The Tiny Room

As we have more family arriving next month and only one bedroom, we decided to convert the small room that is off the Living room into a bedroom. The room is rather small but just big enough to squeeze a double mattress in it. After filling in the cracks and painting the walls, we then made a bed base as we didn’t have one. Surprisingly it was quite easy to build even tho we had to build it in sections, as we had to fit it together in the room otherwise we wouldn’t have got it in. We built it higher than a usual bed so that we could use it as storage. Base made, mattress on….finished. Realised that once the mattress was on, the bed was a little high so we had to build a little stool to help us get on the bed haha. Decorated it in a shabby chic style and I love it. Ok so it’s a little girly but so cosy. We decided its going to be our winter bedroom as it has no windows, so no draft !

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Belogradchik Rocks

Today we went to see the famous Belogradchik Rocks, nominated for the Eighth Wonder of the World and after seeing them for ourselves, well all I can say it is truly breathtaking. The view from the top of the rocks is amazing and all I can say was definitely worth going. Spectacular scenery, fantastic rock formations, pine forests, mountains and the forte. Although we took several photos they certainly don’t do the scenery justice, I really do recommend going to see for yourself.

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Time To Reflect

Well it’s 6.30 in the morning, Andy and the dogs are fast asleep, outside the sheep are getting herded up to the field, i can hear the village cockerels crowing, dogs barking, the odd car going down the road and I’m sitting with my cup of tea, reflecting on our life so far, here in Bulgaria. It’s only been 16 weeks since our arrival, yet it feels so much longer! Looking back, I can’t believe how much we have achieved in such a short space of time. Ok, it’s fair to say that the work we have done is far from perfect in places, but our house is liveable and comfortable and almost ready for the winter. Apart from the bathroom and the small guest bedroom,( which we are tackling at the moment ), all the rooms will be done again, the outside of the house needs rendering, new windows need to be fitted, the garden needs a complete overhaul, etc, etc, but we will tackle all that next year, but by then we will have a lot more time and a better knowledge of how to tackle things. Some people think we are crazy doing it ourselves, but aside from the tight budget, we enjoy learning new skills and it gives us a great sense of achievement when we manage to do something we have never done before ( when it turns out right of course ). Ok, renovating a house yourself with limited funds and only a small amount of building knowledge is not exactly a bed of roses at times. We have had our stressful moments ( the plumbing !), our arguments over the best way to do things, ( I’m stubborn so I don’t give in easily haha), tools have gone flying due to frustration ( mostly by Andy !) and a few tears have been shed ( all by me because I’m a woman !) but even through all the difficult times, there is a positive side. We have learnt new skills and we are improving all the time, we are learning to work as a team ( important when your with each other 24/7), a sense of achievement and satisfaction ( the best feeling in the world ) and last but not least, and just as important, especially on a small budget, finding ways to use what we have to make things, rather than just buying it .
So next on my moment of reflection,is our life here. It’s strange how after only being here for a short time, it already feels like home. We live in a lovely village with wonderful neighbours, surrounded by beautiful countryside, great weather ( at the moment anyway! ), met some really nice people and met a lovely ex-pat couple that have become our dearest friends, life doesn’t get much better. Do we miss the UK, not in a million years. There is only one thing we miss and that of course is our families. That is the hardest thing to cope with here, not being able to just pop down the road to see our parents, I became an Auntie recently but it will be a while before I get to see my beautiful niece. It was my Sons birthday the other day and i missed not being able to wish him properly. The last few days have been a struggle for me as I have felt homesick, not for my previous life in the UK but because I really miss my children more than anything. That’s the only downside of moving abroad, having to leave loved ones behind but at least there is the Internet and mobile phones, makes the separation a little easier.
We still haven’t been able to master the language,although we have learnt a few words but we are becoming experts at charades! One of our neighbours keeps telling me off, saying I need to learn Bulgarian and then laughs at me because I keep saying ‘sorry’. Another neighbour and his wife are trying to learn English a little,so they can talk to us, which we thought was sweet of them. More and more of the villagers are starting to talk to us, I think it’s because they have now realised we are not here on holiday but here to live and therefore more accepting of us. Ok, so it all sounds so lovely and rosy, most of the time it is, although to be truthful, at times, it’s hard to work out what is the right thing to do or say so as not to offend, or to understand their ways, but these things take time and I think we are slowly learning to appreciate their ways, as I’m sure they are learning ours.
Looking back to a few weeks before we were to embark on our new life here, I must admit, I was scared and unsure if it was the right thing to do, after all we we moving to a country we had never visited, into a house we bought but had never seen,apart from photos. Yes, I suppose we were stark raving mad but in all honesty,I’m so glad we took that risk. Granted,it has been difficult at times and yes it’s bloody hard work. I’m sure we will have several mountains to climb, battles to fight and a few tears to shed, but if it means we have our little piece of heaven, it will be worth it.
Well as much as I’d like to sit around all day reflecting, I cant, I’m afraid my glamorous life awaits me……..time to go weed the garden !!!!

