Like many places Bulgaria has gone through a cycle of shutting down, opening up, shutting down again in response to COVID-19. The restaurants and cafes, after a long period of being shut down, were allowed to reopen at the beginning of March only to be shut down again three weeks later. At the beginning of April they were allowed to reopen outdoor areas. These folks were taking advantage of the fine weather on a weekday evening to have a drink and a snack at the Imperial Gastrohub on Graf Ignatiev Street.
March 1 is Baba Marta day in Bulgaria – ‘Grandma March’. Baba Marta brings the end of the cold weather and the beginning of spring. On Baba Marta, martenitsi – made of red and white yarn – are given as gifts to family, friends, neigbours, and colleagues and worn on the wrist, or pinned to a coat, until the first sighting of a stork, a swallow or the first blossom on a tree. At that point people tie their martentsi to a tree, usually blossoming trees like these ones. For some reason certain trees are very popular and both of these were covered in dozens of martenitsi, even as other flowering trees nearby had very few.
I saw this car a few weeks ago while out for a walk. It sits in the grounds of a small art gallery, ‘Artur’, on Journalist Square in Sofia. I’ve no idea of the story behind it or even if there is one but it is intriguing. A little digging revealed that this is a Vauxhall Velux PA-S. Vauxhall is a long established British car maker and the Velux PA-S was made between 1957 and 1959. How a British made car from the 1950’s ended up in communist Bulgaria is a mystery, as is how it ended up quietly decaying in this garden in Journalist Square.
It’s been a strange winter in Sofia. We had one day of snow back in December which disappeared after a couple of days and that was it until this week when it snowed on Monday with a little more on Tuesday. That snow is melting away and the temperature is rising again. So on Tuesday I took a lunchtime walk through a nearby forest with my camera before the snow is gone.
These were the first pictures I’ve taken in a long time. I was out for a walk in November with my F2 but in the end I didn’t bother developing the film because I didn’t think there was much on it. Before that I took some pictures in September. Even then it felt like I was forcing myself to shoot, so it was good to get out because I wanted to rather than because I felt I should.
I left the film cameras and my X-T2 on the shelf and took my ten year old Panasonic Lumix LX5. The more I use this little camera, the more I like it. I bought it a couple of years ago second hand, having good memories – and a lot of good pictures – from its predecessor, the LX3, which I had for quite a few years. It’s a shame Panasonic appears to have given up on the LX line, though I understand this isn’t a strong market segment any more and it’s hard to compete against the Sony RX100.
Here are a few pictures from my walk.
Tomb of the Unknown Warrior / Nikon F2A, Nikkor AI-S 105mm f2.5, Kodak Ultramax 400
Sofia University / Minolta XD, Rokkor MD 24mm f2.8, Kodak Ektar
Lion Bridge / Minolta XD, Rokkor 50mm f1.7, Kodak Ektar
St Nedelya Church, Nikon FM2n, Nikkor AI-S 105mm f2.5, Kodak Ektar