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

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Friday 9th February, 2018
Category: 2018/02
Tags: Dancing garden veggies mincer

Do you ever find yourself feeling sort of antsy and dissatisfied with life for no real concrete reason? I sometimes get like that, and my instinct at such times is to shut myself away and get all hard done by and lonely - boohoo, poor me, nobody cares. Fortunately I can recognise the arrival of these moods and know from experience that giving in to isolation just leads to more intense grumpy bitterness, which prompts me to cut myself off even more, which leads to... well, you can see the spiral effect, right? My antidote now is to force myself to do something sociable (even if I really really really don't want to) and thus far the gods have rewarded my efforts with pleasantness.

One such instance was a couple of years ago when I was on my way to the pumpkin festival in Sevlievo and found Bella on the way. Rescuing her took my attention completely away from myself and made me focus outward on something else. Not surprisingly, the dark clouds soon lifted.

Well, last Saturday, in an effort to cancel a little pity party, I headed off to Kereka where a Bulgarian dance class was to be held. I knew at least one other Brit would be there (it was they who told me about it) but when I first arrived there were only Bulgarians there who all appeared to know each other. It took a huge effort to stay in the room and not sidle back out the door - I think sheer bloody-mindedness took over and I was determined to dance, even if it was in a corner on my own whilst this big group of experts whirled around.

The first dance began as a warm up and was thankfully a very simple one which I could join in with. The next one looked a bit more complicated, so I stepped back from the circle to watch, hoping that I'd be able to get to grips with it. To my delight, one or two others were also unsure as to what to do, and one of the girls leading the session took people to one side to try and break the steps down. Phew, they aren't the Bulgarian Olympic Dance Squad after all!

For the next couple of hours we did maybe four different dances, and then focused on the 'Tsigansko Horo' which I recall seeing people doing at previous events. No one knew how to do it so we learned a little bit at a time and did lots of repetition before starting to put it together in chunks. It was brilliant when it started to click and I was stepping and kicking along with the others. Tiring stuff though - definitely a great exercise workout!

Our teachers were so pleased with the results that they asked if we'd like to perform it in a couple of weeks' time at the village Trifon Zarezan celebration.

I'm going again tomorrow and really can't wait. Negative mood? What negative mood!

I think I've mentioned a few times about the lovely mild weather we've enjoyed this winter, and it's been really tempting to start the veggies off early, but I've been resisting just in case there is a sudden major freeze. I don't think that's going to happen now though, so this week I began some planting.

I bought some onions at the market the other day (hopefully they're ordinary onions and not shallots this time) and so far I've planted about 200 in the garden. This is what's left:

50 million onions for 2.50 levs!

I've also done some lettuces under a sheet of plastic, and sown individual parsnip seeds in little loo roll pots. These have been put in the greenhouse to keep a bit warmer while they germinate. Up on the landing there are yoghurt pots with various tomato varieties and tons of peppers (fingers crossed this year I'll finally get my own pepper seedlings to grow):

The manure pen in the garden is brim full and hopefully the stuff in the centre, where it's been warmer, will have started to rot down. I think it's been in there since October so by the time I start using it in March it will have had 4 or 5 months of rotting time. Last year the stuff in my raised beds was fairly fresh and it was amazing how the volume of it dropped as it decomposed over the year - literally halving in depth. I've been turning over the soil in the beds ready for topping up. Here's one of the beds with the good stuff heaped up at one end:

There's a section behind that end board where I've mixed in a lot of sand I salvaged from the street outside (when there's heavy rain, building sand washes down onto my street from where people have it heaped outside their homes for building works). I plan to plant some carrots here this year as I think pure manure has been too light for them to grow successfully before. On this side of the board I've sown a few rows of radishes.

And finally I've been making my own minced meat (ground meat, not Christmas pie filling!) this week. All the mince I buy over here, be it from a butcher or supermarket, tends to become one big sticky lump in the pan, and always has some kind of weird herby taste to it, which affects the dish you're trying to make. I'd wondered for a while about the possibility of making my own mince, and then a few weeks ago a friend lent me a mincing machine exactly like the one I remember my mum using when I was a child. I finally got round to buying some pork this week and had a go at putting it through the mincer. It sure wasn't as straightforward as I remember it seeming.

