Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: farmhouse (page 1 of 2)

Summer: postscript

As promised, some photos of the finished furniture that Joe helped to make.  The desk is great for days when it’s too hot to sit inside with a PC exhaust fan going, and the cupboard is built like a tank and will outlast us all.

Portable computer desk

Portable computer desk

Cupboard for the verandah

Cupboard for the verandah

So much room for shoes, pet food, vacuum cleaners, etc.

So much room for shoes, pet food, vacuum cleaners, etc.

Also, some gratuitous kitten photos.

The kittens are getting bigger...

The kittens are getting bigger…

... and cuter.

… and cuter.

More spring weather, more ruins, more plans

OK, this will be a quick one.  It’s a beautiful day and I’m supposed to be putting in irrigation pipes for the new trees, not sitting around at the computer.

Things are going well.  Spring continues to mean that plants are just erupting out of the ground: it’s amazing how quickly things grow here.  Here are a few shots of flowers and the garden to show what I mean.

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The grape vines are definitely back.  We missed them!

The grape vines are definitely back. We missed them.

The season has also brought some new lambs to the farm of our friends at the other end of the village.  The lambs are very cute and Sirem could not resist having a cuddle.

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Only 24 hours old.

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Ready for her close-up now.

Sirem with her favourite.  The lamb also looks pleased.

Sirem with her favourite. The lamb also looks pleased.

And visitor season is also continuing.  Our recent guests Enrico and Bethany gave us an excuse to check out one more of the archaeological sites in the area.  We took them to see the ruins of Tralleis, up on a bluff above the provincial capital of Aydın.     It must have been a very imposing city in its heyday.  The biggest feature still standing is a distinctive triple arch that looks out over the valley.  All very Ozymandias.

The arch at Tralleis.  Some people for scale.

The arches at Tralleis. Some people for scale.

The arch from the other side.  Notice all the construction on the lower level: cellars or tunnels perhaps?

The arches from the other side. Notice all the construction on the lower level: cellars or tunnels perhaps?

Again we had the privilege of walking around a site like this without paying any admission fee, and seeing almost no other visitors.  I think those people in the first shot were our only company.  It’s not that Turks and tourists don’t care about these places; more that they are spoiled for choice about where to go.

Finally: we put in our revised plans for the hotel bungalows a couple of weeks ago, and we’re waiting to hear back from the council about whether the new version can be passed as just a minor revision of the old.   The differences weren’t huge, so we’re optimistic.

Probably the biggest change is that we’re now building a house for ourselves at the top of the orchard.  It’s quiet and peaceful there, and the view is fantastic, so  we can’t resist.  That means two fewer guest rooms up in the orchard, but in the long run we’ll make up the total of six by converting some rooms down here in the old farmhouse.

Another change is that we combined one of the guest bungalows with the cafe / kitchen, rather than having them as two separate buildings.  We think it makes the overall plan look less cluttered, and the thick straw bales mean the guests shouldn’t hear anything from the adjoining kitchen area.

An overview of the new plan.  You can see the existing farmhouse buildings on the far left.  Then, from left to right, it's the cafe plus two guest rooms, the pool, another two guest rooms, and then our new house at the end.

An overview of the new plan. You can see the existing farmhouse buildings on the far left. Then, from left to right, it’s the cafe plus two guest rooms, the pool, another two guest rooms, and then our new house at the end.

The cafe will have big french doors out onto the terrace area.  There's also a higher ceiling as the roof is common but the floor is lower. This seems to make the building blend into the slope a bit more.

The cafe will have big french doors out onto the terrace area. There’s also a higher ceiling as the roof is common but the floor is lower. This seems to make the building blend into the slope a bit more.

Plan view of the cafe, kitchen,and two guest rooms.

Plan view of the cafe, kitchen,and two guest rooms.

The double bungalow above the pool.

The double bungalow above the pool.

Interior of a typical guest room.

Interior of a typical guest room.

Interior view of our house.  Always wanted a mezzanine!

Interior view of our house. Always wanted a mezzanine!

 

Going up-river

We hit a minor milestone last Friday: we finished the tiling and painting work on the third of the farmhouse bedrooms. This will definitely help with accommodating future visitors, but it also gave us the space to unpack almost all of the remaining boxes from our move. It was good to see our books again, for example.

