I Eat Weeds

A lot of people dream about having a vegetable garden.  Fresh vegetables every day, full of flavour and at a cost of virtually nothing, except a bit of water and maybe some fertilizer. 

Yes, of course, another cost is your time and patience during the growing season.

And then there are the problems which will take up more of your time and sometimes money.  Things like pests, including slugs, caterpillars, ants, and other insects that seem to like your home-grown vegetables more than you do.

Or birds, mice, squirrels, and other little critters who want to eat your tasty seedlings. Or bigger animals who dig out your vegetables and take them home to feed their families.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, because as you may know, there’s a vegetable garden in the planning at our house.  It’s happened a bit sooner than I expected.  I was planning this for my retirement years, but I’ve got a huge, empty garden to fill with wonderful food for us and also to share with our friends and neighbours.

my garden now
Here’s my garden as it looks now in March – almost empty!

But, there’s also another problem.  Timing.

We bought the house at the beginning of December, and moved in a few weeks later.  Just in time to start the new year with a new life.

garden in january
My garden at the beginning of January

And, just in case some of my Australian friends have forgotten, we’re in the northern hemisphere, and December isn’t the middle of summer.  It’s the middle of winter.

So, it’s not growing season.  In fact, for some of the winter the ground is covered by snow.

garden in january
This is my garden on 9th January

And often the ground is frozen, so even if you wanted to plant something you couldn’t.

And when the temperature goes up a little, and the ground thaws out, you still can’t plant anything because there’s still the risk of frost and anything that you try to grow can be killed overnight. Frozen to death.

So we have to wait until spring arrives and the threat of frost is over.

Of course, there are some things that can be planted towards the end of winter that are frost hardy, but they won’t grow fast enough to provide you with food until spring or maybe even summer.

So that means that from December to March there’s not much activity in the garden.  We’re just sitting around, waiting out the cold weather. 

Waiting for the real spring weather.  And even though it’s now officially spring, it’s still too cold to plant anything outside.

Which is why I’ve got something like 80 seedlings in the house right now.  I’m ready, but nature is not.

But we do have a few things in the garden already.  Let me tell you what’s there.

What’s growing now

I planted some garlic in early December, and it’s growing nicely.  It is very frost hardy, which means it can live through the cold winter months without a problem.  It’s still too early yet, it’s nowhere near ready to eat so I just have to leave that alone and wait.

There are also some carrots in the ground that the previous owner left for us.  They are very, very small.  I’ve pulled a few up to check, and although we’ve eaten some of them, they are not really enough for even a salad. 

I found some onions growing randomly in the ground.  I guess they’re also left over from the previous owners.  And they’re not ready to eat, either.

onions
Random onions growing

There’s some parsley, and some dill.  Not a lot, but I have managed to pick some to use in our kitchen.  I will be growing more of these when the time is right.

And also there’s been quite a lot of little lettuce’s popping up.  They’re also frost resistant, and although they’re really, really small, I’ve pulled off a few leaves and had a little nibble from time to time. 

But like the carrots, it’s not nearly enough for even a one-person salad.

I started thinking, “There must be something I can eat in this garden, without having to wait until the summer harvest!”

So I had a look around, and guess what I found?

Food!

Food!

Not the kind of food you’d find in a shop.  Probably not the kind of food you’d even find in a market.

And I’m guessing not even the kind of food that you’d recognise as food.

Because they’re weeds. 

Yes, weeds.  I’ve been eating weeds. 

Let me tell you about them.

Before I do, I must tell you that it’s not advisable to go outside and eat any plants that you find.  Do some research, and make sure that you don’t poison yourself, ok?  I will not take responsibility for you eating something you shouldn’t and getting sick from it.

Chickweed 

The first weed I ate is called ‘chickweed’.  You may have heard of it, or maybe not.  I’d heard the name, but I never knew what it was or what it looked like.

chickweed flower
Chickweed flower

I saw someone online asking people to identify a plant in photo, and the answer came back – ‘chickweed’.  Realising that I also had a lot of this weed, I decided to find out what I could use it for.

And I was so surprised at what I found!

The little white flowers, the leaves, and the stems are edible.  They can be used in salads, or ground up into a pesto.  They can be cooked in stir-fries or stews. 

chickweed
Chickweed

And they’re so full of goodness, it’s almost hard to believe!  They contain vitamin A, D, B complex, C, as well as rutin (a bioflavinoid), calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, iron and silica.

And they taste really good!  You have to make sure to wash off any dirt, which isn’t a problem if you pick the longer stems which are shooting upwards and not the ones that are crawling along the ground.

chickweed
Chickweed

Chickweed is what I snack on while I’m in the garden doing the weeding. 

