Monthly Archives: November 2012

The End of the World (Again)

It would appear (if you believe in these things) that the world is going to end late December – on the 22nd to be precise.  Something to do with the Mayan long count which comes to an end around this date.  The long count is a calendar of sorts, a measure of time, a longer version of a month or a year or a century.  We don’t think anything will happen any more than did at the turn of the last century, it is the turning of the long count and it starts again.

According to some one of the places which will be saved from this apocalypse is Şirince.  This has now been reported in a few national newspapers.  By all accounts all the hotels and pensions in the village are rapidly filling up, normally they are empty and closed for winter.  Clearly this is very good for the local economy.

It has also drawn local interest, our local sports, walking and climbing club are going to have a camp up near the village, we are not sure why, maybe they want to see what is going on.  We’ve been invited to join them but the thought of camping in the hills in December…..  It will be freezing cold and probably raining as well.

It is only a two hour walk from our place to Şirince.  We are going to stay home in the warm and dry, and hope the magic rays of Şirince (apocalypse) protection extend as far as our place.

Sharing the terrace

It is another lovely sunny and warm day, so we decided to clean up the roof terrace.  We’ve had cats up there for a couple of weeks, three young adult females and pair of kittens.  They are wild / feral so do not really tolerate people that well, but we have given them bits of food to help the kittens along and not disturbed them a great deal.   In return they have tolerated us a little more and the kittens have become more confident around us.  The kittens are now at least 6 weeks old and to be honest it is time the family moved on or at the very least come to realise that the roof space is not exclusively theirs.

Moving a few bits of furniture around and turning on a hose pipe seemed to give the cats the idea they ought to move.  The tabby kitten left right away with the adults, the black one hung around for a bit then left by the same route.  Currently they are all on the roof next door, this roof like ours, has places the cats can shelter from bad weather, so we doubt they will go far or suffer from having their cat house reclaimed.  Every now and then one of them would return, look around, and then leave again.

Some of hard furniture had residue from kills, dried blood mostly.  Not pleasant but it came off easily enough.  The cushion covers and fabrics we will wash, we haven’t seen any cat fleas on them but appearances can be deceptive and the chances of feral cats not having fleas is slim.  We also washed and swept the floor and generally tidied everything up.

The hut, which is a lovely and sheltered place to sit in the winter sun, is now ours for a while.  It was warm enough to sit up there this afternoon.  No doubt at times they will make use of it, we don’t mind, not that we have a lot of choice.  The sun is now setting, it is getting too cold for us to be up there.  They can use the space for a while.  They just need to get used to sharing.

Ephesian Musings

Walking through Ephesus last Sunday (we can do that freely now that we have our Museum Cards) we couldn’t help but speculate on why people visit the site.  Certainly it is impressive – a huge and partially restored Roman City of some importance.  It is also well known thanks to the Biblical references, the fact that it’s on the Paul Trail and that it is generally well publicised by travel agencies and tour reps.  People have heard of Ephesus, but that doesn’t explain why they want to go.

Oh, those who are into their biblical tourism or archaeological tourism or Roman history will find it fascinating.  But those, I think, are the same people who also go to less frequented sites.  And, with the massive crowds in Ephesus, they are in a minority.

We understand that Ephesus is convenient for the cruise ships that stop at Kuşadası.  Those cruise ship tourists are not necessarily interested in Roman history although they do tour Ephesus in droves.  Hilary was told recently that 80% of the tourists in Ephesus come from the cruise ships.   This is probably inaccurate because a significant number come from organised overland tours, but it remains true to say that the vast majority come from highly organised tours.

A lot of people come to Kuşadası for sun, sex and booze (we have the sand in Pamucak and few of them make it this far, unless they’re on the jeep tour but that’s a different story).  Perhaps they do Ephesus to add some ‘culture’ into the heady mix.  But why do they feel the need to add that ‘culture’?

It looks like there are plans to increase the number of tourists going to Ephesus.  Already there are people wandering around in Roman costume along with a couple of wooden constructions.  On Pamucak beach are a couple of mock galleys, and there are plans to dredge the channel up to Ephesus harbour.  This dredging may take a while and there are two road bridges which would need to be raised plus, once near the harbour the dredging may slow as archaeologists get interested in what may be found.  The term Theme Park Ephesus starts to spring to mind.  But what sort of tourist would be interested in sitting on a mock galley for an hour or so as it travels up a newly dredged channel, quite possibly to be greeted by mock stalls staffed by people in Roman costume?

