Monday, 30 June 2014
It seems that no matter where you go there is music of one form or another playing. If you go into a store there is music, if you go and sit in a cafe there is music. Thankfully one habit seems to have changed, when we first got here what was playing on the TV had no resemblance to what you were actually hearing. Quite often you will end up listening to one of the folk music channels on the TV.
Regular readers of the blog will hopefully remember me writing about various music festivals. Quite often they seem to be rock orientated, as many Bulgarians do seem to like their rock music. Some of it does seem to be early Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, but it goes right the way through to the modern stuff. Even tomorrow there will be many Bulgarians welcoming the sunrise to the strains of Uriah Heep's July Morning. I don't claim to be a rock music aficionado but I do have to say that I have been impressed by some of the groups which we have seen at these festivals, and that is without going up to Sofia and seeing some of the Internationally known bands. Even some of the local bands do some outstanding cover versions. Their enthusiasm alone makes going to these event so worthwhile, and some of them are free to attend. It does seem as though music festivals are springing up all over the place.
One form of music which I can't really get to grips with is something called Chalga. Basically it seems to be a hybrid between pop music and folk music, but it doesn't seem to be the better bits of either. The only thing which I can attribute its popularity to has to be the videos which accompany these songs.
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
So now people should only see, and accept, the new style notes. This first note is the 1 Lev note, and features St Ivan Rilski (876-946). Christianity really came to Bulgaria in 864AD, and Ivan was one of the main preachers of Christianity in medieval Bulgaria. Shortly after his death he was made a Saint, and his earthly remains are housed within the famous Rila monastery. The monastery itself is featured on the reverse of the banknote. For those who are visually impaired if you look on the front of the note in the lower right hand corner there is a triangle on top of a square. The paper itself has a slightly orange tone to it, and the watermark is a rampant Lion. These notes are still legal tender, but in the time that we have been here I have yet to see one, as in 2002 this note was superseded by the 1 Lev coin.
The most common low value bank note which you will see is the 2 Leva note. As with most bank notes they increase in size, with the increase of face value. The years of issue for this note are 1999 and 2005. The front of the note depicts Paisiy Hilendarski (1722-1773), he is widely regarded as the man who set the National Revival idea rolling. He also wrote the "Historiae Sclavo-Bulgaricus", and an excerpt from this can also be found on the reverse of the note, along with heraldic shields and seals of Bulgarian Tsars. The overall design is violet and pink on a pale blue toned paper. The visually impaired aid is two rectangles, and the watermark is again the rampant Lion. There is talk that this note will soon be replaced by a coin as well., but for the time being it is nice to see our village's name on this note.
Moving up in value, and size, we next have the 5 Leva bank note. The years of issue for this note were 1999 and 2009. The famous Bulgarian shown on this note is Ivan Milev (1897-1927). He was a painter and a stage designer, and often sought inspiration from village life and folklore. Fragments from some of his works are depicted on both the front and reverse of the bank note. On the front there is "Art and the Crown of Thorns", while on the reverse you will find excerpts from "A Woman Harvesting", "The Bulgarian Madonna" and "Wedding of the Dragon". The colour is mainly a burgundy red on a slightly pink toned paper. You will note that the aid for those with difficulty seeing is two triangles, this time the watermark is an outline of the portrait as shown on the note itself.
The next denomination note is the 10 Leva note. The years of issue for this particular note were 1999 and 2008. The gentleman shown is Dr Peter Beron (1799-1871), apart from being a scientist he was also an advocate of Bulgarian learning and education. To the right of him you will notice a Rhinoceros, a globe and a whale, these are copies of plates from the Riben Bukvar, also known as the Fish Primer which dealt with advanced education. On the reverse you will see various sketches, an astrolabe and Dr Beron's own telescope. You will notice that the main colour used is an olive green and the paper has a beige tone to it. The visual aid for this note is a square above a circle, and once again the watermark is based on the portrait shown.
If you do see one of the commemorative 20 Leva notes it should look something like this. It does have some added security features, such as the small window which will show a series of the figure 20 when held over white paper. Note that even this commemorative note still has the two circles to help the visually impaired.
