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

Friday, 7 October 2011

My But Time Flies, Parties & Baking,

My Love lies bleeding.
Last of the roses :-(
Wow it's been almost a month since my last post, where does the time goooooooooo?
It will be interesting for me, writing this, to see exactly what we have done. It's easy (especially with a memory like mine) to feel like we have done nothing! So I think this may be a long one :-)
So lets start with a round up through pictures.........
A days harvest
Grapes harvested & vino is under construction :-D

Lunch from the garden 
Well we have had a bumper crop of veggies this year, so glad we managed to get the back paddock plowed up in time. There were things that we were too late to plant, so next year we are looking forward to even more, & the pumpkins are smaller than last year as they were late in but other than that we have done really well. Lots of beetroot, which I love freshly pulled & cooked, no better way to eat them yummmmmmm.
Tomatoes were forth coming, in fact I have just bought in half a builders bucket full with still green ones on the vine & I have been cooking lots of spicy tomato soupa for the winter. Some I have jarred but most is in the freezer in portions. We have enjoyed lots of juicy beefsteak tomatoes in salads & have plenty of jars of tomatoes for cooking with through the year & some wonderful tasting tomato & fresh basil sauce frozen for adding to pasta's & meat later.  I am most pleased though, with the amount & size of our peppers this year, they looked just like the ones being sold in the markets, so we did good :-))) I have been cooking with them all season with enough chopped & frozen  to last a very long time. Add to these the aubergines & I have lots of ratatouille also in the freezer.  Yet again though the cucumbers although we got a few were disappointing, but they were planted late so next year we will try again, last time though!  I have had a wonderful crop of green & purple basil; this year too & the rocket was wonderful. I added the rocket to beetroot leaves for a tasty salad with toms & some of our cucumber for a really nice light lunch with boiled eggs, nice.
We have still to get in the butternut squashes. Again I am really pleased with these. I grew them from the seed of the one I roasted for Christmas & have a crop of 12 big butternuts. Looking forward to having our home grown roast squash this year :-) As I said before they were all late being planted so I am chuffed that we have managed what we have. We even got a few nice big marrows, not many but enough to make lots of chutney & jams.
Baking rustic breads
My new passion is baking rustic breads & I have two lovely breads, tomato & fresh basil & a gorgeous mixed pepper bread. Both are lovely with soup or on its own with butter, very impressed. The other I am baking is Irish Soda bread. Still trying to recreate the one my mum used to make when I was young. Mum can't remember how she made it so I have to keep on till I get it, but in the mean time it's OK a great quick bread for dipping especially in stew, well it is Irish & they love their stews
Our unwelcome Locust visitor!
We very often get visitors in the house. Lizards, frogs along with a cacophony of creepies, but this was a very unwelcome locust. The last thing we want around our crops is a munching demon haha bless on its own it was quite sweet but we were concerned there may have been more. As it happened all was well.
Poaching our pears in our homemade vino
Love my pepper roaster
I was having a laugh with my sister in law who said it seemed like all I was doing was cooking, she see's my facebook posts. Well yes that's all I was doing cooking & baking, every day for a couple of months. Its all about the preserving here. Lots of English people who come here don't bother, but they are really missing out, just ask any of us that do grow & preserve. Its very satisfying & so much better than anything you buy from a supermarket. Second best is buying fresh fruit & veg in season from the markets. Forget finding a farmers market & spending a fortune on the foods here its all from local grown small holdings even from ordinary villagers who sell their excess produce. Wonderful flavour & fantastic prices, everyday.
Going to parties ;-D
The shepherd after too much Rakia. He couldn't walk & this was taken just before he fell down. He had been helped out once then came back :-))) Yovo & Anton managed to get him outside & under a tree to sleep it off :-D
We love socialising with our Bulgarian friends, there is always someone new to meet. This was our village day party. The village has a little fete in the centrum with candy floss & highly coloured sweet lollies, I would hate to be a parent of small children on that day! There is folk dancing Then the villagers get together in different ways with music, biera & rakia. Some sit in the centrum dancing & others go into the countryside surrounding the village & have picnics. As you can see from above, its a good excuse to have too much to drink. Yovo & Pavlika always have a big party, this year we were only 10, so small scale this year but good fun.
Meeting new friends
We were very kindly invited to a 31st wedding anniversary party by people I only knew on facebook. We had joint REAL friends, so myself & Nigel didn't feel awkward :-) It was great meeting new people & hearing different stories, some very sad, as well as happy, of life in Bulgaria. We met some lovely ladies & enjoyed the day. It was sunny & very hot, perfect weather for their celebration, thank you Elaine & Allan. We don't normally mix with large numbers of expats as we have lots of Bulgarian & Russian friends, so it made a nice change. Our English friends tend to be scattered around Bulgaria & as we do most of the entertaining we usually only have two or four English friends & family when they are here. We tend to mix it up English Bulgarian & Russian which is interesting, watching who mixes it up & who stays within the English or Bulgarian groupings. We have found the Bulgarians let go more when the English have left, now I am not sure if this is because the English leave early when they are just starting to get going or if its just shyness :-D The English reserve is very obvious too & its great when friends really get stuck into getting to know people with hand gestures & laughter but being reserved of dealing with a foreign language can really stop people having fun.
Fundraiser at the Silistra orphanage
The garden party was a huge success & the children had a great day. We too enjoyed it very much & the weather was fantastic, good old Bulgaria came up trumps yet again! The orphanage is well run & the children well fed & clothed. They also seem to be loved & also importantly liked! This is down to a wonderful English couple Bernie & Dougie who work tirelessly to fundraise & collect clothing & essentials. They organise this garden party every year to raise funds & this year the day raised close to 2,000 leva which is being used to repair the roof. Well done & thank you Bernie & Dougie xxxxxxxx 
Nigel's grown an Apricot tree from seed  :-)
Nigel has put his back out :-( It started when he was renovating our barn (which is still not finished, yet) & then compounded when he did a roof reno & I think the 7 hour round trip for the garden party finished it off. The road going was very bumpy with pot holes everywhere & then standing around all day didn't help :-((((
We took a friend & her two boys & all had a great day. The boys are the best behaved I have ever met, also very polite & respectful something you find very rarely in 10 & 8 year olds, even when they are tired!
\we got back really late & I hadn't even thought about dinner so we went for a meal with them in a really nice place in Popovo, nice end to the day. Thanks Alison xxx
I was excited to meet up with facebook friends that are moving over just down the road from us :-) & how brilliant are they :-D Lovely, really looking forward to having fantastic neighbours & enjoying lots of social couplings hehe. We have enjoyed many hours of chatting & enjoyed a nice meal with them in the restaurant with the pool which is right by them. What a nice place, they were obviously waiting on us to leave but didn't chuck us out or ask us to leave or, as you sometimes get, proffer the bill till we asked for it! Nice food & cheap, menus in Bulgarian but just ask for the foods you know you like, easy. We had shopska salad & Kavarma all round 2 pork & 2 chicken with chips. I ordered potatoes in garlic & dill & got chip in garlic & dill, which was not what I imagined but was actually very nice & was, I would think, cooked especially for me :-D When you find a small place run by nice people its lovely.  We really enjoy eating out here, it never bankrupts us & the food is fabulous I do however miss a good steak & Lamb shank!!! Steak here is very expensive & out of our price range.
Sophie went missing again. Gone for a week, she turned up all skinny, hungry & full of love & kisses :-) So now we have the job of fattening her up yet again. I wish she would stop going out visiting but she jumps over 7' high fences so until we get loads of money we can't stop her :-( We have put her in the compound 7' high & she has jumped it we chained her in the compound & she jumped with the chain on her, that was very dangerous! So now we let her do her thing & hope she is sensible enough to stay away from certain elements! She actually slept in doors last night with Kamishka!
So the end of a rather long blog, my apologies but living in Bulgaria is a very busy life, winter will be less busy but then not much  to blog about. Isn't that what we call sods law?