We are interested in history.  Oh, strictly amateur but both of us have been heard to say that if we had our time again we might well want to be archaeologists.  We love crawling through ruined sites, trying to make sense of them.  We often reserve the guidebook to be read after we’ve formed our own impressions.  So, we guess, we don’t always know exactly what we’re looking at.  I think, though, that we do know what to look for, and mostly get it right.

The questions remain….  What do people get out of their trip to Ephesus?  Why do they go?  What do they find enjoyable?  And why don’t the vast majority go to the very many other, equally wonderful, sites around Turkey?

Dead fish at Pamucak

Midweek we took the bike to Pamucak.  Walked along the beach as far as the Küçük Menderes, had a good look at the wetlands where we saw little egrets (we are sure they are little egrets, we had the binoculars and saw their black beaks), grey herons, several different sorts of gulls, a few Kentish plovers, larks, wagtails, finches, thrushes, and what were almost certainly a pair of eagles.  They were distant and hard to identify, even with binoculars, but definitely raptors and larger than a buzzard.  We also saw a great many dead fish.  Some washed up along the shore, and a whole wave of them to the Pamucak side of the river.  We also saw people fishing…

The pollution of the the Küçük Menderes is a well-known (and Nationally publicised) problem.  There is a campaign to clean it up and we signed the petition along with many, many others.  If we understand the news right, fines have been imposed on the worst industrial polluters, but the dead fish we saw indicate that the problem may persist.  The wetlands behind the beach are recognised as an ecologically sensitive area, the beach itself, particularly towards the channel up to Ephesus is an increasingly important tourist attraction.  The problem with the river has been recognised and, hopefully, things will soon start to improve.

Winter is Coming

Our preparations for winter are falling into place, and given the recent and rather sudden drop in temperature just in time.

We got a local electrician to sort our TV.  They left us their contact details some months ago when they came to install our Digiturk (TV) system.  Thanks to their extremely efficient and reasonably priced service the dish now has a double cable, one to the front and one to the back.  All we need to do is disconnect, move, and reconnect the digiturk box depending on where we want to watch TV.  Now, when winter arrives we can sit snugly in the front house and have loads of channels, most of which we never watch.  Seems sensible…  CSI every evening if we want….  We also have loads of DVD’s to help the cold nights pass.  We picked up the Borgias series 2 and Game of Thrones series 1 on our trip to the UK, eye candy for the long dark nights.

We needed to get a plumber to do a couple of tasks, a tap that did not work and a new cistern along with the parts that fit inside.  We made use of a contact from a friend, a plumber she said was good.  It turned out that we could not just replace the cistern, we would need a completely new toilet.  The work is now done, he was efficient and very good value.

We need to get antifreeze put into the solar water system.  A member of the family across the road from us works for a solar power installation company, so we’ll ask them to do it.  We’ll probably get charged much the same – it is not expensive, and at least the money will go locally.

We need to get a glazier to fit a new window pane.  A pane in a double glazing unit is cracked.  Again, an old friend should be able to help, she is married to someone who installs double glazing.  Not exactly the same but they will know someone who can fit new glass into a double glazing unit.

We have a little over metric tonne of firewood stored away.  Thanks to friends who helped us last winter we know where to get good quality firewood.  Our neighbours say we should get some coal because it is more economical, burns slower and hotter.  There seems to be mixed feelings about using coal, not everyone seems to think it is a good idea.  We shall look into this, see what options there are and how good the coal is.  We can order coal from the same people who deliver our calor gas and drinking water.  They recognise our phone number and know where we live.

There is a theme – Personal contacts.  Having a relationship with people who provide a service is very much how things are done here.  We are gradually building up our lists of contacts, builders, carpenter, electrician and so forth.  There has been a certain amount of trial and error, last year at first we initially bought wood which was not so good, we were very much new to it all and learning our way.  (Oddly those same guys bought wood round to us this year, having assumed we would buy it – we didn’t).  We still are learning our way but we are getting better at it and much less reliant on others to point us in the right direction.  Hopefully we will, someday, be in a position to help others as we have been helped ourselves.