There is a toxic look-alike for chickweed, called Scarlet Pimpernel, which has orange flowers.  If you’re not sure if your weed is chickweed or the toxic Scarlet Pimpernel, wait until it flowers before eating any of it.

Dead Nettle 

Apparently these are called ‘dead nettle’ because although their leaves resemble those of the stinging nettle, these plants have no sting at all.  They’re a part of the mint family.

dead nettle
A carpet of dead nettle

I admired these beautiful carpets of colour before I even knew what they were.  Then one day a friend was complaining that it was almost impossible to get rid of this weed, so I decided to find out what I could use it for.

Food!  Yes, these lovely little colourful plants can be eaten.  Some people eat them raw – why not add them into a mixed salad?  Or put some into your soup?

dead nettle
This would look gorgeous in a salad

People also mix them into smoothies.  I don’t make smoothies because I don’t have the right equipment, but I think they’d be a great addition.

And, best of all, you can make a tea from them.  I just put a few flower heads into a cup, add boiling water and let sit for about 10 minutes (I cover the cup so it doesn’t lose too much heat). 

The taste of this tea is very ‘earthy’, so I put a big teaspoon of local raw honey into it to improve the flavour a bit.  But it’s not unbearable even without the honey.

This tea can have a laxative effect if used in large amounts, so if you want to try it maybe just a cup or two a day is enough. 

You can use the flower heads fresh, or dry them and store them for later.

plate of dead nettle
My first dead nettle harvest

I must admit that I don’t snack on these ones while I’m in the garden.  And that’s because they really need to be washed before eating or making tea with them, because ants and other little insects often hide among the flowers, and I don’t really want to eat those!

Dead nettle is high in vitamins C, A, and K, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and fibre. 

I won’t go into the medicinal properties of dead nettle here, but if you do a bit of research you’ll find a lot of health benefits and different ways to use this plant, including for allergies, and it’s also an anti-inflammatory.

dead nettle in the garden
Dead nettle in the garden

And the good news is that there’s no toxic look-alike for this plant, so you can’t accidentally poison yourself thinking you’re eating dead nettle.

And more…

There are also some other edible weeds in my garden. I have dandelion, stinging nettle, and little blue violets dotted all over the place. 

I won’t write about them today, I’ll save them for another time.  But here’s some photos of them for you.

Some stinging nettle in my garden.

And some dandelions.

dandelion
Dandelions

And here’s some very pretty violets.

violets
Violets

As you can see, although I’m going to have to wait quite some time to harvest the vegetables I plan on growing this year, I have enough to keep me going for now just from the weed population!

What edible plants do you have in your garden?  Have you incorporated them into your regular cooking or are you unsure about how to go about it?  Also, let me know any other ways you use ‘weeds’ in the kitchen or for other purposes.

~ Cheryl

Shared in Natalie the Explorer’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Emergency Gloves, and other Knitting Stories

I’ve been able to knit for as long as I can remember.  I was lucky enough to learn to knit at a very young age.  I also learnt to crochet.  And a bit later I learnt to sew, by hand and on a sewing machine.

As a child I loved all of these activities.  I did them on and off, depending on my age and what other interests I had at the time. 

At one time I remember making a lot of small squares for a crocheted rug but I’m not sure if I ever sewed them all together to actually make the end product!

My first success

When I was about 12 years old someone gave me some real wool on a cone which I thought was amazingly exotic!  I’d only ever had cheap synthetic stuff before that.  This wool was a kind of boring beige colour, but nevertheless I decided it would be great as a scarf.  I made it into a very, very long scarf.

In fact, the only reason it wasn’t longer than it was is because I got to the end of the wool and was left with a bare cone.  Otherwise I think it would have been even longer.  As it was it was probably at least a couple of metres long.

And I thought I was very, very cool when I wore my scarf to school!  I was so proud to tell everyone that I made it myself.

I’d even made a fringe to go at each end.  It was the end of the 70s and it really was a great fashion statement back then (for an 11 year old!).

I didn’t always knit a lot over the years.  I was often busy with life as a young, single, working mum, and I had other things to do that were a little more energetic than knitting. 

But I do remember that I knitted myself a jumper once. It was black with big stripy bands of bright colours going around it.  I was about 20 years old and I stayed up nights to make it.  I’d only ever knitted scarves before that, so it was the first ‘grown up’ thing I’d knitted.

Knitting in Paris – the ‘Cache Nez’

Fast forward a lot of years and I found myself living in Paris.  I was there as a tourist, so I had no job to keep me busy. 

A friend showed us something that his grandmother had made for his grandfather when they were young and rode motorcycles.  In French it’s called a ‘cache nez’ (this would translate into something like a ‘nose hider’ in English, although I think they’re actually called ‘neck gaiters’). 

But it was a little different to what people use today.  It had a bib, which was joined onto the neck part, and was made for protecting the chest from the cold while riding a motorcycle. 

