The next day it rained, so I spent the drawn out breakfast convincing Alan and Chevrel that we should hatch some chicks. Needless to say my first rainy-day-job was to clean the chick house. Then Alan set up the homemade incubator consisting of a box, a lightbulb and a thermometer.
The eggs would have to be turned a little bit several times a day (that was to be my job, with Alan’s help when I overslept basically every morning) and we’d have to hope there wouldn’t be any power cuts, otherwise the eggs would get cold. In the past they’d keep them inside their T-shirt during a power cut. Why not use a chicken? Well, the last one took it so seriously, she didn’t get up to eat or drink at all and died! In 21 days the little chicks will hatch! 🙂
Another rainy-day-job was weeding the polytunnel. It had been sort of forgotten last summer and now it was a jungle in there! Chevrel had turned the sprinklers on in the morning, so the soil would be nice and soft and manageable. But when the sun came out later, it turned the place into a steam bath. Aidan and one of the chickens decided to keep working in there anyways. But I decided to enjoy the sunshine after tea break which included lots of Jack’s yummie, freshly baked Anzac biscuits.
The next task was to dig up a giant plant and then to use water to wash away the dirt and separate it at the roots for replanting. I turned the tap on and seconds later a freshly soaked Aidan and a pissed off chicken shot out of the polytunnel. Whoops! The water had still been connected to the sprinkler system, rather than the yellow hose pipe 🙂
When Hennessy and Emanuella disappeared into the kitchen to cook dinner, we gave up working and curled up in the living room. The backgammon game came out and we all drank beer and talked about different beer making traditions around the world until Alan and Chevrel (sat at their computers in the little office space at the back of the giant living room) just had to have one too 🙂
I had a chance to finally write-up my diary about yesterday’s sunny walk through the village with the dogs. With Jasper and Bruno on a leash, old Troy just slowly follows in her own time. As we left the gate of Forest Gardens, a woman walked by with a big basket full of clover strapped to her back, dragging some branches tied to her little axe behind her. I offered to drag the branches and so we set off into the village, Aidan taking the dogs. In the village the children came running up and a little girl on a bicycle introduced herself in perfect school English and said the lady was her grandmother.
Meanwhile Aidan was busy stopping the dogs from charging at the big silver bin. When we walked on, a tiny kitten dashed out and disappeared down the road. Jasper and Bruno are really hard to hold and are set on charging at every dog in the village. They’d seen another one and weren’t interested in the tiny boy, much smaller than the dogs, standing in the street, splashing about with a hose pipe. His mum was yelling at him from the balcony, but he wasn’t scared.
Around the corner and safely past the other dog I turned around to see another woman call to the kid, but she didn’t dare go close. She kept calling to the boy telling him to stop and come over. Then it dawned on me: Troy! I ran back to find her stepping from one foot onto the other, refusing to go past the wet water while the little boy waved the hose pipe at her splishing and splashing about. I had to take her by the collar and encourage her right past!
The villagers are scared of the big dogs and give us odd looks for actually taking them walkies. In Turkey most dogs are semi-wild or even dangerous street dogs and rabies is common. Some people have dogs for shepherding or as watchdogs. But they are not cute cuddly pets. Troy, Jasper and Bruno couldn’t be further from that norm. All they want is attention, cuddles and to be scratched on their tummy. But at night they are still fierce watchdogs, chasing anything off the grounds (there are jackals around).
On the edge of the village we explored a little track that ended in front of a few cows herded across the field by two women, and then we just did a big loop around back to Forest Gardens, enjoying the views.
Monday morning Chevrel wanted to get their car fixed. I went with her to the big complex of car mechanics, exhaust fitters, window tinters, car painters and oil shops just outside Yalova, to find some oil and coolant for our bikes. Being BMWs, they needed a special kind of coolant and oil of course! The car left in the safe hands of the mechanic, we went from oil man to oil man and Chevrel (who can speak perfect Turkish) patiently relayed our requirements. But we just met shrugs and helpful faces that couldn’t help in this case.
