Did I mention that since June the weather has been almost consistently in the upper 30’s and spilling over, sometimes, into the mid 40’s? It is exhausting. We are waking up at 05:30 and getting in a good 3 hours in before the heat wraps itself around us in a stifling blanket. We stop for tea, sit under the blessed air con and begin again at a slightly slower pace. Terry is almost black and when he undresses the difference between his shorts area and the rest of his body is so marked that he looks like a walking melted bounty bar! I’m muchly jealous of his brown legs. Mine go a mid tan and stop and I too am a vision in brown and white. My buttocks especially look like two round risen bread dough balls. The animals join us in our early morning perambulations then retire hot and bothered to the front room and the air con. It certainly wasn’t this hot for this long last year. The garden has no complaints as long as it is watered regularly.
In amongst the flowers and apart from the canines are my marching army of leeks, watermelons and large green stripey squashes.
My brother Mark and his wife Caroline joined us for a glorious week in early June. It was their first time in Bulgaria and it was edifying that they absolutely loved it. We’d rented a Landy for them from an acquaintance so they could get about which they did both together and with me. We did all the usual things, eating out at our favourite restaurants, visiting the local beauty spots but I have to say one of the highlights for me was breakfast. Every day Mark made perfect poached eggs and Caroline did the washing up afterwards. What a way to start the day. And the company was excellent, so much laughing and bon homie. It was a sad day when they left but improved by the promise of further visits.
Taking selfies of each other in Levski square at the cafe
Our fellow village residents Keith and Caz, currently part time but we’re hoping eventually to be full time residents pop backwards and forwards between their teaching jobs in the UK and their beautiful villa here. Keith has made us one of his stunning handmade rugs for our upstairs landing. Hand woven from Scottish tweed off cuts this rug adds a wonderful touch of opulence with it’s unique design. It was received with much gratitude. We are hoping that he will begin a cottage industry because it seems jolly unfair to be one of the few owners of these textile works of art!
The all new roof on the old house is on! Of course it was an evolving process. Changes had to be made and structural changes undertaken. Once the decision to replace the roof timbers had been taken the problem of the apex front to part of the old house, where it then steps in on both sides and is attached to the barn extension end wall would mean an extraordinarily complex set of hip joints. Hip joints to both of us mean possibilities of ingress of water. Soooooo we decided to take down the apex gable end at the from of the house and make the roof a box gable like the barn extension roof with a stepped difference in height. So Terry, Yorkie, Ian and Tolyo have spent 3 weeks and it is now built, tiled, had gable ends built, wooden fascia board and guttering fitted. There are barked wood lengths covering the front facing area that was raised in order to get the angle on the new rood. Tongue and groove has been used in the eaves and Terry fitted 3 lamps on the roof overhang over the proposed new first floor balcony area. Rendering started but as it s raining cats and dogs and accompanied by a thunderstorm work has had to stop. The lads have scattered to other work inside. Wet scaffolding and roof work doesn’t go together even in this land of the brave! Yorkie has an extreme fear of ladders and scaffolding and he has been mercilessly teased. He crawls along the scaff boards and there are seismic rattles and shakes as he descends the ladders. As he is the chippy his time on terma firma has been limited and his time above ground liberally interspersed with as many negative uses of the term f*ck and in a number of quite ingenious combinations. I fear for the first English words out of Tolyos mouth.
An attempt to log the roof progress and help illustrate my somewhat confused description
Terry extended the roof line to the front of the old building so that the proposed wooden balcony could be sheltered and lit. He’s cladded the walls in live edged wood and the eaves in T and G
As the first fix of the roof moves to second fix, external insulation and rendering the upper floor of the old house gets ready for a makeover. The double bedroom to the left of the upstairs entrance now been vaulted so that Terry can build a half mezzanine sleep platform. This means an extra 2 bed spaces in 1 room and a good tall left space on the other side for storage space.
Having been absolutely inundated this year, and gratefully so, we need more space for guests. It is going to be a while before the kids houses are liveable with the exception of James’s. Bodies scattered all over the liveable section of the house is chaotic and causes way to much of that dreaded “H” word; housework.
The double bedroom to the right of the entrance hall will become a twin or double. This room particularly has ceiling and floor issues so there is going to be a fair amount of replacement timber going in.
The hallway landing has to accommodate the spiral stair exit point. We choose a spiral staircase in the UK and bought it with us. Where ever possible the oak beams will be left on show but plasterboarded between. The third bedroom will become the guest wetroom and a very generous one too. We are swinging between installing a window in this room or using a exhaust system for the steam. If we instal a window it will bring light and the ability to open a window. The downside to that is having a window on a north facing wall, traditionally not done in Bulgaria for reasons of extremes of weather. The north facing wall is the stalwart of the houses structure. The downstairs hallway to the old house has the old fireplace and original quarry tiles and we didn’t want to have to loose either which we would have done with a kited staircase. Once the spiral staircase is installed the horrible external concrete stairs and platform will be removed and replaced with a wide wooden balcony making use of the double doors upstairs and allowing our guests their own personal viewing platform.
The upstairs hallway. The “wet room” was too dark to photo
I am sat here chuckling to myself wondering if you good readers wonder what I am describing because in our heads the work is already completed and the finish has been tweaked and evolved a number of times but when I upload the photos all I can see is the reality! Time will tell and I have the utmost confidence in our abilities.
Terry has come into his own. Not only has he redesigned the roof he has instructed a team on their roles and done a phenomenal amount of work. Despite the language barrier he has become proficient in sourcing good quality material and manufacturers. He has fantastic organisational skills and that ability to direct others what their roles are. This really is an achievement because last year he would have been trying to do it all himself. I am incredibly proud of his progress. And that is the beauty of living in Bulgaria, land of the brave. In the UK he was forever stymied by those not wanting to recognise his abilities and of course the endless red tape required to build.
James and William finally arrived after a catalogue of near disasters, including missing flights and trying to rebook on the same day! I cannot express how much joy I felt at having them both here. William filled every single moment with such joy. At 6 years old he is capable of holding a sustained conversation and includes humour too. He had me in the pool twice a day every day and after a nervous start he was swimming, diving, flipping forwards and backwards; I hasten to add the latter 2 manoeuvres with his Dad until all 3 of us were as wrinkled as prunes. Sitting up with James, well past our usual bedtime, chatting the breeze and seeing that when your adult child finally finds a job he loves that the change is amazing. The week went way too quickly and I struggled for days after their departure desperately wishing, as William said, that why aren’t different countries joined at the beaches so it is easier to travel to each other. It was a difficult question because if I hold any guilt for leaving the UK it is that I’m missing out on his upbringing. I live for the fact that as he gets older he will stay longer. James and Amalia were able to sustain a fantastic relationship with their Greek grandparents once we’d moved back to the UK and I use them as my measure of success. Love, love and more love!
Picture of James, William and myself. Swimming, eating and splash pools feature quite heavily in a 6 year olds life
On a final note and so I can go and feed/muck out the pigs here is a picture of the downstairs hallway stacked with ready chopped wood. We are prepared this year. That is unless Terry has time to build the underground root cellar and wood store above it. In which case all that wood will be humped outside – again!