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

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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
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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

Tagged with "stork"
Wednesday 8th March, 2017
Category: 2017/03
Tags: stork ladies' day garden

Today, the 8th of March, is Ladies' Day in Bulgaria, which I always think is nice as it includes every female rather than just honouring mums or wives. No doubt the florists are making a killing!

I love this time of year in Bulgaria. One minute the ground is still frozen solid and everything is either brown or grey, they next there are signs of new life bursting out everywhere. Birds are singing like crazy, especially the jays which at the moment seem to be bustling around in large groups making all sorts of noises from harsh squawks to soft chatterings. I had a couple of wagtails land in the garden the other day (much to Poppy's excitement as she crouched in the veggie patch wondering which one to chase first). I think they might have been white wagtails as they had very distinct black throats and heads. Then yesterday, I saw three storks circling overhead as they made their way across the village. That definitely signals the imminent arrival of spring and of course means that the red and white Martenitsas can now be hung on the fruit trees. (I put mine on the red currant and loganberry bushes as they need encouragement).

The veggie patch is looking great now that all three raised beds are full of manure, and some areas have already been sown.

There are onions and garlic, rows of radish (already germinating), parsnips, carrots and leeks, and a couple of patches of spinach. Indoors I have pots of tomatoes (all growing nicely), and peppers, chillis and aubergines. The greenhouse has trays of lettuce and various kinds of cabbage as well as some flowers. Every day I go and check on progress and never fail to get a buzz of excitement when that first little green shoot pops through the soil.

To see pictures of manure, manure and more manure, click here!

 

 

 

Friday 18th April, 2014
Category: 2014/04
Tags: rain Easter egg decorating storks

The horrible cold wet weather continues and yesterday there was quite a storm in the afternoon during which it absolutely pelted down with rain.  The street outside became like a little river and the poor garden was temporarily covered in giant puddles:

Thankfully after the rain stopped the water drained away fairly quickly, but it isn't doing much for my little seedlings which seem to have all halted their development.  The forecast is for the weather to warm up significantly from Monday onwards so hopefully that will get them all wriggling their little roots in delight and shooting up green and strong again.

It was about an hour before the storm that I had the pleasure of seeing a group of five storks flying directly over the house.  Perhaps they knew the monsoon was on its way and were headed to higher ground for safety.  They flap their wings quite slowly and with their long necks and legs they look quite prehistoric as they circled across the sky.  Jurassic Park IV:

It's Easter here this weekend, for once east meets west and all branches of Christianity are celebrating at the same time.  I thought that this year I'd have a go at making hot cross buns and bring a bit of Blighty to the neighbourhood.  I found a straightforward recipe on the BBC Good Food website and set about making them. Initially the mixture was horrendously sticky and instead of kneading it as instructed I was left wearing a pair of dough gloves.  I added a few more handfuls of flour though and the gloopy mess became more manageable.  With their crosses piped on and baked to a golden brown and then glazed with melted jam (courtesy of the Skalsko tombola some weeks ago) the results not only looked like hot cross buns but actually tasted pretty good too.  I have amazed myself!

Monday is the Easter party in the community centre so I'm going to make some more for the locals to try.  Fingers crossed they turn out as good as the first lot.

The preparations for Easter weekend began yesterday when we had an egg decorating session in the village.  It's tradition in Bulgaria to decorate boiled eggs and then on Easter Day you tap them against someone else's and whoever's egg remains uncracked will have good fortune during the year.  The eggs aren't wasted because after the tapping you get to eat them.  

When we arrived there was a whole heap of eggs already boiled and plenty more on the go. Natasha, who works at the community centre, had put out different materials for decorating eggs and the first one we did was using onion skins.  You cut up the onion skins into tiny pieces and put an unboiled egg into an old pair of tights wrapped in these skins.  Tie the egg up tightly and then put it to boil for a good 10 minutes or more.

Whilst the onion eggs were boiling, the traditional first egg was dyed red:

The red symbolises the blood of Christ and the hard shell represents the sealed tomb.  (The tapping of the eggs to crack them represents the opening of the tomb when Jesus rose from the dead).  There is also a story that after the resurrexion, Mary Magdalene went to see the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  Everyone was supposed to bring him a gift and most came with expensive luxury items but Mary, being poor, could only  present him with an egg whilst saying Christ has risen.  The emperor shook his head in disbelief.  Why, someone can no more rise from the dead than that egg can turn red, he said, whereupon the egg did just that before his very eyes.

Our red egg was taken to each person in turn and used to draw a little cross on our foreheads accompanied by the invocation to have a long and healthy life.

We all then got stuck into decorating the rest of the eggs.  Some used leaves to mask areas of the eggs before dipping them into dyes whilst others put dots of different coloured dyes onto cotton wool and wrapped the egg in it for a mottled effect:

  

I went a bit mad with the dyes on my first go and ended up smothering the egg totally but the next one turned out better.  I'd brought along some paints and stickers and some of the eggs were further adorned with these.  My favourites though were the ones boiling in onion skins. After they'd been boiling for a while they were then left to soak, still wrapped, in the pots of dye.  After this was done and they were unwrapped they had the most gorgeous mosaic effect on them.

Once all the eggs were coloured and dried we used a soft cloth and some lard to give them all a polish:

The eggs were all placed on a tray with some cranesbill (здравец) for decoration.  Don't they look pretty?

On Monday we'll tap them at our village Easter party and eat them along with the traditional Easter bread called kozunak and hopefully some hot cross buns!

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