Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

To save space, the most recent blog entry will have relevant pictures in it, but after that the photos will be moved to Flickr for storage, and a link to them added to the blog post. If you want to see all the photos anyway then visit the Gostilitsa Flickr page here.

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March 2018 (2)
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There is now a separate site with information on living in Bulgaria, including:

  • An introduction to Gostilitsa and all it has to offer
  • Day to day practicalities of shopping, paying bills, banking, insurance
  • Healthcare matters for people and pets
  • Public transport and issues relating to car ownership
  • Becoming a Bulgarian resident and learning the language
  • Tourism, public holidays, festivals, places to visit, hiking routes

Click here for the link.

Sunday 18th March, 2018
Category: 2018/03
Tags: Horse Endurance HorsePower 2018 spring walk dancing

The garden is full of excitement at the moment! Well, strictly speaking it's me in the garden who is full of excitement, rather than the garden itself, but I'm sure my mood is infectious and is spurring on the sudden burst of growth amongst the greenery. And to top it all, one of my little pond skaters appears to have survived the winter unscathed. I was sitting by the pond the other day (when it was still glorious warm weather - yes, legs have been shaved and shorts worn already) studying it for signs of life. Aside from the lone pond skater there was also some kind of tiny black beetle which would pop out from the submerged moss, swim across to another chunk of weeds and vanish again. I'm very excited to see what other creatures may have taken up residence as the year progresses.

Of course my main area of interest is the veggies and flowers. There's going to be a car boot sale down on the stadium field in April (click here for details) and amongst other things I'm going to try and sell some of my spare cuttings. I've already sown some flower seeds, and now I've potted up my spare peonie roots, and rosemary cuttings. Hopefully there will be some gardening enthusiasts there, though I need ones with totally bare gardens as my offerings will be very common things.

My little succulents I bought from Kaufland last year are all doing well, so I need another trip to the pottery factory to find a nice big old crock pot to plant them in.

Note the wondeful dog hairs strewn across it! I think every close-up photo I attempt in the garden features animal hair.

My tomato and pepper seedlings are all looking pretty good and have several sets of true leaves now. They've been spending the daytime out in the greenhouse to get lots of light, though they'll be indoors for a few days now as it's going to be colder again this week. I just noticed today that my leeks, courgettes and cucumbers have also germinated, and out in the veggie beds the lettuces, radishes and parsnips are all up. The carrots are a bit more tricky. I sowed three nice rows of them a couple of weeks ago and covered the area in plastic, at which point thousands of weedlings germinated. At the moment I've no clue if any of them are carrots, so they are all being nurtured until I can distinguish the fluffy carrot leaves from the other stuff. As long as I get some carrots this year I don't mind. I've had zero success with them since the very first year I grew them.

The car boot sale I mentioned earlier is part of a big programme of fund-raising events planned to support this year's HorsePower Festival. Some of the money will go towards the entertainment, and some has to be used for maintenance of the site e.g. the stadium field, the campsite etc. My main role again this year will be in helping to plan the routes for the horse races, and my aims will be to stay off the farmer's fields as much as possible and to cut back on the amount of stone or tarmac the horses have to ride on. With that in mind some of us had an exploratory walk up through the forest last week, and as luck would have it we found an ideal track running alongside the forest which will be perfect for the horses.

This is us partway through the forest.

I've plotted the routes on Google Earth and so far the distances are working out. Now it's a case of seeing if the terrain can be improved in places to make it passable. So, anyone reading who wants to come pruning shrubbery, contact me NOW!

I've still be attending the dance lessons in Kereka, and have been practising in between lessons, using YouTube videos of the dances we've learned so far. I'm even becoming familiar with the names: Zelena Salata, Arap, Chichovoto, Tsigansko and Paidushko horo. The cats are becoming used to me prancing round the house whilst the music plays! When the weather is more suitable I shall take my practising into the garden, though the dogs must first promise to bark if anyone's peeking through the fencing!

Friday 9th March, 2018
Category: 2018/03
Tags: Baba Marta snow

We finally had some proper snow last week when it fell steadily for about two days. It was incredibly dry powdery stuff and I was amazed to notice that you could actually see the individual snowflakes with their tiny six sided patterns.

The snow always brings the birds into the garden for the seeds from the feeder, although this year I noticed quite a lot of birds feasting on the berries on the ornamental apple tree.

