Thursday, 31 July 2014

A totally wasted afternoon

As I mentioned in my last post, we are planning to be 'on holiday' next week, so we have been deciding where we would like to go. Obviously we can't go far as in the interests of having a modicum of  furniture left on our return we are not able to leave the pups for too long at a time. But we have thought of a few places that are not too far from home and we are really looking forward to having some time away from gardening and work.

In my wisdom and in the interests of keeping costs down I thought it would be a good idea to plan ahead and do some baking, so that we have some decent food to take for picnics, rather than having to go to the expense of eating out. So with this thought in mind a couple of days ago I made two cheese and onion flans (one of my favourites) and put in the freezer ready for next week. Yesterday I decided to make two quiches but this plan did not go quite so well!

I made two pastry cases and while they were in the fridge for a while and then being baked blind, I prepared the fillings - one mushroom and one with onions, peppers and sucuk. All was going very well. Just as I was ready to put them together and pop in the oven, our friend Eddie arrived with some curtains which he had very kindly picked up for us from Fethiye. Of course being the marvellous hosts we are, we offered him a nice cold Efes for his trouble and then sat and chatted for an hour. After he left and by then not feeling quite so much like cooking (after relaxing with an Efes on the terrace), I went back to the kitchen to carry on with my flans.

I have to say I am amazed by my own stupidity sometimes. I poured the fillings in with the eggs and milk/cream mix ready to bake. The first problem was that I had put one of the cases in a loose bottom flan tin and the liquid all ran out of the bottom of the tin and poured all over the worktop and the floor - duh! I tried to get it out to put in a better tin, but couldn't so moved to plan b which was to put that flan tin in a larger one with a solid bottom. The first one I tried was not quite big enough but I got it stuck on the huh half in and half out. As it was completely stuck I thought oh well I would bake it anyway with just the mushrooms in and we would eat it for tea because it would not be that nice. So in the oven they went.

Back to the new curtains. Well not quite new, you know me by now! I had spotted the curtains on the local for sale site and they looked perfect for our bedroom. As Eddie had picked them up for us, I had not actually seen them other than in a photograph, so I thought while the flans were cooking I would take them upstairs and see how they would look. I was so impressed I asked David to bring the ladder up and hang two of them to get the full affect and to pin the bottoms because I knew they would need to be taken up. Of course busy with my splendid new curtains I forgot the flans in the oven.

Suddenly I remembered the flans, ran downstairs and got them out of the oven. They were rather overcooked - OK burnt - but still looked edible under the black crust, so I put them on the back of the worktop to cool down and went back upstairs to fold up and put the curtains in a bag ready to go to the tailors to be taken up, while David took the ladder back out to the garden. We both heard a thud from the kitchen and on running in from different directions we found that the dogs had managed to reach the mushroom flan which was by now on the floor with no filling at all just a pastry case, and they were just reaching for the other one. It doesn't say much for my pastry!

So basically I spent all afternoon cooking the dogs a flan. By now I had lost the will to live with the idea of more cooking, so we ate the other one for tea.

Thief 1 - Yes Bebek you may well lick your lips! .................

......................... and thief 2 Big Red who at least has the decency to look slightly guilty!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Busy being boring

Well how naughty have we been. No new posts on the blog since the end of May! All I can say is that we are so determined to finish the garden this year that we have been working incredibly hard in order to achieve that, but also as all we have done is building and gardening we really have been leading very boring lives, and you must all be sick and tired of hearing about us working in the garden! I am sure that most of you want to hear about our lives in Turkey not about our gardening which could be anywhere in the world.

However, we have been working hard outside and at last we are starting to see the benefits. The part of the garden that we have finished is looking fairly good, even though it has been planted on a shoestring budget. I bought a few cheap plants and when I got them home split them into three or four before planting, Most of the rest have been grown from free or really cheap seeds. I got Zinnia and Cosmos seeds which were reduced in Kipa, we saved Belle de Nuit and Nasturtium seeds from last years plants and we picked some hollyhock seeds up from the road into the village. They have all come through and have at least given us a splash of colour until we can put in more permanent plants.

