Emotional Times

Our little manThis is the hardest blog episode I have ever had to write and that is why I have delayed it a little, to give me and my heart time to recover. You see at noon on the 11th October we lost our little man, Diesel, to a disease we had no idea he had. He had carried no symptoms for the six months plus that he had been with us and in fact showed now signs of illness at all until Wednesday afternoon when he was a little off colour.

Dan and the man

Dan departed for the UK on the following day and I promised that if he wasn’t any better by Friday that I would take him to the vets. Friday morning came and he was as perky as anything, barking verociously at our builder (his favourite game) and playing with Kia, but when I came to walk him in the afternoon he just lay down and refused to move. Now he may be a seven month old puppy, but he still weighed around 30 kilos and there was no way I could get him to or into the car, so he lay down in the lounge and I called the mobile vet.

Diesel in the weeds

He came at 9.30am the following morning and took blood for tests – the results came back positive for Ehrlichiosis a tick borne disease at 1pm – he died in my arms an hour earlier. Here we are 12 days on and I still blame myself for not doing something differently and there is nothing that anyone can say that will make me think differently, however this little man loved his life (however short) with us and we loved him and whatever happened, whatever mistakes were made, his time with us was definitely preferable to him dying alone, cold and hungry in the box where he was found.

The furry family

In time we will get another puppy, probably in spring as winters here can be harsh. The new puppy will be a new playmate for Kia, as she has been grieving hard over the loss of Diesel, and will be a new addition to our lovely family, it will not be a replacement for our little man as I don’t think we will ever find another like him, he was so unique.

The really little man on his arrival
The really little man on his arrival
Buried under our apple tree
Buried under our apple tree

He arrived terrified and covered in fleas, bonded with Kia instantly and decided very quickly that anyone that wasn’t me or Dan was to be defended against. He was fiercely loyal, extremely protective and loving – I will always miss his Diesel kisses and his enormous front paws (usually muddy) in my lap first thing in a morning. RIP little man!!

IMG_20141014_150523As everything in life that comes to try us, you have to push through it and move on so having taken a couple of days out to cry, wail and generally state how unfair it all is, I have since kept myself busy. I got the opportunity of some work dismantling a barn and jumped at the chance, it got me away from the house and it turns out that hard physical exercise is a great coping tool – it’s not doing my back that much good though. So we have removed and stacked about 2000 tiles from IMG_20141015_150850the roof, taken off all the lats and rafters and removed nails from any of the good, reuseable wood. The banter has been good, the music has been terrible but the beer at the end of the day – pretty much essential.

IMG_20141019_124547Work has not stopped on our place either – Dan had finished floorboarding the upstairs prior to his departure, so I have started the sanding process – the main bedroom being my priority as I have a resident mouse in the room I have been sleeping in – actually I’m probably kidding myself it is just the one! So having sanded the bedroom I moved our spare mattress up there and set some traps … I don’t appear to be an expert in mouse catching as the traps (4 nights on) are still set and being completely ignored… I do like my new room though as you can lie in bed and look out at the stars, it is stunning.

I have also been out a couple of times, once a treat from friends, which was most kind although I think Kia ate more than I did and then again to Trafalga Day celebrations with our Russian friends in the village, where once again Helena outdid herself with the selection of food and drinks available, the company around the table was fabulous…although I think I may have talked a little too much yet again!!

DSCF2561DSCF2562My next task is to empty my ‘crap’ wood shed, chop it all up for kindling and stack it in with the ‘good’ wood next to the dog pen – I have started this task but despite a whole day of working on it, you can hardly tell I’ve touched it…I think it may be a bigger job than I had anticipated.

DSCF2567Ah well as you see life goes on and the work doesn’t go away, but today is raining and the temp has dropped by double figures, so I’ve lit the fire in the kitchen which feeds the radiators and stuck a sausage and pork casserole in its oven…my first meal on my new stove and it is looking pretty damn good even if I do say so myself. (Oh my God I’ve just tasted it…you really should be here, it is delicious)!!

so onwards and upwards – I will spend today transferring this blog from this address to a new location so it is also ‘goodbye’ to wordpress.com – let’s hope I don’t cock things up royally and lose everything…keep your fingers crossed for me and see you on the other side.

