We approached February with our loins thoroughly girded; somehow it is even more gloomy and chilly than January here in the Balkans. Sadly we can’t run off to a Caribbean paradise every year, so 2012 has seen us battening down the hatches and sitting it out.
And phew! It. Was. Cold.
Attired in numerous layers of wool (and giving each other and the cats regular static shocks), code orange continued and NovoP added insult to injury by presenting a five-hour power cut one afternoon. Of course that writes off the internet and any work on the computer. But what about the heating? Yes, there’s the wood-burning stove, but it’s electricity which pumps the hot water around the radiators, and stops the back boiler exploding. Happily the generator has recently had a makeover (thank you Steve) and once that was chugging away on the terrace, we were able to plug ourselves back in leaving us warm enough to play Boggle by candlelight (until the batteries ran out, that is).
Yet more snow arrived and the cold gets right into our bones. Ice-cold draughts trickle down from the most unexpected places: one lunchtime we spent chopping up old wine bottle corks and stuffing them into the cracks and knot-holes in the living room ceiling, and we have finally started working on Project Skirting Boards to minimise any further heat loss.
To counter the chill, we have warmed ourselves metaphorically by joining in more village frivolities, including Wine Day which easily trumps Valentine’s day on the 14th. Based on another pagan ritual, this time encouraging the grapes, the mayor of Primorsko and the village mayoress pruned the three best sprigs from our neighbours’ vine and poured wine on them as a blessing for a rich harvest. This was followed by some of the local ladies having a bit of a sing, doing some diddly-diddly dancing, after which all the village bigwigs bundled themselves into the village restaurant. We went too! (And no, we aren’t bigwigs.)
It was a specially arranged wine-tasting grading the home-made wines of the local producers; according to the news article about the event (omg the village has online coverage!) the amount of sunshine in NovoP cultivates extra-sweet grapes, therefore yielding particularly good dessert wines. It should be noted that this all started before 11am, which despite improving our conversational Bulgarian did preclude us from much further productivity.
We trolled along to the kids’ show held in the village concert hall organised by Elena. Comprising sketches and dancing, it was so well received by the locals that she’s been given the task of organising another one! This time she’s raising her game and Queen’s “I want to break free” video may be re-enacted on the NovoP stage next month! We’ll keep you posted on that one.
Both Ivan and ‘baby’ Marin have celebrated their birthdays this month. We treated Ivan to a special birthday dinner at the restaurant, which has become our second home and is an ideal as a post-ramble hangout too! We have enjoyed a few invigorating walks at weekends: overlooking the frozen Burgas lake and tramping across the snowy hills surrounding NovoP, both of which are already a million miles from the glimpses of spring and warm breezes we’ve enjoyed in the last few days.
Could this be thanks to the Kukeri who have been scaring off the winter spirits in their masks and costumes?? Whatever it is, we are nearing the end of February and the scent of spring is in our nostrils, with Baba Marta knocking on the door heralding the next festival of 1st March.
The one piece of sad news this month is the passing of Jeremy’s Grandma ‘Dougal’, who will be given a warm-hearted send-off at the end of the month after nearly 99 years on the planet. She was the first person that we told about our crackpot idea to emigrate to Bulgaria (and was surprisingly supportive) so we raise a glass of Bulgarian wine to her memory.