Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Simple Things

Sometimes it's the simple things about living away from Ireland that trip me up. I just filled in an application form to be sent to Ireland and the last thing on the list of necessary items was a self-addressed stamped envelope. This presented a slight problem but being busy with the more important items to arrange I didn't think much about it.

I can't send an envelope with Turkish stamps on it, so I looked for an alternative.

Could I order stamps from An Post, the Irish post office? It can't be done online, but I could print a form, post it over with the credit card details, and wait patiently for them to send my stamps over. Apart from the fact that I'd have to order a large batch of stamps, it sounded good. Except the closing date for my application may have come and gone by the time they arrived. Postage time to and from Ireland is good (most of the time) but it would too much of a risk.

International Reply Coupons sounded like they'd fit the bill. Issued by the Universal Postal Union since 1906, they can be exchanged in any member country for stamps. Perfect. I checked with An Post, and each one can be exchanged for 82 c of stamps (interestingly you can't buy IRC's in Ireland). I checked the PTT, the Turkish post office, online and they were listed for sale for about 2 tl. I asked my Mam, who has access to a franking machine, what the postage would be and worked out how many IRC's I'd need. Great I was all set.

Until I went to my local post office, who looked at me with wonder and bewilderment as I explained what an IRC was. There was an exchange of glances among the staff before they said they'd never heard of them and didn't sell them. Typical....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Foreign Festivities

Take any holiday of whatever persuasion;
Turkish, Irish, religious or not,
Even birthdays or weddings inclusive,
Consider all as available.

First is the food; there are norms,
Unmissable treats for each day,
Turkey or trifle, helva or sarma,
Make each with whatever’s available.

Second is tradition; what should be done,
Each holiday has its demands.
Parades or prayers, family visits or rituals,
Each observed with whatever’s available.

Third is enjoyment: these are celebrations!
And each has a special appeal.
Decorations or dances, playacting or music,
Each played with whatever’s available.

Fourth is the atmosphere; that elusive goal.
It grows best with numbers of revelers.
Solemn or silly, formal or fun,
It relies not on whatever’s available.

The result is soon over, with little regard
For the effort of all those involved.
Tradition true, or hollow pretense?
That depends on whoever’s available.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From the Ashes

Last week we visited the scene of last July's forest fire. Here's the view from Karanlik Limani at the southern end of Guzelyali. The slope used to be covered with pines.

Here's the view from above Turgutreis Tabyasi, the WWI cannons that used to be hidden in forest. The road is the Izmir road as it rises on the way to Intepe and used to be hidden among the trees as the whole area was forested.

Here's the lower cannon, looking exposed.

A wider view shows the edge of the fire damage.

Looking up to the wind turbines at the top of the ridge.

Logs stacked for transport.

The newly exposed view over Guzelyali, across the Dardanelles to the Abide monument at the tip of the Gallipolli Peninsula.
And a newly-planted sapling...