Archive for the ‘The Country’ Category

enforced resting time

Sometimes the fact that I overdo things is a kind of blessing in disguise.

I had a HUGE day in the garden yesterday and have woken this morning feeling like a very,very old woman indeed, and therefore I am sitting at my computer at 9 o’clock in the morning catching up on my blog.  Should my back ease up at all later I shall return to the garden, but for now it’s looking like a day at my desk…which may not be a bad thing.

And, of course, having the benefit of an imaginary time machine, I can turn the clock back and tell you about another lovely day out that I had with the village a few weeks ago.

Once again I was told about ‘something’ happening in a place called Topolovgrad. Now, this isn’t the prettiest place I’ve ever been to but I was game for another mystery day out with my neighbours and friends so off we went.

We got to Topolovgrad but did we stop ? no, we didn’t. We continued on for about another 10 Ks into the countryside and eventually came to this place

I knew by this time that there was a Monastery involved and some dancing and singing, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Monastery was called Свeta. Троица (St. Trinity’s) and was seated in a beautiful valley. It was a big festive day though and I was immediately struck by the clash of times, the Ferris wheel and sideshow activities right along side a beautiful building in a serene and lovely place.

There were lots of people indulging in the noisy side of things and lots just enjoying the serenity of the Monastery grounds

There were two springs where people were both drinking the beneficial waters there and then or taking bottles home for later.

The grounds around the Monastery were lovely

And around every corner there was a little something going on, both commercial and traditional.

There was a huge crowd there taking part in the traditional activities of the day.  They ranged from the older

to the very young

and as always, a terrific range of head dressers

The singing and dancing was a sight to behold and these kids were amazing

And yet, while all this folklore tradition was going on, around another corner was this

This is nothing more than a ruddy great elastic band on which folk were hanging and being bounced very high into the sky. It looked scary and yet if I was 25 years younger, not scared of heights and didn’t have a knackered back, I’d have been on it !!…well, maybe….it did look exciting though.

AND, to finish my day I saw this woman

who I assume is a Christian Orthodox nun ??  Hristina told me she lived in the Monastery, but as I don’t know the Bulgarian word for nun, I just assume she is.  She and her nunnly companion were chowing down on chips and kebabche when I first saw them, and as much as I would have loved to have taken shots of them then, I felt it  might be impinging on their privacy a little….so I just snuck this one in a little later.

And last, but never least…never underestimate the Bulgarian love of sweet things. I was overwhelmed by the smell of sugar and this is what I came across

They do look yummy and plenty of folk were indulging, but they just smelt way too sweet for me…

There’s more to come…I’ve been very busy and the freezer is rapidly filling with peas, beetroot and other various bits and pieces from the garden.  The tomato bushes are absolutely loaded with fruit and I noticed my first peppers this morning, so there’s still plenty to come.

The weather has been really, really hot and no amount of factor30 is stopping parts of me from going a nasty shade of walnut. !

The goose is still sitting and Gina is still sleeping…

I’ll be back…

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As I drive around Bulgaria at the moment I am surrounded by miles and miles of stunningly colourful countryside:

The red are the poppies so famous in Europe and I have no idea what the purple is…possibly Patterson’s curse ??  But who cares…it’s a truly wonderous sight to drive through.

The colours of Monet…with telegraph poles and cars

The red and purple fields stretch as far as you can see and I only had to go just down the road the get these pictures, which include the Manisterski Vazvershena behind Miladinovtsi

There’s little more I can say…the pictures really speak for themselves…

And in a month or two most of what you can see here will be splattered with bright, bright yellow as the sunflowers put on their yearly stunning display of sunshine colours.


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In amongst everything else that I was doing, I decided to take a little time and make my own Easter eggs this year.

I had dyed them with Hristina’s help on previous occasions so I headed into Yambol to buy the dyes so I could see what I could create.  Well, I got a little carried away and went slightly past just dying the eggs. I found packets of stick on pretty things as well as the dye and so to work I went…

Don’t they look terrific ! I had guests arriving on the Easter Sunday so decided to have traditional eggs for them as well as the bog standard chocolate ones

Only little ones, as you can see.  So far Bulgaria doesn’t seem to have become obsessed with eggs as big as houses so I could only find packets of small ones in the supermarket…which is good.  The longer this country can hold off against the destruction of their traditions the better, I reckon.

I had the house looking pretty damned good, even if I say so myself and on Easter Sunday I met up with my friend Dimitor (of the taxi) and headed down to Burgas to pick up my incoming guests. The bus duly arrived and usually Burgas is the termination of that bus run from Istanbul to Bulgaria.  No one seemed to be getting off at all though and I suddenly felt a little concerned about the whereabouts of three Aussies on their first trip to BG.

As the bus looked like it was going to disappear I decided I’d best take action and got on board and just yelled out ‘are there any Australians on this bus?’.

