'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Magnificence Of The Mountains

‘Never stop wondering, never stop wandering.’ – William Morris, English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.

‘RAJA’* stopped for a moment, stood still and gazed up at the mountain as it loomed darkly above the tree-line, its sides streaked by great, fat fingers of snow that were slowly dissolving into torrents of melt-water under the relentless rays of the June sun.

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(Richard Field)

Away to the north west the storm clouds were building. Towering billows of blackness laced with great, jagged streaks of lightning, boiled their way towards us. We had got this far, there was no turning back! This was the stuff of ‘Boy’s Own Annual’!

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Amazing – the light was just beautiful

J and I had tried on several occasions to find our way to Kartal Gölü – Eagle Lake that lies at about 1800mts (5900 feet) on the north slope of Sandras Mountain. Washed out tracks had stopped us a long way short every time. So, when dear friend Ahmet suggested we try again, we jumped at the chance of an extra shoulder to the wheel should I get our trusty but much abused Doblo stuck. In fact, as we had another friend, Richard stopping over on his mammoth motorcycle journey through Europe, Turkey and the ‘Stans’, there’d be two extra shoulders if push came to grunt!

This is a pictorial account of our trip. It is also probably the only time in history when three socialists and an anarchist – comrades, have set off on a journey together and actually arrived at a destination without falling out, fighting or splitting off and forming another faction! This gives me hope!

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The early stages were easy with plenty of time to admire the world a thousand metres below and for Richard to practice his fuzzy-foto technique.

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This is the land of beautiful lakes, upland meadows, flowers galore, 1000+ year old trees and majestic views:

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(Richard Field)

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Muscari aucheri

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unidentified Orobanche

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the border between Muğla and Denizli provinces

1280 year old black pine1280 year old Black Pine (says forester’s plaque)

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it’s a surreal landscape

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Corydalis erdelii

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Colchicum szovitsii

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Scilla bifolia

We were forced to stop by washed out tracks about 2kms from our objective and had to hoof it to the lake.

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J making a point about fitness

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first views of Kartal Gölü – Eagle Lake

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(Richard Field)

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(Richard Field)

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snow-melt amidst the Scilla bifolia

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life and the world in perspective

What we had was a great adventure as we ground and maneuvered our way across loose scree and washed-away tracks. The glorious views and freshness of the air were only trumped by the feeling of electricity lurking in the dark storm clouds. As we turned our back on Eagle Lake the heavens opened and the clouds engulfed us – our timing had been perfect, we could not have asked for more – even getting soaked through felt part of the joy of being in such a remote and beautiful place. There is a gathering of nomadic herders some time in August so I guess we might have to suffer the journey all over again!

” ‘I went a little farther,’ he said, ‘then still a little farther — till I had gone so far that I don’t know how I’ll ever get back…’ ” Joseph Conrad The Heart Of Darkness [p.78]

‘There is so much here that I cannot capture on camera, and what I do barely does justice to the beauty of it all. The scenery I passed through yesterday and this morning was staggering. It simply took my breath away.’ Richard Field travelling through Turkey

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

* RAJA is an acronym for Richard, Ahmet, J and me.

Stuff

And This Little Piggy

After a long and enjoyable day out with new friends yesterday, J and I crashed early and were well and truly blotto by about 10.30pm.

Cue: ominous sound of car outside, gate being opened and door bell jangling followed by very dozy bloke staggering downstairs, opening door and gazing blankly at neighbour. ‘Domuz! Domuz!’ (Pig! Pig!) he said, ‘Do you want it?’ ‘Tamaam!’ I mumbled as I contemplated a ‘night of the long knives’.

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the piggy in question

To set the record straight, our neighbours do not go out hunting much these days but they will shoot those rogue pigs that come and raid their gardens and crops, often causing utter devastation. Whilst I will never encourage hunting and would much prefer just to catch the odd glimpse of these wily creatures as they go about their business, I’m not going to turn down the chance of some delicious wild pig meat.

Anyway, last night I was in such a dopey state that I decided to put off the butchery until this morning. Six o’clock seemed to come around very quickly!

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yes, I would be crass enough to have a glass of Chardonnay with wild boar casserole

Cue: in the early morning light a ‘Boffer’ stands and contemplates the task ahead – the beast looks bigger than it did last night. Oh,well, best be getting on with it, then! Now, J and I have long ago stopped eating offal and so I no longer paunch (gut) these animals.

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I never claimed I was a proper butcher!

I simply skin, joint and fillet and then return the remains to the mountains where the local wildlife will benefit and make short shrift of the process of disposal.

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in the hearse ready for ‘Table Mountain’ – the foxes, jackals, martens, birds and others will be very happy

So, as I write this and whilst the freezer does its thing, J has been preparing a traditional Italian/Milanese dish called Osso Buco, click the link for the recipe.

