Archive for July 24, 2011

Muslims & Gypsies

The annual (lunar year) of muslim festival’s is upon us. So this weekend I spent out of the garden and voluteered to drive my neighbour Hussain
around, as he is the local Imam, he is busy saying a few prayers and singing (voice like pavarotti) as each of the local mosques(djamir’s) has its
‘mulitsa’. Not quite sure what is being celebrated but as no-one but Hussain knows any Arabic I am probably not the only one.

I suppose they are somewhat the same as ‘pancake day’ is the christian calendar, lots of eating for just before the month of fasting. So I am quite lucky I
get to do all the feasting and being proudly atheist no fasting required. Today’s mulitsa was in the local village of Mladovo, which as well as being from the
Mulsim minority in Bulgaria, is also a minority in a minority in that most of the village are from Roma decent. The BNP would have loved it.

The festival starts about 9 in the morning, where a few of the men cook the traditional beef and rice, enough to feed the whole village and any passing guests, then
for those who wish, a ceremony in the mosque goes on, whilst the majority sit around, telling dirty jokes, or in my case explaining the price of everything in the UK. The UKFO
can sleep well tonight I have put off an entire village from wanting to emigrate to the UK when I told them 20 cigarettes will cost them 8 euros! I was the brunt of many
jokes, one of the comedians of the village strung me on with a story that he had just had his 15th child, and pointed out his (new) wife who was 30 years his junior!

Hikmet The Giggilo

Hikmet the Dad of 15!

It turned out that he has two daughters, did not find any truth about the age of his new wife though! One of the young lads brought out an English phrase book, so inretrun I got
Hikmet to read out the English for Knife, Fork & spoon, which had the students in the village who study English in fits of laughter at his pronouciation of ‘fork’. The whole village was very welcoming, and I was treated as
a guest, and included me in all that was going on. Hussain was coming to the end of his ‘set’, so sent for me to sit with him during the feast, some poor other old fellow
was shunted down the pecking order, so the Imam’s driver could sit at the ‘top table’. Hussain thought it was quite funny, I have never met an 87 year old with such a mischeavous
behaviour. After the feast I filled the car up with as many as I could and we headed back, two of my new passesngers live in Fotinovo, which would mean about a 2km detour which was no
problem for me, but Hussain was having none of it, and kicked them out at our turn off, telling them there would be a bus along in a minute (The rural Sunday service must be improving). As
we drove on he said they were just chancing their arm, and the walk back would do them good as they are still young (Only in their late 70’s).

I have made a few new friends and have also put a name to a few more faces that I had seen before, the day has yet to finish as Hussain has told me to meet him in the
pub this evening (like all good Imam’s should). I hope no food is involved as I am full to bursting! I’m off to the pub!

Silly Season

OK I give up, just look at this…

Cucumber Mountain North Face

This mornings harvest

I went out in all innocence this morning, was glad to pick a few ripe tomatoes then slowly edged my way to the cucumber plot. I am starting
to get suspicous at the rate of growth of the damn things.

I also got to pick the first nectarines on the tree I planted two years ago, there really is nothing nicer than fruit picked straight from the
tree, I took the picture before I picked them for good reason as I had eaten them before I got back inside.



I have caused a storm with ladies of the village, they all look on in envy at my onion stringing ability! The traditional way here is to put them
in sacks as you would potatoes, so now everyone is coming around to see what the silly english is doing with his onions.

Onions on String

Just wait until they try my beetroot & curry chutney!

Clean Pants

It has got to the time of the year in which I take my annual bath – whether I need it or not. By which I actually mean going for a swim
in the nearby river, whilst my friends and neighbours catch fish with their hands!

The tempreature is in the mid-30’s so there is nothing quite like a good splash about in fast moving river to help cool you down, with not one pair of speedos
in sight everyone just strip down to their pants (english not american) and just jumps in.

So here are some pictures of rural Bulgaria that you will not find in any Tourist brochure, the nearest road is 3km away and it is mainly used by the
locals for fishing and picnic trips. The scenery is just amazing and these pictures don’t really do it justice. I have left out the picture of me in my
pants so as not to make anyone too envious of my bronzed adonis frame!

And from above (available on google earth)

Gourd’n Bennet

The ‘EU’ cucumber mountain, I have realised could all be the fault of a few allotment gardeners in Bristol. I have mentioned before
that I have have planted too many this year, about 20 plants in all. Half of those though are the gerkin variety to make into pickles. So after the recent
3 days of heavy rain I have today managed to get out into the garden and see what has been happening whilst I have been reading books
and watching the lightening.

Todays Cucumbers

Todays cucumbers (3 days growth)

Admittidley, I may have missed one or two the last time I checked, but picking 20 cucumbers every 3 days just seems wrong. I can’t even give the damn things away
as all my neighbours are equally up to their eyes in them as well.

I was in the pub last night (I know again), and when asked what I had been upto for the day, I explained that I had been pickling beetroot. Unfortunately beetroot
has never made it on to the list of words to be learnt. So after much anitmation, and describing them as red/purple carrot/parsnip things thought the best way was to go and get a jar.
On my arrival then of a jar a bright purple freshly pickled beetroot, and saying the Bulgarian equivalent of “Tadaaa!”, the confusion become even more intense.
I for one thought that all ex-communist countries eat nothing but cabbage and beetroot throughout the cold war. No name could be given to my jar of pickles so I have
had to look it up. Now where is my esxcuse for going to the pub to learn some new words!(for those interested its ‘chveklo’ – and sugar beet is ‘zahar chveklo’)

The ‘idiot’ Englishman is at it again. Not only does he grow trees in pots so they stay small, sunflowers where you can’t eat the seeds, he now has some pumkins that I wouldn’t feed to my
cow because – they look nice (Its a bloody pumkin). Or at least that is what I translate when I explain to everyone that I am growing some ornamental gourds, and they roll their eyes at me and smile.

Gourds Look Nice but taste crap

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

They do agree though that my lillies are worth growing even though they are in flower for only a week.

Pink Lily

My internet after singing its praises for the last 4 months has for the last 10 days been utter crap so if you are listening M-Tel (VodafoneBG) pull your finger out
and get me off this dial-up rubbish!

Castrol GTX & Bikinis

The great institute of the Britsh Pub, although destroyed in Britain lives well in rural Bulgaria. My local village pub,
does not have a ‘gastro’ menu, does not have watered down beer that tastes of piss, or draconian opening hours and the smoking ban is at the descetion of the landlord. The toilet is outside. When
I say outside, I mean wherever you want to pee outside. Cards are played, and conversation revolves around sport, bikinis, engines, and how crap
the policitians are.

Aziz, one omy neighbours has just bought a car. He is 45 and can’t drive, but as he has to make regular trips into the city, he has bought himself a car
so now all he has to do to get a lift is find someone with a driving licence. In Bulagria you insure the car not the driver (much more sense).

So Aziz, although a donkey expert does have much idea when it comes to cars. Whilst doing his weekly check, turning the engine over and much polishing
he noticed the oil warning light remained on. Don’t panic!

So he is in the pub asking for advice on how to get the oil light to turn off, without removing the bulb. He is given all manner of advice, and is now more confused than
when he knew nothing. So me and Hikmet(barmen) decided to resolve his one remaining issue, should he buy Castrol GTX(10/40) at 20lev a litre, or the cheap as chips engine oil
(10/40). Hikemt explained that when it comes to engine oil the packaging is quite similar to women, the bikini clad beauty is definately more expensive, but when the lights are out
a hole is hole. As with most pubs a sexual analogy always works best. Aziz is off to buy the cheap as chips oil!

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