Our third and final farmhouse bedroom, tiled and painted.

Our third and final farmhouse bedroom, tiled and painted.

Two dogs means two dog houses.

Two dogs means two dog houses.

Zeliş needed a dog house to keep warm just as much as Zeytin did, so that was one afternoon’s construction work. Still needs to be painted though.

The kitchen is still not finished, which makes me feel guilty. But there’s progress all the time: here’s a shot of the new pantry, and you can see our rustic handmade drawers on the right.

Kitchen progress.

Kitchen progress.

We’ve reached the stage now where it’s time to lay the backsplash and countertop tiles. We already bought ornately decorated hexagonal tiles for the worktop, but we needed something complementary for the backsplash. Sirem had heard that there were great stone tiles to be had in Denizli, a city a few hours away up the Menderes Valley. It was time to take a drive up-river.

The Menderes valley looking from west to east.

The Menderes valley looking from west to east.

A brief geography reminder: we live on the north side of the valley of the Menderes river, which for the Ancient Greeks was the Meander or Maiandros. Nowadays the valley is known as a great place to grow figs, but in the ancient world it was the start of the main route from Europe into Asia. Most of Turkey is one big mountainous plateau, and the valley of the Meander gave an easy approach into the Anatolian interior, avoiding the steep mountains of the south coast. It’s weird to think that Xerxes, Xenophon, and Alexander the Great all travelled up or down the valley and probably within a few kilometres of our house. (For more historical background, if anyone is curious, we recommend Jeremy Seal’s excellent book Meander: East to West along a Turkish River, which two different sets of friends gave us as a very appropriate gift.)

On the map above, Denizli is right up at the top of the valley, near Pamukkale, which is a big tourist attraction because of its unique limestone terraces. We visited Pamukkale on  a holiday years ago, and we must have driven west down the main valley road as there’s no other way to get to Ephesus, our next stop. But we don’t have a clear memory of that drive, and this time around we have never gone further inland than Aydin. So the day felt like an expedition into new territory.

View across the Menderes valley near Pamukkale.

View across the Menderes valley near Pamukkale.

The mountains either side of the upper valley reach 2000 metres and more, so there was still plenty of snow on the peaks. We stopped at Pamukkale but it didn’t photograph well on an overcast day, so I have shamelessly stolen a picture from Wikimedia Commons. As you can see, it’s worth a visit in summer.

The terraces at Pamukkale. Not my photo: credit goes Antoine Taveneaux and Wikimedia Commons.

The terraces at Pamukkale. Not my photo: credit goes to Antoine Taveneaux and Wikimedia Commons.

After some searching we found the tile place we were looking for. I think the guy who helped us was maybe used to larger pallet-sized orders, but he graciously did not complain about helping us to count out several hundred individual tiles and load them into the back of the truck. In the rain. We’re very happy with them: the lighter marble squares are for the kitchen backsplash, and the chunky stone tiles are to make a kind of skirting-board in the oldest bedroom that should protect the base of the mud-brick walls.

Stone tiles from Denizli.

Stone tiles from Denizli.

And now I should go and feed some hungry dogs. Until next time!

Must get faster at carpentry

This will just be a quick post. I wish there was more to add: we’re pushing on with the kitchen, but the date of the previous post is evidence that progress hasn’t been all that dramatic. On the positive side, we’re learning lots of woodwork tricks that should make us faster in the future.

Here’s a shot of one of the kitchen cabinets, almost done. From left to right that’s going to be four drawers, an open slot for storing wine (above) and trays (below), and a large corner cupboard that will sit up against the washing machine. As you can see, we’re going for the rustic look.

Cabinet for the left side of the kitchen

Cabinet for the left side of the kitchen.

We’ve picked out the tiles we’re going to use for the worktops. Very Turkish! There will be some interesting cutting to get those hexagons to work, but we think it will be worth it.

The tiles we've chosen for the worktops.

Tiles for the kitchen worktops.

As of yesterday the cabinets actually got dragged into the kitchen itself, which was a bit of a milestone for us. No doors on the cupboards yet, and the worktops still need to be trimmed and screwed into place, but you can start to see what it’s going to look like.

Cabinets in place.

Cabinets in place.

Real drawers will work better than a wicker basket.

Real drawers will work better than a wicker basket.

Lots of room in those corner cupboards.

Lots of room in those corner cupboards.

A couple of weeks ago I finally found the bag that had my camera gear in it, so I now have a tripod again which means night-time photos are possible. I know I should get out and capture the atmosphere of some of the local towns after dark, but for starters here are a few shots of home.

View of our garden by night: the winter rains have made everything green.

View of our garden by night: the winter rains have made everything green.

Looking back into the village from outside our gate.

Looking back into the village from outside our gate.

Kitchen progress

I’ve lost the last couple of days to flu — nothing serious, but Sirem has been very patient with the usual tragic man-flu whining. So this seems like a good moment to take stock with a progress report.

Currently, the kitchen is our big priority.  As usual we’ve sat down with Sketchup to figure out what we want to build. Because the room is not that big, and there’s only the one door, we’ve found it much easier than when we designed our kitchen in Southampton. Basically the strategy is to build as much worktop space as possible and then to cover every available bit of wall with cupboards. Nobody ever complained that their kitchen had too much storage space, right?

Planned kitchen layout in Sketchup.

Planned kitchen layout in Sketchup.

The door is at the back of the picture, and that slot on the front left wall is an old fireplace where we plan to keep the gas bottles for the stove. The window ends up traditionally placed over the sink, front right. The microwave and our small oven get stacked on top of each other, and there’s a chunk of bonus storage space above the fridge.

So far, we’ve started on some of the framing work, and found some 18mm plywood to serve as a base for the tiled worktops. We’ve been lining things up out in the courtyard to check that it’s all going to fit. Once we take the pieces into the actual kitchen, there will be a lot less room to move.

Kitchen cupboards and worktops starting to take shape.

Kitchen cupboards and worktops starting to take shape. None of the kitchen walls are at right angles to each other, so there’s some fiddly bits with the carpentry.

At the risk of appearing to have gone full red-neck, here’s a shot of the nail guns I mentioned last time. They may look excessive but they’ve been extremely handy in putting together framing projects like the kitchen. Of course sometimes you have to use screws, but when you can get away with nails, the power to get twenty of them into the work piece inside a minute is just amazing. The little one, the staple gun, has probably been the big surprise: you can use it to put together something like a mitre-cut picture frame very easily, and it’s great for pinning up wire mesh for plastering.

Stuff.

Nail guns: the one on the left fires nails up to 5cm long, and is moderately scary. The one in the middle fires staples deep into timber, and is not so scary but will still hurt you. The one on the right fires 9cm nails and is absolutely terrifying.

This is what a box of 5000 wire-coiled 90mm nails looks like.

This is what a box of 5000 wire-coiled 9cm nails looks like. I hope not to need to go back to the shop for a while.

Last week we put a solar hot water system in. Or, more correctly, we paid the professionals to put one in. Previously we’d been using an instant hot-water heater but that was going to lead to big electricity bills if we kept it up. Solar has been great so far, with plenty of hot water even on the cloudier days.

Our new solar hot water system, on the roof above the bathroom.

Our new solar hot water system, on the roof above the bathroom.

While we had the tools and timber out for the kitchen, we also thought we should put some kind of bed together for the cats that are sleeping outside. (Yes, I’m ashamed to say there is currently a terrible apartheid system in place where the pampered UK cats are sleeping indoors and the hard-grafting Turkish street cats are sleeping outdoors.)

Combined bench and cat box project. The cats were supposed to sleep underneath so people could sit on the top, but as you can see the cats had other ideas.

Combined bench and cat box project. The cats were supposed to sleep underneath so people could sit on the top, but as you can see they had other ideas.

The idea was to make a box to keep the cats out of the wind, and to put some cushions and blankets inside to make it comfortable. We’ve since put a panel of clear plastic over the middle section to help them keep more body heat in there. They seem to appreciate it.

This is Suzi, one of Sütlaç's kittens. How can you look at that face and not build some kind of shelter for her?

This is Suzi, one of Sütlaç’s kittens. How can you look at that face and not build some kind of shelter for her?

Dog dog.

Zeytin is shocked to learn that the cats now also have a house.

On our way back from a walk today, we climbed the hill across the street to get a new view on our place. I really like the shot below, because you can see all the different bits and pieces that make up our little compound. From the front left, anti-clockwise, that’s the disused chicken coop, then the old house, the new house, the barn, and, if you look carefully in the foliage at the back, you can see the slab of metal roofing that keeps the rain off our clay oven.

The farmhouse from a new angle. I like this shot because you can see all the different buildings.

Our farmhouse from a new angle.

And, in conclusion, a shot of a poplar tree to show the advance of the seasons…

Autumn colours in the village.

Autumn colours in the village.

PS: there is one more thing. We really appreciate all the comments on the blog, but we’ve been a bit surprised to find how prevalent spam commenting is in the blog world. (Probably many of you out there already knew this.) At first I was manually approving or deleting every comment, but when the spam count got into the thousands it became overwhelming. So we’re currently relying on some spam filters that work on keywords. It makes my life a lot easier, but the downside is there’s a small chance that every now and then we’ll block a legitimate comment. If a comment of yours seems to go missing, I apologize in advance, and please feel free to email me and I’ll sort it out.

Why everyone needs an air compressor

It’s a busy period at the moment. There’s just the two of us here, and we’re trying to get the rest of the renovation done on the farmhouse so we can switch focus to the straw-bale construction up in the orchard.

Of all the tools we either brought with us or bought here in Turkey, I think the most useful is the air compressor. I used to wonder what these were really for: why would anyone want a big supply of compressed air?

Compressor in action.

Compressor in action.

It turns out that the reason you want compressed air is because  you can use it to do almost anything. Instead of buying lots of small tools like drills or sanders with individual electric motors, the idea is to have one big electric motor that fills a tank with compressed air, and then use the air to power lighter, simpler, hopefully cheaper tools.

Gauges, valves, copper pipes... it's got everything!

Gauges, valves, copper pipes… it’s got everything!

In truth, we haven’t thrown away all our electric saws and drills. But the compressor lets us run tools that don’t always have an electric equivalent. The most dramatic are probably the two nail guns we own: scary! We also have an air-powered staple gun which is incredibly handy for things like upholstery.

For instance: we like our Toyota Hilux, and it will carry a lot of cargo. But one of its few weak points is that you don’t really have a boot. There’s nowhere to lock up your bags or shopping out of sight. So we built a removable tray cover out of basic timber and board, but made it look more professional by covering it in black vinyl. We wouldn’t have been able to do such a nice job of stretching the vinyl without the power of the staple gun.

Truck tray cover: timber and oriented-strand board covered in black vinyl.

Truck tray cover: timber and oriented-strand board covered in black vinyl.

We hope it looks professional.

We hope it looks professional.

Another air tool that’s going to get a lot of use in the future is a mortar-and-plaster sprayer we had to order from the US. This is going to be a life saver when it comes to the hard work of getting all those straw bale walls covered in three coats of clay plaster.

We tried the sprayer out for the first time on a smaller job: covering a brick wall at the front of the house with cement render.

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It’s a clever tool. You dip the bucket into the wet mortar mix…

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… and then the compressed air blasts the mortar out onto the wall.

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Rendered in no time; will look much nicer once limewashed.

If we hadn’t had to stop and manually mix up additional mortar a few times, the job would have been done in ten minutes. It’s a really smart and simple tool.

Speaking of plastering, we’ve also started to experiment with using the clay-rich soil from our orchard as a plaster base. The oven at the back of the garden was looking a bit worse for wear, so giving it a new coat seemed like good practice.

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Fresh coat of earth plaster (just dirt mixed with a bit of ash) on the clay oven.

In that photo, you might spot some cracks forming in our plaster coat as it dries. That was both frustrating and encouraging: it means that the plaster mix we get from simply digging up our soil is actually too rich in clay. We need to add some sand and maybe some straw and lime to perfect it. Further work needed, as the scientists say.

What else have we done lately? We worried that Zeytin (the dog) would not be warm enough as the nights got colder, so we gave her a clear plastic curtain to help keep her body heat inside the doghouse.

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A curtain to keep Zeytin warm. Yes, we are soft-hearted people, I know.

