Monday, 29 April 2013

Fairies In Our Garden

As April draws to a close it is time to reflect on a busy few days. Some of you will have been aware that there was the 50/50 sale at Trinity Rocks campsite on Saturday. Without any further ado I feel that I must thank certain people for their generosity, you know who you are. I also want to thank a pair of stalwarts who have provided a lot of very welcome support and help, and of course all who came to the event. A big thank you has to be said to Cliffie for giving us permission to hold the event there in the first place. Saturday was rather warm to say the least, but at least all of the sales were able to be conducted in the shade. I think all of those who turned up went away with some lovely bargains, maybe coerced slightly by the auctioneer and his lovely assistant. There was not a piece of gold lame between them, but I don't think that Southeby's will be unduly worried just yet. Another good thing was that there were also some of our Bulgarian friends there. All in all a good afternoon, the sun shone, people enjoyed themselves and money was raised for a good cause. It was quite a long day for some of us, but it was highly worthwhile and we finally got the chance to put another few faces to names. I have to say that even the frog's chorus didn't keep me awake that night.

Prize Winning Knobbly Knees
The Sunday was another hot day, and so once again the knees were being aired. Knees like these have probably not been displayed since the days of Gunner 'Lofty' Sugden in 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum'. Sunday's venue for this brazen show of knees was at Camping Veliko Tarnovo, and the car boot sale. The place was crowded, as the weather seemed to have brought everyone out from hibernation. Yet despite the numbers of people and how busy things were, especially in the cafe, Nick, Nicky, and their staff met it all with their customary smiles and efficiency. So I would just like to say a very big thank you to them all. We had a leisurely saunter round, but our main requirements were plants, and we all seemed to be quite lucky. Once again theese car boot sales are great social occasions and give people a chance to catch up and have a natter about the previous month's goings on in different areas of the region. I was pleased for Yolanta as she met up with Polish friends and was able to talk  in her native tongue, sometimes it is difficult to remember that English isn't her first language. Even I ended up nattering away.

Today has been just as hot, but if you look at the thermometers it has only been 31/32C, so I hope that no one is complaining about the heat just yet. The only thing that has been noticeably different this year is that we haven't had the usual rains and thunderstorms. Merlin doesn't mind as he is too busy patrolling the garden looking for those black crickets, the ones that look like Darth Vader. So while Merlin was occupied we were busy washing dogs, Fenny and Polly were not too bad, but it took both of us to do Sirrius. Then once he was done he just wanted to go and sprawl out in his favourite spot, so he is probably just as dusty again. At least he no longer has that certain doggy smell, which is quite fortunate as he is asleep alongside my desk and chair at the moment.

Another of today's projects was something to fire our young grand-daughter's imagination. We have had this tree stump next to the rockery for some time now, but now it has been slightly converted. Ash is of an age where everything is still magical, and princesses and fairies are everyday occurances. Well now when she comes out to visit she can see that fairies have moved into Nana and Granddad Bulgaria's garden. Long may she and her little sister enjoy their world of make believe and fantasy. It was actually fun making the doors and windows, while Net was making the roof and the swing. There is even a solar light next to it so that the fairies can find their way home at night.

Life continues much as it ever does here in the village. Chickens are often to be seen pawing at the dirt over on the green, geese can be heard honking and there are a least two seperate lots of peacocks in the village, and also some pheasants. Then round about one o'clock it is as though the mute button is pressed, it all goes silent for a couple of hours. Just when you are getting used to the silence a cuckoo starts, at least I hope it is a proper cuckoo as I have never heard of 27 o'clock. I am not sure, as I have not seen them yet, but it sounds like the Golden Orioles are about and if they are here hopefully so are the Bee Eaters. If I am lucky I might even be able to get a photograph of one this year.  

A very warm welcome to the latest follower of this blog. I have to be honest, when I first started writing this I didn't think that many people would be interested, but now I find that it has been read in over 30 different countries. So a very big thank you to you all for taking the time to read my musings and ramblings, and to those who comment or follow thank you for joining in. So until the next blog I wish you all well


Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Day Of The Triffids

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the new followers to this blog, thank you for taking the time to read them, and I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Hopefully you will remember me writing about the crafty ladies last week. Well this week we hosted them here at our home, so along with the wonderful weather it has been time for getting things presentable. This included one of my favourite jobs, cutting the grass.

