Sunday, 18 December 2011

Organising Christmas In Bulgaria, Shopping For The Snow!

Photo, with kind permission of Kenneth Taggerty
We are still enjoying lovely sunshine. BUT the snow is on it's way along with freezing conditions. Now is the time to be thinking about making sure we have store cupboards full. So I am busy making a list for my next shopping trip & hope I am in time!
Saying that, the weather is so good I didn't have to light the wood burner till late afternoon for a few days! Dogs are enjoying all day in the garden, which makes a mess of the paths. They play fight all day & the pathways get full of dirt & leaves, so I have been out sweeping the pathways outside the kitchen. Not that this will do much good as tomorrow it will all be scattered again!
I don't mind the snow here, it's not like the UK, but I don't like the rain as my house really suffers from the wet muddy conditions. I am really praying that next year will see the house area paved, which will help keep it cleaner.
I am still battling this blooming virus. Some days I am OK just tired, then others (today) My head pounds & I feel rubbish. Still it is better than it was & I am not the only one finding it difficult to shift it!
Ice skating in Rousse.
We had a day out in Ruse with friends. It was the first day we actually felt cold & thought winter was upon us but then the temps rose yet again :-) We had a great day, very tiring but very enjoyable. We started at the market, which was great, probably the best I have been to for convenience, quality & diversity. We had a blooming brilliant lunch from a kiosk, mmmm cold do with one right now, it was pork escalope in a really soft bap that was more like a wrap full of chips & salad. Sort of on the lines of the kebabs we can get here but far, far better & much more tasty & filling! I shall be on the look out in future. We also went ot the Mall, wow it was much better than the ones I have been to before. There is a fantastic cafe/bar with so many gorgeous cakes, unbelievably scrummy & off course as soon as we saw them we all had to sit & partake along with a coffee. unfortunately I didn't take a photo but take it from me wow!!!! I had a peach cake & the others had mixed fruit.
They have erected an ice skating rink outside the Mall, fantastic but there was only one person on it? I wonder if it gets busier or if it is too expensive for the locals, I would have thought it wouldn't be as its a city with lots of work for people, maybe it was just too early & is busy later? What a great thing to have. When I was young I had a major trek to go scatting in Streatham & would have to walk home, this was a five hour walk!!!! But I loved going, sounds mad now though!!!!!!
After doing our main shop, in which I left my very expensive Radley bag(my one & only expensive bag) hanging over a chair, while we had a drink in the middle of shopping (I love that!!). It was handed into customer services thank goodness, we did the necessary Metro stop, before going back to Sue &Arthur's for a lovely fried bacon bap & gooey cake to finish off the day. Lovely & just like a Christmas shopping trip should be alla Bulgaria. I love this country!
Its fantastic this year, Bulgaria seems to have woken up to Christmas. I don't quite know what has happened, but I have never seen so much Christmas stuff in the shops & in the markets, it's brilliant. It also is not over kill like in the UK which makes it even more special. Its great to get that Christmas spirit feeling, it has been missing in previous years & I didn't realise how much I would miss it. This said it spurned me on to get the decorations & tree up, feels a lot like Christmas is coming now, I am really looking forward to it this year!!!!!

Lots of work has been going on here. Nigel has been very busy but its all stuff you can't see, things that need to be done in prep for winter. Like chopping wood, mending fences & roofs, fixing the pump, mending the water tank, It's never ending when you live in a village. He fell off the ladder a while ago & hurt his bum (no meat) but it is still giving him jip. I think it's more the base of his spine :-( We will keep an eye on it. The next, very important, job is to bottle the wine & get the Rakia made. That is on the agenda for tomorrow while I am at my friends. Something very exciting is happening with her, I will give you details in the next blog & report on how it went. I too have some exciting news but again I am sworn to secrecy at the moment, but I am very honoured ;-D 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

It's My Birthday & I'll Cry If I Want Toooooooooooo

Well Yet another birthday celebrated here in Bulgaria! I am three years older & none the wiser :-)) Well a little wiser, where people are concerned but I am sure I will always be a sucker for people because caring is my nature. Mind you I also don't suffer fools gladly & will not put up with "stuff" now.
Anyway back to my birthday. It was a very emotional day for me, I am missing my whole family, it's Christmas & there will be no cuddles for me so I am very poor meeeee at the moment ;-) Silly moo!
My two nieces are over from Australia & it was arranged that they would meet up, on my birthday, with my sister (in law), Niece, Nephew, both my daughters & the three babies, so I said I would ring to speak to them all. Nigel had gone out to help friends for the day so I was lonely on yet another birthday. I rang & just spent most of the time either fighting back the tears or blubbing, not good, but it was really lovely to connect with everyone & hear what the girls were up to on their travels. My daughters didn't make it as one had a car brake down & as the girls were leaving for London later that day she couldn't get there in time. Still, probably a good thing, if I had spoken to my granddaughters too I would have been on the first plane back to blighty.
The poste has come up trumps so far this year & I have received a birthday parcel & two cards, in fact our friend Anton brought the cards round on the day (he had them since Wednesday!), no he isn't the post man!
It was lovely to get them on the day :-)))
I had some lovely bunches of flowers, from my friends & Nigel. Honestly the flowers here are works of art with wonderful bunches all on display in the markets, so much work goes into them. In England they would cost a fortune but here they cost less than a scraggy bunch from a petrol station!
These photo's don't do them justice
We went out for a meal in the evening with Sue & Arthur & it turned out to be the party of another birthday girl. There was a huge table with all her friends & we had a live band & a singer, who was so good I really thought it was a CD playing while the band had a break :-) I love the way Bulgarians celebrate & party! I love the traditional folk music & the dances. All the ladies were up dancing & having a brilliant time. They are not so reserved as we are & don't need to be well libated!
So my birthday was OK in the end & alls well that ends well :-))))

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

And life Moves On

Well finally the grip has diminished to just feeling under the norm. A bit tired, a bit listless & a bit headachy on occasion. Not bad. I reckon its all this sun we are having. Yes the sun has come back home, & ohhh what a wonderful relief it is to have it back in play. I know its proven to lift mental health & in turn our spirits & boy its soooo obvious! I put feeling better down to the turn in the weather. It was so cold & depressing before, no sign of sun for over a week. The frost didn't go & was there all day, every day for a week. When the sun came out it was like it was raining, you could hear the frost falling to the ground & feel it. I stood hanging washing on the line & was befuddled by the experience, doesn't take a lot really :-D
The sound of chainsaws have taken the place of the woodpecker, the trundle of the wood delivery has replaced the sound of bird song & the smell of the village is now of wood burners, which is nice actually.
Nigel is spending every day cutting up the beams & wood pile & storing it all in the barn. Its lovely & dry, mainly, but a bit damp on the outside, so it will dry out nicely in the barn.
This is about half of the wood chopped, plenty more where this came from!
The pile is growing day by day & its great to see it all as it gives a good indication to how long we will be nice & warm. No really I love to see it all stacked up Its a bit like my mum & her store cupboard I would guess, it's our winter store & we can tell as we go along if we need to buy any more. We have so much kindling (we use tree branches) wood, its amazing how until you live here you just cant understand the storage space needed for the winter heating alone. We have some stone built pig houses & use one of them to store the kindling in to keep it nice & dry & seasoned.
Look at that sky, no that is not now, these are the stone houses that now two dog bedrooms & kindling store.
There is nothing worse than a fire that won't light on a winter morning & the kindling is a big part of that. We have over the spring/summer been saving every scrap of paper & cardboard, also for lighting the fire. These we store in wicker baskets, in the cellar during the summer. It sounds like a right palava but it really isn't. Do you remember when you were young, did you have an open  fire? Thankfully we did so we had some memory of what to do!
We have really needed the fire lately. The weather was quite nasty. It looked like the sky had fallen in & the hard frost we awoke to did not diminish as the day wore on. We had a week of this It was like a not so wonderful, winter wonderland.
Everything stayed white for a week
 I wonder at the storage space needed for people with livestock! It's easy to see why there are so many buildings & barn space. We have no livestock, as its an expensive & very time consuming past time, but I know many expats who do & wow good for them but its not for me.  I am just too naturally lazy to be getting up at some God awful time in winter snow to feed them & clean out animal houses. Lugging about hay, straw feeds etc is not my forte so I think it's brilliant that people do but I am far too old to start now! I do many times wish we had discovered this 15 yrs ago, then maybe we would have been pig, lamb, duck & turkey farmers but the timing is well off for us. We will continue to grow what we can & learn what we can, but we will never be as our Bulgarian friends!
 The surrounding countryside is really beautiful again. All the crop areas have been ploughed & flattened (I don't know the correct way of saying this) & all around the rich brown earth is a rich green, flanked by trees that are now barren of leaves giving us free views of the hills, rocks & mountains along with the trees that are in differing stages of loss, giving us red, gold, yellows & browns. When the sun is shining through the trees the gold's shine & the reds glow its truly gorgeous. There are still many green trees too, we have lots of pine trees here, all sorts too, they keep the greenery in Bulgaria in the depths of winter when all else looks dead. I love them & class ourselves as very fortunate to have a huge one in the front of our property. We also have a completely different one at another of our properties round the corner so I get to collect lots of pine cones. Walking round the village there are many & driving through the country lanes we pass forests of them in many different stages of growth. I really want to go get a real tree for Christmas but two things stop me. Firstly, I am not sure if it is illegal to do this, I hear mixed messages about it. Some say its ok others say prison! Second I love them growing in their natural environment, if we did cut one down & adorn it for a couple of weeks it will then just be fire wood!
So I guess we will drag out our fake tree for however long it takes us to be able to afford the adornments for our own very large & majestic pine which one day will light up our home, I can't wait but I wonder what the neighbours will say ?
The weather has warmed up a lot with long sunny days again, well as long as a November day can be. The dogs are out most of the day sunbathing & playing chase, instead of in front of the fire. They all pile in at tea time.
I have been cooking up the pears this last week, upside down cake & still practicing with the pastry :-)
Sausage rolls for Christmas are a must as far as I am concerned so I need to find the perfect wrapping for them. I have managed to find sausage meat & a mix that I liked now I am onto the next experiment to get the right roll. I realise this is very English of me, but some things are difficult to let go off :-) These may be a thing I don't eat all year but are a must for a Christmas fuzzy memory.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Chilly, Wintry & Sunny Days, Grippe

Photography by John Dennahy 15/11/11
What glorious weather we have had. It's cold 1.5c up to 6c during the day, although in the sunshine its been 20c! Nights are -7c variable. Beautiful, beautiful sunshine, meaning along with the wearing of hats, gloves, warm footwear & coats we are also wearing sunglasses! Before I left England I had replaced my glasses with reactalites, mainly due to the cloud cover then a spot of sun where the glasses were on & off like a yoyo, drove me nuts! Boy was I pleased when we moved here in the wintry month of January where sunglasses were the most worn item. We had a fantastic winter that first year & my glasses were never taken off! I managed to persuade Nigel to do the same when we went back for a family wedding & its stood us in good stead. Trouble is I need new ones now & our plain lens glasses don't get worn! As with most wearing of glasses the more I wear them the more I rely on them :-( When we lived in UK I only wore them to read or work on the computer but since being here they don't get taken off & now I need them to see properly. I have had vary focal's (not sure on that spelling!), for many years but rarely wore them for watching TV or just living, now I wear them I need them, doesn't this mean glasses are bad for you?
The B&W photo's on this blog are taken by a friend of mine, who says they are just snaps, lol, never! He has a fantastic eye for this countryside, comes from his love of it & a natural talent too. I think he has captured the morning riverside beautifully.
Photography by John Dennahy 15/11/11
See why I say I am so pleased to be living here, it is truly gorgeous at all times of the year, in all seasons. Love, Love, Love Bulgaria! I am sure if you have only been to the Black Sea tourist hotels then you will not have had the pleasure. If you want to experience the real Bulgaria then venture to the center to Veliko Turnovo or the mountain regions, you will have such a different outlook. I love the journey to Sofia from here as the views are amazing, I prefer it in a bus though, as I stress in the car :-) The mountains are viewed almost all the way they just get bigger & in spring we may be traveling with windows wide open as it is so hot & the mountains will still have snow & not just a little. Then the gorges, the greenery, ahhh truly breathtaking. Reminds me of my first trip to Switzerland its inspiring to say the least. I feel privileged to be living here & thank God most days.
Photography by John Dennahy 15/11/11
Its been a bit of a worrying time in the Newman family. I finished the last blog with welcoming baby William to the world. Poor little love had a poorly start! He thankfully is doing very well now. William was born with Rhesus disease & an infection. He was in special care for a bit & the antibiotics did their thing quickly. After undergoing lots of tests they found he has RD, but it looks like it may be mild as long as he is kept away from bugs & feeds well he should need no treatment. The next three months will be a bit worrying for mum & dad as it tends to develop in this time frame but he is being monitored closely by the community midwife & at the first signs he will get treatment. This will entail a blood transfusion & photosynthesis treatment.
Well I still have what Villagers here call the grip, this can be anything from a bad cold to full on flu. I have been grippe for getting on for 3 weeks now, It's somewhere between a bad virus & mild flu. Today is the first time I have felt like I may actually be getting better, fingers crossed.
It's doing the rounds here & it seems to be a bugger to get rid of! Nigel is one of those people who IF he gets ill it lasts for a day but he was poorly for a few with this, now however he is back to being Ok just with a slight cough. When I get a virus I can have it for months in varying degrees, due, I think, to having had ME for 9 yrs. I have been out of that for many years now but it still can affect my immune system :-( Not that bad here as we are hibernating most of the time over the next few months. The other problem is the sheer cold here. I had Pneumonia & pleurisy 3 yrs before we moved here & it took a very long time to get over. I thought giving up smoking would help me but actually it has made it more obvious! Its not being out of breath its being unable to fill my lungs, so even walking down the stairs (outside) & walking round the back into the house can render me gulping for breath on a very cold air day. So hibernation is the name of the game on very cold days anyway. What that actually means is I won't be doing a lot of walking around. Just to finish on the weather talk we were having beautiful weather but the last two days have been frosty all day temps not rising above -1.5c & the sky seems to have fallen down too, nasty, nasty weather. Inside however we are lovely & toasty warm between 23 & 28c,  so its summer clothes still indoors with wrap ups to go for a wee, (we have an outside staircase leading to a first floor main bathroom & a downstairs cloakroom which is just outside the door, nevertheless it's outside the door!
Since my last blog, I have done a bit of preserving & chutney making, & decanting of the Slivovitza & Visinata, which I have to say has taken it out of me lol. We are on the verge of bottling our 2 barrels of wine & then we will be making the Rakia (Brandy). Trouble is having space to store it in the cellar & bottles to put it in! All I want to do is get some baking & stuff done but I haven't even had the energy to finish this blog! I have started getting the Christmas stuff sorted. I have bought a duck for boxing day (never cooked one before eeekkk) & have ordered individual special cakes from a friend of mine here. The Visinata & Slivovitz has been filtered 3 times but still needs more filtering, still we are almost sorted on that.
A few of the decanted bottles lol
The plastic bottles are 2 & 3ltr bottles of wine that need decanting to make way for the next 2 barrels
I am trying out different ways of making sausage rolls.
First try at Bulgarian sausage rolls :-)
I'm very fussy & like homemade ones at Christmas but Nige prefers shop bought so I am trying to come up with something that we will both like! I'm also working out what else I am going to cook I like to plan in advance for Christmas & it can be difficult here.
Just when I thought I had seen the last of fresh picked peppers a bag full was sent home with Nigel from Pavlinka, along with two carriers of pears! O Boshe, lol, I love it but I have no space in my freezers for cakes so I now have to can them. I must kick myself to get working in the kitchen, I just haven't got the energy. Every day I say today I will do .... then every evening I say tomorrow I will do..... So tomorrow I will make sausage rolls, a pear upside down cake, yellow pepper bread, yadi yadi yah, we will see! 
So life here is rather chilly (in more ways than one, but that is not for this blog) at the moment. It's been rather quiet here as our friends are ALL in the UK at the moment :-(  We are looking forward to seeing Sue & Arthur soon as they are returning from their trip where they went for the birth of their new grandson & very excited on the imminent permanent move to live here of Dave & Irene. Soooo exciting, I love it when people start their adventure here. I can still remember our move & all the feelings & excitement as well as all the newness of the chopping of wood, storing of food & yes we got caught out with the snow lol. Stuck at midnight in the middle of nowhere in the Luton box van (terrible in snow), while Nigel tussled with the snow chains by torchlight. The chains which had never even been taken out of the box & instructions which had never been read. I remember laughing as Nigel threw his dummy out of the pram ;-D I guess I wasn't any help ;-/ It was bitter cold & snowing, pitch black & we were surrounded by forest & wildlife lol. I held my breath as we limped all the way home but at least they got us moving again, I for one was very relieved to get home that morning. When its dark here its very, very dark we don't have all the light pollution. On a clear night the sky is amazing as we are also directly under the milky way, fascinating. I can see dave & Irene will be doing lots of sitting on their roof terrace even in the midst of winter!  It was just one of our experiences in the snow!   
Thank you everyone that left lovely comments It lifts my spirits to hear from people who read these rambles...... Thank you  Dave & Cath Cascarino, I hope you both have a wonderful adventure when you move out here, you will love it for sure, it's magical!
