A dramatic 2017 was the year of a very long hot summer after a dry winter, with very little rain for over 4 months and I was very aware of the forest fires that raged in Portugal and caused a lot of suffering. So when our mayor phoned me to tell me there was a fire in our village, we rushed back and were just in time to stop the fence catching light and letting the fire into my garden.
The small amount of water left in the village system soon ran out, but luckily the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. Everyone rallied round and used whatever was at hand to stop it – spades and dirt, metal sheets, feet, etc. Then 4 fire engines where drafted up into the mountains and helped to prevent the fire spreading to the forest.
It turned out our elderly neighbour was visiting, decided to have a clear out and burn the rubbish in his garden, but the sparks ignited the tinder dry grasses and a blaze took light. He lost his house, the barn between him and us collapsed and the surrounding field was blackened. The man is alright but will have to stay in Turkey from now on and when the Autumn rains started, the field soon greened up again.
My parents visited again and I took the opportunity to show them more of Bulgaria and in doing so, cross a few more locations off my own ‘Must See’ list. My three favourites were:
- Assen’s fortress – I’d driven past numerous times but never seemed to have enough time to visit. It was a marvellous feat of building high on a precipice.
- Bachkovo Monastery – one of the most touristy places I have been to in Bulgaria so far. I prefer to see things without people blocking views but there were plenty of quiet gaps to see the amazing murals on the walls. Painted houses are a tradition in Bulgaria and the decoration is beautiful.
- Wondrous Bridges. A place I had heard of and seen photos but not spoken to anyone about and didn’t really comprehend the huge size of this natural rock formation. It truthfully took my breath away. The size of people give more of a representation of size.
Several triumphs in the garden this year – the asparagus I set 3 years ago is finally grown enough to produce chunky spears. This vegetable is not grown much in Bulgaria, so a real delicacy. I love the taste of asparagus spears, lightly boiled so they still have a crunch and drizzled with melted butter. Delicious.
Another success is my fight with the stink bug that last year decimated my potatoes. In order to keep an organic garden, I sourced a natural pesticide. So I got some seeds and planted catnip around my potato beds. It looks at first like a nettle but does not cause any irritation and really does work. There were still the odd bugs appearing on my plants but easily dispatched so this year I had a bumper crop of organic potatoes.
Wishing everyone all the best for 2018 🙂