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Osso Buco

If you don’t have any wild boar meat then bear is a good substitute (so it says) – do not go hunting bears, or pigs for that matter – promise! If you really are intent on becoming a survivalist then I recommend John Wiseman’s ‘SAS Survival Handbook’.

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Oh, and it’s not a good idea to eat bear if they’ve been eating salmon – it doesn’t taste so good.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Bottoms Up!

Relative peace has returned to Turkey and to our quiet corner. The election is done but not dusted – now come the smoke-filled rooms and the shenanigans and (in my opinion) the ‘Night of the Long Knives’!

There are two blessings to be counted. First, those bloody awful vans plastered with portraits of political wannabes that go around in convoys blasting out ghastly music have disappeared back from whence they came.

UKIP van

sorry, wrong picture

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Second, the relentless march of Sauronesque authoritarianism has been checked (for the time being). Shalob has been exposed to the Light of Galadriel . .

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Shelob

. . and Samwise Gamgee has risen to the occasion.

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Sam Gamgee aka Selahattin Demirtaş

The significance of the breakthrough of the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) into mainstream politics here in Turkey cannot be overstated. The apparently unstoppable RTE hi-speed train has been checked. The courageous gamble by, what was a largely Kurdish political movement, to broaden its platform in order to appeal to the wider population and thereby break through the 10% glass ceiling has paid off. They have secured 80 seats, 31 held by women, in parliament, which gives them a considerable lever.

With the governing party’s overall majority gone the three main opposition parties could form a coalition and govern. But, that which divides them is probably greater than any common ground beyond their envy and hatred of the AKP and Sauron the Dark Lord. So, the AK Party will be looking to stroke the egos of either the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) or the HDP. If either one of those joins the AKP they will, I believe, sow the seeds of their own destruction. In the case of the HDP they must resist the lure of (apparent) promises for short-term gains in resolving the many Kurdish issues. Such an alliance would be a betrayal of the broader electorate they have garnered and as of the time of writing the party has rejected any cooperation with the AKP.

Will there be a coalition? In my opinion it is doubtful that there can be an effective minority/coalition government and so the possibility of a re-run looms.

So, what of the near future? Sauron is weakened and Saruman aka the Prime Minister will either resign or be pushed. Waiting in the wings is the co-founder of the AKP and former president – a Rose by any other name. He withdrew from the limelight after being, as he saw it, betrayed by Sauron, the present incumbent and a number of his close party hacks.

This rose is not without thorns but he is a constitutionalist and deeply opposed to an executive presidency. With the departure of Saruman, who is also leader of the party, the way would open for our Rose to take the reins of the party and, assuming there is a re-run, stand in a safe AKP constituency (or force a by-election). Also in the mix is the Witch-King of Angmar who once led the Nazgûl  intelligence agency of Mordor and was a right-hand man of Sauron until he was dished by the Dark Lord. Will he emerge as a king-maker in the AKP?

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Witch-King of Angmar and former Lord of the Nazgûl

If, and when, it comes to a re-run the mixture will have changed dramatically – if Mr Rose is back then many who deserted the AKP because of the malign influence of Sauron will no doubt return to the fold. What then for the HDP? There will be no guarantee that they will have the 80 seats they now enjoy and they might well slip below the 10% anti-Kurdish barrier once again. Things are not always as simple or as bright as they seem.

For those who wish to better understand where the HDP is coming from here’s a link to an English language blog

With that in mind, J has come up with a very sensible and soothing calmer for any jangled nerves – a sort of comforting Dinneford’s Gripe Water with different side-effects – the recipe is below.

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1 bottle of gin (any old rubbish will do); 1 bowl of black mulberries (black makes it look nicer); a few jam jars. Method: put berries in jars, slop on some gin and leave for a few hours. Decant and enjoy regardless of the bloody elections, inflation, deflation, etc, etc.

Bottoms Up, guys!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps this morning these beauts were flowering – Galadriel’s Lights!

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Incredible Okçular!

The Emperor’s New Clothes

emperors-new-clothesSometimes, being in the right place at the right time can have humiliating or even catastrophic consequences. The story by Hans Christian Andersen comes to mind about the two tailoring conmen who promised the vain-glorious emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn’t see any suit of clothes until an innocent child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!

And sometimes, being in the right place at the right time can leave one open-mouthed in wonder or delight! A couple of evenings ago, J and I arrived home from a delightful day hunting out orchids and tulips in village graveyards and mountain meadows with new friends and wound up with a very nice meal at one of our favourite riverside restaurants in the mountains. As I parked the car in the garage I spotted this:

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A female Saturnia pyri the Giant or Viennese Emperor Moth aka Giant Peacock Moth. She had only just emerged from the pupae that had been fixed inside a nearby nest box and was in the process of ‘pumping-up’ her wings.