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JD xx

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Whirlwind week…

Firstly I must apologise for being tardy in writing this episode – it has been a time of “too much to do – too little time” and seeming to take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, although I guess that is still progress of sorts…

DSCF2462Of course our focus is winter, so we bought a whole lamb I butchered it and bagged it up into the freezer…we were going to keep the skin and have a go at tanning, but if I’m completely honest the weather was still hot and the thought of scraping the inner layer of sheep fat off the skin in the sunshine didn’t fill me with glee, so we filed that idea…still we have plenty of lamb in our newly bought chest freezer, however not nearly enough of everything else.

Dan and Jane being Dan and Jane when we went to pick up a small chest freezer, to supplement the already sizeable fridge/freezer we have, on arrival at the store said “I wonder how big a freezer you can fit in the back of a BMW tourer”…the answer is a bloody big one that will take months of hard work and money to fill…but that’s the one we brought home!

DSCF2481Paul has been working on getting our guttering ready for the rain – in amongst some horrid dental issues…I don’t do dentists so I DSCF2487sympathise big time, but we are nearly there. The bath is in upstairs and is useable, the toilet is in but the drainage is only part complete (my job for this week), the sink is in and functional and all the floors are now boarded completely. We have also acquired a sander, just in case I get bored 🙂

The second half of the central heating system is complete and in fact tonight we lit the Petchka for the first time and not withstanding a few teething problems it appears we have heating throughout the whole house, which is amazing.

Tim BeauchampsAmongst all the renovations we have also had Tim’s funeral to attend, something I was particularly dreading, however it was quite a pleasant event despite the circumstances and Helena (his wife) had chosen a wonderful spot for his ashes to lay in the local village cemetery. Our encounters were few yet he had a way of impacting on your life… we will miss him as will many others.

IMG_20141001_111127During the wake, the mayor of our village, Xristo, invited us to attend a celebration at the ‘Pensioners Club’ the following day, so Dan at the ripe old age of 28 is now a honourary pensioner…I would say the food, laughter and good company was worth the accelerated aging but although good, I’m not sure it was that good…the home-made liquor was pretty outstanding though I must say.

IMG_20141001_111137IMG_20141003_123351We also had Shirley’s 79th Birthday (our neighbour) and went to lunch with the girls – a really lovely meal in our local town with starters, main course, pudding and wine – six of us ate, only 5 of us paid and it came to about £7 each…incredible. All this food and alcohol its a wonder anything gets done.IMG_20141003_135001

This week we are preparing for Dan’s return to the UK or rather my shopping list for him to bring back…I miss gravy granules and oxo cubes the most I think, so my next blog will be a solo affair…I wonder how much will get done whilst he’s away!?!

Speak soon,

JD x

Roller Coaster Ride

Barney's arrival - so thin and matted fur
Barney’s arrival – so thin and matted fur

This week or so has been a real roller coaster of emotions. First we find this little bedragled dog in our field, who follows us home, he was emaciated,
covered in fleas and fur that had matted up into clumps so much he could hardly walk. We gave him food and water, bought him a flea collar, cut off his

Asleep under the apple tree
Asleep under the apple treewalk. We gave him food and water, bought him a flea collar, cut off his 

matted fur, called him Barney and introduced him to our bunch. This was one step too far as only one out of the three even gave him a chance and he was certainly not in any state to stand up for himself.

Cheeky monster :-)
Cheeky monster 🙂

We knew straight away we couldn’t keep him so set about finding him a foster home through TwitchyNoses and Rachel Gawith. She was extremely helpful but
we needed to get his blood tests done to make sure he was healthy enough to be given a new home – one week later he had found a place in my heart, he
DSCF2390followed me around all day, learnt his name, how to sit, give his paw and get down…such an intelligent little man. We then had to drive him across the
DSCF2360-1mountains to his foster home with a lovely lady, Ive and despite knowing I’d done the right thing for Barney, I still cried like a child all the way
home … more for my loss than his.

He has now been castrated, will be vaccinated this week and is booked to travel to the UK mid October to his forever home. I can’t wait to see him
settled in a real family … he truly deserves it.

