We have eventually started work on the roof. That is, as I write, the old roof is off, lock stock and barrel. Terry has a small team working with him; Paul, Ian, Declan and our friend Dave who is helping out in return for some work on his house later on. Paul is also bartering services with Terry. It is of great joy that we are able to barter and trade off work and was one of the reasons for making a move to Bulgaria, ergo, an alternative lifestyle. On the day the work began on the roof the temperature was in the 40’s and one week later we have a week of showers forecast. Not the best of news when your house has its lid off!
Terry has completed the gable ends and there has been some minor changes to the plans. Instead of a course of cement blocks to raise the roof we are in the process of doing three. It will both give us a splendid vaulted roof but will also allow for windows to be installed in the walls rather than having velux windows in the roof. Having a ton of snow laying on a window above your head can be an unnerving prospect! We will now be able to lie in bed and see the garden without raising our heads. With the rain forecast the steels have been installed and thick polythene slung over it and secured to ensure a dry house during the precipitations. It is not a pretty sight at the moment but like the proverbial ugly duckling should metamorphosis into a beautiful set of rooms. There will be a large bathroom, a hallway and landing leading to a bedroom and a walk in wardrobe. There is a small frisson of excitement as I say that. I love the minimalist look and can’t wait to put everything away so that the bedroom is a temple of tranquility and calm. We have after all been living in renovation projects for nearly two years now!
Voula and Soula the strays and Voulas puppies Ralphie and Hilda are fast becoming part of our life. However one day about a week ago I called Bodie and Vinnie and got no response. My heart sank because I knew they’d made an escape bid again and a successful one at that. It came at the moment we were going to view houses with Amalia. I shrugged and told Terry not to stress, that the little buggers would be back soon. In fact we went with Alex and Paul, in their car to Butovo first to see a couple of houses and later to Gradishte. The houses in Butovo were a no go, not an instantaneous no go but a pretty definite. Alex mention that a friend of his knew of a house in Gradishte. Now Amalia wasn’t sure about a house in the same village because she didn’t want to be overlooked. However when we viewed the house it had Amalia’s name all over it in the same way James’s did. It is on the edge of the village and looks over agricultural land. She asked for Terry to come and give his approval and to that end Paul shot off to pick up Terry from his roof work. In his non committal and understated way Terry said “It’s alright”. Ami and I smiled at each other because we knew that was high enough praise. There was another prospective buyer so I told the agent we’d buy in to Monday. That sealed the deal and a deposit of 500 leva. And so Amalia became a home owner.
This wonderful news was marred by the non return of our dogs. Everywhere I looked I could see dogs and puppies but not our beloved Staffies. Alex made and took us to put up posters with a reward of 200 leva for their safe return. The packed cafe we pinned the poster up in caused some consternation and rather comically the cafe emptied soon after with many locals being seen pumping up tyres on their bicycles ready for an impromptu search party for the hounds. A terrible night was passed with Terry and I waking up at every little noise thinking the dogs had made their way back. We both prepared ourselves for the worst. The weather had been terribly hot and humid and water is not easily found in the summer. It was late the second day when Terry was sat in the garden with the strays gambolling about when I heard him shout “It’s Bodie”. I raced to her my face wet with tears. She was almost blind and had a raging temperature. I took her into the shower and washed the grit out of her eyes and the mud of her and as the water covered her it ran red with blood from her paws. I wrapped her in a towel and laid next to her on our bed as she convulsed and trembled for the next three hours. I drip fed her water and at about midnight coaxed some food into her. She couldn’t walk, Terry had to carry her. As we were able to examine her as she stabilised it was apparent that she had escaped from somewhere. Her mouth, snout, ears and neck were red raw as were her claws and pads. It made Vinnies absence all the more heart breaking. We went everywhere we could and Alex and Paul were relentless in their searches. Another day passed and Terry and I looked at each other feeling like the worst dog owners ever.
It was at 1am in the morning that we heard Alex’s voice wafting through our dreams. His soft Scottish accent urgently calling us “Terry, Corinne we’ve seen Vinnie”. We were out of bed and in the car in seconds. I was actually wearing a bikini top and a pair of Terrys boxers but didn’t realise till later on such was the haste in which we left. Alex explained that he and Paul had been returning from a night out and had spotted Vinnie along the road heading from Butovo to Gradishte. They’d stopped and called Vinnie but he became spooked and shot off into the undergrowth to the side of the train track. Two hours Terry and I went backwards and forwards calling his name but nothing. The frustration was unbearable. We quit the search about 3am because I was worried that by travelling by car and calling him we were actually confusing him. We had a restless night and as we watched Bodie still barely able to walk we wondered what on earth Vinnie must be feeling. It was a terrible night.
The next morning Terry set off again just before 7am but was still unable to find him. With the team arriving to work on the roof and with a trip to Veliko Tarnovo to get the money for Amalias bank the morning passed in a numb frenzy. That afternoon as I was serving lunch Alex screamed up to the gate and told us he’d seen Vinnie again in the same spot in Butovo. Terry and Ian leaped into the Landy and followed Alex to where Paul was keeping guard. Twenty minutes later a very sad looking Vinnie was carried into the garden. No helicopter tail, just a sad little wag. He was thin, exhausted and had hideous track lines down his body and in his ears, as if he too had escaped from some confine. He drank two bowls of water and sicked them up. He did however eat some raw mince, in fact he quaffed it and then made his way painfully to our bed where he slept under our watchful eyes and next to Bodie for the next 24 hours. It is three days since he returned and he is still not his usual self.
On a penultimate note the weather has made some subtle changes over this last week. We have gone from blazing days and stifling nights to a chill in the mornings and at night. I’m gently rocking with mirth here because the chilly mornings and evenings probably equate to 26 degrees and Terry suggesting the return of the duvet! How quickly one’s body acclimatises to the weather.
The landscapes are also changing and if we weren’t so busy I’d be out with a camera documenting what appears to be daily changes. The nights are drawing in ever so slightly and the mornings and evenings are not so crisp in their luminescence. The veil of Autumn is just around the corner and as the field rend their harvest to the farmers the grapes hand heavily on the vines. It is exciting to be part of this change, to feel the frisson of the unknown. The winter proper is going to be a challenge but one we are armed and ready for. That is we have 2 petchka’s a whole pile of wood and several pairs of long johns each. Our friends David and Catherine have reliably informed us that a whole pig, slaughtered and butchered can be had for as little as 200 leva depending on the size of the beast. They recommend long lazy days with a lump of port cooking slowly atop the wood burner and “tatties” under the wood in the ashes. It sounds enticing enough to ward off any qualms about -20 degrees and electric strikes. Terry of course has two generators at the ready so that, in his words, he can run the house!
The “bedouin tent” has come into it’s own in both ends of the weather scale. It deflects the sun and is waterproof. It is in effect another room. The roofing team chow down here, we have bbq’s for our friends and well just chill in there. Rather sadly at the moment it is surrounded by the debris of building work but it matters not. It provides an oasis of calm and a retreat.
The final note is that we have offered Ralphie and Hilda, via a couple of Facebook pages to good homes. They’ve been wormed, de-fleas and de-ticked. We have had no responses thus far and to top it all off Voula delivered us with a third puppy that looks just like a Rottie. Someone somewhere is obviously taking great enjoyment out of docking dogs tails because this pup turned up with a nub of a tail and a whipped dog attitude. Lackaday, lackaday what’s to do in doggie world!