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PHOTO: Jack, Sue’s brother stands on the jetty at Princess Royal Harbour, before boarding the ferry  with Suzie’s ashes.
(Photographer: Mike Adlam, family friend)

Well, one year has passed since Suzie, our Aussie-in-Bulgaria died.

The sadness remains; however, the pain of loss is subsiding, albeit only incrementally.

I was unable to bring myself to post the promised account of the Albany Farewell in May 2012. As the pain heals, I can now give the promised account.

It was an occasion of mixed emotions. About 250 people attended, and many travelled long distances to be present. The local Member of Parliament, the Hon. Peter Watson  read the official eulogy and others read their farewell messages.

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PHOTO: Hon Peter Watson reads the eulogy at Suzie’s farewell.
(Photo: Ari Petursson, Sue’s Brother-in-Law)

There was sadness and contemplation amongst the crowd:

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(Photo: Ari Petursson)

And of course as people regaled us with stories of Suzie’s full and adventurous life, there was much laughter.

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(Photo: Ari Petursson)

Sue’s immediate family then boarded a ferry to go out into Princess Royal Harbour, and following Sue’s wishes, we scattered her ashes, with rose petals and sprigs of Rosemary and other flowers.

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PHOTO: The ferry takes Suzie’s family out into the harbour to scatter a third of her ashes as she wished.
(Photo: Ari Petursson)

When we returned to the Quarantine Station, the venue for the Celebration of Suzie’s life, there was ample opportunity to revel in her fun life. There was a 354-slide Powerpoint presentation running continuously, and Suzie’s library of photo Albums was available to peruse. Most of the photos were of parties, and people having a lot of fun with the Queen of Welcomes, Suzie.  Her sister, Marie prepared a Montage Board telling the story of Sue’s life:

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(Photo: Ari Petursson)

Many people from Suzie’s past offered photos to be displayed, and this one of her taking photography seriously at a VERY early age tells its own story:

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PHOTO: Suzie taking photos at about 10 years of age ( that’e her with the camera!).
(Photo: Mr Eric Harley).

Although a celebration of a life well- and fully-lived, it was a sad occasion for which most of Sue’s family came together (some were overseas).  She would have loved the event, and I am sure would have been the last to leave… .

A quaggle of Quigleys 5 May 2012 - Copy

PHOTO: Suzie’s immediate family gather together to say”Goodbye”.
(Photo; Liza Gallen [Mercer], Sue’s niece.)

We celebrated with wine and fabulous food, listened to her prolific Library of music, cried, laughed, caught up with old and dear friends who cared for her. It was a Big send-off for a Big Goirl who had a Big Presence in our lives!

The main message at her fabulous farewell, was that  she showed us how important it was to take our fear in hand and go and Just Do It! Follow our dreams as she did hers.

Her legacy lives on with sweet memories and just a few drinks being enjoyed around the World by those who cared for her and loved her.

She rests in peace.
🙂

PS: I have just discovered and uploaded 27 messages from last year of which I was unaware. They are now inserted in the various posts to which they relate.

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St. Pat's Day

I realise that I’m a couple of weeks late getting these up, but I’ve been a very busy woman…..and I’ll tell you all about that soon.

This St. Pat’s Day, my housemate, Sue, suggested we pop  into the Geraldton Irish Club for a couple of light beverages to celebrate and you know what ?  It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, this is one day where you’re guaranteed to see something a little bizarre and often very funny…

On a day when I chose to leave the house without my camera, one of the sights I saw when I walked into the club was what I figured to be a lady of some advanced years dressed up in a classic St.Pat’s day getup.

Oh how I wanted a picture of her…

Marchelle, from the local newspaper was there with her camera talking pictures for the paper.  I asked her if she could take one of me and this cracking woman. I was told that she wasn’t very keen on being photographed but I polished up my silver tongue and here we are:

sue1 th     sue2 th

I asked her how old she was and she told me proudly “83” and all I could say was that I wanted to be like her when ( and if) I ever got to that age.  Imagine being feisty enough to stand in front of a mirror at 83 years of age in a bizarre fancy dress and thinking

“that looks just fine and I’m off to the club ! ”  and she looked like she was having the best time to boot…

And lets not forget the most ‘Irish’ looking guy in the club that night

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This was a guy from Asia, married to an Irish woman and living in Australia….ah, yes, the great melting pot in which we live…and he also, was having a terrific time celebrating St.Pat’s Day….

I wonder where I’ll be next year ???  In fact, I’m pretty sure I know and I’ll be writing a little about that tomorrow…

for now,  leka nosht

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School Reunion 2010

On the March long weekend, I was lucky enough and privileged enough to attend a gathering of a fairly large group of people with whom I attended school, way back when. We’re the Ol’ 55s…born in1955 and turning 55 this year. We were even lucky enough to have our old headmaster, Arthur Richards, along for the weekend…he started at Albany Senior High School the same year we did, 1968, and he’s now an extremely hale and hearty 88 year old.  But you know what they say: 88 is the new 78, and he certainly doesn’t look 88.  Mind you, if that’s the case, then 55 must be the new 45 and I have to say, we all looked pretty damned good.

It was a wonderful reunion and a terrific weekend…there’s so much more I’d like to say about it but time and circumstances mean I just have to make this a rather large pictorial journey…

I got to make the welcoming speech and a friend suggested I put that up here as well…so I will.

So, here we go…

” I guess the first thing I need to do is to say a very big welcome to you all. It’s a welcome back for the brave souls who took the leap in 1992 and a special welcome to everyone who’s taken the step this time.

I’ve never been one for reunions…. I was asked years ago if I’d ever attend one if someone organized it and my answer was a resounding ‘NO’.  Why would I…I didn’t like school…I wasn’t very good at it and when I’m not good at something, I tend to avoid it like the plague.    So it really was somewhat ironic that I ended up organizing the first one in 1992…and that was thanks to our very own Shirley Parer.  It had been discussed, vaguely, as she has made one attempt to get one organised, but life, family, children etc, got in the way and it was put on the back burner. Would I be interested in picking up where she left off?  Not really…but before I could say no, she flung a rather large envelope at me and said ‘this is where I’ve got with the organising’…and promptly ran away…

I stared at it for many months, trying to muster a little interest and eventually, my curiousity won the day…..

And what an experience that turned out to be… a lot of memories were ignited.  I laughed when I remembered some of the funny times and felt a great sadness for those who hadn’t even made it as far as 36 years old….I started to realize just how lucky my life had been and it sparked something in me that made me very determined not to waste the rest of it and to stop saying ‘ I should…’ and ‘I wish I…’

The reunion was terrific but I never settled down after that and just 6 years later, I was living a new life in Scotland and seven years after that, another new life in Bulgaria.

As I was leaving Australia, I handed that same envelope, albeit a little larger, over the Ann Maria Ladergaard…she was always saying we should have another one, so I told her it was up to her as I wouldn’t be here….

I waited for the email to tell me that reunion mark 2 was happening… not a whisper.

I had to wait until I returned here to Australia ten years later….

and one day, there it was, the email I’d been waiting for informing me that the seed had been planted …all it needed was someone to nurture it and feed it, and reunion number 2 would happen….Oh, and by the way, was I interested in helping organize it…

As I was writing a book at the time and had already turned my thoughts back to returning home to Bulgaria, I politely declined, but thankfully, Shirley was not deterred. She took that seed of an idea and  watered it, fed it and tonight all the care she has given it, has come to fruition……the tree has blossomed…and here we are.  AND I asked if she could get it happening before I headed home, and she hasn’t disappointed me…..

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since school and since the last reunion…we’ve all had our share of joy and our share of sorrow. Some of us have buried partners, lovers, soul mates and some tragically have had to say goodbye to their children…more than one of us has woken up one day, looked at the person sleeping next to us and asked the question’ who is the person and why am I in bed with them?’ and for better or worse, got up out of that bed and walked away to a new life, perhaps new relationships or perhaps just some time alone…

And there are some of us here who are literally fighting for their lives….and some who can’t be here because they have lost that fight…

If there’s nothing else in the world that should inspire us to embrace our life with gusto and live it with passion, then this should be it… we’re all here, now… we have great hopes and optimism for the rest of our lives…let’s not waste it.

I’ve got some toasting and thank yous to do, but before I move on to that there’s a little something else I’d like to say…

There used to be an old fella here in Albany called Harry Riggs…..Harry knew my father when he was alive and used to pop in and visit me at the ABC and have a bit of a yarn.  One day he asked me how old I was. I did that silly thing that we are all inclined to do and told him that women never discuss their age. He wagged his large farmer’s hands index finger at me and said ‘listen to me girlie…” and yes, he was the only man on the planet who got away with calling me girlie…’you should celebrate every day and every birthday like it’s your last…because one day it will be’ and that has become my life philosophy… perhaps there’s a little something in that for all of us. “

OK, let’s start with where the main reunion gathering was held. One of our old schoolies, Rob Lucas, and his very hard working wife Jo,  run Camp Quaranup in Albany and the decision was made to gather there….and what a place to gather:

Quaranup6 Quaranup1Quaranup4

Here are some of the folk I managed to photograph before I had too much wine 🙂

Sandy  John G  Me   Lesley P Sandy Shirley  Gary  LesleyShirley   Di  2 Deb P   Lesley P 3Brian Lange   Martin RodgersBrendan DeeringAnne Reitze   Maja LAnn MarieGrant WesthorpeGeorge Franey  Peter GreenGeoff P  Sandy D   Rod GilliesFred Orzel2Geoff   Coleen PageElaine GilchristDoug Monk    Bradley3Di WilkieKelvin Stevens   Rod CaseyKris BergsmaJohn GJo Lynch  Brian B   NodJeff Grey and L WellmanJeff CarterIan   Group2Mike Tugwell   Brendan DeeringMichael GendersMike Duckett   Ainslie BarkerMichael DuckettMichael Lassock   Robin DavidsonMartin rodgers2Loren  Lari   KelvinLorraine NaylorLorraine  Ron Wright   Brian BDi W EatingMaxine Spencer   Denise CallowPeter GreenRita Vuko   Fred HaemerRita Vukos  2 Quaranup group  2 Peter   Bing YoungLeanne Bevan  Rod Gillies   Arthur RichardsLesley P   Rhonda PeakallPenny JagoMoya Smyth  Kelvin Stevens  Polly   Bill CurranMurphy  Shirley   Bill C 2Peter Bolt  maja LPeter Bolt   Dave MurphySandy DSandy D   Glenda LSAndy   SHirleyRuth Oldham  2 Sandy   Geoff PulsRuth OldhamRosie LallyRobin DavidsonRobin WoodcraftRobin Woodcraft   Trevor EastcottWarren GeorgeTrevor Eastcott   WifeRob Lucas   Robin StoneyRob Lucas  2

And then, as always after too much fun, there was the morning after.  Jo Lucas provided the perfect breakfast for a gang of old and bold after a big night out:

Quaranup   Breakfast2Quaranup   Breakfast4Quaranup   Breakfast6

A few contemplative moments on the verandahs gazing across at Albany:

quaranup   morning after4quaranup   morning after5quaranup   morning after

And then it was time to return to the real world…

Sandy   It s over

It was interesting, it was extremely enjoyable , it was fabulous…and we must do it again before it’s all floral frocks, harry high pants and mobility scooters…

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Goats in the where ????

And so as I go about my day to day business here at Tallering Peak, I’m still astounded by some of the strange encounters that happen on the job.

Today the girls and I walked into one of the laundrys to clean it and look what we found…

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Shit I laughed…he was a fine looking specimen and not the slightest bit perturbed by our arrival.  I’d already chased him off when he came to check us out when we were cleaning one of the rooms, but do you think we could get him out of the bloody laundry ??  not a chance in hell… so we let him be and went about our business. I think  he was just enjoying a little cool spot on a very hot day….43 degrees and rising today.

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I really am enjoying it out here  🙂

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And so it came to pass…

It’s been almost two years since I left Bulgaria to spend a couple of months in Australia regrouping and restoring my spirit, which had been knocked out of me somewhat. Thanks to the economic crash, I’m still here…but that’s all about to change.

When I realised I would have to stay longer than a few months, I decided to try and get work in the mines…Western Australia was going through a mining boom and I figured I must be able to get something. Sadly, the recession put paid to that idea.  I was offered a job with the National Broadcaster, so I spent 18 months as the manager and breakfast presenter at the ABC in Geraldton, but even though I had a terrific staff and enjoyed the Geraldton part of it, dealing with the idiots in Perth was just about more than I could stand.  I used to work for them before I left Australia in 1998 and should have known better than to go back.  It was worse than the first time and it was with great relief that I bolted out the door just before Christmas. And then the mining kicked off again here and I got that job that I’d wanted since arriving back in Australia in 2008..

I’m a cleaner in the camp of an iron ore mine at a place called Tallering Peak, about 157 Ks from Geraldton, or as a friend of mine described it, ‘the back of buggery’…… and here’s the road that gets you there…

Back of Buggery

The mining operation is basically taking the  back out of Tallering Peak…

here’s the front: Tallering Peak Tallering Peak2

and here’s the back: P2011237 th P2011230 th

Apparently, it’s traditional aboriginal ground and the mining company isn’t permitted to flatten the mountain, so at the moment, it’s basically a ‘facade’…looks normal from the front and its being mined furiously around the back. !

