Yesterday was phenomenally hot in Eastern Europe, even the insects had a day off from attempting to bite me from head to toe. This of course does not include our outside karzi which contains a swarm of mosquitoes with local knowledge, which has evolved over centuries, alongside simple and predictable village living arrangements. They know perfectly well if they hang around in there all evening, during the warmer months, somebody's bare bottom and legs, will appear to be bitten and indeed again in the morning when the part time house dwelling inhabitants lurch in there half asleep.
Mind you their evolutionary path may veer violently off track now, due to my twice daily applications of something usefully labelled 'Doom'. It nearly saw me off the first time I sprayed with it. I now hold it at arms length to apply, and then return ten minutes later when the coast is clear. My husband of course says it is all nonsense, he does not get bitten, actually nobody in the area does if I am in town, a complete feast at my own expense, they seem to love Jungle Formula. I have noticed that i react less to bites since being on LDN and NDT, a big improvement so far, no infections and less itch etc.
I felt on good form yesterday and we set off to a local pool , probably our favourite lido, low key and friendly with plenty of room under the trees in the shade. I settled down for a snooze prior to swimming lulled to sleep by what I felt was a soothing white noise humming, actually on sudden awakening due to something flying under my nose, it became apparently that behind the shrubbery was a considerable sized hornets nest. Naturally I had left the house without my Epi pen, so a swift relocation to the other side of the pool solved that sudden dilemma.
Life here has taken on a very slow pace, partly as we have no children with us and also of course the extreme heat. All very relaxed, the biggest decision made yesterday was whether to buy two or three large tomatoes. Actually I did no such thing. After a sufficient spell at the pool and four hours of swimming, we progressed down the road, the wrong road I might add, to visit our Bulgarian friends who in the summer live in a large village who's name literally translates as 'Smelly Water' an interesting spa village, almost town which stinks of sulphur, with people entering baths and steam rooms and clutching bottles of stinking gaseous water. Naturally I drank this and felt cured of all ailments immediately. When we left the village I was presented with a bag of locally grown, tomatoes, peppers, and onions, straight from the garden.
Due to the temporary curative effect, my husband then drove us to the nearest co operative shop selling local olive oil and soaps and proceeded to buy many bottles of what I call 'fire water' it is in fact called Rakia, a local brandy made of any available fruit, and it suits me very well. I notice that the old men in the bars think I am clearly mad to be drinking it in a long glass over large cubes of ice, but to me in a hot country this is the way to go. Fuelled with fire water later in the evening, we played music together and learnt some new Eastern European tunes, plus some more Beatles classics. As far as i am concerned Beatles tunes are the universal European language of acceptance, even the most suspicious local in a far flung remote village will warm to us if we play a few tunes, playing instruments breaks the ice.
In the middle of our music session, I did have an awful thought that I had muddled up my swimming bag with the rubbish I had put in the local dustbin down the road, on the way out to the pool. I convinced myself that a new bra I had purchased in England before departure had gone in with the rubbish and not in the swimming bag. I hauled him out of the house to cover my embarrassment regarding becoming the local village entertainment as possible bag lady going through a skip of smelly rubbish on wheels. My bras have the same sort of construction as the Forth Railway Bridge and I pay for that scaffolding through the nose, sales or otherwise. Twenty red faced minutes later and a shower 'inside the house' put my mind at rest, then of course it turned up in a completely different bag.
Our drive to Smelly Water yesterday, unfortunately or fortunately, involved me navigating us in completely the wrong direction and taking us and extra 30 miles out of our way, across beautiful countryside with breathtaking scenery but all at a snails pace, as the pot holes in the road in places were the same size as the car. When you rent a car in Bulgaria nobody will insure the underneath, so it is vital to return it in one piece.
Village shops in far flung places become more and more quirky one shop selling an abundance of lady's bras rather optimistically placed next to a table only selling large melons and screwdrivers. Others only selling biscuits and fizzy drinks, you never quite know what will be found, although with my dreadful Bulgarian I can fathom out most of the food. I have a special travellers gluten free card, this is either met with understanding, or knitted eyebrows and a spit of contempt onto the nearest verge, in these sort of situations, Rakia fire water and an omelette is always ok as is the national salad, often hurriedly picked from behind the establishment literally as you order. I fully intend to develop my language further, my Bulgarian friend is going to teach us on Skype.