By next morning that part of the process was over. The female seldom flies at this pre-mating stage and so she hung there, under the overhang of the garage , conserving her energy and waiting for the night and the trysting hours. As twilight drew on she began emitting pheromones, a sort-of ‘Chanel No5′ on steroids and a real turn-on for any male Emperor Moth within a mile or so of this gorgeous creature.

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The Saturniidae family are an interesting lot – adult females emerge with a complete set of mature ova and “call” males by emitting pheromones. Males can detect these chemical signals up to a mile away with help from sensitive receptors located on the tips of their feather-like antennae. The males fly several miles in one night to locate a female and mate with her; females generally will not fly until after they have mated.

The mouth-parts of adult saturniids are very small and basically useless and they lack digestive tracts so adults subsist on stored lipids acquired during the laval stage. Adult behaviour is devoted almost entirely to reproduction – life without food is short and sweet with a lifespan of a week or less after emergence.

Their distribution is across southern Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. In the UK you have the Lesser Emperor Saturnia pavonia which is smaller but a little more colourful.

So, from the egg there emerges a tiny, brownish caterpillar that then goes through a series of moults that transforms it from this:

Saturnia pyri hatchling

to this:

saturnia pyri caterpillar

After about five moults it then pupates inside a tough ‘box’ that it spins for protection. The connection with its close relative the silkworm is apparent.

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S pyri pupae

. . from this the adult emerges and it starts all over again!

Anyway, back to our own story of romance and seduction! At some point during the hours of darkness, a knight in shining scales flew in, surfing the pheromonical airwaves that make Coco Chanel look a total amateur. There was, I’m sure a exchange of pleasantries before an exchange of a more compelling nature was mutually agreed upon. Come the morning light our amorous couple were oblivious to anything but each other.

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. . let no man put asunder!

After the passion comes that suffused, floating feeling that every Emperor and Empress will only know once – unless they have genetic memory! Here they are, resting in the warm glow of a Westering sun.

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  As I write this they have flown up into the lower branches of our Oriental Plane tree and will no doubt be about the business of depositing the eggs of another generation of these beautiful creatures.

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the sun shines through the wings of the slightly battered male

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the female – great with eggs

These beautiful moths are very amenable to gentle, cautious handling – just putting my finger close to the female had her stepping across for a photo-shoot.

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Saturnia pyri to handa head-on with those amazing antennae (Wikimedia)giant viennese emperor moth11

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So, there you have it – a new suit of clothes for the Emperors that, in just a few days, will be just a story tale . . until next year.

Alan Fenn, in Incredible Okçular

Stuff

Martens

Martens have attitude! Like the boots of the same name, they have a reputation to live up to that has ‘if you see me comin’ better step aside!’ written all over them. Weighing in at 21 inches and three and a half pounds they are the equivalent of a gang of skinheads on speed!

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Just as your average skinhead is some mother’s son, so Martes foina – the Beech or Stone or White Breasted Marten (thanks for the heads-up, John) has its admirers too – J and me, for a start! We have a family of them living somewhere nearby and they visit us every night. Actually, it would be more accurate to describe their visits as visitations because we have never actually seen them!

We became aware a few years ago that something or other was raiding J’s compost bins and, as well as eating a lot of the stuff, was lining things like half-oranges, egg shells and coffee filters along the wall. An infra-red, motion detecting night camera soon had the culprits in the frame.

Over time their brazen kleptomania has had them doing Olympic-style gymnastics to get at the food on our bird tables amongst other things. (click here for other videos of these rogues) Lately, we have been awoken in the dead of night by the sound of burglars throwing stuff about downstairs. We’d come down to a scene that has become typical of the way that the ‘modern’, degenerate young thief doesn’t just nick the family silver but chucks stuff about before crapping in the middle of the carpet or sofa!

pine marten crapbiologists tell this is ‘spraint’ – territorial marking – I call it mindless vandalism!

. . and this is the culprit!

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‘Fagin’ aka ‘One -Eye’ aka Beech/Stone/White Breasted Marten – Martes foina (leader of this gang of four or five tow-rags)

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together with the apprentices The Artful Dodger and Charley Bates

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the better-known European Pine Marten – Martes martes (stunning photo from markcauntphotography.com)

beech marten 3the SAS in action at the Iranian Embassy siege (Martes foina)

cap_badge_of_sasWith semi-retractable claws like a cat and a set of dentures that owes its lineage to Tyrannosaurus rex these little cuties are the SAS of the animal kingdom and, just like the real thing, it is not a good idea to underestimate what you are dealing with – unlike a certain Swiss footballer by the name of Loris Benito who, to protect him from ridicule, shall remain nameless . . .

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pine attack

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The score was 1-0 after injury time – ‘Who Dares Wins’? – nah! ‘Who Dares Is Stupid’!

Finally, here’s a bit of video I’ve strung together of our pitiful attempt to distract the vandals:

Things That Go Bump v3.0.2 from Alan Fenn on Vimeo.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü