(Just a little advanced warning. There are photos of insects in this post. There are NO spiders, just insects. So if you’re afraid of strange and exotic insects, then this post may not be the best place for you.)
Most people I know would probably describe me as a city girl. After all, I’ve just spent the past 10+ years living in Moscow, Russia, which has an official population of just under 13 million. And every day people commute from the Moscow outer region for work, which can increase the daily, work day, population by a lot more.
I loved living in Moscow! I loved the 24 hour life there. Being able to go to the supermarket on your way home at any time of the night or day made life so easy. Life in a big city can be hard for some, but for me it was a huge pleasure.
Even the crowded Moscow metro was a thrill to ride (maybe because I wasn’t travelling in it every day to work and back at peak hour).
My early years
But, did you know that I spent some of my formative years growing up in the Australian bush? At the age of 11 and 12 we lived on some land (50 acres if my memory serves me well) in the middle of the bush. Our nearest neighbours were a couple of kilometres away. I took the school bus to get to the nearest town, Gingin, to go to school (about a 20-30 minutes ride, picking up more kids along the way).
We rode horses, made cubby houses in the bush, tried not to get bitten by snakes or red-back spiders, collected and chopped wood for heating, cooking, and hot water making. It was a kind of adventure playground for me and my brothers and sisters.
At 13 we moved to the city, but not for long.
When I was 15-16 we moved back again to the same place in the bush, after having spent the previous 2 years living in Perth (the capital city of the state of Western Australia). Living in the isolated bush was a lot less fun at the age of 15 than it was at 11!
And, some years later, at the age of 20-22, I lived in a country town, Albany, in the south of Western Australia. Although I lived in the town and not in the middle of the bush, as I had done as a teenager, I still had a small vegetable garden, and I had to chop wood for the only source of heat in the house – the open fire in the living room.
While I lived in Albany I often visited my grandparents, who lived in a nearby town, about 50 kms away. They had a lot of land, with gardens, vegetables, and fruit trees, and they lived a life very conscious and respectful of nature and the world around us.
So, you can see, I have had some experience of country life, although the last 30 years of my life have more or less been city dwelling ones.
Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria
I told you in my last post that we’d arrived in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, in order to start a new life, after our lives were disrupted by the dramas of 2020. So here we are in a reasonably small town (compared to Moscow!) with a population of just under 70 000.
In VT (as it’s known as) there are shops, restaurants and cafes, bars, estate agents, mobile phone shops, and all the other kinds of businesses that you’d imagine to be in a town of this size. So living here is pretty convenient, even if it’s not a 24 hour big city we can get what we need most of the time – just not at 3am.
And I’m happy to be living so close to so much nature! All around us are tree covered hills and it’s amazing to see this when we’re standing on a piece of high ground somewhere in the town.
But I wasn’t ready for my reaction the other day when we took a walk down a path just a few minutes from our home.
The Eco Trail
We’ve made a couple of new friends here (they’re Bulgarian), and they live in our street, so they know all about the local area. Last week they told us about a nearby trail that leads to a waterfall.
This week Olivier and I decided to find it. So off we went down the street until we found a rocky trail leading into bushes and trees.
At first it started out as gardens. No houses, just gardens with wire fences around them. There were about 5 or 6 gardens and they were all different. Some of them were well looked after, others not so well.
In one garden was an old man sitting by himself on a chair under a tree, with a bottle of beer on the small table next to him, listening to very loud opera. His bicycle was leaning against the fence, waiting for him to finish in his garden and head home again.
We didn’t disturb him but I’d really love to find out what his story is.
As we continued along the trail, nature changed a bit. In some places it was quite dry, in others it was wet and almost muddy.
We crossed a small stream at one point. And we also came across this water ‘trough’ – I don’t know what else to call it. The water coming from the pipe was so cold and had no smell, so I guess it’s really pure.
There was a picnic table right next to this water supply.
The smell in the air was amazing! It reminded me of the smells at my grandparents’ place. Just nature – earth, leaves, water, wood. I couldn’t stop taking in deep breaths just to get it into my lungs, I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave.
Just keep walking
We walked and walked, and along the way we came across so many wonderful living things! Not only plants (berries, roses, and other wonderful green things) but animals, like insects I’ve never seen before, and many different coloured butterflies.
I was really like a child in wonder at the world. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so good, I really felt emotional looking around me at everything and breathing in the fresh air.
After walking for about an hour, we came across some guys on motorbikes. We had heard them earlier, and we finally saw them as they came towards us on the trail.
At that point the trail had started going down the hill, so we decided that we should turn around and go back the way we came, because going down always means going up again (and I’d prefer not to walk up the hill!).
So we let the motorbikes pass us, and we turned around and headed back towards home.
On the way we’d noticed a small path that deviated to the left, and we decided to take it on the way back. And it was a good idea, because here was the waterfall we’d been told about.
It was a lot smaller than we expected, but it was beautiful.
There was a small wooden bridge that looked like it might have been strong enough to walk across, but we didn’t take the risk. Maybe next time.
And the other beautiful thing was that there’s a picnic table right there near the waterfall, and there were two young girls (teenagers) sitting there, with a lot of food, with two dogs, just talking to each other, enjoying the weather and the beautiful location.
And not a mobile phone in sight.
Here’s a sample of the wildlife we came across during our walk on the eco trail.
This snail was huge! I’ve never seen a snail this big in real life before. I put my pen down next to him to show you his size. I looked around but I didn’t see any of his family or friends, he was completely alone. We left him on the trail, and I hope that the motorbikes didn’t run over him.
I don’t know what this insect is, but he was very intimidating! Estimated length including the head (not including the antennae) is about 4cm.
Then there was this beautiful creature on the trail, which I think is a ‘mint beetle’ (someone please tell me if I’m wrong!).
And these two look like ladybirds without spots. It looks like they’re reproducing, which is a very good sign for the future of the world!
And some other random insects, who coincidentally are both black and orange.
And some lizards enjoying life on a rock.
I’m not really an expert with names of plants, especially when I’m in a country that has plants that I’ve never seen before. So I’ll just leave these here for you to enjoy. If anyone wants to let me know what they’re called I’ll update the photo with their names.
And some orange/yellow lichen for you.
So that was our two hour walk on the eco trail this week. As you can see, I really enjoyed it!
Actually, it was more than enjoyment. It was like nature touched my soul again for the first time in a long time.
I’m sure we’ll be taking this trail again and again in the future, as long as we live in this street.
Do you have any beautiful walking trails where you live? What emotions do you get when you’re surrounded by nature?