It’s all very new to me and it’s been an experience getting around the place, seeing the sights and seeing a mine in operation ….and running into things like this: Haul pack

These haulpacs are HUGE and one of those tyres will cost you $35,000…but the old timers tell me they ones at this site aren’t even that big compared to some other bigger mine sites……I’d love to drive one and a lot of women are, but I don’t have enough time before I leave Australia again.

And speaking of big..the ore trucks that carry to crushed ore to the rail siding are damned huge as well. 53.5 metres long and bloody scary when you have to pass them on the highway.

One turned over the other day and when I came across the accident scene, there were eight of them lined up waiting for the rolled truck to be righted and the ore cleared up off the road…even passing them when standing still was an experience…

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It’s an interesting place to find myself and I guess like all mining camps, it’s a somewhat different way to live

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though it almost looks romantic by night…  🙂

Camp   nightfall

I can hardly believe just how much I’m enjoying things out here…I ‘m absolutely thriving. OK, the first week the temperatures reached 56 degrees centigrade …in the shade…down in the camp…which is always about 5 degrees cooler than the minesite….and I did have a few moments when I thought I really might end up a large oily spot on the floor, but I’ve adjusted very quickly and am now thoroughly enjoying every day.

And yes, I’m tired, but it’s so nice to be tired for a reason and not just emotionally drained from dealing with bureaucratic twats.

And the best thing is, I only work Monday to Friday, so I still have my weekends off.  It has to be said though, I go back to Geraldton on Friday night, have a few wines and sleep the night away. I relax Saturday and Sunday and then head back out to the camp on Sunday evening..so not the most exciting life but at least I have purpose now.  I’ve made the decision (finally) to return to Bulgaria….more about that later.

For now, I’m working with three great girls and we’re all on a mission to fill our bank accounts and then do something…travel, buy a house, or in my case go back to Bulgaria..whatever..but it is nice to work with people with purpose and focus.

workmates

We have a lot of fun and certainly meet some interesting characters on the verandahs….and that’s just the humans !!  the wildlife is even more exciting.

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These lizards (Bungarras) are all over the camp and as soon as the sun gets a little warmth in it, they emerge from under the donga’s, where they live, and start wandering around, catching a few rays and, if they’re lucky, find a rubbish bin to raid. When you get too close to them, they stand their ground and flick their very long, very dark blue tongue at you…just reminding you to keep your distance. And you have to watch out when they start running.  They move like lightening and will, apparently, run straight up the first tallish thing they see standing still…and that could be you !! 🙂

And it does make me laugh when I open my donga door in the morning to be greeted by a family of goats !!

goats th

Like the lizards, goats are everywhere out here.They try to keep them out of the mining area with fences etc, but they roam around in great numbers and it’s obviously a good paddock for them.  They’re very healthy and plump…..a good feed I reckon.

I’m not earning hundreds of thousands of dollars but I’m earning enough, and what have I got to spend my money on ?….nothing. All my accommodation, food, even flyspray and sunscreen is free.  I stood in the supermarket one day with my housemate in Geraldton and I said to her ‘ there must be SOMETHING I need to buy’, and there was….some deodorant….oh, and a little wine, but basically what I earn goes into the bank.  Just how it should be  🙂

Even though I am working very hard indeed and the work does make me tired, my energy levels are through the roof…if that makes sense. My old lady aches and pains have all but disappeared.  I work hard for nine hours a day, five days a week and I feel terrific..AND I’m starting to shed all that sedentary job weight that I’ve put on… the clanging sounds I hear as I work is the sound of the kilograms falling off me.

Clearly I’m a labourer at heart and posh, clean jobs just aren’t me scene.

So, this is where I am for the moment.  My plan is to return to Bulgaria in the next few months and get my house up and running again and get my dogs back where they belong….with me,  at St. Pirin 16, Miladinovtsi.

The guy who has employed me here is a terrific bloke and he’s been very good to me … I owe him some loyalty, and so will stay for a few months.  I’ll work hard, I’ll top up my savings and then it’s back home to Bulgaria for me.

