After almost 18months hanging out in China and The Toon (Newcastle), I’m happily back in Voditsa. It all seems like a bit of a blur now - being cold and eating great food in China; putting on a few kilos; going back to Newcastle; meeting people that I haven’t seen in 40years; seeing Aunty Nan; working for Alex; going to the real St James Park; hanging out with Mel; being demented by the politics and general attitudes in the UK walking over one of the bridges across the Tyne every day and thinking how beautiful the view is up and down the river and of course, across the Toon to St James’ on the horizon; being reunited with wind - glorious walks along freezing cold Northumbrian beaches ….. and just being a Geordie again - all great but now I’m back in Voditsa at this St James Park and its time get this blog going again.
I came back last month just in time to see spring bursting out all over. Spring in England is about a surge of green but here its about blossom and the first one is plum. There is so much white around, its astonishing to realise how many plums there actually are here. The leaves started to appear, then the cherry blossom. The apple and quince …and I almost forgot the peach - my favourite but while I was away I asked Jorge to prune the peach trees. They look decimated to me but he says its right! Time will tell….. Its been raining a lot and so the grass has grown almost visibly. However, I have a new toy now - my lawn mower. So the field looks like a golf course now and its great cardio-vascular activity - that means it quite an effort to mow the whole field!!!
And all the tree that I’ve planted over the last few years are now starting to look like trees - a few more walnuts, a couple of pears and quinces, some more plums, lots of lilac, tow trees that I dont know the names of and, my favourite - 2 Ginko Balobo trees. As well as being beautiful, it’s good for memory and for brains generally - must remember to drink the tea when the leaves are out.
The biggest change in my life here is that my daughter Elly is now living here. Its her house and this year we’re going to do some work on the house after I’ve focused on the garden for years. She’s put her engineers’ hat on and has now organised all the work into a very big project with lots of lists, databases, tasks and important stuff like that. Its great having someone else take charge of stuff! She’s currently building a chicken shed with Dancho and then we’re gong to get some chickens and have lots of eggs. The chickens are going to live with the dog, Dusty and we’ve told her she’s not allowed to eat the chickens!
We’re going to knock down one of the walls to make a bigger living room/kitchen but that’s had to wait till the weather is warmer and we’re living outside - probably in a week or so. We’ll be plastering, sanding floors, making ceilings, painting and stuff like that and…there’s the barn. To backtrack a little, we started this work before I went to China but sadly, it fell down! It’s now been rebuilt and looks great and I have masses of materials to use for all sorts of things. Outside on the track are piles of various sized wood, tiles, stones, mud bricks….wonderful piles of stuff and its all going to get used.
So first we’re going to put cob plaster on the walls in the barn, then I’m going to build a fitted kitchen all made of recycled stuff and mud bricks. more on that later when i get pictures together. There’s electricity in the barn and I’m looking out for the perfect chandeliers to provide the right ambiance of tradition and kitch. We’re making a cob floor and at some point in the future, it’ll get tiled. Its going to be a palatial place to spend the summer - its probably bigger than the whole house! Slight problem with the windows - we used three different windows that we got from different places; took the frames out to paint and now we dont seem to have the right frames for the windows - weird how that happens.
The other additions to the household are Elly’s two cats. They were a bit traumatised by the journey here - they were in the van with me and Mel - actually we were traumatised too by that journey! It was OKish till we got to Roumania. Everything that anyone has told me about driving in that country (all bad) is true. I think I’ll take my chances with the Serbian bandits next time and go the other way. Back to the cats….Indie is living up to his name (Indiana Jones) and having a wonderful adventure while Shearer is being a freaky little princess and hasn’t been out of the house. I had six kittens before I went to China but there’s only one left now - Buddy,and he is learning how to be a house cat.
It was the village festival last week which turned out to be a riotous affair with lots of dancing on the tables - Bulgarians love to party - videos coming soon. We supplemented the rakia with a half bottle of Tequila so we got well into it - great fun.
I put lots of ads around the internet for ‘village needs people’ and I’ve had some good responses so hopefully in the next year there’ll be some energetic new people coming to the village. We’ve got some great houses for sale, lots under £5k if anyone is interested. We’re going to make a few videos of them - soon to be on Youtube.
And every night, I’m satisfyingly tired after a good day’s work.
I’m trying really hard to get volunteers going again this year but I seem to have scored some flaky people up to now - for various reasons (goats, accidents, silence) people just haven’t turned up. Very disappointing but I do believe one guy is coming tomorrow - fingers crossed.
Tired now and going to bed with the sound of a nightingale singing outside my window. I love it here….more news later.