Dandelion Central 
One thing struck me as I was pushing the lawn mower backwards and forwards, and that was that I really ought to plug it in. Seriously though, grass cutting is quite tedious so my mind does tend to wander, and this time it went back to my school days. Or more precisely English Literature, and John Wyndham's 'The Day Of The Triffids'. The ground is that fertile here, that you could probably push a stick into the ground and it would take root. It definitely seems as though the Dandelions like it here, turn your back and you have loads of them. You cut them down and back they come, it is almost as if they are mocking you. The yellow flowery bits are not too bad but we can do without the Dandelion clocks that come with them.

A Young Apricot? 
Fortunately it is not only the Dandelions that thrive here. Since  we have arrived we have had to take out some of the old , and dangerous, fruit trees from our garden. These have been replaced with new stock, at a rate of about 2 for 1. A lot of these have been planted in what I think of as the Cadbury's orchard, as they are all either fruit or nut. This year the trees have been plastered in blossom, and the bees have been busy too. While I was engaged in my grass cutting duties I happened to glance into one of the trees, and there at eye level was a small fruit. Now this tree has never fruited before, and as far as we can remember it is an Apricot. If so then I am really pleased as so far I have counted half a dozen small fruit hidden amongst the leaves. We know that they are not peaches as the blossom was totally different, so I guess that only time will tell. The rest of the garden is also coming on well. The flower seeds seem to have started to grow, and now we are faced with a bit of a dilemma. Are they flower that are coming up, or are they weeds? This is one of the drawbacks of sowing directly into the garden. Again all that we can do is wait and see.

Vegetable Trench
We don't have as much trouble in the vegetable garden, as down in the trenches things are a-stirring. In the pictured trench I think that these are our Swede coming up. Before anyone says anything we know that they will need pricking out, but normally we lose some to the local ant or bird communities. Then there is the other hazard known as cats, and we have four of them. Mr Cat isn't too bad as he likes to supervise our gardening efforts, but the other three see these seed trenches as good places to hide before pouncing on one another. Merlin soon gets bored with that and starts to pursue his new hobby, which is chasing the black crickets. The ones that look like Darth Vader, I tried to get a close up picture of one, but wouldn't you know it they are camera shy.

So the garden is looking quite good, even if I do say so myself. The grass has been cut, yet again, and I have been sweating like a Marine in a spelling test trying to get it all done. The shed and the barn have been tidied, as has Net's studio. We have even got the pool out and put up, although at the moment that is in the process of having it's Spring clean. The sun has been shining, I am back in my shorts so my knees have seen sunlight again. I considered going topless, but thought it wiser to spare the village that shock so early in the year. I guess that things would have been done a lot quicker if we had concentrated solely on those tasks in hand.

Monkey's Fists
We have an electric door bell at our gate and every winter the cold kills the battery inside the bell push. So every year we replace the battery, or the doorbell. I have rigged up a bell, of the cow or goat variety, which will work whatever the weather. Yet it needed something to pull the clapper. So I came up with the brilliant idea of checking out decorative knots on the Internet. After all how difficult can they be, as they are only made from bits of string. As you can see in the accompanying picture my attempts at tying a Monkey's Fist met with varying success. They would start well, but when it came to tightening the knot up any slight distraction and that was me lost. So it then became a case of 'round again class leader'. However on this afternoon's craft doodah I did manage to tie a fine example and that now adorns said bell. Although come the morning it will probably be just a bit of cord hanging there.

On a random note we have not long had a phone call telling us to look at the moon. We would have done but it came up directly behind Baba Donka's big Pine tree, but apparently the moon was red when it rose, then went gold, then yellow and is now moon coloured. Another random note is that we have also had a microlite flying near the village this evening. Typically I go to get my camera and he takes the opportunity to make his escape.  


Friday, 19 April 2013

Those Crafty Ladies

Every week a group of ladies, from the local ExPat community, meet up and enjoy an afternoon of arts and crafts. It might be something that they enjoy doing individually, but it is always nice to enjoy it in the company of like minded souls. Hopefully as time progresses it would be nice for them to learn some traditional Bulgarian crafts, but for that they would need some Bulgarians to join their happy bunch. At the moment crocheting seems to be the order of the day, but they have had a go at string craft, drawing and painting, sewing, knitting and you would be amazed at what you can do with an old plastic bottle. Last year they could be found every Wednesday afternoon out at Camping Veliko Tarnovo.

