Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Sign Of Embarrassment

Sign

A red-and-white sign at the top of our lane reads “Çıkmaz Sokak” and, as we knew “sokak” translates from Turkish as “street”, it was a natural assumption that adding our house number would give us the first line of our new address.

The rest was a little less obvious. With no postal deliveries made to individual homes in Kayaköy, we sort of got the impression you could more or less make up your own and if we’d gone with “The Lane Behind Cin Bal Restaurant, Follow It Until You Fall Off The End”, nobody would’ve raised an eyebrow. It seemed the only important bits were the name of the village and the district number; as long as they were included, our post would find its way to the local shop for collection.

The first indication that things are not quite as simple as that came when we were going through the residency procedure.  Our ever-helpful neighbour Tommy had volunteered to take our application forms to the village head man for the necessary sign of approval – but he was soon back:

“You have not filled in forms right,” he said. “This is not your address,” he added, pointing to the line faithfully filled in 47 Çıkmaz Sokak.

“Oh but it is … There’s even a new sign saying ‘Çıkmaz Sokak’ at the end of the road,” I said.

“I know. But it is not your address…” insisted Tommy. “You have to go to belediye in Fethiye and get it changed.”

“Eh? If it’s wrong – which I don’t think it is, by the way – can’t I just fill in a new form and start again?”

“No,” said Tommy gloomily. “Head man has seen it now so we must start with getting new address…”

We won’t bother with the details of what happened next. Let’s just say, after two days of form-filling, traipsing from one official building to another and smiling hopefully at stern-faced officials, the whole tortuous residency procedure was complete and the seals were put on our (ultimately successful) applications to live in Turkey. (If you’d like a bit more on that particular episode you could always read an earlier blog, The Day We Ran Headlong Into The Language Barrier).

However, the issue over the wrong address still baffled us – at least until our latest Turkish lesson at the weekend.

We’re on to verbs and teacher Bülent was explaining the verb “çıkmak”, which means “to exit” or “to leave”.

“Ah… So that means our road is the one which leaves the village,” I said somewhat triumphantly.

“No. Not really,” said Bülent. “‘Çıkmaz’ is not the same as `çıkmak’. I know it looks similar but ‘çıkmaz sokak’ means what you call a ‘dead end’ in English. Or maybe ‘no through road’.”

Yep. That’s right. For six months, I’ve been happily telling people we live at “No 47 No Entry”. Suddenly, all those odd or slightly pitying looks made a bit more sense. Tommy and the head man weren’t being obstructive either. By not really explaining why I had to change my application form, they were just trying to protect me from some future embarrassment.

I would like to end by recording my thanks to both – and by continuing to resist a powerful urge to crawl under something and hide.

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In Praise of Wood Burners … Or Not

Wood burners are great, aren’t they?

After a long day, there’s nothing quite like flopping down in front of a cheery glow, watching the flames dance in intricate shapes while you sip a decent glass of red. Warmth radiates from the hearth and, while you wiggle your toes just a little nearer, the dog yawns and stretches luxuriously before settling again with a small sigh…

At least that’s the image most of us would have and it’s probably one the salesman would play on back in the UK where we already have central heating anyway. The thing is, in Turkey, most homes don’t have such luxuries. After all, it’s mostly blazing hot so why would you need to spend a fortune having a boiler and radiators installed, right?

Um … wrong.

Temperatures here this week have been below freezing more than once and, even when they haven’t, the sun has often been conspicuous by its absence. That means the log burner isn’t a luxury or an indulgence. It’s the most efficient and cheapest source of heat – but it also needs feeding. That means, as the summer season finishes in Kayaköy, the locals disappear into the woods with chainsaws.

At first, I quite liked the idea of self-sufficiency. We already had a huge pile of wood in the orchard so, rather romantically thinking of myself as Pa in Little House on The Prairie, I was looking forward to wielding a newly-acquired axe to cut it all to size. I reasoned that as long as I used dry days to wander down to the wood pile and chop enough for three or four nights, we’d be fine. There would be more than enough to last us through the worst of the winter.

It turns out I was wrong about that too.

I had no idea that a wood burner could have such a voracious appetite. Even before Christmas our stock was almost gone and I was wishing I’d used the warmer, drier weather in early October to head for the woods with everyone else. With no chainsaw of our own, we had to call in help.

“Yes. I fetch for you. How much you want?” asked our ever-helpful neighbour, Mehmet.

“Oh, I don’t know … As much as you can carry I suppose,” I replied, thinking he must know someone with a tractor and trailer.

Just two days later, I heard the toot of Mehmet’s scooter and, incredulously, watched him wobble down the drive with the first load of branches and small logs balanced between the fairing and seat.

“Er… thanks Mehmet, but I think I’ll be needing more than that,” I said, trying not to sound ungrateful.

“Yes, yes. I have more cut in woods. I bring it,” he said cheerily, disappearing after the few minutes it took to unload.

He was as good as his word too – even though he had to resort to the family car when the abused scooter’s drive shaft expired under the fourth load. Still, the replenished wood pile looked much healthier and I had no reason to doubt Mehmet’s assurance there would be enough to last a couple of months.

Turns out we were wrong about that too…

Just a fortnight later with the weather becoming increasingly hostile, we were getting dangerously close to the bottom of the pile again and I had to accept we were going to have to request a bulk delivery.

Reluctant to ask Mehmet to sacrifice another vehicle in the woods, we made the trip to Saffet’s place in nearby Hisarönu – a shop which not only seems to stock stuff impossible to find anywhere else but in numerous colours too.

“Yes, no problem… I can have a tonne delivered to your house; a mix of soft and hard wood,” Saffet confirmed. “You want it in bags?”

“No, that’s okay. Just get the guy to dump it on the drive. I’ll shift it under cover myself,” I said, still clinging to the Little House On The Prairie dream.

Three days later, after taking the delivery just as the light began to fade, I found myself moving a massive pile of logs from the drive to the lean-to next to the house by hand, in driving rain and gale-force winds in the dark…

Like I say, wood burners are great, aren’t they …?

Log burner

You can’t beat a decent log fire … or can you?

SP