Back in the days when the grandmother made it, there weren’t any warm synthetic clothes especially for motorcyclists like there are nowadays, and there weren’t zips either.  They needed all the help they could get to block their chests from the cold wind as they rode.  The cache nez, with the bib, was great protection for them.

As I had nothing much to do with my days (I’d been to Paris a lot by then and wasn’t interested in doing typical ‘tourist’ things. Plus, I didn’t have any money!), I decided to make some cache nez for my French friends.  They all rode either scooters or motorcycles, and it can get pretty cold in Paris when you’re on a bike.

So, I started knitting cache nez.  I made a special ‘Spiderman’ version for Olivier (as he’s a fan and collector of Spiderman things).  I lined the back of the bib with black satin, which added another small layer of warmth.

I made quite a few different ones for friends.  One with a pig, one with a big ‘S’ like Superman, and some other fun designs.

And I made some for Olivier’s family who used them not for motorcycles, but for when they went skiing!

And then came fingerless gloves

I really enjoyed knitting so I started to look for other things to make. After searching online I found some patterns for ‘cut-off’ fingerless gloves so I made some of them.  I gave most of them away because I had no need for them all, I just enjoyed making them!

paris knitted gloves
Fingerless gloves I made in Paris

And then I was asked to make some little jumpers for some dogs.  I made about 3 of them with different designs, but unfortunately I didn’t think to take any photos of them.

I spent a few months doing not much else besides knitting, and I really enjoyed it.  But like all good things, it had to end because I eventually left Paris and onto other adventures in Moscow.

Knitting in Moscow

In Moscow I made some more cache nez for Olivier, but without the bib. He didn’t ride bikes in Moscow and although it was cold he didn’t really have a need for extra chest protection.  He did, however, bring his Spiderman cache nez with him and wore it on the coldest days.

A year or so before I left Moscow, I decided to try knitting for profit, and made some fingerless gloves for sale.  I had so much fun shopping for wool!  I bought so many different colours and types of yarn, and enjoyed all the different patterns they made as I knitted the gloves.

Here are some of them:

Well, I didn’t sell anything, but I did make a lot of friends happy when I gave them my gloves just before leaving Russia last year!

Knitting in Bulgaria

When we arrived in Bulgaria, I decided to make some more fingerless gloves because I knew that it would start to get cold, and this time I made them for Olivier and me.

So I bought knitting needles and wool, and got started all over again.  And then something amazing happened.

We were having a drink with some new friends, and one of them saw my gloves and asked me to make some for her.  Then her mum said that she wanted some too.

I was thrilled and got onto it straightaway!

Baby clothes

However, it wasn’t going to end there.  After giving her the gloves, my new friend asked if I could make some baby clothes and a blanket for one of her friends!  What a great challenge – I’d never knitted baby clothes before.  She sent me some pictures of what she had in mind, and after confirming the colours with her I got started.

And this is the result of the very first baby clothes and blanket that I ever made!

baby clothes

But then she asked me to make the same again, in different colours, for another of her friends who was also having a baby! 

baby clothes
The second baby clothes and blanket

And then there were winter hats to make, some cache nez (without the bib), and more fingerless gloves were ordered!

winter collection
A complete set – gloves, hat and cache nez

I was knitting for hours every day and it was such a pleasure!  I’m always relaxed when I knit, as long as I’m not being disturbed when I’m trying to count, or when I’m working on a complicated pattern.

I’m quite proud to say that she loved what I made and so did her friends who were on the receiving end of these hand-knitted things.

Crocheted dog hats!

And then, I was asked to make a beret for a dog!  I’d never seen a woollen hat for a dog, so I looked it up online and didn’t really know what to think!

After some hesitation I managed to make a couple of hats for a dog.  I didn’t really know the exact size of the dog, but the ones I made are pretty stretchy so I’m hoping that they ended up ok (the dog and the owner of the dog are in another country).

A couple of months ago friend of mine in Denmark offered to send me some of her wool because she said that she has so much of it she could open a shop!  This friend is someone I’ve never met, but she reached out to me online while Olivier and I were locked down and stuck in Bucharest, as I had mentioned in a Facebook group for expats that I was feeling a bit lost and alone and needed a bit of support.  (Big thanks to Kay Cee!)

We’ve kept in touch since then, and when I showed her photos of my knitting she made the offer to send me some wool.   As soon as I received the package I made myself this winter hat.

winter hat

Emergency gloves

Which brings me back to emergency gloves.  What are emergency gloves?  Well, let me explain.

When I lived in Russia I always had several pairs of gloves.  Some really warm thick ones for the dead of winter.  Some less thick ones for normal winter days.  Some mittens because I think they are warmer than gloves.  Some really thin ones to wear under my mittens or other gloves because my fingers are always cold.  Old ones and new ones.  Ones to wear to work and ones just for out walking.  If you live in a cold country you’ll probably be the same – you can never have too many pairs of gloves. 

