Wednesday, 31 January 2018

It's winter again

We are in the midst of our winter now and I'm not enjoying it one jot. In fairness it's been a better year than most, we have had a lot of sunny days amongst the rains and storms, but it still doesn't do it for me.

Preparing for the winter months is actually quite hard work. It's like living a life of two halves - winter and summer. Coming into the winter usually late October or early November we reluctantly collect all of our outdoor cushions, throws, furniture, solar lights and trinkets and bring them in for the winter until the weather is good enough for them to go back outside again - usually in April. Over the years as we have developed our garden we have made quite a lot of seating areas and I really miss them in the winter months. I just love having the choice according to the weather and the time of day. We have covered areas for sitting in the shade, enclosed areas to be out of the wind on windy days and of course full sun spots for morning and evening as the sun swings round.

We were told when we bought fruit trees that lemon trees would not survive up here. I know that a few people have managed to grow lemon trees successfully in very sheltered areas down in the village, but we are a fair bit higher than the village itself and we do have winds that cut across our garden which is not conducive to being successful with the more tender plants. We are now on our third attempt at growing one and now every winter we wrap it up. So far we have got it through three winters, but it is getting harder as it gets bigger and bigger!

Our lemon tree wearing it's overcoat, hat and scarf

We have also learnt over the years, that leaving our pots out is not too good, as apart from the fact that the plants in them get frost damaged and die, a lot of the pots get damaged by the frost too. So now we collect them all up and cover them in fleece for the worst of the winter months.

All the pots are collected up and covered up for winter

Last year when we had torrential rain we had a completely flooded back garden, so this year David has set up a sump in the paving in the back garden which is our lowest point, with a pump which we can switch on if the rain water starts to build up. So far this has worked a treat and saved us a lot of problems.

Pump in a sump to prevent any flooding

Previous years we have also cleared everything from the terrace where the driving rain and winds cause havoc. However, a friend of ours had the awnings on her terraces replaced and the old ones were going to be thrown away. So I asked if I could have them and clever David has managed to put them up on the corner of our terrace that suffers from the wind, and in front of our patio doors and this has made a huge difference, meaning that we have been able to keep the furniture on there, it's somewhere for wet dogs to dry off, offers protection for our patio doors and we have somewhere to sit. We even have a zip up door where our gate is. 

Our makeshift terrace covers

We have a wood burner which runs the central heating, so we have four tons of wood delivered in the autumn, this year we stacked it in our wood stores in record time - within a day, so we were very  pleased with ourselves. Once we have achieved all of the above we feel we are ready to handle winter, and can start winterising indoors. 

As I've mentioned before most houses are built here for summer living and are somewhat lacking in comfort in the winter. We learnt a few years ago that putting bubble wrap on the windows makes a massive difference, so we now put them up on all north and east facing windows. We change all the sitting room curtains for heavier winter weight curtains and all the rugs go down on the floors. 

We sort through our wardrobes and put away all of our summer clothes and replace them with the winter clothes which we store in the top cupboards through the summer.

Now I count the days until we have our summer back, at least here that is assured. I hate the cold, I hate having to wear loads of clothes, I hate that the house seems cluttered with all the outdoor bits and pieces.

However, even I have to admit it isn't all bad. We have the car boots through the winter, and we all know how I love them! Earlier this month on a lovely sunny day, we headed up to the mountains for a BBQ, and it was actually warm enough to sit in T-shirts. We have started playing in a pool competition one evening a week, which we really enjoy, and I don't have to go into Fethiye Centrum at 8.00 am to be able to park, if I need to go to the bank. Also I can use the cold as an excellent excuse to need lots of comfort food - stew and dumplings, apple pies and crumbles, chocolate, promising myself that when spring is here I will eat more sensibly again.

In spite of the perks I still yearn for summer and the warmer weather. Winter is just not for me. I can't wait to be reversing all of the above chores and getting all our summer stuff out again. Trust me it is not at all the chore that putting it away is. It's absolute pleasure!

