Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot, Melting While Preserving, Bikers Galore & a wonderfull day in Ruse

Wow this month has been hotter than a Bulgarian wood burner in winter! Its been a below average August though, with a slight autumnal feel in the evening & very early morning, you know when the sun has gone or not risen. I don't know how to describe it but you can feel autumn even though it is in the 30's? The weather is not normal & I fear for this winter, it could be a bad one! we had a late start to Spring & Summer & we had our August weather in July, all very strange! That said we have very hot days & the other evening was glorious too 33c at 7.30pm!
We had a lovely day in Veliko Tarnovo, last week. It was a shopping day, for food, but you can't help but have a great day in this historic city. Its such a beautiful place, magical atmosphere & for people watchers its the best ;-)
Veliko has kept its charm from the ancients & mixed it well with cosmopolitan & mediterranean aspects. I LOVE this city, yes its a city but compact & bijou as cities go, which for me is great! I am a Londoner, worked in Oxford street, Bond street & Croydon & hated it!!!!  I couldn't wait to move away & can't stand big cities anywhere in the world. When we went to Sydney I spent 3 days round the harbour area & only drove through the city, so Veliko is my kind a place. I like to shop in Gorna Oryahovitsa, it's cheaper & we can have a nice day there but it's oh so lacking in the beauty stakes. We like to occasionally window shop, you know the "one day" & "if only" purchase's, only occasionally though as that can be depressing if not done right ;-) So we went to check out the "one day" price of a lovely new fridge, a BIG larder type as our good fridge has bitten the dust & we only have a very small fridge that we purchased here for holidays. I am very thankful for that though as it may be too small for our needs, loads of fruit & veg going off :-(((  especially at this time of year, but at least we can stop milk from going off & melting fat is not good ;-) The unfortunate thing here is electrical items are expensive & the quality is not brilliant, so to get an item that won't break in a year its even more expensive. I found my "one day" purchase, a lovely taller than me silver fridge at 600 leva & also the "if only" purchase which can only be an american stylie combo Mmmmm. The most important thing for us is a fridge, we have always needed two & especially as we have to drive miles to get the food, & everything is natural & presevative free, shopping is not an everyday excursion. Anyway it was boiling hot & this weekend is a bikers convention so we had a very interesting time people & bike watching. We went to the Happy Man restuarant, its full of character has a great atmosphere & the food is amazing & very cheap, for a good restaurant!
I'd love a little apartment with a balcony overlooking VT
This is a fantastic place to eat, our fav in Veliko Tarnovo
We didn't have time to wander through the old town or the artist's street but we enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours amongst all the bikers in the sunshine & really hope they all had a brilliant weekend. It was reminiscent of the bank holiday weekends we used to have in Brighton in the old days with the Mods only these bikes were big & powerful, gorgeous machines.
Nigel has been working this last couple of weeks doing electrics (he is a qualified electrician) putting right the abortion of a job that the lady had paid for & adding extra's. The lady had paid to have the house completely re wired but when Nigel looked into it the so called builder/electrician had just added a bit of new wire where it was seen (light bulb fitting) & put in new outward fittings! Cheeky beggars, though this is a common problem, no one knows as its all hidden behind plasterboard, tiles & cement! Same with plumbing, this is another area he seems to work a lot on people who have lots of leaks from bad plumbing jobs, again this usually means he has to rip out tiles, plasterboard, floors etc then put it all right again after fixing the problem. Its atrocious that people pay for the work to be done, more often than not through the nose, then have to pay yet again to have it repaired & done properly. The best thing is for the owners to be here when the work is done or even employ someone like Nigel who was a project manager to project manage the work & workers, that's if they can't be there while it is happening off course. It would save money in the long run & a lot of nightmares to boot! So if any of you reading this is buying property here to renovate I advise you to either be here when the work is done or factor in a project manager to check their work as it goes along.
