Two Plates and a Shot Glass   Leave a comment

I have always liked the written word and have often tried to be creative in my own writing. This evening I came up with an idea to improve my creativity by thinking up a strange title and then writing something to fit, here’s what happened:

Two Plates and a Shot Glass.

I was invited to a friend’s party, he’s quite a bit younger than me therefore so are most of his friends. It was a very enjoyable party, good food, plenty of booze and the guests were very friendly and chatty. I had been there a couple of hours and as it was getting late and most of the guests were obviously settling in for the long haul I was starting to think I’d give it another ten or fifteen minutes before saying goodbye when two young ladies turned up who had obviously been partying somewhere else. One was a tall, smoking hot, redhead whose scarlet minidress and stilettos accentuated every curve that it was nearly covering, the other looked like a biker chick, nearly ninety kilos dressed in denim and leather with a face like a smacked arse. She scared me a bit.

Reaching behind me I found my glass by the kitchen sink I was leaning against and started to plan my route out of the house avoiding the biker chick when suddenly the redhead appeared in front of me and pressed herself against me as she leaned over my left shoulder and threw up into the sink behind me. That kind of surprised me a bit then I realised she was mumbling something about going upstairs together. I saw the kettle out of the corner of my eye about a nano second before it hit my temple. The last image I caught as I sank to the floor was of the biker chick opening the door of the dishwasher to beat me over the head with it, on the rack inside the dishwasher were two plates and a shot glass.

 

Well that was fun 🙂

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Posted April 9, 2018 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

Piano, Tyres, Moon.   2 comments

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times previously I bought a piano and started to teach myself to play it. It’s a ridiculous statement actually, teaching yourself anything is pretty impossible because if you don’t know how to do something how can you teach yourself? It’s not the first ridiculous statement I’ve ever made and I doubt it will be the last.

What I have really been doing is learning from books, on-line courses and video tutorials available online, that has been fine up to a point but my progress has been quite slow. A few weeks ago by happy accident I was put in touch with a retired piano teacher who had moved here from Istanbul. I started lessons with her and my progress has speeded up a lot, particularly reading music.

However there has been one problem, her piano had a duff key. The “C” key above middle C didn’t work correctly, it’s resting position was lower than the other keys and it needed to be hit much harder than normal to make a sound and it was driving me nuts. Obviously that could not continue so we decided to take the opportunity of a months visit she was making to Istanbul for me to bring the piano to my place to fix it. Actually at my last lesson before taking the piano the “E” key below the already faulty “C” also developed the same fault. I knew nothing about the workings of an electronic piano even though I have one myself so much research online was needed. I found most of the information I needed and set about dismantling the piano to ascertain the cause of the fault.

With all the component parts spread around my kitchen it soon became obvious what the problem was. In an electronic piano with “hammer action” to mimic the feel of a real piano the plastic keys, both white and black, act upon a hammer bar to operate the switches controlling the electronics. On this particular model the hammer bar, made of black anodised steel, is fitted into a white nylon mount  that rotates through a few degrees when the key is pressed and actuates the switches. There are no springs involved which surprised me a bit, the resistance felt when hitting the key is controlled by the length and weight of the hammer arm, the whole action is then returned to it’s normal resting position by gravity, just like a real piano.

In this piano the plastic key has an aperture underneath into which fits a rubber grommet on the end of the hammer arm and the problem was caused by the this grommet having perished and disintegrated leaving the key unsupported when at rest. The can see the aperture on the bit extending below the key in the picture above.

The hammer arms are shown here.

The shape of the grommet can be seen in the photo below. Apologies for blurry pic.

I found that replacement grommets are not available, the whole arm has to be bought at a cost of ten quid each. Highway robbery I thought, eighty eight keys multiplied by ten quid ends up being more than the cost of the complete piano! So I would fix it. I had found a lot about taking the piano to bits but what I didn’t find was an idea of how to fix it so I had to invent something. My first idea was to make a new grommet by cutting up a pencil eraser. I was quite hopeful about this but it didn’t have enough stretch and it split when I tried to slide in onto the hammer arm. The second idea was to make a mould and with the hammer arm positioned in it I would squeeze some silicon sealant into it and wait for it to solidify. This too failed because the mould didn’t allow the silicon to solidify and the second one I tried hadn’t solidified even after thirty six hours. In the end I laid down a layer of the sealant on a piece of metal then rested the hammer arm on it and covered over the top of it with another layer of sealant. This only took a few hours to set and then I cut it to the correct shape with a scalpel.

When I assembled it all and tested it I found it impossible to feel the difference between the repaired keys and the original keys. Very good result and less annoyance during my lessons, they’re hard enough anyway.

Last month my bike went in for a service and I took the opportunity to have some new tyres fitted. I love having new tyres, they make a bike feel so much better.

