Archive for the ‘Friends & Family’ Category

After the extraordinary day we had at Gallipoli, Di and I had another day to spend in Istanbul and spent it being real, full blown tourists. We did an open top bus tour, which was really fun and saw Istanbul in a completely different light…especially the bridge over the Bosphorus

It was quite stunning…and the lights changed colour all the time.  I did try to take pics as it was changing, but these were the only ones that didn’t look like something from a bad LSD trip.

The trip was a lot of fun and we got to find out things like where Istanbul ladies go to get any extra hair they might need

and the preferred method of travel when moving furniture

We found this bloke trying to entice folk to have their pictures taken with him

but at 5 euros a pop I figured that was way too expensive, so I convinced Di to sidle up next to him so I could get one of him for free

She looks like she’s actually talking to him, doesn’t she…she’s not, but she’s damned good at getting close to someone without them being aware of what’s really going on.  This wasn’t the only time I got away with doing this.  I got this bloke as well

The ‘photographer’ that was working with this guy told me I couldn’t take his pic…a little late methinks as I already had it …

and this guy, who was dispensing water to hot, thirsty tourists, just looked great

One of the last things we did before leaving Turkey was go for a ridgy didge Turkish bath and not in the touristy places…we were told about a real place where the Turks go by a couple who were staying with me ( more about them later) and so we decided to take the leap and see what awaited us.

Hooley Dooley…if you’re shy or have body image issues ( thank god I’ve reached the “I don’t give a tinkers toss” stage of my life) then don’t even consider it. If you want one of the best things life has to offer and want to feel better than you ever have in your entire life, then get thee to a proper Turkish bath house.  It was fantastic…but let me take you through it…

First we had to take everything off…forget about undies or bras, everything comes off and you’re given a Turkish towel to wrap yourself in. Then it’s off the the incredibly hot, steamy room with a huge slab of very warm marble in the centre that you’re told to lie on…by the way, this is all being done by charades and gesticulations …not a word of English was spoken in this place. You lie there and just sweat !!! Even my legs were sweating, which is something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Di and I were just about dying in the heat when the rather voluptuous woman, who was clearly our bath lady, came in (just in her bra and knickers) and indicated that I should follow her. I felt a little nervous about leaving Di on her own and a little apprehensive about going with this stranger on my own but I figured what the hell…I reckon I was far to old and saggy for white slavery, so off I went.

I was taken into the room next door, relieved of my towel and told to lie face down on another slab of marble. She put on what I can only describe as looking like large oven gloves with a light sandpaper on them. She proceeded to lather me up, and I mean LATHER me up… I reckon all that was showing under the huge pile of fluffy suds would have been my eyes peering out.  Anyway she then rubbed and scrubbed  just about every square inch of me. She turned me over and repeated the entire process on my front, breasts and all !!  She really was amazing and just kinda flipped you over and dealt with you like a great slab of meat. Like I said, no point being shy and retiring here. She then poured buckets after bucket after bucket of exactly the right temperature warm water all over me…front, back, top, bottom.

Later when Di and I were comparing notes, she asked me if I had looked at the water rinsing off me…I hadn’t, but she did and that it was grey…which we can only assume was all the old skin and dead tissue being sluiced off our bodies.

The next thing I was wrapped in a huge fluffy dressing gown and popped out into a waiting area for the next stage, which turned out to be the most incredible massage I have ever had. This woman was small of stature but as strong as an ox, but with that special ability to give you a massage that found all the achy painy areas and dealt with them accordingly and for the rest, just a terrific massage.

When it was all over and we returned to the real world, we both felt fantastic and my skin was gorgeous and stayed that way for weeks and weeks.  The process obviously took off layers of ‘ick’ and revealed nice new, soft, baby skin which I reveled in for ages.  Even now, it still feels better than it has for years…

I highly recommend it 🙂

Soon enough it was time to say farewell to Turkey and get back to Miladinovtsi where my Gina and some guests, Stuart and Amanda, were waiting for our return…

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In amongst all the fun and laughter of Istanbul, Di and I made the trip to see Gallipoli.  Like all Australians, I grew up with the story of the wartime debacle that occurred there, starting on the 25th of April 1915 and dragging on for eight months with terrible loss of life on both sides. Gallipoli has become a shrine to the Australians and New Zealanders who died there and a service is held there every April 25th which sees thousands of us heading there to pay homage to the dead. I have always talked about going there since coming to live in Bulgaria.  I mean, it’s just across the border from me, but time and circumstance saw me never making the journey.

When Di told me she was coming over, I figured this was as good a time as any to make that journey.

We were bussed up there at the crack of dawn by a tour company called’ TJ’s” and there started an amazing day and one that had a profound effect on me, something I really didn’t expect. Our tour guide was TJ himself and he was absolutely fantastic

TJ is a Turkish man married to an Australian woman and his knowledge was extensive. He told us things about that whole dreadful time that we were never taught in school.  I can’t believe how little I knew about it. He also gave us stories from the Turkish perspective, and that was good to learn about as well.

TJ had various documents with letters and stories and he asked for volunteers to read some of them out. I stepped up for the first one, as no one else seemed willing.  It was really hard reading the words of someone who had perished there

and I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed with my fellow Australians on the tour, none of whom stepped up to do the the later readings, which were done by an American and a Canadian.  And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that because both countries had men involved, but this is an important memorial for us and I was surprised that no one would put themselves out there.

Though I found the whole area very sombre, I was asking myself why so many people I have spoken to over the years told me that they got really upset at the Gallipoli battle grounds. I certainly felt quiet, but I didn’t feel ‘upset’…until I read this

I just found it so moving and I crumbled. I felt like a bloody fool, but couldn’t seem to stop the tears.  It was a most interesting reaction for me and made me a little more understanding about the effect the place can have on you.

The entire area is dotted with graves and monuments, with Lone Pine being one of the most important to Australians

It’s also a place of great importance to the Turks and they have a beautiful monument there as well

including this beautiful sculpture

This was the last Turkish Gallipoli veteran who died when he was well into his 100s. It’s a beautiful thing…

Di & I did take a little time to get our pic taken at one of the sites and also to dip our toes into the sea….under far better circumstances than all those men who never made it back home.

I know that  visiting Gallipoli, even after all these years, was something I won’t ever forget.  It’s not a celebration of war, it’s part of our history as a developing country.  Australia was so young then and this devastated not just the country as a whole but small towns that lost a great deal of their male population.  It had to be an awakening for us and something that I agree all Australians should know about. The Turks have not forgotten and nor should we.  I heartily recommend that  every one that hasn’t been,  should try their best to get there before they shuffle off this mortal coil. And I’d certainly recommend TJ as a guide.  He made the whole experience live…he’s terrific.

After our quiet time we headed back into Istanbul..there’s more about that and lots of other stuff to come

for now…ciao

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Walking Backwards

I’m going to borrow a line from the late great Spike Milligan and instead of starting back in September and working forwards, ‘I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas’…or in my case, walking backwards to Christmas, because I reckon it will be late December before I catch up.

I’ve decided to start with the time I took off with an old and very dear friend, Di Stevens… first stop Turkey.  Di was flying into Istanbul so I decided to go down and meet her there.  Istanbul can be a very intimidating place when you’re alone, especially as a woman and I reckoned two of us would be far more formidable than one.

First and foremost, it was terrific to see her again.  The school reunion just before I returned here in 2010 was the last time we had seen each other and of course, as it always is when you catch up with friends from Australia in a strange and foreign land, it had that slight bizarre-ness about it.  We sort of looked at each other a couple of times over the next few days and said ‘ we’re in Istanbul !! ‘.   – a real, ‘we’re not in Kansas any more Toto’ moment.

And secondly, we had a great time.  We explored the very beautiful and historic that Istanbul has to offer, with the blue Mosque ever beautiful as the backdrop in Sultanamet.

we had a really good look through the Hagia Sofia, a Church built by the Greeks…here’s a little history for you.

‘From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
When I’ve been to Istanbul on other occasions, the Hagia has either not been open (maybe a Monday) or the Qs were so long that I decided my life was too short to stand there that long.  Di a & I persisted and it was certainly worth it…it’s stunning.

It’s so huge that it’s almost impossible to get a picture that shows it’s size.

And just below where the Sultans used to sit

lay the church mouser ( I presume)

There were hundreds and hundreds of people in that place and the cat didn’t bat an eyelid.

We walked and walked around this very beautiful city, but even in the grounds of the Blue Mosque there were bits and pieces that amused…there were the mosque chickens running around the grounds

and the ever present dogs and cats

They have the most interesting corner shops you will ever see

Isn’t that just gorgeous !!

