Nan and Nor, Published at last. Click on the image at the side

Written in the 1980s, Nan and Nor is based on two of the adults who helped bring Lil up in the privileged life that she was born into. Blending her memories in to a story of the old upstairs/downstairs world, but with a sensitivity to the real limitations that such lives had, Lil captures an emotional drama of love, hate and loyalty.

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click on image in side bar to buy

It starts with the death of the mistress of the house and a way of life comes to an end. And the two people who shared their lives for over 60 years, the housekeeper and the nanny, their animosity must reach some conclusion.  The tea sets, the evening dresses and dozens of handkerchiefs, all have to be sorted out. The kitchens must be emptied and the final staff pensioned off, no longer needed in a modern world.

Set from the late 1930’s to the late 1970’s, the author describes the world of those upstairs and those downstairs who shared the rigid hierarchy together. The beautiful nostalgic descriptions of a changing way of life hide the raw emotions of jealousy and love that bound the two women to their mistress and her house. A past world is described, as it changed after the second world war, and how those who lived through the changes adapted and survived. The book reaches its climax and the two women search for freedom as they pack away a past age.

Lil Butler cleverly catches the passing of time for the two women and describes the poetry of growing old, in all its indignations and beauty. This is a book about loyalties and class differences,  it is about hope and hopelessness, love and jealousy.

Nearly one year since Lil’s last novel appeared on Kindle, Lil’s editor (me) has edited and uploaded her third Novel. All her books will be available on Print on Demand, once I have mastered the technology. If you like Lil Butler, look out for my forthcoming rural noir series, set in the Yorkshire Dales. Published also by the Yorkshire Dales Press.

If you have a book you want to publish on Kindle and think it suits the Yorkshire Dales Press label, please let us know, We would love to help get your words out there too.

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How to insert a link from your WordPress blog to you book on Amazon, with a picture, so people can buy it.

Reading the internet shows a lot of us have struggled to get the live image of our books on to our blogs. I have already succeeded in doing this for my 2 other books, with lovely pictures of the book cover which link to Amazon. But I forgot how, again, and this time I struggled. Either I get HTML in a block, or I get just the text in a dreary blue. Both link nicely to Amazon, but there is no image.

So this blog is a very basic reminder, to me, how to insert the live link of our books on to our blogs. It is for those of us who rely on DIY webpages, but struggle with the level of knowledge occasionally.  It is for me, and others, so I we dont forget each time how on earth to do it!

Lets start with the basic. 

You have a book and successfully uploaded your book on to Amazon via POD or Kindle.  You can find it for sale easily and your page is live.  You must be clever if you even managed to inset the Table of Content successfully.

Join Amazon Associates (I forgot this even existed). This allows you to make money every time you sell an item from your blog. If you are on WordPress you cant be commercial but they will allow you to sell your books and other people’s books.

  1. Go in to your Amazon Associate account. Leave the tab open.
  2. On a new tab, Go into you blog and open a new widget called TEXT. (see below)

HOW ? Open your blog. In order to insert a link you have to find the right widget.  Forgotten how? Click on Appearances.  This lurks on the dash board some where like WP Admin (not settings, or plug ins, or import or any other of those tantalizing dead ends)  Click on WP Admin and scroll down until you see “Appearances”. Hover over this and a new menu appears, click on Widgets.  A new page opens in edit format. There are a lot of new widgets on the left, scroll down until you see one called “TEXT” which says it is for arbitrary HTML or text.  Click on it or drag and drop it to you right hand column.  My widgets are all in my primary header area, down on the right hand column of my blog. They can be dragged and dropped up and down the column. All my books are at the top. Open your new Text widget. There are 2 boxes. Fill in the box called “Title” with the name of your book and the words “click on the image” if you think your readers need a nudge. There is then an empty box below called Content.

  1. On your Amazon Associate page find your product and then click on “get link”.
  2. Choose “Image only” tab, copy and paste the HTML code in to your widget’s Content box. Press save. Check your blog page. Success?

HOW. Mine says welcome of Associate Central. And then offers a chance to “Get a product link”.  It all sounds so easy. Type your books name or ISBN in and search. When it comes up click on the yellow box which says “Get Link”.  4 tabs appear, they say “Image and text”, “Text only”, “Image only” and “Widget”. This is where people make mistakes. They click on the wrong tab. You must click on “Image only”  NOT “Image and Text” which would allow the price to show. This is commercial on a WordPress blog and not allowed. Scroll down and then copy the HTML code and paste it in to your “Content” section of the widget in your blog. Press save. You dont have to know any HTML to do this.

