It feels like I start every other post like this: how is it [insert month/season here] already?! But indulge me while I do it yet again. Because it’s somehow October, if you hadn’t noticed, and all hope of pretending it’s still, ahem, ‘late summer’ has well and truly faded.
Yes, it’s still warm-ish and sunny most days here in Bulgaria (it doesn’t usually get really cold until late December), but the mornings and nights have a spikey chill to them, and I spend each evening swaddled in an oversize cardigan, huge blanket scarf and an array of cats.
One of my favourite things about autumn is we have more time (and the weather is more suitable) for walking. It’s just too hot to go shlepping up hills in the summer, and there’s always so much to do in the garden. But from September onwards, things start to slow down. The garden is in graceful (or not) decline, and we turn our thoughts beyond the garden gate and back to the local landscape. We’ll keep up the walking all through the autumn, winter and spring, and then become courgette-obsessed hermits when next May rolls around. Predictable, like.
Another great thing about autumn is … the booze! Yes, it’s the time of year when Rob turns our homegrown grapes and apples into wine and cider. The white wine is already underway, as is the cider, and the red grapes will be picked any day now. (Walking up the garden path yesterday, we were hit by a seriously winey smell wafting from the red grapes growing above, which is how we know they’re more than ready for harvest.)
What other news? We took part in the Bulgarian census – the first since we came here (we must have just missed the last one in 2011). It was available to fill in online, but by some accounts it was a bit of a ballache to do (not to mention the site being hacked), so I said, ‘fuck that, we’ll wait for them to come to our house with the form.’ Which they did. The nice census ladies spent several days in our village going from house to house. And when they learned we were English, they said they’d come back with an English version of the form. Which they did! I mean, we would have been okay with the Bulgarian version – with a little help from our mate Google, of course – but it certainly made life easier having it all in English. Just goes to show my standard response to any bureaucracy-related request – basically, ‘yeah, I think I’ll wait and see how this plays out for other people before I bother to do anything’ – does pay off sometimes. I’m basically 95% Bulgarian now, with my ‘wait and see’ attitude. The old me, the proactive ‘let’s get this done asap’ me, wouldn’t recognise myself. The old me wouldn’t have been able to sleep without filling in the census form the minute it became available online. The new me laughs in the face of such uptight mania.
Other than that, most of our time is spent dealing with the warring cat factions that live in our house. I say ‘factions’, it’s really just a case of all the other cats versus Mim, our newest kitten. Merlin and Baxter, the younger two, especially hate her. (The older two, Iggy and Pepper, have got used to cats appearing at regular intervals and are marginally less pissed off about it.) Merlin and Baxter spend all day outdoors, only to reappear at dinnertime, after which they spend all evening snarling and growling at Mim’s presence. It’s just SO FUN, guys. Everyone should get ALL THE CATS. It’s BRILLIANT. *Pulls out yet another clump of hair*
She’s worth it though, with her adorably serious face, big-cat energy, and love of playing fetch (she chases paper balls and then brings them back for us to throw again).