Having completed the summer kitchen we have been spurred on to action in what will be our living room. We have emptied the room and condensed our belongings down to a bed, a chest and a wardrobe and are now situated in what will be the study/library. I feel a thrill of hedonism as I say that! Everything else is either stacked in other parts of the house or garden. As we only sleep and shower in the house it is not too bad. The view from this window is wonderful and that is a perhaps the only bonus to renovation living; different views with each room we stay in.
I rarely take pictures of the inside of the house because it makes the job ahead look so overwhelming. It is easy to be blind to your surroundings inside the house when the outside is so wonderful. However the living room is, as if by magic. close to completion. The hole in the ceiling has been plaster boarded, the wiring channels have been filled, the electric plugs and switches are in place and Terry has made a simply beautiful job of the window surrounds. When we had the double glazing fitted we were not aware that in Bulgaria they don’t “finish” either inside or out. We were left with lovely new windows with fitted fly screens but great ugly gashes in the walls. So Terry has lined them first with plasterboard and then with sanded wood which will be oiled. The walls have all been PVA’d and this morning we will be painting the room top to bottom.
The wooden floorboards, we hope, are enough in number to get started laying them either today or tomorrow. Most Bulgarians use tongue and groove for their flooring unless they are lucky enough to have the old 30mm wooden floors that they usually cover with laminate! So sourcing wood for floorboards was somewhat of an adventure. We finally found raw boards of four different widths but all just over 4m long. We bought enough for the living and dining room for 300 leva, about £120 but we have had to plane and sand all of them. The beauty of this is that the floor will be quirky and different to everyone else’s.
We went out last night with friends Paul and Sue and were machinating on what finish to give the boards. I don’t like the yellow finish that varnish gives pine and was thinking about oiling the wood. However Paul, a carpenter and joiner of 35 years suggested running an acrylic wash over to keep the boards light and then using yacht varnish. Having dogs on varnished floors means they needs re varnishing every year but apparently yacht varnish is so strong it should circumvent that happening. Food for thought.
I’m afraid there has been some days break due to the immense effort we made and finally moved into our living room! It took humping furniture in 42 degrees, painting, sanding, planing, varnishing, yes we decided on varnish and generally good old fashioned hard work. Our living room is only partially dressed because the barn whither our goods are stored is jammed to the rafters and until this heat dissipates and the workload eases we are working to a minimalist approach. It means we have something to look forward to when the weather cools and our workload eases. Terry jokingly said “that’ll be next year then!”
Our much loved Greek solid wood burner bought from an English couple living in Bulgaria who had owned a home in Lefkada! Small world.
The stripy rug is a new buy. Terry found it and we both agreed instantaneously; we do love a splash of colour. It sets off the floorboards wonderfully
The little shelf in the corner is an old chicken feed wooden box that I’ve cleaned, oiled and set on it’s head. The boxes are collapsible and are our living room storage
The Aspidestra on the coffee table is my birthday present from Ami and matches the room beautifully
Bright orange cushions, I’ve decided to bring at least one colour from each room into the next. So even though the zesty kitchen outside is predominantly green it also has splashes of orange and the tiny splash of orange from there is bought through to this room
The bottle of tequila on the window shelf is a signifier of our bludgeoning social life. We hosted a meal in the garden and one of our guests bought the tequila. It also sets off the lovely job Terry made of finishing the windows. We have still to deice how to dress the window. We aren’t yet at loggerheads but we are close. It is also so difficult not to go and spend a day sorting out all our wonderful and quirky belongings in the barn down the road. However we have done a very quick smash and grab and after 7 minutes we were both absolutely wet through with our cloches and hair plastered to our bodies and heads. We could barely breathe.
Terry and the dogs after our guests had left. I forgot to take piccies of our guests
The marl obelisks next to the Petchka and the solid marble slab, they are all from Greece!
Terry at the end of a very long day
It has been somewhat of a social week for us. On Tuesday we went out with Kathy and Dave to Perfekmo in Levski for an evening meal. Terry and I thoroughly enjoyed their company and whilst Dave and Terry nattered on about building I found that Kathy loved food and gardening. I was so happy. We sat and discussed the attributes of pasta, the vagaries of gardening in a continental climate and all manner of topics we had in common. I had not realised how satisfying and well, pleasant, it is to talk about your passions with someone like minded. I happened to mention that I wanted to knock on the door of the Market Gardener at the bottom of my road and Kathy leaped on the idea and firmly stated her intention to come with me. So the following day Kathy and Dave turned up in the middle of cooking our daily fry up. I was so excited I turned the gas off, covered the food with a tea towel and all three of us set off down the lane to the Market Gardeners house. He has a hedge of manicured conifers topped with campsis radicums that I have been admiring for months. I rang the bell and a plump dark haired woman opened the door. I asked falteringly if they had any fruit trees for sale. She pointed to our right and as if by magic a mans head popped out of the greenery from a hidden door and beckoned us. As we walked though the opening we were engulfed in a verdant forrest of all things horticultural.
Both Kathy and I wanted to buy fruit trees so I had made sure before leaving the house that I was able to verbalise that. However as the old Bulgarian gardener looked quizzically at us he shouted towards the house and two tousle haired boys loped out. He spoke to them in rapid fire Bulgarian and the eldest who we later learned was eleven and called Alex broke forth in a soft Irish lilt and translated his Grandfathers words with aplomb. He explained that his Grandfather was selling everything we surveyed except Granny and his dog. As we all smiled he also explained that fruit trees were only sold in October but that his Grandfather would source them for us nearer the time. There was no time to feel mortified at our ignorance as we were given the grand tour. There were diagonal rows and rows of every kind of conifer you could imagine, lime green, conical, manicured but we were after things that flowered or fruited.
As we walked around Kathy and I oohed and ahed as we began to recognise familiar plants, Lavendula, Lonicera, Sedum, Berberis, Hibiscus, Viola, Campsis Radicums, Geraniums, Pelergoniums well far too many to mention. Alex and his younger brother translated both their Grandfathers words and our requests. The pride of the old Bulgarian for his two bi lingual grandsons was plain to see as he playfully rubbed their heads and literally beamed his joy at their presence. He explained that his daughter had married an Irish man but that every summer the boys were delivered to himself and his wife. He was also serious about selling both the house and the business. Alex explained that his Grandfather had a lovely big house in Pavlikeni and wanted to retire. I asked Alex if he would miss the market garden and he shook his head strongly. It was after all a paradise for little boys. Well needless to say both Kathy and I came away laden with Dave following behind carrying what we couldn’t manage.
As we struggled up the lane I saw the back end of the delivery truck from Pavlikeni pulling into the yard. The steels for the roof had arrived. My reverie was broken and we all hurried in to help unload. It took some days to decide where to plants some of my plants because the weather has been too hot to plant. My treasures have been sat in the shade. I have however made a rock type bed along the front of the swimming pool to break the band of blue plastic!
Blueberries waiting for the weather to break before I plant them. Behind is my newly planted parsley, origano, celery, basil and chillies
Balkan greens planted. Ilia perfunctorily walked up the line and took off all but nubs of the greens. He assured me it will allow the plant to thicken and grow strong
Hibiscus and lavender awaiting the land to be cleared and to be planted. The lavender is in the hopes that it will stave off the mossies.
On a final note it was Willaims 5th birthday on the 21st July and it was one of those days when you wished you were in the UK. We spoke on the phone and he hadn’t forgotten me as I had feared. He was so bubbly, so bright and I felt a tightening in my chest as we laughed and shared stories. He is coming to visit with James on the 3rd and I have told Terry I’m having a week off. I have to spend as much time with him as I can. I think James feels the same way too. Roll on the 3rd of August. who could not love such a blessed little mite!