BUT...why oh why in a city of such great beauty and history would the shops be full of these

and the gentleman responsible for these horrors:

tried to stop me taking pictures because why ???  “someone will steal my designs’  he cried…  I looked him straight in the eye and replied ‘I don’t think so matey’, wandered off, put my long lens on and took them anyway….wedding ideas anyone ???   🙂

We spent our first day taking in Sultanamet…the next day we headed off to Gallipoli and I’ll write more about that later.  Right now I have a huge cauldron of tomato sauce that needs bottling and a sink full of beetroot waiting to be pickled and bottled or chopped up and frozen for winter roasts.

I’ll be back

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So…the guests have gone, the house is in total disarray, the country is slowly moving from summer green to autumnal colours, the ground is covered in gold and red and, before I waved my old friend Di Stevens off yesterday, both of us and Colin got to see the first snows for autumn/winter 2011.  Yep, we took a tour through the mountains and the Shipka Pass and the surrounding mountains weren’t just dusted with snow, some of them had a good heavy coverage !! Is this a harbinger of the winter to come ??  I kinda hope so…I do love snow, as long as I don’t have to drive in it, and last winter was, quite frankly, a little disappointing in the snow stakes.

I’m still not back with you in full.  I have a million photos to upload for this blog…can’t have yarns without pics. Though here’s a little taste of what I’ve been doing for the last three months

Two of the most terrific women I know…and we got to spend a little time in France together, which was pretty special. And look at that colour co-ordination !!  We emerged from the house for a BBQ at Deb’s and, Voila !! we were the purple tarts !!

There will be more about that little trip later…

..and I do have a few vital things to prepare for the rapidly approaching winter and then I can dedicate myself to catching up here.  Thank god I’ve got a good memory  🙂

I’ll be back

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and I’ve been so busy, I’ve hardly had time to scratch myself. Again my website suffers and this isn’t really a proper catch up either…just a little  teaser about what’s to come.

It’s been a very busy time indeed and a real mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly…actually, I have to add the very, very good and enjoyable to that as well.

The very, very good is all about trips around Bulgaria with both Colin and my cousin Kerrie….yep, she’s been with me again.  Might have to name one of the rooms after her.  🙂

The  good is a mixture of day to day stuff and getting the contents of my garden preserved.

The bad and the ugly is something that, at first, had me quite angry, but the situation has become so ludicrous that I’ve spent quite a lot of time having a good old laugh. It’s all about an Englishman in this village who needs to get a grip.  His behaviour has become so bizarre that I’ve enlisted a little help…more about it later.

And someone mentioned that I haven’t said much about Gina lately…..what can one say about a large black & white blob that spends her days reclining in luxury as she makes up for all the bad years ?  Not a lot really…she gets love, food, a daily walk and plenty of sleep. She’s happy, she’s content and that’s all I want for her.

I will be back…

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Not only have I been out enjoying a little Bulgarian culture, but I’ve also had a couple of lovely days out of the house with one of my new friends…

not this one

this one This is Colin, who for reasons I won’t go into is hanging around Miladinovtsi until he can return to the UK in November.  He’s been doing some work around here for me, which has been terrific and has taken a lot of pressure off. The combination of trying to keep up with the house and the garden has been a little more difficult than I thought it would be…I’m clearly not as young as I used to be, so he’s been a bit of a godsend really.

Anyway, he hasn’t seen a lot of Bulgaria and I have been lucky enough to see quite a bit so, in between working, we’ve agreed that a few days off here and there will be a great opportunity for me to drag him around to a few places before his return home.

His daughter was here a few weeks ago and we had a really pleasant day on the coast at Sozopol.

The weather was gorgeous, and because it was just before the tourist season really got underway, the beach was almost deserted.

The fishermen were fishing

The flower boxes along the old fortress walls and boardwalk were ‘blooming’ gorgeous

And though the skeleton had been removed, I got a good look at the archeological dig on the medieval church this time

Unfortunately, we were a day too early for an exhibition of everything they had dug up from the site…maybe next time.

I had a lovely day in good company. Colin is a very easy person to spend time with and Chloe, his daughter is lovely. We roamed around, we chatted, we ate and drank and for me it was a big fat relax day, something I need to ensure I do every now and again.

Because…everything else is still lurking in the background, the veges, the housework, the garden in general and all the other things that gobble up my days, including the making of a driveway and parking area for my car. But that’s for my next entry. It’s extremely hot and I’m going to have a large cold drink and perhaps a wee nana nap !!

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I had a lovely birthday…well, the night after my birthday actually. I made the decision to have a little soiree on the Friday night and it was a  completely Bulgarian affair with friends from Yambol and my neighbours, Hristina and Volcho and friends Ivan and Donka. It was fairly low key, which suited me just fine, and I got to spend it with people I wanted to be with.