I’ve had so much interest in Bulgaria from many people I’ve met here, that I’m going to crank up the Accommodation business again in my fantastic house and give it another go.  and in case you’ve forgotten what the house looks like, here’s a little reminder:

in summer – new parapet1

and in winter – The House th

enjoy the other pics…. they’re just a small slice of a very interesting life out at a minesite in a fascinating and interesting corner of Western Australia..and here’s a couple more for good measure…

residents artwork

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To my Bulgarian friends…I’ll see you soon.

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Before I finish my tale of my visit to Bulgaria I want to talk about a part of my time in Australia that I’ve failed to mention and that was possibly one of the most pleasant periods I’ve had here so far.

I was working for the Police and was technically homeless, and my brother,Tony and his wife, Enid were heading off for a month in Prague with their daughter Elizabath and her husband Gerry, and their two gorgeous grandchildren, Cianna and Kynan..and then a month in Canada salmon fishing with some friends of theirs. My being there was kinda convenient as it meant the house would be looked after and Carlo, the somewhat on the plump side, but most endearing cat would be fed and loved while they were absent for two months…and the added bonus to all of this ?? ….the view from Tony’s balcony

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and the terrific beach just a few hundred metres down the road…

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though only in Australia would you see a sign like this

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just a few hundred metres from a five star hotel

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Should keep the tourists on their toes 🙂

and let’s not forget the quintessential Aussie dog..the Blue Heeler
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This little bloke was just standing there quietly while his owner relaxed on the beach reading the Sunday papers….

It was a fabulous couple of months. I had plenty of family staying with me. My brother David and Virginia, his wife, spent a few weekends with me as they had had a house fire in Albany and a few shopping trips to Perth were called for to replace their things. I got to have a couple of really nice weekends with them and their kids, who sort of cruised in and out at their leisure…

I also had a couple of gatherings with friends…Hey, I had a great house with amazing views….you gotta share these things with others…would be selfish not to ! 🙂

Here’s the girls….

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And here’s the boys…..

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Could they be any more laid back 🙂

I really had a terrific couple of months there….Hey, I even got into bread baking while there
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but then it was time to go to Bulgaria and sort out that life and then return to Australia and start to prepare myself for the move to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the move to Geraldton to live for while in another completely different place…. but that’s another story….

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So, here I was in Australia, working, catching up with great friends and my fab family.

The work situation was sorted…I had tossed that fateful coin and the decision to take the radio job was made. I had a start date, but I knew there was one thing I needed to do before I started the new job.

I knew in my heart I needed to return to Bulgaria to see my good friends there…to see my gorgeous dogs and to decide what I should do with my house…….and to see how I felt about the country after the rather rotten time I had before I returned to Australia.

My sister Jillian had already planned to visit me in BG and so I decided to return while she was there so I could show her a little more of the country than she saw on her first visit. It was the depths of winter when she visited in 2005 and, though she saw more snow than she could poke a stick at and some lovely winter wonderland scenes, she didn’t really see Bulgaria in all it’s glory…

So. plans were made, tickets were booked and on August third I flew into Istanbul on my way home….or is it ??

Jillian had flown in a few hours before me, so once I arrived and refreshed myself a little, we headed out to experience a little of Istanbul.

With the help of a friend here in Oz, I had got us into a really beaut little hotel slap bang in the middle of the old part of the city, the Sultanamet area. It was a great spot to be and it’s a very beautiful part of the city…..

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Look at this for a breakfast view…..

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And the mosques and buildings were really very beautiful

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And I loved the three and four storey weatherboard buildings that dotted the area

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Jillian wanted to do a wee bit of shopping, so I took a photo stroll around and got a few pics of some of those lovely bits of Sultanamet….. and of my sister, of course 🙂

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The next morning we were up early for the bus to Erdine. We were to be picked up there by the lovely Dimitor and transported through to Miladinovtsi. We had a bit of a wait at Erdine and decided to have a coffee. Wandering around our feet were these two little cuties…though I suspect they were for the pot once they had gained a little more weight

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We boarded the bus at lunch time and then hit the road. Gee, I felt so nervous…I guess I knew there were expats in Miladinovtsi who had caused me so much distress before I left, and according to some, were still indulging in malicious gossip while I was away, and the thought of seeing any of them made me feel a little sick, to be quite honest. I was filled with trepidation…..

And I also knew that this was crunch time…I was either going to hate being back in Bulgaria or love it.

Well, as we came over the hill into the village and I saw my house, a lot of my apprehension vanished, and when we pulled up out the front and Jillian stepped up and opened the front door…and I saw just how beautiful the place was, what a fantastic job Ivan had made of turning my ideas into a reality, I knew that Miladinovtsi and the Big House was where I belong.