 

DSCF2407As Barney departed the household, so Cookie entered – only a few weeks old – cute but I decided that she could only stay if
DSCF2409 she lived o

utside…and gets on with the dogs (or learns to avoid them) – well a few days in and she is already in the house and drinking out of the dogs water bucket … under the watchful eye of Kia (our Akita x East Asian Shepherd) – seems like she is now part of the family.

central heating testing system
central heating testing system

DSCF2386So with all the coming and going of strays in the village, the house renovations had to absorb a bit of a delay…although we have managed to build a
wall between toilet and corridor upstairs, test our central heating system (out of 35 connections – only 3 leaks), brick up the DSCF2421kitchen fireplace,
plasterboard half our lounge and move the sofa in for a much deserved rest today.

DSCF2410We also went for a bit of drive in the car this morning, just to get away from the dust and the plaster for a little while and as always when we leave
the confines of the house, it suddenly strikes me how lucky we are to DSCF2412be living in such a beautiful part of the world.

Our village :-)
Our village 🙂

I am really looking forward to
next year when we will have time to explore a little more…perhaps with friends.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho …it’s off to work we go…

DSCF2342DSCF2341Well I haven’t had time to do the promised before and after collage as yet…it has been all go here as usual. The plumbing for the upstairs bathroom and toilet is now in place, tested and I’m pleased to announce we have no leaks. The central heating pipes are all in place and will be tested next week once we have mounted the radiators on the walls, hopefully with the same result. DSCF2345We have bought our new bath, sink and toilet, which still need to be hooked up and set in place but it won’t be long before we have a working bathroom upstairs and I’m stupidly excited about decorating and dressing this room…we did find an old wine barrel that I wanted (note the I in that sentence) to restore and put the sink on…apparently I have admitted defeat and will be building a nice square cabinet instead…between you and me I think this may just be a temporary solution!! DSCF2337Ashim has continued in the main lounge to work his magic with the render and unfortunately for him he seems to have got right inside my head…I described what I wanted and he has more than excelled himself, I’m delighted with the result so far and once the stones have been pointed up properly I know it will be amazing. The difficult thing will be deciding on colours to ensure the room stays light but gives warmth too as this will be where we spend the majority of our time in the winter. icebucketI have also completed my ice-bucket challenge and donated some money to TwitchyNoses charity here in Bulgaria – they help stray and wounded dogs on the streets and carry out neutering programmes as a preventative tactic. I know the money will go to helping local dogs and local people so this seemed more appropriate for me being as I have three rescue dogs of my own. Anyway the video is here if you want a giggle (https://www.facebook.com/turningsimpledifficult) – I did it in the river next to our house and the water was so so cold, so cold I could hardly speak, but with the beautiful sunny weather here I was soon dried off and back to work. It has made me want to get the kayaks out again though, maybe to take them up to the local reservoir and have some fun…I’ll have to mention this to the boss!! DSCF2339So since my last blog we have achieved quite a lot I think…we have even painted our first wall!! We do seem to have done nothing but work, but I go to the local market on a Tuesday and pick up my veg and I regularly visit the DIY shop in town…so much so I actually have a rolling discount arrangement with them now…but this has been pretty much the only time we have left the house and you know what, I haven’t even noticed DSCF2344(until I wrote this). I think my only complaint about this house (and it will get fixed in time) is the outdoor sink…I am using this on a daily basis and I think it was made for use by a 3ft midget as it absolutely kills my back, more than any digging or drilling or plumbing. So one day this delight of a structure will get attacked with a lump hammer and rebuilt further back from the house and higher up from the ground. For now though…that’s all folks x

Race against time….

DCP_1182Yes I know it is only August and that it is about 40 degrees out there in the shade, but as my wonderful Bulgarian neighbours keep telling me…winter is coming!! No shit Sherlock! It has been at the forefront of my mind ever since moving over here to ensure that the house is ready and warm for the onslaught of everything an Eastern European winter can throw at us and so far we have done pretty well (even if I do say so myself).

DSCF2330This week the roof was made water tight with three chimneys being removed in the process – we don’t need the chimneys and leaving them in place just gives the water somewhere else to try and get in – so down they came. The chimney we do need which sits directly above where the Petchka (which has ARRIVED by the way:-)) will be positioned, typically only goes half way up and stops before it protrudes through the roof. To summarise the one bloody chimney we need isn’t really a chimney at all and this will be being re-built this week and following that brand new guttering around the whole house and that’s the roof finished.

DSCF2321We have finished the rendering upstairs (the new bathroom, the walk in wardrobe, the new toilet, the corridor and lastly what will be our bedroom) – I am the most grateful for this being complete as ever bit of this has been mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow in silly heat…so glad it is over.

This being done has meant we could start work on putting down the floor frames and the central heating and bathroom plumbing…yes my lovely neighbours, central heating here we come and not only that we are also running the pipes around the room to give us a little bit of underfloor heating too – how posh is that!

It has been an amazing transformation up there, from mud floors, tatty peeling plaster, horrid cheap wooden door frames and plyboard ceilings, we have now got nice neat rendered walls exposing the wooden features in the walls and big solid beam doorways – once the wood floors are in place it will be magical (well to me anyway).

DSCF2308DSCF2319Whilst we were doing all this work our friend Ashim has been repairing the fireplace in the lounge that looked like it was going to collapse – now it is shored up with metal supports and re-rendered exposing the same beam that we have in the kitchen – I could not be happier.

With all these things happening now on the house and all the work we are personally investing in it, it is incredibly satisfying to see it come together and I think it is about time I put a collage of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures together so that you guys can appreciate the change as much as us.

On a more sombre note, one of my new friends in the village died suddenly today. He was a lovely, generous man that went out of his way to be the perfect host – I for one am sorry I didn’t get to know him better as I loved his cutting sense of humour whilst he maintained the class of a very British gent! It brings it home to you that we are all mortal and reminds me very much of why we are doing all this in the first place….RIP

Till next time x

Things are Hotting up…

Dan in actionThe rain has finally decided to move along and left us with some blazing sunshine, for which we are truly grateful, especially as we have finished digging in the garden (for now anyway)! There is a problem though, sunshine is good when you have a glass of cold white wine and you are sitting poolside being waited on by some bronzed hunk…it is not so good when it is 34 DSCF2284-1degrees in the shade and you are sifting sand in the full on sunshine and mixing sand and cement by hand and carrying heavy buckets of the mixture up and down the outside stairs…and there was me thinking the external staircase would only be a problem in winter!!

Kia fascinated by the new washerLots has happened though since we last spoke – my new washing machine is here and plumbed in, which caused some curiosity amongst the household when we set it going for the first time. We also took some time off and went to the Curtis MelodyPalamartsa Music Festival – as I said to a friend, much like Glastonbury but without the need for wellies and over priced beer. Seriously though we had a lovely day – got to listen to some really cool music, not least of which was Curtis Melody, who stole the show for us whilst we were there, it was nice to relax and spend the day Nidelka's gardensmiling insanely and to meet up with some people we hadn’t seen in a while. Mainly Gemma Stephenson from Bulgarian Property Experts (and her sidekick Louis), who saved our bacon during our first couple of weeks in Bulgaria – she is an absolute angel and also Nidelka our old neighbour in the village…her garden is amazing – I have only ever seen this sort of thing in pictures on facebook from people I don’t know – but I took this picture and I will be trying this next year – she is inspirational.

DSCF2281-1We have bought all the wood for our new floors upstairs and once the rendering is finished they will be going down along with all the pipework for the central heating, the new bathroom plumbing and then we can finally move in. Both Dan and I have worked tirelessly in this heat to get the rendering done, admittedly he seems to be a lot better at it than me, but that’s fine – as long as the walls get covered, who does it really doesn’t matter and I grin everytime I see the progress at the end of the day…this place is going to look FAB!!

Our friend Paul is back to finish off the roof and has set to fixing all the ridge tiles in place, making sure there are no silly leaks, removing three of our chimneys, building a new one and replacing all the guttering – quite a task in this heat – but at least he has a pool to go home to (don’t you just hate people sometimes) 🙂

Just some of the tomatoes chopped...Despite the language barrier, we are getting along just fine, the man a the wood yard speaks at me as though I’m fluent and I catch the jist of most of it, my neighbours just ply me with buckets (and I mean buckets) of tomatoes, cucumbers and plums (most of which have gone in the freezer for winter puddings and sauces) and well the guys on the market just make me smile. My puppy (Diesel) pinched two (yes TWO) pairs of my glasses and hid them in the garden somewhere, well for those of you paying attention, the garden is not my first priority this year and therefore is like a jungle out there…finding them is near to (NO) it is impossible – so I went to the market to buy some standard reading glasses – found a little guy who helped me select the right ones for me (5 leva) and then proceeded to gift me a strap to hold them on with and a fresh peach – A PEACH!? I just love living here – where else would you get that?

