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

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Tagged with "Gostilitsa Day"
Monday 2nd October, 2017
Category: 2017/10
Tags: snake Gostilitsa Day cricket

It's a hugely busy time for the village at the moment with lots of celebrations and new initiatives taking place. Nadya, the mayor, was awarded a decent sized budget earlier in the year for various projects around the village including the creation of an outdoor museum and (importantly for me!) repairs to the little park opposite my house. So far the workmen have put on new metal gates at the two entrances to the park and have been replacing missing sections of the metal railing fencing around the perimeter. I'm pretty sure I saw some measuring going on by the old well there, so fingers crossed it too will be repaired.

There was a big flurry of tidying up by volunteers a few weeks ago in readiness for the village celebrations. Normally it's Gostilitsa Day on the 21st September each year, but this year was going to be extra big - 'Земляческа Среща' - which sort of means back to your roots. The idea is for anyone with connections to the village, even though they may be living far away now, should return on this day to celebrate their origins. So it was decided to hold the event on the 22nd September which is a national holiday (therefore no one would be working) and also a Friday which suits people better.

The area in front of the community centre became a huge stage for the opening speeches, folk singers and dancers and later on even a local pop star - Zdravko - and a laser show!

As you can see from his umbrella, the weather was dismal and pretty much rained the entire day which was a huge shame, but luckily there was a tented area in the square by the food stalls so there was some shelter for visitors. Even the rain couldn't put a damper on spirits though as everyone joined in the huge 'horo' dances in the square.

The next big event will be over the weekend of 13th-15th October when it's GostFest. On the 13th will be a demonstration cricket match between locals and the team from the National Sports Academy in Sofia. So far we've had two practice sessions with one more to go before the big day.

I've enjoyed having a little go too, and after practising 'bowling' fallen peaches into the compost bin I can now overarm bowl in the vague direction of the wickets. Not only that I managed to clip the ball on several occasions when it was my turn to bat. A far cry from those awful days of school PE lessons! Luckily there seem to be enough much stronger guys around to make up a team, so on the day I can just cheer from the sidelines.

The sun's shining at the moment but it is most definitely autumnal with the plants starting to die off and the chilly feel to the air in the morning. A bit different to even a week ago when I was still having to water the garden every other day due to the heat. It was during one such watering session when a little movement amongst the plants revealed this chap:

It was only when I studied him more closely that I realised he'd actually tried to squeeze through the tiny gaps in the netting and got himself well and truely stuck.

Luckily for me his head was caught up, so I could gingerly work my way along from the tail end, snipping his little body free. It was quite tricky at times trying to create enough space to get the scissors between his body and the netting as I was so worried about snipping him by mistake, but eventually we got there. He wasn't keen as I got closer to his head and started hissing quite a lot, so there was the nervy moment when I had my fingers quite near his mouth for that final snip to freedom. As soon as he felt himself being released he shot off under the compost heap again, hopefully having learned his lesson about the netting.

And finally, the renovations to the heating are all finished, and the stove was fitted along with the new pipes last week. After a quick lick of paint to the floor to spruce it all up it was time to fire up the stove and bask in the cosy glow:

Bring it on, winter!

Friday 30th September, 2016
Category: 2016/09
Tags: Gostilitsa Day Independence Day garden DIY rugs winter wood

Is it really almost October? It feels like I blinked and September vanished! It has felt like a bit of a whirlwind month with lots of things to coordinate but now all the little loose ends have been tied up and it doesn't feel so chaotic. I'm not a very patient person which doesn't sit well with life in Bulgaria where a dozen phone calls and prompts are often needed to organise one simple thing, and I sometimes feel like there's this ever increasing to do list churning round in my head - sort of like those old plate spinning acts where someone charges from one to the other keeping them all rotating on their poles.

September is a big bank holiday month in Bulgaria with Unification celebrations on the 6th and then Independence Day on the 22nd. They have this system over here too whereby the actual bank holiday gets tagged onto the nearest weekend so you can end up with several consecutive days where banks etc are closed. For Gostilitsa there's also our village festival on the 21st, so basically it was a knees up from Wednesday 21st through to Sunday 25th.

Each year the village seems to celebrate in bigger and better ways, which is great to see in an age where so many little villages are dying out. This year on Gostilitsa day we had folk dancing and musicians in the square during the early evening, and then there was a DJ and disco in the grounds of the old school until late night. The disco was also there on the other evenings of the bank holiday weekend.

Saturday evening there was a celebration of there being a community in this area for 1840 years. It began with the lighting of a torch down at the Roman ruins at Diskoduratera, which was then processed into the village.

The children put on a play in the theatre telling the history of the arrival of people here,

along with more folk dancing. Here are the links to a couple of video clips:

Video 1.

Video 2.

My old neighbour is constantly going on about how the village is dying and it's not like in the good old days, so I was determined to drag her along for this event just to prove to her that stuff still happens. Unfortunately Facebook advertised the start time as 4.30pm - an hour earlier than in reality, so when we arrived we still had a lonnnnng wait. I suggested to my neighbour we go back home for a while then drive back up for the show which she agreed to, on the condition we drive back via her daughter's house so she could let them know where she was.

