Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Not Only Valentine's Day

Good afternoon to all of our readers, not only is today Valentine's Day in Bulgaria but also Trifon Zarezan Day. Today is one of the days when they celebrate the vine and the wine, they also do this on the 1st, so often gets celebrated twice, depending on whether you use the old or new calendars. Besides the first pruning of the vines it is also a good excuse to ask for a bountiful crop the coming year, but to also sample the fruits of the previous year's crop. Supposedly today marks the ending of Winter and the nearing arrival of Spring. As I have previously mentioned I have definitely grown tired of Winter, and that quite soon the novelty of living in a Christmas card landscape soon wears thin. Today I have seen the first of the Martenitsas being sold, and that is always uplifting of my Winter spirits, Spring is just around the corner and soon the Storks will return to nest.

Today we were invited down to the pensioner's club to celebrate both days, even if the proceedings did start at 10am. So at 9.45 we were down at Yolanta's to pick her up, well Net was as I went to the Post Office to check for mail and pay the water bill. Lo and behold the Post Office was actually open, the first time in over three weeks, so the weather has to be improving. It is quite dazzling outside, with the sunshine being reflected from yesterday's snowfall, and bright blue skies. The temperature has risen from -11 when we first got up to a dizzying +8, and the welcome sound of dripping from roofs and gutters.

The first person that we met on entering the Pensioner's Club was Hussein, otherwise known as Lovejoy, one of the village characters. Now we all know that he is a bit light fingered, but he is also what I guess most people would refer to as a lovable rogue. To us he has always been well mannered, polite and courteous, that is not to say that we would trust him any further than we could throw him, but he is definitely a character in the village. He never introduces himself to new comers to the village as anything else but Lovejoy, and if you want something chances are that he can lay his hands on it. His wife is lovely, and took me aback yesterday when she called out "Hi Neil, how are you?", it took me a moment to realise that she had asked me this in English and not Bulgarian. Their children are fine, Elise and Nohan speak English, Osman does too to a certain extent, but I do get the impression that he is following in his father's footsteps, and if there is a handy open window he will not be averse to having a look inside.

We were invited to a party in the Pensioner's Club, and duly attended. When the Kmet arrived both Yolanta and I were in the Foyer bit smoking and it was big smiles, handshakes and kissing both cheeks And I was told that later in the week there will be a photo of me and the Kmet from the interview that we did with TV7. Once in the club it was a bit confusing at the start as they started making speeches. The gist of it was should the annual membership be 2 Leva or 3 Leva, this seemed to go on for about half an hour, they even wanted to count our votes even though we are not members.

Once the voting was out of the way food started to arrive, first there was cold meats, cheeses and eggs, Followed by Pork, potatoes and some rissole type things, accompanied by the pickled vegetables, then more sliced meat and finally some of Net's birthday cake. All of the while this was happening we were plied with various wines and rakias, that the villagers had produced themselves. They would give you a taster and wait for sounds of approval, once they had this your glass was filled up. It is so nice to feel included in these village celebrations, even though some of the people you don't even recognise as being from the villlage, but they have gone out of their way to make us all feel very welcome. If they had had their way we would all still have been there now.

We did meet big George again, and he was translating bits and pieces for us, which was very kind of him. We were asked what we would like to happen to the club, to encourage us to use it more. Some of their ideas might work and some might not, I do disagree with them trying to undercut the village Magazin on a lot of items, but then again we get on very well with Todor and Renie. I did enquire about the possibility of someone trying to teach us foreigners Bulgarian, or at least helping us with it as I really would like to be able to speak to the villagers in their own language. He suggested that maybe the club wouldn't be the best place for that as there would possibly be too many interruptions, but he did offer to teach us in his own home. He is more than happy to play chess in the club though, and when Net suggested that we take one of our chess sets down there he is insistent that he buys a chess set for use in the club.

The long and the short of it all is that we do feel welcome in the village, even though there is the slight language barrier but we are determined to overcome this, and with a little help we shall. I certainly feel more at home here than I ever did in the UK, and feel thankful that we have such lovely and welcoming neighbours. Even though they would still like us to be over there getting absolutely plastered with them, which is another tradition on Saint Trifon's day. Sadly I am no longer pub fit  

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