Most evenings it is staying above 18C in the house without any heating, so we decided we no longer need the wood soba. It if gets cooler (and there probably will be some cold nights) we have plenty of other heating options, but we can dispense with burning wood. Today we cleaned the flue, a messy task, soot gets everywhere, and put the remaining wood away. As a result of using a wood stove the walls need a wipe down and a lick of fresh paint, this will get done over the next week or so.
Whilst we were cleaning the flue and packing wood away our neighbours decided it was a good day to gather in their garden and cook outside, their first such event of the year. We therefore had to stop work late morning to eat gözleme and be social, and then mid-afternoon another enforced break for kısır and coffee, followed by reading of the coffee grounds. Apparently we are going to come into lots of money, go travelling on a plane and a boat, attend a wedding and so on. Odd that, we are going to a wedding on Saturday, and we are planning a trip to Greece in the summer which would cover the boat part. It goes to show the coffee readings are never wrong!
The swallows have returned, more are arriving every day. For the last few days there has been one on the wire outside our house. It might be one of the pair from last year, they nested next door and raised several broods. Today there was a pair, singing together, investigating the nest from last year. It is good to hear them, good to see them, and good to know the rising number of flying insects is going to be hunted and eaten.
Before we left for the UK we found ourselves thinking about new furniture for the roof terrace. What we wanted was a table and chairs, something for eating and entertaining on. Ideally something reasonably sturdy, weather proof and not plastic. We did not find much in Selçuk, so we ended up looking in Kuşadası. There are loads of places along the Soke road, many specialising in bamboo furniture, there is also Koçtaş (B&Q), and a variety of furniture shops doing mostly interior furnishings but some doing garden and patio lines. Initially we looked at Koçtaş, easy to do since it can be done online, and familiar. We looked at some of the bamboo stuff, it was all very light and it gets windy on the terrace, we had visions of furniture flying down the street.
Searching around we came across a really nice, well made, sturdy, hardwood round table and chairs – a great size, comfortable for 2 to 4 people and will do 6 at a squeeze. With a little bit of haggling we got the price down only to marginally more than a not vastly dissimilar but more flimsy hardwood dining set from Koçtaş, albeit with four chairs rather than 6, and the table is smaller though a better size for us. We settled on the price, explained we would be in the UK for a few days, it was agreed we would leave a deposit and when we got back we could call, they would deliver, and we could pay the balance at this time.
Yesterday afternoon we made that call. We were told they would deliver today. This morning we had a follow up call at 9am to say they would be with us within 2 hours. An hour later our furniture arrived and was carried up to the roof terrace for us. It fitted where it was expected to fit and we think it looks good. It has certainly been worth shopping around, doing some haggling, and stepping away from the familiarity of UK chains. Once again we are amazed at the brilliant customer service.
The delivery of new furniture prompted us to finish tidying the roof terrace which has been rather neglected over winter. We started doing some bits a month or so ago, but then stopped for all manner of reasons. Finished now – ready for summer. Time for tea and baklava.
Some time ago we arranged with our friend Osman who has a carpet shop to get a couple of our kilims repaired. They took longer to be repaired than he or us expected, but last week we got one back and today the other was returned. Both were beautifully restored.
Today we took the recently mended kilim and three others to be washed. It all happened rather impromptu, we were chatting to Osman and he suggested we went to see the kilim cleaners based on the Kirazlı road out of Kuşadası. We were driven there (for the price of the petrol) by Mehmet, a friend of our friend, chatting along the way in a mixture of English and Turkish. After agreeing a very reasonable price and a potential finish day of Monday or Tuesday of next week, we left the kilims with the cleaners. We are regarding this date as highly flexible, they will get washed, they will get returned, it might take a few days, and it might take a week or two. There really is no hurry.
We returned via Kirazlı, the road up to the village from Kuşadası is in very bad condition, presumably due to winter, with a lot of repair work going on. At one point there was a sign saying the road was closed, there was however a dolmuş from Aydin coming the other way, and we continued through the closed signs with no difficulty. The scenery was stunning in places and we managed to get in a stop to take some photos. We didn’t manage to get in a stop for tea as Mehmet’s favoured tea places all looked very closed as we drove past.
