Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: hotel (page 1 of 2)

It’s framing again

At the risk of never talking about anything except construction… it’s good to be doing timber framing again. Compared to detail work like making windows or furniture, it all goes very fast as most of the time you don’t need to sand or stain the wood. Just cut it to size, get it up there, and fire some nails into it. (OK, with some of the bigger beams it’s a bit more involved, but the basic story is the same.)

Framing the walls for rooms three and four.

And at the end of each day you’ve got something different to what you started with: it’s a great morale boost to see the skeleton of a building emerge from the concrete slab.

We’ve alternated our work on the two buildings (i.e., the bungalow that will be rooms three and four, versus our new house-to-be). First the brickwork, then the treated timber base plate, then on top of that the wall framing, followed by the central beams. Currently we’ve reached the stage of putting up rafters for building two. So a real roof is not far off. It’s going to make the straw bale work a lot easier this time to have the roof up first, the way it’s supposed to happen. We won’t have to panic and drag out the tarpaulins every time it rains.

Roof tiles will get used soon after a year of waiting around.

Treated timber bolted down to the slab for our new house.

Hopefully the pool pavilion will look a bit less lonely once building two is done. You can see in the shot below how close it is to the west wall of room three. Close enough to be partially tucked in under the eaves. And the solid wall of the new building will help make the pavilion a shady spot for a few more hours each day.

Rooms three and four main beam up.

The wall timbers are up for the new house, and now we’re just waiting on some of the larger beams and joists to arrive for the next push upwards. The house has a significantly taller roofline than the other two buildings, to make room for that mezzanine first-floor bedroom. So there’s a minor worry that it could look a bit overly imposing. On the other hand, it should help that it will be the one right at the back. We’ll see how it works out. Too late to change the plans now!

New house starts to take shape.

Sketchup diagram of the new house shows what we’re working towards.

View through the house from front door to back.

One day these will be the kitchen windows looking out onto olive trees.

Winter brings a huge proportion of the annual rainfall around here, so that means we get days where it really buckets down. Not much you can do while that’s happening except take the day off, or maybe do some metalwork in our little workshop under the pool deck. The day afterwards is tricky, too, as you don’t want to be climbing up on woodwork that is still slippery from the rain.

Rainy day construction.

Rainy day metalwork: cutting some angle iron for corner bracing.

Luckily it is never too long until the sun comes out again. Here’s a nice sunny day shot looking up the driveway. You can see all the new work happening in the centre distance there.

View up the driveway from the cafe area. Gate coming one day soon.

It struck me the other day that I probably haven’t taken a photo that wasn’t cats, dogs, or construction in more than a year. Which is a bit sad, but it’s hard to get away and take pictures when there’s still so much to do. So this week I did try to do something a little bit different. But more on that below. First let’s get the required animal photos out of the way.

Coco, pretending not to be interested in the camera.

Lucy is growing up to be a lovely half-cat, half-giraffe cross.

Suzie, who you don’t get to see much of because she is shy.

Fluffy — not really our dog, but an admirer of Zeliş’s who visits a lot. He’s very sweet.

So I did get away, just slightly, to take some different photos to the usual. I confess I didn’t get very far though, and really they ended up being construction photos after all, so I will need to do more to break out of this rut. Anyway, here’s a trail winding up into the hills on the other side of the valley from our place. (Not the big Meander Valley; I mean the little valley our village sits in.)

Trail in the hills.

I went up there because it’s a hillside we look at every day, and I figured if we can see it there must be a good view from there looking back at us. Very happy with the resulting shots, as apart from the aerial shots on Google Maps we’ve never had such a nice overview of the project in one photo before. From left to right, you can see the water tanks, the new house, building two, the pavilion and the pool, the original building, and then the driveway winding down and to the left, leading down to the old farmhouse. It’s also nice to see how much we’re surrounded by olive trees.

View back towards our place giving an overview of the project.

Wider shot for context.