One guy called his mate from a bike shop in town and he came over on his scooter. Turns out that guy had seen us arrive on the bikes a few days ago and had thought “Dear Allah, they will be in trouble!” He’d owned the same 2004 F650 GS before and had sold it because it’s so difficult to get parts and consumables for it here in Turkey! He suggested a coolant, but I wasnt sure. So we went into town to the little oil shop on the corner.
The shop was closed. The shops next door reliably informed us it couldn’t be closed, he’s always there! A glass of çay later a helpful guy took us to various other parts shops, but none had what we needed. Then shouting and waving arms alerted us to the return of the oil man. He had Chevrel’s carburetor spray and lots of odd consumables no one else had. A call to Aidan and he asked Google. The oil man’s fancy coolant was unsuitable, but the stuff I’d been recommended by the ex-GS-owner was ok. So Chevrel would bring some when she went to fetch the car that evening. A quick visit to the ex-GS-owner’s bike shop and we came away with some dusty bottles of distilled water to mix the coolant with (they all us the clean Yalova water!), a phone number to call if we are in trouble near a town on the north coast and an offer to order us the knobbly tires we will soon need 🙂
Then Chevrel had to go to her office and I went to the market for a few bananas, strawberries and veg. The two o’clock bus was already waiting and I was greeted by a huge grin from the driver. Back at the house I had missed the yummie chicken soup lunch Aidan had cooked for everyone so salad would have to do me. I tried calling my dad, but just like the day before, he didn’t pick up. He’s quite sick, but I try not to worry and tell myself he’s probably gone out food shopping or something.
That night it was Aidan’s and my turn to cook and we made sticky boar ribs with oven chips and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
After dinner Alan got the laptop out and him and Chevrel showed us lots of pictures of past volunteers, Chevrel’s proudest garden projects and how Forest Gardens slowly started looking like it does now. There were pictures of the dogs as puppies, the cats as playful little kittens and the entire place in deep snow.
Tuesday was another rainy day. So glad we’re not living in the tent at the moment! We decided to compensate by weeding the long, tent-like polytunnel some more. Beats the other jobs on offer like cleaning windows, floors and the chimney…. basically all the annoying housy things that come with living in a house.
We dug up some field mice, who gave us a pretty pissed off look for the disturbance before scurrying off to find a new home. They should be grateful for the lucky escape! Later the cat came in for a good nosy around before settling in to watch over us from a seeding tray stack. We found a wickid looking horn beetle too. Another lucky escape. He was so drowsy, he would never have escaped the chickens that joined us soon after.
That evening I finally got hold of my dad. He looked absolutely awfully sick and weak. I won’t go into details. It was so bad, I couldn’t stop the tears welling up. But he said not to come home, he was going to hospital the next day anyways. Afterwards I called his cousin, who promised she’d make sure he gets there. They would probably keep him there too. I couldn’t sleep all night and tried to distract my mind by reading till the sun came up.
The next day all of us got up rather late. Alan greeted us at the breakfast table with a gleeful grin on his face showing us a picture on his old little phone. There was another van in the hole. Apparently it belonged to a guy that always drives recklessly too fast. He must’ve seen the hole too late, braked and skidded straight into it. This morning Hole-man had left his tools in Alan’s shed: “Its going to rain, and anyways, there is a van in the hole!”
We continued with the weeding in the poly tunnel, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was busy worrying about my dad. Loud shouting at the gate “Hello! Hello!” pulled me back into the present moment. Hole-man and the van owner wanted help dragging the red van out. They were hoping to use PG and Ema’s van, but they had taken it to town. So we rounded up the troops again.
Of course the problem was solved in a typically Turkish manner: everyone shouting the best solution at the same time – some were pushing forwards, some backwards – the wheels spinning freely, mud flying. Even sitting in the back so the rear-wheel-drive could get some grip didn’t help.