We had a planned visit from Keith, a part time resident in the village and his bud Kevin. We heard a shout from the gate and as we were knee deep in dirt and filthy we made a cautious trek to see who was there. It’s hard to miss Keith because he is, as my Mom would say, as long and slim as a rasher of streaky bacon! We invited them both in and took them on a tour of work we’ve done since we last saw Keith and his delightful wife Kaz. It often feels that we aren’t moving very fast with the renovation so it was gratifying indeed to hear their very complimentary comments. We took them into the only liveable and presentable room to receive guests in and made a brew. We caught up on news and grilled Kev about his thoughts on life in Bulgaria. It is hard not to be evangelical about life here and we were interested to find out what he thought and if he was considering buying here. It turns out that the delights of Cumbria are hard to beat! We arranged to meet at the “German” bar and as we let our guests out we rushed to remove the grim and dirt of a typical day at the house. Our friends Alex, Paul, Dave, Catherine and Dave W were all expected to join the party. Sadly Cathy, after a day of painting and decorating didn’t manage to come. It was refreshing to talk to Keith and Kevin, both in and having been in the educational sector, and to hear their are still didacts for whom teaching is fuelled by passion and a true want for the well being of their students. For a small moment I missed the world of academia; it soon passed though! Well safe to say a fine and very alcohol fuelled evening ensued with the highlight being Kevin and his tin flute which he whipped out and treated us to some tunes. You will note that the pictures are somewhat blurred and that is because of the amount of alcohol I had consumed. Three brandies and I was slaughtered! Terry, made of much sterner stuff, managed nine brandies and two beers. He was matched in this amount by everyone else at the table. The bar owner, a very placid and affable chap gave us a half hour warning at 1am for which I was very grateful. We left the bar, slightly wobbly to a man and made promises for future meets.
Terry and his band of merry men have been making fantastic inroads into the renovation. Terry and Ian have been plaster boarding and the bedroom is all but damn it boarded and the walk in wardrobe is finished. We have decided to keep the purlings on both sides of the roof exposed and also the chimney brickwork.
Paul and Adam have been working on the stairs and today the straight run of the stairs are done. The turn and final flight still need to be cut, fixed and put in place. The plaster boarding of the landing, stairway and hall cannot be completed till the stairs are in. The stairs have now outgrown the confines of the house so had to be moved to the summer kitchen patio for the fitting of the second string.
Last week all the team, in relay between other jobs, knocked out a 10m slab for the area in front of the summer kitchen and extending to include the meat/bread oven. This included digging 2 immense holes and filling in any rubbish we haven’t been able to get rid of and getting rid of the pile of rubble and hardcore that has been growing over the past 5 months. I cannot describe what a transformation this has been. After 5 months I finally got to plant the flowers I’ve had in pots all summer. I planted 4 roses, one of which is a climber, 5 lavenders and a selection of spring flowering bulbs at the end of the new slab and before my kitchen garden. I planted the Hibiscus, lilies and more bulbs along the path to the well. This was particularly ambitious as the path has ruptured and the ground has not been worked but I have been itching to do something for next year. Terry also moved the good and fertile earth from the rubbish holes to the area in front of the well which will eventually, in its entirety, be a planting area for the forthcoming planting season. Currently I have planted 1 kilo of onion sets (they were tiny so about 500 of them), and about 50 garlic bulbs. Rather surprisingly Yeorgi and Ilia informed me that I should plant tiny lettuce plants now. I was sceptical but had my hand somewhat forced when Yeorgi and his son Ipcho, home from Uni in Varna, called me across to their garden and showed me a huge swathe of land they had prepared for me to grow in. Now that’s neighbourly!. They also gave me a seminar on how to sow and plant. I didn’t want to tell them I had a garden in the UK. My cabbages which I have shamefully neglected have turned out rather well. It was only when, spurned on by the clearance, I weeded the herb and cabbage patch that I discovered them!
The rich chocolate brown fields that I mentioned in my last post are already a verdant carpet of new growth; testament to the fertile soil of the Danubian plains.
On a final note we were told by Evan the impromptu village estate agent that there was a house for sale with much interest and in our price range. We had promised Dani her own house so this was music to our ears. When she was over here we’d looked at some houses and either documents weren’t in order or owners were recalcitrant to sell. So even though it was raining and overcast Terry and I accompanied Evan and his Mother to the property. We had to make a decision there and then and after a look in and around the house we made an offer that was accepted. We bought the house the same day. It was a very risky decision because we didn’t have a chance to consult with Dani. Fortunately she was happy with the choice and informed us she was going to paint it lilac with a mint green front door. The colour choices will sit very well in the village where colour is much appreciated. We have now finished buying for the kids and it is a relief. All of their houses need work but that’s for when we have finished ours.