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…

Well, well, well…

Well not exactly a well, but we do now have water! It has been a long time to sort out but a real blessing and such a delight to just be able to turn on the tap, even if it is just outside for the moment…it certainly beats carrying water from the spring on a daily basis!!

Our newest acquisition
Our newest acquisition

And that’s not the only thing – our septic tank has arrived (Bertha), we have hand dug the hole for it to go in, well if I’m honest we half dug the hole for it to go in. DSCF2174Then in typical English woman style decided it was too piggin’ hot to be digging holes and drafted in some help from the locals…this should arrive Monday. This hole is not the only one we have to dig either (as if 2 x 2 x 2.1 is not bad enough) we have another that is 4 x 4 x 0.8 and a channel from the bathroom to the tank… yeah who said this was going to be easy!?

What goes up must come down first apparently
What goes up must come down first apparently

While I’ve been half doing a job, Dan has been working tirelessly alongside Ashim to firstly take down, then rebuild the barn wall and it is beginning to look like a wall again. DSCF2165Ashim is a great character, he carries all his tools to and from our house (a six kilometer round trip) on his bike…until one day his bike broke down so he turned up on another one with flat tyres…I’m not sure what was wrong with the first one but it must have been pretty terminal…so now he uses my bike until he can get his fixed…aparently at the weekend but this is Bulgaria so watch this space! DSCF2179Rebuilding the wall has been a delicate operation with the roof held up by agro-props and each stone carefully selected and shaped to fit the relevant position. The two guys have worked well together and next week I would anticipate us having a boundary wall again, which would be nice to feel secure again!!

That’s a laugh, religiously we have brought all the tools into the house and put the dogs in the room with them, locked the front gate and padlocked the house, only to find out today that the key to the main gate is apparently a key that everyone has and so anyone can just walk in…so after nine weeks we discover that we might as well leave it all open with a flashing neon sign to lead the guys to anything of any value…mind you they still have to get past our dogs (please anyone in the UK that knows our dogs … stop laughing now!!) At least they look and sound the part…

After five weeks of hassle we finally got a visit from the Electricity man who promptly asked for a bribe to hook up our electric within 3-4 days…and in true English woman style I told him to bugger off and find another mug to pay him… yeah right, after nine weeks with no electric and eight with no water I shook his hand and said just ‘do it’…they are coming on Tuesday to connect us…worth every penny!!

June seems to be the month to get things done, we are also expecting by the end of next week to take receipt of our new double glazed windows and doors, all with flyscreens to keep the little blighters out of our rooms. It has been an unusually bad year for mosquitos due to the crazy amount of rain we got in May, the place is so humid you’d think you were living in the tropics…you only have to step outside the door and you break into a sweat. The thunderstorms here are impressive though, the whole sky lights up, not just for a millisecond but for two or three seconds at a time and the thunder sounds like the sky is splitting apart…real weather!

DSCF2175As most of you know we have been showering (and bathing) at neighbours, in our garden or with friends in the next village, but June is also likely to provide us with our very own shower room – all the drainage system has gone in, the plasterboard is here on site along with more bags of cement than you can shake a stick at.

Shower room roof complete
Shower room roof complete

So this imminent we have been running around trying to buy a shower suite, which cost us all of about £70, a boiler and a log burning ‘do it all system’… the latter being the most difficult and requiring both some compromise and a repair to the Suzuki tyre…yes we got our first puncture on the side of the road having picked up a 10mm piece of metal and the spare wheel being more ornament than use…a local tyre man came out assessed the situation, picked up some tools, took the tyre away, mended it and refitted it…all for around £4.50 – yes we had to wait a while in stifling heat but it was better than calling out our friend all the way from Mihaltsi to come and rescue us…20kms away…surely we wouldn’t have done such a thing… I feel another meal at Stefan’s coming!! (please note I did turn him back once I’d found a tyre man…but still have him on speed dial LOL)

