It’s been raining on and off all day and all my fears of mud have come to fruition. The living room rug is getting a steam clean and then packed away. Its wonderfully bright stripes are bespattered with muddy canine and human prints despite all my best efforts. Thank goodness for the utilitarian leather sofas, a quick wipe with leather cleaner and they look as good as new. The wooden flooring in the living room is also fantastic at camouflaging what I can only imagine is an absolute multitude of earthy sins. The mop will reveal all no doubt. Our three stray dogs, continue, despite our best efforts to run ribbons around our attempts to keep them outside of the boundary. Tonight as I hunkered down and made the short but wet trip to the summer kitchen I noticed Voula and the younger pup Royston crouched under the summer kitchen sunroof but Soula, last years pup had been excluded. Soula had her tail butchered at the spine and because of this refuses to let anyone touch her body. We have spent a long time with her and have been rewarded with her allowing us to chuck her under the chin. My heart went out to her as she cowered half in and half out of the rain. Terry took a number of the polystyrene insulation panels and fashioned 2 structures for both sides of the familiar camp to utilise. But thus far Soula remains doggedly in the damp patch. We made the decision that we can only do so much for them. We feed them daily and ensure they have water. We’ve also wormed and de fleaed them. The rest is up to them. I’m trying to sound convincing as I say this because the truth is that every 10 minutes or so I fashion a telescope out of my hands and try and peer through the darkness in the hopes that she will have taken shelter. From a small child I bought dogs of all sorts home to the familial home but as a Naval family it was never possible to keep them. I’m still doing the same today but as a bonafide adult I get to make the decisions as to whether we keep them! So we have done as almost all the other ex pats have done, we’ve adopted outside stray dogs and take the responsibility for ensuring that they are fed and have shelter. Apart from Royston the other 2 females have never been inside a house. Vinnie, Bodie and Ted have accepted the extension to the family with good grace. I am still trying to find forever homes for them but am amongst a growing number of people doing the same.
Having decided upon plain cream tiles for the bathroom we were seduced in a large plumbing and sanitary ware depot in Pleven into making a change of plan. I am, if nothing else, my Mothers daughter. Fortunately for me Terry accepts and doesn’t fight these changes. Especially when he agrees with the choices. We had driven to Pleven to pick up a second hand starter motor for the Transit and bushes for the urban giraffe. It’s a 45 minute journey to this metropolis and it is difficult not to be caught, like hapless mortals, in glare of all the big shops. Village living for you! I decided that the plain cream tiles were a little mean and small and would be incongruous with the style of the bathroom. We also bought a bidet along with the large marble effect floor tiles to replace the mean cream ones. They will be diverted to another room in the house or perhaps to one of the kids houses. They are good quality and would look better in a smaller space than our cavernous bathroom to be. Terry bought any number of plumbing connections which I wouldn’t be able to identify or name if I were paid to do so.
On the return journey we popped into the large Kaufland to buy some over the counter food. We refrained from entering the tempting and laden aisles of the supermarket itself. The food was really good, chicken with sautéed potatoes, carrots and onions in a delicious light and savoury gravy, tzatziki (or milk salad as it’s called here) and a cabbage, carrot and onion shredded salad. We paid a little over 10 lev for this tasty meal. We sat in the Landy and chowed down. The citizens of this bustling metropolis beetled around us like an army of ants; laden trolleys with fractious children and long suffering parents mouthing platitudes through clenched teeth, the third generation dragging their flimsy floral shopping trolleys and the youngsters oblivious to all but the interface of their smart phones. Some things do not change no matter what the country or culture.
