May 2010

The major event in May is the Passivhaus Tagung, Conference, in Dresden from 27 to 29. This is an extremely valuable couple of days for us. We are able to build on the experience gained over the past year, so in discussions with manufacturers in the trade exhibition our questions are more focussed. We feel things are coming together. As at the GTZ conference, our leaflet is a great help in describing what we are aiming for. Many of the formal sessions are geared to the upgrading of existing buildings, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe. While some of these are interesting, not all is relevant. We also manage to get tickets for La Traviata at the Semperoper – a very modern stark production which initially puts us off but, with excellent performances by the leading singers, allows the emotion of the story to be clearer and felt more deeply.

The family celebration of ‘slava’ by our Landlord’s Orthodox family occupies us for the first week of the month. As part of our agreement on renting their 200-year-old stone house, the family is able to use it for their slava, an event celebrating the Saint’s day on which the family first converted to Christianity. For this as for many families the Saint is St George, whose day is 06 May in the ‘old’ calendar. All day after the ceremonial breaking of the special loaf, lighting of a candle placed into the bread and appropriate prayers, the family is host to other family members whose family house this is as well. About 30 to 40 other friends from the neighbourhood call in to wish the family well, have something to eat and drink and spend about an hour or so chatting before moving on to another house to repeat the procedure. Naturally, we cannot do any of our normal work as the days beforehand are fully taken up with moving furniture and possessions out of the way, and the house is full of people during the day itself. 06 May is also the day of a critical Parliamentary Election in Great Britain, an event we watch on TV until the early hours of the following morning after we have the house to ourselves once more.