Moaning Minnie !!!

I’ve decided it’s time to have a good old moan today because it’s a miserable day and I’m in a negative mood. I’m a woman, so it’s my prerogative !
So where do I start ? Ahh yes, dare I say it, yes I will…the bloody weather! It’s raining again for the hundredth time, I’m starting to feel like I’m back in the UK ! These past few months it’s like someone in the sky keeps turning the tap on and off just to p**s us all off. One minute it’s a beautiful, hot sunny day, the next the heavens have opened and suddenly we’re living in a castle surrounded by a moat ( well not exactly a castle, but I’m sure you get the picture ). So annoying when you’ve spent the morning clearing the garden of weeds for the hundredth time, the veg plot is looking good, grass has been cut and the washing is on the line drying, then all of a sudden the sky turns grey, the slight, welcoming breeze turns into a strong gust of wind and then,within minutes, torrential rain! Not much fun looking out the window, watching your veggies getting hammered to near death, your garden turning into a river and that load of lovely clean washing that was drying nicely on the line, now dripping wet grrrr.
Ok so the rain doesn’t always last for very long ,( to be fair we have had quite a few extremely hot, sunny days ) but it’s amazing how destructive the rain can be to the garden. Even though it’s not long before the sun comes out, my garden ends up being one big mud pit. Which leads me on to the next moan…..muddy dog prints !
Why is it that dogs feel the need to go in and out every 5 seconds when it’s raining but not when it’s sunny ?! Ok, so my hallway floor is Lino, so, easy to clean and I do put a couple of big towels down so that when they come in,it helps soak up some of the mud, or it would if they actually walked on them instead or around like they do ! I have tried to get them to sit on the towels while I dry them but they think it’s some sort if game, resulting in them getting so excitable that they start jumping around like crazy. Yep you guessed it, muddy paw prints everywhere except on the towels 🙁 . My reward for my efforts at trying to train my dogs, is spending the rest of the day sweeping and mopping the floors ( I’m changing my name to Cinderella ! ).
That’s the weather out of the way,so moan no.2…….mosquitoes. Nasty, annoying little buggers! Last year, as some of you might remember, I got eaten alive and in a bad way, this year isn’t quite as bad, as in, they haven’t swollen up as much but the mozzies still see me as a tasty treat. I decided this year I’d be a bit more sensible. I made sure I spray repellant before I ventured out, put joggers on instead of shorts regardless of the temperature and thin socks on to protect my ankles. Well I thought my change of summer attire would save me somewhat from the little buggers…..wrong! The other day, whilst eating my dinner ( inside ), I felt a slight itching on my thigh which gradually got worse and was going further down my leg. No surprise to me that a mozzie had somehow found it’s way inside my joggers, so off came the joggers to see what damage it had done. 14 bloody bites running down my thigh ! To add insult to injury, while I was standing there half naked, shaking my joggers to death to make sure I removed the offending insect, I got bitten 3 times on my lower back ! Not impressed especially as the guilty offender was nowhere to be found. So I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what concoction I spray on or what clothing I wear, unless I completely wrap myself from head to toe in cling film, I’m not going to escape from being bitten. So looks like I’m going to spend the rest of the summer and autumn constantly scratching like some flea bitten mutt, waking up every night by the incessant itching and swearing profusely every time a mozzie comes near me.
Talking about insects…..the flies are no better. They are everywhere, buzzing round my head, taunting me. Funny how they seem to do a vanishing act when I get the rolled up magazine ready to swat them to death but when I give up trying to hunt them down, they are back, using me as a landing strip. There is one buzzing round me now as I’m typing which is about to meet his death !
Then there’s the wasps, beetles, barn flies, daddy long legs, carpenter bees, etc, etc. The other day I was just about to go through the wooden gate to check on my potatoes and I hadn’t seen the carpenter bee on the gate, boring a neat hole in the wood to lay her eggs, until it started to attack me ! So there I am, running around the garden like some crazed chimp, arms flailing in the air trying to stop this big, black angry bee from getting me. I must have scared my spaniel Twix because he took one look at me and darted back into the house, I found him hiding in my bedroom . Actually I think I’ve scarred him for life because every time I wave my arm in the air to swipe one of the many insects, he runs away and hides haha . Oh I did forget to mention ants. This year, for some reason ( maybe something to do with the erratic weather ) my whole garden is swarming with ants. Now I’m not too worried about there being so many ants until they start finding their way into my house, especially the kitchen ! And now they have. I’ve tried using all the natural, home made remedies to rid the kitchen of ants but to no avail. My shopping list yesterday consisted of ant killer, fly and wasp spray, mosquito repellant and insect bite cream, so today I’m armed an dangerous !
Well i think that’s my moaning over and done with, for now anyway. For those of you reading this, sorry. On a more positive note, the sun is coming out, so time to go back out and battle with the mozzies !

