Friday, 23 January 2015
One of the first things that I noticed in the village, was that to my mind the houses don't look typically Bulgarian. I had often wondered why, and finally I might have found an answer. It would appear that once upon a time workers for the Governor of a neighbouring village, Varbovka, settled here. They were generically called Albanians , but could have come from anywhere in that general area as it was a larger country than it is now. They were not even the first settlers here as traces of both Thracian and Roman settlements have been discovered, as well as traces of a Roman road. It is not surprising as the land is so rich and fertile, and being in a hill top valley protected from a lot of the weather.
It would appear that at one time there was a military presence here as well. They took over the management of the school during the 1970s, by which time it was no longer a school. Maybe I am putting two and two together but perhaps it had something to do with the president's former hunting lodge, which we pass on the ridge road, or at least that is what we have been told that it was. Up in the woods I have found what appear to be tank berms, there is a short runway which is now used by the crop spraying aircraft, and in Strelets there is what appears to be a military style bunker. All very Cold War'ish.
No matter what the history of the village actually is, it is a pleasure living here. The air is clean, the peace and quiet can't be beaten, and the villagers are second to none. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by beautiful countryside, wildlife and birdlife abound. This really is a little slice of heaven, and I consider myself lucky to live here. It might be called Paisii, Paisiy, Arnautlii, Arnautli, Паисий or even Арнаутлии, I am just pleased to call it home. Hopefully I haven't bored anyone too much with my findings about this little hideaway.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
Over the last couple of days the temperatures have certainly been on the rise. I even took the chance of driving down into Draganovo to refill one of our gas bottles. Today I was outside building my wood pile back up without having to wear 93 layers of clothes. To say that it was quite pleasant would be a slight understatement, there were even bees flitting round. Heaven only knows what they expected to feed on. We have been quite lucky so far this winter, we have only had about four nights where the temperatures have dipped down below -15C. So far all of our water pipes have survived, I did have a bit of an ice build up on the kitchen waste pipe as it exits onto a North facing wall, but that have been sorted out now. The thaw has come quite quickly so now the garden is a bit of a boggy mess. If I', unlucky I will be mowing the grass before I realise it.
As to whether the winter has finished with us, I very much doubt it. Everyday the sun is rising just that little bit earlier, and setting a little later, we have had cloud but we have also had blue skies too. The weather can be a fickle thing. Looking on the bright side of things the Martenitsa stalls will soon be out in the main square of Gorna, and apparently Storks were building a nest in the village last year so hopefully they will return again this year.
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Perhaps more so in villages, this is a time for the family gathering together. You will often find many different branches of the same family in just the one village, although some have now moved away to seek a better life for their families. If they can make it back they do so, as this is an important time for families. The festivities start early with incense being burned thoughout the house, this is also meant to drive away any evil spirits. Once the table has been incensed and blessed the oldest member of the family breaks the ritual bread. Traditionally this is homemade and often decorated with crosses, circles and flowers, a coin is also baked within the bread. The first piece of bread goes to the Virgin Mary and the families ancestors, the next goes to the house, then to the animals and the finally a piece of bread is given to each family member from oldest to youngest. Whoever gets the coin will be blessed with health and luck for the coming year, should it be in one of the pieces given to the Virgin Mary or the house then everyone will be healthy and fortunate. On sitting at the table everyone moves a place to their right which is said to leave room for family ancestors and benevolent spirits. Even when the Christmas Eve feast is finished the table is not cleared away. There are two thoughts behind this, there is always something to offer an unexpected guest, and also it is these for those departed ancestors.
They do say that there are two different groups who come round to the villages houses singing Christmas songs. The first group is made up of boys who go round during daylight hours, once nightfalls the men take over. As you might expect for doing the difficult job of blessing houses and households certain small items are passed their way. However if you are in a small village such as this everyone is busy with their own families, so marauding bands of carollers are something which we have yet to witness. Many say that the Christmas Day church services are worth attending, but when you have a village priest responsible for several villages it can be difficult to know where such services are being held. Maybe we will just get the bells this year, and when the church is only a stone's throw away they can be hard to ignore. So the celebations often continue onto what we would call Boxing Day, or St Stephen's Day on the 27th. There are some familiar traditions too, such as the Yule Log (badnik), which is normally Oak and is placed on the fire on Christmas Eve, and is supposed to keep burning until Christmas Day, the ashes are then gathered and used in rituals in the coming year, as is the straw from beneath the table.
Finally all that remains is for me to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas. Also to pass on my heartfelt thanks to you all for your support of this blog. At the start of the year it had been accessed 30,000 times, which I thought was no mean achievement. Now come the close of year that figure has moved up to 90,000. None of which would have been possible without people reading these blog articles. Thanks to you all, this blog has far exceeded my wildest expectations.
So once again wherever this blog may find you I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the coming festivities bring you all that you need, and some of what you wish for.
Thursday, 4 December 2014
2. It is worthwhile sorting out torches and candles now, rather than when you actually need them. Every year there are reports of villages without power for days on end. So it is also a good idea to stock up on spare batteries too. If you do end up losing power can you still cook and make yourself hot drinks? One of the first things which we were advised to buy was a dual fuel cooker, two of the top rings are electric and the other two run off of bottled gas. Some of the villages are quite remote so getting work crews there to fix the power supply problem can take a bit of time. For those who dislike silence might I suggest a battery radio, even if it is just on in the background for noise.
6. Everyone knows that metal conducts heat, but few consider that it will do the same with cold. Think of those metal door handles on an external door, they have a metal bar which connects the two handle portions. So -15C outside is also brought indoors too. Round about that temperature skin sticks to metal and you can get cold burns. To get round this we wrap out kichen cloths round the inside handles, as its fair to say that my brain doesn't want to fully wake up first thing in the morning. This is also one reason why we don't leave keys hanging in door locks overnight. Another reason is that if your car keys are in that bunch, the chip inside the keyfob bit can be killed by the cold. Any padlocks are sprayed with WD40 to displace any moisture which might freeze.
Hopefully someone will find at least one of these hints helpful. If you can think of any more then please make a comment below. Remember anyone can be uncomfortable, but it is up to us to pass on information to help each other.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
On the cold dark winter nights the wood burners do come into there own. There is so much rubbish on the TV that it kind of makes sense curling up in front of the fire with a good book. If the animals will actually let you get anywhere near to it.