the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!


One hundred and forty years

Today, a mere few days after Holocaust memorial day, comes a memorial of a different kind. January 29th marks 140 years of the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, although Bulgaria did not gain it’s independence until 1908. The start of this serious level of resistance in Bulgaria began following the ‘April Uprising’ in 1876, the consequences of which led to an estimated thirty thousand Bulgarians being massacred by Ottoman troops, and their villages torched. While this number for some may pale into insignificance compared to the millions of deaths that January 27th commemorates, it is worth remembering as always, that where people strive to control, dominate, or persecute others, there are always victims and the generations that must come afterwards with an inherited identity and emotional awareness of their own personal, ethnic and national histories.




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Lost in translation #3

This time, not exactly a post regarding language differences and amusing confusion between English and Bulgarian but worth including under this heading I think anyway.

I’m pretty sure advertising standards in the UK would have something to say about a bag of charcoal seemingly showing that it’s great fun for children to place hot coals in their hands. Perfectly fine. And if you are made of wood, why then even better!
Oh dear Pinocchio, you are going to get yourself in a right pickle!


Lost in translation #2
Lost in translation #1


Follow the yellow grit road: Bulgaria photos 10

Sleet all day yesterday, and plunging temperatures last night has meant the compacted snow is now a little bit treacherous. Tiddler and I took a very slow walk to nursery this morning, and even then we both manage to slip over on the ice. Bags of salt and yellow coloured grit have been put out and are being sprinkled by the street sweepers, but it’s not pleasant walking out there this morning!




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My Country, My Bulgaria / Моя страна, моя България

I’m reblogging a post here from the blog site To Bulgaria which will make interesting reading for those of you with an interest in Bulgarian political history, the diaspora and the nature of identity. Many thanks to To Bulgaria for a very interesting read. Thrifter.


We spent the New Year’s holiday with Bulgarian friends in New York. Lubo and Vessi have lived in the United States since 2003. They’re educated, were already fluent in English when they arrived, live well, are successful, don’t regret their decision to immigrate. Vessi translated for me during my first visit to Bulgaria in 1987 so our friendship has a long history.

In the years just before and just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism throughout Eastern Europe, I noticed a difference in the attitudes of Bulgarian immigrants to the country of their birth. If they had immigrated long ago and thus it had been years—sometimes decades—since they had seen Bulgaria, their break was entire. They identified with Bulgaria, but as one identifies with long deceased relatives or one’s own early childhood. A handful of recipes, an affiliation with a small Bulgarian Orthodox congregation…

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Tree sparrows sheltering from the snow: Bulgaria photos 9


Tree sparrows (Passer montanus) unfazed by the many shoppers banging trolleys in and out of the lines, sit and wait out of the bitter wind that blows across a Kaufland car park shortly to be covered in snow.