Kay & Chris Anne, thank you both, I love writing them especially when I have something to say lol. Chris Anne, when will you be back? 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Eating Out, A Lot! Going Into Hibernation Mode

First let me welcome into the world our 6th grandchild, Nigels third grandson, William Newman. He arrived this morning very early hours. Congratulations Kisty & Gaz & well done Kirst xxxxxxx

Well its officially autumn & the chill has arrived. The sun is still out on most days & we have had no rain for ages again. This is my kind of autumn & winter, I hope it may continue. The wood burner has been lit most days as its warmer out than in but some nights its not needed as the room warms nicely after the day & then with the oven/cooker its enough. We also have not needed to light the wood burner upstairs yet & just have a electric heater to take the chill off last & first thing. I am hoping on a repeat of last years weather where we lit the fire up till the beginning of Nov, then they were not needed for another month! Nigel & I were eating outside at a restaurant in Veliko Turnovo this time last year (yes he has been home a whole year now) in just our cardigans, at midnight! Well I'm not sure we will have this but it would be great to have a sunny dry winter this year!
So we are now heading towards hibernation mode. I quite look forward to it as I don't like being cold & with the fires we are certainly very warm. We have not gone down the very expensive route of central heating as these fires are too hot as it is & you have to keep the fire stoked up really hot to feed the radiators. We are lovely & toasty without, all through the worst of the winter.
I seem to be constantly talking or thinking about what kind of winter it will be this year, how cold, how much snow, when will it snow, hoping for a sunny winter, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Funny thing, this will be our fourth winter living here, & I have learnt one thing, it will be what it will be! I also have realised this year that I am quite looking forward to it & anyway...... No amount of worrying will change what is coming just accept hibernation like my tortoise do & be prepared as much as you can, hahaha that's funny! That reminds me we must get the gas bottles filled, just in case we can't get out it's best to have one in reserve :-) We have three, one for the cooker, one for the fire in the bathroom & a spare, which at this moment in time is empty!!!!!
We are in a time of electricity cut offs at the moment so I think they may be doing some repairs somewhere. You can tell as it goes off at 9 (although this morning was 8.45) & comes back on around 5pm. Not brilliant as we lose our running water, both hot & cold. So its out to the garden tap & on with the gas kettle LOL. That's just part & parcel of village life :-) When we first moved here the electric was off more than it was on but now its a rare occasion, thank goodness. Although, some villages are still really bad. We have a duel fuel cooker just for this reason, we can always provide a meal & have a drink. In the summer its no problem as we are outside all day & now I read or make chutney lol. Mind you I keep threatening to make it & just don't get round to doing it, so yesterday I actually did a batch & I have been given some gorgeous beetroots, so I pickled them also, for Christmas. I have a jar done already & really wanted to try them to see if I should do these the same or just go for plain pickles? Probably a bit too soon to open them as I don't want them to spoil before we are ready to eat them. Oh the decisions of the world on my shoulders hahaha. I chose to go down the same sweet pickle route & hope for the best
We have had a lovely time in the last few weeks, enjoying the company of friends while doing the Bulgarian yash pi :-) (eat drink). It started with meeting a friend, Sue from facebook. We had never met before but have been friendly for a while & when I realised she was going to be near Veliko Turnovo we arranged to meet up for lunch. We met Sue & her family at the happy man restauraunt & had a really lovely time, what a nice family, it was truly a pleasure to meet them all & I am really looking forward to getting together again next year! Sue was an absolute angel & bought me a copy of slimmingworld magazine complete with next years calendar which features a recipe on each month. I am still made up over that lol, you would think it was a rolex, but I am; 1, really very touched that she remembered & thought of me. 2, There is no way on earth I can get my hands on one here :-( Thank you so much Sue it is such a treat. My regret for that day is, even though I remembered to take my camera, the time went so quickly, I didn't get any photo's :-( The other thing that was a shame was Dave & Irene found us as we were all leaving. They had just arrived back the day before & were rushed off their feet getting carpet ordered & sorting out rooms & phones, but we went to their home that night to have a drink on Halloween woooooo wooooo No broomsticks were seen so I guess the witch thought better of it LOL. I am so excited for them, which I think is because, they are so excited about moving out here, its catching. I love seeing the joy & adventure, the excitement that is in the exploring the unknown & I love people who love Bulgaria. There is too much pessimistic rubbish about living here, it's not England, it's Bulgaria! People come here & expect to live as they did in one of the richest countries in the world, but this is one of the poorest developing countries in the world! I am not comparing Bulgaria to Africa India & the like, don't get me wrong, I mean as a developing European country. People forget this is an ex iron curtain, part of the Eastern block. That brings with it lots of history & medieval towns, Roman villages, unspoilt terrain, mountains, rivers, lakes & a flattened people. We should embrace this land with gusto, enjoy its freshness. Bring hope & friendship & enjoy the hospitality of the people who own this beautiful land. We have traveled a lot all around the world & this country is up there in the beauty stakes, I can tell you! So come to Bulgaria & enjoy its beauty & move here for a great life with great peoples, there is never a dull moment, you will get very frustrated at times but keep the adventure & you will have a whale of a time :-) We struggle financially but I can tell you, there is so much more to life than money!!!!! My only regret in all this is not having my family near, I miss them terribly!!!!!!!
The restaurant in Borovo
Sitting on Dave & Irene's fabulous roof terrace star gazing & looking for the broomstick's on halloween, while drinking Amaretto & coke yum yum.
What makes you think Nige was chilly ;-D Irene had the perfect solution ;-)
 Have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks & we are really looking forward to Christmas & plans are in the making. It will be our second here, as we went back to UK on our first. Last year was spent with our Bulgarian family & it was a nightmare so this year we are doing the English Christmas with English friends. It's just too much of a tradition I guess! We have had Christmas day in South Africa, on a plane, in Thailand all of which I would do again but I don't ever want to repeat last years fiasco! I will have Bulgarians to me though :-) Last year Yovo wanted a very traditional English Christmas dinner so he killed the turkey & I cooked it, the roasties & stuffing (made with turkey offal YUK), made mulled wine & also took along mince pies & Christmas pud with cream. The whole lot was ruined as "No mulled wine Joanna, hot Rakia" & "First Joanna salata" Needless to say dinner was ruined, so I had to hastily change Boxing day around & get a joint out of the freezer so we could have a decent Christmas dinner after all lol.
It was village day/weekend in Peychinovo, this is the village where our English friends live & we also have some Bulgarian friends there as it is Yovo's family village where he was born & raised. Sue & Arthur went to a big party with their friends & we think we were invited but we were both feeling under the weather & Yovo wasn't going till the following day so we were not quite sure. Typical English because really here in Bulgaria if you just turn up you are given a kings welcome, I was very sorry to miss it as it sounded very lively :-) The following day Nigel went over early as he was helping Arthur, who is building a new kitchen, so I got a lift with Yovo, Pavlinka, Svetlana & Anton. All of us squished into an old Wartburg hahaha still it was quite comfy! The car takes the roads really well & nothing frightens it lol Typical Yovo gets me to his house early, before anyone is ready. We then  get to Polski Trambesh 30 mins early to meet Svetlana off the train, she lives in Gorna Oryahovitsa, which means a lot of standing around kicking our heels. Mind you it was a lovely day so I took some piccies lol & it was really nice to spend some time with them all :-))
Anton, Svetlana & Yovo's Wartburg
Yovo with a packet of waffers he bough for us to all snack on while we wait
Anton helping Svetlana from the train, very sweet.
Nigel found Mr Mole, but unfortunately the cats got to him first :-( I know it's silly, if you have moles the only way to rid is to kill them but its still very sad, he was lovely & now is at the bottom of my septic tank providing bacteria to break down the nasties, a bit different to trying to nick our crops & pushing up mounds everywhere!
Yesterday was very busy for us both & as we were quite poorly we didn't do ourselves any favours but needs must. Nigel pulled up the last of the tomato, pepper, aubergine & squash plants then dug over & planted our garlic for next spring. That will now be left & sit nicely under the snow when it comes. Then in spring it jumps to life lol, brilliant. I picked the last of all the chillies & pulled the plants & canes. They are really hot this year these ones will be dried & flaked, that way I have more control on how much goes into a dish, I nearly blew my head off the other day when I put a little of the chillies I ground into some couscous, lol, not only did my mouth burn but my throat & chest too :-D At least I found out on just me....
     I would like to thank Busy Bee Designs for your really lovely comment on my last blog, Thank You! It really lifts my spirit when I hear back from readers. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads it & always worry whether it's any good. So a big thank you Duke too I'm glad you like the photos :-)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Boy I Am So Lucky To Be Living Here!!!!!

An October morning by the Yantra
Above Photograph taken by John Dennahy
Todays sunshine & blue sky
We had this snow a couple of weeks ago! I know the world climate has gone MAD!
I was just looking through some of my blog's & realised wow, this is not a holiday blog, this is my LIFE!!!!!
Like everyone else, life can seem mundane. I agonise sometimes that my life has meant nothing to no one! I haven't invented a cure for anything, I haven't changed the world, I have not been important in anyone's life, I am not a famous artist, designer etc! I have made small differences but nothing that others would have done eventually anyway, & then everything I did, was , as it says in the Bible, just for a season. My only accomplishment has been giving birth to three children, which then enabled another 3 people, so far, to be in existence & please God they too will populate etc. So I have partaken in populating the earth & one day maybe a distant relative will find the cure for cancer or something, then I would have accomplished something vicariously from my truly mundane life. My life has not even been exciting, unlike my mums, so I have reached the status of boring old fart! Well now lets see I am not as boring as some, even some I know :-) When I look back, my life with Nigel has been exciting, well for us any way! We have traveled loads & seen the other side of life, which for me is very important. We can all go on holiday but mixing with the real people behind the tourism tells a very different story. That's why I think we have settled very well into life here. We love Bulgarians & their way of life. Sometimes we get a bit frustrated with some of their ways, but then we have to kick ourselves & get over it, it's Bulgaria!