On your wordpress blog you will now have the image of your book which provides a live link to those who click on it. But no price will sully your non commercial page. It seems this is how others have solved the problem. Look at their blogs, it works. If you dont have wordpress blog, but your own page I presume the HTML on Amazon Associates tab,  “image and text”  would be what you want. But I am not sure until I do it.

I hope this helps. Fleur

TIP. I use the “short code” link found on the wordpress editing blog section, for twitter and facebook.  It is much shorter and links people to my blog first and then to my book.

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Lil ponders a walk with the over 80’s and Alzheimer’s group in the Yorkshire Dales

(For those who wish to see a photo of Lil, read to the end, where the photo is)

June had twisted her ankle, Margaret (there are two Margarets), didn’t like the rain. Betty and John were worried about the roads and weren’t coming; floods had occurred in Devon and Cornwall and although this was North Yorkshire, you never know.   Mary rang early to check conditions up with me, a mere 5 miles from her house.  “Was traffic going passed the bungalow?  No black ice? No trees down? And no floods”, I assured her all was well.   She bravely offered to pick me as we had organised the walk together.   It had been a rough night, the BBC had said so. Pamela, another regular had rung in to my bungalow to let us know her heating was off, a real menace for the over eighties, and she didn’t feel she could walk at all.  The logic and fears of the over 80’s was beginning to panic even me. The weather could be so overwhelming as we all sensibly assessed out own worlds and worked out what could be managed.

I clambered into Mary’s car, Mary is 89.   All went well if a trifle slow till we met some flood water straddling the road, about two inches deep.  Would we make it, what about underneath the car, would it rust?   I gave brisk reassurance and we made it before bravely crossing three more watery places where we slowed to a halt and crept through the muddy puddles.  Crossing the Nile had nothing on driving down a lane after heavy rainfall in Yorkshire and floods in Cornwall. After all the BBC is always right.  At last we arrived only to find another obstacle to be over come. A horse box, complete with horse, parked in our slot, the one we had used last time, the safe one. Signs all about us said we could park, no problem, so long as we kept off the grass.   Mary took to the grass as to the manor born and came slightly belligerent. I gently persuaded her off, there was much grinding of the gears, clutching of the wheel and finally we managed to park somewhat in the middle of a gravel lane. There was enough space to get by, it would do and I held my peace.

Then Doris and the other Margaret arrived.   According to Mary, Margaret was an only child, mighty spoilt and left several houses by indulgent maiden aunts.  She was rolling in it and had experienced never so much as a boo from a goose in her eighty odd years, let alone ever been told NO.  We gossiped as we slowly did the most important thing. Change out of the driving shoes in to the walking shoes. Somehow reaching ones toes became a drama in itself, they puffed and strained and finally made it, then there was the checking for gloves, woolly hats, whether to take their hand bags or hide them somewhere safe in the car, and keys, those small but vital items with a mind of their own.   At last, all was ready, my little group sallied forth.

The idea was, we would walk along a private drive, turn into a track through fields to a pretty bridge, and cross over the river. After that there is a delightful walk through woods and back to the cars.   But Mary was doubtful, Margaret was apt to slip on woody paths and the rain would make the path very slippy.  Margaret also had a way of walking very slowly in protest when unhappy,  anyway we should do the walk the other way round, so the difficult bit would be first.   I said nothing but seethed silently.  It was my walk, I’d introduced it to the group, I’d never done it the other way round.  Damn and blast these old trouts.   But I smiled and wished heavy rain to wash the old dears away.   We never made the wood, Margaret true to form, said she couldn’t make it, not in the rain.  Doris agreed but then Doris has spent the last twenty years agreeing with Margaret.   I can’t say we started off at a cracking pace, we shuffled off towards a cattle grid, but none of my little band did cattle grids, so we never even crossed the bridge.