The fieldfares and the hawfinch were a favourite of mine.

The cold weather doesn't faze the animals in the slightest, and in fact they quite often just lay out in the snow. The cats of course love it because of all the great tits swooping down to the bird feeder, but the dogs just love bounding about in the snow.

Bella's a great one for scenting out the tracks of everything that's passed by, and the snow doesn't stop her as she just shoves her nose into it and has a good hearty sniff anyway.

March 1st is the day when we traditionally exchange the red and white Martenitsas with each other, and prior to this there's usually a workshop at the community centre to learn to make them. This year I had a go at making the two characters Пижо & Пенда (Pizho & Penda) which are commonly seen. I've seen them where the male figure is the one in white, but I guess it doesn't particularly matter. My Pizho is a very red-blooded character!

To see Pizho, Penda and other pictures from today's blog, click here.


Friday 23rd February, 2018
Category: 2018/02
Tags: garden dancing Trifon Zarezan Yalova Ponuda car

Last week was crazily busy, as some weeks are, and it seemed like every day there was somewhere to go or something that needed doing. Despite this I still found time to destroy prune the plum tree, just in time for the temperatures to plummet and the snow to fall. I'm sure it will just make it flourish even more and be laden with deliciousness come summer.

The trimmings have come in handy for my plan to make hoops for the raised beds, either for draping plastic over during colder weather, or netting during the summer to keep the nibbly bugs off. I've wacked some pegs in the ground to bend the branches round to make them curve, but I'm not sure if they'll actually keep that shape permanently; if I lift one up it just pings straight again. Maybe I'll have to tie them across the base or something.

On Tuesday we celebrated Trifon Zarezan in the village. This is the vine grower's festival where vines are given their first pruning and some of last year's wine is poured on the cut bit to encourage a bountiful harvest in the coming year.

Reicho is a fount of all knowledge, so I asked him how I should go about pruning my own vine. I was feeling proud of it - it's only two years old and already has a branch over two meters long. Imagine my shock when Reicho announced that it should be way taller than that by now. It turns out I should have been digging fertiliser around it on a regular basis (I do well remembering to water it) and sadly it's not yet ready for pruning. He said if I go down to the cooperative farm I can have some cow manure which is supposed to be best. I might actually order a trailer load, that way my vine can have regular feedings to fast track its development. I want my grapes!

The following day Gostilitsa celebrates Yalova Ponuda, and this year our numbers were boosted by inviting some other community centres to come along and watch. Reicho (from the community centre, not the vine guy) turned up dressed as a woman, protesting wildly when the babas demanded money from him. His protestations were ignored, especially when the babas suggested having a look under his dress to see if this 'woman' was genuine, at which point he bought his freedom like all the other men.

On Friday I headed off into VT to get my car windscreen fixed. I'd noticed a little stone chip in it a couple of weeks ago and thought it best to get it fixed. It turns out that this isn't as common a repair as it is in the UK, but I eventually found and contacted (yes, another dreaded Bulgarian phone call) a repair guy in VT. I was slightly concerned about car-jacking scams when he said he'd meet me in a car park as opposed to the address on the website, but when I called him as I was setting off he actually said to go to the business address.

It turned out just to be a residential street anyway, but at least I was reassured by the sight of the guy standing there actually holding a windscreen repair kit. He spoke pretty good English (having worked in New York for several years) but I was good and tried to carry out the convo in Bulgarian. He mentioned his neighbour who has a house in Gostilitsa, which sounds very much like it's down in my neck of the woods. The neighbour's called Hristo Radev, so I must make enquiries at some point so see if anyone knows him.

Saturday it was Trifon Zarezan all over again but this time in another village - Kereka - where I've been going for dance lessons. The hall was packed and we were entertained by live music from a group of musicians and two singers who did a mix of modern music (Bulgarian and English) with plenty of horo dancing in between. At about 4 o'clock it was time for the dance group to show one of the dances we'd learned, the 'gypsy horo'. We all remembered the steps and were even joined by a little three year old girl who wandered onto the dance floor and broke into our circle! Here we all are outside the hall wearing our 'I love Bulgaria' uniform t-shirts:

Our next practice is on 3rd March, and I plan to get a list of the names of the dances so I can be practising them at home else I'll forget all the steps!

Click here for some photos from today's blog.


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