Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thomas - our gift from the mountain

On Tuesday 18th September 2012 we had family here staying with us and we had been down to show them Fethiye market in the morning. We returned home for a leisurely afternoon around the pool and at around 6 pm we all showered and changed ready to go down to the village for a meal. As we set off out of the door we discovered three kittens in our drive.

Three little kittens ........

Our first thought was that they belonged to our Turkish neighbour as we knew her cat had kittens around the age of these. So we shouted over the fence and told her we had her kittens running around our garden and that we were concerned for their safety with our dogs. She said she didn't know how they could have got out, but came to the fence to take them back. However, as she reached out to take the first one she said that these were not her kittens, so we bundled them into our Labrador's flight crate for safety and went out for our meal.

Tom - always the one wanting a cuddle!

When we returned later that night we fed them and settled them and wondered where on earth they could have come from. It would not have surprised us if someone had dumped them inside our gate knowing we were animal lovers, except for the fact that we had been in the garden all afternoon and had not seen anyone go past. We came to the conclusion that they had come down off the mountain beside our house, although there was no sign of a mother cat. Maybe someone had dumped them up there.

We had no intention of keeping them as we already had two dogs and three cats, but we took them to the vets for a check up and later when they were old enough, back again for their injections, and when they were old enough to be re-homed we started to advertise them on the local animal aid Facebook pages for good homes.

When I had taken them to the vets for their injections the vet had a kitten the same age as ours recovering from a broken leg, so I went to the vets with three and came back with four, as it seemed a little churlish not to have her with ours for company. It suited us as the two tabby females were very close and the Tom was an odd one out, so it meant he had company too. Consequently we tried desperately to re home them as pairs so they could stay together.

Because we didn't intend keeping them we didn't give them names. But the two tabbies we referred to as the princesses, the tom as Tom and the new addition as Peggy because of her peg leg. After a few weeks the animal aid group arranged for a lady in Calis to have two and she chose Tom and Peggy. I was a bit upset as I was rather hoping to persuade David to keep Tom as he was always the 'in your face' affectionate one. He was always the one hanging on the crate door when you went past and loved to climb all over you when he was out whereas the girls were more self contained and aloof.

Anyway, we took the two down to Calis and left them in their new home. A little while later the two princesses also went together to live in Calis with some lovely people, where it was obvious they would be greatly loved and cared for. So we congratulated ourselves on having managed to re home four abandoned kittens.

The Princesses went  together to a lovely home in Calis

Unbeknown to us at the time however, Tom was to return! Animal aid had received a report that there were two abandoned kittens in Calis and when they went to catch them they were none other than Tom and Peggy. Peggy was suffering from colitis and was quite poorly and Tom had a large abscess on his neck. Both cats received veterinary treatment and we agreed it was only fair that we had them back again.

So both of them were back with us by Christmas 2012. We were offered homes for Tom but we refused to let him go without his best friend Peggy who was a poorly little thing and we subsequently lost her last year to cancer at only a year old. So Tom stayed and became Thomas and he is a very, very special cat.

Tom and his best friend Peggy were both back with us by Christmas

Both David and I have had many cats over the years but Thomas is unlike any of them. He is incredibly affectionate and loving and his trust in us is unconditional. He will jump on our laps, flip over on his side and totally trust us to stop him falling off - which he would if you didn't catch him. He has obviously missed Peggy greatly as our other cats are older and don't play. But he has made an independent life for himself and he is always busy. He checks the banks and the mountain for butterflies which he loves to chase (and eat if he catches!), he terrorises both next doors cats and our other cats, he is always busy. But if he is passing he will expect a quick cuddle before he goes off on his next adventure. We love him dearly.

Thomas asleep with Little-E

Last summer he opted to stay out at night, as does one of our other cats, so when he did not re-appear one night last week as we locked up, we were not too concerned. We just thought Thomas thinks its time for his summer schedule. However, we were concerned when he was not about when we got up the next morning. Thomas can't manage long without food! Funnily enough David had told me only a few days before that he had seen Thomas up on the road, and I had said "Oh no I hope he doesn't get run over".