One Year On !

So it’s been one year ( actually one year and three weeks ),since we arrived in Bulgaria and what a year it’s been. After a lot of discussions and plenty of soul searching, we have come to the conclusion that it’s time to go back to the UK !!! ……………Just joking 🙂
A year ago we arrived in a country we had never visited, to a house we had only seen pictures of, unable to speak or understand the language and to a new lifestyle that was going to be completely opposite to how we lived in the UK. One word that could sum it all up….. crazy !
People say, that when you relocate to another country, you should at least give it a full year before deciding if you have made the right choice. I couldn’t agree more. This past year has been a mixture of roller coaster emotions, a few tears, good times and bad and plenty of soul searching. There have been moments where I have struggled, mostly because I could no longer see my kids on a regular basis. I struggled with the winter, not because of the cold, more due to cabin fever, I loathe being stuck inside for days on end.
Despite the odd struggles, we have fallen in love with Bulgaria. Not only is the country beautiful but we have found the people warm, generous and extremely helpful. We have lovely neighbours that have welcomed us with open arms and we have met a lovely English couple who have helped us so much and have become close friends. We love the village life, so peaceful and stress free and we’ve learnt a lot . Not only about how to grow our own veg but how to recycle everything. It’s amazing what you can do or make ( with a little imagination ) with things you find in the garden or house.
Everything we are doing to the house or garden, we are doing ourselves. It’s been difficult and stressful at times and a huge learning curve but there’s an enormous satisfaction and a sense of achievement whenever we complete a job.
Since being here, our lifestyle has completely changed,for the better I might add. If we’re not working on the house, we are outdoors working in the garden enjoying the weather which has improved our health tremendously. Andy has been asthmatic all his life, every month in the UK, he would go through four salbutamol inhalers and two seretide inhalers. Since being here he only uses one salbutamol every 6-8 weeks and no longer takes the seretide, plus he’s lost over 4 stone in weight ( which has obviously helped his asthma ). I have also lost a little weight and I feel a lot fitter, mainly due to all the work we’ve been doing and eating healthier due to us growing a lot of our own veg.
The language barrier can be difficult at times and have caused us problems at times, like the other week when we were having a conversation with our neighbour ( more of a game of charades really ), trying to explain our plans for the garden. We were telling them we planned to have chickens next year, they asked how many, we said 10. Our neighbour proceeded to have a half hour conversation about chickens, which we struggled to understand exactly what she was saying other than the few words ‘chicken, 10, shop and telephone ‘. Well the following week she came round to tell us we had to go and collect our chickens from a shop! Yes it turns out she ordered 10 chickens for us ! So the day was spent running around like ‘ headless chickens’ trying to sort out a place for the chickens and a secure run! Now, I hasten to say, we try to be careful in what we say 🙂 . We are slowly learning the language but it is a struggle, mostly for me, Andy seems to pick it up easier but I’m sure we’ll get to grips with it in time.
So here we are, one year on and all that’s left to really say is what an amazing year we’ve had. Would we change it for the world…no. Do we have any regrets…..no. Would we consider going back to live in the UK….never!
Bulgaria is now our home 🙂

Spring Has Arrived !