In the wide shot we’re that cluster of buildings about a third of the way in from the right-hand side. I really like this one as it properly shows we’re in the foothills of those mountains in the background.

And one final bit of news: we were pleasantly surprised to find some people had made bookings for February. Weren’t really expecting guests until things warm up in April or May. But we’re grateful, and I hope the weather repays their optimism!

Edit: by special request, some more Sketchup views of the house. There’s a fair bit of detail so you can click on these four images for a larger view.

View from the south.

View from the north-west showing rear veranda roof. Might make it into a covered porch one day.

Structure of the mezzanine area and stairs.

Interior view showing kitchen / lounge area and catwalk leading to south window (view from up there will be too good not to build a catwalk).


Booking dot com, cafe, cupboard, and cats

We’ve known for a long time that only being listed on Airbnb was probably foolish on our part and meant we were not reaching some potential customers. So we have finally gotten our act together and listed our place on  Let’s see whether or not they send us a flood of new guests: time will tell.

One side effect of putting up a listing on a second booking site was that we needed to take some fresh photos to make sure we’re showing the place at its best. Here’s a shot of the main building from the driveway: leaves are falling from the fig trees but at least it’s still sunny.

Main entrance.

And another photo we really liked, that shows the connection between the rooms and the garden.

View from room two looking out at the olive grove.

For the same reason, we have at last set the cafe area up to properly look like a cafe. It’s crying out for a few more decorations to brighten up the place (posters on the walls, that sort of thing) but in general we’re pleased with how it’s coming together. Turns out we can seat about 20 people quite comfortably.


Looking back at the bar and reception area.

Spot the Christmas lights!

The cafe kitchen is done; I think the only thing left to do is to bring up the fridge from the old farmhouse so we can maximize our fridge space up here. The skeletal food cupboard you saw last time now has walls and doors and shelves and holds a ridiculous amount of food. And the loft has a real staircase so we can take the aluminium ladder outside and use it for more appropriate things.

Loft stairs and new pantry cupboard.

Every home needs one of these.

Some of the usual suspects have asked for more photos of our menagerie of animals. I do try to take these shots, I really do, but my camera is slow at auto-focusing, so with our high-energy demonic cats you should know that most of the photos come out like this…

Picasso cat! (Can you guess which one it is?)

Still, occasionally you will get a more narcissistic cat that behaves him or her-self and sits still long enough for a good photo.

Panini. With bonus purple disinfectant from a small operation after a fight went badly for him.

On the outdoor work front, the bricklaying is progressing well and you can now see where the fireplace, chimney, stairs, etc., will be in our new house.

Complicated pile of bricks that will one day be fireplace, thermal mass blob, and stairs.

And in fact the timber framing on building two has started as well, but no photos yet unfortunately. The goal is to get rooms three and four online as soon as we possibly can.

Buildings two and three underway

A small confession: the photos in this post are about a week out of date, so of course it’s very tempting to run outside with the camera and show you the latest developments. But, knowing me, there’s a danger that if I do that I’ll get stuck in an infinite loop of “just one more shot, just a little bit more processing” and then nobody would get to see anything. So I’m going to run with these, and hope that you will forgive me.

Zeytin enjoying the warm stones of the driveway.

The big news is in the title: we have, at last, started work on the second and third buildings. That’s going to be rooms three and four, and our new house respectively. This time around we’ve decided there are advantages to working on the two structures in parallel. Right now it’s small sections of brickwork for some of the bathroom walls to make sure there won’t be any straw bales right next to wet areas like showers. Then it’s on to the timber framing and getting a roof on both buildings as soon as we can, so that straw and everything else can be stored under shelter while we work.

This probably looks familiar: another T-shaped wall defining the bathrooms for rooms three and four. The junk on top is to keep rain out of the hollow brickwork.

One day this will be our en-suite bathroom (window on the left there, above the toilet; shower behind the wheelbarrow).

Timber deliveries bring a sense of deja vu.