Sue and Aisha had left the place in good shape and when I headed out to my vehicle, I found they had also left that sparkling….and I thank them for doing that for me and for looking after the house while I was away.

Jillian had only seen the house pre Ivan and there was a lot of Oooo-ing and Ahhh-ing ringing out around the place as she took a tour. Her reaction was important to me and I reckoned if she thought it was a good job, then it was a good job…as far as I was concerned, her positive response was a vote towards me returning to BG.

I had become so despondent before I left BG, that I think I had lost sight of just how amazing the house is and what a huge difference the work I’ve had done has made. Walking back into it was a very good experience for me….very positive.

Anyway…the next most important task was my fat bottomed girls.

I rang Maria (my vet) and organised a time to meet a the kennels. I was sooooo excited about seeing them again…you have no idea.

It was so good to see Maria again and it was so, so good to see the dogs…..and look at the size of them !!! these girls are just eight months old and still have a fair bit of growing to go.

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And look at my lovely Gina…doesn’t she look fantastic.

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She was vaguely suspicious about my sudden appearance and all of them were a little reluctant to leave the kennels and get into the car. Who can blame them…I’d left them for four months, and the kennels and the people who had looked after them there, including Maria and her family, had become the important people in the dogs lives.

Even though Maria is now the owner of Rosa, she decided the dogs should all be together as a family for the few days I was in town, which was very kind of her, and I think time with her mother and sister was really exciting for her…they were like a bunch of kids, even Gina. 🙂

We got them all in the car eventually and talk about a car FULL of dogs…..jesus !! There wasn’t much space left once they were all settled in, but they were all on board and off to Miladinovtsi we headed…

Again, on arrival they were a little wary…not sure what was going on, but again, once they got back amongst familiar smells and sights, they proceeded to play….and play…and play…and play. Not only are they huge for their age, but they seem to have endless energy…..

I had such a wonderful time with them. After a few days, Gina reclaimed her position in the house and got very settled indeed..and this is where my heart got broken again. When it came time for me to leave, she knew. She started following me around the house and hanging around my suitcase, checking the contents and giving me whithering looks as I put more bits and pieces in it. She just looked hangdog for the last 24 hours or so and I could hardly stop crying….

I love Mia, but I adore Gina…she’s my mate and best girl and I still feel an overwhelming sense of guilt when I think about deserting her….I just couldn’t bring myself to give them up completely, but maybe this is something I have to face in the near future. I can’t seem to make up my mind where I want to be, and that’s not fair on the dogs.

And their future ??? well, Rosa’s is in place. She has the best owner she could have in Maria and for now, the other two are being looked after by a friend of Maria’s. It’s the best possible arrangement, because if I return to Bulgaria I can have Gina and Mia back, on the condition that the guy can put his male Karakachan over her next year and he keeps the pups, and if I don’t return, I will either ship them out here to Australia….or wherever I decide to settle….or he can keep both dogs for himself. I’m bloody lucky, aren’t I ….things just seem to be falling into place for me, not matter which way I turn.

I have loads more to tell about my visit. We crammed an awful lot into eight days… Jillian and I had a beaut time and I have so much to tell about the village, the villagers, Ivan, days out with Christina and an old friend that I had lost contact with, Stefka, Stefka’s daughter and her amazing art.. Take a look at this http://www.inatrifonova.com

there’s stories, there’s pictures and I’ll be back with all that and more another day….

Right now, I have to make marmlade…and that’s ANOTHER story 🙂

bye for now

Mercer xxx

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I may not be able to sing one, but I have seen some of the most spectacular rainbows since I’ve been back here

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For some reason, the sight of them always fills my heart with hope..the sight of a double rainbow is even more inspiring to me…perhaps they are a harbinger of good things to come for me. And given that I saw these not long after I arrived back in Australia, and given the incredible upturn my life has taken, perhaps they are indeed my carriage of kismet, my pot of gold….

But I digress……

Some of the rainbow pictures came about because my friends, Sue & Gary, threw me into their car one day and announced I was being taken for a bit of a Sunday drive…Destination, New Norcia. This is an amazing little town about 90Ks north of Perth that was settled by Spanish monks a very long time ago. The buildings are spectacular and the Monastery is still in operation. The entire town belongs to the monks, which is probably the reason why developers have never been able to get in there and wreck the place, as developers do.