Plus, I was always losing them, so it was necessary to have spares at home just in case.

When we left Moscow in March last year, we had planned to spend 6 months or more in Asia and Australia, so as we were packing we left all our winter clothes behind and took only summer clothes with us.  I was dreaming of tropical weather in shorts, tshirts, and dresses.

As you probably know, things turned out differently, and after arriving in a very hot Bulgaria at the end of July, things changed pretty suddenly as summer turned into autumn, and autumn turned into winter.

It got cold!  We had to buy winter clothes all over again. We had nothing suitable for the cold weather!

So back in October or November, we were at a market, and I bought one pair of black knitted gloves.  Just your standard, basic, machine knitted gloves that you see everywhere. 

I wore them all winter.  They were just warm enough, although on some of the colder days I would have been happier with a thicker pair.  But they were mostly fine.

It’s now March, and although we’re getting some warm and sunny days now, I’m still wearing gloves from time to time because it can still be a bit cold.

Last week we had to take a bus to Veliko Tarnovo because our car was at the mechanics there and we had to go and pick it up.  We never usually travel between villages by bus because we have a car. 

It was quite cold and I was wearing my new blue winter hat, and my black gloves.

So we took the bus and as it was the first time we didn’t really know where to get off.  When we got to the next town, the bus stopped to let someone on, so we made a split second decision that we would get off right there.  I jumped up, holding onto my winter hat, and ran out of the bus.

Unfortunately I wasn’t holding onto my gloves.  They’d been on my lap.  When I stood up they probably fell to the floor. 

I’d lost my only pair of gloves.  And it was still cold.  And I hate shopping.

So, I decided to make myself some emergency gloves.  Gloves that I will need to wear only for another few weeks, and not even every day.  Gloves that will fill the little gap between now and when gloves are no longer needed – probably only a few weeks, if that.

I looked online for some patterns and decided that mittens would be much easier to make than gloves (no fiddling around trying to make the fingers).  I found a pattern that I liked, checked that I had the right sized needles, and grabbed the wool that matches my winter hat, and made the emergency gloves/mittens.

They were so easy to make (and I love knitting so much) that I got some of my odd wool that was left over from other projects and made a second pair of emergency gloves.

Just in case I lose the first emergency pair.

Do you have any knitting stories you’d like to share?  Or maybe you’re more into crochet?  Feel free to put links to any great knitting projects in the comments!

~ Cheryl

Shared on Natalie the Explorer’s Weekend Coffee Share

14th February – St Trifon’s Day

You all know about St Valentine’s Day, but have you heard of St Trifon’s Day?  Probably not, unless you live in Bulgaria!

St Trifon’s Day is also celebrated on 14th February each year, just like St Valentine’s Day.  But they are two very different celebrations.

Whereas on St Valentine’s Day you’ll receive flowers, cards, and/or gifts, and you may be taken out to dinner by the one you love (or by the one who loves you, whatever the case may be), St Trifon’s Day is a celebration of wine. 

Or more specifically, winegrowers and winemakers.

St Trifon, also known as St. Trifon Zarezan (Trifon the Pruner), is the patron saint of winegrowers and winemakers, and since a lot of Bulgarians still make their own wine from their own grapes, it’s very important to give St Trifon the respect that he deserves.

So you can imagine how intrigued we were, after buying our Bulgarian village house and talking to our new neighbours, when we found out about this special day.

You see, we do like a bit of wine now and then.  And we have grape vines growing in our garden.

Some of the grape vines in our garden

Our new neighbours told us that they used to make wine with the previous owners of our house.  They used to combine their grapes and make the wine together.  We’ve had the pleasure of tasting the wine made from the grapes from our garden. It’s not bad for homemade wine.

We are looking forward to making some ourselves with this year’s harvest.

But let’s get back to St Trifon.

About St Trifon

Trifon was born sometime around 225 AD, in the Roman Province of Phrygia, in what is now Turkey.  He and his family were Christians in a time when Christianity wasn’t the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Trifon was captured during a mass persecution of Christians, and after refusing to renounce his faith he was decapitated.  So he became a martyr of Christianity.

So, how does this connect him with winegrowers?

I’m glad you asked.

The most popular explanation is that it’s thought that he was a winegrower himself, and that he came from the area where the grape vine originated from. 

So, what happens on St Trifon’s Day?

St Trifon’s Day activities

It’s important as a winegrower that you prepare well for this day.  Bread making is necessary along with preparing some food for the celebration.  It’s common to prepare a roast chicken stuffed with rice.

Then, along with this food, the winegrower takes some wine and makes his way to his vineyard. 

And then there are some ceremonial activities that must be undertaken to ensure a great harvest for the current year.

