That was the year that was – 2011

Another Turkish year has passed in Kirazli village – very quickly – and here is a roundup of pictures from my Turkish Yearbook for 2011.

January – A frothy start

A slight mishap in January with the pool chemicals and the waterfall meant new year in Kirazli started with a foam party. It took three days to sort it out but Nick got to happily strip the pumps as a result.

The parade of the wrestling camels in Selcuk in January was an ideal opportunity for a little municipality self promotion – optimum advertising, your slogan on a camel’s bum. The cultivated cyclamen began their long and joyous winter flowering to keep us cheerful in the depths of winter.

February – Technicolor sunsets and winter work

Winter is our time for routine maintenance because our season starts early and so the annual teak oiling is done in February because wood really suffers here in the massive temperature variance and apart from that it never dries properly if you leave it until real Spring and stays tacky for months.

The sunsets at Pamucak beach this February were truly spectacular and Shadow ran herself to exhaustion posing against a flat calm sea and wide grey beach, she loves the drama of it all! Sunset at Pamucak on sunny cold days is a regular trip out, followed by a snack in Selcuk on the way home.

March – Blossom Season

Our stone walls are still bare in early March but the whole valley is starting to flower and pretty soon every tree is breaking out in blossom and the valley is covered in pink and white petals from the almond and cherry trees. The neighbours tree up the road always puts on a beautiful show and it cheers you up no end to open the curtains one morning and see it has flowered in the night.

Also this March our neighbours bought a new cockerel, he is indeed a fine figure of a cock but he is also a macho beast fond of the sound of his own voice, I don’t notice, I sleep through everything, but even daughter commented on how loud and sustained his doodle dooing was. Ahh the peace of the countryside.

April – Forgetting winter, quickly.

April is superfast Spring heading urgently into Summer. The clematis that buds in the first days of the month is flowering by the second week and by the end of the month is so beautiful I tend to stand there and stare at it and am amazed that I grew this thing – well I watered it, a bit, and loved it lots, if that counts as growing it.

The dogs tend to get their first outside bath of the year and are resigned to the spending the next few months mainly soapy and drying in the sun.

May – Family fun time

May is the start of the main tourist season and the cruise ships are racked and stacked around the quays in Kusadasi – this year my Mum and Dad will be on one on them for a long awaited visit to Turkey.

May is family time; I only get to see my daughter once or twice a year now she is working and in May she normally comes to Turkey and we do tourist stuff, go to Adaland, take Turkish baths and get to spend a week doing longed for family stuff. It always goes too fast.

June – Cherry season and a full house

Glorious June, before the heat of high summer saps your energy and turns you into vampire creatures who creep about in the cool of the night. The verges are all yellowing grass and the dust lies thick on the farm tracks but the cherry harvest it on, that ever so brief, long awaited harvest that the village relies on. This year our guests joined the cherry harvest and worked amongst the cool shade of the orchards helping our friend Ahmet bring in the crop.

July – High summer and high hopes

It’s high summer and day time trips are confined to brief visits to Selcuk for the Saturday market and to show guests the kilim and carpet sellers in the town.

Sunsets are beautiful and lingering at this time of year and when we walk the dogs along the valley edge at dusk the light changes colour second by second.

This June we finally made our minds up to stay in Turkey and we started to think about expanding what we own here and started looking for an additional house to buy, it will take ages, it always does, because what we like is rare, but it’s fun searching.

August – Seasons in the sun

It’s August and everything in the village kitchen gardens comes into season at once, peppers are being strung and hung to dry and the last of the soft fruit, the plums, are given as gifts by generous neighbours.

The old men in the tea shop while away the hottest hours in the shade of the chestnut trees and given their age, indulge in some tea, whilst the rest of the villagers keep the Ramazan fast that fell in August this year.

September – Summers end

We see a cloud! But it doesn’t rain, just rumbling thunder and lightening flickering around the mountains. It is cooler though, and the lovely light of autumn makes photography easy and well if you have a fig you have to photograph it, there are worse ways to pass the time.

Late September the swallows gather on the phone lines outside the house, they leave at the end of the month, and every year they do one last spiralling circuit of the mosque to get their bearings before they head south. It always makes me sad to see them go.

October – Mellowing into Autumn

October in Kirazli is like living in an advert for apple pies. Early in the morning the valley is full of mist and the heavy dew that sometimes freezes in a tiny pocket of frost makes the last fruit on the trees glitter like Christmas. As the sun rises over the mountain it lights the last of the grapes on their rusty vines and warms the valley into the short days to come.

November – Harvest end

If you are prepared to run the gauntlet of the weather gods and wait until the very last minute then the prize is the biggest, sweetest grapes, grapes so massive the vine needed an epidural to produce them, grapes which are valuable and fought over by the buyers who wait at the teashop in the last days of the harvest in November. These grapes have had the benefit of every last sunbeam and it shows. But between one day and the next the harvest is done and any left on the vine when the rain comes and the frost blights are left to dry and crisp and crumble on the stalk, not worth picking. It is a gamble, but it’s worth it to the farmers who win.

December – Creeping shade

In the short days of December when the light leaves the valley too early Mr Evils, in a fine winter coat, decides he is after all a domestic cat and returns to slum it at home with staff for the winter duration.

The days are too quick, the sunsets quickly slipping from brilliant orange to midnight blue in minutes although the views of the stars and planets are fantastic, with Jupiter in the west and Venus in the east and my beloved Orion arched protectively over the village in the night.

It has been an amazing year, with some real highs; we had a brilliant and very long season with guests and met some lovely people, I am still overjoyed at getting a Literary Agent in October and Nick after three years of scouring Turkey finally found a bike he was prepared to buy, a Triumph Thunderbird.

2012 looks fun and exciting with lots of projects on and I think it’s going to go by even more quickly than 2011 did.

Happy New Year!