Friday, 19 February 2016

It's here................

Well finally our belongings have made it to Hotnitsa.  My Sister and Brother-in-law arrived to give us a hand, nice and early but the stuff arrived quite late so there was a lot of waiting around.  Then it was action stations!
As things we're so hectic this is the only glimpse of the truck we could take - lovely picture of my lilac trees though - will post a picture when they are in full bloom.
The Range Rover arrived in the articulated truck to Bulgaria but was driven from the home of the chap who organised the move so that he could use a smaller vehicle - I was wondering how an articulated truck could get down our lane?
Our first glimpse of GJs beloved car
Simon, the removal chap, walked up the drive and took a sharp intake of breath. It's a long drive he said.  I don't know why I felt so sorry for the two chaps he had working for him because GJ, Dave (the brother in law) and I all worked just as hard as they did and my sister Sara was ensconced in the straw bale house organising the drop down of boxes.
About 2% of the total haul
And the room that will eventually be my kitchen was also filled
As predicted, Elenor our neighbour came out for a look. She spotted my new cooker and asked if it was a washing machine.  Simon explained that it was a cooker and her eyes widened.  Bulgarian cookers are usually part of the fire, like a rustic version of an Aga.  She walked away muttering something about bread making and I hope she is not expecting nice loaves to pass her way - people who know me, know that I can cook quite well but not bake!

As the week progressed, the weather picked up again and the temperature gauge was showing close to 30°c in full sun so although we should be emptying boxes, more work was done in the garden.
All the way along this fence there were suckers from a tree called "tree of heaven" so called because they reach for the stars.  GJ got useful with his chain saw.
But Bracken still thinks its time to play...

  It's amazing how a green plastic bucket can keep him amused for ages.  However, we have now experienced our first rain in Bulgaria.  We went down to the local bar on Friday night where we get to talk to some ex-pats.  We stayed slightly longer than we normally do (Bulgarian beer flowing) and when we left to walk home, the heavens were opening.  Although we only live a 5 minute walk away, we got absolutely soaked as we hadn't prepared and taken an umbrella. Oh well, there are no kebab shops on the way back to shelter in (very British joke).

It now seems that Spring is in the air....
Our first crocus
and daffodils....

Last Sunday, even though it was Valentine's day, in Bulgaria, it was the day of the vine.  This is traditionally the day when the vines are annointed with some wine to encourage a good harvest for the forthcoming year.
Our neighbours, Radco, Pepa and their son, blessing the vines. See Radco wearing a vine hat.
If this year's yield is as good as last, then it should be good wine.  Certainly, last year's wine was good when we tasted it, or is it just that Radco is a good wine maker? 

On Wednesday we went shopping.  When we had the snow, it became apparent that I needed a much larger freezer and whilst we were in the "Technopolis" shop, we thought we had better look at an Air Conditioning unit for our bedroom (advised that it is necessary here).  On Thursday both were delivered and on Friday (today) the Air Conditioning is being fitted.  Some things happen quickly here and the fitters arrived at 8:30 and all finished by 11:30................happy days. 

Now that's what I call efficiency.

Our neighbour from opposite, Elenor, caught GJ when he was outside and handed him some more eggs (the second lot we have had from her) and some snowdrops.  In the UK, traditionally we don't pick snowdrops but Sara tells me that they are supposed to symbolise spring and it is tradition to give them to people.  They are also connected with the March festival of Martenitsa, whereby, on 1st of March, Bulgarians give one another (and the ex-pats) red and white strings to wear on their wrists or a red and white talisman to clip to their jackets.  On the last day of March or when you see your first stork, this is then hung from a tree.
 We have been looking into chicken coops.  This is what I would really like but watch this space as in the Spring GJ will be attempting to make me one like this.
(Може би)
 Maybe he is just thinking about it here...

Some random pictures:

 Bracken has been so busy!

 Spring and all the buds are showing now on the fruit trees

This is a green woodpecker - couldn't get close enough and this is taken through a window - very interested in the garden and it was joined by 2 lesser spotted woodpeckers.
and now we finally have a bench outside the gate - another important Bulgarian tradition.

Til the next time....
H, GJ and Bracken 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Weird Weather

As you will know if you have read the start of the blog, that we hale from the beautiful Lake District in the UK.  One of the reasons that it is so beautiful there, is that there is a lot of lush greenery around and this is attributed to the moist weather that prevails in those parts - I say moist but I mean damp, damn right wet and very soggy.  The climate here in Bulgaria is somewhat different.  We have had a lot of cold nights (-20°) quite a lot of snow but we have also had a lot of sunshine.  So much so that we have been working outside in our t-shirts to a barmy +20°.  Just when you think spring is around the corner, we have another dump of snow.

We are a bit frustrated because this sort of weather might have kept us indoors enough to do some decorating but as all our decorating stuff is en route to us as I write, and we cannot easily go out in Kevin the Camper Van to the local hardware shops, we have to think of other ways to amuse ourselves.

We decided to make a saw buck so that we could saw up some of the big branches that we had been chopping down before the snow.  We ferreted around the barn and came up with some slightly bent pieces of wood that appeared to have been left over from some barrel making.  In true Bulgeski style we produced this.......  It's very solid and works very efficiently.  We are thinking of patenting it.
We can now start filling the barn with kindling and logs for next year
The logs on the right are the rest of this years dry lot and we are now grading the new stuff (stacked in the centre and left) as "if I can cut it with secateurs, it gets shredded, if I can cut it with loppers, it becomes kindling and any that needs a chain saw is considered proper logs"  Following on from this, we had a trip out with Dave to find a shredder.  We have so much to shred/chop that we decided we couldn't do without one.  Eventually we found what we were looking for:
to cope with all this!
and this
The shredding is now forming a decent compost heap and we are assured by our local nurserymen that after a year of festering it should be great as mulch for my plants not to mention interesting scratchings for the chickens when I get them.
Talking of plants, I have been seriously thinking about my garden produce.  I have used a UK company to order seed from, they are heritage seeds which I thought would be quite ironical to use in a different country so watch this space to see how they grow...
You can see that I have done charts and things for planting instructions - things you do when you don;t want to venture out in the snow.  But all of a sudden, we are back to 20°c and t-shirt sun again.  I think these seedlings are going to have to be hardy little buggers.
Just a few early seeds planted so far.  The water bottles (which you can only just make out with the blue tops) fit 6 plastic cups in each and act as a propagator.  In these I have sown my tomatoes and peppers and the seedlings are coming up already.  My next job will be to prepare the ground but we have to be sure that all the frosts have gone.  Everything tends to grow at least a month sooner over here, We have had snow drops and daffodils coming up for some time

And Bracken doesn't know if he is coming or going - he starts to gain his summer coat then all of a sudden its back to a thick coat again - which means of course we have tumbleweed in the form of dog hair everywhere.....

One minute there's snow...


Then it's too hot to play....

Then it's playtime again......

 Suns out so can only do snoozing now.....

Today is Wednesday and we have (in theory) all our worldly goods arriving.  We have shifted all the stuff out of the house that we don't want (car booties here we come) sent it all over to the straw bale house temporarily which will eventually make way for GJs workshop, and I sit here in the early hours typing this whilst the rest of the house is asleep - far too excited.  I'm down to my last tea bag and I know I have stashed some but in which box?  Only 154 boxes to open!!

I'll keep you posted......
Helen, GJ and Brackken