It’s good to be making progress on this stuff while the weather is still pleasant. At this rate we’re going to be doing the framing as winter comes on, so I guess we will find out whether it’s more fun to lay roof tiles in the freezing cold or in the hottest days of summer (like last time).

West wall of room three will be right up against the back of the pool pavilion.

I wish I could say everything in the first building was 100% complete, but that isn’t quite true. Several little jobs remain — some details in the kitchen, a cupboard interior and a mirror in room one, etc. But we are getting there. And they will be good jobs for rainy days in December I suppose.

One thing that did get finished was the stone wall running up the side of the driveway. (All Koray’s work, not ours, I should admit.) There’s now a nice welcoming feel as you come up from the street. All we need now is a sign!

Stone retaining wall on the driveway is done.

The kitchen is, we hope, looking more professional now. Very pleased with how the steel-and-timber shelves worked out. We had to suspend them from the ceiling joists because the one big disadvantage of straw-bale walls is that you can’t really sink load-bearing screws into them after the fact.

Kitchen approaches completion.

Suspended shelving.

Microwave gets a spot on the shelf, freeing up lots of worktop space, and new ventilation hood also gets a bit of steel to hold it in place.

I won’t bore you with all the little details, but we were proud of this one: the laptop and the printer have been perched at one end of the bar counter for a while now. But the printer (like the microwave) was a bit of a space hog. So we put together a miniature table to sit down under the counter and keep the printer tidied away.

Mini table for the printer.

And not to neglect the many normal-sized tables we’ve been making. Two for each guest room (one inside and one out) plus about eight for the cafe, picnic tables on the terrace, and some chunky low tables for drinks by the pool.

This must be table number 10 or 11. Or 12. I lose count!

The two big things still needed in the kitchen are the pantry cupboard and a staircase to the loft. The cupboard, at least, is well on the way. You might be able to spot that the shelves are set back a bit, so we can put little spice-rack-type shelves on the insides of the doors for easy access.

Big food cupboard for the kitchen.

The terrace is looking friendlier now, with the railings painted and some potted plants bringing a bit of colour. We’re getting used to the idea of just sticking with the white gravel as a low-maintenance surface rather than doing paving stones or bricks.

Plants on the terrace.

View of the village looking autumnal; our old house in the foreground.

And finally we wanted to say thank you to all the guests who’ve spent their holiday time with us. Especially those who weren’t worried about autumn weather and turned up long after we thought the tourist season was over. We hope you had fun and that you will come back one day!

Gratuitous shot of Lara pretending to be a panther.

The slow transition from construction site to actual working hotel…

We’ve been quiet for too long; our apologies. These days we are busy with building stuff, as ever, but sometimes also with guests. Which is new and welcome territory for us. So first, a big thank-you to all the friends and family who have been bold enough to take a chance on us. We hope, obviously, that you all went home and told your friends what a fabulous time you had, and that we will see you again soon.

We’ve tried to keep everyone happy, and I hope we’re succeeding. For example, here’s our attempt at a breakfast for some vegan guests. Once you rule out eggs and cheese, we were worried we’d have nothing to feed them, but in fact Turkish food gives you a lot of options with salads, vegetables, pastries, and fruit.

The vegan breakfast option.

Sadly we have nothing new to tell you about when our episode of “Our Dream Hotel” is going to screen. Channel 5 moves in mysterious ways, it seems. I suppose it’s been a sobering reminder: we’ve probably put too much stock in the TV show as our one big “we’re here!” message to the outside world. There are many other things we can and should be doing to publicize ourselves (Google Maps, Trip Advisor,, etc.) so we need to be getting on with those. Channel 5 will show the episode eventually and it will be a nice bonus when it happens, but we’ve given up trying to predict when. Of course when it finally does air, we will be sure to let everyone know.