I didn’t drink a lot (surprise, surprise) as I was the host and maybe it was the turning over of another year, but I awoke the next day feeling every second of 56 years and didn’t really get back on top until yesterday afternoon.  I thought I might have been coming down with something but around 1pm I suddenly felt better and headed outdoors and spent a very hard afternoon in the garden…again.

Got a heap done but once again, I’m sitting here at my computer feeling like someone has given me a beating. There is a part of me that is really wondering if this backyard might be just a little big for me and just how many years I can keep on top of it.  I realise that a lot of what I’m doing now is the actual ‘building & design’ of the garden and once it’s established the work may become easier, but jesus wept ! right now I feel about 156 years old !!  🙂

I guess I could turn the whole lot over to lawn, but it wouldn’t be very exciting, would it…and I don’t really want to eat grass.

Just now, there’s more food growing that you can poke a stick at. To date I have various varieties of potatoes, four types of tomatoes, peas, red onions, shallots, brown onions, garlic, spinach, beans, lettuce, leeks, pumpkin, cucumbers, cauliflowers and red & green peppers in the vege department. Two varieties of  mint, dill, coriander and basil have put in an appearance in the herb department and yesterday I discovered that 8 of my 10 raspberry canes have sprouted, my blueberry is looking very healthy, as are the grapes and most of my fruit trees. The apple and plum haven’t sprouted yet and I think perhaps they might be duds, but I thought that about my almond tree as well until yesterday when it sent two shoots out…so I’m going to wait and see with the others before I pull them out.

My grass areas are getting established and starting to win the war against the weeds but bloody hell, it grows so quickly.  I only mowed last week and am going to have to do it again today.  It’s already about 6 inches long !!

And make no mistake, everything I’m doing is being closely scrutinised by everyone that walks past the place.  I think some are coming this way especially just for a look at what I’m up to.  Plenty of suggestions coming in and if I do anything differently than how they do,  it causes a flurry of comments and even more suggestions.

Hristina is still helping me so I take notice of her …mostly…

She really is just such an extraordinary friend and neighbour. She works like a navvy and still comes over to help me.  I have suggested that perhaps she has enough work on her own garden and she just dismisses that and gets helping. I have to be honest…I’m not really sure if I would be managing all this without her.

And speaking of my friend and neighbour, I just spotted her down the back finishing off the weeding I started yesterday in the potato patch.  Time for me to get to work.  I’ll get the place looking fabulous and then post some pics…it really is starting to look like a garden, rather than an unholy mess at the back of the house.

ciao for now

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and so a great peace descends upon the big house…

I’ve packed all the guests off to their next destinations and now it’s time to try and catch up, not just with this but with pretty much everything around the house and garden…..sometimes I wish I had a few more sets of arms.

Firstly, let’s step back to my cousin Kerrie’s visit…

There was a lot of chatting, a lot of laughing and a bit of working and, of course, the great love affair between Kerrie and Gina.

When Kerrie was here on previous visits we had a tendency to eat our way around Bulgaria. Hey, it’s impossible to avoid with the fabulous food that you get here.  I took her to Jeravna and on the way we stopped at a terrific restaurant that I know about in a small town called Gradets.  Even though the weather wasn’t that warm, it was sunny and clear and sitting next to a crystal clear, running brook eating wonderful food, was, well, wonderful !!

We were staying the night in Jeravana and though Ivan and Ivana’s guest house was open and we got rooms there, the rest of the village was still in hibernation. We had a lovely wander around the place and then had to go back the the guest house for a nana nap…not as young as we used to be.  When we got up and decided it was time for food we realised that the place was empty and nothing was open. We wandered around for a while and then spotted a fellow sporting a rather large tummy, standing outside what appeared to be a little cafe.  I asked him if he had food and wine and he ushered us in the door with great promises. In fact, he had no wine but in true Bulgarian style he went out and found some…where??  I have no idea, but he came back with a bottle of reasonable Sofia Chardonnay, which we bowled over rather quickly and off he went for another…no questions, no extra cost to what I would pay if I had bought it in a shop.  He also spirited up some food…kebabche, koifte, chips and bread. Not the greatest meal I’ve ever had in BG but it hit the spot, went very well with the wine and was pretty good for what had turned into a very cold night.

