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Saturday 12 March 2016

88. February squared

I’ve been trying hard to blog more frequently in 2016. Like many resolutions, I did really well in January then fell off a cliff in February. Not updating the blog for five weeks is the writerly equivalent of sacking off the gym and eating a whole bag of doughnuts within half an hour. Come to think of it, we have already eaten the Easter chocolate my mum gave me to put by (two Lindt bunnies and a box of Lindor, thanks Mum), which I think proves I have the willpower of a lettuce. I don’t know why, I just cannot have sweet things in the house without eating the whole sodding lot. This is why I never buy chocolate or biscuits when I go food shopping. They niggle at my brain, calling me from the pantry, goading me until I dissolve them in my stomach acid. One of my old flatmates used to keep a ‘treat drawer’ full of chocolates and the like. I’d watch in amazement as she would take out a bar of chocolate, delicately eat a square or two, and put the rest back in the drawer. HOW CAN SHE SLEEP AT NIGHT KNOWING IT’S THERE? I would shriek inside, IT’S INHUMAN! (However, said flatmate would mainline crisps like there was no tomorrow. I guess we all have an Achilles heel.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, making excuses. Not only did I spend February wallowing in, you know, February, I was also back in England. February in England. February squared. So, on the whole, it has felt like there’s not much to say. But I’m back now and things are happening. Winter is spluttering to a halt with some spectacularly bi-polar weather (sunny and 18°C one day, heavy rain the next, then back to t-shirt weather – snow is forecast for next week). Other stuff that’s been occurring of late…

Leaping lambs
Our neighbours have three baby lambs. They leap around the garden and Svilen is very pleased with them. He will slaughter them in time for Orthodox Easter (1st May this year) which, as a meat eater, it’s silly to get upset about, but lambs are just so cute. Anyway, I shall enjoy watching them over the fence for as long as possible. Speaking of the neighbours, I just saw Svilen backing a forklift truck along the road, balancing a car on the forks. That was weird.  

Very pleased with his lambs.

Dead pigs
Our neighbours usually slaughter their pigs at Christmas time (I crank up the Slade to drown it out). But their pigs were too small at Christmas so they waited until last week. I’ll be honest, pig-killing day is not nice. The pigs are killed, skinned and butchered in the street, basically opposite our house. I don’t mind seeing it so much, but I hate hearing it. Svilen and his sons are as quick and kind as they can be, but those few seconds of squealing before death are pretty unpleasant. We watched from the kitchen window and Rob declared he was going back to being vegetarian. That was around 11am. By 4pm he was next door eating pigs’ liver.  

Last of the leeks
Bulgarian leeks are comically huge. I must take a picture of them next winter. Giant leeks are pretty much the best thing about January and February and we have been eating these leek and cheese sausages every week without fail for over two months now. I even made them for my family when I was back home – it caused a minor uproar when they found out I was cooking a meat-free dinner, but they got over it. Or they just pretended to like them. Either way, I was happy.

Women’s Day (8th March)
There’s no Mother’s Day here so Bulgarians go in for Women’s Day in a big way. People give gifts to all the special ladies in their life, not just their mum, which is nice for childless harridans like me. The day started with the usual coffee next door, where I was greeted with a ‘chestit praznik’ (‘happy holiday’), then I got more holiday wishes on the telephone, and I got a set of mixing bowls as a gift. Hurrah for special lady holidays. And this special lady song by Flight of the Conchords.

Gardening bore
Our asparagus has been coming up since the first week of March, along with the wild garlic and rhubarb. And we’ve still got to eat the Jerusalem artichokes that have been in the ground all winter. I love Jerusalem artichokes, despite the dreadful wind they give me, but Rob can’t eat them at all. Faced with the daunting prospect of eating them all myself, and dying of wind, I keep putting off digging them up. I really must get on with it.

Rhubarb crumble on the way.

Other good things are happening in the garden. The cherry plum trees are in blossom, and some of our perennials (peonies, hollyhocks, aster, cupid’s dart, comfrey) are starting to emerge. We planted a load of bulbs in the autumn, alliums mostly, and they’re also poking their way through – although I don’t think they’ll flower for a while. We also spent all of last weekend weeding and fixing the veg beds so they’re ready for planting.

Also, the house is no longer a house. It is a massive seedling factory. The end.

Tomato seedlings on the go. Aubergine and pepper seedlings just out of sight.
Also, marvel at how much yogurt we eat!