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 ! 🙂

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 !

Our First Crops

Well here’s our first crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. I have so many cucumbers that still need picking except I’ve run out of fridge space!

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Doesn’t help when my generous neighbours insist on giving me some of there’s . I’ve tried giving them some of mine but I think I’m fighting another loosing battle. Still at least we won’t starve !

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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!