I wonder if I am the first person in the history of Voditsa to eat rhubarb and custard – Birds of course.
If you have ever seen a flowering cherry tree and thought how wonderful all that glorious blossom is, I’m sorry but I have to say that peach blossom beats it hands down! Coming from the UK, of course I had never seen peach blossom before. Let me describe it to you – it comes out before the leaves so these little buds appear on the bare branches with little tips of pink. Then they all erupt over the whole tree – each one a perfect flower about half an inch across. At first they are a soft pink with a darker pink bit in the middle but then they turn a few shades darker and by the time they turn into confetti, they are almost red. I have 7 peach trees in the front garden and the mass effect of the blossom was truly stunning – it was almost luminous in the sun. Two trees are directly in front of the kitchen window and I sat at the table a few times and just thought how marvellous and beautiful they were. I also cleaned the windows recently, which was a revelation in itself. And of course, the other brilliant thing about these trees is that they will all be full of peaches in September.
Sadly, the pink wonder is now finished but I quite like having random bits of pink and red confetti everywhere.
There is other blossom around – the pears are out and the apple trees, which produce leaves first then blossom, are just showing the buds. And the black plums have a glorious white blossom with a very strong scent.
Briefly on the gardening stuff – everything is very lush and green – not like this time last year when we almost had to use a pickaxe on the soil. The onions are well up and the potatoes have just started to show. Peas and carrots are up and tomorrow is the right day on the moon calendar to get the peppers, aubergines and cucumbers started.
The toilets and showers are as finished as they’re going to be right now. There is no way I can explain what I really want to do with solar water heating and grey water run-off and stuff like that and its becoming increasing difficult as they guys just do what they think should happen. They’re driving me crazy actually but hopefully tomorrow is the last day and I can think and do things on my own. I wish I was good at building stuff. I look at something and I know what the end product should look like but I have no idea how to get from A to B. Why don’t I know how to fit a door frame or tile a shower? Whats the point of all that education if I cant do basic things like that?
I’m still troubled by the unopened packet of Jubilee Clips that Jo left last year. She was confident I would need them and I haven’t – in fact never in my life have I needed a Jubilee Clip (it’s a thing that plumber’s use) so there is obviously something serious missing.
My Bulgarian is still quite terrible. I am ashamed of the fact that I’ve been here so long and still can’t chat with my neighbours. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought that if I just learned 5 words a day, I would improve enormously but everything about life in here is in English – most of the volunteers are English speaking and if they’re not, then English is a common language.
But I do try and I can usually manage the shopping but there is an exactness about how people Bulgarian that is really frustrating. Because so many people around the world speak English, we are very used to hearing it spoken in many different ways and often very badly. But usually we can guess and figure out what people are trying to say. Here, the emphasis must be on the right syllable – for example Brashno is the word for flour. It is pronounced Brashno. If you say Brashno or if you don’t put any emphasis on either syllable, nobody knows what you are trying to say. This happens so many times and I just think ‘maybe you could just guess!!!’
Baba Penka from across the road frequently comes to visit me. She raps on the window with her stick and usually gives me a jar of something very nice then she sits down and starts to talk. Actually I cant always get to taste the things she bring because I don’t have the right taker-off thing for the lids! The other day I asked one the guys on the building to come in and just make sure she wasn’t asking me anything important. After a while he said, ‘this is just blah, blah’. She just talks – non stop. Sometimes I get words, numbers, places, or years and I usually get the impression that she’s talking about things from long ago. I just shake my head and say Da and try to keep up with whether she’s saying a good thing or an unhappy thing. Sometimes I meet her in the street and she just launches straight into a conversation that she’s obviously already half way through in her head.
I have a persistent volunteer! Danny from Michigan has now been here three times – mostly he’s chopped wood – he chopped my whole 10 cubic meters last autumn. Now he’s just been here for a few days (after having been to Korea and done the Trans-siberian ) and he dismantled the horrible ugly corn store. But the funny thing is that once all the bits of metal came off, its was quite a interesting wooden structure. So now its going to be recycled as a Japanese Tea Room or Pagoda or Summerhouse up the field. I found a lovely spot where people can sit and look at the hill. And maybe Danny is coming back for another couple of days – just enough time to put it up again.
A note on feet and international activities. I have wonderful soft feet right now. That may not sound like a major event, but if you’ve been here, you’ll know how easy it is to have ugly feet with dry skin when you’re out in the field all day in sandals or bare feet. But yesterday I received a parcel – from Israel. A volunteer who is coming next week with her child, sent me some really gorgeous things from the Dead Sea. So I pampered my feet with some thick creamy stuff that smelt of minerals and the desert. Then I ate some toast with real maple syrup direct from Canada and thought about the interesting mix of international people and stuff that I have here. I didn’t think about a carbon footprint or anything boring like that –I just enjoyed the gifts.
Ed, Jess, Jo and I are getting a car share together. We’re going to buy a Lada – as you do in Bulgaria. Last week I saw a really cool one with gold scorpions on the bonnet but sadly it didn’t work out. But I’m sure the Universe will provide and the right cute little Lada will turn up. By the way, a Lada costs around 1000 leva – about £400.
If you haven’t been in touch for a while, it would be lovely to hear from you. And if you can’t think of anywhere to go for a holiday this year, how about Voditsa? Lots of love to everyone.