I realised with dismay last week that I’d only left the village twice since 5th January: once when we got the bus down to Sofia for a night of drinking cocktails, eating Italian food and generally blowing our Christmas money on frivolities; and the second time when the gas bottle for our hob ran out and I had to drive into Etropole at an average 20 mph in awful conditions to get more gas before Rob went back to England. (I can cope with many things when I’m here on my own. Having to light the woodburner and wait 40 minutes for the kettle to boil before I can have a brew isn’t one of them. I need my gas hob in the morning.)
This uncomfortable realisation made me feel like a bit of a lazy lump. It’s not like I’ve been sitting around eating bon bons in front of the telly all day every day – I’ve had lots of work on – but that doesn’t really excuse not getting out and about on a weekend.
So Saturday we layered up, yanked on the snow boots and got the bus into Etropole for a rucksack of vegetables and a leisurely lunch, including lots of wine, at the pizza restaurant. (It kind of sounds like I need alcohol to tempt me out of the house at the moment, which is not exactly inaccurate, but still, it does sound bad.)
I’m a big fan of Etropole. It’s one of those typical Bulgarian towns with very ugly blocks of flats on the outskirts, but the centre, once you find it, is quite attractive. It’s very, um, Soviet – with a big open square, ideal for parading in, overseen by municipality buildings – but I’ve always liked it. The town is surrounded by mountains, has a couple of pretty churches (even a monastery up in the hills) and a horse riding school, and there are some lovely traditional Balkan houses down the backstreets. And there’s the pizza restaurant, a very cute log cabin, complete with open fire, which serves huge pizzas for around 6 leva (about £3).
|LOOK AT THIS RIDICULOUS PILE OF SNOW!
Okay, I’ll stop shouting now.
|The central square. There are many more beautiful views in Etropole but this is the one you’re
getting because I didn’t want to go traipsing around.
|Approaching the central square.|
|Many of the electricity boxes have been decorated by local youths. I couldn’t be arsed to go
looking for others. Have I mentioned how much snow there is around?
|The Etropole mean machine. The driver chain-smoked and had to frequently get up to kick the automatic door
open and pull it closed. Still, this little beauty is our sanity-saver in the winter and I love it with all my shrivelled heart.
Aside from finally getting further than 50 feet from my house, we’ve been very productive in other ways. Driven by a need to achieve something, anything, this winter, we’ve been getting up super early in the mornings to write. Yes, we’ve both started writing novels, which clearly makes us the most insufferable couple on the planet. Sorry about that.
Rob is getting up at 5am, I’m getting up at 6am (I tell myself when the alarm goes off that I’m a faster writer and can therefore afford an extra hour in bed), and we’re getting in a few hours of being mad creative geniuses before starting the actual day’s work. I may be suffering from chronic eye strain (2–3 hours writing on my laptop followed by a normal 7-hour day on my laptop is possibly not that sustainable), but otherwise it’s highly enjoyable. As winter hobbies go, I recommend it.
I’m also finally re-doing the curtains I meant to do over Christmas, which is, admittedly, not quite as exciting. But, hey, small victories in January mean twice as much.