These tyres are more suitable for road use than the old dual purpose “road / off-road tyres”. Much better road holding on the new tarmac which the local council seem quite keen on laying for us at the moment, and for the dirt roads there won’t really be much difference, I don’t intend to be doing any extreme mud plugging, I’ll only be going onto dirt roads in the dry summer months, the bike is too heavy to get out of difficult places by myself anyway.

I spent some time and effort locating a position from where I could take a photograph of the so-called Blood Moon that we had at the end of January. I was able to include an evening view of Kaş but the camera had to be set with quite a wide aperture because of the lack of light, it was quite a cloudy evening too. Anyway this was the result, I’m quite happy about it even though it didn’t show the moon as red as it really was, all to do with aperture, exposure and available light.

We get some pretty spectacular skies in winter here, here is one from New Year’s Eve last year.

And another from January this year.

Posted March 21, 2018 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

2017 Ends   8 comments

This is just a short note to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year, I hope you enjoyed it. It’s been a bit of a strange year internationally, sometimes it has seemed as though the world was going mad and then along came another story to renew faith in humanity. As an eternal optimist I always think things will end well however calamitous they appear. My “to do” list was edited, quite a few things successfully completed but more ideas have been added, I intend to work a bit harder at it this year.

I have now been here in the village for fourteen Christmas Days and all but one of them has been a beautiful day with clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Generally I have enjoyed this year as you probably noticed from the blog content. I hope you all have wonderful New Year celebrations and whatever other winter celebrations your religion or culture enjoys.

Here is a picture taken on Christmas Day 2017.

The view from the bottom of my driveway looking west towards the foothills of the Taurus mountain range and the ancient Lycian city of Phellos on the top of the ridge.

Posted December 31, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

Mountain Scenery   8 comments

 

What is it about some people? They just have to go and see what’s over the next hill or climb to the top of a mountain just to see what there is to see from up there. Well it appears that I’m no different. My mate Bob and I had a couple of “elevating” trips recently, the first one to the top of the island of Meis (yes I was there YET again) and another to a mountain in the Taurus range not very far from Çukurbağ.

Ten days ago it looked as though we were going to lose the the easy route to Europe because the ferries that sail between the Greek island of Meis (Kastellorizo) and Kaş were going to be forbidden to ply their trade so some of us decided to be on the last boat out of Kaş. The attractions of Meis are different for different people of course, my particular wishes this time were threefold, to get a bottle of duty free brandy for Christmas, to have another plateful of Angelos’ big prawns in garlic sauce and to climb the steps to the top of the island. You can see the white of the steps going up to the top in this photo.

The two boats that go to Meis were both pretty full and it seemed to take an age waiting to be processed through the Greek immigration office but eventually we were free to roam the island. First was a bit of breakfast and a coffee then Bob and I set off up the steps. The first snag is climbing out of the town to get to the stairway and we were both breathing deeply before we set foot on step number one.

There are four hundred and one steps and for the first half of the climb there are short sloping sections between sets of three or four steps and you are eased gently into thinking it will be easy but that soon changes, breathing becomes more laboured but this is mitigated by looking back to the town to seen everything slowly receding as you gain height.

And then you get to the top

My breathing had gone back to normal but my heart was still pounding.

Once at the top we went and had a look over at St Georges church and then started back down.

The walk back down left my thigh muscles quivering and I was glad to finally reach Angelos’ Athina restaurant for a beer and a plateful of prawns, they are really delicious. Going back to Kaş a sense of uncertainty was all over the boat as none of knew when we would ever be able to take the trip again.*

I like being in mountainous country and a few months ago I bought a motorbike designed and made to go off-road so putting the two things together means that I can go and have some adventures in the local and not quite so local hills and mountains. Put like that it sounds very interesting and enjoyable, well it does to me anyway. In reality what it means is that I can dramatically increase my capacity to get myself into awkward situations where turning round to retrace my steps is not an easy option. On the side of a hill when what was already a narrow goat track reduces to nothing the only thing to do is lie the bike down and then drag it around to point in the direction you should have been clever enough not to leave. Having said that, when I get back home and sit with a beer and my dogs and no injuries except my pride I feel a certain sense of achievement and satisfaction. I keep looking for new adventures and Google Earth is my friend, or it could be the little voice on my shoulder telling me to go and try something harder, “go on it’ll be great” it says. That’s how the next “elevating” episode started.

Bey Dağ is a 3070 metre high mountain in the Taurus range up near the Elmalı pass on the way north from here. Google Earth shows lots of little tracks, dirt roads really, criss-crossing the lower slopes with cultivated fields, some small buildings and other man-made features. Should be fun eh? And maybe I could ride close enough to get to the top?

