I Should Co-Co!

J and I have just enjoyed the pleasure of an episode from the on-going mini-drama series called ‘Dealing With A Turkish Usta and/or Patron In Respect To An Appointed Day and/or Time’ (usta = craftsman). Don’t worry, it wasn’t a painful experience and, in fact, it resurrected many other fond memories from the exponential learning curve that is dealing with these real-time Harry Houdini‘s.

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Anyway, let’s go back more than twenty years to the time when the paint was still wet on our new home in Okçular. We had just bought a new washing machine, a Beko-Arçelik. ‘So,’ we asked the vendor, ‘when will it be delivered?’ ‘Thursday.’ he said, ‘no problem!’

We were so excited! ‘Great,’ we said, ‘we’ll wait in!’

And we did. 5.30pm rolled around and no sign of a delivery so we called the vendor who reassurred us that it was coming. Time moved on with another phone call and another jolly reassurance.

By 10.30pm we’d had enough – we were fed-up and it was bloody hot! Whilst I lay naked on top of the bed sheet, J had dragged out a bit of spare bedding and was laying naked on the front balcony. Before you start gasping at her wrecklessness, there are no street lights and we have no neighbours.

At fifteen minutes to the ‘witching hour’, having both managed to drop off, we were startled into adrenelin-fueled alertness by a great flashing of lights and trumpeting of a demented ice cream van on meth and a cheerful chappie bellowing ‘Mr Alan, Mr Alan, Arçelik!’ The promised delivery had arrived – and on the day promised! The sight of J naked and crawling backwards off the front balcony is one that haunts me to this day!

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I relate the above by way of a counterbalance to the innumerable times we have been told by the smiling usta ‘Yarın’ (tomorrow), when we pressed for a date/time to deliver or look at a job that needed doing. It took years before we cottoned-on that ‘tomorrow’ here in Turkey does not equate with tomorrow anywhere else on the planet. ‘Tomorrow’ here means ‘you’ll never see me again if I can help it’!

And so, bringing this ramble up to date, let me tell you about this latest episode. J and I are up at our cabin in the mountains and we decided that we really needed to do something about insect screens that I’d lashed-up three years ago from some old mosquito netting and some lengths of elastic. They were not only filthy, they were rotting!

We found a guy who perported to make and fit windows and the associated bits and bobs. As we tried to discuss our requirements and hand over measurements he stared at us foreigners open-mouthed – it’s very rural here and he may have never seen one, let-alone two, in the same place at the same time! He then began to rush around tidying things up before rushing off to the kitchen. ‘I do believe he’s doing the washing-up’, whispered J just before he re-emerged with two glasses of tea. Now we could talk about what we wanted.

As we explained our requirements, mostly to his arse as he rummaged about in and on top of cupboards and drawers, he made frantic phone calls before rushing out of the office. When he returned he was blowing dust and debris from a sample model of what was a very posh version of a screen from what we had originally envisioned. It must have been something in the tea because we were a pair of pushovers as he opened and shut the screen accompanied by a cloud of dust and the odd dead fly!

We agreed on colour and price. ‘And delivery?’ we asked it being Monday. Thursday being market day we were assured that the job would be complete before then and we could collect the screens on that day as I was doing the fitting (a decision based on many experiences). We paid a small deposit to show good faith and went on our way. Thursday morning arrived and so did we. No screens! There was a long, rambling explanation that involved a brother, Denizli and Germany amongst other things. We were assured that they would be ready and delivered to our cabin tomorrow (‘yarın’ again). We sighed and left, our expectations minimal.

Next day came and our lack of expectations appeared to have been on the money. Oh, ye of little faith! At 9.15pm there was a great revving of engine and scrabbling of tyres outside and there they were. No ladder, no lamps, electric drill to hand and two screens short of a full set! Another long, rambling explanation and a promise that the other two screens would be ready and delivered ‘yarın’. Oh, and a request for a bit more money to see them over till then! Twenty plus years and the pair of us still suckers for the big brown eyes and the sheepish smile. We gave them a bit extra, what else could we do?