Camping VT
Now, for those of you who are old hands at this blog of mine, you will remember that this was the venue for last year's 'It's A Knockout' games. Nick and Nicky very kindly let us basically have the run of the place for an entire weekend. To be quite honest they probably got fed up with the sight of us, so this year the ladies are moving their craft afternoons to a variety of locations. They have even been held in a local cafe, much to the amusement of the waiting staff. No one seems to mind where they pitch up, as it is always just as clean when they leave. So this week saw a return to last year's venue, and the campsite at Dragizhevo.

Camping Veliko Tarnovo
As it was still early in the season for them, it was nice to be able to sit down with Nicky and listen to all of their plans for this year's season. Now for anyone who is looking for a break in the wonderful area of Veliko Tarnovo, I would highly recommend that you have a look at the Camping VT website. Their website is , and the campsite itself can be found in the village of Dragizhevo. Not only are the facilities outstanding, you are also met with smiles and good cheer wherever you turn. The views from the cafe's terrace are superb, and many people are surprised to find a campsite of this quality hidden away in central Bulgaria. I think that Nick and Nicky have very wisely taken bits from their own travels and have incorporated them all in this haven just outside of Veliko Tarnovo.

Camping VT Swimming Pool
As sure as eggs are eggs, things are going to get hot again this summer, so what better way is there to cool off than a dip in a pool. Guess what, they have one of those there too. So if you like camping this could well be the place for you to relax and unwind at. You are guaranteed a warm welcome from this lovely couple and their helpful staff.

At the moment the weather is a bit indecisive, and yesterday morning I was contemplating an earlier return than normal into shorts. Come the afternoon I was quite glad that I had decided against it, and I even had to go and get a coat out of the car for Net. It didn't put anyone off of helping one of the crafty ladies celebrate her birthday though.

Flame Tulips
Even though we might be in the midst of Spring, the temperatures are still a bit up and down. I could be in just a t-shirt one day or a light jacket or jumper the next. We also get the occasional shower, although some have had thunderstorms and downpours. Our vegetable garden is showing signs of life with quite a few of the seeds coming up already. The new cat, Merlin is settling in quite nicely and has already staked a claim on his spot on one of the couches. He has already made friends with Mr Cat, but is still a bit wary with the two girls, Mini and Billy. He has realised that the dogs stay one side of the fence so he is quite happy exploring the garden on the other side. So a very big thank you to Karen and Peter for letting us take him on, it is always nice to rehome a cat. As today was quite overcast it has mainly been a pottering day. Once the housework was done it was time to do bits and pieces outside. My task today was washing the car, and to be perfectly frank it did need it. It still had the road grime from the winter on it, but we are not nearly as fastidious as we used to be in the UK when the cars were washed fortnightly whether they needed them or not. There are car washing places about, but I am not sure that I trust them. Some of the staff at several of them look as though they could do with a good hose down themselves. At least if I drop my cloth I know that I will have made sure that there is no grit left on it before using it again. The good news is that I got the official nod of approval, so a job well done and well supervised by the three dogs.

Twisted Hazel  Comes Back To Life


Friday, 12 April 2013

Spring Is Definitely Here

Outside in need of a trim
We can definitely report that Spring is well and truely here. Even though the trees have still got that winter twiggy look to them, they are either covered in blossom or leaf buds. At this time of year it really is as though someone throws a switch, hey presto Spring has arrived. Today I have been cutting the grass out the front, in temperatures of about 23-25C. Not bad for the middle of April, I'm sure that you will agree. So that the grass out the front doesn't get too long and unmanageable once again the lawn mower was dragged out from its winter hibernation in the shed. Keeping the grass cut short serves quite a few purposes, no hissers can hide in it, also the cats as they traipse through it are not so likely to get Ticks, and also our Kmet normally gives me the official nod of approval. As we are walled all of the way round, quite often working out the front is the only time that we get to see village life passing us by.