Anyway, the year after my dad died, 1969, my mother decided to take my sister Jillian and I on a bit of a trip up north of Western Australia. We stopped at New Norcia and spent the night at the hotel. When Sue And Gary said we were going there, I was quite excited and commented that the hotel had a beautiful staircase and that somewhere there is a photo of a 14 year old me standing on the stairs of the hotel.

When we arrived I wandered around to the front stairs, having a bit of a look around and seeing if I recognised anything. I certainly did and also realised that the name of the publican was the same as the name of a guy I used to work for back in the 80s, a fella called Rick Ryan. Rick was always very good to me and I was very fond of both him and his girlfriend, and later, wife, Jo. Could it be the same guy ?? My bloody oath it could. ! I went wandering through the hotel looking for someone to ask the question ‘ is this the same Rick Ryan that used to own the Premier hotel in Albany’ when I saw a very familiar visage coming towards me……not a lot different than 20 years ago, except he used to have dark hair…but then again, didn’t we all. 🙂

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It was so good to see him after all those years. He called Jo down and we had a lovely afternoon having lunch and chatting to them and catching up on 20 years.

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They are living in a very special place and it’s exactly where they deserve to be. They’ve worked so hard for many years and certainly had their good times and their bad. I was so happy to see them living in this wonderful environment running this fabulous hotel [photopress:DSC06393_th.jpg,full,pp_empty]

The only thing I didn’t do was get pictures of some of the other buildings, which is a shame because some of them are very beautiful, but I don’t mind ‘cos I got distracted by something that’s very important to me….friends. And I can always get back to New Norcia for a day/weekend and get all the pictures I want. I do know from talking to other friends and family that a weekend in the New Norcia hotel is well worth doing….

And while on the subject of friends that I haven’t seen for a while, the last time I saw these two was in Scotland…

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I got invited around to another friends place for a BBQ and Nige and Anna were over for Anna’s school reunion…perfect chance for a catch up…and we did.

Nige is a vet and he was over there helping through the foot and mouth epidemic and Anna joined him later and worked in the UK for about a year (I think). I had visits from them when I was Edinburgh, but then they returned to Australia, moved to the Clare Valley in South Australia, got married and had a family.

This is a lovely couple that I knew from Albany, saw in Scotland and then mostly lost touch with when I headed for Bulgaria and they headed for their new life in South Oz. I was so please to catch up with them …and one of their beautiful children

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isn’t he just adorable 🙂

Just briefly on the subject of BBQs…why can’t I get one like this is Bulgaria. That’s not a BBQ, it’s an entire kitchen !! [photopress:DSC06431_th.jpg,full,pp_empty] .
…the one thing we have got right in Australia !!

We had a fabulous night catching up on the last few years…good food, good wine and great company and I think young Ned and his dad summed up how we were all feeling by the end of the evening

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Can’t think of a better way to finish this entry than with that beautiful face…..

caio, caio

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So here I am in Australia, a very long way from Bulgaria.

One of the first social occasions I was invited to, was a night of traditional singing and dancing at the Perth Greek club. In fact, it was a birthday present from my sister and two of her friends, Steve and Anita, both of Greek heritage.

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and here they are

Now, in case you didn’t know it, Greece and Bulgaria are neighbours and whether they are friendly neighbours or not, they cannot escape the similarites in their cultures. When the evening kicked off, I began to realise just how similar they are……

It all started with the food, as we sat down to plates of tomato,cucumber and feta cheese, a cheese not disimilar to the cirene cheese that is eaten in Bulgaria. This was followed by lamb cooked in the same way as the Bulgarians cook theirs.

And then things really hotted up with the entertainment. An absolutley fantastic Greek band from Melbourne and a group of traditional dancers hit the floor and it was wonderful.

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The outfits might be different, but the dancing was so similar

Unfortunately, for the first time in years, I went out without my camera, and so all the pictures of this fabulous night were taken on my phone…not great quality, but at least I ended up with something.

Anyway, as I watched and listened I realised just how similar the music was and even more so, the dancing. When the official entertainment was over, just about everyone in the room got up and the real dancing got underway. You may remember from some of my earlier diary entries that I have been attempting to learn some of the traditional Bulgarian dances so that I could take more of a part in village social occasions. As I watched the Greek community of Perth dancing around the room, I realised that I actually recognised some of the dances and knew how to do some of them…..

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I was still having a little trouble with my back at this time, so couldn’t get up and strut my stuff, which was a shame. I suspect I might have been quite at home. 🙂

I still had a cracking night with friends and my sister

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but left feeling quite melancholy about Bulgaria and its neighbourhood….