Then there were the leaves, Doris knew someone who broke their ankle on leaves.  Margaret went one better, she knew someone who had collapsed and died on a leafy walk like this.   Mary and I walked on at a moderate pace and I heard all about her brother’s cancer, her water works and several other goulish tales of medical misshap.   The other two might have gone faster had they turned and walked backwards.   And there was mud.   Margaret didn’t do mud, her maiden aunts had never done mud, and she had spent her whole life fighting mud, and anyway and she had cleaned her boots, just before the walk.  Doris did do mud but didn’t let on, very sensibly.  Carefully avoiding the mud, on a metalled road, we chose safe subjects. It was cancer on the way out and waterworks on the way back and a trip, or rather several trips down memory lane.   The idea of Mary showing a leg in a car showroom in order to sell a Hillman Minx seemed a little far fetched, but there we are.   The rain changed from drizzle to a mild cats and dogs, we got back and headed for the pub.

The pub did baked potatoes, homemade soup, sandwiches and hot coffee with ridiculously small sachets of milk.   We moaned in a sufficiently focused way to get a proper jug of proper milk.  Margaret was useful at this, the rest of us would have kept quiet.  Over our lunch we discussed grandchildren, Margaret, who had never married, had strong opinions about the younger generation.   Their manners, their clothes, their sexual habits, rabbits, just like rabbits.   Doris agreed although her three sounded dull enough to satisfy the most pernickety grandmother.   Mary’s were alright too, but did she know of some others, who you know, had grandchildren who ….why her friend Gwen had one in prison, fancy that; and a good education, private, you know.   It was drugs!  I didn’t dare give a peep.

But goodness it’s important, these old women, all in their eighties, walk every week.   Not very far, about three miles is max.   They are fit and cantankerous, alert and still with plenty of opinions.   They might over react to weather and refuse to walk up hills, but they are still game.  I only hope someone will take me on the “Over 80’s and Alzheimer’s group walk” once I have passed the rubicon.

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Excerpt from Lils latest novel, Ruth and Caw.

april-26-2015-ulshaw-002RUTH AND CAW: Opening Chapter.

 There were four deep gold encrusted days of dappled warmth, dahlias and the gentle hand of autumn painting gold leaf on the trees.  Days of purple plums oozing juice for the lazy wasps.  Days of sweet satanic blackberries, tantalisingly protected by vicious thorns.  There were glorious smells of belly griping unripe apples, pendulous pears and one silly Lupin in the border like a guest on the wrong night.  It was the time of corn filled fields mowed by the harvesters leaving stubble, itchy and scratchy, a little late Pleasant Eye or two and Red Shank with the drop of Christ’s blood.  But the devil lay lurking with his own secret for these doom laden days.  That secret had been dragged, drenched, drowned and bloated from the shallows of the old pond. The vixen and her cubs, sensed danger and left a carcass of a young pheasant already heaving with maggots after the second day. The secret bobbed, stuck in the reeds as the end of the season approached.

The clumsy, sloshy big boots and the dragged tarpaulin wrapped body had crushed the undergrowth and the red ripe bryony could clamber out of the way.  Mind you, they were nice enough, specialists at their job, a nasty one, policemen endured to drowned corpses.  They joked, they had to, the corpses were too repellent not…………………… more available on Amazon Kindle soon

…………………..

If you would like to read more, contact bungalow lil and I and we will let you know the publication date.

After the success of Silver Spoons and Broken Wings, Lil’s new novel explores the passing of an age as the post war world changed in to the modern one we know today, and the two women caught up in these monumental but almost unnoticed social changes.

The death of the mistress of the house and a way of life comes to an end. The table napkins, the evening dresses and dozens of handkerchiefs, all have to be sorted out. The saucepans, fish knives and finger bowls, must go – somewhere.  And the two people who shared their lives for over 60 years, the housekeeper and the nanny, their animosity must reach some conclusion.

Set in the 1970’s the beautiful nostalgic descriptions of a past way of life hide the raw emotions of jealousy and love that bound the two women to their mistress and her house. The book reaches its climax and the two women search for freedom as they pack away a past age.

This is a book about loyalties and class differences, it is about hope and hopelessness, love and jealousy.

Contact Bungalow Lil and I for the publication date, or look out for the book on Amazon,

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Letter home from our guest editor and grandson of Bungalow lil. Working with European refugees.