At last, spring has finally arrived and I couldn’t be more happier :). We survived the winter by the skin of our teeth and so glad it wasn’t as bad as it should have been. We now know roughly what to expect and hopefully we will be better prepared for the next one. Looks like we have a lot more work to add to our expanding list ! I must admit Andy dealt with winter a lot better than me emotionally. I found it a struggle being stuck indoors 24/7 and I was definitely getting cabin fever, Andys ears are proof of that! The boredom drove me slightly nuts, I became very irritable and of course Andy got the brunt of it haha. Once the snow cleared, then came the rain, day after day of bloody rain ! Over a week of solid, unrelenting rain. Within a few days we had gone from a garden covered in deep, white snow, to a brown, muddy quagmire arghhhh ! Yes, I’m now going to vent a little. Two dogs and an extremely muddy garden results in a nightmare. Constantly trying to wipe paws, sweep and mop the floor a hundred times a day just about drove me to insanity. Even worse were the times I forgot to close the kitchen or living room doors before letting the dogs in and before I had a chance to stop them, there were muddy paw prints on the carpet and settee !!! To add insult to injury, when I was trying to Hoover up during one of these nightmare days, my Hoover decided to die a death but not before it blew out a big puff of dust everywhere ! All I can say is I had murder on my mind that day !
Anyway less of the moaning now, we have survived the hardest part of the year and now Spring is here and months of mostly sunshine ahead of us 🙂
These last four days have been exceptionally beautiful, clear blue skies and wall to wall sunshine. There is nothing more exhilarating than to feel the warm sun on your face and the way it make you feel like your bursting with energy. Now that the sun is here it’s time to get back to some hard grafting, which is exactly what we have been doing for the past four days. We have been digging, clearing rubble, pruning, chopping wood ( lots and lots of wood! ), filling in a large hole in the garden, taking down fences and mending fences and moving the caravan. It’s amazing how our garden looks so much bigger now we have managed to clear all the crap.
Next on our list is clearing a patch in the front garden and rotorvating it ready for planting our vegetables. Now that we have been here almost a year, we have a clearer view as to how we want our garden but it’s going to take us a long time to get it the way we want it. In October last year we sewed some grass seeds and that is now growing and there are flower bulbs appearing all over the garden, daffidols, tulips, crocus, hyacinth and some that I haven’t a clue what they are haha. My onions I planted last year are sprouting nicely, as is my strawberries and raspberries. I’m really looking forward to planting the veg and sowing lots more flower seeds, I’m not exactly green fingered so it’s going to be a case of plant them and pray !
So much work ahead of us over the next 7 months and no doubt a few problems and tantrums along the way but we’re looking forward to it now the sun is shining ! 🙂

Busy In The Garden !

Since our last guests departed it’s been back to work, this time in the garden. Our first project was to build a new surround for our outside sink and a raised border where our drainage pipes ran, as we needed to make sure all the pipework is protected,(as much as possible), from the winter months that is soon to be upon us. As we are trying to use as much recyclable material as possible, we purchased 300 used bricks from our neighbour (50 Levs), used tiles from part of our barn that we dismantled previously and wood left over from one of our projects.
The weather has been unbelievable for this time of year, with temperatures reaching as high as 44c in the sun, great weather but not the best for working in! There is one bonus though, working in that sort of heat certainly makes you loose weight, Andy has lost 3 stone since being here! The only downside to this weather is the bloody flies, they insist on hovering around our faces, most annoying when your trying to work! It took us 4 days to complete and we are quite happy with the end result and to top it off, our neighbours seem to approve, which is a bonus :).
Next task was to tackle the overgrown trees. Our apple tree was extremely over grown, I don’t think it had been pruned for years. It was so tall that it was growing through the electric cables, so it definitely had to be pruned right down. Andy had to do the top branches bit by bit so as not to knock the cables, then came the larger branches. One of the branches Andy had cut got entangled in the tree so Andy decided to rip it free , which he managed to do with brute force and ignorance. The next thing I know he’s flying across the garden! He landed on the concrete path, just missing the wall with his head. I obviously asked if he was ok, then proceeded to laugh, so much so, I had tears streaming down my face! I know I shouldn’t laugh but it was funny even though he dislocated his little finger! I can pretty much guarantee that if one of us was to get an injury, it’s always Andy. It’s a good job I brought plenty of bandages, tablets, platers, creams etc although a huge ball of cotton wool might have been better haha.
When we finally finished, the front garden was covered in branches. I think maybe we were a little over zealous, the poor apple tree is now a shadow of its former self. The quince tree was next on our hit list and I’m afraid it didn’t get much sympathy either! All I can say is hopefully they will recover next year but at least we have plenty of firewood for next year. The few vines we had have also been ripped out as they were old but we will be planting new ones to replace them.
As our garden is yet to be done properly, it doesn’t have much in the way of grass. I decided to make a temporary path to go round the side of our house to where our van is parked so we are not walking through mud when it rains. I gathered all the broken bricks I could find and laid them as best as I could to form a path. Not my idea to be honest, I got the idea from a fellow expat ( sorry Paul ). It turned out quite well and should do the job for now, although I did have to nick some from the side wall of our barn !
I’m now looking forward to spring when we can plant some new plants and flowers because,to be honest, we’ve got so carried away, that the garden looks bare and exposed, but at least we have a blank canvas to work with……….