But a lot has happened since that beaut night out and I’ll have more in the coming days/weeks…..including a lovely trip back to Bulgaria. Oh, and the good news is, my back is back, so to speak and I’m again able to exercise, though there will be no more lifting things that weigh more than me…..so things are looking up even more….I can’t complain about how things are going in pretty much every aspect of my life…..I’m happy 🙂

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Greetings to all that are still checking this site for updates……. I’m still alive and still in Australia and things are moving along at a cracking and interesting pace.

I’m having a great time, but wont deny that I’m missing Bulgaria….a lot. In fact, I’ve just returned from there. I headed over in early August for a short visit to see the dogs and check the house. Gee Whizz, both were an enormous tug on my heart and I think I now know where I belong, but still have to make up my mind if it’s the right place to be for my soul.

I really miss my dogs and, though I knew they would be big girls when they grew up, I’m kinda staggered at how much they have grown in the short time I’ve been gone. They are only 8 months old and are built like brick shithouses….and they’ve still got a years growing to go. So who knows how large they will end up…..

But lets take a step back………

After arriving here in April and with the help of a great friend of mine, Gary, I got work with the state police. It’s was good for me to be back in some kind of routine and to have some structure in my life. Interesting work, as you can imagine, and I certainly saw some sights, both funny and sometimes very sad. I made new friends, good friends, while there, and that’s always good for the spirit….

The whole time I was working for the coppers though I was looking for something that would pay me really, really good money and so had turned my attention to the mining companies. There’s a resources boom on in Western Australia at the moment and there’s more work than you can poke a stick at AND it’s paying fabulous dosh ! One company contacted me and I started down the induction path, feeling pretty pleased that I might have found something that would fill my bank account and give me financial flexibility if I decided to return to Bulgaria.

As always, sods law came into play and half way through the process I got a call from my old employer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the ABC, asking if I was interested in some work with them again. Thinking they were going to offer me a bit of casual work to fill in a few days, I responded that I might be interested ..’ What was on offer ?’ I asked….’how would you like the be the Manager of our Geraldton Station ?’ they replied !!! Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather….and, of course, the first thing that went through my head was COMMITMENT !! Did I really want something that would nail my feet to the ground. The money on offer was really good, as were the conditions, but I still had a resisitance to getting nailed down. The mines seemed so much more flexible, and when I got the call offering me a job there, I was really tied up in knots of indecision…..

So I did what any self respecting, undecided, don’t know what to do when I grow up woman would do…..I made a life changing job decision with the toss of a coin !!

So there I was……I squeezed into my red shoes….I clicked my heels together over and over and said ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home’ and, bugger me, I landed in Geraldton. The last place on earth I would call home, but here I am none the less….

For those who don’t know, it’s a town on the west coast of Western Australia http://www.geraldtontourist.com.au/

So, say hello to the new Manager of the ABC Radio Station in Geraldton, Western Australia.

I have only signed up for six months, as I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, and the call of Bulgaria is still very strong.

Mind you, the money is good and the conditions are very good…I can’t complain. Once again the gods have smiled on me and my life is looking great…….

I’ve already done some proper work… I headed off to a place called Dowerin last week for the Dowerin Field days, http://www.dowerinfielddays.com/history.htm where we broadcasted from..When I say ‘we broadcasted’ I mean one of my colleagues, Grady, did all the hard work while I watched on and wondered if radio really was such a good idea again.. I’m straight back into it…..at the deep end, and I’m still very nervous indeed.

Anyway, I have a lovely house to live in and Geraldton looks OK to me, so far. The guys in the office all seem really nice and I get to go back on air next Monday morning. I’ll be the breakfast presenter for the duration and I’m kinda looking forward to that. I always did enjoy being on air……though the 5am wake ups are already taking their toll on me……bit old for this really.

And, should anyone feel like a trip to Geraldton, I have a three bedroom, fully furnished house and, of course, a BBQ for all those balmy Geraldton nights……..I’d love to see you up here

Even though I’m not in Bulgaria, a lot of my webpage readers are asking for Aussie updates, so I will be doing the odd diary entry again every now and again.

And, in fact, next week I’ll bring you tales and pictures of great nights out at the Greek club in Perth, a wonderful visit to Bulgaria, my lovely fat bottomed girls and days out in the Australian countryside surrounded by farmers, machinery and all things rural. There’s certainly no shortage of things happening in my life just now :o)

Until next time

caio for now

mercer

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