George is the guest editor in today’s blog, describing his experience as a student, aged 22, helping out at “The Jungle” in Calais, France. This is an unofficial refugee camp on the other side of the sea from England.   It is where the people smugglers dump people before they then try by hiding in lorries crossing the channel, or find boats to enter Britain. What ever the politics of refugees, we are very proud of George. August 2016

Hi mum ,  Calais is going really well. Quite the experience and one I feel very fortunate to be having! I have been meeting people from Ehtiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, Afghaistan, Pakistan, Sudan and even one Jamaican. Not many Syrians, I think because many have already achieved asylum. bandeau-jungleThe conditions are quite dire. The refugees rely entirely on donations for their food, shelter and clothes, and the few charities that are working in the Jungle never have enough of anything. The Jungle, or Djangal which means a place where lots of different communities and people are all thrown together, is not recognised as a formal refugee camp. This means that none of the big charities are involved, no UNICEF, or Save The Children, or Medicine Sans Frontier. Just volunteer organisations like the one I am a working for called. L’Auberge Des Migrants.

The CRS, or the French immigration police, patrol the perimeter and have road stops on all the entrances. At night they chase the refugees who try to enter the port illegally, often firing tear gas at them or if they catch them beating them up. This means often we find refugees with twisted ankles, head injuries, bruises , broken bones etc.

I have been working in a vulnerabilities team and have been signposting those who are most vulnerable, women, children, LGBT, Ethnic minorities, those in need of immediate medical aid etc. The stories you hear and the things you see are quite overwhelming and particularly if it’s been a long day it can leave you feel very frustrated at the fact that there are now 8000 Refugees in camp and Britain, and France, are responding in a fairly disgusting manner.

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Today there is a court case brought by the local province against the restaurants in the Jungle. The outcome of which will decide whether 30 or so restaurants making up the main area of the high-street will be closed. This most likely means a violent eviction will occur. These have been known to turn quite violent, with fires and tear gas etc so if things are going down I’ll do my best to stay well clear of the Jungle that day.

We have our first day off today so have decided to head to Arras near Lille.  Love Gxxx

If any reader is interested in helping those in hardship, sending clothes or money  please look at the French charity . L’Auberge Des Migrants.  Or the British charity helprefugees.org.uk,  Sorry I cant remember how to do hyper links.

Notes: The court case mentioned in the blog went in favour of “The Jungle”. It said it was illegal to remove the eateries, which saved a lot of hardship

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Unedited blog by Lil, give it a go.

Here is an unedited blog by lil after months of silence. It made me laugh, but I am too tired to do anything to tidy it up as normal.  Lil writes well any way, but a bit existential.

I know, I know, I should by now be able to find a bloody book on this computer, but I can’t and I daren’t ask Fleur or Jasper, I don’t mind laughter but it’s the suggestion of advanced altzeimers that’s too near the knuckle.   Hello! I haven’t been near the blog for several months now.   I can’t claim to have been busy, quite the opposite, but  don’t say a word, I’ve been ‘resting’, that is to say I’ve been lying on my bed, with my shoes on in case someone comes to the door ( chance would be a fine thing), thinking.   No, that’s a lie, I’ve been lying there in a state of suspended gloom, made all the worse by that ghastly referendum.   Do you remember the cause of the first world war?   Princeps bopping off the heir to the Hapsburg throne in Saravego, well I see the Brexits triumph as the seed to a coming conflagration.   Well, there you are.   I’d like to write about my bowels but discretion isn’t my thing, all the same I had a camera shoved up my backside and I thought my gut looked rather pretty in a stalagmite sort of way.   Unlike others I know, I went to the nursing home last week and just as we were about to get into the taxi, someone who shall remain nameless decided they wanted the loo.   There is a limit how much one can dash in a wheel chair, we didn’t dash fast enough and everything, chair, every bit of clothing, the walls, floor and even his shoes were covered.   The taxi had to leave, the clean up took Three quarters of an hour and we missed our lunch, this little outing costs me over £100 once a month.   Why do I do it?  I have loved him twice, that stomach fluttering, fainting feeling that here is the only person in the world that matters, it didn’t last, it rarely does, but now he lives a life of such stupendous boredom and monotony, such indignity and denial of all stimulation I feel I have an obligation, not to him, but to myself, does that make sense?   Anyway, happier tidings, I’m off to see Mollie at the end of the month, at 99 she knows how to cheer me up.