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How Generous are our Neighbours !

We really can’t get over how generous our neighbours are, always giving and never expecting anything in return. Today I wanted to prune our huge apple tree as the branches were being pulled down by the sheer weight of all the apples. I have already picked vast amounts off the tree the past few weeks and to be honest there is only so many apples I’m prepared to peel, we have even decided to try to make some cider. Anyway I decided to give some of our apples to our neighbours as a way of returning some of their generosity but by doing that, in return, they gave us a load of vegetables from their gardens, its becoming a vicious circle ! So here I am once again surrounded by loads more cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, etc. I was even given some lovely flowers. So it looks like I will be spending the afternoon making more jars of preserved veg, I wouldn’t mind nut I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing. It’s a case of making it up as I go along and hoping for the best but still, it’s a learning process and that’s part of the pleasure of living here in Bulgaria.
If anyone has any ideas for preserving tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers etc I would be more than grateful, but please keep it simple as I’m still wearing my ‘L’ plates haha. Please leave ideas in comment box.

20130731-124519.jpg. My lovely flowers.

20130731-124602.jpg. From my generous neighbours !

Fast Forward….part 1

Well I’ve been reading my own blogs and realised I’m a little behind with the updates, so thought I’d best write an update on what we’ve been up to the last couple of weeks…..
As I’ve already mentioned, the weather has been very hot and it’s been a struggle to get things done. Andy kept saying we should put the pool up so that we could go for a dip every now and then to cool down,but I kept saying that the back garden needed to be done first as it was a mess and also needed to be flattened in order to put the pool up. I eventually gave in as the heat was getting too much and our eagerness to get things done was waning. After gathering all the rugs and blankets we could find,( that came with the house and we were going to dump), we laid them on the grass and preceded to set our pool up. It took 3 hours to fill and, although it was slightly lopsided because of the garden, it looked very inviting. Hot and sweaty by this time, we decided to jump in to cool down……oh my god, it was bloody freezing! We had bought a couple of inflatable rings to sit and float in the water, word of advice, ‘always read the label ‘. They weren’t exactly adult size as we thought so trying to sit on them and stay afloat just wasn’t going to happen, Andy’s just sunk to the bottom as soon as he sat on it and I just tipped over into the ice cold water! Suffice to say they were flung out the pool. After about an hour we decided to get out as a dark cloud had descended upon us, a storm was coming. Just our luck that when we finally decided to put the pool up, it decides to rain! It had been 35 degrees so we thought the storm brewing would just be the usual thunder, lightning and rain for about an hour….how wrong could we be! Before we knew it the heavens opened and not only did it chuck it down with rain but we were pelted with extremely large hailstones! Freaky weather or what? It was coming down with such force that we were sure the windows were going to be smashed. The thunder and lightning was above us and hovered over us for a good few hours. Quite spectacular to see as it was evening by this time and the sky was lit up by the cracking of the thunder and lightning, a bit like watching a firework display. Because of the storm we ended up with a power cut. Not usually a problem except it was extremely muggy (29 degrees) and as it was late we decided nothing else to do but go to bed, only we couldn’t have a fan on, so trying to get to sleep was a struggle. It was so hot and sticky and opening every door in the house just didn’t help. The electric did eventually come back on sometime in the early hours and it was a godsend, finally we were able to cool down and get some sleep.
We woke up to a very disheartening scene. The storm had left a trail of destruction in the garden. Our vegetables had been flattened, our huge apple tree that was full, was now only half full, the other half were on the floor,the buckets that I leave outside for the garden and hand pump were now colanders, our newly laid drainage pipe had a big hole in it, etc,etc. the garden looked like a bomb had hit it. We found half a brick on Andys van windscreen which had fallen off the chimney, luckily it hadn’t caused any damage. We were lucky compared to some people, one person we knew, his car had dents all over it and we felt for our neighbours as they are fully reliant on their crops, so it must have been soul destroying to see some of their crops ruined. It took us a day to clear up all the mess and to sort the veg plot out. It was now a case of just waiting to see if they survive. It’s funny how just a freaky storm like that can do so much damage but can also make you appreciate things more.
Since the storm we haven’t really had a chance to enjoy the pool again, in a way it’s given us the motivation to get back to sorting all the things we need to do before winter descends. Our next chore on the list is to get the bathroom completed…..finally
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Our slightly lopsided pool!