The big new structural addition is that we finally finished our pavilion by the pool. This was sorely needed as a way to provide some shade. The pool is great, but in the middle of a summer day the poolside terrace was very exposed. Now there’s somewhere cool and breezy to sit. And it’s so nice to see the end of those red bricks in favour of limewashed, rendered walls.

New pavilion by the pool. Building #2 will sit directly behind.

Cozy spot for summer evenings; lights of the village in the background.

There is a downside though. As it gets to late afternoon, the sun streams in from the west and the shade is lost. So we’ve tried to buy a few more hours with some white curtains on the front of the structure. We also like the look of them even when they’re open: they make it feel like a good spot for some decadent lounging around while being fed individual grapes.

Both sets of curtains in place.

The last remaining work to do on the main building is the cafe’s kitchen. On the left of this first shot you can see the bar, and beyond that there’ll be ladder-stairs to the loft, a big pantry, and a couple of fridges. On the right there’s a worktop extending pretty much the length of the room. We managed to get hold of a reasonably priced restaurant-style double sink that’s perfect for big pots and pans.

Kitchen worktops and cupboards under construction.

We did consider using a shop-bought worktop, laminated particle-board or whatever, but we couldn’t find one wide enough in a style we liked. (Our cupboards are a full 60cm deep and we like a bit of overlap at the front, and thus we needed something about 63cm wide.) So we’re doing the same thing we did in the old farmhouse kitchen and going with a tiled solution. It’s built up in layers: first 18mm plywood, then cement board, and finally tile adhesive and tiles. Nice advantage of this method is you can put hot things on it directly without any worries, but it does take a bit longer to install.

Sirem and Çisem putting up splashback tiles.

The terrace outside the cafe is nearly there. For now the surface is raked gravel: we were thinking of installing the same type of paving stones as on the driveway, but we thought it might feel like too big a paved area. So it’s gravel plus as many planter boxes as possible (still to come) to make it all feel a bit greener and more welcoming.

Terrace overview shot; disabled access ramp just visible on the far left.

We’ll have normal tables and chairs inside the cafe but the terrace will be picnic tables — to start with, at least. Think of it like a pub beer garden.  We’ve made a single prototype picnic table so far, just to get those critical seat-to-table distances right. Need to churn out a few more though.

First picnic table.

The cafe bathrooms are tucked around the side of the veranda so nobody ever has to sit at that terrible table near the loo. We’ve shown off the doors in previous posts; here they are mounted properly at last.

Cafe bathrooms ready for use.

And finally the main entrance to the cafe. We’ve had to prune that fig tree a little to keep it away from the roof, but we hope that in the years to come it fills out again and provides some nice shade over the steps.

Entrance to the cafe.

The gardens are doing well. For a long time we were watering them by hand, which took up a lot of time in the evenings. But now the drip-feed irrigation system is in and the plants are much happier.

Gardens looking healthy after a hot, dry summer.

Garden close-up #1

Garden close-up #2

Speaking of water, another bit of construction we did recently was getting two 10,000-litre water tanks in. They’re sitting right at the top corner of the block, in a spot that will one day be outside our bedroom window. One tank is mains water, equipped with a pump so we can keep good pressure in our system when multiple guests have showers at once. The other tank is grey water for irrigating the garden. Ultimately we’ll send water from the roof of our house into this second tank.

New water tanks.

And finally we can’t forget the animal photos now can we? Here’s a shot of Tito looking serious and dignified in his role as cafe watchdog.


New kittens are the last thing we needed, but for better or for worse we have them. We found both of them on the street within a couple of days of each other so we think they might be sisters from the same litter. Lucy was hiding out in the local olive factory but crying a lot and took three days of convincing (i.e., milk and biscuits left at the gate) before she decided I was a trustworthy parental substitute. Lara on the other hand appeared at our kitchen window one night and took about three minutes to get herself adopted.

Lucy. Highly-strung but getting more relaxed every day.

Lara. Could you say no to this face?

I’m glad there are two of them because new kittens never seem to be very popular with the older cats (all generations of cats are the “me” generation) and this way they at least have each other to wrestle with.