 

Some of you remember the seventies, avacado and prawn cocktail, chicken a la last week’s Sunday paper, and choccy mousse.   My bungalow doesn’t sit more than five at a squash so itsy witsy dinner parties are out, but Malcolm has waved miracles over Polzeath and I intend taking a house party down there for a long weekend.   Those who can still walk will be invited to walk to Padstow for their lunch, a happy band I hope and the average age well into the sixties.   So I’m surfacing from the gloom, still not ready to start housework, I did change the sheets the other day – second time since Christmas but ssshh don’t tell Fleur.   The bath is a little scratchy and there are a few dead flies languishing, can you languish if you’re dead?   I’ve tidied my cupboards and thrown out elderly jerseys which will surface in Nigeria I suspect.   But life is definitely conspiring against me.   I was given a camera for South America, or was it Uzbekistan, anyway it was a cheap and cheerful little thing, however, it needs charging periodically and how do you get the photos out?   I seem to remember it requires the computer, now if I can’t get my writing out what hope have I get with a camera.   I thought I’d take photos of my bungalow and the garden which looks particularly lovely in a bashed down nettle kind of way.   I’m particularly proud of my rhubard with artichokes and a covering of campanula, my sweetpeas (grown from seed) are wilful and wringgle along the ground instead of shimmying up the bamboo canes, the perpetual spinach has been nibbled by slugs and the weeds are flourishing.   But the gate and fence are mended so the resident rabbit plus friends and relations can bugger off.

 

Three out of four of the screws keeping my office chair together have disappeared and the chair has become a health hazard.   I must relegate it to the garage en route to the tip and I’ve been using an upturned cardboard box for a table to put the telephone on, time to go to the auction for replacements.   I really enjoy auctions, the cheap ones where crap goes for a song and the auctioneer keeps up running repartee with his audience.   So there are good reasons for keeping out of bed, now I must try the computer again and struggle to unearth ‘Final Fling’ originally the name of a much beloved mare – the mother being fed to the hounds when the filly was weaned.   Anyway, this Final Fling is the story of a couple who have a passionate affair in an Old Folks Home, it’s rather jolly but a little short.   Oh there is so much to do but the call of the bed is still there and I might be dead in ten years time.   I’ve deliberately laid off using the dreaded word ‘depression’, but I am better, I promise.   Now to avoid speeding up, pacing the bedroom at three in the morning, and shrieking inappropriate jokes in public, whizzing through the days leaving a residue of embarrassment in my wake.   The excuse that I can’t help it has worn rather thin after 74 year

 

Oh! I forgot to mention my car broke down irrevocably and I’ve bought a new second hand one.   It’s black, french, I think, and I’m meant to be excited about it,   I’m not, there has been a plethora of paperwork, including notification for a new driving licence, you know the kind of thing.   You must send this back to the DVLA on one side followed by You must not send this back to the DVLA written on the reverse side.   I had great difficulty finding the wind screen wipers and drove back in the pouring rain without any.   Jasper’s fixed the radio

and Richard has filled me in on unidentifiable knobs so now I’m game for anything.   But this is just werbling along saying nothing.   I forgot, I’ve lost over a stone through Slimmers world and my trousers keep slipping down.   I never have a clue who reads this, but if you do, I wish you well.   LIL

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Jumpers.

Fleur writes about wearing jumpers and what is says about those who do.

As we sit in the snow in April, my husband and I, watching its cold downward journey onto the buds and grass of spring I realise we are turning into a parody of our selves.  Its our jumpers you see. They are the dead giveaway. We are a couple who wear jumpers in all seasons. Slightly shapeless, warm wool, patterned, knitted, in blues, browns, oat meal, beige and greys.  In our drawers we have brighter oranges, purple heather and steel blue jumpers with patterns to please any Nordic, Shetland, Fair isles or Highland convention. Our children are complimented on their retro Guernseys. Retro? They aren’t retro, they were knitted by their grandmother in the 70’s.  Although a few have been replaced at the cuffs and collars. In slightly different coloured wool of course.

The smart, together, focused world does not wear jumpers.  The young who visit are clean and have sharp lines.  They have neat houses and tidy gardens and go on holiday to successful places with neat and fresh faced parents. They still know how to grab the world by its horns.  They are so clear and focused. When it snows they turn the heating on. They dont just put on the extra jumper. They haven’t yet turned their backs on getting on in life. We on the other hand aspire to look like sheep. A curious aspiration.

