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

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Wednesday 15th November, 2017
Category: 2017/11
Tags: crochet blanket

Very thrilling moment today - the crochet blanket I started working on over a year ago has been finished!

It's been a lot of work (mostly through the winter months hence why it's taken so long) with quite a lot of planning to ensure every hexagon is different, but it's also been a very satisfying process. The final step today was to do a border just to smooth out the edges, and to catch in any little threads which were sticking out.  It's mostly just for decoration but it does feel lovely and warm - just the thing for snuggly afternoon naps!

I won't be doing such a big project for a while, though I'd really like to have a go at crocheting a pair of slipper socks which are quite common out here, and more specifically the ones I've seen on YouTube which are designed to look like a pair of trainers, complete with laces. Watch this space...

Saturday 28th October, 2017
Category: 2017/10
Tags: sports stadium cricket rounders

Like many times before, I have hugely neglected this site of late, though in a way that's a good thing because it means that life has been extremely full, and in a country of rapidly diminishing population and dying villages it is with great pride and pleasure that I can tell you Gostilitsa is not going to be slipping off the map any time soon. far from it!

A couple of weeks ago we had the huge Horse Power festival weekend, with three days of glorious sunshine, fun and games, horse racing and rock concert. I've already posted photos on Facebook in public albums, so here are the links if you want a quick browse to whet your appetite for next year!

Horse Endurance

Games and Rock Concert

Cricket Match - and yes I did end up playing, and was given at least three chances by the very sweet Sofia team who deliberately dropped the ball several times so as not to catch me out. the age of chivalry is most certainly not dead!

I must say that being down on the stadium field during the festival felt like being in a different place altogether. Almost like a mini resort with the food stalls, activities, horses etc. A huge amount of work - both paid and voluntary - has gone into restoring the area over the past months but the results are incredible. One of the big things I'm hoping will come of the festival is that locals might see just what can be achieved by ordinary people working together, and it might just spur them on to make further changes around the village.

On Sunday we had the first of hopefully many rounders practices. Quite a lot turned up so we had enough for two teams of 7 and played two games (with a break in between to recover from the sudden spurt of activity). I think the last time I actually played rounders would have been in the second or third year of senior school - so back in 1978ish - but as time went on I managed to start clipping the ball with the bat. Lots more practice needed and lots of sprinting too - I got horrendously out of breath and red in the face! It was great fun though, and even Nadya the mayor came along and had a go at fielding.

The temperatures have dropped quite dramatically now and it's forecast to be below zero at night for the foreseeable future, so I've been going mad in the garden preparing things: Geraniums have been moved to the bubble-wrap greenhouse;

Spare peonie roots and rudbekia clumps have been potted up (they will be planted out front once the workmen have finished renovating the park); raised beds have been topped up with the decomposed compost (to make space in the compost bin for more deliveries over winter); the winter veggie bed (beets, cabbages, turnips) has had its protective plastic covers put up;

And lastly one section of the patio wall has had a concrete cap put on to stop any damage from water freezing inside it over winter

Come on, you knew plastic bottles had to be involved somewhere.

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!


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