I’ve said before that discretion is the key to keeping the rubber on the road and I’m developing a sense that tells me when discretion is leaving the room, I could hear discretion slamming the door behind it when I was thinking about this trip so I asked Bob if he’d like to tag along and we’d go in my car. Less chance of getting into trouble and two heads are better than one, right? He jumped at the chance.

So last Monday we went, just to get as close as we could and make a plan, left Çukurbağ about 8.30 and drove up there. I’d made some notes on the features and turnings that I could see on the computer screen and printed a couple of maps, with only a minor mistake in the village of Küçüksögle we left the tarmacadam and headed upwards.

My notes worked well and we would have lost our way without them. Superb scenery to see, sorry about the dust on the sensor.

interesting things to see,

fantastic blue sky to see, there’s an aeroplane in there too, you’ll probably need to put your spectacles on to see it thoough.

and coming round one corner a bloody great rocky mountain to see.

We reckon on getting to the top of that? I think we both realised that this was much more than a jolly jape and we’d better take it seriously.

Eventually finding our “base” for the day we stopped and had a bit of a look round, also climbed a small hill to see if the mountain looked any different from there, it didn’t.

For me, being in mountains really brings home to you how unbelievably massive the forces are that slowly push and shape our world.

On the way home we stopped for a mixed grill at the restaurant by Finike marina, we’ll be going there again I should imagine.

After we had returned to Çukurbağ, Dave, a friend who has been doing a lot of off-road biking around the area mentioned that he and some friends had been up this mountain on their bikes, crossed over near the top and came down the other side. I had to go and have look at the route he had taken near the top because if we used the same route it would save us quite a lot of climbing and maybe make it possible to get to the summit and return home in one day rather than staying a night up there. Since I was going by myself I rode up on my bike and followed his route at the top which brought me out much higher than we had previously been.

Dave and his friends had needed to help each other, using ropes as well, to get their bikes across a particularly difficult traverse, I wasn’t about to attempt it alone so just had a walk across to check it out, this is it.

It’s completely impossible for a car to cross and there are no other ways to get as close. It’s easy to walk though and we’ll start from here. I had a think while I sat in the sun and made a sandwich, turkey and cheese if you’re interested, and had a drink of water. It is still going to be a two day job for us, we want to have a pleasant time and not just attack it as a job to get done and go away, but I had a nice day out on the bike again.

This is the mountaineers hut we’ll stay in hopefully.

It’s not far from the hut to where we’ll start from.

Stay tuned for the final ascent, weather permitting.

 

  • The day after returning from Meis we heard that the potential ban had been lifted and the ferries now run as normal. Phew!

Posted October 22, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

Biking   Leave a comment

It was my birthday last Wednesday (4th Oct) and by way of a pleasant excursion I rode up to Girdev lake about 90 kilometres from my house, the last 20 kilometres or so being on “dirt” roads. In fact they are not so much dirt as crushed rock, exactly what my bike is made for. The road up and over the mountains to Gömbe is good tarmac and very twisty so very enjoyable on a bike, and I made good progress most of the way but had to be a bit careful over the passes and on the north facing slopes because at that time of the morning the sun had not completely dried the dew from the road surface, sometimes discretion is required to keep the rubber on the tarmac.

Finding the right road out of Gömbe confused me but I guessed right in the end, I had checked out the route on Google Earth but of course that doesn’t take account of road works and local roads can often be obscured by trees. Anyway I soon found myself in Yeşilbarak then onto the dirt roads. It felt quite an adventure, I had never been up here before and didn’t quite know what to expect, I am also a complete novice when it comes to off-road riding skills so every further kilometre felt like an achievement.

Here is a photo of the approach to the lake, as you can see the road winds up and over the hill in the distance. I had a couple of tricky moments on the hairpins on the climb but gritting my teeth and giving it a handful of throttle did the trick, although being sideways had my hair standing on end.

It was after taking this photo that I must have inadvertently changed the settings on the camera as I tucked it away in the padded bag in the top box because all of the photos of the lake itself were severely underexposed, I kicked myself for that but I’ll just have to go back next week and take some more eh? (Big smile)

The road around the lake is in pretty good condition and I was surprised to see how many houses have been built there, must be 50 or more. They’re all well spread out of course and some appear to be holiday houses and yurts for rent. The lake was obviously not as full as it could be as large areas were more like marshes with long grass growing through a few inches of water.

I met and had a chat with some of the local Yörük shepherds. Years ago as a people they were nomadic, travelling with their families and flocks all over Antatolia to find their traditional pastures. Nowadays most are semi nomadic at best, usually having houses or camp grounds in the mountain pastures for the summer and others at lower altitudes away from the snowbound hills where the grazing is more accessible. I had to promise to return and join them for roasting a sheep over a fire and maybe even staying the night in their tents.

