Early on the morning of 6th June we set out for Sofia airport to pick up Amalia. Two minutes into the journey the heavens opened and a torrential downpour enveloped the landscape of the mid Danubian Plains. A further two minutes into the journey the windscreen wipers gave up the ghost. Terry walked out into a wall of water in order to do his mechanical magic and make two broken windscreen wipers one working arm.
He then spent the next ten minutes desperately trying to find the road he was driving on, nose to the screen and breathe making two small heat holes on the inside of the screen. As he pulled back slightly and without looking at me he said “We’re on empty, keep your eyes peeled for a gas station”. I kept my annoyance in abeyance because the conditions were biblical and there didn’t appear to be a house in the near vicinity let alone a gas station. I curbed the almost overwhelming need to say “What the **** were you thinking not filling up the van?”. How I didn’t is a tribute to my ability to let passive aggression overrule sheer anger and frustration. Terry has a laissez-faire attitude to putting fuel in vehicles and “We”ll make it, stop stressing” is often a mantra on our journeys. However he was looking worried which made the situation like a script from a eastern block thriller. Terry just kept driving through the deluge whilst I sat fretting and the smell of petrol fumes pervaded the cab of the van. Just as I was running scenarios of catastrophe through my head a large familiar blue sign loomed in the distance on the other side of the road. Undeterred by the rules of the highway code and with that racey continental attitude he has embraced wholeheartedly he performed a gut wrenching U-turn straight over the central reservation and we sailed into the station quite literally on fumes.
The rest of the journey was going swimmingly till I opened up data roaming on the phone and checked the live arrivals. Amalias plane was delayed by two hours! Now given the fact that she had dropped on us that actually we were making the 6 hour round trip to pick up the majority of her luggage and her electronics so she could stay in Sofia for 3 days and to take her to lunch we both groaned. It meant the dogs would be locked in all day with thunderstorms outside. Not a good combination. However as we entered he outskirts of Sofia we spotted Praktis and decided to do a spot of shopping. We’d decided that we’d try and get the summer kitchen up and working to free up one of our livable rooms as a second bedroom given the upcoming family visits. As Terry perused the plumbing section I spotted lime green tiles, two sorts too. A solid based long rectangular wall tile and a square striped floor tile. It wasn’t long till they were loaded on a trolley and we headed for the checkout. I had decided the summer kitchen was going to be my opportunity to practice a zesty colour scheme. We also tried a couple of builders yards for a RSJ but to no avail. Sofia is a beautiful city and once you leave the outskirts it is obvious to see it is a capital
As we jumped in the van to pick up Amalia it became apparent that there were no signs for the airport. We could see the airfield to our left but absolutely no indication of which of the many tiny tributary roads would lead to the terminal. Eventually we followed the preponderance of traffic and finally pulled into the car park with minutes to spare. Sofia airport is tiny, low tech and with two air conditioning outlets in the arrivals hall were being monopolised by the Bulgarians who huddled possessively around their partially cool breeze.
It was easy to spot Amalia as she sauntered through the arrivals door, tall lanky and beautiful, towering over her fellow Bulgarian travelers. We whipped her out of the airport and off to a restaurant for lunch. A hungry Amalia is not a happy Amalia! Fed and dropped off near her hostel she wafted off into the Sofian urbanscape as if she’d always lived there. We’d see her again in three days.
When we arrived home at 6pm we were greeted by wooden ch ipsat the front door and two ridiculously excited dogs. Both Terry and I looked at each other and wondered if someone had tried to get into the house but as the lock turned and we opened the door fully we saw that the dogs had tried to get out and had all but eaten their way through the door. They’d also left us a rather malodorous present in the centre of the room. We knew who had done it because Bodie crawled along the floor with eyes sidewards. We couldn’t be angry, Bodie has this ability to give a human rendition of a smile that makes her look absolutely terrifying and comical at the same time.
Bright and early the next day we removed existing plaster from the walls of the summer kitchen, batoned it ready for plaster boarding and scraped the loose concrete from the floor. We then worked in tandem measuring and cutting plasterboard to fit the kitchen walls. There was not one single wall that had equidistant measurements! The poor bread oven has suffered damage from both the weather and the virulent undergrowth. Ilia has offered to fix it for us. As you can see from the images below, we started with a very poor standard of work but as usual Terry worked his magic and before long it was plasterboarded. the floor tiled, a fuse box installed and electric connected and a system under the old granite sin that will allow both well water and mains water to run through the taps. I was merely the labourers mate!
As the work around the house continues lugging water around in 7 litre plastic bottlers has become part of lifes’ rich tapestry. So on a hot and muggy morning pushing 35 degrees the digger from the Water company drew up outside the house. I rushed out and took some pictures to ensure this wasn’t a dream. Now I would like to say that we then had water but to cut a long story short it took another week till we actually got the water connected to the house because the first crew did connect our pipework to the mains pipes but negated to bore through the pipe. The rather pugilistic chap in the red vest finally worked it out and gave the other odious little man a vociferous stripping down in the lane outside the house.
And on that note folks we have to drive to Veliko Tarnovo to visit our bank.