I don’t even knit, yet when I see the TV sit com like the darkly comic Flowers, starring Olivia Colman, as she and her depressive husband become odder and odder till shunned by society.  Or look at the supposed “posh” couple on goggle box, not Steff and Dom who are rich, but the shabby looking pair with the green bamboo Laura Ashley wall paper, I see ourselves as well. Gently drifting rudderless among a pile of books as we disappear into our own minds. My husband lives mostly in the eighteenth century, while I am suddenly inspired by ancient classical civilisation in Turkey. We both work using our brains, professionals to the core but lifting a mirror up I spy the unwelcome jumpers, with egg stains I notice down the front. Do our friends look like us, I wonder, wooly sheep to the core, as I fight the rising tide of cardboard boxes in the sitting room, inherited clutter in the bedroom and endless dust of ages which enters the house. It all goes with the jumper look. We read, eat, garden and make love in a gloom of denial, in our cold and cluttered house, wearing jumpers. As the snow settles outside, at the end of April, we both go and put on another woollen layer. It is what The Jumper People do

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A short walk on the Lycian Way, Turkey

Gelidonya feneri, A walk towards the light house on the Lycian way.20160415 Lycian way, the end

 The light house 2 km away is one step too far and as 14 nimble goats, the group from Sheffield botanic gardens society, scurry up the tree lined track on our left, I with my poorly leg limp gently back on my own. Alone, solitary, single, by myself. Bliss

For the first time I hear humming, the warm noise of insects in the air as solitude and pine trees fill the sky. The path is stony but flat and the views down over the cliffs to the sea fill me up like wine. In the distance the snow on the slopes can be seen on hillsides falling down to the Mediterranean. 20160415 Coast near AdrasanNo real beaches, just mountain sides tumbling into the sea, with little towns and their poly tunnels of ratatouille glistening white against the slopes. With so little tourist development the tunnels go down to the few beaches, practical and agricultural with only a small bar for beer and fresh orange juice for any tourist.

A giant fennel, Ferula communis appears, tall with its yellow cow parsley tops, meters above me, then another, the path is lined suddenly now with the yellow umbrellas, a lizard leaps across my single path and I jump.20160415 Ferula communis, Large fennel  I have heard them rustling like terrorists in the shrubby growth, silent and unseen but now in my lonely walk they come and join me.  A large blue swallow tail butterfly, the size of a wren flutters by, landing on a rock and fluttering on wards, and tortoises come out and peer at me before scurrying back into the undergrowth.  A grinding, whirring, I hear a noise.

A terrible insulting noise! Who on earth has a radio that loud? It drifts across the bay from the village. Is it the village mosque calling the godly to prayer, No! There is nothing melodious about this raucous noise. Is it Erdogan making political speeches for all to hear.  But I remember, the prices of vegetables from the market so all farmers can know where the best prices are at which market. Cucumber prices in Antalya fill the air crackling and then falling away as aubergine take their place. Silence eventually falls again. The sky lifts up and solidifies into a helmet of blue, a heat beats down my path winds past rock now replacing pine trees. Even though it is April it is suddenly heavily hot, thick air hangs over the ground as my feet wade through the reflected heat bouncing off the road and hillside, till the pine forests reach out and embrace my skin with a cool soft caress.20160415 Pine forest on the Lycian way A series of navel worts, Umbelicus horizontalis despite being 12 inches tall, and Echiums take advantage of over hangs of rock above my head.  A wort, a cure for my navel. But what diseases of the navel are there I wonder?

I walk past the turning, a stony road past a camp site and a wc block of stark simplicity and reeking smell.  Looking for romance and beauty, like a love lorn teenager, my feet avoid the signs of humanity and head to a path, a secret path I had seen earlier down to the rocky shore line. A little path of the yellow spikey fleabane, Pallensis spinosa, 20160415 Pallensis spinosa, Spikey fleabaneand purple thistles and the blue bitumen flower playing in the glades of pine trees, holding on to the gentle slope down to the clear blue sea. It is so clear water turtles may be seen, I peer ecstatic between the branches dipping their fingers and dropping leaves into the blue, but in vain, I see nothing but shimmering rocks beneath the waters wet embrace. The shadows of an ancient ruined church in its sylvan glen down to the blue, blue of the Eastern Mediterranean leads the path on wards to Pirates bay.  The salt prickles my skin as it dries after a swim in the un sinking salty sea and I am no longer alone. Every person on the beach, all 5 of them speak on their phones, and my group turn up.  I can no longer hear the insects hum.20160415 Pirates bay 2

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Lycean Olympos,Turkey. True city of the Gods?

