Friday, 25 January 2013

Decorating and Settling In

Another thing about Bulgaria is that if you want some work to be done, then there is usually someone you know who has a friend, or who has a brother who has a friend who will do it. It is the way the tradesmen operate, recommendation after recommendation.
When we were helped to load the furniture into the garage we were helped by friends of Mihail who were furniture removers for that day.  The decorating was done by these same friends minus Marijuan but plus Mishako, another friend, who has a talent for being practically multi-talented, not only decorating, but putting things back together, erecting washing lines and climbing up poles sideways with arms at 90 degrees. Genny, apart from being a plasterer is also a fire eater in such festivals as Glastonbury. Quite a varied group.
The decorating process began a few days later when Joro came with all his colour options for us to choose, also helped by the artistic Velina. We went from top to bottom, notes were taken and all was set for the temporary family to take residence and start work. Yes it was a residence. I have never known this in England. Apart from occasional nights back in Sofia, they all slept in our house in sleeping bags on the floor and worked very hard as it was a big job. Several times they worked after and once till to get the job done. Can you imagine that in the UK ? 
All this took place during the Euro 2012 Football Finals. We would all sit on the terrace with the TV standing on a cupboard we had brought outside, cooking on the outdoor grill, with plenty of liquid refreshment. 
Meanwhile we spent our time getting to know the village. It was obvious very early on that just about everyone knew an Englishman had moved into the village. Everyone seemed to know me. I was even getting people I had not met telling me that I had a letter to pick up at the post office, and others saying "hello" in English. As they say about villages your every move is known even before you do it, but I found it so encouraging that there is a general 'keeping an eye on things'. It does help to go shopping locally and being seen in the centre very often. 
While Margarita was at work I began to start work on the garden. Our garden is blessed with a beautiful array of roses of many colours. Unlike in England where they bloom and fade, with perhaps a second show later, they continue blooming here until late autumn.
Bulgaria is in fact known as the 'land of roses'. The Valley of Roses in the centre of the country around Kazanlak exports its rose oil to world famous perfumiers.

However, as a contrast to all the pleasant work in the garden, there was also a considerable amount of unwanted rubbish to be cleared, or at least things we didn't need. I must say that prior to moving from the UK, I would have thrown things away without thinking. But there is a mentality here, probably borne out of the lean times of the past and also, I think, of a practical approach to daily life, that thinks twice before dumping anything. This rubbed off on me very early on. We had no canes to support our newly planted tomatoes, but I saw a pile of pruned trees in the lane, sawed them up into lengths and used them. Whatever is thrown it seems can be used by someone else, for something else. 
The restaurants and bars in the village might be natural places to socialise, but the metal containers which serve as the local dumps are also focal points. There is no recycling here so everything goes to one of these containers and the rubbish tipped out weekly. But before that everyone gets a pick. I put some old plastic sheets beside the one just down from our house, I went back for the rest and the sheets had already disappeared when I returned. Gypsies make regular rounds of these bins looking for metal or whatever they can use or sell. It is quite an industry.

I mentioned about the lack of recycling and as you can see these containers are certainly not the prettiest things in the world. But are they uglier than the plastic bins crammed into every house frontage in the UK ? I would say they are uglier but they are placed here and there so they do not dominate the streets as in the UK. The fact that much rubbish is piled around them before it is collected looks bad though. The picture below brings home a reality. What is taken for granted in the rich west is another story here !
Gypsy boy searching through a container in Sofia

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