Then looking over this blog & seeing things, pictures, I thought wow, they could be holiday photo's!!!! We are so lucky/fortunate/blessed, which ever way you look at things, to be living this life! Yes it may be unstable at times, there is no financial aid blanket to catch us when things are tight, which can be & often is a challenge, but its a wonderful life! I know its not for everyone, it's rougher, different, challenging but it is also quiet, relaxed, sunny, sociable, happy & very, very different ;-D
I am so happy to have visited the countries we have, meeting the people we have, eating the foods we have. I think it paved the way for us here. All those countries we said although we loved them we could never have lived in them, till we came & looked at Bulgaria. One look was all it took!!! Wasn't that a song?
Well if there is one thing I can pass on through this blog, its this. Come take a look, you don't know what you are missing. Not everyone will love it but if you have adventure in your blood, love green open lands, would love four distinct seasons, yearn for the good life, Have dreams, want more out of life &  more than just a beach on holiday (though we do have that too), then come take a look! Hey I sound like a tourist brochure ;-D Just look at the main photo of the Yantra river. This was taken one glorious autumn morning this week. The colours this time of year are wonderful a mix of golds, reds, bronze, yellows & brown as well as green, gorgeous with the sun shining on them. Then winter brings us a glittering bejeweled palace
 The local & still normal mode of transport.
Sitting at traffic lights next to or behind these is still funky to me, love it. That's ok for me to say but sometimes we pass them on the way to do some shopping & then pass them on the way back when we have finished but they still haven't got to the main road!!!!
Last Christmas morning, it was 24c
This is our village school, Christmas morn, smart hey!
Sunshine filled winter days eating hot corn with garlic sauce, scrummy
My bonking tortoise, Spring is in the air, lol, brilliant!
Summer sunflowers as far as the eye can see, love this season!
Winter means digging out the paths
Growing things I have never even seen before! (These are Quince)
Growing stuff I love, but have never considered growing!
I love growing the chillie's, they always turn red & when dried I grind them for use all year
Daily pickings meant daily preserving & cooking
The harvesting got larger & larger every day :-) & so did the cooking & baking
I spend alot of my time during the harvest season trying to find different things to make with the crops
I don't have to agonise over what to make with our grape crop, Vino & Rakia, under construction now.
 Pumpkins & Butternuts are my fave though as there is so much I can do with these :-)
So when you hear me moan, take no notice, remember its not a real moan its just a grumble from an old fart who has forgotten just what we have :-)
Winters coming & in England I would be dreading this, but not here. Here we hibernate after preparing for the worst & hope for the best, its an adventure & we are warm, so what!!!!! We look forward to spring coming & awakening the countryside & property, work starts again & life goes on with sunshine lifting our spirits, so come on winter, lets party!!!!!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Autum Departs Winter Sets In

Well I don't know what happened to autumn but winter has arrived & the leaves are still on the tree's!
The wood burner is being lit every day now. May be most days, in the last 4 days, we had just one log but today I am on the 4th & it will be kept alight through the evening, as it is bitter & blowing a gale today, which means next doors pears are going to be all over my path! A lot of Bulgaria is under a white coating of SNOW!!! We were forecast to have it here but so far so good, it hasn't reached my village. I want to know what happened to our gentle lead into winter?????
You can tell it's cold as three of the dogs are all in by the fire, sleeping the day away, snoring & dreaming of chasing the cats. Trouble is Reggie takes up half our floor space so I have to step over him all the time, Mini has decided to take over the leather sofa & only Kamishka is in her bed. Goodness knows where Sophie is but she must be ok or she would be at home in the warm.
Kamishka & Reggie enjoying sleeping by the fire
Reg takes up most of the floor space
Minishka nicks my sofa!!!!
