Gergyovden

Well it's the 6th of May and and eagerly awaited population in Bulgaria was finally rewarded with their patience. It is another name day in Bulgaria and a pretty big one, the name is George. Incidentally it is also Army Day to coincide with this day of celebration. It is unofficially the day summer starts and is celebrated by farmers throughout the land with a specially baked Gergyovden bread.

All people that have a name mildly similar to the name George is included in the name day celebrations but of course all friends and family get in on the act of celebrating on their behalves. So Galia has her name day set today, a special day for her and a present was bought the day before. She wanted a chip fryer and she got one. No jewellery, fancy fashion or otherwise was wanted. What a practical Bulgarian she is and a very happy one I'm so glad I've got her for so many reasons, not least the love I have for her.

We had also purchased the lamb after surveying many shops. This of course is the traditional food of this particular name day. But little was we to know that we didn't get to eat it...... Mainly because a guest arrives a lunchtime.

It was Georgio, Galia's cousin, who of course was celebrating with his allocated name. He had a friend in the wonderful Yambol Park who own a restaurant/bar and he had reserved an area sitting out in the park for all his friends and family. We had formally been invited and we had tot be there within the hour. No worries though a Bulgarian hour can last anything up to 6 hours and in some cases lasts forever! This means we had time enough to get ready.

We were very excited as we remember last years' celebration laid on by Doctor Georgo and although we didn't make it due to work commitments we saw how much fun was had by the pictures, including live accordion music and game with a live, loaded handgun - that's another story though.

Galia and I got ready in our best outfits and bough a gift of perfume and chocolates for Georgio, again traditional gifts with moderate costs are traditional. We walked in glorious sunshine to the Park, (called Diana Park after the Greek Goddess of Hunting).

We saw the cluster of buildings in the centre of the park, part of which used to be for wedding functions etc. but had been run down since 1990. Georgio we could seen in the distance already had a few friends around and the rakia had already been started. Could he last the distance?

We sat down again with glorious weather in the middle of this beautiful park and every so often more friends and family turned up. Shopska salad, green salad, nuts, were a never ending supply from the restuarant and we could smell the barbeque which consisted of kufta (herbed mince balls). Then the lamb, which fell off the bone came into play after a few hours.

All this time we were talking and listening to heavy metal music, Georgio and Toma (the restaurant owner) were a big fans of this music. The whole of the park was filled with Iron Maiden, Metalika and Alice Cooper, the latter they played from my request once they found out I was a big fan.

The strange thing about this get together was that I felt as if I was part of the family, my Bulgarian now up to quite a bit in conversation terms. No longer did I have to become isolated from a point of lack of Bulgarian communication skills. Oddly enough everyone wanted to speak English to me but I didn't feel right about this and explained why. Anyone who knows me know why as well.

The guests still came flooding in and the children paying around were so refreshing and didn't need any attention from parents. They were more than content to play such simple games in the park like hide and seek, running races and just playing around with a simple stick they found in the woods. There wasn't any need for anything for them to be stimulated by other than playing with themselves. The whole day and evening was stress free and content children added to this immensely. God I'm so glad I here in Bulgaria and away from disrespectful, spoilt and untamed Brit kids.

Speaking with many people I met the head coach of the International Bulgarian basketball Coach. He was telling me how Bulgarian basket ball is on the up and that Yambol basketball is the best in the country. He also was saying that it was becoming harder each year from lack of funding at school. This of course means less talent cultured at an early age and less talent in the pipeline for the future. He had be the coach for some twenty years having worked his way up through the ranks. We spoke about many other things related to sport and basketball, he has a strong opinion that golf, snooker and other sports that don't involve aerobic activities aren't sport at all! He has a point.

The toilets in the main building had a reputation, non on site with the restaurant/bar as all this was really was a souped up shed! The reputation was realised by Galia as she tested the water. From thereon it was toilet natural as we were surrounded by lush greenery, trees and bushes, perfect for relief in natural privacy. The Tundhza was only 20 metres away from our seat and many men found this a good point of relief with blocks of apartments opposite staring them in the face holding no fear of indecency. (A picture of the mens' toilets is given here)

So many friendly people, it is overwhelming that this now is part and parcel of how life is here and Galia and me are also very much part of the makeup. Food drink and music and song were now going through into the night as the lights came on.

Rakia by the litre and real Russian vodka were the staple drinking diet. Every few minute a big 'Heidi!' followed by 'Nastravey!' Occasional a few Bulgarian singing came out based around the name of George even so often followed by the 'Nastravey' and so it went on.....

Finally the crowded long table got shorter and midnight approached but not before many laughs and talking with a bit of dancing toward the end materialised. (The two name day celebraties Georgio and Galia give a good example here.) We knew we'd been to a party and lost count of the numbers of rakias we had. Even so nobody got out of hand, there was no bad words or bad feelings all was concord throughout. Again the respect everyone has for everyone else is quite astounding.

We finally got home and just looked at each other knowing that coming back home to Bulgaria was the best move we had made and we just don't want to ever leave again.

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