David set off and scoured along the side of the road calling him, he went all around our property and up into the mountain calling him for an hour or more - nothing! We were very concerned because it was so unlike Thomas not to be around. A couple of hours later we heard a feeble "meow" and when we ran out we found Thomas laying on the front doormat. To this day we do not know how he got there. We saw nobody and nobody has since told us that they found him, but it seems incredible that he could have got home himself.

He was talking to us pitifully and we carried him in on the doormat to assess his injuries. He did not seem able to move his back end and he had several cuts and grazes with one on his back leg which was down to the bone. It was obvious he needed immediate veterinary attention but of course we have no transport. This is the first time we have been in a muddle through our lack of having a car.

First I tried to hire a car but the local car hire guy was away, so couldn't help me. I rang everyone living in the village whose number I had and nobody could help me. The frustration and feeling of helplessness was unbelievable. I put a plea on the village news page on Facebook asking if anyone could help me, but got no replies. After around 2 hours Thomas also had swelling on his head which concerned me and as a last ditch attempt before we tried to find a taxi, David managed to find our friend Eddie at a friends house. He came straight away and finally we managed to get Thomas some help.

Our wonderful vet Serkan looked him over and x-rayed him and thankfully his spine was not damaged as I had suspected. He did however, have internal injuries, cuts, bruises and a broken hip. He gave him several injections and we returned home for him to be caged to allow his hip to heal, which the vet felt was preferable to an operation.

We had tablets to give him which wasn't a problem. But after a few days he still hadn't eaten or drunk anything much or been to the toilet, so we had to return to the vets with a very poorly boy. Once there he suffered the indignation of having a feline style enema which produced some bloody faeces, presumably from his internal injuries and we returned with two anti- inflammatory injections for him to be given two days apart and some glycerine to put up his bottom to help him poo every third day.

Two days later he had his first injection and started to eat a little food. The following day was scheduled for the glycerine. Thomas however, must have heard me say this and had other ideas because when I went armed with my plastic glove and glycerine I discovered he had managed to go to the toilet on his own!

It is now twelve days since we found him in such a sorry state on our doorstep and he is much, much better. He is eating, drinking going to the toilet unaided, starting to weight bear on his back leg and most important of all is wanting a cuddle and purring again. We are optimistic now that he will make a full recovery, which fills our hearts with joy because this is the third time he has got himself to our home and we can't imagine a world without Thomas!


Sunday, 27 April 2014

The 6th Uzumlu Mushroom Festival - 2014

The locally found Morel mushroom

Who would have thought that Mushrooms could have sparked off such an event when someone first thought of the idea a few years ago. But it did and now we all look forward to this annual event which highlights the locally found morel mushroom, local agriculture and the village as a whole.

A very different Uzumlu to the one we are used to this weekend

Today is the last day of the three day 6th Uzumlu Mushroom Festival. We have of course been down to to see what is going on and it is strange to see our rural idyll decked with bunting and flags, the streets covered with tarpaulin sheets and the village which is normally so quiet packed with people visiting for the festival.

A great atmosphere with people leisurely enjoying their day out. 

The event has a brilliant atmosphere, particularly in the evening when they hold the concerts and we really enjoyed ourselves. Although we didn't manage to stay until midnight when the concerts finish, we can hear the music at home floating up from the village which we really love to listen to.

There were a lot of trade stands with some really lovely things on sale. The event also provides a platform for the local charities and I know that they all managed to raise money for their very worthy causes. Well done to you all.

I loved the pottery Whirling Dervish but dare not ask how much it was!

Beautiful Turkish wares on sale

But what is really worthy of mention is the entrepreneurial spirit of the villagers themselves and the characters that some of them are!

Village character - I think so!

There is hardly a house or in fact any unused empty building that is not brought into action for the festival for some money generating idea or another. The village is famous for the cloth Dastar which has been made here for generations.  A lot of the local ladies have hand looms, many of which are hand made to make this cloth, so it is no surprise to see that many a house is decked with items made from this cloth for sale over the festival period.