Looking down the lane
Today we have had Amy sat out on her bench enjoying the sunshine while she has been waiting for rugs to dry. Her son has been out on the 'green' playing with a football. Sayed has been going backwards and forwards with a horse and cart taking tree stumps from one place to another. Not only did he have his dog with him but also his goat, it is nice to see his dog playing at his heels instead of being tied up like they normally are. The goat lady has been busy pottering away in her garden, as have others. We even had a car drive past today, so they were probably lost as it is such a rare occasion. Net and Yolanta had hair appointments today so I was largely left to my own devices, luckily I had  Mr Cat to supervise me.

Peach Blossom after a shower
We have had a few showers but these have mainly been at night, so the seeds that we have sown have been nicely watered in. Either that or they have been washed to one end of the trenches that we have dug. Standing underneath the fruit trees sounds not too dissimilar to standing near a motorway, with that constant hum of traffic. Only here it is the village bees getting an early start. At least there is nothing genetically modified about the fruit blossom. A couple of years ago the village was surrounded by fields of Rapeseed, thankfully that novelty seems to have worn off. It used to play havoc with people's breathing, and probably caused heaven only knows how many allergic reactions. Even Dencho has planted fruit trees in the field behind us.

More Peach Blossom
Even trees that have never blossomed before are doing so this year, and everywhere you look there are varying shades of pink or white blossom. Birdsong can be heard, even at night as I have already heard the Nightingales in the village. The roosters can be heard calling from one side of the village to the other, It sounds as though Simeon is keeping a couple of Peacocks again, as you can often here their distinctive cry. What I haven't seen so far has been the Ostriches. It might sound odd, but in a village of this size someone chose to keep a pair of Ostriches. So apart from the occasional rotovator, tractor or car you only get to hear natural noises up here on top of the hill. I will give it until next month and the radios will be playing to the gardens. I don't know how true it is, but we have been told that the noise deters the snakes. If they are playing their 'twiddly' music it certainly deters me, still if you can't beat them join them. In a few weeks time you will find me watering the garden to the sound of Madness, Meatloaf and Queen, plus anything else we choose to play that day.

Baby Grasshoppers on Grape Hyacinth
So Mother Nature has caused everything to grow and regenerate, I do so enjoy this time of year. Even in the facebook group there is now a photo competition to depict Spring. Just to cheer those in the UK up, we are now just gone 6pm and it is still a very nice 22C out there, it feels as though I have caught the sun today. The only downside to warmer temperatures is that the flies are now back. We do have to check the dogs and cats thoroughly for ticks and other little pets, as we can do without them indoors. Before we know it we will be back in shorts and t-shirts. Net's studio has also had a bit of a spring clean, and some little bits of winter damage have been repaired. Sometimes it does seem hard to believe that we have been here for nearly five years. Time just seems to have flown by, but I wouldn't swap it for the world, and I am pleased to say that I consider Bulgaria to be home.

Springtime Ladybird
Before I forget I would like to say a very big thank you to all who have taken the time to read this blog, thanks to you all it has now been accessed over 10,000 times. So once again thank you very much, and here is to the next 10,000

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Down But Not Out

RIP Albert
Today I am feeling a bit down and flat, as yesterday we had to say goodbye to one of our cats. He was a special kind of lad, very demanding and very vocal if you didn't pay him the attention that he thought he deserved. Half the time he acted like a dog, as he used to trot round after me. He was a good mouser and rat catcher too, and sadly that was where the problem arose. At this time of year rats and mice start breeding, so the locals put down poison for them. Unfortunately it seems as though Albert caught himself one of these poisoned rats. He now resides in one of his favourite spots in the garden, next door to Razzy. I was working out this morning, that we have lost six cats since we have been here, two never returned home, two through poisoned rats and two were killed by a dog. We do live in the countryside so these things do happen, but it doesn't make things any easier. I will eventually get another cat, but maybe just not at the moment. It is Mini-Mog from the rest of the cats who will miss him the most, you would never guess that they weren't brother and sister from the way those two acted. So we now have four cats buried in the garden, and it might sound a bit daft but I always say hello to each of them as I pass.