It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon – a completely unexpected adventure.
Last night, shortly after having been lit, our soba started to smoke alarmingly. We opened windows and doors, used fans and, after Ashley hit the pipes with a poker and increased the air flow the smoke dispersed and was seen coming out of the chimney. We were not at this stage sure why air was not being drawn, obviously there was a partial blockage somewhere.
This happened several times over the course of the early evening and then, as we were eating dinner, the carbon monoxide alarm went off. We threw everything open and left the building till we were pretty sure it had dispersed. You can’t just turn a soba off. You have to wait for the fire to die down enough to take the burning bucket out of the house. Which we did.
The portable gas heater was brought through from the back house so, at least, we were warm.
This morning we headed for town to buy some of the stuff you burn to clean the chimney (not to be used till the blockage is definitely gone), a mechanical chimney cleaner (a ring of metal with a spring wrapped around it mounted on a stick) and some gloves.
We cleaned what we could, got a load of soot out of the chimney and could see more beyond our reach. We phoned a man with a ladder to do the last offending blockage. As you can see from the photo, this full length ladder was only just long enough to reach the bendy bit. The bendy bit was full of tar. It has been dripping tar onto the road under our terrace for about a week. We initially thought this was oil from someone’s engine which is why we didn’t realise we had a flue problem. We ended up buying a new bendy bit and it was not easy to fit.
We then spent some time reassembling parts of the chimney flue, cleaning out the soba, and using a vacuum cleaner to get rid the soot. Fortunately we had managed to confine the soot to a relatively small area having been able to get the bulk of it straight into a big plastic bag.
Right now we are hoping this clean-out will have solved the problem. It should do, there is no blockage to the air flow. We won’t, however, know for sure until we try to light the soba this evening.
There is a moral to this story. Every year in Turkey people die, poisoned by their sobas. We will keep our chimney clean and continue to use our carbon monoxide alarm.
Housework in Turkey is a whole different kettle of fish. We can’t actually claim to be houseproud. We lived like a students for many, many years, finally getting our act together a few years back when we were sick of living in total chaos and wanted to be able to find things. We don’t think we got actually houseproud, but the flat in West London was tolerably clean and tidy.
Here in Selçuk it’s totally different. For a start, various parts of the place we are renting has been rented out to various people. Our landlady and the lady who helps run the place in her absence have done everything possible to keep it clean and shiny but parts have been closed up and parts have been rented out on short term holiday lets and, by all accounts, prior to that, to some rather strange people one of whom took a knife to the washing machine. So, predictably, there’s been a lot of initial cleaning, as there always is when you move into a new place.
The shops have a variety of cleaning products, many of which are familiar; others have pictures which indicate a rough idea of potential usage. Then there is Por Çöz which appears to be some sort of highly corrosive agent. The instructions (in Turkish) say don’t mix with bleach and have various other precautionary notes. Investigation revealed that one of the ingredients is sulphuric acid and/or nitric acid. It’s been banned in the States. Çamaşir suyu is invaluable. The name sounds like it should be laundry juice but it is bleach. Which, of course, must never be mixed with is Por Çöz. There is also Yağ çözüsü (literal translation is grease solvent) which is what is used to clean kitchens, bathrooms and ovens. There are many different brands of this and the one we used in the oven this morning was very effective.
The two main ongoing cleaning issues are dust and limescale. The water hardness is somewhere off the scale, we are used to hard water but the local water takes some beating.
The dust: You can get the place spotless and, turn your back on it for ten minutes, and it’s deep in dust again. The dust here is incredibly fine and it blows about. Then it settles in the places it is least welcome. Like every surface inside the home and the terraces and the stairs.
The limescale: Por Çöz is recommended for getting rid of limescale on metal, glass, ceramics and porcelain. We understand this, we have some basic knowledge of chemistry. It will also get rid of our skin so would need to be used with caution. Obviously not allowing anything, especially glassware, to drip dry will help a great deal. We do however dread to think of the state of the limescale in the pipes and washing machine.