At last !

At long last we have finally finished the bathroom. It’s been a lot of blood,sweat and tears but we got there in the end. Considering we have done everything , plumbing, wiring, tiling, woodwork etc our selves and we are far from experts in any way, shape or form, we are pretty pleased with the end result 🙂

20130816-213806.jpg The picture was taken with an IPhone using the panoramic setting, so it looks a little weird but it enabled me to take a picture of the whole bathroom.

Ilinden ( St. Elijah’s Day ) Feast

It’s been extremely hot recently, ( over 50c in the sun ), that we haven’t been able to do as much as usual. The heat just drains all our energy and although most of the work we are doing is in the house, even with the fans on, we are still dripping with sweat. The only bonus to this heat, is we are loosing weight ! As we still have lots to do before our next influx of family visits, we decided to get up earlier so that we can get as much done as possible, while it is a little cooler and before mid-day when the temperature soars. So on Thursday (1st August) we got up at 6am, and after a coffee, it was outside to see to our usual morning chores ( veg plot, sort dogs, hang washing, etc). Once all that was done then we were able to get on with finishing the woodwork in the bathroom. By around 1pm we had managed to get quite a lot done and the rest of the day was just pottering and trying to keep cool. So we decided that, while the hot weather is here, we will get up early every day and take advantage of the slightly cooler morning. Not really rocket science since that’s what Bulgarians do anyway!
Next day we were up bright and early. We had been beavering away for about an hour when one of the villagers stopped us. He preceded to have an hour long conversation with us even though we kept telling him we didn’t understand, then he decided to show us how to look after our veg plot. As much as we appreciate the help and try as hard as we can converse with our neighbours it’s all now getting a little confusing. So far we have 4 neighbours, not only come in our garden to tend to some of our veg but each tells us different things, so now we are not sure what’s right and what’s wrong. Anyway, after he left, we carried on with our work but that didn’t last long because another of our neighbours and her friend stopped us. Couldn’t quite grasp what she was asking us, so her friend got her son, who could speak a little English, to explain. Turns out they wanted take us to a village feast. We were instructed to take 2 bowls, spoons and bread. So, after a few minutes rushing around putting tools away and changing our clothes, we jumped in our van with our neighbours and drove off to our destination which was about 1km away. Out our village and straight into the countryside, literally! We were told to follow a track, if you can call it that, until eventually we were told to stop and park the van at the bottom of a hill. The gathering was at the top of the hill and by the time we reached the top we were all gasping, god that hill was steep and the heat wasn’t helping.
There was a small gathering of our villagers when we arrived but as minutes went by more and more turned up. There were fires burning and pots of soup cooking over them. Some of the villages were preparing salads, others were serving up drinks ( including the lethal Rakia !). A priest was present ( not sure exactly what his title was) and we were told he would be making a speech and doing a blessing. Candles were given to each of us, which we lit, then the’ sermon’ commenced. After about 15 minutes it was over and the feast commenced. Our bowls were filled with soup, ‘sausages and burgers’ ( not the English kind, don’t really know what they are called), bread,salad and sweetcorn were also served to us. To be completely honest we didn’t like the soup, it was swimming with oil and it had small lumps of sheep fat in it. We both tried really hard to eat some of it but in the end just couldn’t stomach it. The trouble is we didn’t want to say we didn’t like it as we didn’t want to offend anyone, especially as they were kind enough to invite us, so we just said we had already eaten before we came out. But in our defence we did eat a little of everything that was offered! Although it was a lit awkward because of the language barrier and we really wasn’t sure what to expect, it was an enjoyable few hours. It’s nice to have been included in the village activities and it helps us to integrate a little more and to get to know a few more of our lovely neighbours. We later found out the gathering was in honour of St Elijah, a prophet who, in various Bulgarian folk law he is held responsible for summer storms, hail, rain, thunder and dew.
By the time we returned home it was too late in the afternoon and far too hot to continue where we left off, but it was definitely not a waste of a day. It was our first invite to one of our village’s gatherings and in a way it felt like we had been accepted, its definitely a day to remember with a smile!

20130805-163809.jpg Entering the countryside.

20130805-163907.jpg Trekking up the steep hill !

20130805-164006.jpg The blessing

20130805-164058.jpg Everyone enjoying their food and conversation.

20130805-164141.jpg Back down the dreaded hill !