Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Final Gatherings Before Christmas

Well here we are in the run up to Christmas, and the final gatherings of the Expat community in the VT area have probably now taken place. On Sunday there was a big herd of us all at the VT camp site, as this was the final visits of Andy the Freezerman, Sokoni Foods, Country Cares and the Chocolate Box. Not only was it an excellent opportunity to stock up on those last Christmas essentials, but also to treat yourselves. We ended up with Smoked back bacon, Cranberry sauce, Colman's mustard, Gravy granules, Ginger beer, Marmite, Curry paste, Black pudding, Mince pies, Tetley tea bags and best of all proper English mature cheddar. We can even get deliveries from Asda and Tesco courtesy of Andy the Freezerman. For our treats we visited the Chocolate box, and stocked up on Dime bars, Mint Imperials, Extra Strong mints, Black Jack bars and the compulsory Quality Street.

It is a lot different now to when we first arrived over here, when it was quite difficult to get these home comforts. We could get them once we knew where to go, but they did seem quite expensive. Nowadays with more and more places selling English bits and pieces the prices have come down to a more reasonable level. Another good thing about everyone gathering in one central place, it does give everyone the chance to exchange Christmas wishes, have a natter and generally catch up before the winter sets in with a vengeance. The VT area does have quite a thriving Expat community, although we don't live in each others pockets as we are quite well spread out throughout various towns and villages. So these events, along with the car boot sales are an excellent way of having a social gathering and exchanging news.

Another bonus that we had, was that Nick and Nikki, the camp site owners, have given us permission, and allocated a date, for us to hold an It's A Knockout Olympic challenge. It is still early days at the moment, and very much in the planning stages, but we have already got a VT team, one from Stara Zagora and hopefully we have managed to coerce a team of Bulgarians to enter. We have asked Booby Martin, from Trust Global Radio if he would be willing to attend, and also need to get in touch with local media to promote this. So far everyone that we have spoken to have seemed very enthusiastic about the idea and some are threatening to spend part of their Summer holiday supporting this event.

There has also been a carol concert held in VT the other day. Unfortunately we were unable to attend, but we did manage to get to the charity Christmas quiz last night. Once again a last minute opportunity to pass on Christmas greetings and generally socialise. Due to the weather conditions, we had thick fog up here on the hill, we did debate whether it was prudent to continue into VT. It was like driving into a blanket and with nothing but the verge to follow it was worthwhile taking things cautiously. The village bus did pass us going the other way, so we thought that if we continued the road was still passable. One thing that we did have to take into consideration was whether the conditions would worsen for our return journey. Once we had dropped down below the cloud it just turned to drizzle, so we decided to continue. Without mishap we arrived in VT, parked up and as we were early went for a quick bite to eat before heading to the quiz venue. We were the first ones there, and did wonder if we had actually got the right place, fortunately Christine Fox turned up shortly afterwards. As did the snow!!!!

Not only do these quizzes keep the old grey cells ticking over, but they also raise money for local charities. In this case it was Priatelli, one of the main charitable organisations in this area. The venue was fine, as we were in a hotel conference room, but the service was a bit of a shambles. The barman had to stock up first of all, and at odd moments throughout the evening just disappeared. It was as though he had just fallen into a black hole, it was not really surprising that he seemed to wear a puzzled look permanently on his face. The quiz itself was a good laugh, with quite a good range of questions, but once again at the halftime point the barman had mysteriously disappeared. Maybe he had gone to try and make a snowman, but we did have a picture round and some other questions to keep us occupied while we waited for him to reappear. At the interval the team that we were part of were lying in fourth place, round about midway as there were eight teams in all. There were also Bulgarians joining in with the quiz too, which is very good to see.

At the end of the quiz we finished up in second place, no prizes but we did win a couple of prizes in the raffle. All in all a great night, but all that remained for us to do was to get home safe and sound. The snow in VT was still coming down in dribs and drabs, but fortunately it also had rain mixed in and wasn't pitching on the roads at all. I still thought it wise to take an alternate route home, as sometimes the Arbanassi hill can be a bit dodgy, so we went the scenic route towards Ruse as it is flatter. It was going quite well until we got between Samovodene and Polikraiste when the snow started to come down in earnest. It was even heavier when we turned off to go through Yantra, and big fat snowflakes were whirling in the headlight beams, they were still not pitching on the road though. It wasn't until we started going up the ridge road that we noticed the snow was beginning to settle. Halfway up not only did we have the snow to contend with, but the dense fog had also made a return, so the rest of the journey was made on dipped lights and in four wheel drive. At the top of the hill the snow was about an inch thick, so it must have been falling for a while, but thankfully we have winter tyres on so were able to get home without any off road adventures.

Waking up this morning and looking out of the window, we were confronted with a white garden and it wasn't frost. Then sun has since come out and the snow is in retreat, a downside is that we now have a very nice collection of cat and dog size paw prints. I shall have to teach them how to use the mop and not just chase it. Another problem will be if it freezes again tonight, the freeze and thaw does nothing for the roads and it does make travelling on the side roads and country lanes a bit risky. We've stocked up on logs for today and both fires are lit, so the house is nice and warm, which the animals are appreciating. I'll get logs sorted out for tomorrow later on this afternoon, just in case the forecast is right as supposedly it is meant to go up to -3C tomorrow. So it is still quite mild for the time of year.

All that is left to do is to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, or as they say over here 'Весела Коледа e Честита Нова Година Приятели'

1 comment:

  1. great blog and great company ... a very happy Christmas to you both x