So on Sunday, 14th February, this year our neighbours came to see us at around 11am. They asked us to join them for the celebrations. 

So we crossed the road and went inside their yard, not really knowing what we were going to find.

neighbours grape vines
Some of our neighours’ grape vines

At the back of the house, near the vines, was a barbecue, several friends who had travelled over 200kms for the weekend to join in the fun, and a big ‘bucket’ of wine. 

bbq and friends
The barbecue and friends

The food on the barbecue looked and smelt wonderful. Even though it wasn’t the traditional chicken and rice, we were really looking forward to eating a little later.

Then ‘rakia’ was served.  Rakia is the national alcoholic drink here in Bulgaria.  It’s similar in taste to cognac (or brandy) and is usually make from plums. It can also be made from a variety of other fruits.

The rakia was served warm mixed with honey, which was very welcome because it was below zero and we were standing outside having a barbecue!  They said that it’s necessary to drink warm rakia to keep your feet warm.

The ritual of pruning the vines

Then the men take some secateurs and one by one they each cut a piece of last year’s growth from the vine.  After each man cuts his piece (only one piece each, the real pruning is saved for another day), he then pours some of the wine from the bucket (which is wine made from last year’s harvest) onto the ground for fertility. 

vlad pruning
Cutting a piece of the vine
pouring wine for fertility
Then pouring some wine for fertility

A wreath is then made from the pruned vine stick and worn on the head.  The men also made wreaths for us women (because women don’t get to prune the vines on St Trifon’s Day), but I don’t think that’s part of the tradition.  The neighbours also told us that these wreaths should be kept for a year until the next St Trifon’s Day, but we didn’t see any evidence of last year’s wreaths!

my wreath
My wreath

Traditionally, each village appoints a wine “king” after the pruning, and it’s only the wine king who wears a wreath made of the vine sticks.  They go around to all the village houses and the wine king blesses all the vineyards and wishes success for the winegrowers of the village.

Unfortunately this year our village didn’t get together for this celebration, and people were left to have their own little ‘private’ St Trifon’s Day parties.  We’re hoping that next year we’ll be able to experience the day’s traditions with the whole village.

It was a very fun ceremony, and during the pruning one of the friends recited a poem, or maybe it was a prayer, which we can only imagine was for blessing the new year’s grapes (our Bulgarian language skills are sadly still too immature to understand anything except basic conversation).

Usually, for a commercial vineyard, a priest is part of the day’s events and he will bless the wines and takes part in the pruning ritual. 

After the pruning

After each man had pruned his piece of vine, and the wreaths were made and put on heads, or around necks if they were too big, when the rakia had run out, the meat was cooked and the bread was toasted, we all headed inside, finally, to receive some warmth after standing on freezing ground for an hour or so. 

Once inside the house we all crowded around the small table to eat the feast that had been prepared, and to drink wine and celebrate together, hoping that this year’s grapes will bring us another batch of delicious homemade wine that we’ll drink with friends and neighbours next year.

And so, we are slowly being introduced to new traditions in our new home country.  I’m looking forward to the next one!

What interesting traditions do you follow in your country?  Do you have any traditions based around wine growing (or wine drinking)?  Please share them with us in the comments section below.

~ Cheryl

Shared on Natalie the Explorer Weekend Coffee Share.

Doors

I grew up mostly in Perth, Western Australia.  It’s a small city and quite modern.  There aren’t many old buildings left anymore.  It was fashionable in the past to tear down the old to make way for the new.  So the architecture there is mostly very modern.

Because of that, I didn’t really notice doors while I was growing up.  Doors were just doors, mostly quite new or modern. There’s nothing special or unusual about doors in Perth.

Of course there were doors all around me every day.  There were front doors, back doors, bedroom doors, toilet doors, classroom doors, library doors, shop doors, shed doors, fridge doors, cupboard doors, garage doors, etc.  I could list a lot more but I think it’s clear that there are many doors in our day to day life.

Do you ever think about doors?

Probably only when you have a problem with them, or have to replace them.  Sometimes a door sticks and you have to pull it hard to open it.  Or maybe you have a door that doesn’t close easily for some reason.

I never used to think about doors at all.

And then back in 2002 I went to Paris.  What an eye opener!

Paris is beautiful!  There are many beautiful buildings, bridges, streets, statues, parks…and doors!

It was the first time that I realised that doors could be beautiful or unusual, or even just strange.

The first photo I ever took of a door was in Paris.  I was quite timid back then and I was afraid that someone would come out of the door and not be happy to find a tourist taking a photo of their door.  So I took the photo and walked away quickly.

The doors were wooden, huge, and old.  Just beautiful!

paris doors
My first door photo – Paris doors

Now, looking back, they’re not the most beautiful doors I’ve ever seen, but they made me realise that I should look a little more closely to the doors around me.  They can be worth taking notice of.