While Hittites lived inland and had no iron, the sea trading ports of Lycea grew. Cities populated by thousands living on trade off the agriculture bounty from the hinterland. So Persians invade, Alexander the Great passed and secured links and Persians came back and went. Cretian pirates took over, and fearing defeat burnt all their women and children in the Temple at Olympos, but Lycea, and so Olympos, slowly absorbed the Hellenic writing, and architecture but not political hegemony from the Greeks and later the Romans.20160413 Olympos Harbour front 2

The Lycean league, a league of city states along the Anatolian coast with richness and opulence.  Unlike the Greeks they did not war, and their systems were studied by the Americans 1000’s of years later for their own constitution. Pamphylia was larger than Olympos, but all writing suggest our city was still a city of beauty and wealth and richness. 20160413 Olympos main road to bridge with shopsIts tombs attest to the wealth of its trading citizens, in an age when corn, for armies to march on, grew like gold in the terraced hills and high plateaus behind the mountains.  One look at Bridge street, paved and lined with shops, shows how rich its market place was.Today the Turks have agriculture and water but long for oil, but back then they were the richest country in the known world.

Olympos, so small it has been largely ignored as historically insignificant is slowly coming out of the ground.  Its amphitheatre suggests a city of 5000, with continuous history of over 1000 years. It still has a bishops see in the catholic church, on paper at least. 20160413 Theatre entrance Olympos 2Vespasian came here, and Marcus Aurelius, Julius Caesar and the well travelled Hadrian. Records show it had the top ranking number of votes in the Lycean league of cities, three votes was the same as Pamphylia. And all writers spoke of its beauty and opulence, so was it all just from trading in wheat?

Imagine a city hidden between two rocky outcrops of rock where a river neck squeezes itself into the sea.  The big ships have to wait outside as barges enter between two narrow cliffs and castle defences. 20160413 Olympos roman to genose castle at mouthA traveller would see tall white limestone buildings all along the harbour front, built up alongside the river banks. A three span bridge arches over the river where the barges go under and then queue to load up from the grain stores.  The river is lower today than in ancient times, but the harbour front still runs long the lower river. The Agora is three stories high of glistening white, next to it the traveller can see the Temple of Nitto, the Lycean god, who later made way for the Greek pantheon. If they disembarked and walked over the bridge they could buy goods from the shops and go to the baths, all on paved streets of white. Listening to the debates of the town in the theatre a traveller could then pay respects to the dead, who were buried in tombs within the city walls, close to the business areas.20160413 Olympos Sarcophagus 2 Keeping ones ancestors close is so different to Greeks and Romans who bury them on the outside of their cities. Lycea is different, a syncretic mix of cultures and a place where emperors came to find the meaning of life.

For not only was it a glistening white city built on the wealth of wheat, and fantastically protected by its natural harbour walls of mountains and sea cliffs, but it was a religious city close to the home of the gods. Mount Olympos can be seen by any of the ships hanging majestically in the air at 8000 feet above the sea, of over 20 classical Olympus mountains though the city had a greater claim.  Sailors and philosophers, emperors and priests would sail and look at night, peering in to the dark hinterland of Lycea and see the amazing sight of the Chimera flames leaping of the mountain side just outside the city. 20160413 Cimera flames near Olympos 4Proof of a religious home for the gods near by. A dragon of course is imprisoned there, caught with the help of Pegasus and a hapless princeling. So rich were the philosophers of Olympos that their tombs were the best in town as the great and good visited to find out the meaning of life. 20160413 Lycean Tomb of Akestis the philosopherAlkestis died a wealthy man, which cant be said for many academics, even if he only passed on the gossip found in the great journey of the Aeneid.