Dastar .............

............. Dastar ..........

............. Dastar ..............

.................. Dastar ...............

............ Dastar everywhere - Beautiful items hand made by the local ladies

We also noticed villagers selling home made food, pekmez, home-grown herbs, of course the infamous Uzumlu wine (needless to say we bought a bottle) and even a hubba bubba pipe!

Uzumlu wine - we like it!

Hubba bubba pipe anyone?

One thing you can say about the event is that there is no small choice of food on offer. Families set up tables and chairs outside and make gozleme, kofte and we even saw potato tornadoes being made. Some had tables, others made a platform from breeze blocks and pallets, covered them with a bit of carpet and sat making their gozleme - brilliant! It's fabulous to see them cooking in the street with their makeshift equipment.

Gozleme made on the street ............

........ cooking centres set up with great imagination

Loved this simit sellers transport

The shops spread their wares out onto the streets.

The shops trade on the streets

Even the restaurants serve food on the street and set tables and chairs up on the road outside their businesses.

Mustafa the chef from Eddy's Place working out in the fresh air for a change

No shortage of places to eat. Food and somewhere to sit and eat available all along the streets

We were however, disappointed to notice the ridiculous prices in the local craft shop.  An example was a little dish with a Turkish style cover that I happened to have bought one of down in Fethiye recently from a normal, year round shop for 5 tl was 25 tl in there. So holiday makers beware!!

Other than that it was a fantastic event, all credit to the organisers, there was a great atmosphere with a real buzz to the village with everyone in high spirits and seeming to really enjoy their day in Uzumlu, especially the children who were well catered for with face painting, balloons, toy stands, family events going on and the local schools participating. We saw one little boy wrap the string of his balloon round his hand about twenty times. He was not going to lose that it was much too precious!

Local children dressed in traditional costume

We saw lots of happy faces setting off with their new balloon!

But the real stars of the show are the villagers themselves. The effort they put into participating in these three days is the epitome of what Uzumlu is all about. It's moments like these when I am so proud to call this village home.

Friday, 25 April 2014

March and April have just flown by

I don't know what happened to March and here we are nearing the end of April. In the middle of March as the weather improved we were out of the door like race horses out of the starting stalls. We are feeling that if we really crack on this year, as far as the garden is concerned at least we will have achieved our goal, and can lead a more leisurely lifestyle.

There is hardly a day goes by, when I don't write a blog post in my head while I am working, then by the time we come indoors and have prepared  and eaten a meal, I am too tired to put it down on paper. So apologies to all of you who enjoy reading our blog, but in fairness I have never pretended to be the most consistent writer!

What have we been up to? Well, the garden of course. We have built the first raised bed in the second half of our courtyard garden, filled it and planted some flowers to add a bit of colour. David has started to build the barbecue and the outdoor oven. The foundations are done and he has started to build the block support walls. However, this has been abandoned at the moment as we need to re-grout the pool this year and he is busy on that job at the moment. So far we have emptied it, acid cleaned it and now David is preparing the tiles for re-grouting.

The pool looking blue again instead of murky green but still some work to go before I can swim

Whilst David is busy with the pool, I have been working in the garden. I raised a lot of plants from seed and have been planting them out. I have dug over the entire top garden and have added some of the copious amounts of the horse manure we got in an effort to improve our heavy clay soil. I have divided it into raised beds and have laid membrane between and as I de-stone they are going on top to make rough paths around the beds. This should hopefully mean goodbye muddy feet all over the place forever and the garden should be more effective for growing the veggies too.

My newly organised vegetable garden ready for planting

So far I have planted runner beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and peppers and have sown seed for lettuce, radish, carrots, parsley, rocket, cress, mustard, coriander and okra. We had sown seed for peas and broad beans before Christmas and it is definitely our best crop yet. The peas are around 6 feet tall and laden with pods which are close to being ready. I shall be pleased now when they are in as I need the soil for summer planting now.

