Episode 20

Settling Back in the Village

Published on: 7th September, 2023

In this episode I give you a brief update about our return from our holiday in Montenegro.

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Hello, it's Thursday morning and this is another weekly update from me, David, an Englishman in the Balkans, and my wife, Tamara, who's back in the house preparing something nice to eat for dinner. I tried to get these weekly updates out into your inbox by 7 o'clock Central European time on Thursdays. I tried to make it something that is accountable for me.

every week. That and the podcast that you find out about in your inboxes seven o'clock on a Sunday. It's, oh, 28 degrees today. It's a Wednesday. And I'm using a new mic, by the way. I'm using a Shure microphone, so hopefully no popping and the quality is good. And it's not hiding too much of the ambient noise around me.

a family of breeding blue jays who live with us and they're always squawking around in the trees and walking through the crunchy dried up leaves of our apple orchard. At the moment we've been back in the village for some four days. Yeah, we came back, left Kotor.

Prcanj in Montenegro on the Friday? That's right. And then we stayed... no, we left on the Saturday, I think. I'm losing track of time. Something happens when you get old, right? We left Montenegro, drove towards the northwest of Bosnia and Herzegovina where we live, and we stopped off in Mostar. Now let's go back a bit to the last newsletter, Rediscovering Prcanj and Kotor.

after four years. Yes, it was four years since we were last there. The previous two years to this, we went to the coast at a place called Makarska in Croatia, and the year before that we went to Neum, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Adriatic coast. On that short coastline that Bosnia and Herzegovina has, it has 21, maybe 23 kilometres of coastline, and is the second shortest

coastline in the world. And then before that for two years we couldn't move because of the pandemic. So after four years we arrived back in Kotor. Things had changed and it was nice to be back, to be honest with you. Although the weather was a bit too hot for me, I cannot handle handle 35 degrees anymore. I'm getting too old for that now. So it was up early in the morning. Tam is a

She wanted to swim in the sea, and we sort of like hid away in the shadows during the day, and out and about in the evening. But we are back. And as I said, we travelled back through Montenegro, about an hour and a half drive to the border, across the border, down the mountainside.

into Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we had a leg stretch at Tvrdos, which is a really, really amazing Serbian monastery just outside the town of Trebinje. And highly recommended that when you come to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, that you stop there. The icon, the iconography, if that's the correct word, in the monastery is astounding, and

The religious paintings, the frescoes in the ceiling of the small church, in the hub of the monastery, is just fantastic, superb, and something that you have to see when you come to this beautiful country. In the summer, ladies and gentlemen, if you're wearing shorts, or you have very short t-shirts, then you'll be given fabric to cover it up.

cover that up, but it's worth doing and it's not really an imposition. And at Tvrdos they sell some fantastic wines from their own vineyards, because they are in the area of the Herzegovinian vineyards. Yeah, so we had a leg stretch there and then went on to Mostar where we stayed at a really nice hotel.

I don't know, a couple hundred meters from the famous bridge in the centre, rested up and went for a walk through the Old Town at night. I love Mostar. Every time I go there I find out something new about the place. But this time, for some reason, it was a bit overcrowded for me. It is a bit of a tourist trap. At times in the year when lots and lots of...

Daytrip has come in from a neighbouring Croatia, which is very close to Mostar. I just felt there were a bit too many tourists, but I have to remind myself that over the past few years I've started to feel the effects of agoraphobia. The older I get, the more I don't like being around lots of people making noise. But that's me. So please do, when you're planning to come to Bosnia and Herzegovina, put Tvrdos.

and Mostar on your visit plan, on your visit schedule. Plan for about three weeks in Bosnia and Herzegovina because you can't do it in a quick burst, sort of like packaged tourism holiday. That just doesn't work. You won't experience too much. You need to take it slow. There's a podcast I had with Nermin Numic from Sarajevo who talks a lot about chafe and chafe is the

local word in Bosnia, Herzegovina for chilling. You know, everybody has their chafe. Just sit back, kick back, enjoy things, take it all in, talk, experience things slowly. And this country is certainly one for slow travel. If you want to come and visit, at the bottom of this newsletter, there's a telephone number, my mobile, my WhatsApp. Just send me a message. Why not come and stay with us to start with, get settled into a Bosnian lifestyle.

We can advise you, give you tips and places to go and see. And then from us you can move around the country to see what you like, when you like, how you like. And you can fly into Banja Luka Airport or you can fly into Zagreb not too far away from us. And we also have a contact, well, a good friend of mine actually, who runs a hire car company here. So you'll get first class service.

of Aco and his company. But yes, we're back. We've chilled for a few days. I've been cutting the lawns, mowing the lawns here. It's really, really big property, but it has to be done, but I didn't want to do it on the first day that I came back. Please do check out our podcast if you've been wondering where all the videos are of late. I'm not doing too

Of those, I think that audio is the fit of the mind, and I really, really do like trying to learn more about creating soundscapes and trying to use my voice and language to describe things to you. Now, talking about soundscapes or sound design, I haven't quite got a grip on that yet, so a lot of my...

podcasts are just me talking to interesting people. I'll tell you in a minute who we've got lined up in the podcast for the next four weeks. But here on Substack, if you check the website you'll see there are a few audio posts that I haven't sent you by email. I didn't want to spam you is the main reason, but secondly I wanted to direct those to you for you to listen to. Two are like audio diaries.

of our trip back from Montenegro. I don't know if that's coming across the microphone at the moment, but we've just got the most gorgeous breeze, so I'm just stood under a tree at the moment enjoying that. Yeah, but we've got two audio sort of like posts of coming back from Montenegro. And I wanted to share with you the sounds of Mostar, which I was just talking about. We walked for about half an hour through.

