26 Jan 2008

Pig fair at Puichéric - Foire du Cochon

The annual Foire du Cochon is held in the village of Puicheric, about 20 minutes from Bize. A better way to spend the afternoon than up a ladder, stripping wallpaper or splashing paint around.

Miki, a friend in the village, had the same idea, so we set off in the afternoon with his new and excitable pup Oscar in tow.

Oscar is the offspring of the local bar dog, Pepsi, and now that he's starting to sprout whiskers, the resemblence it becoming obvious.

It was a big fair with streets and streets of stalls – food, handicrafts, wine etc. But the highlights of the afternoon were two events. There was a Pig Crying Competition – firstly the kids had a go, and then the big guns – a group of guys who are very serious about these things! And much to the delight of the crowd, a local man won hands down!

And afterwards, what all the kids were waiting for – the pig race. The difference here was that the kids were allowed to run with the piglets!

7 Jan 2008

Bulgarian Break

A last minute decision to spend a week’s break in Bulgaria with my old friend Sue – between Christmas and New Year. While the catching up and spending time together was great, the trip was not without difficulties … starting with a 4 hour delay at Gatwick before the plane pulled up to the departure window – it appeared I would be flying on Iron Maiden Airlines! Well, on the aircraft that was advertising their 2008 world tour anyway…

Susie met me at Varna Airport and we headed into town to the Hotel Perfect – and it was. Off-season rates - cheap as chips and two old girls lived like royalty for the night. The rooms were luxurious, each with its own sitting room and balcony. My room even had its own courtyard, as big as the apartment itself.
Varna is a lovely town/city, especially with its Christmas lights - though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be there in the tourist season.

And so on to Miladinovtsi after a 3 hour train trip to Yambol, then a one hour drive through thick fog. That was Tuesday. Wednesday were blizzards which – as we learned 49 hours later when the power came back on – had bought much of Bulgaria and Romania to a standstill. So what do four Aussies (us two and two young guys from Perth – house guests) and two local Brits do in a blizzard without power? – off to the pub. Well, the local bar in the village.

And here’s some snaps of Susie with her new family of Karakachans –
Taking the pups for a stroll in the back yard:

Reading them the riot act …. (not really - they call the shots!)

So getting around was pretty interesting – we did a taxi ride into Yambol for a day out on Friday as we were all feeling a touch of cabin fever. The roads were indeed dangerous – a very slow trip – and the countryside was stunning beautiful with its thick cover of snow, and clear blue skies. And then Saturday I repeated that trip into Yambol, first part of the ordeal in getting back to France.
It went like this:
  • 1 hour trip from Miladinovtsi to the train station at Yambol by taxi - on iced ungritted roads
  • One hour train delay – temperature outside minus 20 degrees
  • Slow trip - 3 hour train trip took 4 hours
  • Arrived Varna airport to find it closed due to weather
  • 2+ hours on a bus to Bourgas Airport
  • Arrived Gatwick 1.20am
  • Rescheduled flights and got into nearby hotel (compliments of BA) by 3am
  • Being Sunday, first flight to Toulouse departed 3.15pm
  • Arrived back in Bize 8.15pm

Door-to-door, 36 hours – about 1.5 trips to
Waiting for the train:

Despite the weather and travel trauma, it was a beaut break and all going well Susie will be over this way for a visit before the summer.

Building progress

A few pictures of the progress on the barn building up to the Christmas break. Although it’s now into January, the builders haven’t yet re-appeared, so hopefully they put in an appearance soon!

The upstairs balcony on the main house, now about two thirds original size:

And looking back at the house:

Before Christmas, the village walking group held a lunch at a beaut restaurant up in the hills. After a lovely meal, Illyette just happened to have bags of costumes with her, and some of us were lucky enough to dress up in traditional garb of other countries. It was lucky dip – I got “Miss Congo” and Illyette (on the right) got “Miss Senegal”. This lot love a dress-up .....

Sandra (Miss Egypt) and Jacques (Mr India) !!

Edgar drew the short straw – Miss France:

However, it wasn’t only a lunch – Illyette and Claude celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in style – with Illyette wearing her original dress and cape – the birthday hat with candles however was NOT part of the original ……
There was also a repeat wedding ceremony – with lots of laughs - and Jacques relishing playing the part of the priest….
And a few winter pictures of the village: Mist on the river …
And a vide grenier held mid-December:

Moving sideways

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