Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Beautiful Bulgaria part 2.

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2012 at 7:01 am

We visited a couple of monasteries on our trip. This one near the town of Srem is home to a community of Nuns. The doors are open and people are welcome to look around, pray or just absorb the peaceful atmosphere.

I found the glass case full of skulls a bit odd…apparently they are the first followers of the founder of the monastery. Two hundred years old.

On my birthday, which was the 16th, we went to visit the ancient hill fortress near the village of Matochina.

As we climbed the steep hill to the fortress a thunder and lightning storm rolled in from Turkey. We did’nt let that stop us though. As we climbed the sky darkened and forks of lightning came in fairly quick succession. After one particularly loud clap of thunder and brilliant lightning an Imperial Eagle came soaring up from behind the hill. So beautiful and dramatic…it is an image that will stay with me forever. No pics as I was just in awe of the sight of this huge bird. Beautiful!

The storm passed as fairly quickly and the sunshine returned as we bade farewell to the Turkish hills visible in the distance.

We also visited these carved rocks near the village of Melnitsa. I wonder what their original purpose was? There are several of these in this area.

The Bulgarian custom of making posters when a person dies is a bit odd. These are placed on the person’s gate going into their house, on trees and in public places. I suppose it a way of letting people know the person has died. A picture of the deceased and a few personal details are carried on the poster. Similar to our newspaper death notices I suppose.

On a final lighter note these millet brooms are for sale everywhere and every house seems to have one. Sometimes with handles, sometimes without. These were for sale in the market in Elhove. Priced at 3 leva each…about 1.50 euros. Of course I brought one home with me.

Beautiful Bulgaria.

In nature, Off the beaten track. on May 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

Two of my three weeks away were spent in the beautiful country of Bulgaria. A place of beautiful nature, unspoilt countryside, Christian Orthodox churches filled with beautiful icons like the one above which is in St. George’s monastery in Pomorie and so much more….

An abundance of produce which grows easily in the long hot Summers. The Winters there are short and sharp. Every house has a garden and lots of fruit trees. Plums, Peaches, Grapes and Walnuts seem to grow everywhere. Tomatoes here taste like nowhere else…so sweet and delicious.

The land here is open…no fences. The animals are taken out to graze daily by a shepherd who gets paid a fixed amount for each animal in his care. At night the Cows, Goats and Sheep are milked and kept in the yards behind the houses. It’s lovely morning and evening to hear the bells the animals wear tinkling in the distance before you see them.It’s a long day for the shepherd…7.30 in the morning to 7 in the evening. Each shepherd has 3 or 4 dogs to protect and herd the flock.

There are about 5,000 pairs of Storks in Bulgaria. Their arrival at the end of March is seen as an indication of the beginning of Spring. Bulgarians have great fondness and respect for Storks…they are associated with good luck and fertility.

Nests are never interfered with and it be considered very bad luck to kill a Stork. They have a great fondness for nesting on top of electricity poles. To protect the birds and stop them causing power outages special nesting platforms have been placed on top of the poles.

Small villages are dotted throughout the countryside. Always the same…stone and brick houses with red tile roofs. Most of the houses were built in the 50s by the Communist Government. Sadly many of the houses are now needing repairs but rural poverty means that the living conditions are less than we in the west would find acceptable. Bulgaria is now an independent republic.

Every town has a fruit and veg market. This one in the town of Elhovo is held twice weekly. The stalls are run by locals selling fresh local produce. Cherries were in season when we were there…so delicious. I bought a kilo for 6 leva. A lev is worth about 50 cent. Also on sale is the traditional drink Rakia. Made from Plums or Grapes it packs a punch but is delicious as a hot drink with honey. A brought home a couple of bottles for medicianal use in the Winter. No pleasure of course!!! The local honey is gorgeous too. Raw and unpasteurised…straight from the hives…just as Nature intended. I suppose that’s what I like most about Bulgaria…it is still pure and unspoilt…a bit like Ireland was 40 or so years ago.

Click on pics to enlarge.

I’m back!

