Stuff

Breakfast At Tefenni’s

My little ‘Piece of Paradise’ is away in the realm of the Great Satan visiting family. I admire her intestinal fortitude since a number of countries around the world have issued clear ‘health’ warnings to their citizens to avoid the place like the plague!

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Let’s face it, apart from the places their armed forces are bombing the crap out of, the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ is about the most dangerous place on the planet! (16200 intentional murders per year – 44 per day, excluding those murdered by the police)

So, whilst J has been in hell I have been in paradise up here at the cabin. With nothing to distract me I’ve been pottering around doing useful things. Things like servicing the shower taps; making compost bins;

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complete with its own watering supply

there’s been some new shelving put in the cupboards; the main door needed easing; an extra pot stand and a new, practical table top made and fitted for the balcony.

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halfway decent!

Then, following the current fad for photographing food and sending it to the person opposite, I thought you might like to see what I had for breakfast this morning.

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Home made muesli, home grown grapes, figs and melon – well, OK, the muesli was mixed up from different packets with a few additives and the grapes and figs were home grown by someone else. But the melon was ours grown from a seed planted by J’s green-fingered hand – honest, it was!

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I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here it is with the cairn in the background.

Anyway, I think I need to explain a couple of things. First is the title, ‘Breakfast at Tefenni’ – well, it’s the name of a small town about 30kms from here and just like the muesli, figs and grapes is stretching the truth a bit because I’m not there either.  Still, as J is much closer to Tiffanny’s than I am, I thought it was quite clever and gives this load of twaddle an arty feel! Second is this ‘little piece of paradise’ thing – Turks tend to call J ‘Cennet’ – (pronounced ‘Jennet’ and pretty close to the sound of her name in English) – Cennet means Paradise in Turkish and often leads to smiles and winks in my direction! Turks can also be a right lot of soppy romantics as a search of Google images for the same would show. To save you the trouble I’ll leave you with this:

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Alan Fenn, up those steps somewhere – not really, it’s back to the grindstone!

Stuff

Viewed Through A Different Lens 2.0

This is Türker! Türker is a friend!

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He grew up to be a doctor but really all he ever wanted to be was a biker. He also has interesting things like a GoPro camera on his helmet and Bluetooth linked GPS that talks to him inside his helmet. I like things like that!

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A few days ago he managed to get a couple of very rare days off so he leapt on his bike and came for a flying visit. We were delighted that he did because he is a very nice bloke and we like him a lot. These are his impressions:

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on the run in beside the lake

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walking the beach

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at the quaint, rustic lake-side restaurant

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the rental apartment

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the morning alarm clock!

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sun rise

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‘seaside’ selfie

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‘so-long, see ya’ selfie

Thank you Türker! It was such a pleasure to see you and we so enjoyed your company – do come again!

Alan Fenn, up here.

Stuff

Yes, We Cairn!

Those of you who loyally wade through these interminable whitterings about country life up here in the mountains might just have noted a recurring theme; Rocks!

We have rocks! More rocks than exist in the asteroid belt! Really! As we slave away to clear yet another few square metres more of the buggers seem to appear – or is it my imagination? It’s a bit like a stick of Margate Rock, you can never get to the end of it and no matter how hard you suck ‘Margate Rock’ will outlast you!

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It’s not that we haven’t used a bit of initiative for ways to use up the bloody things. We’ve filled in ruts in the track up here to the cabin; we’ve stacked them around the edges of the plot – it doesn’t look that pretty but give the weeds time!

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We’ve built little rock circles around the trees and vines we’ve planted. We think that painting them pastel shades will liven the garden up a bit!

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Then we’ve built a wall to retain a pathway and give the roses something to look classy against. And there’s a very nice terrace area under our magnificent old pine tree where we can collapse and swallow beer without tasting it after several more tons of rocks have been moved from A to B, or C, or bloody Z at this rate!

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I know it’s a mess, it’s another ‘work in progress’

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Then, of course there are some nice steps that we’ve made to meet health and safety regulations;

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Today saw us begin another bit of walling to tidy up the area in front of the great big retaining wall;

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OK, sometimes we need to get at the bottle before we finish for the day and collapse! Yesterday it lead to a moment of sheer, blindingly obvious inspiration – Leonardo would have been proud. Edward DeBono would know that we once read his books!

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A cairn! We’re building a cairn! Our neighbouring smallholders have been arriving to admire it as the word has got around – they are incredulous! They cannot believe what they are seeing with their own eyes.

There is one small, dark cloud that is floating about – as there is a limit to how far up I can chuck a shovel-full of stuff, and I do not intend to get into any scaffolding work, then it follows that there is maximum cubic capacity to what I can build and fill. So, it is at this point, dear reader, that you come in – as there are still tons of rocks to find a home for, what do you suggest?

Alan Fenn, (with Joe Brown up a pile of rocks)

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Odin, Send The Wind And The Rain

I’m not sure how to put this, but I do have a confession to make. A couple of days ago, for the second time in my life, I was with a group of people who were praying for rain! Really!