And here is a shot of Zeytin looking like a fugitive in a wanted poster.

And here is a shot of Zeytin looking like a fugitive in an old “wanted” poster.

The next big project is definitely finishing the kitchen. It’s embarrassing how long I’ve put that one off. It’s not that we don’t have a kitchen; it’s just that it’s  mostly made out of bookshelves and it doesn’t have a sink in it yet.

Thanks for reading. As usual I will close with a random selection of pictures.

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Sirem wanted me to post this shot of some marigolds just to show that they are still in bloom.

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More bounty from our neighbour’s garden: we fried most of these peppers and froze them to use over the winter.

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A moody-looking sunset over our village.

Sun-dried everything

Summer is winding down. Today’s high temperature was 28 degrees. Right now, at about 1am, it’s 18 degrees outside. Still very pleasant, but it’s getting too cold to spend the whole evening out in the courtyard. In the next month or two we’re going to lose the last of the leaves on our grape vines and fig trees. That will be a sad day. By the time January comes around I suppose we’ll also find out how good adobe-brick walls are at keeping out the cold.

Back in July and August we had daily highs between 35 and 40, and clouds were a rare sight. The locals use all that sunshine to dry fruits and vegetables. No cooking, no additives — except sometimes salt. Just leave it out in the sun for a few days.

We sun-dried our figs, but we also tried it with other things, like grapes, pears, and peppers. Some experiments were more successful than others, but at least we have a few things stored away for winter.

Regular readers of the blog will already have heard plenty about our fig production, but I'm still going to show you another photo of them because we love them.

Regular readers of the blog will already have heard plenty about our fig-growing efforts, but I’m still going to show you another fig photo because we love them.

OK, just this one and no more fig shots, I promise.

OK, just this one and no more fig shots, I promise.

Peppers threaded onto string, drying in the courtyard.

Peppers threaded onto string, drying in the courtyard.

Green peppers turn red as they dry. Maybe you knew this but I was surprised.

Green peppers turn red as they dry. Who knew?

Drying grapes and slices of pear. This didn't really work out, but they look cool together.

Drying grapes and slices of pear. This didn’t really work out, but they look cool together.

In truth, our grapes were much better fresh.

Our grapes were much better fresh.

What else can I tell you? In fact I’m behind on posting and there’s a lot to talk about. We’ve had visitors, we’ve been out to see a few more of the fantastic archaeological sites in the area, and we’ve been busy building a sedir (low outdoor sofa) for the courtyard. But those things deserve their own posts. I should say, though, that our cat Molly is doing much better lately. Thanks for all the good wishes sent her way.

I’ll leave you with a photo taken yesterday from a hill on the other side of the village. We used to think it was all private land up there, but we found a dirt road leading to a picnic area at the top of the hill. Great views of Hıdırbeyli, Germencik, and the Menderes Valley to the south, but also a great spot to get some perspective on our place.

We're the last house on the right, and that's the fig orchard up on the hillside. The fig trees are much greener than the surrounding olives.

We’re the last house on the right, and that’s the fig orchard up on the hillside. The fig trees are a lighter green than the surrounding olives.

Farmhouse outlined in yellow; orchard outlined in red.

Farmhouse outlined in yellow; orchard outlined in red.

Concrete is cool

Bear with me. I know concrete may not sound like the most exciting subject in the world. I also know that Portland cement is not exactly the most environmentally friendly building material around. But we’ve been blown away by how useful it is, and how easy it is to do small jobs around the house with it. I confess that for years I assumed concrete work was something you had to pay a professional to do, but that’s just not true.

A man and his wheelbarrow. (Thanks for the shirt, Paul.)

A man and his wheelbarrow. (Cheers for the shirt, Paul.)

Our first job was pretty modest: after the work on our new bathroom, the trench through the yard had messed up some of the garden borders. So we made a new one. It’s not going to win any awards for style, but it works.

Lime-washed concrete garden border. Our very first job!

Lime-washed concrete garden border. Our very first concrete job!

Then we really got started. In the courtyard, the stairs up to the garden had a strange first step that was twice as tall as it should have been, making the stairs very awkward. So we built a new step, out of formed concrete with wire mesh for reinforcement, and tiled it to look like the others.

