Life has felt rather full of ‘doing stuff‘ these past 10 days or so. The old back and knee bones have most definitely been ‘connected’ and are feeling the pace and their age. This despite the fact that we have a very good and reliable young man in our occasional employ who does pretty much anything we ask of him whenever we ask. He’s a really good ‘Gopher’ and ‘Dopher’!
Moving on: Living with us we have very beautiful teenager by the name of Platanus orientalis, who also answers to the name of ‘You Gorgeous Thing’, YGT for short. One day, all things being equal, YGT will grow to over 30 metres in height and attain an age that Methuselah would have been proud of had he lived that long! Methuselah, of biblical fame, lived (so it says) for 969 years. He obviously got tired of swimming against the tidal wave of ageing because he popped his clogs just seven days before the start of the Great Flood. It’s likely that Mr Noah would have denied him passage anyway on the grounds that he was well over the reproductive hill . .
. . and not very pretty, either! (artwork from Ian Lome)
The other Methuselah is a splendid old Grand Basin Bristlecone Pine aged around 4850 years and YGT, with its ‘live fast, love hard, die young’ mentality, does not expect to be around long enough to get that bored!
trust me – this Methuselah fairly bristles with health
Dredging up these snippets of mostly useless information gives me great pleasure – especially when I find myself standing with creaking joints, gazing into cupboards and wondering why I’m there!
Anyway, getting back to YGT, like most teenagers these days it’s been getting a bit too big for its roots and causing some upset and cracks around the fabric of the family home! The very foundations of our life together were being disrupted. Something had to be done!
Now, we love YGT and have no intention of giving it the ‘bonsai snip’ – no, we decided that the answer was more freedom because, as they say, with freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility not to be a bloody nuisance and cause any more upheavals for at least the next ten years! I mean, there was masses of concrete that had to be lifted and recycled into usable rubble for extra ‘blinding-off’ . .
. . a new retaining wall to be built, new concrete to lay followed by relaying of the stone paving.
Knowing how I feel right now, today I informed YGT that we now have a new social compact (as Old Labour liked to call any new bit of anti-union legislation) and if I’m faced with a repeat performance before I shuffle-off this mortal coil then YGT will become Fx4 – ‘Free Fuel For the Fire’ in very short order!
In between laying bricks and feeling knackered J and I were ‘hosting’ some 60 young students from the International School in Istanbul for part of a day. They have been coming to this corner of Turkey for about three years now and the organisers like to bring them to Okçular where we take them on a visit to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and give them some idea of the value of these places and the need to protect them . .
. . before they end up at our village primary school. There these children, usually from a privileged background, intermingle with the kids from our school who mostly come from a very different background. It is a formula that has proved to be very stimulating and very constructive. This year the visitors brought a gift of loads of footballs and basketballs bought with money raised from a cake bake and sale.
there was even an international chess match
Finally, adding to the ‘stress’ of fitting everything in, we went to our bolt-hole to check out a promising plot of land – it was pretty good, just didn’t quite light the blue touch-paper. This is what pushed all the right buttons . .
. . the view from this relic of a bygone time. If it all comes together, and it is a big ‘if’, then this really is worthy of a proper restoration job – right down to the last cow pat and straw brick!
For a name I thought ‘Dungroamin’ was as good as any!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü