here in our mountain retreat is quite the reverse – 100% the other way round and I have accumulated the evidence over the past two days to prove my point. But first I need to set the scene . .

lakeside sunrise

sunrise yesterday

We were up early so as to make a start at clearing the undergrowth down the side of the plot. We needed to expose the tons of rocks that we want used up to construct the stone terrace across the area for cultivation. Those of you wondering about the gang due to start the other day – it’s a long story for another time!

plot clearing1

this gives you a bit of an idea of the task

plot clearing2

Exhibit A – first clear evidence of who does the graft in the thicket!

plot clearing3

Exhibit B – drags all the stuff out and burns it

plot clearing4

Exhibit C – whilst J stands around looking decorative and posing for photos

Meanwhile, we were never too busy or whacked out that we forgot to enjoy what lies on our doorstep . .

almond in blossom1

our neighbour’s beautiful almond tree in blossom

almond blossom2

mistletoe

complete with mistletoe in bloom (zoom in to see it)

Any road up, as they say in Yorkshire (in deference to a certain lady of my acquaintance), time to get back to the truth, the nitty-gritty of who does the heavy lifting around here . .

plot clearing5

very neat and tidy

hedging tools

tools of the hedger – and if J says those are her gloves, she’s lying!

plot clearing6

another view

blisters

Exhibit D – so, whilst I was working my fingers to the bone . .

a hot shower

Exhibit E – J was pampering herself – I rest my case

Alan Fenn, recovering with a couple of rakıs.

ps knowing that at some point J is going to read this stuff I want state for the record that a) this post is a pack of lies and a total misrepresentation of the truth. b) I’m pleading the 5th, and c) I’ve applied for the witness protection programme!

Stuff

Feet Under The Table

So, here we are, ‘feet under the cabin table’ as the saying goes! It’s all a bit shambolic with boxes and tools lying around and the odd piles of sawdust that keep reappearing in different corners.

That said, there are spuds baking in the soba and I’m sitting here writing this powered by solar electricity and J is reading Private Eye. We have ice-cold spring water for drinking  and super-heated hot water for showering (when the cabin gets finished tomorrow). The temperature outside is minus 3 or 4 but we are cozy and, most important of all, the bed is made and we will be spending our first night here. Just three months and two days since we acquired the title deeds – how cool is that?

basic cabin bed

we asked for a basic bed frame knocked up out of scrap and that’s what we got!

bed made

ready and waiting

When we first arrived for this visit we were delighted with the obvious progress outside . ,

juniper wood steps

the beautiful, old juniper wood steps – at least 100 years old and good for a hundred more

cabin railings, canopy and view balcony with a view

solar hot water system

solar hot water system and my ‘depot’/tool box

cabin kitchen

inspecting the kitchen cupboards and drawers

carpenter at work

the chippy began fitting the ‘antique’ doors

who is this guy?

we have no idea who this guy is, he just wandered in and began offering advice – on absolutely everything, as one does in Turkey!

assembling the soba/oven – so, where does this bit go?

Turkish soba oven

another job jobbed!

that chirpy chippy again

(just realised that apart from the glitch that prevented comments, a chunk of the post has disappeared into the ether as well)

Turkish usta

watch and learn boy!

easy to make shelves

Boffer getting in on the action

easy to make shelves

not half bad

electric solar panels

Electric solar panels installed and after I threw my teddy in the corner when the ‘electrician’ decided that connecting them together the way the manufacturer said a 24v system should be connected was all bollox rubbish, (the fact that he shrugged when I found the cut up connectors  and started bouncing off the wall did not endear him to me).

IMG_8078_copy

once sorted we had damn nearly 230v AC output!

plumber at work

final connections from the plumber before he ran out of silicon to bed the shower = oh well, tomorrow is another day! (drill powered by the sun)

IMG_8081_copy

It’s a bit shambolic but we’re in, the wine is breathing in the corner, the raki is chilling on the door step, the boza is on the shelf and all is well with this corner of the world!

Alan Fenn and J, happily ensconce down the rabbit hole.