My Serbian husband, our 10 year old son and me are spending 8 months in Belgrade. Our home is in England and this is the next instalment of our trip.
Aleks has attended one full week at school, starting at 8am each day. This week he starts at lunchtime. In the whole of Aleks’ school life, he has never woken up early for school, we have to wake him every morning. Today when school started at 1.15pm, he woke up at 6.40am. I actually predicted it, because he always wakes really early on Saturday morning. When he was 4/5 we used to fib and tell Aleks that he had school the next day on Friday evening, so that he would lie in on Saturday mornings. It worked really well, for quite a while!
Dragan went to work at the 'Gradjevinski Fakultet' (Faculty of Civil Engineering)  today for a few hours. So, after I dropped Aleks at school, I then went for a little sortie by myself, bought a few things from the supermarket and posted a few postcards. I felt very self-conscious posting postcards, I am pretty sure there were no tourists in our part of town today. The butcher said ‘odakle ste?’ (where are you from?). He understood my reply in Serbian, even though it was incorrect.
Later that day, Dragan and I went for a run and did 16 laps around the park (it’s very small!) before we collected Aleks from school at 5.30 (in the dark – that’s a first).
It’s been very windy today, so I am expecting to see our lady with the logs in the park tomorrow morning collecting windfall branches for her stove!
Starting times at Aleks’ school seem to be a moveable feast! Today was special, he started at 11am because he had a school visit to the 'bioskop' (cinema) to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid (with Serbian subtitles). Aleks thinks it might be a special cinema for school kids. I was actually quite jealous, I never went to the cinema for a school trip and he never has at his English school either.
Since Dragan was at the 'Gradjevinski Fakultet' (Faculty of Civil Engineering) today, I was forced to do my own thing! So, off I went and took photos of the beautiful socialist realism sculptures in our area. I visited the Jewish Cemetery (all part of 'Novo Groblje', the New Cemetery) and it must be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. There is an avenue of mature pines with benches leading to a mid-20th century monument. The gravestones have a combination of Serbian Cyrillic and Hebrew text. A handful of pebbles, mostly white, have been placed on some of the newer graves.
I am enjoying the freedom I have in Serbia. I am not bogged down with possessions, we only brought 3 suitcases and I have no garden to attend to. Out of this feeling came the idea to sketch in the park. I took something to sit on, because the park benches are made of stone. The grandma’s would certainly notice if I sat on a cold stone bench. This was purely self -preservation as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. According to a Serbian old wives tale, if you sit on cold stone it will freeze your ovaries! (That's if you don't die from 'promaja', the draft first). A few people walked by and I was relieved that they paid no attention whatsoever.
Once when Aleks was two, we were playing on a paved area in Baka Dana’s (Grandma Dana's) garden. Aleks would sit on the paving now and again and I was amazed at the stealth and swiftness with which Baka Dana would place a cushion under his bottom! The air temperature was about 26 degrees.
I spent a good hour sketching and whenever I draw, I hear one of the lecturers from my art college days say, ‘try and find new and interesting ways of drawing’. I’m not sure I did that, but it was an hour well spent. As it turns out I am so glad I sat on a cushion, it was chilly and I ended up with an ice-cream headache. God knows what would have happened to my ovaries.