This time J and I were at a nearby village called Işıklar about 20 minutes drive away over the hills. We’d been invited by our new friend and family doctor who, in turn, had been invited by the muhtar/village headman. The fact that the village was laying on food for everyone who attended had, I’m sure, no bearing on the numbers who showed up!

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locals and guests tucking in

J and I had planned to get there a little early and have a wander about. It was not to be! I’d no sooner got a couple of shots of a beautiful acacia and the ancient graveyard with its very interesting wooden ‘gravestones’ than we were collected by a welcoming local who escorted us to the communal feasting.

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Part way through the feasting we were all called to order by the imam. Those of us at table remained where we were whilst the devout gathered in two groups in the mosque yard – men in one and women in the other. Five minutes of exhortations for rain for the animals and rain for the crops followed with many an ‘Amin, amin, amin!’ (Amen!) in response.

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I had no wish to be disrespectful of these kind people so kept photos to a minimum

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It was interesting to note that whereas normal Muslim prayers are made with the hands cupped upwards, in this instance they were cupped downwards. Once prayers were over it was back to the all-important business of eating, chatting and socialising.

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so, here we are feeling replete with Şafak, our delightful new friend and family doctor, and our community nurse and her daughter (photo courtesy of her son)

Anyway, I told you that this was the second time I’d been involved in one of these ‘rain-dance’ things. The previous time was way back in 1963 and I was a young squaddie doing basic training at the Parachute Regiment Battle Training School in Brecon, South Wales.

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As any fool do know, Wales is always wet – bloody wet! Now, on the day in question it had not been raining but, having spent hours crawling about in the bogs, we were soaked through and feeling very sorry for ourselves. Our platoon sergeant was a certain Danny ‘The Beast’ Hadden and he was not known as ‘The Beast’ without reason. Here he is cropped out of a group photo – this was one of his good days as you can tell. Focus on the eyes and tell me if you can see a soul in there!

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Anyway, Danny was probably the best psycho-type (you decide which) on the planet in those days. He could see into your innermost, secret self and select just the right triggers to get whatever he wanted. He was a master manipulator. He knew we were terrified of him but he wanted more – much more!

He had us line up on a track rather like the one above and made great play of ensuring that we were facing east towards the Land of the Gods. Then, on our hands and knees we raised our arms towards the heavens and called out ‘Odin! Mighty Odin, send the wind and the rain!’ This we did three times and as we finished the third incantation the heavens opened, there was thunder and lightning and a deluge to float the ark! Now we were not just scared of the Beast, we were in total awe! Naive little sprogs that we were, we hadn’t the nouse to realise that you only have to look towards the west to see the squalls coming in to impress a bunch of shaking, miserable recruits.

Now, I expect you are about to point out that the part of this tale that is set in Wales was totally predictable. But what, I hear you ask, is all that nonsense at the mosque praying for rain about? Well, as I sit here writing this (3pm Tuesday, May 3rd) we have thunder and lightning with torrential rain and hailstones hammering on the roof of the cabin!  Oh, ye of little faith! You are free to think whatever you like, but J and I are eagerly checking the ten day forecast and awaiting an invitation to yet another neighbouring village for more free food rain prayers – lord knows, we could do with it!

Alan Fenn, stuck in a cabin in the mountains

Incredible Okçular!

Children’s Day – A Little Turkish Delight

I don’t think J and I have missed a Children’s Day since we first became associated with our village primary school. Nisan yirmi üç (April twenty third) has been burned into our diary for a long time. We couldn’t forget anyway because there is always a phone call from the staff to keep us on track!

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Children’s Day here in Turkey was instigated by Atatürk in the early days of the Republic. Here in Okçular it’s a chance for the children to lay on a show for their parents and grandparents. It is also a day when even the tiniest tot will have a chance to bellow greeting or slogan into a microphone!

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Every class gets to dress up and dance, recite or perform a skit – this year it was all dancing.

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the youngest danced dressed in regional costumes as they assembled a map of the country

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Then it was the turn of other classes to turn on the style . .

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There’s a prize of a Mars bar to the first one to spot mum in the crowd!

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the top table is all very well . .

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. . if you can see through the wall-to-wall photo-ops

Part way through the proceedings there was a pause for presentations to parents and a local business couple who have helped the school through the year. We’ve been caught on the hop by these surprise presentations ourselves previously so we were enjoying cheering on the latest group of recipients as they smiled awkwardly and shuffled from foot to foot in front of everyone.  And that was when they caught us again!

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Then it was back to the festivities . .

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‘Turkey is my life’ – may reality never intrude

Followed by photo credits to a great staff . .

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. . and finally, that all-important endorsement from Yeliz

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Just a taster of what was a delightful morning for us. J and I love these people, this village and this country. May these kids grow up in a world free of conflict and may humanity learn that we have more in common than we often think and any difference is only skin-deep.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü