The end of November comes and with it the start of the colder weather. The wood burner has
been in use almost nightly. The logs are all chopped. The coal has been stocked up. Southern Bulgaria has an excellent climate. I have lived near the equator in Africa
where after 10 in the morning it is too hot to move. I have spent time travelling around Thailand, where the humidity is suffocating, and of course the UK where the types of different
rain need a 5 volume book to catalogue them all. Here though there are proper seasons, cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and a bit wet in between.
This is the time of the year when there is not much going on in the garden, growing wise art least. So it is a time to do all the maintenance jobs, paths, fences etc.
Thanks to Kimet (mayor) cow I have plenty to keep me busy. It is not just my garden though to which this cow has taken a fancy. I found out only yeasterday that
it has taken down a 10 metre section of fencing from one of my neighbours. On its last visit to my garden it demolished part of the fence then went on to
eat two apple saplings and my cabernet sauvignon vine. The apples fine but if you mess with my wine there will be trouble. After chasing the said cow out of the garden,
I decidied it was time to tell the kimet (Raihim) exactly what he could do with his cow, and exactly what I would do with his cow should it venture uninvited into my garden again.
I think I made myself understood as I have not seen it since.
The rest of the village also know of my problems with it, and on my last visit to the pub Ali (who has the best eyebrows in the world) offered to put his 85 sheep
into the Kimets garden to see how he liked it! I promised him a few beers if he carried it through, I have yet to catch up with him to see if it was just the mastika talking though!
Part of trying to live self reliantly is having a go at things you would normally leave to experts, or in the case of sweeping the chimney
someone who knows what they are doing. Not me though! Sweeping a chimney how hard can it be?
I have jumped out of planes at 3000 feet and 12000 feet, I have freefall parachuted for 60 seconds. I have abseiled down sheer rock faces and
enjoy climbing up them. Walking up a 30 year old roof some 5 metres from the ground though adds a new angle to vertigo. It is not the height, more
it is my 85kg of mass pushing down on an old roof!
For the last two years I have bought Osman (52kgs) a couple of beers for the privilege of climbing on my roof to sweep the chimney, unfortunately this
year he is away working in Germany and rather than look like a big girls blouse have decided to do it myself.
Needless to say I am still in one piece otherwise I would not be writing this now!
Infact as soon as I realized the roof was not going to
cave in decided to take my camera up with a coffee and sat down on the chimney to enjoy the view. My neighbours no longer think of me as a big girls
blouse but a bit mental. ‘Why were you sitting on your chimney with a coffee taking pictures ? You nutter!’
One of the good points about not owning a television is that it makes a
great excuse to visit my local pub to watch a game of football. I am a Tottenham fan, I shall not apologise. Today was the north London
derby against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. Tottenham have not won away at Arsenal since 1993.
The vast majority of the pub are ardent Galatasaray fans, with the odd Besiktas, and even fewer CSKA Sofia fans thrown into the mix. Due to the popularity of English football at the moment just about every game is available on the pub telly. My friends and neighbours have adopted the anyone but Tottenham team, unless of course we ever played Fenerbache.
So todays match. I missed the first 30 mins but remembered in time so off I went to the pub hoping we might at least snatch a draw. I was greeted at the pub, the match on in the background with big cheers and smiles, never a good sign! It was already 2 -0 and from the comments of the pub could easily have been 4 – 0. I consoled myself with a beer and sat meekly in the corner. Half time could not come quick enough, the second half looked like it could be painful.
Gareth (last weeks best Player in the world) Bale had been anonymous, where was the promised return of Jermaine Defoe, and Gomes had had a blinder for the opening goal. Ever the optimist and a sucker for punishment I informed the pub that Tottenham would score three in the next half or I would by a round! Luckily in Bulgaria this would only set me back about 5 euros so I wasn’t being that generous!
If only I had gone to the bookies as well!
So I would like to say a big thank you to Gareth (best Player in world – this week) Bale, Mr Fabregas for playing goalie without gloves! Rafael (best signing of season) van der Vaart. And not least Younes (best goal since 1993) Kaboul. Oh and everyone in my pub for offering me a beer afterwards!
It is not often that you get to crow as a Tottenham fan, so when it happens it is so much nicer, and recently we have been spoilt, Inter Milan anyone?
Today is ‘Korban Bayram’. The muslim festival of sacrifice. I am no expert so if I get the details wrong I apologise in advance! The village of Samodiva in southern Bulgaria has come to a standstill today as the festivities begin. I was invited and attended the sacrifice of one cow, two goats and a sheep. Ilyas my neighbour was kind enough to give me a leg of goat to take home with me as well.
I will not be putting pictures up of the butchering process as I didn’t take any, and if you need to know what happens just use google images and search for ‘halal butchers’. Coming from the UK where the process has been hidden away and meat only comes in plastic wrapped ready to eat portions would probably make watching this process turn quite a few people in to vegatarians. I on the other hand have no problem eating meat, and therefore believe that if I can eat it I should be able to do the slaughtering as well.
It is quite a fascinating process, especially from a biological point of view. As each part of the animal was removed I was given a Bulgarian and Turkish translation and told whether or not it was good eating.
There is not a lot left for the dog! Just about everything is used and nothing wasted. Normally after the sacrifice has taken place the liver is cooked and eaten as by all accounts this is the best time to do it. Later on this evening a food festival will take place to which I have been invited. My next door neighbour ‘Chernol’ has insisted that I go round even if only to get some free food. I tried as hard as I could not to accept, but it got to the stage where it was implied that if I didn’t accept offence would be taken. So I will not be cooking this evening and look forward very much to feast!
One of the good things about living in another country is the chance to learn new things, as well as pass on your knowledge in the hope that your
neighbours can learn something about you and your culture.
I normally have at least one guest (gosti) a day around for coffee. Which since my broad (magic) beans have started to sprout has seen most of
them leave with a few to plant themselves. I am not convinced that any will be eaten as they are not very adventurous here. The idea though, of having a
high protein cattle fodder that grows over winter is very appealing to the cow owners of the village.
It will be quite fun to see what my neighbours think of broad beans come May when they they are ready for harvesting. Most of them were very
skeptical about the idea of planting anything in November, but since the first seeds have sprouted interest has increased exponentially.
It is now the Muslim festival of Korban Bayram, which is usually celebrated by the killing of a sheep/cow/goat or camel! But also includes the
delivery of chapatti type bread things. I live alone, however all of my neighbours bring me two of each type regardless. There is only so many that
you can eat!
I have finally finished my greenhouse, and just so it is correctly named I have used the green plastic to cover it with let’s see if it is still
standing after a metre of snow has landed on it! I have also made a cold frame just in case. I have put the picture here just to give every other
DIY anti boffin hope in knowing they could probably do better!