Halfway home we pulled into a petrol station and waited for the attendant to finish fuelling an LPG vehicle. Terry fretting as always about time leapt out and stuck the nozzle in the car and sat waiting for the attendant to come over. As she did she looked quizzically at Terry and said Benzine? At this point Terry blenched and put his hands in his head. He’d just put 180 levs of petrol into a diesel car. Fortunately Terry was trained as a car mechanic and it is his true passion so I knew we were in good hands. We pushed the `Landy over to the side of the forecourt and went into the shop to buy enough petrol cans to bleed 89 litres of petrol. Of course the shop didn’t have any. And in true Bulgarian style we soon had a number of locals around the car. Even I understood their amazement that such a mistake had happened. One man, driving a UK registered car but speaking not a word of english shot off and returned in 5 minutes with a 30 litre beton and a number of large empty water bottles. The next tribulation manifested itself in the lack of the right sized screwdriver to loosen the fuel pump in order to bleed the tank. Terry beetled back into the shop and returned with a screwdriver set he’d had to purchase. At this point a Turkish Bulgarian who introduced himself as Akash motioned to us that he would tow us to a nearby area so we could bleed the tank. His aged and battered Passat struggled with the 2.5 ton Landy but he eventually gained enough momentum and we jerked about 500 metres up the road before he turned a sharp right. It was immediately clear why he’d chosen this spot. There was a steep embankment that he pulled us up on so the Landy sat precariously at a 45 degree angle. This kind man then sat with us taking turns with Terry to slide under the car and catch the petrol as it by turns spluttered and gushed into the waiting containers. As the flow began to trickle Akash shot of to his car and returned with a very thin tube which he waved around gesticulating its intended purpose. Terry placed one end of the tube into the tank and Akash began sucking till the yellow liquid began flowing again. It took an age to actually empty the tank. We offered the petrol to the man who had supplied the containers and to Akash. They both agreed with alacrity and seemed very pleased with the offer. These simple men are a credit to their country and reflect the wonderful communities we live in. Akash towed us back to the garage where we refilled the tank with diesel and with many warm handshakes and good wishes drove home. We are both still quite ill with the flu and this whole episode took its toll on us. This did not mean that Terry sat down and relaxed. To his absolute credit he spent the rest of the day working upstairs in readiness for the return of our builder friends Paul and Ian in the morning. I’m afraid I lay down under a quilt on the sofa and was not able to help till later in the evening when I revived somewhat.
The following morning the lads arrived and Terry, before any work had started, changed the starter motion on his Transit. Paul is borrowing the Transit whilst his own is sat in garage waiting a replacement gearbox. I was informed that I’d have to follow this trio of constructionists to the woodyard in Samodevne, some 45 minutes away, in order to pick the wood for the internal staircase. Wood is a very serious issue in Bulgaria but finding kiln dried wood is very difficult. We’d heard that this yard had it by the shed load. It would have been easy to have missed this hidden gem. Only a small wooden plaque nailed onto a lamp post heralded the location of the yard. It was an immaculate yard owned by a very unassuming Bulgarian and staffed by two quietly spoken workers who rather incongruously were at both ends of the height scale. The younger being a good 6 foot plus and the older a good 4 foot 10! Terry was ecstatic at this woody paradise and efficiently picked or discarded pieces suitable for the internal staircase. He also found wonderful thick tongue and groove flooring. Me, I found a beautiful shiny black and white cat called Maya and her 4 week old dusty kitten. I was smitten and struggled not to secret this tiny mite in the pockets of my sweat shirt. The yard owner seemed quietly pleased that I had noticed his beautiful cats and beamed as I stroked and murmured all kinds of nonsense to his felines. The poor old transit was loaded to the gunnels and a further order for tongue and groove was made. Terry brokered a great deal and was offered a generous discount. I see a strong relationship developing between these burghers of the two different countries! As soon as we arrived home I made Thai fish cakes, fries and salad as the lads unloaded and passed the wood into the upper echelons of the house. By the time we sat down to eat it was 3pm so a halt was called to the day as Terry and Ian were accompanying Paul to the garage where his Transit is being mended to ensure it was being done properly.
Sadly I have none of my own pictures for this post but Chris our visitor last week has kindly sent me some of his pictures reflecting his week long sojourn in Bulgaria. Well done that man! So here is a pictorial melange of the beauty of Bulgaria and a couple of buds enjoying its bounty.