Orthodox Christmas follows its traditional format at the stone house. One major difference this year is that during December our landlord clears out the rather shambolic storage in what James calls the ‘bothy’ (a Scottish term for a dilapidated shed) and the landlord’s family call the ‘sušava’ or drying room where hams and fish used to be dried. He installs a hood and proper chimney over the place where the open fire is lit and tidies up the room so that it is now reasonably habitable. So on Christmas Eve (06 Jan) instead of sitting outside the bothy taking turns to hand-turn the spit, the family and guests can sit inside the room while a small electric motor turns the lamb over a fire that more or less doesn’t smoke the room out. Wine and rakija add to the occasion. As non-Orthodox we are allowed to eat some of the cooked lamb hot, in contrast to the tradition of eating it cold on Christmas Day. As Christmas Eve is a day of fasting, everyone eats fish.
A major occupier of time and energy in January is the organisation of the Burns Supper on the 29th. This year more than previously, it seems to be left to Anke and me to get the guests. Compared to the two past events, most of the ex-pat British community still are in UK and we concentrate on publicising the concept in Podgorica to the International Community there. This also involves us driving up there to hold Scottish Dancing sessions at a friend’s house. While enjoyable once we are there, it does require time and commitment to put it all in place. The evening itself is a success, with James’ grandson Alec flying in for his third appearance as our bagpiper.
On 24th, James gets an email from the Passivhaus Tagung organisers that he is to produce a 2-page article for publication in the official Tagung literature. This means that his proposal for a poster presentation has been accepted! Also that he gets a discount on the conference fee – Anke still has to pay full price (for PH members).
© all text and photographs, except where individually credited to other sources: James Collins