Listening To Lisinia

J and I are back up at the cabin for a couple of days. Our excuse this time is that the worms need to be fed and watered and there are still some parsnips waiting to be pulled. Despite the cold we are always glad to be here – there is something special about this place.

I’m not going to bore you by groaning on about it, but getting about has been something of an expletive deleted lately due to creaky joints. J, on the other hand, continues to stride about the mountains and forests like a female version of Tom Bombadil!  

In the past I’ve found that a cream made from juniper oil and produced organically at the Lisinia Project near the village of Karakent beside Burdur Lake (about an hours drive from the cabin) has given relief.   Lisinia is an amazing place and a splendid source of all sorts of pure products that are not going to poison your system with nasty chemicals and additives. We call by regularly and always try and take any visiting family and friends there.

Last time local-born artist Durul Bakan was in the process of creating an amazing eagle from twigs of juniper. This time the creation was in place along with another of his works. They are a sight to behold!

The Lisinia Project is the life’s work of veterinarian Öztürk Sarıca. Here sick and wounded wildlife are treated and whenever possible  returned back to the wild. Those too damaged stay here and although often they are a sad sight they are loved and serve as an education for visitors.

Dances with wolves – Öztürk Sarıca and much-loved inmates

Öztürk’s interest in producing a range of pure, organic products stems from his research into why he lost many members of his family to cancer. He realised that there was a very strong connection between additives, chemicals, artificial fertilisers, you name it, used in much of the industrial farming that goes on in Turkey and around the world. Using locally grown organic ingredients from lavender to juniper to marjoram to sage to thyme to . . . this tiny facility helps us fight back against a tidal wave of adulterated commercial ‘poison’.

There is no entrance fee and the project does not accept donations from anybody. It is self-supporting by selling its pure, natural products to visitors.

The site is also an open-air art gallery, education facility and photographers’ delight.

. . . and there is so much more! I urge you, if you are near Burdur, to make time to visit and support this truly amazing and inspirational project.

Alan – looking for an organic knee replacement!!

For Your Delectation

There are few things that give greater pleasure, in my opinion, than the feel and smell of a good book or the taste and smell of fine food. Especially Turkish food! Add to that pleasurable mix a fabulous volume of recipes from probably the finest exponent of bringing Turkish food, especially southern Turkish food, to the table and you have a truly palatable combination.

Archers does not, as a rule, do promotional stuff. I’m going to break that rule for the very best of reasons. Özlem Warren is an internationally reknowned culinary master of her craft. She is also one of the nicest people it’s been my pleasure to meet and know. If you are not already using her recipes from her superb blog  then you  really are missing out and should click the link and get acquainted asap.

Now she is presenting a cookery book in hardback of such oustanding quality that it deserves a place in every kitchen and, for the wonderful photographs alone, on every coffee table. This is a ‘must have’!

the lady herself – a great ambassador for Turkish cuisine

So, you lucky people, here’s your chance to get your copy of this volume of Turkish Delights. Act quickly and pre-order now for delivery in early April 2018 and you get a hefty 10% discount. Now that is just too good to miss! So, click this link right here!

Alan

Moonshine!

Those who follow these witterings with any regularity will know that I enjoy a drop or two of rakı in the evenings. My taste-buds became attuned way back when we first migrated to Turkey. I still recall clearly the initiation process. There I was with a couple of local gentlemen who set out two glasses in front of me. One glass was half-filled with the colourless liquid then, as I watched, water filled the other glass before it was added to the rakı and the magic began. As the spirit mysteriously turned white my host turned to me, beat his chest and boomed ‘Aslan süt!’ – Lion’s milk! The die was cast!

Back then, 1997, the state-owned Tekel company produced the goods and the tax was non-existent. A bottle cost next-to-nothing! All that changed after Tekel was privatised and our government began to harden its attitude towards alcohol consumption. Taxes began to rise until today they represent an eye-watering 80% of the retail price. From pennies to 100+ lira in the space of a little over ten years for a litre of rakı is no laughing matter!

What is a chap to do? The answer is that ‘When in Rome . . ‘ Turks are amazingly inventive and creative, They know how to turn any situation to their advantage. You only have to think about how quickly the verges of a new by-pass are turned in to rows of stalls/restaurants/farm shops. ‘In every situation lies the seeds of an equal or greater benefit’ to quote some positive-thinking author or other.

And so it was that I was introduced by a friend to something many Turks have been doing for quite some time – making my own and saving a pretty penny or three. I’m not here to encourage anyone else to do this – if you too want to know how to turn out 2.25 litres of excellent rakı in the space of a couple of hours for just under 30 lira per litre then contact me individually. Here’re some photos of the ‘kit’.

spring water, aniseed oil, a little sugar, ethanol/ethyl alcohol, mixing jar

the end product – 2.25 litres of excellent tasting rakı

Cheers!

In case you are worried, I didn’t go blind from moonshine and here’s the sunshine to prove it!