DSCF2289=1It has not all been sunshine and fruit though, there have been some hard times – the rendering plays havoc with your skin and despite wearing plastic gloves under fabric ones, I have nonetheless acquired several deep holes where the cement has burnt through my skin (on my hands and even under my bra strap), this is painful beyond belief and I have now acquired some elbow length heavy duty rubber gloves – again not good in this heat but better than the alternative and am doing my bit for women’s lib, a few years too late I guess but hey.

There have been times where I have been tired enough to cry, but still I would rather be here than anywhere on earth right now…this is our little piece of paradise!!

I Should be so Lucky…. (I love Kylie)…

stunning scenery
stunning scenery

Well just how lucky are we. This place is amazing, the more time I spend here the more I love it – the country, the people (both from near and far), the weather, the language (even though I struggle sometimes), but most of all our house. Those of you that will have read our blog from the start will realise that this was not the first place we chose but it was the last … we could not be happier.

The weather: Everytime I walk outside the door it amazes me that the air outside is warmer than inside, I’m sure I’ll get used to this in time but for now it is still a novelty. Yes we have had a lot more rain than is seasonally expected, but because it is so intense and usually accompanied by wicked thunderstorms it is almost fun. I love thunderstorms and used to love watching them in the UK, when we got them, but here you have three or four going off at once and that means constant rumblings (sometimes crashing) thunder and daylight provided by the lightening strikes and sheets across the sky, it is an amazing spectacle, but one I cannot even attempt to capture on camera.

My favourite flower
My favourite flower

The language: This is so detatched from anything I have ever learnt, but so much fun trying to communicate with our neighbours who have so much patience with me … only wishing I’d learn quicker so that they can talk to me properly. Funnily enough we seem to be able to talk about the work we are doing on the house, the garden, vegetables and the weather … what more do we need? I guess the most frustrating thing is trying to learn their language and them chatting back to you in perfect english. For example we stopped for fuel yesterday when we picked up our new washing machine and wound down the window “ceteredecet leva benzine molya” (40 leva petrol please) and got the response “would you like the higher octane which gives you much better fuel efficiency?” What the *****!!

Our House: Compared to some of the deals had on Ebay or that some of our friends have had, we probably paid over the odds for our place, but it was still only the price of a second hand car in the UK. Yes it needed (needs) a lot of work but so does every village house in Bulgaria. We have found out that this used to be owned by the village doctor and his grand-daughter lives in the USA, any family pictures and such that we find we are saving for her and letting her see any of the renovations we are doing through this blog and private email, it is so nice to be in touch with the property’s history.

House4We have two bedrooms, a shower room, kitchen, lounge and cellar on the ground floor with a bedroom, bathroom and walk in wardrobe on the first floor. We have a front garden which will have a wrap around terrace, grape vines, fruit trees, herb garden and flower beds with land down the side of the house to plant enough vegetables to feed an army. Our barn houses the dog pen (now the wall is repaired), the wood and will have our summer kitchen with cob built barbeque, dining table and view onto the garden. To top it off we have a pretty large garage 3-4 cars and once we finish we will have a driveway to accommodate more vehicles – all of which is really important to Dan (those of you who know him will understand this)!

Location: We are in a super little village with crap internet and crap mobile phone signal, but we have amazing neighbours, a fresh water spring in spitting distance, views across the hillside to the forest and beyond, easy access to the old capital of Bulgaria and a lovely little river at the bottom of our garden.

Honestly whatever we paid for this place, we could have done a lot worse, in fact I’m not sure we could have done any better.

Work: I used to love my job (however stressful) working for Rolls Royce as a Programme Manager and there are days when I think about my colleagues back home and miss the banter, but we are so busy sorting out this place that I have little time for sentimentality and regardless I’m using just about every PM skill I have learnt in trying to manage, drive and bring this personal project home on time and in (or close to) budget.

So in summary, no regrets – can’t wait to finish the renovation so that next year we can focus on becoming more self reliant and start some of the fun projects we have in mind – watch this space.