Working In A Heatwave…..

The weather has been so hot just lately, some days reaching 37 degrees centigrade and at night only going down to 26C. Even though it is only June,we still had to get our supply of wood in for winter, so that we could get it all chopped and dried in time before the cold weather sets in. Our friends were kind enough to order some for us, as they had to order some for themselves, which meant they were able to get the wood at a slightly cheaper price. They ordered 10 cubic metres for us, as that’s roughly how much we would need to see us through the winter, all we had to do was collect it from their house, which is about 25 minutes away. Not a problem…. Or so we thought!
We decided to go early in the morning as it would be a lot cooler, so we set off at 7.30. It was a relief to wake up to a cloudy morning, although it was 22C, but at least it was cooler than it had been. The wood had been piled on our friends drive, they even parked their car on the road so we could get our van as close as possible. They had family staying, so were really apologetic that they couldn’t help as they were going out, which was nice of them, even though we weren’t expecting them to help. The pile of wood was big but not as big as we thought it would be. We thought maybe a few trips, we should be finished by lunch time…..wrong!
The logs ( more like trunks ) were oak, cut to 1 metre lengths and weighed a bloody ton! I struggled to lift the big ones with Andy, so I had to leave him to load the big ones while I searched for smaller ones. Even the smaller ones were heavy and I’m no wimp, but I was struggling. Poor Andy had to do most of the loading while I tried to help stack them in the van. Because of the weight we could only load a quarter of the van or we would be over loaded and would struggle to get off the drive,as it was on quite a steep slope. The realisation that it would take us about 4 trips suddenly sank in, it was going to be a long day! When we arrived home, we then had to unload it all and stack it in the barn. The first run took us 2 hours and we were already getting hot, sweaty and tired. After a 10 minute water break, it was back to do it again. By lunch time we had done 2 loads, the sun had come out and the temperature had risen to 34 C, we were shattered.
We decided to stop for lunch as we hadn’t yet eaten. Our agent popped in which delayed us a little, so our lunch break lasted an hour. Watered and stomachs filled, it was off to load the third lot of wood but it didn’t take long before the heat zapped our energy. Sweat dripping, hands sore and aching, we just wanted to be finished, but the more we looked at the pile of wood, the more it just seemed to never go down. We were so tired that by the time we returned home with the third load, we decided to just push them out the back van door, straight onto the garden. When we finally went to pick up our last load, our friends had returned home and were kind enough to help us load the final lot, I have never been so grateful as I was then. We final returned home with our last load at 6 pm, it had taken us just over 10 hours including our water and lunch break. As you can imagine we were knackered, dirty and sweaty. Its funny but looking at all the wood now we had it home, 10 cubic metres is a hell of a lot of wood. All I can say is, next time we will be buying our wood in March when it’s cooler and we will order it already chopped !