Up in the mountains a beautiful place for a bbq. Photo credit Chris Tatam

Striking up the BBQ ready for a lunch in the mountains

We never tire of the stunning views around our village. Photo credit Chris Tatam

Monday, 1 January 2018

A sunny start to 2018

We've done things differently this New Year. Breaking with our tradition of drinking copious amounts of alcohol and partying until the small hours on New Year's Eve, this year we had just two or three drinks, a humble meal of ham, egg and chips and were in bed by 11.00 pm.

Consequently instead of spending New Year's Day slobbing around the house nursing hideous hangovers, we were up early and off down to Calis to watch the crazy people who had agreed to dip in the winter sea for charity. This is an annual fund raising event for the Calis Children's Charity - a very worthy cause - that has run for several years but today was the first time we had actually gone down to watch, mainly because one of our friends was insane enough to be doing it and we wanted to support him.

Beautiful Calis in the winter sunshine

Well the sun does shine on the righteous, because it was a fabulously sunny day to be at the seaside and Calis looked very beautiful. We were amazed how many people turned up to watch and support the participants, the promenade and the restaurants were packed with people enjoying the day.

People were out in force to support the event

Even mermaids love an Efes!

The man with the 'Golden Gun'!

It is a tradition that the participants wear outrageous costumes and this was certainly upheld this year. Whilst waiting for the 1.00 pm swim to commence mermaids happily chatted to animals and James Bond made an appearance complete with golden gun!

All those taking part completed the obligatory 5 minutes up to their neck in the sea to achieve their sponsorships, and a large amount of money was raised which will go to help children in need and the local animal charity. Well done you all!

I videoed the entire event, but unfortunately when I came to put in on the blog, it has disappeared, so you will have to take my word for the fact that hundreds of people watched the event and applauded the bathers admirably when they had competed the 5 minutes in the sea.  

Every year since I can remember I have made numerous New Year's resolutions and to date I can't remember a single one I have achieved. So this year I have made none and maybe, just maybe I will amaze myself by managing to succeed in one of the old ones! 

A very Happy New Year to you all. May 2018 be a wonderful year for you. We wish you health and happiness. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Geyran - the mountain that is our neighbour

Uzumlu's backdrop - Geyran

Coming from Norfolk, which is renowned for being incredibly flat, the mountains that surround Uzumlu are a constant source of beauty and wonderment to us. In fact our house is literally next door to one of the highest local mountain peaks. However, up to last October, seven years after we bought our property we had never actually been up to the top. I did mention in a post in January that we had finally done so and that I would write about our trip up there, but with all the problems with the blog this year it has never happened, so here I am at last putting the trip into words.

Named Geyran daği it is the mountain that provides the backdrop to the villages of Uzumlu and Incirkoy as you come over the brow of the hill travelling from Fethiye, and if you look closely you can see the fire tower on the very top. According to the Google terrain map it is over 1300 metres  high. Now if that is a tall hill or a small mountain in the eyes of the experts, I am not sure. But to us coming from Norfolk where a molehill is a hill and a sand dune is almost a mountain I can assure you we consider it a mountain.

The main reasons we had not visited it before was twofold. Firstly because for the first three years we did not have any transport, and long distance walkers I am sorry to say we are not! Secondly even after we bought the car, and in spite of asking several people how to get up there, we never did manage to find the track which leads you there. So when friends who had visited it before agreed to take us we jumped at the chance.

There are actually two ways to get up Geyran, one from the Uzumlu to Ortakoy road the other from Kizilbel village. We opted to go up from Uzumlu and to come down the other side into Kizilbel. So we packed the car with food, drink and a barbecue and set off for the afternoon.

The track isn't too bad on the way up

As with many of the mountain roads it is an earth and stone track, climbs steeply and has no barriers at the edge so is possibly not for the faint hearted, but was actually less frightening than I thought it may have been. Before you know it you are way above the village and those glorious views begin.

