Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Visiting The Fang Mechanic

Well today I finally bit the bullet, and paid a visit to one of my least favourite institutions. No, not the KAT Office in VT, although that probably runs neck and neck in the popularity stakes. My better half has been, friends have been, but if I can find an excuse to wheedle my way out of going I will do so. I am of course referring to the Dentist. I did venture into one a few years back, and although the treatment was OK, it did feel a little odd being treated in a glorified garden shed. I have to admit that I was even slightly nervous making an appointment for my better half the other week, even more nervous when I took her for the appointment last week, but absolutely bricking it when it came round to my turn today. Sometimes having a sweet tooth can mean that I am my own worst enemy, even more so when a liquorice toffee pulls out a filling. The toffee wasn't wasted though.

I guess that I might have a bit of a phobia about these people. Even walking into a dental surgery I get a mental image of the Dentist in Marathon Man. I have to admit that it has taken a while to find a fang mechanic that we are both 'happy' with. Maybe happy is the wrong word where I am concerned though. It is only a small dental practice, but it does seem to be quite popular. The good news is that it looks and smells clean, with that strange antiseptic type smell hitting you as soon as you step into the waiting room. There is no receptionist so everyone just sits there patiently, waiting their turn. People even turn up for emergency treatment without an appointment, and with no receptionist people are in and out speaking to the Dentist while she is carrying out treatment on a patient.

So today was the day, the boss lady was due to have the final fitting of a crown, and I was 'persuaded' to let the Dentist have a look at my teeth. I knew full well that I needed treatment, but I have been putting it off, and off, and off. I can safely say that I haven't had any aches and pains from my teeth, but if the boss lady is having treatment then apparently so am I. We got there about 10 minutes before our appointment, and the waiting room was quite packed, and there was a man in the chair being treated. So there was me thinking, "that's not so bad the Dentist is busy, so I can make an appointment for another day." Just as I thought that she finished treating the bloke in the chair, and we were spotted. I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a farmer's Land Rover, frozen to the spot.

I did have a stay of execution, as one of the women sat in the reception had come in for some emergency treatment, so she was next in the chair. The Dentist told us that it would only be a few minutes, and then it would be our turn. Twenty minutes later, and two nervous cigarettes, the emergency treatment was finished. The woman walked out on her own, and there had been no screams of pain, so things were looking up. On the downside it meant that my turn was getting ever closer. Net was now in the chair and the Dentist was wittering away, too quickly for either of us to fully understand what she was saying. Bless her, she has got a translation programme on her mobile, so she is now speaking into her phone and then showing Net the translation. Unfortunately Net's glasses were in her handbag, and that was out in reception with me, so I was summoned into the inner sanctum. With a bit of charades, pantomime and the translation programme we actually worked out what the Dentist was trying to say. So I was back out into the reception room while the treatment was carried out.

The waiting room was starting to fill up again, two women and two children. I started to think that with appointments running over that I might be able to escape, but once Net had finished I found myself sat in the chair staring up at the ceiling. I guess that the Dentist had worked out that there was a good change that I would make a bolt for freedom. Net certainly had as she was stood in front of the door, and that was the only exit that I could see. The good news with Net guarding the door, it also meant that no-one could burst in and speak to the Dentist. So it was time for me to pull up my big boy pants and try and get through the coming ordeal. There was a bit of prodding and poking, and me trying to speak round what felt like a mouthful of tools, and eventually the Dentist decided that I would have a temporary filling done.

I didn't notice any roadwork signs going up, but it felt like a pneumatic hammer was being utilised. The drill turned out to be even smaller than ones I have previously used working on printed circuit boards, but it felt huge. The temporary filling only took about 10 minutes to do, and I was instructed not to eat for 2 hours. So for the next 2 hours I had a strange antiseptic taste in my mouth. Something akin to a cross between a Victory V lozenge and a Fisherman's Friend, neither of which I am a big fan of. Perhaps I had accidentally licked the surgery floor or something, my mind does go numb but I am fairly sure that I would have remembered that.