On the return trip over the pass I discovered my mistake when putting the camera away so I only really have two photographs, one of going towards the lake and this one coming away from it at the top of the pass that you see in the previous picture. I promise I’ll try harder next time.

 

Talking of travelling by motorcycle my Canadian friend Les sent me some photos of his recent trip from his house near Mazatlan in Mexico…

up to Brandon in Canada and then the return covering about 11,000 kilometers in total. He did the journey over the course of seven weeks staying for a few days here and there on the way.

Here are some photos of some of the state signs as he passed them.

                     

Probably not in the right order. Seeing some interesting sights on the way…

 

and getting hit in the face by a rock thrown up from a truck wheel…

oh the joys of open faced helmets.

 

Posted October 7, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

Morning coffee on the terrace   4 comments

Not a breath of a breeze, no leaves twitch, the sounds of cockerels, chickens, a cow lowing in a byre, pigeons. The evidence of life is all around me, birds singing, the sound of car tyres on patchy asphalt but all the evidence can only be heard, nothing I see is moving, from my spot on the terrace it is surreal, not one movement can be seen yet all the sounds prove that it is occurring somewhere close by. The cries of a goat herder urging her flock along the path to fresh browsing.

The early sun casts shadows on the opposite side of the valley revealing the contours that will be hidden in an hour to be revealed again by the late afternoon sun striking from a different angle. Noises of people starting work, leaving houses, doors shutting, things being dragged or dropped, voices calling to each other.

A bird breaks the stillness, a gently descending glide across my field of vision, followed seconds later by another, a tiny toy truck invisibly pushed by a child’s hand crawls along the road across the valley, a delivery to the concrete plant.

The dogs have had breakfast.

Wolfie strides onto the terrace, head down moving purposefully. He stops, raises his head to peruse the scene then, tucking one leg under he sits then lies, lets out a long sighing breath and is still. He’ll be there for the next hour.

Molly dozes but listens for any sound, she will be the first to react if something alerts her, she is the pack’s alarm.

Whisky is watching me, watching my movements.

Minnie rests under a bench, awake now, everything is again still.

My cup now cries for a refill, the scratching of my pencil on the paper ceases and I rise and turn toward the kitchen, the moment is lost for now, perhaps to be re-enacted tomorrow?

Posted August 7, 2017 by cukurbagli in Animals, Environs of the village, Turkey

Test. Death. Cats & Dogs. Bikes. Beds. Fire.   Leave a comment

Earlier this month, after a lot of administrative nonsense I got my scooter to the testing station at the allotted time and as expected it passed. Third time of getting there though and it would have to have been during this spell of hot (40C and above) weather that we were going through. However apart from a slight grumble I took it in my stride and kept smiling.

My spirits were at rock bottom a little while later when I heard that my first and best friend here had suffered a heart attack and died. Buke Yılmaz Kadırıkan, “Yilmaz” to everybody, was well known and well liked. He owned the famous Hijazz Bar in Kaş and had lived and worked in many countries before ending up here in Kaş.

Yılmaz 01-01-1949 — 07-07-2017

 

When you have pets, in my case dogs and cats, it’s hard to stay fed up for long, they always lift my spirits with their antics and funny ways. Sitting with them while eating my breakfast in the morning or having a glass of wine in the evening is always a nice thing to do.

I have bought a motorbike. That set my spirits at an all time high since moving here. It’s been about twenty years since I had a real motorbike, this one is not the biggest or heaviest or most powerful that I’ve had by a long chalk but it’s in my possession now and that’s the point. I have really missed the feeling of riding a bike. A scooter just doesn’t have the same thrill, adrenaline does not flow. Now I’ve got this I’m going swimming regularly in the mornings, what an incentive eh?

I’ve been experimenting with dog beds and concluded that I’m too big for them. Ha ha, no, our local dog sanctuary uses wooden pallets for the dogs to sleep on, the dogs are ok with that but cleaning the pens out is a problem because all the poo, hair and other detritus including thousands of ticks gets stuck in and under the pallets. Cleaning them and around them is a nightmare. I am developing a bed that is sturdy, easy to make, easy to clean under and above all cheap. Most animal sanctuaries have limited funds so it’s worth cutting the cost down as much as possible. One of my cats was checking out the original version.

This was one idea using strong plastic water piping but I think I can cut the cost even further. We’re going to need a couple of hundred or so. Watch this space.

There was a big drama a few nights ago in the town harbour in Kaş, a nice big yacht caught fire and burnt itself to the waterline and beyond. This was a nice yacht around 45 feet long and this is all that was left. A very sorry looking few bits of the stern, what a shame. Hope the insurance was up to date.

 

Posted July 29, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized