The chickens have settled in well. The head of the bunch is a young cockerel called Dandy. I haven't named any of them but they were Sara's chickens and she had, so his name I remember.
The plastic cup was designed to attract his attention!
The next in the pecking order would appear to be Cagney who Sara talked about in her early blogs. see www.debrazzerman.blogspot.co.uk She is a very broody bird so if I ever wanted more, I'm sure she would oblige.
Then comes my favourite because she has beautiful markings and appears to be a good layer - No 3
Then lower down in the pecking order are the two ex-battery hens that clearly love their free range life
And finally, the little runt who gets all the other birds (except Dandy) pecking at her, poor thing
On my first full week of having them, they gave me 17 eggs, so not bad!
Our first three eggs.
Most Friday nights, quite a few of the ex-pats in the village meet up for a chin wag in the local bar. Now compare a bar here with a pub in the UK - well there is no ambient lighting and no typical pub memorabilia. There is an outside area with an old coca cola sun umbrella attached to a little table and a bench style table that is frequented by the locals especially during the day. Inside, the bar is down at the far end but if you can see what you want in the fridges, you just help yourself and grab a glass if you want one and pay the lady, who does everything, when you see her. The toilet facilities are a little whiffy but seem clean enough but my trick is to make sure I have been before I leave home. There is always a meal on offer cooked by Ivan - a huge man who when he speaks, the earth moves. He features in my Christmas blog wearing knickers but that's another story. He was a chef in the Bulgarian army apparently and seems to cook OK but a bit "stick to the ribs" fayre. Most things include potato even Moussaka but the meat they use here is highly salted and a bit chewy by UK standards so mostly we eat before we go out. The long term ex-pats have shown him how to double fry chips though and to be fair they are very good.
One Friday at the end of February, there was a box of letters on one of the tables and it seems the Postmistress decided that because most of us went to the bar on Fridays, we could pick up our rates bills! No where else in the world. We found one for GJ but, as we are all assessed separately, we couldn't find mine. So the box went all the way down the tables with my glasses, and after a while everyone decided that mine was not there. One of our friends, Sue took us along to the Mayor's office to pay our bills and sure enough there was one for me. It cost us pennies compared to the UK but the biggest cost is for your vehicles and because ours are not registered yet, the bill was low. Our next step is to sort the vehicles out.
Before we can sort out the car registrations, we need to obtain our citizenship. For this we needed to open Bulgarian bank accounts. GJ picked the bank that aspired to have the best reputation for Internet banking so off we trotted with our passports and house documents (presumably to prove we live here) and thankfully there was one chap who spoke English that sorted us out. We were asked to come back in a fortnight to collect our Debit Cards but when we did, they had moved - nice of them to tell us! Eventually we found their new swanky open plan offices - seems to be a lot of trust here or no bank crimes because they actually dealt with all the cash on the table in front of you without screens - one woman was just counting wad after wad!
That done and our next step is to hire a translator who will take us through the proceedure of becoming a Bulgarian citizen and from then on we can register the vehicles. We have heard horror stories about this and we have been warned that there will be a lot of head scratching over the camper van. When you consider many Bulgarian homes don't even have an inside toilet, how will they be able to assess a vehicle that has it's own bathroom? Watch this space.
We had a bit of dull weather a few weeks ago so we cracked on with our bedroom. Its vertually finished and we have moved in. It feels very Scandinavian although there is only one picture from Ikea.
Lots of wood
The Ikea picture
View of part of the garden from one window
We went to our first car boot sale a couple of weeks ago on the outskirts of our local town Veliko Tarnovo (VT for short). It was such a shame that the days leading up to Sunday were great but on the day it rained so there wern't too many sellers by the time we arrived.
Dave uncovers his stall so I could take a picture.
Sara and Dave were regular stall holders at the car boot sales, Sara would sell Jams, Chutneys, Cakes, homemade cards etc and Dave would exhibit his paintings. To keep up with tradition, Dave made quite a lot more cards (I had one for my brother) and he has been making Raspberry & Apple jam with some raspberries that he found in the freezer and Brown Sauce which was Sara's intention - pretty good it is too. He also made tea light holders with spare jars and acrylic paints. I had two of those for our outside kitchen. Apart from my purchases he said he had had a good day as you can see from the near empty table. We also bought a nice honeysuckle plant for Sue so that she could fill the hole we left when we had some strawberry plants from her. Everyone helps each other out here, almost like it used to be in the UK. The next car boot sale is this Sunday in our village and is apparently very well attended.
Work has started on our gates. Technically this is our back entrance. Our front entrance is supposed to be through our barn but we have another neighbour who has his poly tunnels either side of our shared drive and now thinks he owns the strip of road and the turning circle in front of the barn gates as well. He parks an old van out there and there are some rolls of chain link, a big water butt and goodness know what else.
Our shared drive apparently, with our barn at the end!
We have explained that we will need to get some wood delivered soon and he has said he will let us through (good of him) so we decided that we don't need that entrance other than for the wood delivery so we would get our lovely neighbour Radko and his building firm to extend our gates so that we can drive the vehicles into the property.
This is how we want it to look.....
This is the working in progress......
Ready for the concrete edges
Bringing the "big guns" out
Mind the camper?As you can see, Radko was having work done on his entrance at the same time - most economical.
The garden is going mad now, the blossom has given way to unfurling leaves, daffodils have made way for tulips and the sowings I have made are galloping along.
See the rapeseed in the distance, almost ready for harvest.
I have planted onions from sets purchased down at Trambesh market, Early Potatoes from David and Graham our local nurserymen, and from seed directly sown - Radishes (various) Beetroot (various) Asparagus (friend gave me some seed) Cabbages, Broccoli (various), Sprouts, Carrots, Swiss Chard, Spinach and Kale. From seedlings, Tomatoes (various) first sowing and Peppers - first sowing, Plenty more to go in yet!
On a final note, Tuesday was the 40th day after Sara passed away and in Bulgaria this is a significant time celebrated with an event to mark her passing on to the heavens. There was a ceremony at the grave side with the priest and 40 or so friends assembled. Dave recited one of his lovely poems and we all lit candles while their neighbour placed offerings of food and wine and then planted some flowering plants on the grave. When the ceremony had finished, we all went to one of the village bars where Dave had organised for us all to have a meal and we were sent home with a bag full of foody goodies as is tradition. We, as family, traditionally put a poster on our gate (when we get one) for 6 months, to celebrate her life. Like me, Sara didn't like having her photo taken - the camera always lies, but Dave managed to find this one from their wedding. Here is the poster
Anyway I must stop rambling and get out into the sunshine (oops! sorry for those of you in Blighty!)
H, GJ and Bracken (he was 9 years old yesterday!)