Stuff

Amazing, Really!

The world, it seems, is going to hell in a basket! The trashing of the means of survival is a uniquely human trait – apart from lemmings we appear to be the only species that thinks there is a better world on Mars or in the afterlife!

Actually, that is not strictly true (or even true at all), there is no real evidence that lemmings are as stupid as humans! And despite our moronic, blinkered belief that we were granted this world and all that is in it to trash as we please by some imagined Abrahamic deity a  few thousand years ago, by and large, and unlike lemmings, we have failed to grow up into adults.

Meanwhile, Mother Earth-Toprakana-Gaia – struggles on and still manages to amaze us if we bother to notice. Yesterday she provided just such a display of the ‘Amazing! Just amazing, really!’ J and I were walking along the amazingly white beach of our amazingly (nearly) unique magnesium lake. It is my habit to dawdle and poke about in the undergrowth in the hopes of finding creatures and/or flowers that pique my interest.

this is the beach habitat/environment

There, in bunches of sedge scattered between fifty and two hundred metres from the water, were thousands, possibly millions of dragonflies bursting out from their larval stage into the full glory of adulthood. Truly ugly ducklings (for some) into beautiful, graceful swans!

Here is one of the ‘swans’ that has taken a fancy to J followed by images of the amazing transformational process. The species is Orthetrum cancellatum – Black-tailed Skimmer. They are common all over Europe and much of the UK which takes nothing from the spectacle of this mass emerging.

the process begins

everywhere, in countless numbers

meet the fragile, beautiful débutante

and a reminder of just how amazingly beautiful this creature is

Anyway, back to my opening gambit – I’ve discovered how, when the time comes, that I can actually go to hell in a basket – amazing really!

Alan, still being amazed after seventy two years!

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Hour By Hour

Looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here.

We had a couple of friends pop up to visit for a couple of days. ‘L’ is a ‘Twitcher’ with a very expensive set of binos – I was a camera guy who left his kit back in Okçular. Well, not all of it, just the bloody camera – all the lenses arrived to sit useless in the bedroom!

Anyway, the weather has been variable and dramatic so we grabbed a window of opportunity and drove over to nearby Yarışlı Lake where around fifty Flamingos were reported. It was well worth the effort especially for ‘L’ as there were several hundreds of them and they staged a couple of flybys en-masse just for us!

There were also Avocets and Stilts around along with a bunch of Squacco Herons and Ruddy Shelducks.

Being sans camera I take no credit for these beautiful images. The herons in particular were very tolerant, probably because local shepherds graze their flocks along the shores of the lake, we were often within just a few metres of them.

As I said, the weather has been variable and we were soon heading for cover in the car and heading back to the cabin. Here’s how it changes hour by hour and even minute by minute . .

overcast and still

clouds building and still still!

it’s on its way!

And now it’s piddling down – again! Mind you, we gardening types are very happy with that. You have to admit, this blogging about our life here is brimming over with . . something!

Alan Fenn, holed up in the ark!

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Amazingly Chuffed!

Looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here

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.

 

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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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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 . .

storms3

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!

exuviae1

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

exuviae2

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