the old part of my style, but I had my recorder going for about 10 minutes, so you'll be able to hear the sounds of that. I just, if you wouldn't mind, leave a message, leave a comment, whether you like it or not, whether it's worthwhile doing, and any tips or suggestions, always greatly appreciated. Or you can find the button, which should be somewhere near this audio clip, where you can actually send your own voice message to me directly, ask me a question.

and I'll play that question back in the next newsletter together with the answer. And I was saying about the podcast that should arrive in your inboxes seven o'clock Central European time on a Sunday morning. In a few days time, I've decided to record a reasonably serious one that you might be interested in. I hope so. It's called Is There Really Independent Media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Region?

an expert, Bojan Stojkovski, who is in Skopje in North Macedonia. So I am an Englishman in the Balkans, Macedonia's in the Balkans, so that clicks. The week after that we'll be talking to Helen Reynolds Brown, who's British, she lives in Belgium, but she has a holiday home in Prcanj. Yes, where I was! We didn't get to see each other face to face.

but she was quite surprised that I was in Perth and I was quite surprised that she was in Belgium, that she'd been in Perth on holiday but had gone home. And so I contacted her and we will be talking about what it's like to have a holiday home in Montenegro, which might be an idea for you if you're looking for somewhere to have as a retreat, somewhere that you can run away to. And maybe, I think I'm right in saying that with Montenegro, if you have property, you can even get residency there, but I'm sure Helen...

is a Jewish document from the:

to what is today's Bosnia and Herzegovina and settled in Sarajevo. We have some families that settled all those centuries ago in Banja Luka and they brought with them a very, very important and unique document called the Haggadah. I think it is one of the most important historical documents for the country. It survived world wars, the First World War, the Second World War, where that document was kept away from the occupying Ustasa

and from the conflict of the:

from Spain brought with them. And I think it's still spoken, albeit rarely today. It's sort of like half Spanish, half Hebrew. And after that, I'll be catching up with another Alexandra, don't get confused, from Serbia, from Novi Sad. And she's gonna be talking about how podcasting is developing in Serbia and how it's helping activists to get their message.

out about their charity work, their non-governmental work, etc. So something else that I hope that you'll find interesting. And these podcasts of me talking to interesting people that I meet along the way, I find it's a different way to describe the country to you, rather than the traditional, like, tourist messages. Oh, you must go here and try this and try that, rather than try and tell you what restaurants to go to.

through the semi-final of the:

He is an excellent role model to young Serbs in the region. Maybe one day I'll get a chance to talk to him, but I don't think that's gonna happen in the next few years. But something to work for, eh? If I bump into him, I'm certainly gonna ask him if he'll have a quick chat. We have another cat. We have two dogs, as you know, and five cats at the moment. Well, it's now six cats. We had another couple of kittens dropped at the gate.

the property while we were away. Tam's mum and dad were here looking after the place and took them in. One has had a new home or new living space found for it and the other one we were going to do the same but we're going to keep it. We're now working out what the name will be. We'll look after her. She seems to be doing well with the other animals and when she gets to six months we'll have her.

neutered, so we don't add to the problem of lots and lots of kittens running around, which have other kittens, and you know, it goes on. So we can help control that and also get her vaccinated. Because some of the cats, especially in the cities here, have a rather fatal virus that they can get.

the result of the death that they get from that is not very pleasant. So we like to ensure that our animals are as protected as possible. And if you're wondering about us being like a little old lady, the little old cat lady in your village, we're not. They don't live in a house with us. Yes, they come in the living room and they sit down and they get petted and, you know, spoilt, but the property here is very, very big. And they can roam and patrol and do what cats normally do.

And in the winter, and when it gets cold, in autumn time, we have a nice utility room where we make spaces for them and they can stay out of the harsh weather. So we do our best for our animals. Oh, Phoebe went berserk. Phoebe's our small dodge little dog. And she was going crazy the other night when she found, for the first time, a hedgehog. So it's nice watching animals.

developing and going through their life experiences. So is anything that I've missed. Not really.

If, when you've listened to this, you scroll down, I'll have some videos that you might find interesting and other information. If you have any suggestions, pointers, ideas, whatever, about not only the newsletter, but our blog, please let me have them. Who knows? Something that you think we should be doing and I finally do it, it might make it a better experience.

everybody. Oh, and you'll notice now that everything is free, so there's no paid options anymore. The people that were subscribing have said that they still wish to subscribe, and if you wanted to subscribe I wouldn't say no to your very welcome support. Hope that hasn't been a ramble. You haven't said it is yet, so there we go. Right, let's get this ready for publishing.

I'll catch you next week. Hope that you enjoy reading this and hope that you enjoy this Sunday's podcast. 7 o'clock in the morning Central European time. Bing, it'll be in your inbox. So, and so that's it. Yeah. Vidimo se opet, which means see you again soon.

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An Englishman in the Balkans
Find out more about Bosnia and Herzegovina
Encouraging people to find out more about Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"Welcome to "An Englishman in the Balkans" podcast, hosted by David Pejčinović-Bailey.
In this podcast, you'll get a unique look at life in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the eyes of an immigrant. Each episode, David shares his experiences living in this often misunderstood country, and introduces you to some of the interesting people he's met along the way.
From exploring the rich culture and history, to discussing the challenges and joys of immigrating to a new country, this podcast offers a thoughtful and engaging look at life in the Balkans.
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About your host

Profile picture for David Pejčinović-Bailey

David Pejčinović-Bailey

I am a podcaster, living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and sharing my experiences of living in this often misunderstood country.