The snow is starting to melt. The salami is hanging in the window. We have spent the last two months in the kitchen by the stove, reading books, looking after the animals and getting ready for the spring and summer in the garden. The tomato seedlings on the window sill are already looking good. It has been a long winter by any standards and even the villagers have said that it's been unusually cold with temperatures regularly reaching minus ten. The pig’s water bucket was frozen solid for over two weeks, day and night. Thankfully now she has something to drink and not a moment too soon as she is going to have piglets. We led her through the village in a blizzard to the house of Rumi, our neighbour Yvanka’s cousin. Rumi has a huge boar. So, all we have to do now is wait the 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days and we will have a dozen or so wee piggies. Denny the goat is much further advanced and she will be having her kids in three weeks. 

It seems like a long time ago now but we had a visit from Alex, Josh and Dani in January. It was lovely to see them. One night we all went out to Popovo Disco and danced the night away to Chalga, Balkan cheesy pop folk. No photos survive thankfully.

Claire went back to Ireland for two weeks and on the way we stopped for a day in Bucharest. Previously we had only ever driven through but getting out of the car and walking about the old town gives you a completely different view. It’s a beautiful city with some lovely architecture. 

Finally here are a couple of poems written by Chris over the long winter months.

The garden under snow
The day the snow came down
like icing sugar puffed from a broken bag,
burst and filling the space above the earth.
With an old eider down
but fresh as milk, it smothered the garden. 
Under the covers the brown soil was suckling.
Night came behind the flakes.
And it was quiet, time stopped 
and nothing ever happened again.
Not a single thing.
But then, months later
The first teeth erupted, nibbling on grit.
Tiny fingers groped through worm holes to the surface.
The skeletons of birds were alive with flies
whilst insects re-fleshed the bones with dust
and iced water fizzed and bubbled in a tall glass.

Stalactites in a cottage kitchen
Saltpetre and spices
Shrivelled like cold fingers
Or teddy bears in Mother Shipton’s Cave
Severed body parts wound with skin
The large intestine
Scraped and dipped in salt
Then cured in a magical wind
Sentinels hang smoky from darkened beams
Sausages and spells
Dried totems, sliced
And pressed as charms in paper packets