Friday, 7 November 2014

That Time Of Year Again

It has reached that time of year when the weather is predictably unpredictable. As is often the case we have had our first snow, although I am glad to report that it didn't hang round for too long. It was here long enough for me to break out my snow shovel and reacquaint myself with how to use it. Maybe its a bit like riding a bike, in that its a 'skill' that you don't really forget. The only problem with the snow and the rain, was the mud that got left behind in their stead.

Halloween has been and gone for another year. Luckily that awful habit of trick or treating hasn't made it out into the villages yet, but judging by the amount of bits and pieces being sold in shops, perhaps its only a matter of time. One of the heads of the Eastern Orthodox over in Varna was calling on people to turn their backs on this unChristian celebration. Although to my mind the church has no room for argument, as how many religious festivals have their roots in old pagan celebrations? Which were adapted slightly so new converts would still have the partial familiarity of their old ways. In certain groups Samhain is given a higher priority than either Halloween, or even All Hallows Eve.

Once the snow and the rain had cleared away, and things had slowly started drying out we had the usual thick fog. During the day it isn't too bad, but it isn't very pleasant driving home in it after dark. Fortunately we are quite used to the ridge road home, so we have quite a good idea about where the bends are, how sharp they are and the direction that they take. As luck would have it they have carried out quite extensive road repairs, so there was no requirement to try and second guess where potholes might be lurking, waiting to jump out on unsuspecting motorists. There is one area which has been cleared of undergrowth for quite a way, and that does throw a bit of a spanner in the works with judging your position.

This time of year also means that the car is due for its annual roadworthiness test. To a certain extent it is the equivalent of the MOT which we have all had to go through in the UK. Once I had arranged a time and date I then have to make sure that I have all of the required paperwork to hand. You need your identification, both the big and little vehicle registration documents, a valid insurance certificate, both bits of the old MOT certificate and the one that I always have to hunt for proof that you have paid the municipal car tax. So on the required day I left home, through the final mist patches as the sun warms the ground up causing mist wraiths to slowly spiral up into the air. Fortunately the sheep in the next village were well away from the roads, as they have no road sense, and it possibly isn't a good idea to go for your MOT with a startled sheep sat on your car bonnet.

On getting to the test centre, I just hand over all of the paperwork, make sure that everything is there and that they know where the first aid kit, fire extinguisher and breakdown kit are stowed then go and find a coffee. Everything is done on CCTV now so in theory all vehicles on the road should be roadworthy and legal. Maybe the test isn't as strinent as the MOT in the UK, but every other year I get the car fully serviced before the MOT. Its mainly for our own peace of mind. To kill two birds with one stone this year I asked to have the new winter tyres put on as tyres are one thing that does get checked in the test. The other things are steering, axles, wheels lights, emissions, brakes, and safety equipment. So now we are running on Pirelli Scorpions for snow and ice. Not only that as they are dedicated SUV tyres they are also rated for mud, which is a definite plus when you live out in a village. We do tend to find ourselves driving through more mud than we do snow and ice anyway, as if the roads look bad I do the same as the villagers and get the bus. The word from my mechanic is that with a 4x4 and winter tyres there is no legal requirement to carry snow chains, now watch them change that ruling.

One thing that I don't really miss from UK life at this time of year is bonfire night. Maybe it has something to do with me having bonfres in the garden throughout the year, and the locals setting off fireworks to celebrate name days and birthdays, births and marriages. It just doesn't seem the same, also the animals appreciate the peace and quiet. They are much happier sprawled in front of one of the fires indoors, with maybe a louder piece of music to disturb them. One thing that I was pleasantly surprised about was, the amount of my Bulgarian friends living in the UK who are familiar with the traditional bonfire night rhyme. Not just the opening verse, but also the other ones too which I had long since forgotten, it must be an age thing, or at least that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

One thing that I do miss is the service of Remembrance. The only really organised one which I know of over here is with the British Embassy up in Sofia. There is a meeting of various ex forces members going on in VT this year, and hopefully that will become a regular thing and maybe spread to other cities. In years past others have come up with the idea of observing the two minutes silence at their nearest war memorial. I can never work out whether to observe the silence at 1100 in Bulgarian time, or to use 1100 UK time. To solve my dilemma I do it for both time zones.

1 comment:

  1. A very warm welcome to Galka, the latest follower to the Blog. Thank you for taking the time to read these blog articles, hopefully you will find some of them useful and interesting, and please feel free to share them with friends and family :o)