Who would think just a few months ago these were new, bare beds

I wrote a while back about making our new raised beds  following the centuries old Hugelkultur method. Well all I can say is that it works. No more clay soil and the plants have loved them. Actually that is an extreme understatement because they have more than thrived. The Cosmos for instance which according to the seed packet are supposed to be 30 cm are up to 130cm! The hollyhocks grown from seed have long since been in flower and in England they don't flower until the second year.

Our carefully planted Cosmos to grow 30 cm have turned into 130 cm giants!

Hollyhocks from seeds we found in the street flowering well

The outdoor oven, barbecue and the final shed are all about half built at the moment, so we are on target to finish later this year - yippee!

Reduced Zinnia seed and some wild grass make a fairly decent display

We have spent the last three weeks tidying up and finishing off bits and pieces, we even finally have doors on the sheds we built last year. so the place does look a lot tidier now. We do have the pond to finish but the electric wiring is all in place for the fountain and the lights so we are close.

At last shed doors!

The first thing we did when we bought our property 5 years ago was to plant some fruit trees. At last we are starting to reap the benefits. This year we had in excess of 20 kg of peaches from our one peach tree. We look set to have the same from our plum tree. Our apricot tree gave us our first ever apricot - OK only the one but at least it's a start. We have four lemons on the lemon tree (which we were told wouldn't grow up in our village) and eight pomegranates which are also both firsts for fruiting.

Of course aside from our garden we have the animals. The pups are finally settling down. I don't want to talk it up but we haven't had any fights for some weeks now. This is not due I might add to Red settling down but more due to her achieving the Alpha spot that she wanted from day one of walking in the door. The others have now learnt to accept that they are not allowed to have anything. Everything belongs to Red and her rules are sacrosanct. Only this afternoon Little-E was quite happily chewing a two inch stick she had found until Red spotted her. Red launched herself at her and she had to abandon it. It doesn't matter that when Red sees what it is that it isn't actually important enough for her to claim, the point is that nobody else is allowed to have anything. Now that the other dogs have grasped the rules and regulations as laid down by Red, life is running much more smoothly. Both pups still chew things, but it is finally slowing down.

As is usual in Turkey, Uzumlu has a loud speaker system in the village which is used to make announcements. As we are some way out of the village we could never hear what was being said, so we were really pleased when a few weeks ago they ran the wiring to install a loud speaker along the road from our house. We thought at last we may hear what is going on - wrong! As soon as the 'bip bip' is heard to alert us to a new announcement the pups start to howl, and they continue to howl along with it until it has finished. Understandable with the pups being a hound type breed I suppose, but lately Little-E joins them. She looks so funny tipping her little head back and making a noise (which we don't tell her isn't actually a howl).

Announcement on the tannoy? Not for us we only hear the dogs singing!

Yesterday Bebek came onto the terrace from the garden with something in her mouth. When I looked it was a tiny baby tortoise. Luckily she hadn't damaged it and I was able to rescue it and put it on the mountin side where I felt it had a greater chance of survival than amongst our lot!

The baby tortoise that Bebek found, which I photpgaphed beside a gardening glove to show just how tiny it was

We have only been out twice since I last wrote a blog post. The first time we went into the village because the whirling dervishes were supposed to be giving a performance but in true Turkish style it had been changed and was a child's entertainer and a traditional band. But we enjoyed it anyway.

Not what we expected but still good to see the villagers enjoying the entertainment

The other occasion was a barbecue at a friends house where we had a great afternoon meeting new friends and old.

So the reality is that for the past few months we have been boring old Fogies who have worked hard, been nowhere much and done very little. However, next week that is going to change. We have decided that we deserve a holiday. So we are going to take a week off and we are going to get out and about to some of the places that we have often spoken of visiting, but never been. So we will let you know how we get on.

The reason we have chosen next week is because next week is my 60th birthday. I can't believe it and I certainly don't like it, but nevertheless it is a fact. I have had no other decade birthday that has affected me like this one. Honestly I am gutted, and finding it really hard to deal with. I don't even quite no why, but I am. I know that the definition of an elderly or older person is actually 65, but I feel that 60 is enormous. Yes the body is slowing down, but inside I still feel in my twenties (albeit with a bit more wisdom) and this one is hard to stomach. Oh well c'est la vie! Onwards and upwards as we say.