After my two weeks back in Swansea (rain everyday) I was looking forward to returning to BG, with March on its way and unusually warm couple
of weeks at the begininng of Feb. I thought spring was well and truely on its way.
The 1st of March in Bulgaria is a holiday, Baba Mart ‘Grandmother March’ and is celebrated by the exchanging of red and white wristbands, and the exchange
of seasons tidings. The seasons being goodbye winter, hello spring! These are then tied onto the nearsest tree when you first spot a stork. They could be on your wrist a while this year.
Well Baba Mart, has messed up big time, I awoke this morning to 3 inches of snow and 40 mph winds direct from the Urals. My thermometer read a miserly -5C
add into that the wind chill factor, and there are some very sorry looking brass monkeys about.
I had planned to go shopping in the local town today (Djebel), their being lots of ice and snow around I have given it a miss and have decided to have a day
infront of the woodburner. Todays mission is simply to keep warm. The forecast is the same for the next few days, so more staying in could be on the cards.
My two cats (Dave & Alan) have parked themselves under the woodburner, and from the look of them would quite happily stay there until the weather gets better. If
I was small enough I would be under there too!
The end of January today and the weather is definately middle of winter typr. The snow this year has
been thin on the ground, we had three or four days with 50 cm of snow, the tempreature however has been completely normal for this time of year.
I have not succumbed to heating the whole house as is the norm in the UK with central heating systems. I do however have a hot room, with a
woodburner going most of the time. The rest of the house is unheated and the tempreature even inside is well below 0C somedays and probably every night.
The thermometer in the picture above is located outside in my porch which is on the north side of the house so is especially chilly,
no need for a deep freezer here during winter.
January is the month of documents in Bulgaria, new road tax, tax declarations and such like. They really do like nothing better than documents, especially
with stamps and signatures even to get the simplest of things done. When we bought our house foreign nationals were not allowed to purchase property in Bulgaria
but they could own a business. So the process of buying a house entailed opening a business in your name and getting the business to purchase the property.
Obviously businesses are required to submit annual tax returns, the first year I did this was a very convaluted process I have however found a short cut!
Instead of joining the 300 metre queue at the regional tax office to submit the return it is quite possible to send it by post! My first year here I was told that
they had to be submitted in person. Even a nil return.
So today I have been copying the details from last years nil return and putting them on this years document which will be handed to my postman this week sometime.
Next month I am off for a short visit to the UK, as our house there need some replastering doing, UK plasterers quoted us 1600 pounds so we decided it would be cheaper
and more fun to take two of our builder neighbours in Bulgaria back to the UK and let them have the work instead. They only wanted paying 40 euros a day! It should also be quite fun
as Mustafa who is 56 has never been on a plane in his life, and Easyjet is going to get the priviledge of introducing him to flight! (Think he might
need a quick mastika before take off)
The hangover has finally gone, but only just. Why is it a good idea to have a whiskey (100ml – single Bulgarian measure)
at the stroke of new year when you are already 3 sheets to the wind! It is always a good idea at the time, but the morning after doubt begins to seep in.
Annie was over for a well deserved break, and we invited another Anglchanka from a neighbouring village along (Elsa). The evening started slowly, but being relatively new to New Years celebrations
were not prepared for what the locals can manage. In that you should carry on drinking until it is light! I got no where near the break of dawn, but have been informed that
Ilyas and Aziz most certainly did. Hikmet the barman was to say the least not enthralled by stamina!
I have stolen these pictures from Elsa, as I didn’t take any, the originals can be found, along with her diary of life in Bulgaria
here. The main celebration at midnight is a firework display, and from our vantage point outside the pub
a great view of all the surrounding villages setting off fireworks could be seen.
Back at the end of November, the discount supermarket chain ‘Lidl’ opened a branch in the local metropolis that is Kardjali. Now when Lidl opens a new shop
in the UK, the majority of the populace probably doesn’t bat an eyelid. Here however, with promotions including banana’s at 50 stotinki a kilo, it has caught the attention
of the populace. So much so that banana’s have been restricted to 4 kilos per person, for those willing to spend three hours in a queue. To date no less than 6
ambulances have been called to the store to revive customers, who either got excited at the promotion or just squashed in the rush! I await the opening of Aldi with trepidation!
Winter has come early here just as with the rest of Europe. This makes it the time of year
to stay in side and keep warm.
At least that is if you don’t have drive and pick the better half who was lucky enough to leave the UK before they decided to close all the airports. My normal
drive of 35 minutes to pick her up from the bus station in Kardjali, was preceeded by a two hour dig to get the car to the road.
As well as a 35 km drive that took an hour each way. Not being an expert driver in these winter conditions, and the feeling of not being able to steer making me feel
out of control I thought I would take it steady. Not for your average Bulgarian. The drivers here like nothing more than a challenge, boosted by the confidence that
winter tyres are compulsory they hurtle along overtaking on blind corners. They seem very interested in the contents of my boot if they are not overtaking. British drivers
have nothing on these guys when it comes to tail gating! It is obviously a sign of weakness to more than 6 inches from the car in front.
So the better half is here there is nothing to do in the garden and it is too cold to much else. Enjoy the pictures of the winter setting in!
The rain has helpd of for a couple of days som I have been busy digging, chopping logs and raking where I have dug. I have created 3 deep beds for trial next year. Just haven’t decided what I shall test out compared to normal beds. The obvious choice would be root vegatables of some sort as these will surely do better in a very well dug out bed. That might be making the results a bit bias though.
So I have think I shall have to go with 1 root veg., 1 peppers, 1 french beans. That should give me a good idea as to whether the extra work involved
reaps a greater yield. I used to hate digging, but after you get in to your stride and begin to see the results, it can be quite a satisfying task. Plus
it saves going to gym. I could do with a massage but Annie is back in the UK, so will have to suffice with a few beers up the pub, it is the weekend and I haven’t seen the boys from the pub for a few days.
As well as digging I have been doing a bit more chopping of wood so have had a really good workout. I could quite easily give this job up though. Not quite so satisfying especially when you see how quick the stuff burns. Putting three logs on the burner in one go, might well have been 10 mins work on some of the logs I have got as they are full of knots and don’t half take some chopping. However I have no choice as I have no other means of keeping warm, which works wonderfully as an incentive.
Here for those that like pictures, one of my deep bed freshly dug over and raked, and another of a pile of logs. Picture paints a thousand words. But does
not describe the toil that went into creating them!