Endings and beginnings, surprise visitors and plumbing

Recently three of the kids have ended relationships, one has started a relationship, another is in a longterm relationship and the youngest – who knows!  I think they have all handled these various relationship statuses with aplomb.  Young people have so may pressures that it is good to see that they try not to “should” on themselves nor on others.  It is a joy to have adult kids, our relationships have realigned themselves and they have become people you want to hang out with rather than hide from.  And of course the summer has ended.  Tomorrow, Sunday has sunshine forecast all day but there then follows 6 days of varying degrees of rain.  What this means, in a renovation project, is mud.  This is going to be made considerably worse by the fact that we are welcoming back Paul and Ian to help work on the house.  Large muddy men with large muddy boots, chunky Staffies with fat paws, a lithe feline with dainty pads and three bloody annoying strays.  All with muddy extremities!  The dichotomy here is whether to put down the rugs or keep to the concrete floors.  Both have their plus and minus points.  Carpets are warm but trap mud and water, concrete is cold and dusty, but can be easily swept.  Decisions, decisions.  Terry tends to carpets and that’s because he has no sense of smell and is neither perturbed by wet dog  or damp rug smell.  However in some weird throwback to a suburban housewife I tremble at the thought of someone “popping by” and having their olfactorial senses assaulted by the melange of aromas.  The thought of being judged on my least competent skill, ergo housekeeping, reduces me to a neurotic angst ridden mess.  When I was working I had the perfect excuse for my less than salubrious standard of housekeeping.  I’m totally with the “tidy house, bored mind” school of thought.  I’m plumping for concrete floors till the daily onslaught of building rubble, dust and debris has diminished.

The upstairs extension is forming itself from a mad impetuous dream into a solid reality under Terry the Tanks relentless ministrations.  The bathroom, landing and bedroom have had joists and OSB fitted so that our flooring of choice can be laid.  We bought plain cream tiles for the bathroom floor.  The granite work tops and stone mosaic tiles as a feature wall, not to mention an antique claw foot cast iron bath will provide all the wow factor required.  The pipework for the bathroom is being fitted and the  sink plinth for the granite tiles has been built.  The water heater is on the wall with the electric and water inlet and outlets are ready for connection.  Terry is in a race with the meteorological vagaries of winter.  In order for the building and installation of the internal staircase the only working bathroom and toilet must be entirely disconnected, the old pipework and waste pipes removed and reconnected to connect the upstairs bathroom.  Taking a shower outside in sun warmed water is quite pleasant but with temperatures dropping steadily day by day this is not going to be an option.  And the thought of traipsing halfway up the sprawling garden to use the doorless compost toilet in the middle of the night in the rain is a toe curling prospect.  I am actively searching for a chamberpot!  At least we can strip wash in the relative warmth and privacy of the summer kitchen.  I’m trying to remain optimistic and assure myself that this daunting process will take no more than a week.  However good project management dictates multiplying this by pi for a job to be finished, on time, to budget and fit for purpose.  We shall be as malodorous as the dogs!  So here’s some shots of the building site of a garden and the lane to the side of the house before we descend into a mud bath!

We had surprise visitors in the shape of Josh and Chris, both friends of our eldest James.  Josh is hoping to move to Bulgaria in the near future with his beloved hound Henry.  Chris has travelled with Josh quite widely and I was heart warmed that he could also appreciate the beauty of Bulgaria.  Josh feels stymied by the lack of opportunities and impossibility of getting on the housing ladder in the UK.  As young men in their mid twenties it was a joy to see that they spent their week in Bulgaria traversing the country, eating out and visiting all manner of cultural  sites.  We managed to fit in some house viewings and Josh has seen a beautiful old house with a lump of land that he’s very taken with.  I shall be trying to contact the owner and broker a sale on his behalf.  As a thank you the lads invited us out to eat at Perfecto in Levski.  We were so surprised and spent a really enjoyable evening with them.  They are both really lovely young men with good conversational skills and so polite.  I have known them both for many years and it was a pleasure to see how well they have turned out.  The images below are from Josh and are taken from veliko Tarnovo, Pleven, Sunny Beach, Sozapol and locally.

On the afore mentioned sunny Sunday I had planned to transplant some of the potted plants to their forever homes, continue on the stripping of the felled trees for fire wood.  I had also rather ambitiously timetabled in the sorting out of the wood pile.  Alas, alack the best laid plans and all that ….  Terry, who had sequestered himself in the extension was busy installing the new toilet and running the waste pipes.  As I was stripping the felled trees I heard a stream of expletives and was glad that not too much english is spoken in the village.  I rather grudgingly made my way back to  the house and asked what the matter was.  He didn’t have enough bends for the waste pipes.  He assured me that he had bought some and that a malicious non entity had removed them.  I knew what was coming; a trip to the aptly named wheelbarrow shop in Pavlikeni.  It boasts a vast range of wheeled appliances ranging from the soviet styled metal wheeled square bodied beast right through to gaily coloured capacious versions destined for those for whom a wheelbarrow is a piece of garden furniture rather than a work beast.  With heavy heart I climbed into the Landy, with both dogs looking heartbroken at my departure and the three strays gaily escorting me up the track as I drove off.  It took about an hour to complete my journey and make the purchases so I was looking forward to continuing with my green fest of gardening.  However, as soon as I ascended the giddy heights of the Jeep Terry informed me that I was needed to help install the external waste pipes and connect them to the cess pit.  You can, I’m sure, imagine my surprise not to mention my reticence at this planned activity.  The urban giraffe was fired up and Terry located the cess pit with some ease.  We had been assured that the drain aways that pass for chess pits are just holes with old tyres and broken tiles and a cement lid.  To our surprise ours was brick built and not at all unpleasant in aroma.  Scottish David had suggested using yeast down the toilet so that all the good bacteria would multiply exponentially thus chowing down efficiently on our effluence.  And so it turned out to be.  We do not use chemicals in the bathroom for this reason.  Bi carb of soda and vinegar work very well.  Terry had chiseled out the cob and old render so that eventually the down pipe would be hidden under the insulation and new render. However fitting together an old and a new system was not without it’s difficulties.  Expletives flew around like swallows in spring; in great numbers and seemingly without reason.  However it did get finished and by that time it was after 5pm.  Ever the troopers we tidied up and then packed away the pool that I’d jet washed earlier, dismantled the frame and put it in the upper regions of the old house.  Nelly, Yeorgis wife, popped over to the fence as I gathered my tools and looked longingly at the work I hadn’t had time to complete.  She said we had made a great job of clearing the fruit tree area and was very pleased at not having her garden overshadowed by the foliage of the jungle.  She is a sturdily built woman with an honest and open face.  She is a train driver as Yeorgi proudly points out every time her train can be heard rumbling along the tracks in the distance.  Vesko our unmarried and aged neighbour seems to be under the misapprehension that Terry is not my partner and has been wooing me with bags and bags of grapes.  I had to break it to him gently that Terry was my partner.  To his credit he till continues to bring me grapes but far fewer.  Before I knew it darkness was falling and I left the still warm environs of the garden for the summer kitchen to feed the animals and get a cauliflower cheese on the go.  It has been an extremely busy day and as we are still suffering with the flu it’s been a torturously long one to boot.

And finally some animal pictures of our latest addition Ted the ginger Tom and his love affair with Bodie.  Ted has surpassed all the local moggies in size.  Cats are kept only for ratting in the villages whilst Ted has a dual purpose; a bed foot warmer and a ratter.  He eats extremely well and has at 4 months reached the size and weight of all the adult neighbouring cats.



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