When we arrived at said house, one of the grandchildren was having a birthday party, so naturally we were invited in. A plate of barbecue food was put in front of me which I nibbled on (having just finished an early evening meal at home) along with a drink. As 5.30pm approached I told my neighbour we needed to be going if we wanted to see the show, but by then of course she was happy to stay with her relatives. I got up to go but was then told to quickly scoff down a chunk of birthday cake which I dutifully tried to do. I'm not a big one for sweet cakes, and this was a child's special, covered in icing and a ton of cream. It took me ages! By the time I'd forced it down and again made my excuses for leaving it was getting on for 6 o'clock, so I missed the torch and half the performance! Added to that, my neighbour still has no idea that village life hasn't ground to a halt.

My winter wood all arrived last weekend after several weeks of worrying that I wasn't going to get any. Actually it's wood for next year, not this, as I try and buy a year ahead to give it more time to dry out. That will be essential with this lot as it came freshly felled from the forest, still sporting green leaves, and will be pretty wet inside for a while. I always buy my wood in meter lengths and then get someone in to chainsaw it up and split it for me. This year that all went a bit pear shaped.

I was under the impression that it cost 10 levs per cubic meter for it to be sawn up and split, and have happily paid this for the past two years. The guys work very hard and even barrow it all into the garden and stack it neatly in the shed for me which is excellent. So, this year, having dealt with 10 cubes of wood, I smilingly handed over 110 levs (100 for the work and an extra 10 for being so tidy). The guy looked at it quizzically and muttered something about last year. Oh, last year I had more wood, I told him merrily, this year it's only 10 cubes, wondering if he was thinking I'd diddled him out of two cubes worth of work. I bid him goodbye and went back in the garden at which point he sat silently in his car for about five minutes before roaring away with the engine revving like mad.

Being the worrying sort and not wanting to be in anyone's bad books I decided to text him to confirm that it was only 10 cubes of wood but to let me know if there was a problem. Indeed there was. Apparently the stacking of the wood in the shed isn't a lovely freebie - I'm supposed to pay for it! Instead of 100 levs the bill was 150. Yikes! I quickly sent back an apologetic text and told him I'd pay the rest. I think he's coming to cut up my neighbour's wood over the weekend so hopefully I can do my best grovelling and clear my debts then. I'd hate to become the Mrs Scrooge of the village!

I had a great find the other day when I was out walking Alfie. We set off across the fields towards the top of the village where there's a long springwater trough and a gorgeous panoramic view of the mountains. Unfortunately it's also the spot a lot of people choose to dump rubbish, so there's always a heap of building waste, beer bottles and mouldy mattresses lying there. Alfie loves nothing more than to snuffle around in it though but I'm always worried in case he cuts his paws on the glass or finds and eats a big slab of pork fat like he did the other year (it's a wonder he wasn't sick). Well, when I got close to where he was rummaging I saw that someone had dumped several of the lovely traditional rugs and blankets in a heap - what a waste!

I went down for a little nosy and shook out one or two of the items (gingerly, just in case a nest of rats had already claimed them) but apart from being a bit wet from the rain they didn't seem in bad condition at all. Certainly they were good enough for sitting on in the garden, or for animal beds. So after two trips I came away with 3 rugs, a blanket and two little stuffed toys which were far too sad to be left on a dump.

These are two of the items after being washed.

It was a bit sad up there too because I'm guessing that the owner of the rugs was an elderly person who has died and the relatives were having a clear out. Amongst the rugs was also one of the traditional costumes still worn by the baba singing group. Unfortunately it was quite moth eaten in places but I did rescue two of the dress straps with pretty white beaded details on them.

The other thing I saw on my walk was these berries which at first I thought might be a type of blueberry (no such luck) but which Mr Google tells me could be sloe berries.

No, I'm not starting up a gin still. What I might do is make sloe jelly and see if it makes a usable alternative to cranberry sauce (which you can't get over here very often). I've found some recipes which are pretty easy, so soon Alfie and I will be taking another walk, this time armed with a plastic bag.

Despite it being the end of September my garden is still looking quite bonny, and one little patch in particular looks almost cottage gardeny as there are about 8 different sorts of flowers all blooming together.

The photo doesn't do it justice at all so you'll just have to take my word for it!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 23rd September, 2015
Category: 2015/09
Tags: birthday observatory Gostilitsa Day garden

Well the birthday was celebrated in great fashion with a slap up meal in Gabrovo (complete with indulgent chocolate and ice-cream pancake for pud) followed by an exploratory trip to find the planetarium. The signs pointed vaguely up from Billa (along with a sign for the 'zoopark') so we set off driving up the road leading into the hills. I've never been up this way before and very soon we were going along a scenic country lane with views across to Shipka and Buzludzha to the right of us.

We passed a sort of open park area with kiddies' playground and a holiday rental house, followed shortly by the zoopark, after which the road ended at a T-junction with no signs in either direction. We backtracked to the park area where we saw some people near their vehicle, and pulled over to ask if they knew where the planterium was. They told us to follow them as it would be easier than trying to explain the way.

Back down the hill we went and after a couple of minutes they pointed out a large building just off the road; this was apparently the planetarium.

The curator came out to meet us and explained that every weekday at 1pm there is a projection show in the planetarium for 4 levs, lasting about 35 minutes. You can arrange to see the show at other times but you need a group of at least 13 people to do this.

I asked if it was ever open at night and he said yes if there was some sort of astrological event. As luck would have it on the morning of September 28th there is to be a total eclipse of the moon, and the observatory will be open for people to view this through one of their telescopes. (Unfortunately the weather forecast is looking like total cloud cover at the moment so this might be a no go).

He then let us go out onto the terrace at the rear of the building where we had a stunning panoramic view across Gabrovo:

Here's the link to their site if anyone's interested.

One of the many jobs on my to do list has been to sort out the wall at the end of the garden.  There's a narrow concrete path which runs along the very bottom of the garden where it meets the neighbour's barn, and since the soil in my garden is higher than this path, the excess rain water drains off down here and then runs along the path and through a hole in the dividing wall. (Since visiting the neighbour I've seen where this mysterious hole goes to: It leads out, via a drain pipe, into her garden. It's from here, she has  recently informed me, that I could dig a trench about a foot or so down and extend the drain pipe right across her garden and out into no man's land and send all my sewage off to soak into the ground out there).

The soil is held back by several huge stone slabs propped along it, but over the years the soil has seeped through the gaps and the slabs have all started to slip down a bit, allowing the soil to erode ever more rapidly.

So the plan has been to dig a small trench at the end of the soil and to stand the stones back in an upright position where they can hold the soil better. It took a couple of afternoons of hacking out the soil, replacing the stones (making sure they overlapped) and then back filling behind them with the removed soil and putting some more hefty slabs on top to help them stay upright.

This is it partway through. Now that it's finished I've planted a shrub, some herbs and lots of strawberry runners in the soil behind the stones which too should help hold the soil together and not let it just wash through into next door's. Just think, in a year or so I could be sitting there eating juicy strawberries whilst my effluence gurgles off through the wall and across the fields. Delightful.

Monday saw the celebration of Gostilitsa Day which falls on the 21st September each year. Tell a lie, the celebrations actually began the day before, starting with an arts and crafts session in the community centre organised by Mariana who used to teach at the village school.  There was an amazing number of children there which was brilliant to see; not just former pupils but also some who live in the village and others who must be here for the weekend visiting relatives.

The tables were covered in all sorts of natural materials such as dried beans, lentils, pine cones, twigs, along with various colouring materials and glues. We were instructed to draw a template of something on our paper, such as a sunflower, and then fill it in using the materials available. Everyone got to work and when I went round to have a quick peek at how the children were getting on I was amazed at how careful and patient they were being, even the tiny ones:

The babas sang some songs partway through and of course the mayor said a few words to a slightly inattentive audience.

In the evening it was party time as DJ Georgo set up his gear in the square, along with some stalls selling toys and a snack bar.  Tables and chairs were put out and people began to gather.  As darkness fell, some of the children kicked off the celebrations with a display of traditional dancing

and then it was time for everyone to sit back, eat, drink and join in with the dancing.

I've never seen so many people in the square before and the atmosphere was lovely.

The next day at about 2pm there was more music, this time courtesy of a guy with a keyboard and a female singer. Safely away on the far side of the square I had time to study the footsteps a little and have a practise go. I think I may actually have mastered one of the dances!

In the evening I was lucky enough to get invited along for dinner at a neighbour's house just along the street.  The long table was set up in the summer dining room and the guests comprised the elderly couple who live there, their son, his wife, her mother and father, four friends and myself and a friend. Nadia had been very busy preparing the food (apparantly not just that evening but the day before and for the day after too) and served us a very tasty cockerel soup (I enquired if it was because said cockerel had been too noisy), banitsa, two kinds of salad, meatballs, stewed pork, and rabbit stuffed with rice. There was rakia and homemade wine to drink, along with beer and soft drinks.

It was a great evening, not just because of the food but the company too as everyone was very friendly and jolly. We went out later in the dark to have a look at all the rabbits in their hutches - apparently they are only a few months old when they're ready for the pot. If I ever get to the stage where I have the time (and know how) to keep some animals for food I think rabbits might be one of the things I could cope with. Nadya, the host, said she'd be more than happy to give me a pregnant doe when the time comes, to get my collection started, though I wonder how many years it would be before I could psyche myself up to killing them.

The final celebration this week has been a late birthday meal out with a couple of friends who are here on holiday. We went into VT to the Shtastlivetsa restaurant in the old part of town. I've been here a few times before and never yet been disappointed with the food, and this occasion was no exception.

I had chicken fillets and haloumi cheese served with a lemony sauce and a side of roasted seasonal vegetables, followed by a desert of pasta stuffed with marscaponi and apple topped with crushed nuts. My, was it gorgeous and incredibly filling as always. Probably just as well I bought that skipping rope at Kaufland earlier this week - I shall need it to work off all the delicious calories.

 

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