Plamen our agent

If there was an award for helpfulness,kindness,patience and generosity, then our agent Plamen would win it by a mile. Since arriving in Bulgaria, Plamen has offered his services by helping us whenever we require it, but what he has done for us so far has gone beyond the call of duty!
Take yesterday ( Saturday ) for example. He arranged to meet us in Vidin at 8am to take us to the market to buy the plants we wanted for our vegetable garden. Obviously we had the problem with the language barrier, but also we really didn’t have a clue about growing veg, only the basics. Plamen of course, lives as most Bulgarians , a self-sufficient life, so in our eyes he was the perfect person to help. We wondered round the market, selecting the veg we wanted to plant, whilst Plamen explain the different types of tomatoes, peppers etc. After about over an hour, we had finished and all our hands were full of bags of plants. We had a selection of tomatoes ( cherry,pink and beef), cucumbers ,Peppers ( sweet and hot ), cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, oh and some pansies for my flower patch. Now it doesn’t sound a lot, but trust me, there was a lot of plants! This year our plot is sort of a test for us, to see what we can grow, how to tend it and how much we will need to plant next year to be relatively self sufficient. It’s just a shame it was too late to plant potatoes.
Plants selected and as we were in the city, it was then off to Plamens office for him to complete some paperwork we needed for the bank and police station. In order for us to get an ID card, which is compulsory in Bulgaria, we had to open a bank account. Each person has to have 3720 Levs in an account as proof you can support yourself, before you can get an ID card ( residency card). Plamen however forgot to mention the amount was each, so I only brought enough for one person, so we decided that we would sort Andy’s out first. Plamen did all the translating at the bank for us, all Andy had to do was sign the paperwork and there was a lot of it ! Took some time but bank sorted, it was off to the police station and yet more paperwork ! Whilst Plamen was sorting that out, we nipped across the road to another bank to make the payment for the ID card and admin fees, a grand total of 49 Levs ! Eventually after about an 90 minutes, everything was sorted, ID card would be ready to collect in 3 days.
Finally it was off to the mobile phone shop to get a contract for new SIM cards for our phones. Yet again more paperwork ! This was also a slow process and all I can say Plamen must have the patience of a saint !
So far it had been a long day and by the time we left Vidin it was 3.45 pm but the day wasn’t over yet ! Plamen nipped home to change into gardening clothes while we headed home. It’s about a 40 minute drive home and we had only been home for about 20 minutes, when Plamen arrived to help plant our veg. He brought with him quite a few jars of vegetables he had preserved, for us to try, which I thought was extremely kind of him. He also said he will show us how to preserve our veg when it’s ready. Along with the jars, he brought us some home made Rakia, the famous Bulgarian tipple!
It was getting late and there was a lot of planting to be done. So it’s just past 5pm, sun still streaming ( 28 degrees ) and there’s Plamen, barefoot, hoe in hand, digging our garden, while we stood around watching, feeling like spare parts, not knowing what to do to help. Eventually Andy was able to help Plamen with the planting and I did some irrigating but most of it was done by Plamen , purely because he knew what to do and we were completely clueless! During the process, he explained how to plant the veg, how much room they required and how to irrigate each variety. Plamen worked like a horse, stopping only to drink water and have a cigarette, he wouldn’t even eat anything even though I offered him dinner, just kept working. It was 9.45pm, dark,and sweaty and tired, Plamen and Andy had finally finished. All the planting had been done, Andy was tired and bitten all over and Plemen was covered in dirt but they were happy with the end result and so was I , although feeling really guilty that I hardly did any of it. When Plamen left, we finally ate our dinner, it would have been rude to eat while Plamen was working so we chose to wait. The conversation at dinner was about Plamen, we couldn’t believe how kind and generous he has been, or how much he has helped us and to spend nearly 5 hours doing our garden, well what can we say, not a lot as we are speechless! We have never met anyone who would do so much, give so much of their time and energy for two people they hardly know and in return ask for nothing. Plamen is a truly wonderful, genuine person and in our eyes a friend for life! One day we hope we can return the favour ………

