Week 18

Three of our teams are now in Turkey, and there’s a certain poignancy to their being there this week, given what we’ve witnessed on the news. Though the fires are well to the south and west of the route of our Chaparda Challenge, still,  we know that when one part of a country suffers so badly the whole country carries the pain. So our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Turkey and in Greece and elsewhere who have had such devastating fires to deal  with these past weeks.

Harvesting apples at Bağdan Tarım

Even if there are no fires I imagine the heat is pretty intense for our wee monkeys this week, as they make their way through the flat dry region of northern Turkey. It’s well known for being the orchard or garden of the country, and if you’d like to take your mind off the heat and see a working farm you may enjoy the nearby  Bağdan Tarım Orchard, which grows lots of apples! Among other varieties you can find there are Granny Smith’s and Golden Delicious, so that might be a wee taste of home for you all! No doubt they’ll do a nice chilled cider as well, if you ask nicely!

if you want to see something of your terrain then you may like to see this video – it features Terzili Göleti, which is a fishing lake pretty much right where you’ve stopped for tonight. No doubt you’ll not sit through the whole 10 minute video but flick through it and  you’ll see the landscape you’re walking through and also something of the reality of what the hot climate does to vital water sources.

Çamlıca Mosque

Quite the opposite of the country life, the snow leopards are living it up in Istanbul. Tonight they find themselves in the southern part of the city, in what is called the Asian side. It’s a mix of the historic and the new – there’s a 19th century Turkish bath, lots of shopping malls, but the highlight, and only moments away from where you’ve stopped tonight, is the Çamlıca Mosque, the largest Mosque in Turkey ans surely one of the most impressive religious buildings you’re ever likely to see.

Thank goodness the snow leopards ended up in this part of Istanbul and not a couple of miles to the north, on the European side of the city – true, you might have enjoyed a trip to Marks & Spencer (I kid you not) but you’d have to go into Trump Tower to find it!! Good grief…! And by the way, don’t try to Google ‘Marks & Spencer Turkey‘ unless you want to, you know, buy turkey!

Anyway, the snow leopards are well and truly in Asia now so congratulations to them.


Further to the south the peacocks are in the mountains, so hopefully enjoying a bit of cooler weather than the others. They’re close to the fascinating city of Amasya, ancient and beautiful, famous for it’s castle, the ornate tombs hewn into the cliffside and the city museum.

Mummies are the main attraction of this museum, and to be precise, a collection of mummies dating from the 14th-century İlkhan period. The bodies were mummified without removing the organs. The Lonely Planet Guide Book helpfully tells us that “they’re not very suitable for squeamish or young eyes”. Looking at the photograph I think I could have worked that our for myself!!

Anyway, Amasya looks like an amazing city to visit and maybe to hang out in for a while to avoid the heat of the valley. Knowing our peacocks, though, they’ll not be sticking around!

The tigers are also in a city tonight, the city of Sankt Pölten, close to Vienna. Sankt Pölten, I’ve discovered, is twinned with the city of Wuhan in China, a union no doubt sealed long before Covid 19 made Wuhan a household name for all the wrong reasons. The things you can find out on Google! And for those who like trivia, Wuhan is also twinned with Manchester!

Ray’s Food Truck

In Sankt Pölten, the tigers find themselves in the oldest documented city in Austria, and it’s got remarkable Baroque architecture but it’s also a shrine to modern futuristic design. The old and the new. The tigers always seem to stumble into the high culture. This week, apart from the baroque glories surrounding them, they could choose not one but three different castes to visit close by: there’s Schloss Totzenbach, Schloss Kreisbach and Schloss Goldegg (though it’s now a golf club!). If you just want a good cheap Austrian meal (we’ll ignore the tofu!) and an early night then maybe the other end of the culture spectrum is for you – Guten appetit, as they say in Austria!

So the end of week 18, and a pretty energetic one it was. By their collective hard work our teams have covered an amazing 556 miles this week – fabulous! And a special word to acknowledge hard work of another kind, taken on by Barbara Robinson, who has now got everything in place for World Medicine to begin its new ‘Refugee Friends’ acupuncture clinic in partnership with the Jesuit Refugee Service in London. Barbara has written a lovely blog to accompany the opening, so please read it, and pass on her details to anyone you think might be able to volunteer for the project. Thanks, Barbara, for such hard work to get this off the ground.

And thanks everyone, for another good week. Sorry to say nothing was added to our fundraising this week so an extra push on that score during the week ahead if you can.

Amir writes: “A free afternoon ambling around East London and the now very corporate Canary Wharf. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos whilst actually walking. Thankfully, the train home provided the perfect frame to get a quick snap!”

A final word of thanks to Amir for what I would call ‘photo of the week’ posted on the Chaparda Challenge Mission Page – wonderful! (Click this or any  image to enlarge, by the way…)

Our coffee morning is on Saturday – details will will be published on the WhatsApp group shortly I think.

Have a great week.