Stuff

(F)lights of Fancy

Life has become a bit of a distraction, and it’s rather nice! What with one thing or t’other I seem to be flitting between inconsequential jobs whilst what’s left of my mind goes walkabout or indulges in flights of fancy (which I’m told is a ‘really relaxing colouring book’ for adults).

f of f

My mental wanderings seem mostly to be focussed (in a misty sort of way) on the imminent start of the building of our cabin in the mountains at the other end of the rabbit hole. In an attempt to keep my feet on Terra Firma J has been keeping me occupied on lighter projects. She has always disliked the garden lights that were installed when the house was built. ‘They’re boring’, she was wont to say, ‘everyone has these!’ She wasn’t wrong – I’ve seen them all over the place in one variant or another.

Her propositions for change start something like this – ‘Don’t you think it would look wonderful if . .?’ or ‘What do you think about . . for an idea?’ And so it has been that for the past ten days or so I have been bringing some of her (f)lights of fancy from fluffy butterflies of wishful dreaming into solid manifestations made up of any old stuff that has been hoarded because it might be useful one day or was just lying about the place.

Old, handmade bricks, rocks from the mountains, plastic pipes, antique glass ‘windows’ from a hamam and bits of gaffer tape have taken on a new persona and really come into their own as night time falls. As they used to say on Blue Peter, ‘Here’s one I made earlier.’

Flight of fancy

by day

Flight of fancy2

and by night

Flight of fancy3

by day – a pile of rocks

Flight of fancy4

at night – still a pile of rocks!

Buoyed up by the success of her ideas J has started to collect things like ‘interesting’ tree branches, jam jars and the like. I have taken to locking myself in the workshop and sharpening chisels, plane blades, drill bits and doing other important stuff!

Whilst on the subject of lights and flights of fancy I really have to make mention of my sister. Despite my very best attempts she never, ever, forgets my birthday! Things have much improved from the days when I had to fly home with three concrete meerkats and a Christmas pud in my bag. These days, with the never-ending tide of electronic tat from China, she is able to pack dozens of items into one, lightweight parcel of pleasure! Here’s a little solar-powered garden light that has proved to be a real hit with some of the locals.

Flight of fancy5

Orthetrum coerulescens anceps – Keeled Skimmer

Flight of fancy6

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

This’n’That

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 . .

methuselah_syndrome-ianlome

. . 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!

METHUSELAH bristle cone

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!

roots

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’ . .

rubble

. . a new retaining wall to be built, new concrete to lay followed by relaying of the stone paving.

brick terrace

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 . .

students in Kocadere

. . 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.

international students at Okcular primary school1

international student in Okcular2

international chess game Okcular

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 perfect place

. . 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!

Dungroamin

For a name I thought ‘Dungroamin’ was as good as any!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

A Half-Braked Idea

Gulay and SerifeEven occasional readers of this blog will know about Gülay Çolak. Gülay is paraplegic, paralysed from the chest down after an appalling accident about 15 years ago. What is not paralysed is her love of life (most of the time) and her indomitable spirit. Her attitude has won her countless admirers and friends. Here she is with her daughter, Şerife, at the Çaliş Christmas Fair.

 

During the past eighteen months or so, she has had a rough time with ulcers on her foot that failed to respond to medication. After two failed skin grafts the prospects for her were not good and the cause of the problem lay in her inability to exercise properly and get her blood pumping around her limbs.

So it was that a good mate of mine, Ahmet, and I put our heads together to find a solution. We designed and built a prototype exercise machine that would work-out her arms, heart, lungs and get her legs moving. I’m not going to bore you with details all over again, you can read about that here and watch a video here.

The machine worked, her ulcers healed and the exercise routine is helping to ensure that there should be no recurrence.

If only life were that simple! Gülay has now developed diabetes, and this, too, is directly related to her inability to work-out properly.

It was head-scratching time again! Gülay has considerable strength in her arms – you wouldn’t want her to put you in a head-lock, for example! Exercising on her machine with those arms was altogether too easy and she was hardly getting puffed on her 40 minute sessions – something had to be done to put some serious ‘grunt’ back into the job.

There have been various suggestions made, from fitting one of those fan things you see on rowing machines to nicking an electric retarder from a long-distance coach! Come on guys, I’m working out of what amounts to a garden shed! My idea, based on what I know I can manage, was to fit one of those disc brakes that you see on modern mountain bikes. Great idea, but could I find the parts? Could I hell-as-like!

In the end, in desperation I messaged a friend, Jane Akatay, from Land of Lights newspaper. Jane knows everybody in Fethiye and she facilitated contact with Gareth Patten, a cyclist and, as it turned out, all-round decent chap (even if he was ‘born in Wales, by the grace of God!’ (according to his FB profile)).

Gareth FethiyeSpor

Gareth is the flagpole for FethiyeSpor!

Gareth understood instantly what I was trying to achieve and sourced the parts to do the job. When we met up in Fethiye to exchange bits for bobs – a bob was a shilling in old money – this splendid fellow refused to take payment. Said it was his contribution to the project – how generous is that? Thanks, Gareth. When you meet Gülay you’ll no doubt get one of her special hugs/head-locks!