So I now have another appointment for next week, to get the temporary filling made permanent. Perhaps I could get away with wearing a mask like this. For today's treatment, it cost the princely sum of 90 Leva, and that was for both of us. So even given the state of Sterling at the moment, that works out to be round about £40. Everyone we have spoken to rates this Dentist highly, and even though I will be nervous next week I don't think that I will have to be strapped in the chair like a victim of some Medieval torture. Maybe as the time gets closer that may well change. So spare a thought for me next week, and wish me luck. I'll try not to be a big girl's blouse, although does anyone know how long a temporary filling can last? Truth be told, the dental work that I have had done here has been so much better than that in the UK, although most of my UK work was carried out by the military so perhaps that is not too surprising. The good news is that the rather odd antiseptic taste has now disappeared, but I have yet to give this temporary filling a liquorice toffee test drive.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Anyone Can Be Cold

Welcome to the first blog of 2017, I hope that you have all had a good Christmas and New Year. As you can see from the image to the right things are going to cool down just a little, particularly overnight. It will all prove to be a good test of the changes we have made over the last year, so far things seem to be working but the mercury in the thermometers hasn't plummeted that drastically so far. We managed to get through Christmas with it being fairly mild, but things certainly look as though they are about to change. We shouldn't complain as the previous two winters have been unusually mild. Snow has been constantly falling since last night, and the trenches I dug this morning I have had to dig out again.

So what changes have we made here? We have tried to keep as much character to the house as possible, but we decided to finally do away with the old internal doors and windows. None of them really shut properly, even after I had planed them down. Planing them did give other problems, as various gaps appeared. Holding a hand up to these gaps a draught could be felt. So we took the decision to replace them all. The new doors and windows might not be in keeping with the character of the house, but they do now actually close, and none have to be held closed with hooks and eyes. When closed there are no longer any draughts, whistling through non-existent gaps. We have also put extra rolls of insulation up in the roof space. So in theory we should not end up trying to heat the village via our attic space, even though the roof now has a thick layer of snow to provide even more insulation up top. Down in the cellar we have a new wood burner. The old one worked fine but had a smaller door, so we were limited to the size of logs we could actually feed onto the fire. With this new one it has a massive door. Anyone who splits wood out here will be aware that there are often problems, some logs you end up nibbling bits off and that seems to be it, even if a splitting wedge is used. Now with the generously sized door I can even fit a stump from the black swamp inside, even with those awkward roots which always seem to grab hold of things.

The main change that we have made has been the insulation on the outside of the house. We have also insulated some of the internal walls, then wallpapered over the top. I've seen other people do the same to the outside of their houses and it all looked quite simple. Don't be fooled, it isn't as easy as it looks. I didn't think that sticking insulation to the walls would be that difficult, so I was just going round sticking up sheet after sheet while trying to get things as level as possible. Gaps were carefully filled in, and I lost count of house many sheets of polystyrene I went through. I can safely say that I got fed up with the sight of those little white polystyrene balls, as initially I was cutting the sheets with a kitchen knife (but don't tell Net). It was then suggested that I might find a gas soldering iron easier to use. It did cut down on the amount of balls floating around the garden. I thought that I was doing so well that I carried on sticking sheet after sheet to the wall. Bulgarian weather had other ideas, and the sheets I had stuck up in bright sunshine the adhesive must have dried out too quickly. As one morning I spent chasing round the garden gathering up sheets of polystyrene which had blown off. I then had to work out which sheet went where, it was a bit like trying to do a jigsaw without the box lid. I have since found out that I should have used the plastic pegs as I went, but we live and learn. More by luck than judgement I didn't, as I would have put the meshing on incorrectly, as I would have used the central pins to hold the mesh in place. Fortunately we have a friend who knew what he was doing, and he did all of the meshing and plastering for me. Even the fiddly corner bits, and around the doors and windows. Thanks Dani.

Things are going well so far, as we are now down to -8C and indoors is warm and cozy. So -8C outside, and indoors it is a comfortable 23C, so it would appear that our endeavours are already paying dividends. It might also have something to do with the fires being lit, a stomach full of beef stew and a pair of Granddad slippers on my feet. The dogs are sprawled out in front of the fire in the little lounge (even though they often smell like they have lived on a diet of Sprouts for the last month), two of the cats are sleeping on the furniture and the other one has laid claim to one of the dog beds. We might just survive this winter comfortably, without having to touch the extra firewood which we stocked up on. The freezers are still full as are the cupboards. We have plenty of dog and cat food, torches and candles are in convenient locations, and mobiles, laptops and kindles, not to mention the all important Internet dongles are all fully charged. I hope that you manage to stay warm and safe too. Before I forget, the blog figures for last year went past 200,000 hits, and that can only be down to all who have accessed the blog. Very many thanks to you all, especially to those who have shared the blog links with friends and family. People have been very complimentary about these blogs, but they are only ever as good as the people who read them. Stay warm, stay safe and please accept my wishes for a happy and healthy 2017 for you and your loved ones. Remember that Spring is just around the corner.