When we came to the point where the track up from Kizilbel meets the main track we stopped to enjoy  the view. While we taking a couple of photographs a motorbike came along and it was the watchman from the fire tower who had popped out for some supplies. He asked us if we were on our way up, because if we were he would go ahead and get the Çay pot on!

The watchman invited us to tea

That was an invitation that we could not refuse, so we carried on right up to the fire tower where the two men soon pulled round some chairs on their terrace poured us a cup of Çay and even shared their homemade cake with us. They made us feel so welcome, showed us around their summer abode and told us about their lives there during the summer. There have been a few fires around since we have lived here, one this summer not far behind our house, so we have watched first hand how quickly these are dealt with here. These guys play a really important role in keeping our lives safe and they keep vigil from the spring right through until the end of October beginning of November. A lonely job for some months, no wonder they were so pleased to have some visitors.

One of the men has some goats up there with him. Every year we see the large herds of goats passing by our house heading up to the mountains in the spring where they usually stay until November. We love watching them going by and always stop whatever we are doing to watch, it's a wonderful sight. We know that some of them are up here on our mountain, although you can't see them from below, because we often hear the herders calling out to their livestock. Although his goats were not to be seen, as soon as he called they materialised as if by magic. They just popped up from behind rocks and over the edge of the ledge and came trotting over. A lot braver than me, I daren't go too close to the edge!

The goats just appeared to the herders call ...

... popping up ...

... from behind rocks ...

... and climbing up from further down the mountain ...

... to congregate in the shade under the trees ...

Having enjoyed the watchmen's hospitality it was time to drive back down a bit a find a suitable spot for our barbecue. We soon happened upon the perfect spot with fabulous views, rocks to sit on and a fire pit from previous visitors - perfect.

Uzumlu way below and further on Fethiye town and the sea

The views are absolutely stunning, you not only have a bird's eye view of the villages below, but you can also see Fethiye and the sea. So we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying our barbecue, taking in the views and chatting about how very, very lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. All the time when driving around we look up at the surrounding mountains, some of which are snow capped every winter, even in the summer the snow lines are very visible, but it seems very strange to be up there looking at them so close up and from a different perspective.

Up among the highest peaks ...

A random tree somebody planted

There are several goat and sheep herds up there. One large herd was way below us on a plateau. From down below you just can't see them. I have looked up from all around the area and you just cannot see them from the ground. Its not surprising that such large herds head up here for the summer, there is a vast amount of grazing/browsing land you just would not know was there.

One of the plateaus providing summer forage for the livestock 

While we were clearing up our bits and pieces and packing them back in the car, a lady came past with her herd of sheep and goats and her three livestock dogs, presumably day trippers up from the village on their way home! The dogs which were in perfect condition for working dogs were wary but friendly, and soon realised that we were packing food. The tri-colour dog had a sausage which he took onto the bank to eat, then ran off after his herd, his sense of responsibility obviously too great to hang around. Either that or he had the sense to know he got his tea when they reached home. The other two however, decided it would be better to hang around until they were absolutely sure we had no meat left for them, and ironically they were the Kangals, the ones bred to care for their stock. But only apparently if there are no sausages around!

So the car was packed and ready to go, but before we left there was just one more thing - Watch the sunset. What a fabulous sight from up on Geyran.

So at dusk we set off towards home. In hindsight it was probably not the best of plans to come back down at that time Kizilbel way. It is heavily forested so it was almost dark in places and the road is not nearly as good as coming from the Oren road. In fact it was scary! 

So what did we think about our trip up to the top of Geyran? Fabulous! The rugged beauty of the place is sublime. The peace and tranquillity just simply wonderful. The views are amazing and I got a real feel of history up there. You could imagine nomadic herds roaming the tracks and plateaus for hundreds of years before you. It was a wonderful afternoon. Lessons learnt - We would leave earlier or come back down the other way and definitely take a cake or some such treat up to the fire watchman, to thank them for their hospitality. Oh and have some spare sausages in case you meet some new four legged friends.