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Our Garden In Progress

The last few days we have been trying to sort some of our garden out. There’s been lots of digging, weeding and rotovating, but we are slowly getting there. We managed to make a plot for vegetables, although we’ve yet to plant some, and as we have 2 dogs, we needed to fence off the area. We are on a tight budget so most of the materials we use has come from the house or barns. We brought a roll of chicken fencing from the UK but we needed posts and a gate, so it was a case of hunting through the barns. We found some long, thick tree branches and a wooden gate which would do the job. After digging the holes for the posts, we cemented them in, ( 9.90 lev for 25 kg bag ), fixed the fence to the posts with wire we also found and hung the gate. If I say so myself, it looks pretty good and in keeping with our surroundings. Total cost 38 lev.

20130515-065543.jpg. Our side garden before clearing.

20130515-065634.jpg. Andy using the rotovator

20130515-065846.jpg. The finished result, our soon to be veg plot!

Our New Life…. The First Few Days

We finally arrived at our house after 3 days of hard driving and it was a huge relief to get here. The road leading up to our village was beautiful. Pine forests, hills and a lovely stream running along the edge of the village. In the distance we could see mountains, which I think is Montana. The village was as expected, like alot of villages, it was run down, derelict houses dotted about and horrendous roads, but there was a charm about it. This was the first time we get to see our house. As some people reading this are already aware, we have never been to Bulgaria, we bought our house of eBay, so all we have seen of it up to now, was pictures. We knew it needed renovating and we were fully prepared for it to be worse than the pictures, but when we finally got to see it, was even worse than we imagined!
Plemen, who works for the agent we bought from, had met us at Vidin to take us to our house, was lovely. He showed us round, explained a few things and offered us any help we might need in the future. When he left he said he will return another day to take us fishing at Rabisha Lake, 6klm away from us. Definitely something to look forward to.in the meantime it was back to reality, our new home.
The house hadn’t been lived in for quite some time, so it was very dusty and full of cobwebs. It was still full of stuff that belonged to the previous owner. Lots of beds, furniture, clothes, tools, etc, etc. to be honest there was a few stuff we could recycle, like a beautiful solid wood chest, a couple of pine tables, wardrobes and 3 lovely wooden beer barrels. We were pleasantly surprised that there was 3 more rooms in the house that we never knew about, so that was a bonus. The roof was in quite good repair, no leaks that we can see. The structure was sound but the outside needs new render. Some of the windows are rotten and the others needed sanding and painting. All the interior doors are in good order even though they are old but can be refurbished. The exterior doors, what can I say, they just don’t close or have locks that actually work and definitely need replacing! There is no plumbing in the house but we do have fresh water outside, one from the mains and a hand pump that draws water direct from the water source under the ground. Both drinkable although we have yet to fit the pump to the ground source. There is no toilet so in the meantime it’s a bucket job! Not very pleasant and probably the hardest thing to deal with, but we did come prepared, we bought one that looked like a toilet ( not a porta loo ) but it does have a seat ! I won’t discuss the ins and outs of it all but I’m sure you have the idea. The garden is 750 sqm with 2 barns, not the biggest of land but enough for us. The barns are derelict and will need pulling down but I would say 70% of the materials is recyclable. One bonus is we are definitely not short of wood to burn in winter!
To be honest, my first thought after seeing the house and village is ‘ oh my god what have we done! ‘ . It’s definitely a cultural shock and I would advise anyone who is thinking of doing the whole ‘ new self sufficient life ‘ thing to make sure you visit the country first. Now that’s not to say we are putting the place down because we truly believe its a beautiful country with a lot to offer, just that its a vastly different lifestyle to what we are used to and you need to be prepared for that.