Our Crafts Club’s first Outing

Our new local Crafts Club had its first outing.  We were sadly depleted by illness so there were only four of us – enough to fit comfortably into one car.  Ashley did not come as the rest of us were all female.  The primary purpose of our trip was to visit Priene Halı-Kilim Atölyesi.  This is a women’s co-operative where they make carpets, traditionally, by hand.  Each knot is made separately and, at the end of a row, the hand spun thread is snipped to an even length.  They make up the designs of students at the New York University of Fine Arts.  This is part of the students’ learning.  These designs are not very traditional (we were amused by one of a pair of very pink feet on a beach – the ladies in the co-operative were speculating whether the feet belonged to a man or a woman).  Other carpets are more traditional in design or of designs evolved by the women of the co-operative themselves.   They also weave kilims out of recycled clothing.  Also for sale were some very charming hand-made dolls of ladies in traditional dress (some of them carrying babies in traditional dress) along with a number of knitted items.  The beaded socks were particularly popular with our party.  I bought some socks with swans on and one of the recycled kilims which will make an excellent alternative tablecloth for the back terrace.

We drank tea and chatted.  Well, mostly I listened.  I understood most of what was being said and finally got the courage to explain that, whilst I understood most of the conversation, I don’t have the confidence to say much in Turkish…

After the visit we went to Gelebeç.  This is one of the places on the Aegean that was hit hard by the exchange of populations.  There are old Greek stone houses in various states of disrepair.  Quite a few have been very tastefully (and probably expensively) restored.  We saw numberplates from Istanbul and Ankara and, when I googled to learn more about the place I turned up the old monastery which is being advertised as a holiday let.  This village is very near to Priene and we saw some interesting material in some of the newer stone walls…

There is a fairly famous ruined church dedicated to St. Nicholas.  It was built in the 19th Century upon the ruins of an older building (the area has suffered a number of earthquakes).  All the icons have gone and it is covered in graffiti.  It’s a bit tumbledown but the basic structure remains visible (I particularly liked the clock tower).  There are bones in the ossuary.  The surrounding scenery is fantastic but the weather was squally and the light was poor so I didn’t get any good photographs.

After a stop for lunch we headed for home.  We explored around the new ethnographic museum in Söke but it appeared to be a shoppers paradise rather than anything more ethnographical.  We could be wrong, in which case we shall, no doubt, return.  We just didn’t fancy hanging out in the mall at that point in time.

Our new Kitchen – Part 2

Back from the UK our priority was to get the kitchen finished.  Apart from anything else it would be getting cold soon and the hole in the wall would not aid keeping warm.

The first step was to get the extractor hood moved to the right height to fit the flue.  For this we were told we needed to go back to Beko and get their people to do it, otherwise we would invalidate the warranty.  So we did.  We went to their retail outlet and explained what was needed, in Turkish since very little English is spoken there.  There was initially some concern because there is a minimum height the hood must be from the stove top.  We managed to explain that lowering the hood would not be a problem, the hood had been mounted well above the minimum of 75cm (or standard as it is known here).  The engineers came around later that day, moved the hood to the right height, and fitted the flue.

This left getting the hole filled in, tidying the wiring, and of course there was some paintwork which needed touching up.  Ashley really must remember that even when only using small amounts of paint it is a good idea to change into decorating clothes.

We showed the hole in the wall to your neighbour.  He is a master builder so we hoped he would be able to solve the problem.  He agreed with us that it could not be filled from the inside without taking out the cupboards and that doing this would create further problems with the flue.  He looked at it from outside, the problem there being the hole is high, about 6 metres from street level.  He did not seem to think this would be a problem, agreed he could fill the hole, mentioned something which turned out to mean scaffold, and fixed a time and date.  Pretty much all of this was done in Turkish, he speaks various other languages, including German and Arabic, but not English.

Come the day it turned out that what he meant by scaffold was a long ladder which he spent an hour or so making out of planks and other pieces of wood, a bit like a siege ladder.  Once made and in place, up went a couple of buckets, and various tools.  Before long the hole was filled with a few bricks, everything cemented in, and the grille replaced.  Our neighbour then took the siege ladder apart, saving the wood for whatever task it is next needed for.

Hilary provided lemon drizzle cake which seemed to be appreciated, and we now have a draft free kitchen.