That bottom step didn't use to be there. Much more comfortable to walk up now!

That bottom step is new. Much more comfortable to walk up the stairs now!

We also made a new curved concrete ramp for the door to the barn, and a new sill for the kitchen window (the previous one had crumbled when they took the old window out).

This used to be a sudden step down to the barn floor level. Curved ramp makes it easier to roll things in and out of the barn.

This used to be a sudden step down to the barn floor level. Curved ramp makes it easier to roll things in and out of the barn.

New window needed a new window sill. Further plasterwork needed around the edges...

New window needed a new concrete sill. Further plasterwork needed around the edges…

We’ve even started on some bricklaying, adding a few courses to a wall at the front of the house to help with privacy. No photos of that yet, though.

Concrete is of course a bit grey, so I thought I should add some photos of more colourful stuff. Here’s another insect visitor to our garden: a praying mantis that  helpfully sat right next to one of our outside lights one night and watched us as much as we were watching him.

Praying mantis wants in on the photography action.

Praying mantis wants in on the photography action.

And some shots of local places, thanks to our visitors Berkan and Sofie who dragged us out of the house for a bit.

Harbour at Güzelçamlı.

Harbour at Güzelçamlı.

Evening street scene in Eski Doğanbey, a conservation village nearby.

Evening street scene in Eski Doğanbey, a conservation village nearby.

 

Container day 2: the return

We had an exciting milestone when our shipping container finally arrived the other day. It certainly took the long way around: from Southampton to Hamburg, and then to Port Said in Egypt, where it changed ships before sailing to Istanbul and then back down to Izmir. I hope it had a good time…

I was off with Molly at the vet clinic when the truck arrived, so Sirem had the frantic job of telling the removal guys which box goes where. I think we had more than 100 items total, so it was tough to keep track of everything. Stuff that was urgent (kitchen things for example) sat in the courtyard, while boxes we’re not going to open for a while (books, blankets) went into the barn.

Boxes stacked in the courtyard.

Boxes stacked in the courtyard.

Not sure what we would do without the barn for storage.

Not sure what we would do for storage without the barn.

Clay pot was the only breakage so far: not bad.

Clay pot was the only breakage so far: not bad.

It’s a strange feeling getting to see all your belongings after seven weeks without them. After all this time sitting on plastic patio chairs, we were very happy to sit in some comfy reclining chairs again. And the dishwasher and washing machine were opened and connected up with great urgency and enthusiasm.

The boxes people open first say a lot about what they've missed most...

The boxes you open first say a lot about what you’ve missed most…

We have a dishwasher and a washing machine! It's starting to feel like a real kitchen. (The sink is still outside though.)

We have a dishwasher and a washing machine! It’s starting to feel like a real kitchen. (The sink is still outside though.)

Şurup was very impressed with how comfortable cushions on a sofa can be.

Şurup was very impressed with how comfortable cushions on a sofa can be.

So the place is starting to feel less like camping and more like a home. A few more jobs to go: the kitchen cabinets, tiling the bedrooms, etc. But we’re getting there. And we’re conscious of all the real work waiting for us up in the orchard.

What else can I tell you? It’s late September now and the weather is just starting to turn. The daily high temperature is about 30 rather than 35 or 40. Much nicer for getting work done.

Also, I don’t want to give the impression that it is always sunny here. Only about 95% of the time. 🙂 In fact we had our second thunderstorm a couple of days ago: a short, intense burst of rain and thankfully no leaking roofs. And here’s a shot of a beautiful cloud-streaked sky at sunset.

It's not all sunny days: very occasionally we have clouds.

It’s not all sunny days: very occasionally we have clouds.

 

What have we really been doing?

It’s been a while since our last post. Sorry about that: must do better!

We’ve been a bit distracted. We have lots of projects to work on, as usual. But more than that, one of the cats (Molly) has been ill: liver problems brought on by the stress of the move. Which makes us feel very guilty. And means a 50 km round trip every morning to get IV fluid treatment for her at the university vet clinic in Aydın. Thankfully, though, she seems to be getting better.

