Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The birds are arriving................

At the end of the last post, I showed a picture of my hands with the Martenitsas (red and white bracelets) on.  The custom is that they should only be taken off when you see the first stork arrive and then you should hang them on a tree.  I was lucky enough to receive 6 Martenitsas and felt quite blessed until I began to realise that they were actually a bit irritating especially when washing up and having a bath with them on.  We had heard that the storks were arriving but we had yet to see one.  The weather had been a bit mixed so we were doing a lot of decoration within the house (bracelets getting grubby again) but then we had a few days of lovely sunshine and we were working outside in the garden. (weeding making the bracelets even grubbier), until today!  Working away in the garden with our heads down, we had a phone call....... one of our neighbours saying "look up" and there they were.  No pictures I'm afraid, they were just to high but they definitely looked like storks.  So now one of our apple trees is heavy with Martenitsars.
GJ did a hatchet job when he cut this one back so I thought it could do with some adornment.

I had a birthday last week and I had a lovely birthday present...
This is what it should look like when erected....

We have agreed to re-home some of Sara's chickens so that Dave can concentrate on the rarer breeds whose eggs and chicks command a higher price. The shed was delivered last weekend and GJ and Dave have spent the last two days erecting it and creating a chicken run.

I will introduce you to the chucks on the next blog

I have started planting a few things in the garden.  I have decided to grow climbers (Peas, Beans, Broad Beans etc. along the outside of the poly tunnel frame and they can afford the rest of the plants a little shade throughout the summer.  We went to Trambesh Market last Wednesday and picked up a kilo of onion sets so I have put them in - 160 in total. Back breaking work but worth it.  I have also sown 4 different types of radish and five different types of beetroot. All seem to have taken as they are pushing their heads through already,  Other direct sowing that I have attempted is Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale and some Carrots.  I have had to cover things over for a few nights but they still seem to be OK.  
See the home-made trellis - very Bulgeski.
I have also started to leave my seedlings out side over night and luckily 95% seem alright with that.
Mostly herbs but the white seed trays are seedlings of winter veg - Broccoli, Cabbages and Leeks.
Tomatoes, Peppers, Chilies and my first time of trying, some flower seedlings.

I thought I would do some companion planting with a lot of Marigolds which are supposed to keep the nasty bugs away and encourage the good ones.  I have also grown some Nasturtiums, Stocks and Geraniums.  Possibly for window boxes.

I have just seen something on face book that is perfect for growing flowers that you can spread all over your garden and move for mowing:  Rip up lots of paper into small pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes.  Put the drained, soaked paper into food processor with a dash of the water. Whizz up and press half the paper maché into cake moulds.  Put ,mixed flower seeds on top of the mixture and add another layer of the paper.  Dry overnight and then take out of the moulds.  Place on you lawn at random intervals and the seeds should germinate and you should have a little block of flowers which can be moved if necessary. Brilliant, I will be trying this if I can convince Bracken that they are not for him.  Kids would love to do this!

We have started doing decoration when the weather is not as sunny or bright as it could be.  We don't seem to get much rain at this time of year although I believe June and July have a lot of thunder storms.  The first room (box room) as I probably mentioned before, has become a dressing room but as we have now started the master bedroom, is now another junk room.
 When it's cleared, just the curtains to put up and it will be finished
Well what else do you do with a bookcase?

We had some fun trying to get a nice colour to paint for the main bedroom.  I had ordered some new curtains from the UK because here they seem to be just flimsy things.  The colour is described as biscuit so I wanted a creamy light brown (lighter than the curtains). We got the lightest we could find and after using two 2lt pots and mixing it with one and a half  5lt pots we finally had the right colour.  So plenty of filling and two coats of white before the colour and then two coats of colour, we are now ready to sand down the floors (all wooden).  Gosh I hate decorating!

Our lovely neighbour Elinor has had babies - well not her.  Her two sheep (there were 3) have had two lambs - cute!
 And she had her rotivating done this week and the rotirvator was brought to her house using real horse power....