I haven’t always had my camera with me when I’ve seen a beautiful door, but I do have a lovely collection of door photos that I’d like to share. I have more, but I’ve chosen my favourites for you.

There’s not much I can say about each door – there’s not much to say about any door really.  So I’ll just tell you what I can about each door, and hopefully you’ll be able to see exactly why it attracted my eye.

Enjoy!

Romania

First here are some doors I came across in Bucharest, Romania. It was such a pleasure walking around the city, especially after being locked down there for two months not being able to discover the beauty of this wonderful city.

When we were finally ‘allowed out’ we took to the streets.

This is one of the most beautiful doors I’ve ever seen. Maybe one of my Romanian friends can let me know what this building is, although I think it’s something to do with fishing and wildlife.

beautiful green door
Isn’t it beautiful?!

Here’s a door which has a little slot next to it for the post. Cute.

post door
A red door

I’m not a big fan of graffiti, but I like how the graffiti fits in with the design of this door.

graffiti door
A very interesting design

This photo was more for the effect of the doors in the foreground and background working together. They were in a small auction house/gallery.

lux door
Gallery doors

I really loved this little blue door. There are quite a lot of run down and abandoned buildings in Bucharest, especially near and in the Old Town. This was one that captured my eye.

blue door
A blue door

Sometimes just a plain, simple door can be worthy of a photo – like this one.

white door
A white door

It was so much fun wandering around Bucharest, not knowing what we’d find. I think this was the door to a kind of utility room, maybe for water supply or something.

green door
A green door

This is the entrance door of the apartment we stayed in for 3 months. It was a wonderful apartment with big rooms and we were really happy to have such a nice place to be locked down in. This entrance door represents safety and comfort to me.

our door
The entrance to our apartment in Bucharest

Here’s another entrance door which was just down the road from where we lived. I liked the design of the red metal doors.

red door
Red doors

And don’t you just love this little purple door?! It’s the door to a small shed in the street where we lived.

purple door
A purple door

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of abandoned buildings in the Old Town of Bucharest. It’s really unfortunate because for some reason most abandoned buildings end up like this. I don’t like the graffiti, but I love the door!

old town door
An Old Town door

And one final door from Bucharest. Really well made and classy wooden doors.

bucharest door
Wooden doors

And here’s a door in the famous Bran Castle, which we visited while we were stuck in Romania. What a great excursion that was!

bran castle door
A door in the Bran Castle

Russia

Having spent more than 12 years in Moscow, I saw a lot of Russian doors! There are far too many to put here, but here are some I want you to see.

I really love this door for some reason I can’t express. It was not far from the last apartment we lived in so I saw it often.

voikovskaya door
A Russian blue door

A door with ‘Just Kiss Me’ written on it just has to belong in this post. Sometimes I do like graffiti!

kiss me door
Just Kiss Me door

Some old and neglected doors. This in an entrance to an apartment building but I’m not sure it’s still in use.

brown door
Entrance No.1

Sometimes in cold countries snow can cause a problem for doors. Here’s a door that’s got a little snow problem.

snow door 1
Snow blocking the door

And this was across the road from us. This door was used occasionally by the occupants, but not when the steps were covered in snow.

snow door 2
Snowy steps

Look at the decoration above this door. I find it sad that they don’t make doorways like this anymore.

kebab city door
A beautiful doorway

And while this modern door isn’t particularly beautiful, it is functional. It’s a resting place for tired pigeons.

pigeon door
A pigeon resting on the door

A big red door with an interesting design above it.

russian red door
A Russian red door

Here’s a very old door, simple but functional. I found that doors which are the entrances of apartment buildings are so varied in Moscow. There are so many different designs and materials, depending on the time period they were built in.

blue door russia
A Russian blue door

And here’s a brown one with an inbuilt window.

russian door
A Russian brown door

I have no idea where this door leads, but I’m very curious! I’m not sure that padlock is very strong.

russian white door
A Russian white door

These doors are on a building that may have been some kind of factory in the past. I’m not sure if the building is in use now. I love the designs above the doors, but I also love the colour they painted the doors.

russian green doors
Russian green doors

One thing you may not know about a lot of Russian apartments, at least the old ones, is that each apartment has two doors. I don’t know why, and I don’t know if they were originally built like that or if they added the second door at a later stage. Maybe one of my Russian friends can let us know in the comments.

So here are two photos of our doors to one of our apartments in Moscow.

From the outside, first you unlock and open this one.

flat door 2
Door No.1

And you’re faced with door number two, which you also have to unlock and open! The outside door opens outwards, and the inside door opens inwards.

flat door 1
Door No.2

I still think it’s a bit strange, even after all the years I spent there.