Fight training begins.

TV show delay

This isn’t a proper update; it’s really just a quick word of apology to our readers in the UK to let them know that our episode of “Our Dream Hotel” won’t be going out on Tuesday 27th June after all. We’re really sorry about that.

The series is three episodes in at the moment, and we were due to be next week’s episode. However, Channel 5 have decided to juggle their schedule around a bit and it looks like they’re going to be inserting a new six-week series of “The Hotel Inspector with Alex Polizzi” at the Tuesday 9pm time-slot. We’re not quite sure of the reasoning but it’s their schedule to adjust of course. We think it’s likely that our episode will therefore be delayed by six weeks, which would move it to the 8th of August. However that date is just a guess on our part and we’ll certainly let you all know when we know more.

To anyone who was looking forward to watching it, apologies. But please don’t worry: we’re sure it will screen eventually. Apparently the ratings are quite good and the three hotels already featured had a rush of bookings after each of their episodes went out — music to our increasingly broke ears!

In the meantime we’re rushing to finish the cafe, the kitchen, and the terrace area. Here are some progress photos to tide you over, plus a couple of cat pics to stop certain people from complaining. And we hope to bring you more specific news about a date soon.

Small retaining walls define different areas on the terrace. (Really wanted to respect the existing slope rather than impose one big flat area.)

Cafe area is now tiled, so the doors can go up shortly.

Kitchen is ready for benches, ovens, fridges, etc.

Coco in his boudoir.

Pablo showing his excellent table manners.

Open for business

Two big announcements this time around.

The first one: we’re now officially open and taking bookings via Airbnb! Rooms one and two are ready for guests, and the cafe will be close behind.  Anyone and everyone is welcome to book from June 30th onward.

Ready for guests at last

Our site has been rearranged a little, too — is now a front page for the hotel. The blog has been pushed down to become one of the main menu items. We’ve added Airbnb links and a photo collection, as well as updating our “how to get here” and “local attractions” pages. If you have the time to browse around, please do. We’d really appreciate feedback on how the site flows, whether it looks OK on different devices, how easy it is to find important information, etc.

Room 1: like room 2, only mirrored!

There’s been a big rush to put the finishing touches on the room interiors, as you might imagine. We’ve shown off our handmade beds previously, and now we have more furniture in a similar rustic style.

Sofa and coffee table.

Everyone needs a wardrobe.

And the second big announcement? After being sworn to secrecy for months, we can finally tell you that we’ve been visited by a British TV crew multiple times over the past year. Our project is going to feature as part of the Channel 5 series “Our Dream Hotel”. Think “Grand Designs” but with hotels and B&Bs instead of houses. Our episode goes out at 9pm on Tuesday the 27th of June. If you’re in the UK, we hope you’ll watch it. It definitely covers both the highs and the lows, and does a fantastic job of condensing our adventure down to 40 minutes or so.

Huge thanks to Vikki, Tim, and Jonnel of TwoFour Productions for being such consummate professionals.

All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

In fact we were surprised to find we’ve already been broadcast on the Dutch version of the show (“Ons Droomhotel” on RTL4). For those of you not in the Netherlands or the UK, we’re waiting to hear about whether there will be other ways to watch it. We’ll certainly let you know.

Pool weather approaching — why not book now?

Framing and planting

Apparently some readers worry that there won’t be any animal photos in a new blog entry. So this time I thought I would end the suspense and get the animal photo out of the way early. (Only one this week, sorry.) Here is Cezmi — our construction site manager in cat form — sampling the water of the swimming pool.

Cezmi by the pool

Cezmi by the pool

So we’re working pretty hard at the moment, doing long days six days a week. Rain is our only interruption, and it’s getting to the time of year when rain is a rare event. A couple of Sundays ago we gave ourselves the day off and went for a drive in the mountains. Here are Sirem’s parents posing at the side of the road. This spot is about twenty minutes up into the hills behind our house.