Anyway, to put this ramble to bed, suffice to say that they were good for their word and they even turned up before it got dark and we were stuck into an episode of Breaking Bad! We are very pleased with our hi-tech screens and just as delighted with yet another episode of dealing with the usta aka I Should Co-Co!’

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proper job

Alan and J, in a very nice place!

Just A Quickie . .

By way of an afterthought to my last bit of waffle, and it being too cold to do more than a couple of hours of meaningful toil outside, I thought I’d bore and disappoint you a bit further. Especially if you too are stuck indoors by the weather or ‘man-flu’ and were feeling in need of some excitement in your life!

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The job of taming the rampant hedgerows results in plenty of poles, stakes, peasticks and countless scratches, thorns and bruises! That which remains will be turned into potash for the garden.

The last blurb was all about making you green with envy at these beautiful surroundings. This one is about making you green with envy that your allotment has only got a view of Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson’s plot. I do encourage you to wander off to the link I’ve offered you to the official ‘Monty Python’ (or ‘Monty Pie-THON‘ as they say in the good old dis-United States of part of North America) script site.

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the onions, garlic, broad beans with roses, a lonely little petunia and a view to Ahmet Cakoğlu’s (as we say in Turkish) shed (and they say humour doesn’t cross cultural barriers)

Our fruit trees are in flower or bud and the duck is enjoying the pond so all seems well with our narrow view of the world.

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Finally, a photo of the rhubarb we sowed as seeds last year. At this rate it will be worth stowing a couple of packets of Bird’s Custard Powder in the baggage if we ever travel back to the UK for a visit.

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Alan, in hibernation in Payamlı.

Beauty Is In The Eye . .

We arrived back up here at the cabin a couple of days ago. There’s always stuff to do but this time of year is special with buds and blossoms bursting out all over the place. Spring is wiggling her toes and stretching.

Of course we are keen to see how the fruit and nut trees are doing; how the onions and garlic has fared through the often sub-zero months of winter. And can you imagine our delight that seven crowns of rhubarb have survived from the seeds we planted last year.

J has been busy planting and hoeing and I had repairs to make to the watering system after the Rock Martens decided to indulge in a bit of guerilla warfare whilst we were away in the low-lands. All-in-all everything has passed muster.

Now, this area is known to the locals as ‘Payamlı’ which is the old name for badem in Turkish or almonds in English. There are only a couple of almond orchards here because the locals all forage the hedgerows which are awash with these beautiful and bountiful trees and now is the time when they are in full blossom.

So, here’s just a couple of reasons why we love being here:

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if you had binos you could just make out the cabin from here
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wild almond even on the beach
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pretty-much everywhere
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snow-capped
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a forest of wild almond
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nuff said!
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. . and because nobody else will blow my trumpet, how’s that for a sturdy work bench!

Alan, up in the clouds somewhere.

Bok!

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Turkish, bok, -ku slang 1. shit, crap, excrement, dung, ordure, feces, etc, etc; this according to my copy of Langenscheidt’s Standard English-Turkish Dictionary’ (First Part); an erudite description of the word in question considering its place between the covers of this aptly-named tome dedicated to understanding between peoples.

Would that the bok that squits from the mouths of our political ‘leaders’ could be added to the steaming heap! The ‘system’ that drives our world drives me to despair – I expect that it does the same for you. With that in mind here’re a few images from a recent sunny day’s wander from our house to Kocadere Valley and back. As the human race slides towards oblivion, taking countless other species with us, may your spirits be lifted together with whatever glass they happen to be in.

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Robber Fly enjoying a healthy breakfast
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amazing what we may lose
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Little Scamp
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colourful camel harness for no better reason than . .
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because it’s bright and cheerful!
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first Sombre Orchid near our garden
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blue sky and bees

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Alkanna mughlae probably the rarest plant you’ll ever see

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a forest full of Cyclamen
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. . and Anemones

Finally, in the finest traditions of ‘stiff upper-lipmanship’, British phlegm and excitingly cheap tickets for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic . .

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whatever you brew . . just like the Titanic . .
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bottoms up! going down!

Alan in Okcular – for now, anyway!

Seventh Heaven

I feel like the Buddha looks – smugly  happy, eyes half closed and with a nicely rounded belly that has followed a day of great expectation! That doesn’t read correctly, but you’ll get my drift.

It started with our very nice fishmonger at Ortaca veg market. After he’d safely pocketed the price of our çupra (sea bream), he went all conspiratorial on us. ‘Look, lady – taze karides (fresh shrimps/prawns), çok güzel!’ So we broke the first rule of survival in the commercial jungle and looked. Then we broke the second rule by agreeing with his pitch. And that was all he needed to start picking out the biggest and juiciest and arranging them under our noses on one of those styrofoam trays. ‘Not a kilo, a kilo is too expensive’, he said with his finest, unshaven smile. We ended up with 700 grams and considered we’d got away with a real bargain!

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in goes the garlic

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lightly pepper-flaked

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Yorkshire Prawn Cocktail

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sorry about the blur, I was all of a tremble!

I don’t know how you like your prawns, but J and I enjoy them with shells on, cooked in olive oil with loads of garlic and sprinkled with chilli flakes, a splash of lemon juice (and salt and pepper to taste, of course). We serve them from the pan with chunks of bread to soak up the juices . . Heaven! Or, as our one Buddhist friend would say, ‘Seventh Heaven!’

So, there you have it – Bof’s first ever ‘foodie’ blog post. Now for a glass of rakı and a couple of episodes of ‘Dad’s Army’ my just rewards for J’s hard work!

Alan Fenn, very contented in front of the fire.

Down The Rabbit Hole 2.0

Following the last posting and all the ‘Go on, tell us where it is’ and ‘Ah, ya will, ya will, ya will!’ via comments, pm and emails, here’s a few more shots of the bolt-hole taken at sunset, in the meadows and during the depths of winter. No give-away captions, I’ll leave you to work out which is which!

(salvaged from ‘Archers of Okçular November 2014)

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So, are we happy at the thought of spending some time wandering and exploring at the other end of the rabbit hole?

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I’ll let you be the judge of that – Alice with the Cheshire Cat, who once said, “If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.” … Cheshire Cat

As for ‘Go on, go on, go on!’ I say, in best Father Ted style, ‘I will not Mrs Doyle!’ Fans will understand.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Down The Rabbit Hole

‘Down the rabbit hole’ is, to quote Wikipedia, a metaphor for adventure into the unknown, from its use in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is also a slang expression for a psychedelic experience, but that is a different story – or maybe not!

another salvage job from ‘Archers of Okçular’ November 2014

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J and I have been a two-man escape committee quietly seeking a rabbit hole to disappear down to escape the summer heat for some time. A place, in fact, that lends itself to a bit of ‘California Dreaming’ any time of the year.  To be able to vanish and then reappear in a somewhat different world has its appeal. A world that could be on a different planet, Mars for example, now that would be really rather nice!

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one of two places on Earth that (supposedly) resembles Mars

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with medicated mud-pack

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A world where images are turned upside down and where a unique species of fish lives, that would also be really nice.

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with very friendly alien creatures

Adding in a few ponds and streams to paddle around in and new tracks to explore would be really, really nice. If you then sprinkle the mix with the odd wild white rabbit being casseroled in a delicious, peppery sauce then, to my mind, you are talking ‘Wonderland‘!

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in good company

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with beautiful wild flowers

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and berries

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and Martian cabbages

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very welcoming local ‘Martian’ bureaucrats

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Wonderland!

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Wonderland!2.0

Alan Fenn, following the White Rabbit!

ps you might think that I’ve forgotten to tell you where the entrance is . . I haven’t!