So: what have we really been doing? I looked back at our previous blog posts and it struck me that often I would write about something just because I had a decent photo of it. No big deal, except it doesn’t give you a representative view of what life is like here. Sometimes cool things happen and I am not quick enough to get the camera: two camels being led out of the neighbour’s front gate, or a dapper old man riding past our door on a donkey, coming down from the mountains carrying a rifle as old as he was. Sometimes you don’t get the camera because it doesn’t feel right. You don’t want to be rude and in-your-face with people you don’t yet know very well. And sometimes you’re just busy.

The point of this post is to talk about the stuff we don't have pictures of. Nevertheless, you will be needing some pictures, so here's our place from the street.

The point of this post is to talk about the stuff we don’t have pictures of. Nevertheless, you will be needing some pictures, so here’s our place from the street.

A typical un-photographed day for us starts early as we’re woken up by either the call to prayer or a tractor going past our bedroom window. Then we go back to sleep until about eight in the morning when we get up to reliably blue skies and the hope that someone else has already started making breakfast. Sirem and I take Molly to the vet clinic in Aydın: a flat, straight drive into the morning sun, with the mountains on our left. Treatment takes a couple of hours, but the staff are good people. On the way back, if Molly is in a reasonable mood, we try to do some shopping. A stop in the sanayi (industrial estate) to buy tools and building materials, or a stop in Germencik for fresh bread, cheese, and eggs.

Shopping in Germencik

Shopping in Germencik

 

By the time we get back, it’s lunch time. After lunch, if it’s a hot day (and all of them have been) a siesta is tempting. Then we get started on something that’s actually useful: tiling, plastering, painting, concreting, working in the garden — that sort of thing.

This is how the bathroom looks now. It might seem all that great but that's because I didn't give you a proper "before" photo showing how the walls and ceiling looked.

This is how the bathroom looks now. It might not seem all that great but that’s because I didn’t give you a proper “before” photo showing the crumbling walls and the dark and dirty ceiling.

The current state of the garden. The neatly dug beds are due to my dad's efforts while he was here.

The current state of the garden. The neatly dug beds are due to my dad’s efforts while he was here.

Early experiments in lime-washing the walls are inspected by Tarçın.

Early experiments in lime-washing the garden walls are inspected by Tarçın.

Around sunset on every alternate day it’s time to go and collect figs. We walk around all 65 trees, looking for figs that are already on the ground, and shaking the trees a bit to get the partially dried figs to fall. We’ve got other jobs too, like laying the figs out to dry, sorting them into different classes, and rinsing them in salty water to help preserve them for the winter. This last step gives them a fantastic shine though.

One of our better figs.

One of our better figs.

If lunch was big we don’t eat a lot in the evening. Or sometimes it’s the other way around. Dinner might be just bread, cheese, potato chips, and a beer. I say “beer” in the singular because the truth is we’re drinking a lot less than we did in the UK. I remain a fan of beer but after a day in the sun it only seems to take one to make me want to lay back in a chair and look at the stars.

As the evening goes on we referee a few fights between our cats and some of the local strays who wander in, and then eventually bed.

What else have we been up to? Just recently we found a good local welder in Germencik, and he put us onto his friend the window guy, and so we had new windows and security screens installed on some of the rooms. There’s not a lot of crime here, so hopefully we needn’t have bothered, but it gives us some peace of mind when nobody is home.

Security grille and fly screen for the kitchen.

Security grille and fly screen for the kitchen; new window in the background.

In earlier photos of the garden, you may have spotted a half-ruined shed at the back of the block. I was a bit worried about this because it looked like the roof might collapse, so last week I decided the time had come and I pulled most of it down. No cats were inside. Now we’ve got a source of roof tiles, timber, and cinder blocks to recycle elsewhere.

The shed after my amateur demolition.

The shed after my amateur demolition.

Zeytin, the dog, is still very pleased about her change in status from street dog to garden dog. It’s not really cold at night yet, but nevertheless we gave her a little house. Well, OK: a cardboard box with a blanket inside. She was incredibly happy about this development.

"Nobody ever gave me a house before!"

“Nobody ever gave me a house before!”

And finally, here’s a picture of a different sort of visitor. This guy sat on the back of one of our chairs and posed for photos for quite a while before he had to fly.

Grasshopper is ready for his close-up now.

Grasshopper is ready for his close-up now.

 

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