In Garden, sustainable living on May 25, 2012 at 9:29 am

Hi folks, I’m back in blogland again after my break. I have’nt been near the computer in 3 weeks. No blog, email, Facebook, Twitter or checking out all the wonderful and inspiring blogs out there. I have to say I enjoyed the break, the world did’nt end and I had no withdrawal symptoms. But hey, I’m back and the weather here in Ireland is fab. Hurrah!!

The Sun has been shining since daybreak. I took these pictures at about 8.30 when I went to open the polytunnel. There’s no going in there later when it gets to 25c. The fields are filled with golden Buttercups right now…beautiful!

So nice to break fast with a few ripe Strawberries already warm from the morning Sun…

and the promise of many more to come.

Everything in the polytunnel is growing at a great rate,  lots of Lettuce for the salads we have everyday. Nasturtiums in flower as are Pot Marigold. Dual purpose plants as they draw in beneficial insects as well as being edible.

The Peach has set lots of fruit…I really must thin them this year. Thinning ensures you get nice big fruits of better quality. Take out any fruits that are touching each other as they will end up squashing and bruising each other. Bob Flowerdew in his Grow your Own, Eat your Own book says ” Peaches over crop as of right, and really must be ruthlessly thinned so that no 2 fruits will touch each other when they’re full size, leave only a sensible number per tree or you will be processing masses of under-ripe squits. Too many exhaust the tree, fail to reach any size or even ripen. Literally decimate them down to the best one in every ten, leave those and they will get huge!” Don’t know if I can be that ruthless…but I’ll try! Bye for now…off to enjoy some sunshine.


Break time.

In Ireland, nature on May 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

 I was so touched recently by all your expressions of sympathy on the passing of our lovely doggie companion Alice. Alice had been with us for fifteen and a  years so it was a big wrench for us to lose him. We have of course come to terms with it now but we deeply appreciated the calls and comments left by each and every person. It made me realise that this blogosphere does have a community feel all of it’s own. I am happy to be a small part of it.

Right now I feel is the right time for me to take a small break from blogging. Not too long…will be back here again towards the end of the month.

In the meantime I may have some adventures I can share with you on my return.

For now I will leave you with a couple of pics taken in the last few days. This is a mule snapped on a neighbours farm. Not an animal you see much nowadays.

This is a Giant Skunk Cabbage growing in my friend Saffron’s garden. It looks lovely but smells yucky…

this is the inside view. Bye for now. Be back soon!


In Ireland, nature on May 1, 2012 at 6:49 am

Already the constantly turning wheel of the year has brought us to May Day… Bealtaine…the beginning of Summer in the Celtic calendar. The Blackthorn is in blossom now…soon it will be followed by the Maybush as Hawthorn is often known.

The Romans celebrated this time with the Festival of Floraia…in honour of the Goddess Flora…Goddess of fruit and flowers. They would feast for 5 days.

Imagine the scene in the old days in Ireland…fires lighting on every hill on the eve of Bealtaine…must have been a wonderful sight to see the hills glowing in the distance. The main fire was at Uisneach…in what is now county Westmeath. Fires in the home were quenched and then relit with coals from the embers of the bonfire.

In the not so distant past the churning of butter was an important activity on every farm. Indeed as a child I remember my Mother making butter in a round wooden churn. It was believed that anything leaving the farm on May morning could be used to “steal the butter.” People not of the household would not be allowed enter if butter was being churned for fear of malicious intentions. It was suspected that certain people regularly “stole” their neighbours butter and crops. Potatoes, being an important food crop, were often the focus of these “thefts.” The crop would be “stolen” by the “thief” leaving an egg among the potatoes. The “thief” would then have an excellent crop.

Like Samhain,  Bealtaine is considered a time when the veil between the world’s is thin…a time when, at dawn and dusk especially, we can commune with Fairy and Nature spirits more easily.

What does Bealtaine…May Day mean to you? Is it something you mark in any way? For me it is a time of an increased awareness of Nature bursting forth. Everything is so vibrant… green and alive. The fields and hedgerows are once again clothed in green…insects are flitting about doing their pollinating work. So much to observe and revel in. Even though we’ve seen it all before somehow each year we are filled with awe and anticipation at the wonder of it all.