Monday, 29 August 2016

Parties and Rock Festivals

Well I last left you I mentioned Ivan's birthday party which was actually held at our local bar and not his house this time.  Now I took some photos of the group that gathered and of him cutting his cake but for some reason they have been wiped from my camera before saving on the computer - suffice to say when you let the menfolk fiddle with things something goes wrong.

We made a card for him using a few good pictures (the front was as above) we had of him and I was so looking forward to him opening it and the look on his face but the Bulgarian way is to open cards and presents privately.  We did subsequently ask him about the card and his face lit up so that was enough for me.  As far as a present is concerned we racked our brains and we spoke to Chris who he works for and he suggested a tool of some kind (because he does some building work).  We actually came up with a multi-tool come penknife thing which we hoped he didn't already have.  I had an image of him reaching into his back pocket and coming our with a penknife to open his present - ha ha.

The garden is blooming with produce.  I had planned to use the large tomatoes that our neighbour gave us for skinning and chopping up to individual portions for the freezer but for some reason the actual plants they gave me have not produced as much fruit as the plants I grew from seed.  I seem to have planted mainly small tomatoes which are better for salads.  So we had been told that our local Frenchman and chili farmer had opened a shop in the village to sell his produce so I thought "support the locals" we would seek him out to get some more tomatoes.  We had trouble finding it because he had the smallest notice on the door that he could find.....

His opening times are only a short window as well but we managed to get some tomatoes and he went to great lengths to tell me that they are all organic because apparently those people buy at market are not.
Just a few of the kilos that I bought from him
Spag Bol, Chili, Lasagna etc. here we come

Because I had a glut of the little yellows tomatoes, I decided to make some tomato ketchup

A big pan like that only made two bottles.....but it is very nice

We were walking Bracken down a lane one morning and on the verge I noticed what looked like courgette flowers.  A couple of weeks later I cam across this in amongst the flowers...
Now I hope it didn't belong to anyone - it did look like somebody had just thrown out some seeds and they had germinated by mistake - anyway I did a runner with it and now it is chopped up and frozen ready to bring out in portions for making soup bases in winter.  Don't like waste.

A couple of weeks ago we went to "The English Market" which isn't quite what you think. The is a big truck which a chap called "The Freezer Man" has converted to hold freezers and shelving and he ships over things that are not available here.  GJ and I made an order for things like Weetabix, Peanut butter, Jacobs Cream Crackers, some sausages, some mince (English Style) and a joint of gammon.  There was one other sweet stall there but that was it.  However the setting is nice and it has a restaurant by the lake where we were able to get a sausage and bacon sandwich.  Yum!
Some residents in the lake......

We have now sorted out our residency in Bulgaria and we have also registered the car - finally.  What a pulava this was.  Firstly we had to go to an Insurance office to buy some insurance and then next door to pay some Eco tax.  Then we went over to the KAT office and waited in a queue from 9.30 til 12.00 (no appointments) and then at 12, the one lady that was doing all the registering and re-registering went for lunch for an hour and then after another hour we were eventually seen and documents processed.  We then drove the car around the back for a technical test.  After lots of scratching of heads, they decided not to do the tech test because the last one they did on a Range Rover, broke the transmission brake so now they are being sued.  Not to bore you with this but apparently permanent four wheel drive cannot be stopped on a rolling road with the handbrake so we were ushered off to another shed where they put on the number plates...
...then back to the KAT office to fill in some more forms and hand in our British number plates.  We then had to leave all our documents with another lady and told to return in two hours.  After some refreshment across the road at a cafe, we returned and were given the equivalent of a laminated registration document.  The next day we had to go to another garage to get a technical test done where they don't test the handbrake.  No the fella said, you need to have a stamp on this document to say you have paid your Eco tax.  So off we toddled to the Tax office who told us that the KAT records don't get to their office for at least 3 days.  This meant waiting until the following week before we could get a copy of the receipt for tax paid, show it to the testing garage and they went ahead and did the test.  It made me laugh though, they put a probe up the exhaust to test the emissions but didn't ask GJ to put his engine on before they took it out again and said that they were OK!

GJ has been doing some work on the walls in the living room.  When we took the kitchen away (now installed outside in the summer kitchen) all the walls had been badly affected by water when the previous occupants had had a flood, so he stripped all the boards off and has now replaced them with new ones and they are ready to be plastered.  We know an ex-pat who does plastering so very useful but she is busy for the next few weeks so I'll catch her in action before the next blog update.

We have decided to have some more wood delivered.  Us westeners are so casual when it comes to heating the whole house in winter but the Bulgarians move everything to one room - Kitchen with bed, TV (if available), washing facilities in the kitchen sink (if available) and toilet usually down the garden.  Luckily we have central heating which is run by the main fireplace and hence eats the wood.  We had already had 8 cubes of large logs delivered, hired some bloke with a chain saw to cut them down then a local fella (who seems to live in the bar) to come and chop them down some more.  By the time we had paid all these fellas and paid for the wood it worked out more expensive than just asking the mayors office to deliver some ready cut.  So we thought another 5 cubes should do it and at 8 o'clock one Saturday morning they turned up at our new gates so GJ had to stumble down to the gate in his disheveled state to point the drivers to the back of the property and into the barn.  Then they couldn't tip the load right into the barn because the tipper opened from the front up and the height of the barn door affected it.  Next job that morning was to throw it all into the barn with a view to stacking on another day - phew!  Even in the morning the heat can reach 30 degrees.
13 cubes all stacked now. See the glove photo-bombing!

One of the autumn jobs is to clear the other side of the barn so that we can put the chicken shed under the mezanine for some protection from the cold weather when it comes.
 Big job this one!

Last week end we took Kevin the Camper out for a trip to the Mindya Rock Festival
We couldn't park in the little field that we were advised to park in so we just parked on the road under a tree and away from any entrances to properties.  We got there on the Saturday at around 5 and by around 7 cars were parked all the way down the road where we had parked so we were not so conspicuous.  After eating in the van (we were not sure of the catering facilities so we took our own) we wandered down to the town square from where the music was in full swing.  A few pictures...

 Even Bracken enjoyed it for a while - better drinking wine from a cordial bottle when in public!

 Chris and Karen with their book stall - slowly got drawn out to the music
A great time was had by all.  Great atmosphere, no drunks (apart from us) no bad behaviour, glass ashtrays on the tables at the bars - yes glass!  The video is part of one of the English songs they sang, not the greatest singer of all time but the musicians were very good.

 The bar across from where we were parked - I just love the way the Bulgarians build around things - notice the trees coming out of the roof
I spotted this field of wild lilac on the way back, the picture doesn't do it justice.

So that's it for now, I promise to take my camera out more often because there is always something unusual to see in this quaint country.  Oh and next time I could have news on whether we manage to get Kevin registered (I suppose there will be scratching of heads again) and whether we manage to get signed up with a doctor.  Cor blimey, it's all go.

H, GJ and Bracken