Sunday, 19 January 2014

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

I am guessing that many of us who are fortunate to live over here are enjoying this mild winter. It is taking a bit of getting used to, but I will continue to struggle on valiantly. The final patch of snow in the garden has finally succumbed to global warming, it disappeared yesterday. When I stop to think that we haven't had any fresh snowfall since November it hasn't lasted too badly. Some are predicting that more snow could be on the way, possibly arriving at the end of next week. If we do get any real winter it is liable to be short and sharp. The good news is that everyone will soon be on Stork watch, just so that they can get their grubby Martenitsas off of their wrists. The shorts will also be out, but the bad news is that my knees will also be getting an airing again.

The good thing with this milder weather is that we can get out and about for walks. Hopefully some will remember that we started last week with a walk along the river at Parvomaytsi, and that weather permitting we had planned another walk for this weekend. We are quite fortunate in that at the back of the village we have a large heathland and then woodland, which is an ideal place to go for a bit of a ramble. Yesterday morning reminded me of something that I should possibly have taken into consideration. The first thing I heard when I woke yesterday was gunfire, we were either being invaded or the hunters were out and about. From the sound of some of the rifle fire there were some larger calibres being used as well. I did start to devise an alternate route for the ramble up round one of the lakes, but after about 10 the shooting stopped. Which was quite fortunate.

So just after midday, well we had to have the compulsory coffee before starting, we set off. Initially the going was easy as we headed through the village to get to the heathland at the back. Some years it does seem very overgrown, but in the autumn the tractors had been up there, I'm guessing they had been getting a lot of winter feed for the animals. Even on the heathland there are some trees, and after inspecting them carefully, we decided that there was no one hiding inside them. The comment was made, that despite it being the middle of January you could hear an awful lot of birdsong. It was very true, and those who had dressed up as though they were going to be tackling the North face of the Eiger were soon regretting wearing quite so many clothes. The day wasn't hot, but there was no real breeze to move the warm air about. Considering the alternative, where we have had a metre of snow in the village, I know which option I prefer. Thankfully we didn't have to use these trees as cover from the hunters, but then again we weren't in stealth mode either. So we continued sauntering across the heathland, heading for the woodland at the far side. Previously we had barely entered into the woodland so it was going to be uncharted territory for all of us.

There is definitely some form of woodland management which goes on as we found this feeding station hidden amongst the trees. As to whether it is for Deer or Boar we are not certain, but there were plenty of corn cobs (or maize) and salt blocks placed there. It just seemed a bit strange coming across something like that in the woods, but in a nice way. We have also been told that not far from the village is the ruins of either a small castle, fortress or monastery, so everyone was keeping their eyes peeled for anything else out of the ordinary. For the most part the going was easy as we followed logging trails. The trucks had compacted the trails down quite nicely, and thanks to the lack of rain even the ground wasn't that muddy. Or at least that was the case in the early stages. We pushed on ever deeper into the woods, despite none of us knowing where we were heading, sticking to these logging trails seemed quite a good option, even someone had been round painting black and white marks on some of the trees. Heaven only knows what paint they use, but it can't be the same stuff we use. We got some washable paint, but if you look at it in the wrong way it seems to wear away, but this stuff they mark trees and rocks with seems to stay there for ages.

Getting away from civilisation you realise that you could be anywhere in the world. OK, maybe not a tropical rain forest, but it just seemed to be us lot and the common language was English. Even the breeze was not in evidence, so it was just us lot accompanied by the twittering of birds in the trees. Walking through these woodlands it is easy to see just how mild this winter has been, as there are still plenty of berries on the trees and bushes. It will be interesting to see just how many wild flowers grow in the woods in a few weeks time. Even as we were ambling along yesterday I could see wild hellebores, but I am hoping there will be a lot more poking their heads up through the carpet of leaves. In a way I am quite glad that this is all left natural. Had someone like the National Trust got hold of it there would be regimented pathways between points, bridle paths for horse riders and the mountain bikers trying to run people over. On the positive side though there would be somewhere to aim for to get a coffee at the halfway point. We did all agree that it would be an ideal setting for a picnic, and I am sure that will be on the cards for later this year.  

This is one of the joys, well for me anyway, about living here. I can fall out of bed with the idea about going for a wander in the countryside, and I can do just that as it is right on our doorstep. We managed to go through the woods and once we got to the thinner areas of trees the famous Bulgarian mud began to appear. For those who have never encountered this before, the easiest way to describe it is Super Glue. This stuff really does stick. If you are walking along and all of a sudden your feet become heavier and heavier, until it feels as though you are wearing a pair of diving boots, you know that Bulgarian mud has got a death grip on your boot. There are advantages as you do tend to grow a couple of inches. I did go past this lot to see if it was any clearer but if anything it looked as though the logging lorries had turned it into a cross country rally course. As we had been traipsing along for nearly two hours it seemed a sensible idea to start heading back. It might have been a wise decision as we did hear more rifle shots in the distance. Perhaps it was the two individuals with the metal detector in a field who were playing a tape of BBC sound effects, although I somehow doubt it.

Whether it is true or not, I have been told that once upon a time tanks were stationed up near the village. We did find several areas that looked as though they could have been revetments, or sangers, . There is certainly an airstrip the other side of the village, and what appears to be a bunker in Strelets, so there might be some truth in it. The return leg always seems that much quicker than the outward journey. The clinging mud had decided that it didn't really want to head for drier land, and we all had an urgent appointment with coffee. As we had expended all of that energy what better way to replenish our reserves than with pasty, beans and  chips. We have been eagerly looking at the forecast to see if we can get another walk in before the end of the month, and it is definitely looking possible. Hopefully by then the twinges will have eased out in knees, hips and ankles. It is great to be able to get out and about and enjoy all of these things.  


  1. Ah yes, the weather forecast changes daily so who knows. But we desperately need rain, the kale and broccoli are wilting. With regards mud, I have to agree, the dogs come in on stilts on a dewy morning and drop it all over the floor if not seen and paws dunked! As you say, the feet get heavier and for those of us with bad legs it can be unbearable. But a small price to pay, and next year the growing part of the garden will be fenced off! We also noticed a bit of bird song instead of the usual squabbling this morning.

    1. I think that they are trying to patent Bulgarian mud to prevent the likes of Loc-Tite using it. I normally manage to sort the dogs feet out before they go in, but the cats are like greased lightning

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