It was my Dad’s 80th birthday last Friday and my Moms 11 days later. I wasn’t there and contact via whatsapp is never an easy option. The best I managed was a voicemail and a text message. We have never been a family to make a fuss or to have large celebrations so whilst I shouldn’t have been too bothered it did make me realise that living away comes with some high price tags. Fortunately my cousin John was celebrating his 60th and the family went to share in the celebrations up in Brum. I have yet to hear how it all went.
Everyone is talking about the weather, how last winter was a gentle winter with shorts and t-shirts till 27th December and back on again in February. I have heard rumblings of thunderstorms and huge temperature drops. Having done some research myself the drop from 89 degrees to 70 doesn’t seem all that bad. Almost something to look forward to! Rain will be our first trial of the watertightness of the roof. We are feeling quite confident even if the render on the new parts of the building are not yet complete.
Which brings me neatly on to the next subject; rendering and when you have in your head you can’t do something. Well Terry was almost certain he couldn’t. We are not plasterers either and both have a genuine respect for those that can. But Terry can render and although he has only put on the first coat it’s looking good. I haven’t tried my hand yet. After having a houseful for most of the summer I am resetting myself. It has been a fantastic summer. We’ve had three of the kids out, one of their boyfriends and our beloved grandson. Parents hopefully will be better inclined to come next year when we will have a house rather than a building site.
I am desperate to start on the garden but with the digger required to clear areas and put down hardcore it is difficult to plant anything. I have of course got a herb garden and it is very productive. I had bought over a dying Basil, a Parsley, a Thyme, a Rosemary and an Oregano plant, you know the kind you get in the supermarket. The type that when you cut off a few leaves they begin their dance of death. Well when I went to replant them I found out that there were about 10 plants in the parsley, 10 thin weak shoots. I took those thin shoots, planted them lovingly in the soil and whilst everyone thought they hadn’t a chance those little beauts are now a huge healthy patch that I crop daily. The Basil was only 1 shoot but that is now almost a bush. The oregano was 2 plants and they have happily spread over a healthy area as have the Thyme and the Rosemary is establishing itself nicely. I have a small cabbage patch that is healthy. I haven’t used any products at all. The garden has an excellent eco balance and the plethora of cacophonous frogs seem to deal with the bugs very well indeed. I have found out that I am in zone 7 for planting which means that if we were better organised I could have lecture, spinach, beetroot, onions and in a bit garlic. I look longingly at the garden and am trying to work out where I can get a patch of land ready that won’t impede the progress of our urban giraffe; the JCB. No sooner had I written the last sentence Terry strode in and announced that we were going to start clearing the jungle. We started at the top end of the garden around the Walnut tree and over three days at various times started clearing all the non fruiting trees. The pile is becoming rather unwieldy to say the least. The question remains as to whether we burn or sort and chop. Given the number of trees still left to remove and new ones to plant I fear we may take the burn option. The frugal side of myself is screaming noooooo keep the wood for next year. The weather will be a factor but as we’ve had temperatures in the mid twenties and rain is not forecast I will delay the decision and see how we get on.
Well a week has passed since I started writing this blog and the weather has changed. On one evening and both sat in shorts we lit the Petchka for the first time. It was a tad early and after 15 minutes the door to next door was open and both sets of windows. Our first trial run. The nights are cooler now and yesterday we got the quilt out. After baking like a jacket potato all summer it was quite a pleasure to have the soft bulk of the quilt nestling over our knackered bodies. In view of these meteorological changes we have finally started sorting the impressive mountain of wood at the side of the old house. We’ve tarped it because it’s bone dry and we don’t want to risk wet wood this late in the year. As it is still hot during the day we are wearing our usual shorts and crocs and have been trying to make time each day to cut some wood. Terry knocked together a shelving system in the hallway of the old house and we’ve started filling that. My problem is that I don’t want to burn the old oak beams and Terry does. I see projects of mantle pieces or chunky coffee tables Terry says it will burn longer than soft wood. This is correct but burning 80 year old wood in a solid fuel turner seems sacrilege. To that end I have secreted it under another tarp!
We have also finished fencing in the dogs, 2 sides of a 2700 m2 plot. Our dogs are now safely contained. However the street dogs Voula and Soula and puppy Royston have taken the erection of fencing very personally. There is what I can only describe as a vendetta going on between Terry and the stray canines. It is impossible to describe the ingenuity and persistence of these beasts. Sometimes their efforts to breach the boundary are so painful we hear them whelping and wiralling in the distance. Our less than salubrious local shepherd has assured me that he will take on Royston and train him as his sheep dog. He and his shy and giggly wife will be coming tomorrow. That just leaves Voula and Soula to deal with.
I am happy to report that our number of friends in the village now include Yiorgi our mostly absent next door neighbour. His son, studying navigation in Varna and his girlfriend all popped up at the fence as we were fencing. We were both filthy and smelly but it didn’t seem to bother them. A little to Terry chagrin, as he doesn’t like to stop work, we were inited to view their plot and in traditional Bulgarian style it was immaculate. So much to live up to! And to our further surprise Yiorgo 65 if he’s a day came round and helped Terry by wheeling barrow after barrow of concrete to put in the fencing foundations. He also insisted we leave a gate between our properties so that we could help ourselves to his surplus of produce. What a lovey! Ilia our much beloved neighbour has also started our new bread/meat oven outside of the summer kitchen. He refuses to take payment so we have said we would like to take his good lady wife Grozda and himself out to eat. I have a feeling they will not come.