So after a lovely social week with my family, I have been alone & boy did I feel it! The house is so quiet, so I have busied myself with stringing Chilli ristra's, canning tomatoes, making rich tomato sauces, ratatouilles & putting down peppers for the winter. The freezer is quite full now & I am starting to fill the chest freezer :-) I have also made a fantastic fresh tomato & basil bread, Mmmmm really rustic & mediterraneany!
All the veg is doing well  we are picking kilo's & kilo's of tomatoes every day, the peppers are huge the chillies long & lovely & the egg plants are looking amazing, lots of ratatouille to be made there :-))). We have so many butternut squashes I am looking forward to them, pumpkins & marrows. The only disapointment was once again the beans, I have managed to get four pickings so far just enough each time for two of us, hopefully next year we can get enough for a few bob chorba's. The carrots & beetroot are all looking good but the potatoes are showing signs of something not very nice happening so Nige dug them up, & we have enough for a couple of meals & some potato salad. Can you tell we are not professionals at this hahaha just a couple of old farts doing what we can & learning as we go ;-) We have a few cucumbers but again not many, unlike most people who get millions, its not a good crop for me, I again will try for one more year :) The lettuces are good but neither of us eat lettuce, but why grow it? Hmmm I don't know hahaha. I was sure I planted courgette's but if I did they have dissappeared along with the chives & rocket lol. Some of the marrows have been eaten too in fact some have just completely gone!!!! We have some mole hills but I don't think they come above ground & eat the marrows, do they?
I am cooking with the large plums now, so it will be chutney time again in the kitchen, bloody hot work in this heat & something I can't go off & leave like with the canning, so I am not looking forward to that but the chutney is well worth the effort & discomfort. I will also bake some muffins with them & crumble, off course :-)))))
Our poor grape vines have suffered badly this year, no idea why & I would guess out of the whole vineyard we have only grapes from 7 - 10 vines, this is really bad!!!! I can make the cakes from only one vine as all the eating vines have been affected apart from a muscat. This makes a beautiful cake but its quite fragrant & a stronger taste, not the same but it will still be worth making! The rest will go into wine & rakia as a lovely friend has said we can have her grapes & pass on some of the wine, result!!!! I am very proud of our wine & rakia prowess (is this the right word ?) looking forward to it again this year :-))))))
We went to friends over near to Popovo for a bbq, that was nice, relaxed & a nice way to catch up. We don't like to be in peoples pockets, we are happy just being us on our own doing our own thing, but sometimes its really lovely to mix & have a fun social time ;-) We are off to a music festival next week, just up the road from us & then we have been invited to a party, which I am looking forward to! On October 1st  there is a very special event at an orphanage in Silistra nr Ruse. This again I am really looking forward to, I would love to invite some of my Bulgarian friends but not sure they could afford it & I don't want to put them in an awkward position, need to think this through! Nevertheless we are going over with a few friends & I think it's going to be a really fun day out! Hopefully you can see the link to the charity. Please if you are here in Bulgaria come to the day as all proceeds go to help the children, if not please help them in some way, thank you xxxxxxx
My little girl dog Minishka is a poorly doggie :-((( She seems fine on the surface but won't eat & spends most of the time under the sofa. She does have a play time with Kamishka at around 6pm every day still but also seems to cry a lot. I wonder if it is hormones? She doesn't appear to be on heat but her first two teats are swollen a little. We will keep an eye on her but it may end up with a trip to the vet! Also Kami has hurt her paw, no idea why or how & she won't let us look. She is not in any pain or crying & gets around like a tornado on three legs, hahaha, I think perhaps she has stood on a wasp but again we will keep a close eye on  her!
See the rainbow in the fountain!
It was our 7th wedding anniversary on Sunday. We didn't buy each other a card or present, as we are lacking funds, so instead we had a day out in Ruse. We had the best day, the weather was perfect a beautiful breeze & the humidity has gone so we were able to meander around without dying of heat stroke!
Love the fact that a city has funky side streets.
We basically ate our way around Ruse hahaha. Lots of coffee & people watching & walking the gauntlet of other people watchers ;-) We both really love Ruse, its very relaxed & has a very almost personal feel about it.
Nothing like a big city, which I hate! Being a London girl you would think I'd love big cities, but no I much prefer the countryside or small cities & towns in the countryside! I have lived in Tonbridge Kent, Bognor Regis nr Chichester & Worcester all very countrified & suits my personality. This is why Bulgaria suits me, well us as Nigel is the same except he doesn't have such a visceral reaction to cities as I do hahaha, reactionary me I guess?
Anyway back to our day in Ruse. We finished it off on the Danube.
After walking along it seeing the sights & watching all the holiday makers off the cruise boats, very posh, the people not the boats. We decided to have dinner on a little floating boat restaurant we saw. It was nothing flash but was very romantic with a gorgeous sunset & a red hue that stayed amongst the blackness :-) Loved it, the food was typical Bulgarian cuisine good & cheap the toilets were exceptionally good & it was a perfect end to a perfect Bulgarian day, thank you my darling husband xxxxxxxxxx
So this week Nigel is starting the renovation on our barn. The barn will not last another winter so needs must & are now urgent :-(((( He has to replace the beams that are holding it up then remove all the tiles to take out the rafters & replace new ones then replace the tiles, all before the rain comes & def before the snow!!!!!! I am really excited as the barn is going to be the focal point of our house in the spring, summer months & I can't wait to get it all sorted :-)))) Once the roof is sorted the floor can be done then we can use it as our summer living, everything revolves around that area from April onwards, exciting!!! Actually talking about that, the phantom pool smasher has struck yet again. This year the pool has cost lots of money filling it a couple of times every month. We have no idea who or what is doing it but its now aggravating the hell out of me argggggh!!!!!
The cover is pulled off along with the lilo's & chlorine float & the pool flattened!
I think we have decided not to fill it again, we had to do it a week ago, & next year we need to save enough money to buy a rigid sided pool & Nigel is going to build a fence with a gate blocking off the drive & back paddock from the pool & barn area, then we can leave Reggie, our karakachan, loose & woe betide if it is a person!!!!!!!!!
So as normal lots to do, poor old Nige..........

Friday, 19 August 2011

Family Visit For Holiday, Happy Times,

Just had a great week :-) My daughter Claire, Granddaughter Hope & Son in law Tom have just been to visit.
I love it when my family come to stay & I love to show off my adopted country. It was a very emotional time for me as I hadn't seen them for 20 months & I am very much a family person. The hardest thing to deal with was leaving them behind when we moved here & it never goes away that is what is called home sickness. I always thought it was for the country you left but obviously that is not the case, how could it be for the UK????  I sometimes miss going to a carvery, a country pub & walking along the beach in Bognor Regis or along the river Severn in Worcester, but as far as the UK is concerned that is it. I miss, much more, the time I spent looking after my granddaughters, having lunch & shopping with my daughters, spending weekends with my mum & I miss my sister & being an aunty. Since we left the UK we have had 2 babies born into our close family & another grandchild is due in a couple of months. I have still not met my son's first baby & my third granddaughter Chloe. I am told she is a wonderful & funny little girl & has a gorgeous temperament. It hurts, it's HARD......... But this is where we live, this is our life & as our children are adults & have chosen their own life & where they will live so must we! Thank God for computers, facebook & when we have a decent internet skype & the free UK landline calls I get on my home phone, that is a Godsend!
So enough of the sad bit, the good bit is having wonderful memories to keep forever of times family come to visit. I am over the moon for my daughter as her life has taken a wonderful step in a loving direction, its been a long hard road, but life is just beginning for her, her little family are amazing & soooo very happy, it made my heart sing!!!!!
Hope's dad, Tom, is a wonderful daddy, I have not seen such a lovely relationship between father & daughter, its something I missed out on unfortunately & he is fantastic at the way he corrects her in such a loving way. Wonderful to watch, I love my kids so much & my grandchildren are my heart, to see them so happy is truly magical :))))) We had a lovely time as a family & though my heart is not broken, it will for a while be very lonely!