Sirem's mum and dad, Nadire and Dogan

Sirem’s mum and dad, Nadire and Doğan. We wouldn’t be making so much progress if they weren’t doing a lot of the cooking and shopping for us — thanks!

We had lunch in the beautiful village of Birgi, right next door to the ski resort at Ödemiş, about 80km northeast. And did a tour of the local garden centres, but more on that later.

View of Birgi

View of Birgi

Traditional Turkish architecture in Birgi

Traditional architecture in Birgi

The building work is progressing well. We’re roughly on schedule, but can’t afford to relax as there’s still a lot to do if we want to be ready for our first guests by the end of summer.

The first phase of the work was getting the bathroom walls up. (They’re made of brick so we don’t have to worry about water from the showers ever penetrating the straw bale walls.) We’ve learned to lay bricks pretty well, I think, although we are nowhere near as fast as Koray.

Bathroom brickwork

Bathroom brickwork and improvised sunshade

The next step was taking the 10cm x 10cm lengths of treated timber and bolting them down to the concrete slab to act as a secure base plate for the timber framing. This went a lot easier than I thought it would. Luckily we have a beast of a drill that makes holes in the concrete without any fuss at all. We then used a two-part epoxy to glue 14mm threaded rod into the holes. Incredible stuff and it’s all rock-solid now.

Putting down the treated timber base plates

Putting down the treated timber base plates: you can start to see the floor plan

After that it was time for the timber framing to begin in earnest. Of course it’s not something we’ve done before, but after watching some videos on YouTube how hard can it be?  🙂



The walls have gone up fast, although there are still details to take care of, like completing the internal stud walls and finishing all the window sill and lintel boxes. We’ve currently moved on to the spine of the building and put up some columns and beams that will help hold up the roof. Lots of this timber will be exposed in the finished build, so we took a bit more time with it and sanded each piece before it went up.


View of the exposed column-and-beam arrangement in room 1, looking through to the kitchen and cafe beyond. Please disregard the blocks of scrap timber temporarily holding it together.


The spine of the building, looking the other way towards the pool. Note that the ridge of the roof will be about 1.6 metres higher again.


Detail of a wooden column with T-bar support for the beams


Our favourite local mountain shot through the framing

There has also been some progress on the landscaping front. The gardens still look a bit dry and sparse but hopefully as everything matures they will become beautiful.


The fruits of a trip to the garden centre


Trying to make the most of the slope by building lots of small gardens on different levels


Kumquat and some kind of grass thing


Bougainvillea that will one day be encouraged to wrap itself around a verandah post


Lily in the sun

The pool railings are finished and installed: welding by Koray, painting by Sirem. We like how the ferforje (curly bits) turned out. Ornate, but not too fiddly.


New railings in place


Terracotta pots seem to suit the pool area

Most of our photos are taken from the south side of the building site, perhaps because that’s where the driveway puts you as you come up the hill. Here are a couple of shots from the north side that give a different perspective. The first one is a panorama showing the current condition of the pool area. The seating on the left is going to be great once we render the brickwork and build a pavilion roof: it’s possibly a bit too sunny at the moment.


Pool panorama

This one is taken from across the road on the opposite hill. You can see the whole project from here. From left to right: slab for our house, slab for rooms 3 and 4, the pool area (behind the poplar), timber frame under construction, and the driveway.


Project overview shot

And finally, I know I take too many photos of this mountain, but forgive me.  It’s hard to resist, and I don’t get out much.


Mount Mycale and Mount Thorax in changeable morning light


Cats, dogs, welding, and other delights

Greetings and salutations.

So, construction continues, but slowed down a bit by the winter rains.  And we’ve had some cold, grey days just recently, so here are a couple of photos from late last summer to warm things up.

Dilek national park, just opposite the Greek island of Samos.

Dilek national park, just opposite the Greek island of Samos.

Lifeguard's tower at the beach.

Lifeguard’s tower at the beach.