Yesterday at the pool my carefully ordered with my limited local language - two large coffees with hot milk, this to avoid a thimble of coffee flavoured battery acid with powdered cream. Also potatoes with cheese and a national salad, caused the man of the establishment to almost collapse on the spot, he found me hilarious and we do now have a new friend. I must say for years now I have been showing off about ordering delicious pear juices with a bowl of ice, and this year there is a conspiracy a foot, no pear juice to be found anywhere we have travelled, I have had to change to Apricot instead.
Being a bit off road yields more exotic vehicles, large Russian style trucks and what I call Yogi Bear cars and lots of ancient Trabants, some re painted exotically with house paints with rather optimistic signs on them saying new car for sale.
In all of this holiday relaxing fun, apart from one glutenized allergy attack, my health is holding up, I noticed as I flew across the bed the other morning, swatter in hand after a blue bottle modelling as a small bi plane, that my reflexes have indeed improved, (thank you NDT), and Nutri Adrenal, and Dr BDP. I also noticed with horror that my eyebrows had a touch of the Denis Healys...it is years since I have had to tidy them up. My eyebrows were taken notice of at my last medical appointment in London I might add!
We are quite unused to travelling alone, we normally have half a hoard of teenagers and or children and various friends, including quite often my friend Dither's who has a house here at the bottom of our garden, her house resembles Hansel and Gretal's establishment and has a very very convincing large and rather menacing open oven in it. The termites have moved in as have swarms of ants, it needs some tlc and a long spell of repairs. The wildlife here does take over, the rat that lived in our loft and gnawed nuts in the autumn time has moved out, (my friend Hairy Legs who does holiday here with us also, used to play the theme tune to Tales of The River Bank at it on his mandolin. Also gone are the armies of mice who did not flinch if you opened a cupboard, these have been swapped for some interesting lizards who are very pretty and do not bother me much.
Little things excite me here in the village, such as finding a shop selling retro rolls of stained glass window Fablon not seen in the UK for around forty years or more, I am afraid I feel compelled to purchase most of it and apply it randomly at will. The pace of life is slow and it is doing me good. My man likes to go out to the shop in the morning as I still snooze, however I always wake up due to the commotion he causes. The local dogs can't abide his squeaking bicycle and chase him on mass as he disappears down the hill with his legs up on the handle bars. One the way back he walks, and they ignore him. Today he appeared back with large bags of olives, some pastries not for me and a bag of fresh peaches and another can of 'Doom'.
Our work continues to come in while we stay here and in between the various Skype and telephone calls we receive, a huge pile of ignored reports grows daily. The longer the list the more elaborate and bizarre his DIY becomes. Today for instance, he has rigged up an outdoor shower, this is under a very old pear tree and involves a long stick with a hose pipe wrapped around it, all tethered to an old grape vine post, all imminently on the verge of collapse. So, with this set up, my husband who hates cold water has announced with a brisk clap of the hands, that this is our new shower, never mind the new one that works in side and is occasionally warm, and is not overlooked by the general population. I have been treated to him buck naked yelling his head off and doing the dance of the nether regions twice today. No doubt I will be told we don't need soap any more.
Yesterday's awful project involved a hat, which I shall be destroying shortly. Years back when he escaped briefly without the fashion police in tow, while holidaying at the Black Sea, he bought himself the worst hat ever seen in the history of people on holiday away from the UK. This takes the form of something crossed between a baseball cap and a golfers hat, made out of some sort of woven string and cardboard, it is most politely described as actutely hideous. It was white, and somewhere along the line, appears to have gone off, he announced that he would paint it with watered down house emulsion and give it a new lease of life. I must say it will make it more flammable for when I light the fire here some time next winter.
Tonight we are celebrating, yesterday he thought he had lost all our money, actually I did not think this, but urgent patting himself down and going to every shop we had been to revealed nothing, as of course it was hidden in the car, flung under the seat with everything else. My limited language skills were able to convey to neighbours yesterday, tomorrow, evening 8, beer with party. We shall stroll to the village and meet a few people and explain to them via google translate that hopefully within the year we may be able to make better conversation. It is our joint plan to avoid Alzheimers, as learning a language with no Latin base is not easy, I go cross eyed even with the alphabet!
Mary F говори български като истински идиот! = roughly Mary F speaks Bulgarian like a true idiot!