Gareth's packet

Gareth’s contribution – just about perfect!

From here on the pictures can do the talking – it was a bit of a struggle over two days to get the thing set-up as precisely as it needed to be considering it’s not fitted to pre-positioned mounts. Suffice to say, it works a treat and is now back home with Gülay. She is busy preparing for the big, four-day Marble Fair in Izmir where she and her family are honoured guests of the Denizli Marble Manufacturing Chamber. She has a commission for a whole bunch of portraits, painted on marble, of the various bigwigs like provincial governors and mayors, to get finished and I didn’t want to bother her by asking for her to pose with the finished machine. I’ll get some pics when she’s back home and not so stressed.

here she is with a couple of the not-quite-finished-yet portraits

crank

Stage 1: wreck a perfectly good crank

disc crank

Stage 2: fix disc to mutilated crank

create lash-up

Stage 3: create lash-up to fix position of calliper mounting bracket

calliper mounting bracket

Stage 4: callipers mounted and aligned (above and below)

disc and callipers mounted

Stage 5: and her special leg supports re-fitted

micro-adjustable brake control

Stage 6: micro-adjustable brake control fitted

IMG_7434_1

Stage 7: cabled up and waiting to be reunited with the other bit – job jobbed!

So, once again, thanks Jane for the intro; thanks Gareth for sourcing and gifting the parts.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

The Jolly Boger

Once, long ago, in a galaxy far away J and I bought a fridge-freezer. We rather liked it because it was different, being horizontally rather than vertically inclined – it was neat and it did the decent thing and fitted under the work surface. Being Red Dwarf fans we were also pleased that it didn’t have SMEG’ stuck on the door!

Zanussi side-by-side fridge-freezer

our handy Zanussi DF 35/40 SS

When it was five years old it was packed into a shipping container and, just like us, set off for a new life in Turkey (Pussy the cat, J and I flew out forgoing the pleasures of a maritime passage). That was September 1997.

Now, some things, like people, are suited for warmer climes and some are not. Ten months into its new life, in the midst of the heat of August, the tiny, temperate zone compressor gave up the ghost and crossed over the great divide. We were sad to lose this handy little jobbie but, not yet au fait with the concept of getting things repaired, resigned to seeing it go. We were soon put straight by friend Mehmet who summoned the ‘buz dolabi’ (refrigerator) man.

DL__R600a__Series_Refrigeration_CompressorTwenty minutes later he arrived, sussed what he needed, left and then reappeared with a new compressor and assorted tools and gas cylinders. Within about an hour the job was done. He left, refusing payment until he had returned the next day to check that all was well.

That compressor lasted two years – we called our man back. He quite reasonably pointed out that the design of the machine was not suited to Turkish heat and it needed a bigger compressor. He needed to order it specially from Izmir – two days later the part had been delivered and the job was finished and that compressor has been working ever since. Apart from springing a gas leak from all those tubes at the back, which was also repaired at the local saniye or works area, this twenty two year old bit of kit has worked tirelessly.

In order to assist with the heat generated by this ‘not suited for climate’ fridge-freezer the repair man fitted a little fan to blast air over the heat sink. I later knocked up a bracket and added a second. These fans work far harder than what should be expected of them and so need changing every few years – a simple enough DIY job for me. This time around I found that the plastic tray that sits on top of the compressor and holds the melt-water when the ‘thingy’ auto defrosts had crumbled into dust. This accounted for the pools of water we’ve been periodically mopping up the past few years (I know, I know!).

bodging repairs

two new fans and a custom water tray – neat!

Anyway, J being a bright and practical soul produced a very attractive biscuit tin, circa 1997, and a few snips with the tin snips and a bit of bending with the pliers and ‘Hey, Presto!’ good as new . . well, almost! I’ve decided to keep the lid and turn it into a ‘feature’ to hang on the wall!

biscuit tin

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps I still have the original receipt – how sad is that!

pps I also know that ‘Boger’ is spelt ‘Bodger’ – or the other way around! You may, or may not, know that a ‘Bodger’ is the old name for a chair-maker which I consider a rather skilful occupation undeserving of such denigration.

ppps J has just said that she thinks that you lot out there will think I’m passed my best (sell-by date) for putting up stuff like this which is very depressing!

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Working Out With The Green (and pink) Goddess

A quick follow-up on Gülay and her exercise machine. Apart from any small mods that may crop up to make things better with the ‘scrap heap’, the ball is now well and truly with my chum Ahmet and his  technocrats and engineers in Istanbul. It seems that if we need any backing, whether technical or financial we can turn to the TÜBITAK – the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey. I find that amazing, but Ahmet knows about these things and has the contacts and skills to pull this off.

Down here in Okçular we have the hard job of waiting it all out. Meanwhile, Gülay gets to build her muscles, pump a bit of blood and model her fancy, spotted green ‘pantalons’ and lurid pink top – enjoy!

ps we fixed the chain rattle!

Gülay’s Work Out Machine from Alan Fenn on Vimeo.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü