We picked up Amalia from Sofia this morning where she had landed up after coaching overnight from Athens. It is a 6 hour round trip and Terry loves to drive but when we arrived home he fell asleep on the sofa and I was ridiculously relieved. He’s working 24/7 at the moment and I have been flagging so the prospect of an afternoon napping was an absolute joy. However when I awoke from mine and crept out to the summer kitchen to make gigantes (giant dried broad beans cooked slowly in a complex tomato sauce) I was surprised to hear the rumbling of the digger. Afeared it was being stolen I was aghast to see Terry up and about and making up for his siesta.
We needed to clean a space to the side of the house that is nearest to the jungle and it is impenetrable! However Terry made short shrift of the trees, ripping them brutally from the earth whilst I pulled them to one side in an ever growing pile. The wood piles and later wood shed will be situated here as well as outbuildings for garden tools, planting and pool equipment. It is more land than we had thought. The house itself is about 40 metres long and this side area is probably another 20-30 metres. The mud brick walls need tending too and the village wattle and daub expert; Stefan, is handily working up the road so we shall have to approach him and see what the cost will be for repairing it. There is still another 67 metres of jungle to clear but that will have to wait for the moment. It also gave me the opportunity to pile the wood in one place and even better to burn what we couldn’t use in the Pechka.
This was taken as the fire died down. It was really touch and go this time. I had to keep a constant spray of water so the burning embers could be extinguished as they flew about in the wind.
The wall needs repairing and there is a couple of buildings at the end of this stretch that we are still not sure if they belong to us or our neighbours
The woodpile is small but is growing as we start to clear both house and garden
With William and James’s visit almost upon us and Ami at home with us, we are really up against the wall in both the house and garden. Terry is also experiencing some success with Denzil the Digger. Having completed one job the recommendation he received has secured him further work. He now has two commissions on the books. However we desperately need to get the roof off and replaced amongst other jobs.
Our neighbours Alex and Paul had told us there were new people in the village and to that end Alexander had arranged a get together in the “German Bar”. It is neither a German bar or owned by a German but the inference comes from the occupation of the owner who plies his trade in an Arctic between Germany and Bulgaria. Alexander and Paul, as longest serving residents, have organised and perpetuated regular meetings and it is here that all manner of networking happens. The evening was spirited and noisy. Alex sadly could not make the bash but Paul, Dave, Cathy, Peter, Terry, myself and the newbies Keith and Caz all managed to meet and make each others acquaintances in a robust and well oiled manner. In fact Keith and Caz were not newbies but had bought their property some 18 months earlier. Terry and I still hold the dubious crown of newbies.
I had mentioned that as we were erecting scaffolding the next day I was abstaining from alcohol. And I was glad I did because the next day dawned hot and sultry and the scaffolding was hot and heavy. However and very much to our surprise Dave turned up bright and early offering his help. My sigh was verbalised to such a degree that Dave chuckled and good naturedly joshed me about losing a drinking opportunity for no reason. Terry and I have put up scaffolding before and erecting and connecting those first four poles are breathtakingly precarious and dangerous. Trying to balance a 21 foot metal tube, upright and stable when you are 5’2 is some feat. A change of underwear situation is always on the cusp of actuality. However with Dave’s help it went up smoothly and without a hitch. I, of course, provided bacon butties and once the lads were up and going I shouted Amalia and Cathy and we shot out like startled stoats to Levski market.
We have decided to have security installed at the house because we will need to travel back and forwards to the UK. In order to have the system fitted we needed to have plaster boarded the hallway so that the fuse box could be moved and the security system installed on a stable surface. It’s strange that the ugliness of the hall had escaped my notice as if selective blindness has been evoked in order to keep our sanity. It was only as the walls were profiled and the plasterboards went up that the true horror of the bare or partially plastered walls and brickwork were hidden behind the smooth surfaces of Knauf boards that I realised how raw and unprepossessing they must have looked to guests!
Terry has also found like minded people for whom bartering skills is part of the Bulgarian dream in the same way it is for us. He is swapping his digger hours for tree surgery hours with one guy and carpentry for brickwork with another. We barter our equipment with Ilia for his wonderful fresh veg and garden expertise. He came around one day with his beloved Rakia equipment; a huge saucepan and a copper distillery part, both with holes. Terry was able to weld the saucepan but not the copper as that requires a TIG welder which he doesn’t have. Ilia asked me to collect up the Sliva (crab apples`) and pointed at the wheelbarrow and said “sitchko” (everything). I did think it was a tad presumptuous but seeing as we had a regular carpet of the sour little buggers I thought better that than throwing them away. Once I’d filled two wheelbarrows he nodded and said tomorrow I could collect them from outside! I shrugged it off as he’s helped us so much. On the following morning he arrived bright and early and told me to buy fifteen kilos of sugar from the shop. Now I was really taken aback, it seemed so unlike Ilia; he rarely accepts anything from us. So on that premise I fired up the Landy and drove to the shop. There were sniggers and good natured winking of eyes when I walked in and asked for fifteen kilos of sugar. It was then the penny dropped; Ilia was making rakia for us. Crikey crumbles the stuff is pure fire water and more than two glasses and I’m five sheets to the wind. However it is marvellous for after sting and bite lotion and wonderful for cleaning toilets so I’m not complaining!
We have also broken our promise not to feed the strays. A lactating bitch turned up at our gate and was so thin only the width of her spine could be seen after her skeletal rib cage. She had a grown puppy with her and looking at her teats she had obviously had her pups killed. We caved because we had never, ever seen such an emaciated dog and her adolescent pup was not much better. We threw some dog biscuits out and they devoured them without even crunching. A large bowl of fresh water followed. Then Amalia named them Voula and Soula and they now guard the outside of our house with their lives. Bodie and Vinnie are happy to gambol with them when we leave the house but we are not inviting them in. Voula the Mother is grateful and loving. Soula the pup is fearful and I’m not surprised because some excuse for a human has actually severed what would have been a tail at the base of the spine. The pain must have been excruciating. Maybe when they have gained some weight we will find some kind ex pat who would like to adopt them.
As the days race unremittingly by we try to ready the house for guests but also for the longer term work. We had to move the timber from outside the front door to the side of the house so it would be easier to get up into the roof. The timber is 8×8 and 8×12 in four metre and five metre lengths. Rather than carry it one by one we rigged up the digger bucket with straps and Terry hoisted them aloft and moved them twelve at a time to their new home.
Coming to the end of this post I have had two realisations. 1. I am more rounded that I could ever have imagined and 2. I am the worlds worst proof reader. I apologise to my readers for the spelling and grammar errors. My brain, in it’s excitement, runs faster than my cumberland sausage fingers!