So the time of hibernation has arrived. Now don't get me wrong I like this, its a nice quiet time, keeping warm & comfy but all I want to do is sleep as its so warm. Also I need to get back on my diet, as the stone I have just lost has gone back on in a wink of an eye. I have been cooking, well baking. Cooking is not a problem as everything I cook is low fat or healthily cooked, its the baking thats the problem :-(  I am going to make a few things over the next few days & enjoy them then it will be freeze, freeze, freeze. So today will be a rice pudding, but made with semi skimmed milk. I am also going to try one with skimmed milk & liquid sweetener, but will wait till I have enjoyed the next few days :-))) Then today I will make mini Victoria sponges, half of which I will freeze. What I really need to do is bake the upside down cakes, apple cakes & grape cakes, before I lose the fruit!
Hey anyone out there want to be a sleeping partner & help me open a tea room lol :-)))) My dream now I think. Its been a while trying to think of things I want to do. We will celebrate 3 yrs here in January & its taken this long to actually settle on what I would love to do. The idea has been there all the time but I wasn't sure about it. Then I have seen a few set up in different parts of Bulgaria & in fact a friend is, or wants to do something similar in another area. More & more I have been drawn to this. It was always a dream of my mums ( now she is an amazing cook!!!) & I am sorry she is too old to be able to do it now. I had my eye on a place & for two years when I was umming & Ahhing, then typical for me as soon as I thought that yes its what I want to do it has been taken over :-( It even has a covered outside area, oh well I will keep my eye on it & if it becomes empty again maybe we will be able to do it.
I am going to look at some properties this week in different area to me. It will be nice to have some more properties on my books. I am an agent for a larger estate agency. Basically if someone comes to me with a property to sell I am their agent, I do the listing & viewings but they get advertised on my site & a large agency online. They get a personal service as well as all the benefits being on a large world wide site gives :-) Good huh! Mind you the market is pretty dead at the moment.
Thankfully Nigel has had some work on, in between having a bad back! So we are paying bills & able to buy provisions :-) It's amazing what word of mouth references do for a person :-) He is in a new area which is fantastic.
I am worrying myself lately. My memory problem is getting worse, my mind just goes blank & I just can't remember the word, I know what it is I know the meaning but the actual word just will not come! Same with spelling, sometimes I do a spell check & not one word is out but other times its riddled, also I get words I just can't remember how it is supposed to be spelt! Once, mind you this was almost 4 yrs ago I lost where I was in Worcester town. I had lived & worked there for 7 yrs!!! Twice in a couple of minuets. I was walking along going somewhere, when I just suddenly couldn't remember where I was or where I was going!!! It took a few minuets to fall into place, while I got very worried, then I remembered & had to turn around. I then walked for aprox 1 min & again forgot where I was & where I was going! To say I was scared is an understatement! It has never happened again but my memory for names of people things & places is getting worse. I think its to do with being an old fart, but at 52????? Still I am not in the realm of dementia, yet. My mother in law had dementia, it was terrible to watch her, she was living in a different world to us & it was a world full of fear. I don't know why she was in fear & I know not everyone is like that, but it was really awful to witness. Mum didn't know who we were, this happened very fast after she suffered a stroke. One day she was looking at me with that blank look she had, when all of a sudden her eyes changed in recognition & she gave me a huge hug, then just as suddenly she pushed me away with the same look in her eye. This was more upsetting than anything :-(
Wow I went completely off there lol, that was all because I couldn't think of a word as I was typing! I have since gone back & put it in :-)))))
So now is the next day..............
I have woken up to a SNOW covered winter wonderland this morning!!!!! What the heck is going on??????
We also have no electric which in this house means no running water or flushing loo's as we are on an electric pump :-(  Its all very pretty but very inconvenient, we are not quite ready for this. On top of that it's very cold brrrrrrrrr!!!!!
This is my veggie area, somewhere under here are all my butter nut squash & pumpkins! Still they are better after a frost so lets hope they will be beautiful :-) best get them in now!
Ok moan over, on the positive we have wood, kindling, fire lighters & loads of paper & cardboard so we will be toasty warm once I get the fire lit :-)
We get the results of mums bone marrow tests today, not sure how I am feeling worried & a bit apprehensive, butterflies in the tummy!
My mum has been poorly one way or another for the last 6 yrs. It started with a perforated bowel & that has been the catalyst for many a health problem. Mum though being the in dependant lady I have always known her to be insisted we move out here & have a good bloody life. Do I feel guilty, yes, but my mum would never accept that, she is our biggest champion for us to live here. I won't bore you with all the problems but this newest one is worrying me/us. Mum was found to be very aneamic had lots of camera procedures to find if she was bleeding & couldn't find it. Then her blood count was half what it should be & a 3 pint transfusion was needed. Two weeks ago she had a bone marrow aspiration, so now we await the results, with trepidation. Please God let her be OK!!!!!
Hoping for something that is easily treatable or nothing at all :-) Will let you know in my next blog x