The foundations are done, and the pool is done except for being cleaned out and filled up.  It’s really the final few things now before timber framing starts in earnest (yes, I know I said that last time).  We’re just sorting out some drainage issues (e.g., where should all the rainwater go when there’s a big downpour?) and getting power and phone connections up to the slabs.

Sirem talks to the builder.  That blank wall is the edge of the pool's sun terrace, and the dark doorway on the left is how you get to the filter room.

Sirem talks to the builder. That blank wall supports a big terrace area next to the pool, and the dark doorway on the left is the way into the machine room where the pool filter and pump live.

Pool from above, showing the surrounding terrace.

Pool on a much greyer day, showing the surrounding terrace and the view.  Right now it’s an infinity pool, but we will partly spoil that by putting a building in the way.

The dogs check out the new tiles.

The dogs check out the new tiles.

Pool is done but needs a good clean.

Pool is done but needs a good clean.

Services all going into one big trench.

Services all going into one big trench.

Another in-progress job is sorting out a retaining wall for the bank of earth on the left side of the driveway.

Concrete laid on the side of the driveway, forming fa base for the stone retaining wall and a storm-water drain channel.

Concrete laid on the side of the driveway, forming both a base for a stone retaining wall and a storm-water drain channel.

34 tons of rocks to make a wall.

34 tons of rocks to make a wall.  We have to do it now, too, or we can’t get up the driveway.

What else?  We’ve had a re-think about the order in which to build everything: the new plan is to start at the bottom of the hill and work up.  So the first building will be the biggest one: the cafeteria and kitchen along with rooms one and two.  We figure this will make it possible to open for business before all three buildings are finished.  We can do the landscaping as we work our way up the hill, and use some kind of screen to hide the active construction from our first guests.   With luck, we could have people staying for real by late summer.

With that in mind, this is the view you would get if you walked out onto the verandah of room one.

View looking out over the neighbouring olive groves.

View looking out over the neighbouring olive groves.

Our little menagerie keeps us as busy as ever.

Front to back: Coco, Panini, and Pablo.

Front to back: Coco, Panini, and Pablo.

We had a big scare recently when Pablo, the black-and-white kitten, tried to poison himself by eating an especially dodgy mouse, but thankfully he pulled through.  Lost a bit of weight though.  This is him milking his illness for all it was worth.

Pablo convalescing.

Pablo convalescing.

And in our animals’ defence, they do try to be helpful when we’re working on the site.  Zeliş and Zeytin in particular are very sociable and like to park themselves in a comfortable patch of dirt and watch people work.

Zeliş notices something alarming.

Zeliş notices something alarming.


I’ve been pushing my welding skills a bit further.  The power to join two arbitrary bits of steel together has opened up lots of possibilities for future interior and exterior decor.  Here’s a simple little practice project I did last week…

Over-sized coat hook set (welded steel attached to wooden board).

Over-sized coat hook set (welded steel attached to wooden board).

I also started work on a metal security door for the pool’s machine room, but our plumber, Koray, took pity on my amateur skill level and offered to help out.  I say “offered to help out” but really it was more along the lines of “what are you doing?! you’re ruining it!  give me that!”  Great guy though, and helping him build the door has been very educational.

Koray in action.

Koray in action, welding a steel door and frame.

The barn has been cleaned up a bit and features a new home-made workbench.  The size and weight of the thing are probably overkill but I needed something heavy and solid to attach a vice to.

The barn looking as neat as it's ever likely to.

The barn looking as neat as it’s ever likely to.

Seeing as I am about to become a very busy carpenter, I also put together a handy little drill storage board, as suggested by a friend (thanks, John).  Getting a photo of it proved to be a bit trickier than expected though.

Panini, do you mind?  I was trying to take a picture of that thing behind you.

Panini, do you mind? I was trying to take a picture of that thing behind you.

Panini, please!

Panini, please!

You guys...

You guys…

Finally: drills.  It's not rocket science, but it's very convenient.