Bulgaria

We haven’t been in Bulgaria very long, in comparison to the time we spent in Russia, but I’ve already found a number of doors in Bulgaria that I have been compelled to photograph.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

This door is in the Old Town of Veliko Tarnovo. I don’t know what’s behind it – any ideas?

cave door
What’s behind this door?

Also in the Old Town, some lovely light green doors.

old town door
Bulgarian green doors

These doors are the entrance to some apartments in the main street of Veliko Tarnovo. They do look like they need some tender loving care, but I kind of like them like this.

apartment door
Bulgarian white doors

These doors are garage doors in Veliko Tarnovo. I like these because of the little flower design they’ve put on each of the three parts. Can you see the tulips?

garage door
Bulgarian garage doors

And two more

I just have two more photos for you. One is from Riga, Latvia, and the other from Vilnius, Lithuania. They are two very interesting cities as far as architecture and doors are concerned.

I can’t remember exactly what kind of shop this was in Riga, but it was something to do with fish, or underwater things. So you can see that the door slightly resembles a submarine’s door. Although I don’t think a submarine has glass in its door, does it?

sub door
A submarine door

And our very last door is in Vilnius, an abandoned building, but such a beautiful doorway.

abandoned door

And there you have it. Some of my favourite doors in the world.

Do you also like taking photos of doors? Do you have a favourite door photo? If you send me your door photos I’ll put them in this post! cheryl@borninacar.com

~ Cheryl

Rubbish Bins

Do you ever think about rubbish bins?  Probably not.  Or at least, not many of you do.  After all, they’re just an everyday item that we use without a second thought.

Household bins – a bit of history

Can you remember your first household bin? 

metal bins
Did your bins look like these ones?

You might have had a metal can with a lid that you put your rubbish/rubbish bags in.  Early in the morning on ‘rubbish day’, or the night before, you put your metal bin at the curb.  A little later in the morning the rubbish truck came and the rubbish man (as we call them, affectionately, in Australia) picked it up, hoisted it over his shoulder, walked to the back of the truck, and threw the contents into the truck.  And then he returned your bin – and the lid – as accurately as time allowed, to where he picked it up from. Then he went on his way, to empty your neighbour’s bin, and so on down the street. 

There were often 2 rubbish men for each truck, or sometimes 3, to do both sides of the road, and one driver.

wheelie bins
Wheelie bins

Then in the late 1980s, at least in Australia, came the wheelie bin.  You know the ones. Big green ones with a hinged lid.  You put it at the side of the road on rubbish day.  Not on the road itself, but exactly 1 metre (or something) back from the curb, and the truck comes along and automatically lifts it up with a big robotic arm and dumps your rubbish into the truck. 

No rubbish man required, only one driver.  Or sometimes a second man to assist if some rebel resident hasn’t put his bin at the right place for the lifting arm to take the bin.  In that case someone has to put the bin straight before it can be emptied.

But there are more than just our household rubbish bins.  There are kitchen bins, railway station bins, bins in parks, in the streets, in the office, the locations and types of bins are endless!

If you’ve been a reader of Born in a Car for a while, you’ll know that I take photos of strange things when I travel.  A good example of this is my post about public toilets.  I’m not a typical holiday photographer as you can see.

So, as you would expect, I have photos of bins.  Not only from my various holidays, but also from where I live.  So we’re going to take a look at some of my favourite bins.

First let’s look at some of the recycling bins I’ve come across. 

Recycling bins

Recycling bins could be a whole post on their own! For that reason I’m going to just mention a few of them that I’ve seen that have impressed me – if a recycling bin can impress, that is!

Germany is a country which has embraced recycling probably like no other country in the world! There are recycling bins everywhere!

These bins above are in Munich, and there are not only bins for paper and plastic, there are also bins for glass, as you would expect. But here you’re required to separate your glass into colours – separate bins for green glass, brown glass and white glass! So organised!

The next photo is also from Germany, in Cologne. But this time it’s not a street bin, it’s a bin in an AirBnb apartment we stayed in some years ago. This kitchen bin has different sections – one for general rubbish, and one for metal, plastic and cardboard containers. Then under this bin was another bin for paper.

kitchen recycling bins
Household recycling bins

Such a good idea to have everything sorted before it goes outside to be collected.

The next bin was seen in an office conference room where I was teaching. But it wasn’t in Germany, it was in Russia! It’s always exciting to find recycling bins in Russia because when I first arrived there back in 2007, and for some years after that, there wasn’t a recycling bin to be seen anywhere.

This bin has 3 sections – one for plastic, one for paper, and one for general rubbish. A great idea for our corporate world!