When Plemen left and although we were tired, there was still work to be done. First thing was to get the dogs settled. They now have the full run of 1/4 of the garden and it was amusing to see them running round, sniffing every inch trying to work out what the new smells were. Kenzo,our staffy settled straight away but Twix, our cocker spaniel was a little anxious, but I’m sure after a few day will settle into his new life. Once we knew they were safe to wonder the garden, it was time to unload the van and caravan. We were exhausted and it was extremely hot ( 26 degrees ) but it had to be done, so we started unloading our stuff and put it wherever there was a space. The rooms were filling up fast and the spaces were becoming less and less. By the time we were half way, we were shattered, so we decided to finish for the night, have something to eat, a bath then bed. The bath consisted of a small paddling pool, bucket of cold water and no soap because I couldn’t find the bloody shower gel!!! Bed time was 7.30 and that was us dead to the world for the night !
I woke at 6.20 and Andy was still asleep . I put the kettle on, the sort you put on a camping gas burner, let the dogs out and went to put the light on, as it was still a bit dark in the house. No electric! I wasn’t sure if there was a power cut or a problem with the house, so when Andy got up, he phoned Plamen. Plamen said he would sort it and he did, he came to the house, checked the fuses( one had burnt out ) so proceeded to fix it. After taking some copper wire from one of our extension leads, he replaced all 3 fuses with it, went down the road to the electric pole, switched the switch that had tripped and hey presto! We had electric! How simple was that ?
Village life is very slow paced but a hive of activity early in the morning. I watched as a woman herded the goats to the field up the top of our street, then came the man who was herding some sheep. There were villagers walking past every now and again with their tools in their hand going off to do their daily chores, cars up and down the road, a couple of horse and carts and cockerels crowing all over the place.We have a stork at the end of the road making noises, which sounded like a woodpecker. It was a pleasure to watch and it’s those things that make me think how lucky I am to be here.
The rest of the day was spent emptying what remained in the van and caravan. By the time we unloaded everything , there wasn’t much room to move about and when we looked at how much stuff we had , we really couldn’t believe how the hell we managed to fit it all in the van! Next job on the list was to remove the beds in the room we were sleeping in and all the personal stuff left by the previous owner. Those old bed are bloody heavy, by the time we had finished we were knackered.
Finally it was time for food, but as we had to off load most of the food we had bought in the UK, to tide us over for a few days, to lighten the load, there wasn’t much to eat, so it was ‘pasta n sauce’ for dinner! Quite enjoyed it really, probably because we were so bloody hungry! Food over so time to relax and enjoy the evening sunset, bliss !
Our third day here, we decided to go into Vidin to buy some food. Didn’t want to stay out too long because of the dogs, so it was food and home. The roads were strange, we couldn’t work out if we had right of way over junctions or not so we went anyway! One day I’m sure we will be hit.
Went to Kaufland to shop, first stop for me though was the chemist. I had been bitten so badly all over. Some had swollen almost as big as my fist and my hand was so swollen and tight that I couldn’t make a fist. I was not a happy bunny, especially as I had at least 18 bites and Andy had none! Looks like I will be eating plenty of garlic in future!!
Kaufland is quite big and had plenty to choose from, if you could understand what your buying that is! It’s times like this when you really do feel out of your depth,but then we only have ourselves to blame, we should have learnt the language. something we will have to try to do in the near future. Shopping there wasn’t exactly cheap but we will soon get to learn where to go for the best prices and eventually we will grow our own food and keep chickens.
Returned home, ate a decent meal, then it was back to work. We found a few things we had been looking for yesterday but our iPads needed charging but for the life of us we couldn’t find them. By this time Andy was having a hissy fit and I was getting annoyed at him for getting wound up, 2 hours later still no chargers! That’s the trouble with moving, you can never find a bloody thing. After calming down and relaxing for a while it was off to bed. These few days have been strange in a way, at first it was ‘ oh my god what have we done ‘, to ‘ maybe we can do this ‘, to finally ‘ this really is the good life !’ We shall see …………