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.

Friday, 6 October 2017

An explanation for our absence ..

Even by my lackadaisical standards it is a very long time since I have written a blog post. However, on this occasion it was actually circumstances beyond my control and not lack of time or utter laziness.

Each year I have to pay for my domain name, and usually it is paid automatically by debit card whose details Google have. This year I did not give a thought to the fact that the bank had issued me a new card, therefore the payment did not go through. Sounds simple you would think to replace the card details - wrong!

The fact is I am a writer and not an IT whizz, so in my ignorance I was unable to get at the workings of my blog to amend it. I wasted hours of my life trying to do this simple task. Google now needs a password to the admin account to allow me access. All very well if I knew this 'secret' password which I had never been given. So it seemed to me that the obvious thing would be to find an email address and write to Google. Googles reply was an automated letter extolling the virtues of G-suite. I replied saying that I really hoped this was not the reply to my email, as firstly it was totally irrelevant and secondly they may just as well have written to me in Japanese for the help it was to a computer moron. Obviously it was though as I never heard any more from them.

I spent three weeks in England earlier this year and by the time I returned the 90 days for renewal was past and my blog name was apparently now somewhere in cyber space up for grabs by any takers, prepared to pay for the domain name. So I contacted the company Google said had it and asked them how I could get it back. I wrote in May and heard back from them in mid August telling me that a different company was now the registrar.

Before I even get a chance to contact them we discovered that somebody has bought it and is using it as a lead to what looks like may be a fake clothing site. Obviously using the traffic my blog generates to gain more hits on their site.

So long story short as you must all be losing the will to live reading this, with the help of my step son Paul who has just been out to stay, and is an IT guy by trade, we now have complained to the company that produces the genuine clothes about this site, also to the domain registry and in the meantime have purchased a second name of as opposed to .com. and transferred all the original posts to that.

So please accept my apologies for being such a dork in the first place, and although links to any new blog posts will be correct on our Facebook page, it will take time to replace the old links listed so please bear with me. If you wish to find an older post in the meantime you will find it either by date or by title on the blogs homepage under blog archive.

Phew! So here we are back on line and I must say that when Paul finally managed to sort this muddle and showed me the Fethiyefogies blog back, complete with all it's posts, I cried! It was like seeing an old friend again after a long time.

But one good thing to come out of it is that all of this has made me realise that I do want to continue writing it, and I look forward to being able to share our lives in Turkey with you all again.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

It's all about the weather

We had a really good winter last year. So this years weather is a bit shocking for those of us that don't do cold! Winter came earlier than normal and we have had our heating on since the beginning of November. Usually it's well into December before we start to use it. OK we did have some sunny days in November, and in fact we had a lovely barbecue on the beach one day and it was really warm, but in general it's not a pleasant winter this year at all. The people who only ever visit Turkey for their summer holidays would be amazed to discover just  how cold the winters can be here.

Christmas day was quite warm and we were able to sit outside for most of the day, but since then the weather has really changed for the worse. We have had an almost constant deluge through January. First rain, then sleet, then snow and now more rain and thunderstorms. Whilst the snow has not settled in the village itself, the mountains that immediately surround our house have been topped with snow for the first time in the seven years we have owned it. In fact a local man told us that it is 19 or 20 years since he remembers them being covered in snow like this year. 

The higher mountains are deep in snow, and at the weekend there was a traffic jam along the Uzumlu to Fethiye road, because of all the Turkish people taking their families up to Nif  (a village a bit further up into the mountains than we are) to play in the snow. Many Turkish families do not have cars, which means that a lot of children living in Fethiye do not get to enjoy this experience. So I was amazed and delighted to see that last week the Belediye (council) transported two large dumper trucks of snow down to the school playground for them. The staff could hardly contain the children when they saw what was happening outside and they burst through the school doors with squeals of delight, straight into it to play. What a fabulous sight that was.

But there is a darker side to the weather. The heavy snowfalls in and around Istanbul have meant that hundreds of flights have been cancelled. Two of our friends flew over last weekend and were stuck in Istanbul for two days waiting for a flight to Dalaman, As I write, more flights are being cancelled due to the continuing bad weather. Today we have heard that the road from here to Antalya is also closed (both routes), and today the storms have caused damage in Fethiye town centre with the winds bringing trees down which in turn have damaged people's cars and kiosks along the harbour front. 