But away from the house renovations there has also been an extraordinary interest in Dan’s BMW – tonight being a case in point when the local shop keeper brought someone down (in a BMW) to look at it and go our for a spin…suitably impressed I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before more arrive at our door. There is a guy in the village nicknamed ‘The Baboon’ that tears around in his BMW that he keeps going with tie wraps, rivets and some sticky-backed plastic and apparently annoys the hell out of his neighbours by playing loud bassy music and spinning his wheels late at night. This same guy comes past our house, waves nicely, toots his horn and generally keeps both speed and decibels to a minimum around us…I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side though as I could end up with two Dan’s, which I’m sure everyone could understand is just one Dan too many 🙂

Tonight we have yet another Russian celebration, this one a little more personal as it is Helena’s birthday so the usual routine, Christine’s for a shower (what would we do without her) then next door to Tim and Helena’s for vast quantities of Vodka…thank God Sunday is a day of rest….

Till next time….

 

Every Day’s a School Day

It has been a week of learning and achieving this week, which has been quite satisfying.

Dog pen in temporary position under the cherry tree
Dog pen in temporary position under the cherry tree

Kia has learnt that teaching the puppy how to play fight is leaving her with very little advantage over the little bugger and it won’t be long before she has to show him who’s boss properly. The pen has finally gone up in a temporary position, which they seem quite happy about… for now!

Hooch has finally learnt that if when asked for his paw he stands on the injured one and gives you the good one that you will be unlikely to believe him when he gives you sad eyes and holds it limply in the air for a sympathy vote… we think he is finally mended and took his final two stitches out this morning.

Pipe that we can't use!
Pipe that we can’t use!

Dan has learnt that not all pipes lead to Rome and that digging for hours in the rain to trace a pipe down the back of our barn to the outside of our property, in all probability means that it runs directly into the river…apart from that now being illegal in our village and all villagers having signed an ‘Act’ to not send waste water into the river, it is also plainly disgusting!! So a septic tank will need to be built after all…meaning I have also learnt that the word ‘budget’ does not exist in the Bulgarian dictionary.

DSCF2156I also learnt that just because your bum fits in the kayak on dry land, getting out of it on water is not quite so simple…however I faired pretty well up and down our river for the first time in many many years…I’d forgotten how much fun it is and we have our first trial couple coming to have a go as soon as the weather picks up.

DSCF2155

Talking of weather we had three days of continuous rain and thunderstorms so loud that we had to have the volume at 100 in the camper to be able to hear the tv. This also means that our lovely clean, clear river that we live next to turned into a raging muddy mess!

Dan, Paul & Jan
Dan, Paul & Jan

In terms of achievements we went out for our postponed dinner with Paul and Jan – great company, lovely food and more importantly we got to have a bath beforehand…YAY

 

DSCF2146The mini has arrived and fired up first time so must like this climate, work has nearly finished on the downstairs bathroom roof, we have a quote for the windows, which is only slightly over estimate. All in all productive and fun week.

DSCF2153This week we start work (with help from Ashim) rebuilding the barn wall… it could be a long week 🙂

A Day Off

Dan & Jan
Dan & Jan

As we had not moved very far from the house since we got here, we thought it was about time to explore this beautiful country, so while Paul cracked on with our new roof, his wife (Jan) and our mutual friend Chris took Dan and I to Emen Gorge.

 

 

The Reservoir
The Reservoir

Literally 5 mins in a car up the road is an Eco-trail, we parked up next to the reservoir and walked into the woods. It was a fabulous day weather-wise and we enjoyed the shade of the trees as we ascended towards the waterfall.

DSCF2122With all DSCF2138the rain we have had lately it was gushing with force over the ridge, churning up the water below and deafening its visitors, but it was still great for Kia to cool off in despite being a little too rough for swimming on this occasion…a great excuse to come back again another time!

 

DSCF2124More climbing and crossing of little wooden bridges, fabulous views across and down into the gorge, this is definitely one of many reasons to visit Bulgaria and it is right on our doorstep!

DSCF2130We walked to the little village of Emen and enjoyed a couple of bottles of grapefruit beer (you have to try it to believe it) and a plate of chips and cheese before making the return journey via a slightly different route through the dappled sunlight of the woods.

