Tag Archives: Soba

Summer is Coming

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.


2012 – A Review Part 4 – October to December


Back in Selçuk we had the rear wheel looked at again.  As suspected it was badly worn and needed to be replaced.  The advice was to be very careful with it, don’t go too fast, and avoid all potholes, and get a new wheel as soon as possible.

October was also the month we heard about a new law which permits foreigners   to obtain a Museum Card – they give free access to pretty much every museum and archaeological site in the country.  Since buying the cards which are valid for a year we have made a great deal of use of them and strolling through Ephesus has become a regular occurrence.

We had a coLake2uple of really good days out with friends. The most spectacular was to Lake Bafa and Kapıkırı.

The broken wheel was an unplanned expense just as we started to have some alterations made to the kitchen.  New cupboards, and a cooker hood / extractor.  This involved taking out the old extractor fan and having a carpenter make new cupboards to match the old ones.  There were some delays to the work, we needed to get a second carpenter and as a result the cupboards only got fitted the day before we left for the UK.  This meant we would need to have the rest done when we got back.

Then it was off to the UK to see family and to Dublin to see friends, and to pick up a new wheel for the bike.


We had the kitchen finished as soon as we got back.  This involved having the extractor hood moved to the right height for the new units and the pipe properly fitted througDavlumbaz-lowered-with-fingh the wall, and getting a neighbour to help fill in the resulting hole in the wall.  It was starting to get cold, the last thing we wanted was a hole in the kitchen wall for the wind to come straight through.  Of course when the work was all done there was decorating to do.  It has very much been worth the hassle and expense, the kitchen is greatly improved.

Equally in need of attention was getting the new wheel fitted.  The wheel went on the bus to Izmir along with Hilary and Ashley carefully rode the bike.  We had a couple of hours to kill whilst the wheel was being fitted so wandered around Izmir and had lunch.

Over the month we gradually moved into the front house and then closed down the back house for winter.  We started using the high quality wood (we bought a tonne of it earler) in the soba.  We now know we must not use the extractor when the soba is lit, and so far have had no problems at all with the soba.

The local nonsense about the end of the world started.  There was talk about only Şirince and a village in France being saved from some sort of apocalypse brought about by the end of the Mayan Long Count.  It is a count, a measure of time, when it ends a new one starts, but we guessed it would be good for the local economy.


The apocalypse thing got increasingly out of hand.  People started to get concerned about safety.  Rumours of thousands of people converging on Şirince started.  Come the day there was a massive media circus, loads of police and emergencySirince2 services present, and access to the village was being restricted on safety grounds.  We took a stroll up there by way of the forest roads, just to see what was going on.  The village was packed but not much more than is normal for a Sunday in summer.  In the end it was all a bit on a non-event and as expected nothing else happened.

We bought two new radiators to help us stay warm.  High tech things, made in Sweden, they seem excellent.  They were also incredibly easy to fit.

We learnt that the KGS card we have for the toll roads is being phased out.  The other system, OGS does not work for bikes because it works on front number plate recognition.  A new system called HGS was being introduced, this works on a bar code recognition when approaching the toll booths.  The sticker with the bar code is meant to be mounted on a forward facing surface, a windscreen.  We now have the sticker with the bar card mounted on a card and plan to hold it forward when approaching tolls.  We have not as yet tried this out, December was cold and we had no pressing reason to hit the motorway to Izmir.

We did a lot of social things, in particular towards the end of the month.  Meeting friends in Izmir and Selçuk, evening gatherings, the usual stuff for this time of year.

Routine Soba Maintenance

It is getting really cold at night and the soba has started to get smoky – these two things seem to happen at the same time.  Maybe it is a combination of the flu being icy cold and having a build up of soot which slows the flow of hot gases and smoke.  Left it would get more smoky, and then dangerous since carbon monoxide would start to become present in the smoke.  It goes without saying that we have carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, in our view anyone who has any device with an open flame in their home should have these.  Even so, it is far better to keep the soba working safely.

