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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NEW SITE!

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.

DIARY ENTRIES JULY 2018 ONWARDS

Unfortunately I've been having an increasing number of problems with storage on this site, so I've decide to continue the diary section elsewhere. Click here for the link to the new site.  The old diary entries will remain here for anyone wishing to delve into the murky past

Thursday 21st December 2017
Category: 2017/12
Tags: solstace Ignatius Day traditions

It's very exciting as today is the winter solstace and we are now officially spinning our way through the cosmos back to summer. Hurrah!

We have a sprinkling of snow on the ground and below zero temperatures at night but nothing major yet; hopefully it'll stay that way. Funnily enough, at the community centre yesterday, they were talking about some kind of weather forecast tradition which occurs on that day. Apparently they'd said on the TV that whatever the weather is like on that day, that's what the rest of December will have, the following day predicts January and so on. This immediately caused arguments, for every day is going to be cold at the moment, so how could that possibly foretell what July will be like, for example? The general consensus was that maybe it only predicted amounts of rainfall and general cloud/sun conditions.

There seem to be quite a lot of traditions associated with the 20th December which is Ignatius Day (a second century Christian who ended up being thrown to the lions in Rome).

One of the customs concerns the first person to enter your house on that day. Whatever kind of person they are dictates what sort fortune the household will have - you pretty much only want happy, lucky souls crossing your threshold. As I was the first non-employee to enter the community centre I was pronounced their 'Полазник' (Polaznik) and they seemed pleased enough which must mean my character has passed the test, or was it just that they were happy to receive the card and Christmas pressie I took along.

I like to do homemade cards but was a bit cheaty this year as I mostly used sparkly stickers and added a glitter border to the card. We got to talking about how it used to be as big a tradition in Bulgaria to send cards as it is in the UK, at which point I shared my bad news.

When I went to the village post office on Tuesday to hopefully collect a nice pile of Christmas cards from friends and family in the UK, I was surprised to find the place shut. That evening I learned from friends that the post mistress had decided to close up the previous week and wouldn't reopen till after the new year. I was so gutted! By the time I actually picked up my cards it would be nearly time to take them all down again. Despite the ease of messaging people via Facebook and texts etc, there's still nothing quite like a physical card on birthdays and at Christmas as tangible evidence that loved ones haven't forgotten you.

Well, having accepted that this year would be fairly card free, I was thrilled to get a message from Dobrina (at the community centre) this morning saying that the post office have passed all my cards over to them ready for me to collect at my leisure. How perfect is that! So tomorrow, when Natasha is back in the community centre, I'll be up there first thing in the morning to collect my cards. The pros and cons of village life in action.

One more rather odd tradition I took part in yesterday (I sometimes wonder if they make them up to see how far I'll go) was to squat over a fake chicken nest. Apparently I was symbolically hatching lots of eggs so that my coming year will be full and fruitful. We shall see!

Sunday 10th December, 2017
Category: 2017/12
Tags: weather turnips wool

I was peering into my winter veggie bed the other day (at the moment it's completely cocooned in green plastic to protect the veg from being swamped by snow or damaged by severe frost) when I noticed that some of the things which struggled to get going all through summer are now flourishing quite nicely.

The kale has developed quite long leaves - not in vast numbers but enough for a meal from each plant - and the savoy cabbages are finally getting little round hearts to them. Best of all are the turnips which suffered badly from flea beetles turning the leaves to a network of lace and remained quite small and spindly till recently. Now they have dense crowns of leaves and signs of actual turnips under the soil! I pulled one out just to see what they looked like and was pleased to find a nice white root, sort of like a fat parsnip. The turnip was duly washed and peeled and then chopped up along with onions, garlic, pork and plums to make a fruity dish accompanied by rice and spinach.

I've still to find a successful means of roasting the beets and squash without them going too soggy, as I think it would be nice to have a selection of roasted veggies instead of the usual spuds. Maybe I need to cut them into smaller chunks and have the oven really hot to get a nice crispy outer layer. I have all winter to experiment!

Speaking of winter, I took the dogs on a walk Saturday morning up to the top of the village. It was glorious sunshine and felt hot in just a t-shirt, and would you believe, sitting there on the hillside I could still see little crickets hopping around chirping, and butterflies!

Then, less than 24 hours later the ground is covered in a few inches of icy snow. Crazy weather!

I keep putting off shutting down the outside water as it's so useful for filling up the animals' drinking bowls, but I guess I should get on and do it to avoid getting leaks from frozen pipes. Hopefully, now that the main switch for the outside taps is sunk underground it should be a bit more protected from any severe low temperatures, though looking at the forecast it's nothing like as white and cold as it was this time last year.

I still like to have the log fire going though, especially in the evening, and I've now made a very cosy couch right next to one of the radiators. I mainly did it to have some extra comfy seating for when I have visitors as the settee only seats three people and it's weird to all be sitting side by side in a row. So I brought down the camp bed, which has been living unused up on the balcony since moving here, bulked it out with some of my big scatter cushions, and then covered it with a gorgeous double sided fur blanket which I bought from a second hand shop in Gabrovo. I curl up on there when I'm watching telly in the evening, usually with a mug of tea keeping warm on the radiator next to me, a bowl of snacks by my side, and at least one animal snuggled down next to me. Bliss!

 

Sunday 3rd December, 2017
Category: 2017/12
Tags: puppy pet sitting theatre

Trying to type very quietly here as there's a little puppy next to me about to fall asleep. She's a very fluffy, blue-eyed bundle of mischief and the newest addition to a household where I sometimes pet-sit. I think she's only about 7 weeks old (rescued from Sevlievo where she'd been taken away from the mother for too long by children playing, and consequently mum rejected her) and is a peeing, pooping, biting machine. Thankfully last night the pooh turned from a sludgy mess into tiny solid nuggets (I like to be graphic) which are much easier to pick up.  She's quite funny in that she can get upstairs quite easily but hasn't yet mustered the courage to come back down, hence being woken at 3am by pitiful crying from the landing. As well as the pup and the two grown dogs I'm also feeding a cat twice a day for another family. A very big, long-haired gorgeous tom cat who has to put up with being smothered and hugged by me each day. He's beautiful!

December sees the shops full of Christmas decorations and tasty seasonal special offers (though definitely not as in your face as the UK shops - for the time being anyway) and the towns round about have quite a few entertaining events coming up.  Last week a few of us went to Gabrovo to see a performance of Cats.  I remember seeing the show in London many many years ago, so had a vague idea of the story which helped because it was naturally all sung in Bulgarian. The first time I saw the show I got very blubbery when the old cat Grizabella did her solo, just because it makes me think of a real cat who might be getting on and have no home any more and has to forage on the streets. Unfortunately this part of the show is right before the interval, so the lights went up revealing one very red-eyed sniffly member of the audience. Last week was no exception! I'm just far too mushy for this kind of show.

Later on in December there's a meal out (I've put my name down for the roast pork and crackling - drooling already) and a visit to a modern Russian ballet company. The trailer for their show looks a bit like Cirque de Soleil, so should be nice and exciting (and definitely no crying!)

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