Had an amazing time in Bulgaria, bumbling around the country in a small bus with six friends and a guide visiting remote monasteries, ancient tombs, massive monuments, ornate churches (too many) and lovely old towns. Of course Bulgaria is a very poor country and has many vast concrete fortresses (often called hotels) left over from the communist era and every town has it’s share of faceless, badly built, poorly maintained high rise flats. But who knew that one of Bulgaria’s main exports is rose oil, highly valued in the cosmetic industry. We spent half a day in the rose fields and at a distillery, where we were able to watch the process and to buy the soaps, shower gel, hand cream and of course the precious rose oil itself. Bulgaria’s food is very similar to Turkish cuisine, which is not surprising given that the country was part of the Ottoman Empire for so long. Anyway, it was delicious…but if I see another Shopska salad again in the next few weeks it will be far too soon. Bulgarian wine is wonderful too, but apparently problems with consistent supply prevents much being imported into the UK. We visited and had a tasting at the Bessa Valley Winery and learned that Waitrose imports a small amount of their Enira brand. It’s very good but the Reserva is much better and we are hoping to get our hands on some of that.
Anyway, that’s my bit for the Bulgarian tourist industry for the time being. This afternoon I have been watching the rough cuts from filming that took place in our house just before we went away. It’s usually painful watching oneself on film and this time was no different. Do I really make those silly grimaces and head twitches? I suppose I do. At least what I said was reasonably sensible, although filming Walter and me together was a mistake. When one of us was speaking, the other didn’t know what to do with themselves. Hence the grimaces (from me) and bored looks from Walter. If the film about the beginning of DCN is going to take some working on, the one about DCN today is fantastic! It features members who attended the recent annual conference talking about what DCN means to them. Just four and a bit minutes long it really captures the essence of what DCN is about. I’m really sad that I’m not in it but that was the weekend after my heart procedure and I wasn’t really up to attending. This film, which includes several donor conceived young people and children as well as parents, will be shown first at the reception at the Nuffield Foundation on Monday and will then be on the DCN web site…and possibly YouTube, but this has yet to be agreed. The booklets I have written are being printed virtually as I type and will be available in printed and pdf versions from the DCN website next week. It’s all very exciting.
In the meantime I am gearing myself up to write the book chapter about telling and talking….to include thoughts about how potential and actual parents manage the transition from their imaginings of their ideal family, to the family that they are able to have with the help of a donor. My first thoughts are that everyone, individuals and couples, when wanting to create a family, hold in mind a fantasy of the child they would like to have and the situation in which this will happen. All need to adjust to the reality of the situation they find themselves in and the actual child that they have…donor conception just adds another layer to this adjustment and oddly enough, in my own experience, actually makes it easier to allow children to be themselves, having no expectations of them being a ‘mini me’. It will be interesting. I’ll keep you posted as the ideas develop.