It was back to Miladinovtsi the next day taking the alternative route over the mountains and coming out in Sliven. I had often heard about a Carandila at the top of the mountains behind Sliven, but had never worked out how to get there. I know now. As we wound our way up and over, suddenly there was a sign ‘Carandila’ and the ‘Бял мечка хотел’ ( White Bear Hotel) so we decided to investigate.  A decision I almost regretted as a thick, heavy fog rolled in on us on this rather narrow and windy road. Mind you, when we reached the summit, I was glad I had continued.  We found the White Bear and popped in for a little breakfast.  They made us a yummy omelette…what was I saying about eating our way through Bulgaria ?

After breakfast we took a drive around the whole area and found this…

I’m thinking once upon a time this was a luxury communist hotel and what an ugly thing it is. However, that entire wall is made of the local stone which is in fact very beautiful, but I’m thinking they might have got a little carried away and gone a tad overboard. The place was also surrounded by boundary walls of the same stone…way too much.  And it’s set in the most beautiful country…bit of a blot on the landscape to be honest.

We wound our way back down the mountain and headed home. Gina had spent the night in the garage and was a little miffed when we got back, but the sight of Kerrie certainly cheered her up…no loyalty for me from my dog  🙂

We were sitting at the table later that evening having a bite to eat and a small glass of something cold when madam poked her head around the door.  The first person she saw was her new love, Kerrie, and she put on her best ‘ please feed me I’m starving’  face

I was sitting behind the door where she couldn’t see me and cleared my throat to get her attention

She knows she’s not allowed to hang around when there’s food on the table, hence the slightly jaundiced look in her eyes when she realises I’m there…and I’m watching.!!

I still made sure I walked her everyday and Kerrie managed to get some pics of her excitement that happens every single time I say ‘walk’ or ‘rozhotka’.


and the whole time she’s throwing herself about, bursting with excitement she’s doing this ‘talking’ that she’s started doing. It’s very funny and she’s becoming more ‘vocal’ all the time.

And who was a miserable, miserable dog for a few days after Kerrie’s departure ?? She roamed the house looking for her…even made the trip upstairs to the room Kerrie had slept in. It was amazing for Gina. She’s just not an overtly affectionate dog…usually.

Kerrie also gave me a hand with some work in the garden. The guy next door to me just won’t clean up his yard and it’s an eyesore. Take a look behind Goosey & Lucy.

Anyway, I decided it was something my guests didn’t need to see so headed to Mr Bricolage (the European Bunnings Hardware store) and for very little money got myself some screening.  Kerrie and I got to work and now things look much better

Good, isn’t it  🙂

Little by little the place is taking shape.

As always, these terrific visits I get must come to an end and all too soon it was time for Kerrie to leave and return to Australia. And what better way for her to go out than a night with friends in Miladinovtsi.

It was Hristina’s birthday and we were invited to join her, Volcho, Ivan and Donka for a get together. It was fun and the strange thing was, I was translating for Kerrie…my Bulgarian IS getting better.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but when I have to be the translator, things must be improving.

We ate too much (surprise, surprise) we drank to much (no surprises there then) and just had a fun evening before Kerries departure

They say laughter is the best medicine and I certainly get my fair share of that here.  This rate I’ll live until I’m very old indeed.

Kerrie was flying out of Sofia so we headed up there to spend a last night before saying goodbye. We did what we do best…we went to a fantastic Bulgaria restaurant, the “Pri Yafata”, and had a spectacular last meal, our last big chat and a few cold vinos to say ciao…

Next morning she headed for the airport, I headed for the bus station and a very enjoyable fortnight came to an end.

I still hate saying goodbye…

Back home I came and back to work I went.  I had guests coming and was still painting their bathroom…

That’s another story for another day.

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Have been very busy indeed.  A fair amount of play in the company of my cousin Kerrie and a fair amount of work preparing the house for her arrival and with her help, getting a wee bit done in the garden.

Kerrie came here with me in 2004 on my house hunting trip and when I moved here to live in 2005, she was my very first visitor, a visitor to a house that was barely livable.

She was coming into Sofia so I headed up there with Mitko, my friendly taxi driver, to pick her up. As soon as she cleared customs I piled her into the car and off to Yambol we headed.  I almost felt sorry for Mitko as we talked without a break and very few breathes all the way home.

I was very excited about her seeing the house and all the changes that had happened since her last visit, so after a quick shop in Yambol and armed with a good supply of wine, we headed home to Miladinovtsi.