Finally: drill bit storage. It’s not rocket science, but it’s very convenient.

And last but not least, something we don’t do very often: a photo of the two of us.

I should really get a haircut...

I should really get a haircut…

Construction update

And now a quick set of long-overdue photos of the ongoing construction work.  I know I should have posted something weeks ago, but every time I was about to put some pictures up, I was tempted to wait for just one more development!

Our builders have done a great job.  They’re nearly finished, and soon it will be up to us to get some timber frames happening.

The concrete foundation slabs went down in four stages: first a rough layer of concrete directly onto the ground.  That makes a base for reinforced concrete beams that will go under the load-bearing walls .

Formwork for the concrete beams that will end up under the heavily loaded parts of the slab.

Formwork for the beams that will end up under the heavily loaded parts of the slab.

Lots of steel reinforcement going in.

Lots of steel reinforcement going in.

The slabs were big enough that it wasn’t possible just to dump concrete directly from the truck, so the pumping truck was called in as well for most of the pours.

Fortunately, concrete trucks get up our new driveway without too much trouble.

Luckily, concrete trucks can get up our new driveway without too much trouble.

Pump for pouring the concrete into the formwork.

Giant pumping truck for getting the concrete into the formwork.

The third stage was to dump heavy railway gravel into the gaps between the concrete support beams: this sets up a good base for the finished slab .  The gravel truck deliveries were dramatic, and the driver did well to get the truck into every corner where stone was needed.

About 30 tons of gravel arriving.

About 30 tons of railway-grade gravel arriving.

Gravel used as fill for under the slabs.

Gravel used as fill for under the slabs, and plumbing laid in.  Ready for the final pour.

Meanwhile our animal comrades have become very interested in the building process.

Zeytin approves of the work.

Zeytin approves of the work.

A range of different animals have been up to check things out.

Inspectors both large and small have been up to check things out during the night.

Sirem in particular has been really busy acting as site foreman, but we’ve also made time for a few other jobs.  Some neighbours invited us to harvest their pomegranate tree (long story).  It took longer than we thought — lots of standing up a ladder and getting scratched.  But the pomegranates are fantastic and make a disturbingly healthy-looking juice.

Pomegranates stored for winter.

Pomegranates stored for winter: if you hang them up with string so they’re not touching each other, they last much longer.

Ridiculously good for you.

Look at that vitamin C.  You could reach out and touch it.

We also put the finishing touches on our hügelkultur raised bed, which should make for lots of good vegetable options next spring.

Raised bed in the farmhouse garden is finally done.

Raised bed finally done.

And with colder nights coming in, I thought I had better build one more dog house for Tito (the dog who is not really our dog but just a stray who lives outside our gate and gets fed by us a lot).

Tito (who is not really our dog, he just lives on the street outside our place) get his own house.

Tito (who is not really our dog) gets his own house.  He is moving his head to make his face blurry which is part of his anti-paparazzi strategy.

The final part of the concrete work was pouring the 15cm-thick top slabs that will become the floor of each building.  The plumbing all seems to be in the right place so far.

Slabs all complete now.

Slabs all complete now (view from the top of the block).

And the swimming pool.  We know that in summer, life will centre around the pool for our guests, so we’re keen to do it right.  And the builders have been  fantastic.  (We’re happy to recommend them, if any Turkish readers are thinking about getting a pool built.)

Pool looking good.

Pool concrete looking good and being waterproofed.

Rounded steps in the south-east corner.

Rounded steps under construction in the south-east corner.

Tiles going in, and part of the deck area taking shape.

Tiles going in, and part of the pool terrace area taking shape.

Finally a couple of sunset photos so you can see what the winter light is looking like now.

Sunset with boots.

Sunset with work boots.

Winter sunset view from what will one day be the cafe terrace.

Winter sunset view (from what will one day be the cafe terrace).



The plan

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 orchard and farmhouse as they are now.

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

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.

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