Under the vines
Back in March we bought the orchard and the farmhouse. The previous owners moved out in April, and so the house has been empty for a while. We can’t wait to get out there ourselves, but in the meantime my mum and dad have very kindly travelled down from Istanbul to check things out for us. The garden has grown like crazy and there were a lot of leaves to sweep up, plus a bird seems to have made a nest in the kitchen, but apart from that no problems! There’s fruit growing all over the place: limes, pomegranates, pears, plums, and of course figs.
Dad hosing down the driveway
Here are a couple of photos my parents sent us. We love the way the grape vines have grown to shade the courtyard: they were just bare vines when we saw them in March.
Right now we’re still in the UK, but our plans for the big move are firming up. Sirem has left her job and I am in the last few weeks of mine. All our furniture will be stuffed into a shipping container and sent by sea on the 15th of July. We should be completing the house sale on the 18th of July, and will fly out to Turkey on the same day. The cats will be going ahead of us, travelling overland across Europe with the help of the nice people at Paws Kennels and Cattery.
Once we’re out there, and once we get our internet connection sorted out, the blog will get a lot more practical. We’ve got some immediate jobs to do like modernizing the bathroom in the old farmhouse, digging drainage ditches up in the orchard, and harvesting our first batch of figs. All that should mean lots of progress photos, of course.
In the meantime, some friends have asked why we’ve chosen southwest Turkey for our big plan. I think the easiest way to answer that is with some photos from previous visits.
Köy Sofrası restaurant in Kirazlı, about 20km from our place
Valley in the hills nearby
Gület (yacht) moored in beautiful Aegean waters
View from a hilltop looking out towards the Greek islands
Hıdırbeyli sits on top of a big source of geothermal energy. There are several geothermal power stations in the area, taking advantage of hot-water aquifers deep below the surface. And in some places the steam comes right up through the ground.
About 1.5km from our place, as you drive up into the hills, there’s a lake. Or maybe I should call it a reservoir, really: it was formed by damming a stream that comes down from the mountains. It makes a good place for picnic, anyway.
Lake in the hills behind us
Beyond the lake you can find several hot springs on the side of the road, or even just places where hot steam seeps up through mud or sand. It’s not quite as spectacular as Rotorua or Yellowstone, but still pretty amazing.
Hot springs: the water in there is close to boiling
Steam coming up through soft, sandy ground
We don’t know whether we’ll be able to use any of this geothermal power ourselves, but there’s talk in the village that the hot water runoff from a new power station will be available for local heating. It would be fantastic to have our winter heating needs taken care of by the rocks under our feet, but we’ll have to wait and see.
So what are we planning to build, exactly? Here’s a “before” picture showing what we’ve got to work with. Our fig orchard is that area with the trees up on the hill, and the courtyard with buildings on the left is the farmhouse where we’ll live while we work on the project. Towards the back of the picture you can see a cutting where the road goes up to a nearby lake and on into the mountains.
Plan showing the farmhouse and orchard as they are now.
We want to build a six-room hotel, with the rooms grouped into three pairs. Each building will be a generously proportioned bungalow, and each room will have its own secluded verandah. We also need a swimming pool (of course!) and a kitchen with a terrace for serving breakfast, etc. Here’s our current plan for how it will all be laid out. That’s the kitchen and terrace at the bottom centre of the picture, and you can see a couple of pergolas giving shade for the garden. There’s also a low wall that runs along our southern boundary. Most of the verandahs will look out across the pool and to the south. Plenty of room on the roofs for solar panels, too.
Plan showing how the different buildings will be laid out on the orchard block
These pictures were done in Sketchup 2013. It’s a great free-to-use 3D design program and we totally recommend it if you’re building anything from a bookshelf to a house.