Closer to home we suffered serious flooding in the garden. Last year a new villa was built opposite us and whereas before there was a ditch at the bottom of the mountain that then ran down into the field in front of us, now that option is not there. Consequently the water is running down the mountain, across the track and straight through our gate. At one point our raised beds were underwater and the water level was as high as seat height on our outdoor chairs in the back garden. 

The water is running down the mountain. Before it disappeared along the ditch. Now that has been removed it's filling the road.....

........ coming through our gate ..........

.......... and flooding our garden and the sheds!

In the foreground and also at the back the lower raised beds were completely submerged and the water level was up to seat height on our outdoor chairs

So all in all it is not a good time to be needing to travel in Turkey or even to go into town, so we are holed up at home in the warm which is definitely the place to be right now. Maybe because of early winter weather we'll also have an early spring - we can live in hope! 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 - gone in a flash!

I thought when I moved here that lovely as it would be, I may get bored and would need some kind of interest to keep my brain active.  Hence, I began the Fogie's blog. However, the reality is that time flies by faster than I  can remember at any other point in my life, and I have become possibly the worst blogger in the world. The irony is that I constantly write pieces in my head, whilst I'm busy. They just never seem to get written down. I take photos as we travel around and think 'they are interesting', but they never get put on the blog either! So with the enthusiasm of a new year and all it's resolutions I make a last ditch attempt to keep it running, before I have to finally admit defeat and accept that a blogger I am not!

2016 has been and gone and I almost can't believe it.

After my trip back to the UK in May of course I missed my family but it was still wonderful to be home. Incredibly the dogs had behaved themselves while I was away and in my absence David had managed to finish putting up our new fence and do some more of painting the house.

Turkish houses favour orangey colours which I like least, so when the house needed repainting I wanted a complete change. David was not convinced at all, but went along with it to humour me and now agrees with my decision, which was to paint the window and door frames dark and to change the render from yellow to light grey. But with sixteen windows and six doors it has taken ages to do the woodwork alone. The render still awaits it's turn in the grand scheme of things. For the moment he has moved on to my next 'urgent project' laying more paving and kerb stones in front of the house, which is the last piece of the garden which involves hard landscaping.

The garden which is my domain whilst David is still building and doing maintenance work, needed some serious attention on my return, so I buckled down to that. I remember over the past few years being inordinately jealous of people who moved here into new villas and had the money to have their gardens landscaped. I also remember some of your responses to that, saying that at the end of the day we would have greater satisfaction in what we had accomplished the hard way. Well. I have to bow to your greater superiority because last year I could walk around the garden and say they are from the seeds that so and so friend brought us, that is from the cutting that so and so gave us, that is the 5tl plant from the car boot etc., etc. At last we are getting somewhere and it does seem to be slowly improving.

Last year was a big year for spending time with visitors from the Uk. The first guests came in January, the first time we have had people staying with us out of season, and the last in October. We must have introduced dozens of new people to our wonderful village by now, and without exception they all love it too. It's so different from the main tourist strip which most people coming to stay in Turkey see. In September we had four family members and eight friends all either staying with us or locally at one time! We were delighted that 2016 also brought our first visit from one of our grandchildren unaccompanied for the first time. What fun we had showing him and his girlfriend around the area on what was their first ever visit to Turkey - a whirlwind tour!

Seven years ago when we bought our house next to a mountain, we said that one day we would have to go up it and have a look around. Well it took seven years but we finally did just that a few weeks ago, we took a barbecue and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with friends. It's like a different world up there, with amazing views and I will write more of that visit later.

We loved our trip up our mountain

Another first for us was a trip around the peninsula above Fethiye harbour. We had no idea that there were so many coves for picnicking and swimming, or how dreadful the road surface was as we meandered around huge potholes and debris.

View back across to Fethiye harbour from the peninsula

Another day out we thoroughly enjoyed was to Patara. We spent the morning looking around the ruins - well worth a visit- and then lunch on the beach and a swim. 

The theatre at Patara ruins .....

... then an afternoon on the lovely Patara beach. A great day out
2016 was the first full year that we had a vehicle, and it opened up our lives more than we ever imagined. It may be old - like us - but having the Fogiemobile has meant we can get to all the places we have wanted to visit for such a long time.

So what will 2017 bring the Fogies? It's started well with a sunny morning, although it's jolly cold when the sun goes in. We are looking forward to more trips out. I am returning yet again to England in May to attend my daughter's wedding. We already have 3 lots of vistors with flights booked to come and see us again and it's looking likely that two couples who are great friends of ours will be taking the plunge and coming to live permanently in the village. Looking like another busy year already. Bring it on!