The Slovenia Times




I was surprised how quickly I made new friends and my neighbours extended the arm of friendship too. People readily invited me to their homes and a drink is usually obligatory and food is often hard to refuse. I have returned invitations many times, but I don't get as many visitors, mostly because my house is out of the way and nobody passes my way by accident. In fact in the few weeks after I bought the business property, nearly all the friends visited to look round. Although going to people's homes is not unusual, generally people do actually meet up with friends in bars and cafes for a drink, tea or coffee. Business is often conducted in bars too, where I have met my architect, accountant and lawyer to discuss business. There is a kind of unwritten rule that when you call on someone you should bring a small gift. It may be something to eat but it could be anything. Commonly things like homemade jam, wine, honey, soap, vegetables or fruit from the garden, eggs, coffee, chocolate, cakes and biscuits are all acceptable. Some people have a lot of visitors or do a lot of visiting and this can create quite a merry-go-round of gifts. It became evident to me after a while that there was no requirement for the gift to be new and many seem to be recycled. In Britain, unwanted gifts end up in jumble sales. As there is no such thing here (that I know of), unwanted gifts become gifts again. All gifts are welcomed as they are seen as potential gifts to someone else for a visit. I used to be embarrassed about this till I realised nobody seemed to mind. As I visit a lot of people, I have a store of home-made jams and chutneys for gifts. I sometimes buy a few things in England for this purpose too. I usually have plenty of eggs so I give away far more than I eat. My goats' milk goes either as it is, or as cheese. There is home made schnapps in the cellar for serious gifts. It is extremely useful as a thank you in winter for any help you get. The snow plough man gets a bottle of that when he clears my road. What do I take back to the UK as gifts? Wine. There is a good range of local wines in the Maribor area. The best thing produced around here is the local pumpkin seed oil. This sells on the market for around 1000 SIT a litre (3 pounds) and would cost a great deal more, if you could get it, in the UK. The home-produced kind is absolutely out of this world and I am always very happy to receive it as a gift. Mrs V gave me a litre of it recently after I took her shopping in Austria. Expensive gifts are quite rare here, people do not have lots of cash to throw around and the thought is really the most important thing, which I believe is as it should be.


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