Till next time xx

Time Out…

Mia isn't she just scrumptious
Mia isn’t she just scrumptious

For the first time in a long time we have said ‘au revoir’ to our builders and will have the next couple of weeks to ourselves. This does not mean things stop, on the contrary it actual means we will be working harder, however we took advantage of the lull in other people’s activity to take a day off ourselves on Sunday and visit Kia’s family.

Ava the lovely Mum
Ava the lovely Mum

They live over the other side of the country but it was a nice day and it meant we got away from the house for a little. Both of Kia’s parents (Ava and Rambo) and her sister (Mia) live together and we absolutely love seeing them and of course the humans they have as pets are not bad either! We went early in the morning so we could be back in plenty of time for our dogs, but as ever got gassing and didn’t end up back home till about 5pm…I wish we lived closer.

Bees nest with 3 layers of honeycomb YUK
Bees nest with 3 layers of honeycomb YUK

So back to work on Monday…it’s like I never left!! We removed the ceilings from the downstairs corridor, the upstairs corridor, the main bedroom and bathroom – finding a large bees nest and a couple of wasps nests in the process – luckily all uninhabited…problem was a shed load of ants that emerged from the downstairs ceiling uuuggghhh I hate ants, little critters are way too clever – they are gone now though so maybe not that clever.

Not sure if you can picture this but upstairs as you go through the main door there is a room to the left (which will be our bedroom), a room to the right (which will be our main bathroom) a corridor down the middle and a small room to the back of the bathroom…we decided to link these two rooms by knocking a hole in the wall. Well we spent the first couple of hours arguing about the wood for the lintel until we settled on a piece (that quietly I think I suggested in the first place but shhhh).

9. DestructionDanDan set about creating the hole – destruction Dan in action….and what did we find, a ready made door frame with thick log beams, all we had to do was raise the lintel as we will be putting in a false floor frame to take the floorboards and to strengthen beneath the 10. doorwaybath…job done. That got us to thinking and we have now exposed the same log door frames around all the other doors upstairs and I think there is a fireplace surround lurking in there somewhere too…

I love this house more and more each day and despite the fact that we have now given ourselves more work, I can see the end result in sight. Roll up the sleeves and get stuck in – tomorrow we go to buy the wood for the frames and boards, then once the frame is down we can start laying the pipes for the central heating (with a little under floor action going on I feel).

Until next time….

Survival Essentials – No. 1 A Sense of Humour

Well Bulgaria is definitely teaching us how to drink, but also how to smile…I don’t think I’ve smiled so much since moving here and not all of it has been alcohol induced I promise! Every day we are working until our backs hurt, our arms ache and our brains are ceased, but stop just before our sense of humour breaks down… as believe me you need one of those to survive out here … not because of the Bulgarians (although they have their moments) – I’ll give you an example.

2. dog penWe spent the whole of Saturday concreting part of our barn so that we could relocate the dog pen, thus ensuring they had sufficient shade from the sun and shelter from the rain at all times of the day. This floor measures approximately 4m x 5m so took us all day to do and apart from filling in the leveling bar gaps on Sunday we took a day off… Monday we put the dogs in it a little too early (a rookie mistake) and they promptly dug it up. 3. repairsWell I say they, mostly it was Kia, who just happens to be ‘my’ dog when she does stuff like this so I too spent the day in the dog house, I also got the job of the running repairs. Whilst the repairs were in progress, Kia was tied on a long strap where the pen used to be…and promptly dug up my potato plants…and looked so pleased about it too – I think it was at this point that Dan saw the funny side of it, it took me a little longer at least until she had chewed her way through her restraining strap…it had us laughing again and Kia got her way as she is now curled up on the bedroom floor watching Dan play Grand Theft Auto and life goes on!

1. BerthaIn fact life is getting a whole lot easier, Bertha is finally buried and will eventually have a gravel top and potted plants, 5. shower roomthe shower room is fully functional so we can at last have a shower in our own home…this is more amazing than you can imagine and we may spend a silly amount of time in this room now it is complete. The change in this room from when we arrived until now is all down to one man, Paul Evans, a true gent, a cracking workman and a good friend, he cannot come more highly recommended…4. dinnerhe has also hooked up our electric cooker so we no longer have to light the fire in 35 degree heat just to cook dinner…as promised we are almost civilised!

