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!!!!!