The time here in Bulgaria is notorious for dissapearing very quickly, it's not just me ;-) & so their time here was like a click of the fingers :(((((
Thankfully my daughter loved the house & property. Claire had been here with us before we moved in. We came for three weeks with a three year old Hopey & it was like staying in a squat. Hope loved it & we had a great time but Claire was not comfortable & it was very dingy. We have turned it into a comfortable home with a great outside living space in the summer & she loved it, Phewwww :))))))
They spent the first two days on the coast nr Varna, in a pool complex with the beach, so they were nice & relaxed by the time we met them all in Veliko Tarnovo McDonalds LOL.
I love that Hope is very adventurous in her eating, very unusual in a 6yr oldI
No we didn't commit the serious crime of eating there, but we had drinks & caught up before heading off to Ego's for dinner (Happy man was full outside).
Lovely, to spend quality time. Then it was a quick trip to Metro & back home to get them settled & meet Sophie & Kami. We put Reggie & Mini in their houses so they could meet them properly in the daylight the following morning, which worked out really well.
The first evening in the village we all went for a "stroll" around the village. It was a lovely evening, Sophie joined us on the walk & we stopped off to see friends. We then made our way to the Mehana for a sundowner. Claire made friends with a little puppy who was telling Sophie off as I think she wanted us as her family :-) It was a real joy for me seeing my little Hopey enjoying the countryside again & bumping into the wildlife. We saw Galia walking her dogs, Plamins horse grazing on the meadow & Baba Ivanka's donkey having a wander. We picked plums off tree's to eat, as we walked home, lovely!
To say Hope loves swimming is an understatement & she had so much fun playing in the pool with everyone & on her own, while Mummy & Daddy relaxed by it. She made dens out of towels & comforters & not once in 7 days did she play with her Nintendo. I love that, love that she loves it here & can have a great time without DVD's & games etc. She did some drawing & made up games. She loved the dogs & enjoyed playing with them & talking to them. I just wish she had the opportunity to do this more often, that we could have this kind of life & summer closer to her home, oh what a childhood memories she would have for the rest of her life. At the moment memories from this age are fragile & only few are kept, most forgotten. She has already forgotten all the lovely memories I have of our holiday here with her when she was 3, which is sad, thank goodness for photo's :)))))
Who knew a plunge pool could be so much fun for a child, I love it as it cools me down & I can float on my lilo in peace & quiet but I was so pleased to see it get so much use & provide so much fun! They all enjoyed time sunbathing & relaxing by our pool area.
We organised a relaxing garden party for them to meet our Russian, Bulgarian & English friends. Just a small gathering of 13 this time but really nice & chilled with an amusing game of Yahtzee after, Anton didn't know what the heck was going on :) Thank goodness for Peter who speaks English & translated to Anton what he was doing, it was good fun :)
I love this photo of Hope & Claire
We managed to get a day in Veliko Tarnovo & took them to Tzaravets hill. We had a lovely day with a small lunch at the new restaurant outside of the castle grounds (expensive tourist prices) & dinner at the Happy man :))))))))) The grounds of Tzaravets were hosting opera's every night that week. That would have been well cool as I have seen an opera in the amphitheatre in Verona under the night sky & I would have loved to add that to my experiences! The great thing was though as we were walking along chatting about how it would be great if they had people dressed in the clothing of the era living as it would have been we came across just such a scene, spooky!
It was really interesting & we watched mock soldier fighting, Horse riding & Nigel, Tom & Hope had a go at archery.
BTV were there filming I would guess for the news & we watched a little scene where a man was being arrested in stocks with his wife running in front crying NE NE
 It was really a nice change as we have been there many times now so it was great to have something different to experience :)))
Nigel had started an electrical job but took the last two days we had her off. We spent the day at a local pool/restaurant, it was a very hot day & lovely to relax by a proper pool while Hopey made friends & spent the whole day swimming & having fun.
 Then unfortunately it was off to Sofia to get the plane. Very sad but we had a wonderful time & they all enjoyed different aspects of Bulgaria so we now look forward to many more holidays together! I for one can't wait ;-)))))))