There are now also recycling bins in the streets of Moscow, and in some parks. As I said above, these just didn’t exist a mere 10 years ago.

recycling bins moscow
These gorgeous bins are for plastic and glass
coloured recycling bins
And these ones on a train platform in Moscow
nizhny novgorod recycling bins
These were the first recycling bins I ever saw in Russia. They’re in the railway station in the town of Nizhny Novgorod

Street bins

Before I show you our bins in Bulgaria, I’m going to treat you to some very interesting and sometimes beautiful street bins that I’ve seen in my travels and at home. So let’s begin with Russia.

This one is held together by some scotch tape – but it’s still functional.

street bin 1

Does it matter if it’s not square?

street bin 2

I tend to take a lot of photos of bins with snow on them! This yellow one’s quite interesting, don’t you think?

street bin 3

And using the snow to extinguish your cigarette butts.

street bin 4

Not snow, but ice!

street bin 5

The idea here was a bin that resembled a cannon – do you think they succeeded?

street bin 6

Coloured bins are always fun!

street bin 7

A fire hydrant bin.

street bin 8

This bin is in a small park in Moscow, isn’t it beautiful?

street bin 9

Another beautiful old street bin.

street bin 10

And why not paint it blue?

street bin 11

Or green?

street bin 12

A very ornate metal street bin.

street bin 13

And this one is attached to the metal street pole – it swings which makes it easy to empty.

street bin 14

This bin was fixed to the footpath, so it was impossible to move it to a more convenient location. Pedestrians have to walk around it.

street bin 15

Here’s a couple of street bins in Berlin, Germany. How cute is this!

butler bin
A butler bin!

And this one below translates to “the brave little bucket” (any Germans please correct me if this isn’t right!).

berlin bin

Bins for households and apartments

When you live in a flat/apartment, or sometimes even a house, your bin is a communal one. These can also come in different shapes and sizes.

Take a look at this one in Beijing, China. Here you take your household rubbish and put it in these bigger street bins to be taken away. There’s no individual rubbish service, it’s for all the street or neighbourhood.

beijing bin
A Beijing bin for household rubbish

In one of the flats we lived in, there was a chute for rubbish. I remember when I was a little girl in Australia we lived in a flat for a while and we also had one of these.

They’re great because you don’t have to go downstairs in the cold to take out the rubbish, just step outside your front door and open the chute and your rubbish disappears in seconds.

rubbish chute
The rubbish chute

And here’s a more common sight for rubbish removal in Moscow. It’s 2 or 3 large bins, or skips, in a communal area in a little ‘house’ or ‘shed’. this is where you bring your rubbish bags. Then a truck comes along once a day and takes your rubbish away.

This one was full because it was New Year’s Day.

overflowing rubbish
An overflowing communal bin in Moscow

And sometimes you find the most unexpected things in the rubbish!

rubbish president
The ex-Russian Federation president, Medvedev, in the bin

And the bins are painted every spring!

painting the bins

As you may know, we spent 4 months in Bucharest in 2020. For approximately 3 of those months we stayed in one AirBnb which was an apartment in a residential area. It took us a while to find the bin.

Can you see it?

bucharest bin
Our Bucharest bin

Yes, it’s through the hole in the white door. The door’s locked, so if you accidentally throw away something you shouldn’t have, bad luck!

And these bins below were in a Russian town, on the outskirts, so it was almost like a village.

russian bins

Bins in Bulgaria

Finally, I’m going to show you some rubbish bins that I’ve come across in Bulgaria. I haven’t seen much of Bulgaria yet, so there may be other bins around. Here are some that caught my eye.

The very first photo in this post is of bins in the old town on Veliko Tarnovo. VT is where we stayed for the first months in Bulgaria, while we were preparing to buy a house.

It’s true that these household bins look a lot like the ones we had in Australia 40 and more years ago. Here’s some more from the old town in VT.

metal rubbish bins vt
The old metal bins
coloured bins vt
Some of them have been painted – so nice to see them in the street

But the most common bin in Veliko Tarnovo, and I think in Bulgarian villages, are these ones.

street bin vt

They’re communal bins, but not in a parking area or common area, but in the street. Depending on where your house or flat is located, you may have a bit of a walk down the street before you get to the bin.

There’s a little place marked out for the bins, often encroaching onto the footpath. But the bins aren’t always in their ‘correct’ place, as you can see below.

misplaced bin
Someone hasn’t put the bin back in its place
two bins
These two bins are back in their correct place

And lastly, I want to tell you how great it is to have a rubbish bin just outside your front gate. It’s really not far for us to take our rubbish out at our new village house. The rubbish bin is just across the road.

dobri dyal rubbish bin
Our Lada and the white wall of our house, and the rubbish bin just across the road

What about your rubbish bin situation – do you have a really efficient and close rubbish removal, or do you have to take a long walk to get rid of your waste? Tell me all your rubbish bin stories below!

~ Cheryl

Shared on Natalie the Explorer blog Coffee Share #3