So from the Lycean god Nitto, to the Hellenic choices and then Romans. No one invaded as the trading city shared its wealth and access to the power of the gods.  Signs of Mithrail and Zoroastrians from Persia, which was the cult of the roman legions, soon morphed in to the early Christianity, 20160413 Cimera Ancient church drawingsperhaps on its way to Constantinople rather than after the emperor’s decree.  The latest remains to be uncovered was not just the later bishops palace and church, but a full cathedral complex of the early 4th century, the largest in Christendom.  20160413 olympus Byzantine cathedral, biggest in worldThe power of god was still strong in Olympos despite the decline in the city. The bridge no longer lead to a gleaming theatre and Vespasion’s baths as pirates and trade declined and that half of the city was abandoned.  But the city a traveller would find was still impressive, impressive enough the Genoese to invest in defending it as a wealthy trading post till abandoned in the mid 16th century.

With God and mammon on its side Olympos is being rediscovered as an important early Christian sight, important Roman/Hellenic sight, and the religious center of the Lycean league of cities.

We leave from the beach to visit the flames on the Chimera, but I see behind me a renaissance painting of a ship waiting outside a harbour.20160413 Olympos Harbour front In the distance part ruins of white buildings lie along side a river teeming with barges. Men in robes with writing equipment count the barges, load the goods and haggle in the Agora, gleaming in the sun while the other temples have people at prayer, taking their offerings.  Craggy cliffs and creeping twines hang above the city just waiting patiently to silently re invade once God and Mammon sleep. I have seen the painting, but cant quite remember where.

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Flowers of the Lycean Coast, Turkey

I have fallen for Artedia Squamata, a member of the umbelliferous family but known as The Madonna Flower by her friends. A posh cow parsely if ever there was one. I look greedily for ripe seeds of this white disc of lace with a little purple umbel in the middle, but to no avail. A quick search on the web comes up with a mention in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Jordan, and a lovely gardening book from 1807 which says I will struggle to get the seeds ripe enough so must sow the flower in autumn to give it a head start. But it hates the cold and doesn’t like root disturbance. I realise sadly why it is not in general cultivation.20160412 Artedia squamata, Madonna Flower 2

But other plants are more romantic. The Carob Tree, Ceratium siliqua, has biblical stories. Also known as the locust tree, perhaps this is what John the Baptist actually lived off in the dessert instead of the literal honey and locusts. The crown of thorns, so spikey it is used to keep goats off gardens as well as on Jesus’s head, the tares of the fields for those farmers who did not till their land properly, definitely a member of the vetch family, Vicia tetrasperma.20160412 Psoralea bituminosa, Bitumen plant

Less biblical but as thorny is the Grasping Lawyer whose spines grab and never let go, a form of wild bryony, and the bitumen plant,
whose smell of tar follows us down the paths through the pine forests down to the cliffs and the sea. Its name Psoralea bituminosa suggests it was used for psoriasis as well.

The orchids vie with the tortoise for attention, with oohs and ahhs as we stand and look at plants pretending to be bees while the tortoises pretend to be boulders, grumpily staring back at us as we disturb their searches for a mate. 20160412 Ophrys oestrifera, Bee Orchid 35 creatures today but all looked rather chilly after yesterday’s rain. The bee orchids on the other hand were out in abundance, all with different markings. 20160412 Orchis sancta, Bishops beard orchid 2And as for the Bishops beard Orchid, Orchis sancta. I just love its beard.

We eat wild peas, Pisum sativum, as we wander further towards the sea.But the names, it is always the names, why is the tiny little Legousia speculum-veneris known as Venus’s looking glass, a pretty little campanula but hardly exotic.  Vipers bugloss in its blue borgainaceae family group, or the hounds tongue, Cynoglossum. Golden drops, the yellow borage plant or the greater madder, actually a close relative of the goose grass.  Officinalis in names means the Romans sold them officially in shops for herbal and medicinal properties, and so they could be officially taxed.

But perhaps the oddest of tales behind a plant is the Mandrake, Mandragora autumnalis, related to tomates, potatoes and deadly nightshade. It shreaks when harvested for its roots and strikes dead the person who hears, and its fruit look like green tomatoes but are all poison. Such an ugly fat rosette of leaf, but so mystical.20160412 Madragora autumnalis, Mandrake

So Turkey, here on the Anatolian coast, is a true abundance of flowers and verdant nature. The first rich country, with agriculture its wealth. Now it longs for oil and minerals, but its history shows how much wealth it had when the rest of us were still in furs and living hand to mouth. Tomorrow we look at civilisation.20160415 End of the Lycian way

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