This picture shows our type of horse power against hers. 
 I took a few pictures that show part of the winter sitting room now that we have our own furniture in it.  The beam in the centre actually holds up the whole house - a well seasoned piece of timber.
 ....and just look at the size of my temporary kitchen on the left of this picture - makes life a bit tricky but at least I know it is only temporary.

A few random pictures......

on a walk once day I cam across some wild hellebores in the middle of nowhere!

and this unusual buterfly

while this fella was found in the garden

and my first legumes to make an apperance

The chooks have arrived so now I must be into animal husbandry!!!

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

Thursday, 3 March 2016

A sad start to Spring but looking forward........

As all the followers of my sister's blog will know it has been taken over by her husband after the very sudden sad loss of the lovely lady herself.  I will not dwell on my loss because I hope that the few people who do read my blog will know that I try to keep things up-beat and Dave,  my sister's husband is saying all the sad things that we are thinking.

Dave's blog address is www.debrazzaman.blogspot.co.uk

Well apart from the afore mentioned sadness, there is still a lot to be celebrated here in Bulgaria, not least the start of Spring.  Yes it starts at least one month before the UK and when it starts it starts.
I believe this is a wild plum tree.  They are everywhere and the blossom is magnificent.  We had a bit of damp weather the week before last and we decided to try and do some decorating.  Because I have unpacked alot of clothes, it was decided that the first room to do was the box bedroom which I want to change into a dressing room.  This room had been painted bright blue!  Several coats of paint later I now have a brilliant white dressing room but it's not quite finished because the weather changed again for the better and we had to use our time outside.

I will show you the room when it is finished!

Outside again and we have been continuing with the tidying and preparation of my growing beds.  Because we now have all GJ's tools and garden equipment we worked in earnest.  GJ decided that he needed to get his work space in order before we carried on with things and so we bought two free standing shelving units to go into the straw bale house.  Sounded easy, these slot together units but not if they are made in Bulgaria!
When we finally did get everything together and the straw bale house a bit more organised we were ready to roll.

I decided that the first few things that needed planting were Beans (various), Peas (various), Onions, Potatoes, Garlic and Sunflowers.  These have mostly been direct sown but I have started some off in pots first so I can see what fairs best at this time of year.  I built trellises for the climbing beans and peas with bits of wood from the stocks collected so far. 

The sunflowers have been planted at the bottom of the growing tunnel because from there  to the back wall of our neighbour's house will be where we will keep the chickens when we are ready for them and I thought 1) they would make a curtain and shade things planted down there a little and 2) I'm sure the chickens would love a peck at a sunflower head now and again.
Whilst we have been working in the garden we are constantly accompanied by a flight of sparrows.  They chirp so loud, its like being in  an Avery.
We also come across some unusual guests......

As I watch the forecast in Windermere as well as here, I cannot help but feel sorry for their weather and hope that some of ours gets sent over to them.  Maybe then they too can enjoy lunches in the garden!

But not wishing to gloat and on a serious note, the 1st of March is a very significant date in the Bulgarian calendar.  It is the festival of Baba Marta meaning Grandma Spring and with this all your friends and family are given red and white armbands or lapel pins.  Your are to wear these until either you see your first stork or the first blossom of a fruit tree when these, the Martenitsa's are hung on that tree.  Here are my gifts:
 The parsley was given to us by Elenor, our neighbour from opposite.  She clearly had nothing to give when we took some daffodils and a martenitsa over to her, but give she must and the parsley was added to that nights' dinner.  I love the humble simplicity.

I hope that anybody reading enjoys the above even though there has been so much sorrow.  Sara's very Bulgarian funeral was very touching and she is buried in a cemetery in her newly native village.  This brings great comfort to Dave who is determined to keep things going as Sara would have liked.

Til the next time...

H,, GJ and Bracken xx