The mincer kept getting clogged up and I discovered that the sinewy bits were getting tangled round the blade and were blocking the holes in the disc the mince comes through. So I got into a routine of cutting the pork into smaller bits first, and every so often taking the disc and blade out to scrape the sinews off. Et voila!

I fried a few bits of it and was thrilled to have mince that actually stays in separate bits and tastes of meat. Bolognese and chilli are back on the menu!


Friday 2nd February, 2018
Category: 2018/02
Tags: mayor Miroslav Semov

Last Wednesday there was an annual meeting in the village for the mayor of Dryanovo, Miroslav Semov, to come and give a review of achievements over the past year and to answer any questions.

Not many villagers came and I think Nadya our mayor was a bit disappointed as there were apparently lots of people happily sitting in the shop just up the road, drinking and playing cards. Well, it was a bit chilly outside.

Running late, I forgot to take a notepad and so wasn't able to jot down the snatches of speech I could understand, so do bear in mind that the following summary might well be chock full of inaccuracies, fabrication and wishful thinking.

He began by mentioning some of the things which have been accomplished in the village during the past year: the outdoor museum plaques, the bus shelter, the renovations to the park and benches. The topic then seemed to move on to a few legalities as follows:

     -Everyone needs to register their pet dogs. It's 5 levs for unneutered animals and free for neutered ones or hunting dogs. People (like me) should not be letting their dogs roam around the streets. There was some mention of the stray dogs but Nadya said we didn't have that many in Gostilitsa (I'm not sure why they were being mentioned - maybe some of the villagers still feel they are a nuisance).

     -People need to take responsibility for the area outside their houses and keep it tidy. Warnings may be issued to those who don't, even if they only come here every so often. Someone complained that outside their house the pavement was quite low, and when it rains heavily all the building sand from places up the street washes down onto his pavement and then of course the weeds grow even more. I kknow how he feels, although I've been out with the wheelbarrow collecting all the sand off my street to use for cementing or in the veggie patch. (Never one to miss out on a freeby).  Miroslav was also quite firm about people who put up the death memorial posters in places other than the official boards. He mentioned an empty house opposite the mayor's office which is covered in the things and said how ugly it made the village look. I think he was saying that Nadya could trace the culprit as they would be a relative of the deceased, and again warnings would be issued.

     -The topic of potholes reared its head, with people asking when they'd be fixed, but I think the general concensus was that only main/ well used roads get priority on this.

     -Someone asked if the radio broadcasting system was ever going to happen (one of the election promises) and apparently it is still on the agenda though will cost something like 400,000 levs to do. I think it's going to happen in Dryanovo and then the larger villages like Tsareva Livada first.

     -Village size is an issue. There are lots of EU grants out there for repairs, e.g. to churches, but only if the registered population is over 500 people. Gostilitsa doesn't come anywhere close. He did mention something else about available funds and seemed to be saying that people should put forward proposals if they have ideas on how it should be spent because if it isn't used then the government will just take it back.

I've got some ideas - repair the steps to the community centre, see if the water fountain in the park near me can be made to work again, sort out the drainage on one of the paths on the edge of the village which is a total quagmire from water flooding over it and cows trampling through, fix the steps down to the stadium, put permanent concrete seats on top of the old concrete bases in the stadium stands.

I don't know if any of these are valid suggestions but I guess there's nothing to lose in asking.


Tuesday 16th January, 2018
Category: 2018/01
Tags: cows neighbour

Forgot to mention yesterday that whilst we were driving to the clinic we got to talking about Mitko who brings my milk each week. This particular Monday a total stranger came bearing my delivery so I wondered if maybe Mitko wasn't well. Deshka informed me that Mitko had lost his cows for two whole days and had gone looking for them everywhere! How is that possible, I asked, how did they escape? Well it turns out he just lets them out to graze as and when they like, without any supervision, and this particular day they headed out on an adventure. Happily he found them after two days but I'm wondering if the guy who brought my milk on Monday was from the other dairy farmer acting as back-up for Mitko's wayward herd.




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