This morning it was cold. Terry, in an unprecedented move, both lit the pechka and made a hot drink. It was, I add, 06:00 but I only learned I’d been up 2 hours and it was still only 08:00; when I checked the phone – the horror! There was the first frost of the season gracefully draping its fragile mantle over the ravaged ignomy of the garden. It took the pechka about 15 minutes to warm 2 rooms and it was fed steadily over the day.
We are in a frenzy to get the upstairs extension finished and so I have been pulled onto the construction team to help with PVA’ing and final sanding of the newel posts before they’re varnished. This should hold the whiteness of the wood and the grain without it yellowing with age. I am chief cook and bottle washer and don’t mind a bit of clearing up either. Terry has put his hands to plastering. This is a true leap of faith on his part. If you had asked him what he can’t do it would have been two things; plastering and applying silicone. Well he can plaster and any first lumps and ridges were sanded off by both Terry and Ian in a gruelling marathon today and Terry a further 2 hours this evening. As the cold brings damp in its wake we have purchased 2 small fan heaters to use in short blasts to help dry the plaster. It is extremely satisfying to see the returns of prudent insulation. The whole area remained warmer than any other part of the house with the least input of heat. Early next year the outside will be fully insulated and rendered. We will have saved a considerable amount of money by Terry undertaking the work. There is going to come a point when any work requiring aggregates in viscous form is going to be untenable when the temperature falls below 5 degrees. We were about 9 degrees today but much colder this morning. The race is on.
It was not so cold the following morning but there was still a sprinkling of frost. Social media reports tell me there is snow in the Rousse, and Targovishte areas. I Google mapped the areas to check their vicinity to us; not near enough to spread in our direction. I have bought myself an electric chainsaw because Terry is frightened to death I’ll chop off a limb with the petrol powered Stihl. It is like a bucking bronco. As we have taken to that dubious tick of buying wood wherever possible we found ourselves the proud owners of a couple of cubics of wood. Half is piled outside the house and the other half in the garden. I am now prepared to emulate the Texas Chain Saw massacre and chop those limbs into submission!
We had been told of a pandapolium on the outskirts of Veliko Tarnovo. As we had to pick up wood for lining the doorways in the woodyard in Samovodene we decided to “pop” in. When we located the store, Sharkov, it appeared from the outside like a big UK style DIY store. However once through the threshold you are transported into a space where every single inch of wall, floor and ceiling space was jammed to the rafters with samples from anything in the hardware to building supplies continuum. It also had a disproportionately large number of staff and customers. I said “isvinete mi” more times in 1 hour than I have for the 5 months we’ve been here. The system was somewhat similar to Argos in that each item had an order code and only examples were on display. However there were no customer computers, no catalogues and no gratis paper and pencil. By the time we had relayed the order numbers to the assistant and paid the cashier and received an receipt Terry was muttering under his breath so we were bemused when said and aforementioned assistant turned about heel and disappeared. Terry was already hopping from 1 foot to the other in impatience. I kid you not the assistant was gone for 1/2 of an hour. Terry bullied me into asking one of the plethora of assistants if our chap had gotten lost. He didn’t see the joke but did explain the when a sale is made each assistant then has to leg it over to an adjacent warehouse and find the items and retrieve them. I think we both stood slack mouthed in astonishment at the clear lack of ergonomics in their workflow. In balance they did have a wonderfully eclectic selection of everything and were considerably cheaper than the big DIY stores in town.
Whilst waiting we saw an unusual light fitting that would be perfect for the landing and better still it was the only one available in the store. Assistant number 2 scuttled off for a ladder and retrieved it from its display hook on the ceiling. It cost 55 leva whereas in somewhere like Practiker, Praktis and Mr Bricolage it would have been nearer to 150 leva. We also picked up 4 Bulgarian mouse sanders so that 4 of us can work simultaneously on the final sand. They cost 34 leva each and the pads were noticeably cheaper than big brand names. We understand there might be a pay off between bigger brands but long experience tells us that the velcro on mouse sanders is never of the same longevity as the machine that houses it. Therefore cheap and cheerful works in this scenario. When our assistant finally returned he then painstakingly opened each of the 4 sanders, checked them and then filled out, in meticulous hand writing, 4 guarantees. By which time I had eaten 2 satsumas, bought micro fibre cloths, a capacious over pan sieve and Terry had twice left for a ciggie. Fortunately the other items were off shelf buys. One of the great things about Bulgaria is you can buy almost one of anything, including cigarettes, chewing gum, screws, nails, bolts etc etc. It was refreshing to see single sockets more readily available than large complete sets. I also have to acknowledge that in almost every store someone speaks English and they do it with aplomb. It is always much appreciated and the staff at Sharkov were no exception. I am trying to make an effort to ask for as much as I can in Bulgarian but transactions are quicker when “Englarian” is used 🙂
We have invested in two sacks of EcoBricks for the pechka. They are made of crushed and vacuumed corn stalks in log shaped bricks. They are excellent for extending the heating capabilities of the wood. Slow burning with a lower heat output they reach their nadir of usefulness when preferred room temperature is achieved, throw on a couple of these bad boys and you can sit back and relax whilst that ambient heat is maintained. I love the reuse ethos and that the pechka won’t need attending to for a couple of hours at least.
The animals are all enjoying the change of temperature but the difference lays in the type of animal and how. Ted or Teddy Edwards or indeed Edwards with his thick and silky ginger feline pelt enjoys “scatting” all night returning cold and ravenous at dawn. The two short haired Staffies enjoy their morning helter pelter romp to the bins. Speeding along, chunky bodies close to the ground, stopping on a sixpence and sniffing the multitude of animal scents trailing back, forth and long the track. They are soon cold though and it’s easier to call them back; the sharp frosty grass crunching audibly under there soft pads as they run to my side. The puddles in the tyre dips are now frozen over in the morning making for slippy driving! They air is wonderfully crisp and what would have been complete silence was quietly fractured by domestic and farm animals announcing their presence and the occasional cyclist engulfed in wool tentatively navigating the icy terrain and berating it noisily. I do not miss the hurly burly of towns at all; the quiet is comforting.
I mentioned that the windows are in the upstairs extension of the new part of the house and also we’ve had 2 windows installed in the old house. One is in the loft and the other, the only window on the north side of the house is in the hallway . We had to ask the fitters to climb into the very dodgy loft area to fit what I like to refer to as the Amityville Horror window. We had to move the enormous triple wardrobe from the hallway window. Goodness knows what we are going to do with it. It’s too big to fit in anywhere other than the hallway as the new doors will not facilitate it removal. It will either stay or fall victim to my new toy!
And on a final note, despite Jack Frost and plummeting temperature my garlic cloves have bravely sent out their verdant tender shoots. This is my first Autumn grow so I will be watching with interest as to if they will survive. Also our friend Adam has gifted us a bag full of jerusalem artichokes for eating and growing next year and 2 globe artichoke rhizomes for next year. Feeling very blessed!