We don't have much money for plants for the new courtyard garden, especially whilst we are still buying building materials. But I have bought some bamboo, a couple of grasses, an orange tree, kiwi a passion flower and a couple of other bits and pieces. I also raided the tubs from last year on the off chance that they would survive over winter and a lot of them have. They seem to really like our new Hugelkultur beds that I tried last year. I have also sown lots of flower seeds which hopefully will germinate and look pretty until we can afford more permanent plants. It is wonderful to see some colour back around us.

Hooray - colour back in the garden

We realise that while we are working outside, we get carried away and stay out in the heat and really don't drink enough. So we were delighted to at last find a second hand water cooler within our price range. Never having had one before and in our ignorance we asked a friend to pick us up a bottle of water from Kipa. Duly delivered we couldn't wait to get it on the machine and try it out. First of all we had an almighty row about which bits to take off the bottle. I said only the plastic cover. David in his wisdom insisted on removing the side of the lid. Yes you've guessed when we tipped it upside down onto the machine it poured all over the floor! Was I smug! We tried to wrap cling film around it to make the best of a bad job. That didn't work. So we bought another bottle and left the side of the cap on. All over the floor again!!! I now had to eat humble pie as I too had been wrong. Not something that comes easily to me. By now we must have the cleanest floor in Uzumlu and we are beginning to think that the machine has a problem somewhere. Then a friend came to stay and said that there were different sized bottles and to try the other size. So off we go out to buy yet another bottle. This one went straight on no problems and we are at last drinking lovely cold water and it is encouraging us to drink more. Plus we are now not clogging the fridge up with endless bottles of water. Much much better.

Another second hand purchase we have made is a vacuum cleaner. We have an arrangement that I do all the cooking and David does a lot of the housework. I empty the bins, sort the dishwasher and keep the kitchen clean and tidy. David does all the hoovering and mopping of the floors which with four dogs is an every day job. The main reason for this is because I am renowned for breaking vacuum cleaners. I had a brand new Dyson and it only lasted for three weeks. I don't know why, but for some reason I am utterly useless with them. Recently David caught the early bus down to town and I did the housework. Of course I broke the hoover, although by now it was already battered and stuck together with glue and sticky tape. So when we saw that the people selling the water cooler also had a hoover for sale it was a must have. Although it was second hand it had never actually been used. It is more robust, more powerful and generally a lot better quality than our hoover. David says it is like having a Rolls Royce after a mini! I of course am not allowed to use it. A bit upsetting but there you go (haha!).

We have also bought an electric welder and we have bought the metal to build a fence between the new courtyard garden and the vegetable garden. After that we want to make a framework to go over the outdoor sofa for plants to grow up, and eventually the base of the kosk for the front garden, So it will enable us to get on with all those jobs too. Work, work, work! Who said retiring to live in the sun was going to be easy!

Another job I have done is to put screening on the railings around the front garden. This is for multiple reasons. To provide privacy around the pool now that they have built houses in front of us, as an attempt to stop so much debris blowing into the pool, to cut down on the wind that we get from the front, an effort to discourage the dogs from barking so much on the basis that they won't be able to see so much going on outside to bark at and to keep the passing goats from eating our roses. An added and unexpected bonus is that our roses look better with it as a back drop too.

Screening on the railings is a big improvement for a lot of reasons.

The dogs are well but naughty. The puppies have now destroyed almost everything in the sitting room. Unfortunately our cat Thomas was hit by a car last week and is a very poorly boy. He has a broken hip and internal injuries, but we are hoping that he will eventually make a full recovery.

I recently enjoyed a day out on a Thai and Korean cooking day and have the certificate to prove it of which I am inordinately proud. We will both be going out this weekend because the Uzumlu mushroom Festival began today. It runs for three days and we intend going to have a look tomorrow and Sunday. Today is work as usual, but tonight we will be able to hear the concert music floating up the hill and we are looking forward to that. Sunday is also car boot day. The last one before the autumn when they will restart boo hoo!
But more of all of that later on..........