The saddest news, coppicing and ladies that lunch

Terry and I have not long come back from the UK but not for the best reasons.  His Mum Denise was admitted to hospital for suspected Bronchitus and died 2 weeks later of aggressive cancer of the lungs, liver and adrenal glands.  It happened so quickly no one had any time to process what was happening.  Terry left as soon as his Mum entered the hospice and immediately after seeing her on a video call.  Whitefaced and tight -lipped he left on the next flight.  During the journey I kept in contact with Danielle and Tony and at one point once he’d landed and Dan and Tony had picked him up Dani rang me and said please ring Dad and tell Dan to put his foot down, Nan’s not doing well.  But Denise in her inimitable and organised way held out till everyone who needed to say goodbye arrived and spoke with her.  As Terry dropped Dani home one quiet evening as he walked back into the hospice he told his beloved Mum “It’s ok Mum I’ve taken Dani home”.  He knew that his Mum would never have left this world with Danielle in the room.  She passed some minutes later.  Terry returned home and we went back to the UK for the funeral.  Even in death Denise managed to do what she did best – sort things out.  All feuds and misunderstandings were put aside, family members reconnected and at her funeral there was a goodly crowd of people there to celebrate her life.  Terry stood with 3 of his 4 children flanking him on either side, an united front in this time of sadness.  Terry said an eulogy for his Mum, something very unusual for him, to stand and speak in front of a crowd.  I watched in sheer admiration and overwhelming love as he spoke his words, his hands gripping the side of the lectern with such force I wondered if the wood would rip asunder.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  I wrote and said a few words which I will post below as a mark of respect.

Denise Melody Alexander

Meeting Denise was to have experienced enlightenment, she had the ability of allowing you to think you’d arrived at a conclusion alone.

However the sneaking suspicion that you’d been skilfully guided would eventually dawn on you.

Many’s the time I have quietly chuckled to myself at her skilful artifice.
Astute but always gentle she guided all she knew with love and an organic
intelligence that belied her unassuming facade.

The knowledge she held was quietly delivered and always thought provoking.  She had the unique gift, in the midst of the hurly burly of life, of being able to lose herself in a good book long before the words ”immersion” and “presence” were bandied about.

She was adored by animals who instinctively felt her intrinsic kindness; following her faithfully and resting by her side. The memories of her beloved Oscar were a testament to her abiding love.

As a Mother, a wife, a Nan, a sister and as a friend she was the hidden gem worth her weight in gold.  Gone too soon, never to be forgotten; the heavens have gained a shining star

Sleep tight Denise till the next time we met in the celestial tearoom up above

Back in Bulgaria Terry threw himself into his work.  It seemed as though Denise was everywhere and that was a comforting thought.  Dani returned to Uni, Sandy and Dan to Norwich, Paige and Ryan to their respective parnters and Tony to his new life as a widower.  Times are a changing.  I stayed an extra week in the UK spending time with my parents, James, his lovely new young lady Sabina and my much beloved Grandson William and his Mum Paris.  We packed in so much in that week and I am so glad I stayed.  I am amzed that my parent 79 and 83 are so incredibly mobile with full and busy lives and a house that is not only beautiful but immaculate too.  In return for their unending kindnesses I played head chef.  I wake at 5am and at least managed to stretch that to 5am UK time.  I crept like a thief in the night, down the stairs and prepared delicacies, fresh bread, Greek spinach and feta cheese pies, fresh tomato salsa and homemade meatballs, prawns in ginger on rice noodles.  Anything I could to repay their  kindness and generosity.

When William finished school I picked him up and we played like lunatics, staying at both his Dads and my parents.  I met with James’s new beau and was absolutely charmed to see how very in love they are.  We went out to eat as a group and with Williams long term best friend Lennox.  I laid the boundary rules for the boys and I was incredibly proud of them both.  They walked the aisles of steaming and fragrant Chinese food, thoughtfully placing different items on their plates.  They ate with chopsticks and were a pleasure to be with.

We spent time with Dani, Paige and Ryan.  As is the case in many blended families it is not often that you get some let alone all of the now adult kids together in 1 car.  We managed some of the on the way to the funeral and depite the sombre day their sibling interactions bought a smile to everyones faces but most especially Terrys.  Sadly there is no photgraphic evidence.  It wasn’t a day for photo taking.

Back home the Spring tasks are underway.  Coppicing the woods is one of those jobs. I gave it my best go over 2 days before Terry suggested we bring in help.  Our lovely neighbour Georgi has been asking us, for ever, to clean up the boundary lines to our property.  I’m afraid we’ve been a tad lax on this front.  I love the natural look and feel of the piles of coppicing remains.  They provide a natural habitat for beasties and are a far easier sight on the eye that the chain link fence.  But when in Rome!  So last weekend Valentino and Stefan, grandsons of our neighbours and both studying came to help us.  Terry atop the digger and the boys helping to collect the wood fall and help cut down some of the unwelcome saplings.  It was a long hot day but an very satisfying one.  Apart from the naked appearance of the boundary line the small wooded area of the garden is tamed and the fruiting trees now can breathe and grow in a more healthy manner.  The wild Mimosa is simply awful and almost indestructable.  It has thorns that are longer, more prolific and even sharper than rose thorns.  They are razor sharp.  We were all ripped to shreds getting rid of these bad boys.  The lads piled the wood atop the sanded area of the garden and Terry got the digger to pull the chipper/mulcher into position.  That is where we are at now.  Working through the falls and off cuts of the Spring cleaning event.  The chips will re-cover the seating area in front of the house and if there is anything left to mulch I’m going to use it as a weed retardant in the veg garden.

There was a terrible downside to removing the natural boundary hedge and I learned of it on returning from a day at the KAT office – the DVLA equivalent.  Always a day long proceedure.  I opened the garden gate and saw Georgi and another neighbour up in the animal yard.  My heart sunk because neighbours would never enter your property unless there was some kind of emergency.  With a tight smile I walked up the path to see Georgi making a makeshift gate to the goats pen.  They’d only jumped the fence into his garden and eaten his entire lettuce crop.  I was mortified on the outside but somewhat frustrated inside.  I expressed my concern and apologies and Georgi was very kind about his losses.  If the natural hedge hadn’t been removed there wouldn’t be this problem.  However it is no good crying over spilt milk.  Terry set up the electric fence well away from the boundary fence and the problem is solved.

I have instigated this years “ladies that lunch” club and to that effect Alice, sisters Donna and Marie and myself went a little further afield than the Tuesday Pavlikeni market and wandered off to Svishtov for the day.  Svishtov sits on the river Danube and if we’d have had our passports we could have extended our lunch to one in Romania via a short ferry trip.  We scoured the shops, particularly the second hand shops and interspersed this with stops for coffee, lunch, cakes and a bit of culture.  We laughed like school girls and shopped like demons.  One particularly lucky vendor was treated to all 4 of us descending on her very well priced rugs and runners and buying at least 2 each.  We were literally open mouthed at the price of these lightweight and washable goods.  Starting at 7 leva for the smallest 1.2m x 60cm to a whopping 24 leva for the 3m x 60cm runners.  Loaded like work horses we returned to the car and then further emptied our purses at the supermarket Billa.  I’d spotted the large Nescafe tins selling at  3 leva cheaper than anywhere else and German butter at 2 leva cheaper.  As these are relatively high cost items in Bulgaria both were worth a stop for.  By the time I’d dropped everyone off I returned to the house much later than I expected and with a very worried Terry wondering where the H Holey Schmoley I was.  Great day out and the next big date is Ruse and will include Tracey.

It is the first car boot of the year in the village tomorrow and we have new contributors!  It is extremely edifying to know that it is growing.  Alice and Donna will be manning the Yorkshire tea stall which is the major money earner for this years project, ergo, an ECG machine for the surgery.  Next month Keith and Cas, the originators of this epic idea will be back on duty.  As the booty is now on a Sunday Terry will be available to help me set up which is a godsend.  But he’ll be back in his workshop pretty quickly.  Tracey Tyler will be bringing her amazing baked goods.  I don’t often praise anyone elses cooking/baking.  I’m often times disappointed at having to pay for goods I could make better myself.  However hats off to Tracey; her baking is absolutely fantastic and the quality is consistent.  Alongside our usual contributors Steve Bindokas from the neighbouring village will be bringing his immaculate and stylish homemade furniture.  Right up my street with their clean lines and minimalistic elegance.  Sharon Jones will be bringing her organic pet treats and skin care products, already getting rave reviews, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a young and extremely talented Bulgarian potter Gabriela, will be bringing her wares and a couple more general car boot contributors.  So a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who have supported or contributed to the car boot – your efforts have paid off.  The ECG fund has a carry over of almost 400 leva from last year.  And a very public thank you to Shenay Mustafova of the Mayors office for her excellent work in keeping books and the money for the carboot proceeds.  And of course to our Mayor Stefan Stefanov for facilitating the whole affair.

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