The first thing that happened was the start of Gina’s love affair with Kerrie.  I warned her to be careful and approach her gently because I wasn’t sure how she would react to a stranger. I needn’t have worried…Kerrie walked around the corner of the house, Gina stood up, silly look on her big silly face and tail wagging madly.  I was really surprised…her reaction to Kerrie was instant and very positive, not even the usual sniffing and checking out she tends to do to strangers. And that was the tone for Kerrie’s entire visit, Gina gazing adoringly at her whenever she walked into the room and when she wasn’t getting her way with me, she was going to Kerrie, just like a naughty child.

Anyway, we got Kerrie settled and then we both settled in for a glass or two of some fine Bulgarian wine and a bite to eat.

It was a long first night, let me tell you…lots and lots of chat and similar quantities of wine.  Before we knew it, it was past 1.30am and the old girls tottered off to bed…

The next day Kerri was up and waiting for the shepherd to come by.  She saw this the last time and was happy to see it was still happening.

The villagers still seem to enjoy the whole early morning process

as do the sheep

And the other fabulous occurrence that coincided with Kerrie’s arrival was the arrival of my other great favourites…the storks !!  Yes, they’re back and coming into town in vast numbers.  We were out driving one day and a cloud appeared above us, a cloud that was drifting through the sky in a large, circle, ebbing and flowing across the sky.  It took a while but I suddenly realised it was storks, hundreds of them.  I stopped the car and jumped out to try and catch them…I kinda did, but by the time I got my big lens on the camera ,they had drifted quite a way from us.

but we didn’t need to worry about not getting close enough to them because when we were watching the shepherd that night, we got to see this as well


They’re rebuilding the nest just up the road from my house, so hopefully I’ll get to see them right through from the nest building to baby storks this year.

There’s a lot more to tell you, but time is marching on and nana wants a bite to eat and a glass of something nice…she’s working hard at the moment getting the house ready for incoming guests. Because of the great flood of 2011, I’m also having to repaint one of the rooms, so my neck and shoulders need a few hours on the massage cushion, so it’s ciao for now and I’ll be back as soon as time permits.

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On Sunday night I was invited to celebrate a very special birthday here in Miladonovtsi.  This little bloke turned one and apparently, the first birthday of a child is special and is celebrated with great gusto

His very proud parents, Mitko and Veska, organised a party in the local community centre and in true Bulgarian style, there was food, drink, laughter and lots of dancing.

Now, Mitko is Bulgarian and Veska is from a  gypsy family..and that opens up a whole new story, but it can wait until another day.  Veska is from a large family. She is one of ten children and quite of few of her family were there as were many of their friends from the village, and there’s one thing for sure…the gypsies certainly know how to have a good time.

Not very far into the evening, the dancing started and I got to learn a little about the gypsy culture.

One young fella, Vasile, got up and wanted some particular music played. I asked Mitko what it was and why, and he replied that that Vasile was going to do the ‘ Kewcheck’…that’s phonetic spelling, by the way. The music started and Vasile sprung into action…

I really do need to get a video camera as still pictures really can’t show the incredible movement that goes on.

This is the type of music that’s played when they do the ‘kewcheck’…at ear bleeding volume…

kewcheck (7)

Imagine a lot of pelvic movement, snapping fingers and whistling going on. Suffice to say, it’s almost like a belly dancing style done by both men and women.

And how young are they when they start to learn ? About this young

That’s one year old Rosen there getting into the groove and just a few years older is Choko’s son, Milan, who at 6 years of age is well on the way to knowing the whole routine

And let’s not forget husbands and wives, boys and girls, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons…

Everyone was getting right into it and it was terrific to watch.

I noticed that a lot of the dancers, both men and women had tied something around their waists.  I asked Mitko the significance, but he couldn’t enlighten me….I’ll keep asking.  Someone will know.

A number of attempts were made to drag me up there, but I feigned a bad back and just kept taking photographs.

And it wasn’t all about the ‘kewcheck’ either. There was also some traditional folk dancing and I DID get up and take part in that, but only the really easy dances…as soon as the pace and the difficulty of the steps increased, I ran away.

Whether Bulgarian or Gypsy, the dancing culture is very strong here and makes for a terrific night out.  It can happen at parties, in cafes, in restaurants and private homes. I even joined Hristina and her daughters for a driveway dance after I spent Christmas eve with them.  I just love the spontaneity. The ‘right’ piece of music is heard whether near or far and someone will get up and start dancing…one up, all up.  Culture and tradition is something I’ve not experienced a lot of, and I’m finding it so invigorating.

And let’s not forget the reason we were all there

All in all a great night.

I always feel very ‘included’ to be invited to these various events, festivals, birthdays, name days and ‘Prazniks’ (holidays…)…let’s hope there’s many more to come.

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