So before it got any worse it was time to pull everything apart for cleaning and to remove the soot from the flu.  Cleaning the soba and flu is not a pleSootasant task, but it is essential.  We have a round wire brush on an extendable pole which is just about the ideal tool, but it is a messy job, soot gets everywhere.  Of course it was bound to need doing the day when we have people coming over in the evening…..

Winter is Coming – Preparing for Ice and Fire

Last night there was thunder in the distance, the occasional flash of lightening, and a few drops of rain.  Today has been cloudy with a few more drops of rain.  It remains pleasantly warm, 27C in the afternoon but the change in the weather is a reminder that autumn is coming, inevitably to be followed by winter.

Today, in preparation for winter, our firewood arrived.  1,000 Kg of it.  All delivered in sacks, and cut to the right size to fit our soba (wood stove).  Last year we got cheaper wood and had to cut up a lot of it because the pieces were too big.  Chopping wood is way too much like hard work.  There was still the work of emptying the sacks and getting all the wood stacked in the wood store.  All done now, it took a few hours, but is work well worth doing.

Hopefully it will not get cold enough to be needed before December.  Hopefully, unlike last winter, there will not be ice an inch thick on the roof terrace.  But no matter what winter throws at us we will have fire.

Animal Rescue

Not the one who was trapped in the soba

From fairly early this afternoon, Hilary could hear little noises coming from the soba (wood stove).  At first she thought it was our neighbours doing some kind of work on their houses (as that was going on as well) but the noises were all coming from the wrong place to be that.  It had to be something inside the soba.

She forgot to mention it.  We did other things.  But, later, when she went into the front house to process BBQ’d aubergines for dinner, the noise was ongoing.  It sounded very much like a bird had got trapped in the soba.

Hilary is not keen on birds in houses so Ashley was called upon to investigate.  At first he thought it might be a bat, trapped in the soba.  Opening it and taking out the fire bucket revealed nothing.  Our soba is essentially a double walled stove made of mild steel with cast iron grill on top, within which a bucket of wood is placed.  The offending creature appeared to be trapped between the two walls, which would necessitate a complete dismantle.  Off came the grill, this revealed a fully-fledged sparrow.  Only it was stuck in a confined space too small to allow its wings to be used for flight.  The inner of the double walls had to be taken out, this involved lots of pulling and pushing and levering, and bending of mild steel – pliers came in very helpful.  Eventually the thing came away.  Hilary was sent to get a newspaper and, whilst she was gone, the sparrow flew straight out of the window.

Whilst the soba was in bits we took the opportunity to vacuum it out very thoroughly.  Then Ashley had the fun of putting the soba back together.  Aligning screws into bent soft metal is not the easiest of tasks.  Ashley was covered in soot by the end of it all, not pleasant and Hilary had the task of cleaning the filters from the vacuum cleaner.

It gave us something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Sooty and Sweep

For more than a week we have been having problems with our soba.  It started smoking due to a semi blocked chimney and it seemed that pretty much everything we tried failed to solve the problem completely.

We cleaned out the chimney removing lots of soot, we got a rotating cowl, we burnt a pack of the chimney opener stuff in the soba, but no matter what we did, nothing seemed to solve the problem.  The carbon monoxide issue was solved, a very good thing – the alarms remained silent, but it remained smoky and did not seem to be drawing air.  It had become a source of much frustration and we had become quite guarded and anxious about using it.

This morning we took it all apart again and discovered that despite all the attempts at clearing the chimney it was partially blocked again, and with what appeared to be big granules of soot.  At first we were at a loss to explain how this had happened, we had only been burning wood, it was cleaned out a week ago.  The explanation could only be the chimney opener stuff, that what it does is turn fine grains of soot into loose larger crystals which are meant to then fall down the chimney or be easy to sweep out.  With us having a long horizontal piece of chimney it could not fall out and instead formed into large lumps.

Having discovered this (and after a walk and tea with a friend on Pamucak beach which was lovely in the winter sun) we got some more cleaning tools and set about getting the chimney clear.  We got covered in soot and had to do a lot of cleaning up afterwards.

We can now report that we have a properly functioning soba, and despite outside being a chilly 4°C at 7.30pm and due to drop further overnight, we are comfortably warm and looking forward to a snug night at home.

Soba Drama

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.