DSCF2126Sunburnt shoulders, a very tired dog and smiles on our faces we returned home to find Paul had made good progress on the roof…result! DSCF2131And what’s more the fireflies are out tonight, what a perfect end to a relaxing day…

Oh BeeHave!

 

Tim in toast mode :-)
Tim in toast mode 🙂

This has probably bee…n one of the hardest weeks of my life, I was seriously considering going back to work for a rest!!

Paul, Helena, Christine, Dan
Paul, Helena, Christine, Dan

Firstly the Friday night ‘thank you’ to Paul & Jan went a little out of the window as we all got invited to a Russian celebration in the village and collectively gave it the big thumbs up and promptly spent the evening in some lovely company, eating some fabulous food cooked up by Helena and drinking vast quantities of high quality vodka provided by Tim.

Not so hard you may think, but the next day things started to go down hill a little, not only was I nursing a very slight hangover but on one of my normal trips to the spring to collect water (no we haven’t sorted that out yet) I got attacked by two bees…one got caught in my hair the other in my jacket – and due to me inadvertently killing one of them, they called friends and chased us back into the house where we hid for a couple of hours until they calmed down. Said jacket is still hanging out on the wing mirror of the RV just in case 🙂

I didn’t get stung but couldn’t understand the motivation of the bees, having never had a problem before…needless to say I was now extremely nervous around them and as my neighbour has several hives it was becoming a real issue for both of us. We assumed it was because he was working in the hives and had agitated them but even considered moving house to somewhere in the middle of nowhere with no bloody bee keepers…yes seriously we considered this.

18. ElenaWe spotted a lovely place in the mountains near Elena and went to have a look…not a hive in sight and with views to die for. The house was a little too small and the land not perfect, but the location was amazing with a river at the bottom of the garden, it was almost tempting until on the way back to the car I once again got attacked by a bee!!

OK so even the wild bees didn’t like me (or did) so it was definitely my problem not the local inhabitants…three attacks – one on Dan’s eye and two in my hair…common denominator? Perfume! Yes the only three times I have worn my perfume (FlowerBomb – DOH why didn’t I see that coming) were Vlodia’s birthday (the day before Dan’s eye incident), Tim & Helena’s VE celebrations (the day before my first attack) and to go and see the house in Elena…so smelly Jane it is from now on!!

13. BeekeeperJust to be on the safe side though we have now planted mint around our house, changed our shampoo and conditioner, sprayed Fendona everywhere and invested in the next fashion accessory to hit the catwalks in Musina…’the beekeeper’…you wait they’ll all be wearing them at the next Ascot outing.

Wood arrived
Wood arrived

So bees seemingly coped with we ordered our wood for the winter circa £110 for all our heating, hot water and cooking for the year not bad economics…it was due to arrive on Monday evening and in true Bulgarian style was delivered on Thursday morning!17. wood chopped Our local Roma friend worked really hard all day chainsawing it into manageable sizes, whilst we moved it, split it and stacked it – well most of it anyway…still some to do next time we’re bored.

15. the beastOn the same day we had another delivery of our crap from England, including Dan’s BMW which raised some eyebrows amongst the locals…and we finally have sofas but of course nowhere to put them just yet…leko po leko as they say round here (little by little).

 

14. cherriesToday Diesel has been for his first round of injections and was a brave little man, seemingly quite enjoying the ride in the back of the jeep…our cherries are ripening well on our trees and the beans I planted last week are now abut 3 inches high, things really do grow round here.

Work starts on the roof on Monday (today) – rebuilding one part, renewing all the guttering and cementing ridge tiles and someone is popping by to give us a quote on the barn wall too, exciting stuff. Next is plumbing and drainage…couple of quotes in and we make an astounding discovery…a drainage pipe leading to a septic pit / soakaway…more investigation is needed before we invest in alternatives that take us over budget.

22. morning sunJoin us in a week’s time when we will have dug our way into or out of the sh*t…quite literally.

J&D