Alan, wondering what to spend my tax rebate on!

ps With so many Turks going down this path, foreign tourism down, Turks taking holidays in Greece in ever increasing numbers, now the minister responsible for these taxes has said that they are far too high on booze, tobacco and cars. Is a reduction likely? Don’t hold your breath!

My Gineration

Although I was a British Army soldier in my youth – a ‘Pongo’ to those Ratings of the so-called Senior Service, I was, non-the-less initiated into the delights of the daily rum ration. It happened in the Persian Gulf back in the 1960s as a guest aboard the ‘Ton’ Class minesweeper HMS Kemerton for a week or ten days. Kemerton was hardly part of the ‘Wooden Walls of England’ but she was knocked up out of marine ply and had all the speed and manoeuvrability of a back yard hot-tub!

‘Ton’ Class minesweeper

That said, the crew were a cheery lot and keen to initiate us into the pleasures of the daily  ‘Pusser’s‘ rum ration, the issue of which was preceded by the jolly call of the bosun’s pipe and the bellowing of ‘Up Spirits!’ We Pongos learned about the value of favours done and the currency of rum. A little favour would earn you ‘sippers‘ and progressed through ‘gulpers‘ to ‘three fingers‘ to a full ‘tot‘ for those favours best not discussed here! That operating expensive machinery, as opposed to pulling on bits of rope, and dishing out 1/8th of a pint (admittedly watered down 2:1) of 109 degree proof spirit per man per day were not conducive to steering a straight course was not lost on their Lordships and the ration was discontinued in 1970.

The end of a Royal Navy tradition, as the daily ration of rum is abolished due to safety concerns, 31st July 1970. Cook Thomas McKenzie drains the last drop from the barrel at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. (Photo by Leonard Burt/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 We also got swung about in a bosun’s chair and learned that any old Arab dhow can out-run (and probably out-gun) the Royal Navy any old time.

‘Tally-Ho, chaps!’

So, why is someone of my gineration rambling on about this stuff? Don’t know really except there is a rather loose connection between oil, spirits and the biggest of favours!

All these years later my joints are showing signs of wear and tear and despite some expensive treatments they persist in being a pain in the arse. Recently I was introduced to Juniper oil and have been mixing it 4:1 with Calendula oil and rubbing it into my joints. It works! Psychosomatic or real, I don’t care, it works!

Are you spotting the connections here? Ships run on oil – knees run on oil! Rum gets mixed with water – Juniper with Calendula! The final connection – spirits! For generations rum solved every problem ‘Jack Tar’ ever encountered, made every job easier. For my gineration it is Mulberry Gin – Cheers!

Just remember, you drink the gin and rub the oil! And before you raise your eyes to the heavens at getting to this point and realising it was all a waste of time you need to know that up here in the mountains it is nearly June, it is piddling down and we are still lighting a fire to keep warm. What else am I supposed to do?

Alan Fenn. ‘. . talkin’ ’bout my gineration’

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

Out Of My Skull

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

. . not in the ‘pissed as a newt’ sense but as in ‘my brain has gone walk-about’! On a personal level the days drift gently by and my only worry is finding something to waffle on about.

It’s not that I’m unaware or uncaring about the crap that is being dished out by the monsters who lord it over the huddled masses of the world. I do know that I am able to live the life I have in the way I choose because of privilege. The privilege of being born where and when I was.

What if . . ? It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

A couple of days ago my dear neighbour Ramazan was spied up a tree at the bottom of our plot up here in the mountains. Curious, I picked up my camera and wandered down to see what was going on.

Ramazan is a retired policeman on a very small pension. He grows vegetables on his plot and keeps bees, not as some hobby but because he needs to subsist at a reasonable level. He’s very good at bee-keeping and has about 16 active hives! This is what he was after . .

His wife passed up a stick and a bucket on a rope . .

A quick tap and before you know it, ‘Ramazan’s your uncle’, and the swarm is in the bucket and transferred to its new home.

Now, my point about privilege is this; J and I are hobby gardeners, we do all this cleaning, weeding and planting because we enjoy it and because we can. Our neighbours do it because they have to! I know for a fact (because it happened last year) that some of Ramazan’s wonderful honey will come our way together with some cream from his goats and he would be mortally offended if we offered to pay for it. Privilege is a barrier to hide behind for those who choose to. Human kindness on the other hand . .

Privilege lets me have a vanity pond for no better reason than that I love the wildlife that it attracts. My neighbours need to channel their energy towards that which is productive. I, on the other hand, can sit on my arse, beer in hand and delight in the arrival of the first damselflies and dragonflies of the season . .

Libellula depressa – Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

Ischnura pumilio – Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Whilst I sat around and communed with nature J was hard at it planting tobacco seeds in the nursery bed . .

. . and proselytising to our gorgeous İsparta roses.

actually labels for Goditia and Forget-Me-Not.

Privilege has its privileges but I hope I never lose sight of our commonalities or lose touch with our neighbours – whoever and wherever they are.

Alan, in a privileged place