6. KitchenThere is still plenty to do obviously, we have started work on our kitchen and are trying to keep a little of the old Bulgarian style about the place by roughly rendering the walls instead of smooth straight plaster…it will of course need painting but we like the look so far. We have bought some real stone tiles for the flooring which have some lovely muted colours (yellow ochre, blues and greys) and Dan has offered to build us a kitchen using as much as the reclaimed wood out of the five little pens we will be dismantling – this should keep the look of the old beam across the fireplace and mix nicely with the stainless steel oven and black fridge-freezer we have bought.

The place is really coming together and we love it more and more each day! The internet is being installed next week so once again that should make things a whole lot easier…for the time being though I’ll just have to get my fun cutting down trees, filling in holes and repairing damage done by the dogs…oh how my life has changed!!

All Systems Go…

The start of the hole for bertha
The start of the hole for bertha

As most of you are aware we now have electricity to add to the list of facilities we are now the proud owners of…well a list of two, water and electric, we are still working on the drainage side of things…but very nearly there!

Bertha nearly buried
Bertha nearly buried

In my last installment we had ordered two able workmen to come and help dig the hole that we had started, well able they might have been but turn up they certainly didn’t so we continued to dig ourselves with more than a little help from our trusty wall-builder, Ashim. Hampered by nights of torrential rain, which meant the mud got really heavy and extremely slippery, followed by afternoons of heavy, close, hot and sweaty in preparation for the next

The soakaway with perforated pipes being placed in position
The soakaway with perforated pipes being placed in position

thunderstorm we have eventually made it… a massive hole to sink the septic tank into, a trench to it from the shower room, a trench from it to the drainfield and an even bigger hole to act as the soak away – now all we need to decide is what we do with all the soil we have left over!!

In terms of the weather though, we have had it pretty good considering. It is really unusual to have this much rain at this time of year here in Bulgaria and it has caused some catastrophic events around the country with many losing their lives in car accidents, mud slides and flash flooding, to be honest in our little spot we have been really lucky – it may have slowed our progress a little, but that is nothing in comparison to some of the damage it has done.

Slowed progress, maybe, but we have progress all the same, in fact we went to choose our tiles for the shower room this weekend just gone and it won’t be long before we will have our first finished room. We actually can’t get over the fact that what was the worst room in the entire house is going to be finished first and it is really coming together – it has had a completely new roof, new guttering, all the old plaster removed from the walls, drainage trenches dug and put in place, new concrete floor, new insulation on the walls and pipes, new windows, new boiler, new shower and toilet suite and finally new tiles – what an achievement – only 6 more rooms to go!!

DSCF2199Oh and in amongst all of this going on – the digging and the plumbing we have also got a whole new set of double glazed windows and doors, and they look fabulous… it really makes it feel like home now, even though we are essentially still ‘camping’ in one room!!

25 Geese

Away from the renovations though, we have some new folks in town and they are absolutely delightful…they are there everyday I cross the bridge to pick up fresh bread, I have watched them walk their first steps and venture out on the water for the first time – they bring a big grin to my face every time I see the family out for a swim. We may just have goose for xmas 🙂

24 DieselDiesel is also growing quickly, he is absolutely devoted to Dan and makes out he quite likes me sometimes too, when we are on our own he is the most loving and loyal little dog, loves playing with Kia and his whole body wags when he sees Hooch, although I’m not too sure Hooch feels the same way…God forbid anyone else that comes into our garden though, he is not even 4 months old yet and we already have to put him in the pen to take in visitors – something tells me he’ll keep us and ours safe when he grows up.

29 wallBack to the house, the barn wall is finished and what an incredible job Ashim and Dan have done – it looks fabulous!! We have also ordered our new petchka, which will heat all our radiators and our hot water throughout winter and also has a small oven… we had to make some compromises as the one we really wanted didn’t have enough power to keep all the radiators and water boiler so we had to lose some of the cooking facilities to make sure we keep warm. That said it is a funky bit of kit and should be here in about two weeks… the kitchen is the next room on the list of ‘to do’…

Plums
Plums

We also have a whole load of fruit growing in our garden that we are donating to our neighbours as we really don’t have time to do anything with it this year…

Grapes
Grapes

although the promise of wine, rakia and jam from our fruit without having

Apples
Apples

to lift a finger sounds pretty inviting…