Still increasing in denomination we find the 50 Leva note. You will find that some village shops do not like accepting these. The issuing years are 1999 and 2006. The character shown this time is Pencho Slaveykov (1866-1912). He was a poet, a translator, a columnist and a literary critic, which is why you will see parts of the National Theatre and the National Library in the background. On the reverse are two of his best known poems "A Song Of Blood" and "Epic Songs". You will also see a female figure, this is meant to be a fellow poet, and his great love, Mara Belcheva. The visual aid comes in the form of two triangles, with their points facing each other, the watermark is once again a representation of the portrait. The overall colour of the note is brown, and the paper has a pale grayish- green hue to it.
Finally we arrive at the 100 Leva banknote, which was only issued in 2003. Once upon a time these were mainly used in business transactions, and still today many shop keepers view them with suspicion. The famous Bulgarian depicted is Aleko Konstantinov (1863-1897). He was a writer , and his most famous character was Bay Ganyo, a popular figure in Bulgarian literature. On the front of the note you will see various symbols of the Bulgarian Mountain Trekking movement, along with a depiction of Konstantinov's travel notes "A Journey To Chicago And Back". On the reverse there are various aspects from his life and works. The overall colour is green, and even the paper has a pale green hue to it. The visual aid is now an inverted triangle above a rectangle, and the watermark as you might have guessed is a depiction of the portrait shown.
The observant will have noted that the blog figures have passed through the 55,000 mark. That was the 2nd target which has been surpassed this year, so a very big thank you from me. Without you reading these blogs it wouldn't be half as enjoyable writing them, and ferreting out information. Since the start of the year the blog seems to be reaching a wider audience, and that can only be due to all of you, especially those who share these articles with friends and family. So once again a heartfelt thank you from me, and let's see what the figures do by the ed of the year. Now all that I have to do is try and post this as the internet is playing up due to the weather.
Saturday, 14 June 2014
The ground has only just started to dry out from the previous downpours. With the extra moisture in the soil and then the heat, the humidity has increased to various degrees of stickiness, and it has really boosted the numerous weeds. When it was raining you couldn't get out to do anything about them, when the rain finished the mud took on the characteristics of super glue. As there had been so much rain, many of the seedlings were washed away from their trenches, into what is probably now a mixed vegetable patch. Also the upper surface of the mud became smooth, and we now have a crust an inch thick. As you can see from the photo we are not the only ones in the village to have these problems with the vegetable patch.
I finally made it to the top pf the hill, and the drop down to Bomb Alley is between trees, so provided some welcome shade. Bomb Alley is down in a dip, and as I got closer it was clear to see that there had also been problems with this large field of sunflowers. It was possible to see where the surface water had cut a swathe through the plants. Not only that it had also crossed the road to go into the lower field. I have since learnt from the villagers that the road itself was 2 feet deep in stinking sticky mud. It was so bad that it even made the BTV news.
One thing which I did discover is that there is actually a drainage culvert, but it seems as though it was pretty ineffective. The worrying thing is that previously it had been hidden by vegetation, and on a few occasions I have moved over to allow a vehicle to pass going the other way. Looking on the bright side all of the trenches and craters have now been filled in by mud. So that will cause problems when they actually get round to doing the repairs. I do have to admit that this road has been getting progressively worse over the last six years. It has now been reduced to a single track .
Tractors and farm machinery, not to mention the village bus have driven over this mud track further compressing it. So the track now resembles a Scalextrix circuit, with mud kerbing to prevent any deviation, and a mud crown in the centre. The crown proves a problem for normal vehicles as their sub frames and exhausts rub along it. With the additional rain which we are now expecting it could cause even more problems down there. While it is dry it just creates huge dust clouds which get everywhere, but this fine dust when added to rain will soon become mud again.
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
He was born in Kalofer. His father was a teacher and also involved with the National Revival towards the end of the Ottoman occupation. As one might imagine he had a lot of influence on his son as he grew up. Once Hristo had completed his education in Kalofer, his Father sent him to Odessa to continue his education. While there he grew to admire the works of some of the more liberal Russian poets and intellectuals. He completed his education in 1865, and spent the next two years teaching in both Odessa and Bessarabia. At the same time he was also writing his own first poetic works. Not only that, he was starting to forge links with the Russian and Polish revolutionary movement. In other words he was starting to develop his own political ideology.