And sure enough, a face I hadn’t seen since around the mid 1960s and a face that hasn’t changed one little bit since then, suddenly came into view. This woman, Anne, had contacted me early this year about coming to see Bulgaria.  She ended up coming with two friends as well and when I saw the other woman, Yvonne, I realised I knew her as well, so it was more like a re-acquainting rather than a ‘getting to know’ visit.

Anyway, I retrieved them from the bus, which was a good thing because I found out that the Nisikli bus service has now extended to go on to Romania.  I think they would have got a little surprise if they’d got off the bus there !!

Dimitor loaded them into his taxi and off we went to Miladinovtsi. I spent a couple of days showing them around but my time was restricted as I had this man coming…again

My old mate Peter Watson on his second visit to my home.

It was great to see him and also to see his son Justin, who was just a boy the last time I saw him, a boy who has grown into a really nice and very handsome young man. And also his partner, Dianne who I’d only met briefly in Australia when I was back there and whom it was very nice to get to know a little better.

I’m very fond of Watto and it was lovely to be able to spend a little time with him, albeit just a few days.

While he was here my other guests hired a car and headed off to Veliko Turnovo for a few nights, which was really good of them as it gave me the chance to spend some relaxing and quality time with Watto and Di.

Unfortunately, on his last night here, my Gina took a nasty turn.  We came home and she was looking dreadful and panting. When she refused food and a walk I knew all was not well. I watched her for a couple of hours and could see her deteriorating so I rang Yanko.  He told me to bring her in and it’s a good thing I did.  Pete came with me, which was very kind of him considering he had to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus. Anyway, the old girl was running a temperature of 40.2 degrees, dangerously high, and was looking more and more hang dog. The other vet, Marin, took some blood samples and she is showing an enzyme that’s not too good. We decided to treat the infection first and see how she progressed. She had anti fever drugs, antibiotics and pain killers, as she was clearly in pain.

By the next morning there was a vast improvement but I returned to the vet as they had requested, so they could have another look.  She seems to be fine now and is eating and enjoying her walks so I just have to watch her and see if she remains happy and healthy…  I know her years of brutal treatment can’t have been good for her body and maybe it will shorten her life, but the thought of losing her is almost more than I can bear.  I am trying not to think about that possibility, at least in the near future

All too soon I was putting Watto and Di on the bus and my other guests returned for their last few nights with me.

I took them down to Sozopol for a day and we were lucky enough to get some good weather though the wind was very cold….not quite summer yet.  We were walking around the village and came across an archeological dig.  It was fascinating and I had enough Bulgarian to ask what it was…a medieval church and they were finding plenty, including a full skeleton which had been cleaned back but not removed from the soil yet !!   And where was my camera ? Miladinovtsi !!  I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten it.  Anyway, there it was…a full skeleton with what looked like a bashed in skull.  Murder perhaps ???  It really was amazing to see it and to wonder just how long it had been there and who it might belong too. I’ve tried to find out more on the internet but haven’t been able to find anything in English…damn my bad Bulgarian !!

And so we returned to the house and had a relaxing evening in while the guests planned their next move, which was heading to Sofia and spending some time there.  I squeezed them into a taxi early Sunday morning and confess to returning to my bed until about 11am. The weather was miserable and I just felt like a BIG sleep, so I did…loved it.

It was my last rest before the hard labour started in the garden and boy, have I achieved a lot, but that’s for another day as the weather is nice again so I’m heading back into the yard…things to do, plants to plant, holes to dig, weeds to pull and paths to find…

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I’ve just had a couple of days of Mr Sun and I’ve got a shedload of work done in the garden, but he’s disappeared again in a huge thunder and lightening storm last night so it’s back to the web page today.

So after the great day I had here in the village on the Friday, come the Sunday it was time to head off to General Insovo. The day dawned clear and sunny, so a perfect day for a Festival in the park.

Once again there were hundreds and hundreds of people there to watch and dozens and dozens of participants and by days end, this park was bursting at the seams.

There was colour, flowers, fantastic local costumes and the Easter decoration that I had last seen on a table in Mila, this time surrounded by a few Easter tradition friends

This whole day is about Easter, displaying your village folklore talents and a lot of colour and motion.  It’s like a moving sea of wonderful sights in front of you.

I spent the day just wandering around soaking up the atmosphere and getting the best shots I could in a crowded situation.

Some of the headdresses were just fantastic !

As were the waistcoats

There were musicians dotted about the place tuning up their instruments for their performance

and this man had an absolutely beautiful voice…it stopped me in my tracks when he started singing.

There was also a lot of children this time. There aren’t a lot of children left in many of the villages as the younger people have upped stumps and gone to bigger towns and cities for work and education. This year there just seemed to be lots of kids there keeping the traditions going…and they were just gorgeous

These girls were heading out on the the stage area…check out their competition behind them checking them out ! Hey, this is serious business with a  definite competitive edge and clearly, it starts young 🙂

They even took time for a last minute rehearsal.

