Its raining today so I have an excuse for staying in bed and typing. Spring is well and truly here and its actually hard to believe that it was minus a lot with 4 feet of snow less than a month ago. They have a phrase in Bulgarian for ‘spring tiredness’ – when you’ve been pretty much lying around doing nothing for 3 months, then suddenly the weather is wonderful, you leap out of bed, run up the field and dig for most of day and then you are knackered. So it wasn’t just me!
It was interesting which bits of my body hurt most with all the new activity – my hands and feet. My feet of course had been encased in at least 2 layers of socks for months and my hands had only been used for typing and pressing the DVD remote control. Both were soft and suffered badly by being used again outside. Which always brings me back to that eternal question, why don’t students of Beauty Therapy want to be volunteers here? I always need a pedicure.
The field is looking great –the grass has started to grow and there’s a touch of bright green now. The Drianka tree (or some name like that) actually got its buds ready last August and as soon as the sun came out, they all blossomed. This tree produces millions of very bitter red berries that stain the area for a metres all around it, the berries taste awful although everyone here says how healthy they are. but right now, the tree is beautiful. Little buds are forming on the plums and peach trees so I’ll be eulogising about them all in turn. I have planted a few hundred potatoes and a million onions and lot of seeds are coming up under the cloches.
Everybody who comes here wants to stay! A guy called Gavin came to stay last week. He and his partner bought a house here a couple of years ago but had some difficulty and were thinking about selling it. He’s just spend a week in the village and loved it so hopefully they’ll stick around –we need more people here! I almost have enough volunteers booked in already for the whole summer.
Development in Voditsa – I have been slowly making the right contacts around here and last week I had a meeting with the Deputy Major of Popovo. Although he was enthusiastic, sadly he was stuck in the past with his ideas of development – they are focusing on big tourist facilities and ignoring the needs of small villages. It was very lucky this day that I didn’t speak Bulgarian because the translator, Peter, turned out to be a very interesting community activist and after the meeting, he took me to meet some really interesting people. I am now part of the Voditsa Local Action Group and I am inciting some creative local rebellion. Basically I am encouraging people to ask questions – not something that was encouraged during communism.
This is where you can help if you’d like to support the rural development of Voditsa. Here is the email address of the Deputy Major email@example.com If you can spare 5 minutes, send him an email and say things like:
• You love Voditsa
• You intend to come and live there/visit often/have a holiday house/bring friends etc
• You are interested in the sustainable development of the village and the traditional way of life
• You are interested in what the Municipality is planning to do and would like to be kept informed
• You have a couple of questions – ask these specifically:
o How is he going to support the capacity building of the local people to make sure that the villages don’t die
o How is he going to support the setting up of small businesses in the villages
That’s all but it will show him that its not just me asking these questions and it will keep him on his toes! Don’t worry about it being in English
There are many secrets and mysteries here – we have a secret supermarket; a secret hardware shop; a secret hairdressers which I haven’t actually found yet; secret council tax – you don’t get a bill or any instructions on how to pay it; secret electricity/water/phone bills which appear at the post office secretly and you have a short window of opportunity to pay them before it becomes a hassle and suddenly your electricity is turned off and now we have secret internet. The mast is up, one or two people actually have it in their house already, I am on the list but who is running it and what the process is going to be is still a secret.
One thing that isn’t a secret is a new by-law about dogs. If your dog s found roaming around on its own, you can be fined 200 leva and the dog may be shot. It has been suggested to me that this is ‘Tino’s law’ – he appears to have been sowing his seed somewhat around the town. Three puppies have been pointed out to me so far! Its very sad because last week Tino had a life and was a young dude around town, now he has to be tied up – he’s bored and unhappy.
A note to anyone who owns property here and has been ripped off by their agent or accountant. The tax form for a nil return is no 1010a and is available from the tax office here by email. Its very simple and there is an English speaking helpline where they will talk you through it. The number is ….you can do it easily for free. Sorry if this information is coming too late but if you’ve been charged anything more than 50leva, you are being well and truly ripped off.
I’m going to take advantage of the rain today to write some more of my book. I have done 57,000 words which sounds pretty impressive till you realise that is only 139 pages. The book is about all of the houses I’ve ever lived in (36 + a tattie shed up to now) and I’m wondering if I should change the names of people who appear in it. I think I might just leave everyone’s real name because it might be come complicated and I’ll forget who is who!
Interesting car news: Ed, Jess, Jo and me are going to set up a car pool. We’re going to share the cost of buying and maintaining it and it will be here whenever they come to stay. Even when you live here, you don’t need a car all the time so sharing makes sense but if you come here for a couple of weeks and you hire a car, it’ll cost around €17 a day. So if you are planning on coming to Voditsa in the near future and you want the use of a car, you could join the car pool. We hope to get this together by the beginning of may so let me know if you’re interested.