Forsythia and Plum Blossom, Bulgaria
Spring Blossom
Life has to go on and to stop myself from dwelling on things too much the garden has received some attention over the last couple of days. The weather has been wonderful, and even the Swallows have put in an early appearance this year. All round the village the wild plum trees are in full blossom, and the slightest breeze creates a miniature snow storm. At least this snow is welcome at this time of year. The bees are busy pollinating wherever you look. So hopefully there will be plenty of fruit about later this year. So the various flower beds have been dug and weeded, as has the vegetable patch. We are a lot further ahead than we normally are, but the milder winter and the lack of downpours has meant that it has been so much easier working the soil. From the sounds of things a lot of people in the village have also been doing the same. On the warm breeze you can hear the sound of rotorvators puttering around, now whether they are in fields and gardens, or being driven around the village is anyone's guess. I have to admit to smiling everytime that I see one of these ex-rotorvators that is now being put to use as a form of tractor tug, but it does make sense as it has been given a new lease of life.

The Vegetable Garden
So our 'lawns' have also been given their first trims of the year, and grass seed has been sown on the bald spots. With regards to our vegetable garden some years things grow and other years they don't. We have tried starting things off in the greenhouse and then transplanting them, and we have tried sowing them direct into trenches and then thinning them out. It all seems to be a bit hit and miss. This year we have gone for the sown directly in the trenches approach. These trenches make so much sense, it is easy to spot should be growing so anything else can be weeded out. Also when it comes to watering, just the trench is watered instead of the whole vegetable patch. The same goes with the craters that you can see in the photgraph. So far this year we have sown, parsnips, swede, carrots, beetroot, okra, cabbage, sprouts, peas, beans, leeks, onions, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, radishes, potatoes, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and watermelon. I am not saying that they will all come up, but we at least hope for plenty of variety. If we do get bumper crops then there are always people willing to help out with eating them. Last year we planted what said Watermelon seeds, and what grew? Bloody marrows, and neither Net nor myself like the things, and we had quite a good crop. So they were going here, there, and everywhere. At least by doing this, if other villagers have a surplus of something else then you could be of the receiving end of who knows what. It is a nice feeling that everyone seems to help out each other, an ethic that sadly seems to have disappeared from the British way of life.

Looking Towards The Barns
So we can safely say that we have had a busy couple of days, mostly supervised by Mr Cat. Mini did put in an appearance but that was mainly to show off the lizard that she caught for us, Billy just made sure that the couch didn't move. The dogs were in two minds whether to watch what we were doing, or to bark at Dencho in his field next door. Barking won.

I can remember about April showers from when I was growing up, and during April we normally get some cracking thunderstorms. At the moment we have one rumbling about overhead, and so far we haven't lost either the power, the internet or the TV signal. It will be Sod's Law that we go and lose all three together now.

Peach Blossom
Peach Blossom
So this weekend, for me, has been a bit bittersweet. The remaining cats, and the dogs, are getting extra attention so they don't mind too much. Things could be a lot worse, we could live in a town, or, heaven forbid, even a city. At least here we get to hear the birds singing, cockrells crowing and hens clucking, the odd dog barking, neighbours having 'conversations' over 100 yards all to the accompaniment of some dodgy music, but more of that another time.

Before I forget, once again, thank you all for taking the time to read these blogs. I hope that you enjoy them, and please feel free to share them with friends and family. Q9V9RASXNMYT 

Welcome To Spring 2013

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

It's A Village Life

It is said that a picture paints a thousand words. You will have read some things about village life here in rural Bulgaria, but until you have seen it, it can be difficult to fully appreciate it. As I was going through my Facebook photo albums I rediscovered this light hearted look at our village. Some of you might remember these pictures from a couple of Summers ago, but they will be new to the majority of you. So without further ado I ask you to join me on a guided tour of our village.

Hidden away in the depths of rural Bulgaria........

We find the village of Paisii ........
Or should that be Paisiy .......
Where a warm and sunny welcome awaits you .......
There is constant running water, 12 months of the year, even if they use it as the local launderette ........
Gaze in awe at some of the local wildlife ........
But don't get too close .....
You can find solace in the local church, when it's open .....
Or just enjoy the peace and quiet .......
On the right there is the Post Office (Tuesdays and Thursdays only)

Or the Pensioner's Club, which also holds the Doctor's surgery on a Wednesday morning .....

Stroll amongst the farm machinery, and not a Massey Fergusson or John Deere in sight
Take a gentle walk up the main street to the local shop .....

It might be pink, but they are friendly and helpful inside, but beware of the local loo on the left (not for the faint hearted or for those of a nervous disposition) ......

Come and meet the locals (calm yourselves ladies) .....
You can always try to hitch a ride .....
Paisii welcomes careful drivers ......
But try to avoid the rush hour