The women’s costumes were wonderful and a few of the men looked pretty spiffing as well


and, of course, the rugged, butch Bulgarian men didn’t let me down….there was many a flower tucked behind many an ear.

And in amongst all the noise and hustle and bustle I found two young girls having a quiet and thoughtful moment

      Both so very beautiful and so very calm in amongst all the hubbub…

And once again I had the privilege of experiencing another moment of Bulgarian culture with all the  beauty, tradition, music and colour that comes with it.

Next stop…Easter and guests. I’ve been busy, which is nice.

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One Year Already

I just realised today that I’ve been back here for 366 days…I can’t believe a year has gone by already.

And, of course, my big question is, where the bloody hell has it gone ???   🙂

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Yes, I had a lot to do after Kerrie left but that didn’t stop me from taking time to enjoy what the village had to offer.

Unfortunately for Kerrie, she left just before a couple of wonderful folklore days. It was Easter you see, so there was a day in Miladinovtsi and another day in General Insovo.  Hristina had told me ages ago that there was something on at the local community centre and was I going to go along ?.  Of course I was…one thing I’ve learnt is that when I get invited to things, there’s often a very pleasant surprise waiting for me when I get wherever it is I’m invited, so I rarely refuse any invites.

The Mila do was on Friday the 15th of April and she also mentioned that there was something on in General Insovo on the Sunday. Now, I’ve been to the Insovo do in previous years. This is the inter village competition for dancing and singing. It had been wonderful the other times I’d been, so I was definitely up for another visit this year.

On the Friday Hristina and I headed up to the community centre about 9.30am and everyone was there !

There was flowers

There was singing

There was dancing

and a whole table of food, most of it the traditional easter breads and cakes

Which I discovered was all cooked by the local ladies and was to be judged later on by the Mayor and a couple of the village men.

I’d not seen the traditional breads and cakes before and some looked (and tasted) delicious.

The centre piece on the table was a very decorative Easter cake (I think it’s a cake)

it was a fantastic piece and made by one of the older women in the village

and though she may not show it, she was very proud of her creation and pleased when I asked for a picture.

So, after the singing and dancing finished the Mayor and two offsiders started to sample the food and score it. The tension in the room was palpable…trust me

And after the judging was finished and prizes awarded, that lovely table of food was demolished

The men drank Rakia

Everyone ate to their hearts content

And this is all that was left at the end.  It looked like a plague of locusts had been through.

The lovely centre piece, however, was whisked off the table and showed up again in Insovo two days later….but that’s another story.

The only reason I’m getting so much of this done is because the weather has turned to poo…as soon as Mr Sun appears I’m off to the garden !!

There’s still birthday gatherings, Easter, guests and some ‘triffic pictures to go, so if the rain persists, I might just get it all done…

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What the ????

So. I’m up on the third floor busy washing windows and getting the curtains rehung. I look out the windows periodically to admire my lovely geese as they wander around their pen, eating wheat and looking pleased with themselves. I must have noticed them two or three times when suddenly they disappeared !!

I headed down the stairs to find the gate to their pen swinging ominously in the breeze and the front gate to the property open as well.  I rang Mitko…it was his rather wacko step grandmother that I bought them from…and we figured they had got out somehow and assumed that they would have found their way back to the grandmothers house.

Geese have a very strong homing instinct.  I remember having them in Australia and when I decided to sell them, they came back four times before the new owner managed to pen them in long enough for them to accept their new home.  Anyway, Mitko said as soon as he finished work he would go to her house and see if they were there.

Later that day…Gina and I were taking our daily sprint around the village when the wacko granny bailed me up…

She’s yelling at me and telling me they are her geese. “moi patki, moi patki'”(my geese, my geese)

I’m responding that I had paid her 50 levs for them, therefore they were mine.  I asked her if she had them and sure enough, while I was up on the third floor working with my Ipod on, she had snuck into the yard and stolen them !!!  I was livid and told her they were to come back to me or else she had best produce my 50 levs.

She was just going nutso and she spits a lot when she speaks.  Gina was also getting agitated…she doesn’t like shouting…so I walked away, came home, rang Mitko and said ‘I believe I know where my geese are’

Anyway, long story short, Mitko and his father went around that evening and told her to produce the money or the geese. Apparently, she didn’t want to produce either, so Mitko’s stepdad just went in and took the geese back. He told her if she ever set foot on my property again, I would let Gina out.  Of course I wouldn’t, but I think that was just enough to put the frighteners on her.

So Goosey and Lucy are safely back in their home and still looking very pleased with themselves.

And I did ponder the fact that I have a dog that some whack job wanted back from me and then a similar thing happens with my geese…do I attract these sort of people ??  Maybe I do, but I still have Gina and I still have the geese.

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