Monday, December 29, 2008

December 2008 A New Year Just Around the Corner

Ever Changing Landscape

Our Morning Walk in the Snow

Snow on the Mountain

The Wind Turbines

December this year has been very different than last year. We have had some mild weather up until the last few days of this month. The snows came but only very little, compared to the 3/4 foot we had this time last year. We have now got some low temperatures and the snow has taken on the appearance of glistening gems. Each day we walk on the mountains with Bailey, it is like a winter wonder land. The snow and ice capped rocks all take on different forms ever changing in there beauty. We spent a quiet Christmas day at home and ate a Christmas dinner from all our own produce. Boxing day we spent time with Bulgarian friends in true Bulgarian style the dish of the day was pork. We are looking towards a New Year and all that it will bring. No matter where in the world you are we think that 2009 will bring many more challenges not just for us here in Bulgaria but around the world. Progress here is taking place and we await the turning on of the wind turbines that have sprung up on the hillside just outside the village. We now also have a regular dustbin collect at the house not the communal bins that were once used. It is so much better not to have to walk to take your rubbish to the bin. Bulgaria is changing it will take time but the signs are there.
We at Rock House wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.Take care all of you and we will return at the end of January.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 2008 Countdown To Christmas

The First Winter Snow

Greek Countryside

The Beauty of Bulgaria

Winter Storm Clouds

We have had our first snow this year. Although it was not much and it has now gone. We are sure there is much more to come and are thinking that we shall have another White Christmas.........
We have been busy making sure that everything here at Rock House is Winter proof. All the delicate plants and shrubs have been potted up and have been taken inside for Winter. We took a day out a week or so ago and went to Greece for the day. Yes just the day it was a warm sunny day and the drive was so pretty just over an hour from our home. The Greek countryside is very similar to Bulgaria. We visited a town called Orestiados it was a very nice town and we had a wonderful day out. We are planning when the weather is better to also take a day trip to Turkey. This also is only an hours drive from our home. We are lucky to be able to go to other countries just for day trips. The landscape here is changing almost everyday as winter arrives. Every season brings it's own beauty here in Bulgaria. The clear nights are amazing we never knew there were so many stars to be seen in the night sky. There is no light pollution here in the foot of the mountains we stargaze and it is awesome to see so many stars. This leads me to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Christmas Season. Many blessings to you all. We will see you at the end of December Take care.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The End of October Where Does The Time Go?

Horse and Donkey off to a new home

Pigs off to Market

A Bulgarian alternative to a Wheelchair

Our New Addition Bailey

Well here we are at the end of October. Where does the time go? Eight weeks to Christmas can you believe it. We are having some pleasant days with sunshine, but the evenings are chilly. We have not had to light the log burner yet so that is a good sign. We have a new addition to the family here at Rock House. Her name is Bailey she is a ten month old dog. Her owner had to return to the UK and could not take Bailey with her. We are pleased to have her here, although the cat's might not feel the same yet!!!! They will all get along after a while just like the chickens did. Cats and chicken live in total harmony now and we are sure that Bailey and Mitzy and Jasper eventually will get along just fine. I thought this month I would make you smile with some different modes of transport you see here in the villages of Bulgaria. We often stop and smile at things that to us seem a little strange. This month also is the month for your pumpkins to be used or stored so that fist well with Halloween, Pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread will be made in this house and maybe some pumpkin pie. There is little left in the garden now the odd cabbage or two. Then the ground will be ploughed ready for the spring. That I think is about it for this month. Take care be well all of you. We will see you again at the end of November.

Friday, October 3, 2008

September 2008 Autumn has arrived

Village Crafts

Village Children Entertain

Cats and Chicken in Harmony

The long hot days of Summer have gone now and autumn is here. Chilly mornings and evenings and just warm sun during the days. We have been able to make use of the warm days and are busy turning the ground ready for the winter. We have our log pile all finished now so we have dry logs to burn on the log burner all Winter. This month has been mostly about the animals. We have found out that out of our eleven chickens there are now five cockerels, not really what we wanted as the chickens were for eggs. The breeder we bought them from was phoned but he really was not interested that we had ended up with 5 male birds. So we have sent four of them to live with our friends as they were disruptive towards the hens. So all being well we will now get some eggs. Unless of course more turn out to be male birds. Lets hope not. September sees most of the locals gathering winter fodder for the animals as pasture will be hard to find . Also now the hard work is over in the gardens and all the crops are gathered in, the village starts to have celebrations in September and October. So over the next few weeks there will be parties and dancing singing and everybody having a nice time. I will try and get some nice pictures to post so you can share in the true Bulgarian culture. Now is the time for the local ladies to pursue their handcraft work. These are true works of art. They are very talented and make some amazing items. Until next month take care each and everyone of you.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 2008 Celebrations and Heatwave

Village Rush Hour

Bee Keeping Bulgarian Style

Our Good Friend in Bulgarian Costume

Once again this month has been very hot. Also it is a quiet month as many Bulgarians take holidays in the month of August. With the heat comes a few problems one of which is a lack of water. The other problem is there have been some fires. Everything is very dry and one careless move can cause a nasty fire. There was one such fire about 38k from where we live it was a big fire that took the army to help to control. Because of the lack of water we have had to let some of our crops go, this is a shame but we had to make some harsh decisions . It is all part of the learning for us. We know next year we have to get our irrigation system for our crops sorted out. This we can do with the help and advice of our Bulgarian friends and neighbours.
The Chickens here at Rock House are doing well but still no eggs come on girls it must soon be time for that egg. I will keep you posted. This month we celebrated our good friends name day it was fun and Hilary also had a birthday so it was a joint celebration. We ate and drank outside in true Bulgarian fashion. A great time was had by all of us.
Here in Bulgaria there is some of the best honey we have ever tasted. Our friend and neighbour has hives in a field at the back of our house. I am showing you the way he does his bee keeping here in Bulgaria!!!!!!!!.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 2008 We are still busy at Rock House

Mitzy meets Goldie

The Onions in Store

The Winter Preserves

This month saw the start of some very warm weather indeed 46c that is hot. We follow the locals and get our chores done early, and spend the afternoon inside. We have now almost got all our crops in. This meant that we had work to be done again in the kitchen, and in the store shed. Our onions are dried and we have strung them to hang ready for winter use likewise our garlic. We had a stringing lesson from one of our Bulgarian friends, thank goodness our strings passed the test.......... if they failed it was back to square one.
The chickens are growing fast and our two boys are starting to crow in the mornings. They are still young and have not quite got the hang of the cock-a doodle-loo we get some funny variations of it.
Our holiday apartment rental has been very slow this year, so it was with some excitement that we received a bookings for early August and late August. We are looking forward to having guests to stay. We can feel the barbecue calling, it will be fun to have an evening on the patio with our guests.
As August approaches we really have to start making plans for our winter. Hard to think about cold and snow with the heat here at the moment, however it's time to plan and plan we will. Please call back the end of August for more tales from Rock House.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

June 2008 A mixed month indeed

The New Arrivals

The sunflowers in Bloom

The Stork

A Gift from our Bulgarian Friend

June 2008 is very different than June last year. We have had some hot weather, however this year it has been humid with many thunder storms. The crops have loved the water and most things are showing early this year. We have picked many of our crops and prepared them ready for winter. This entailed much activity in the kitchen, jam making, pickling, bottling , freezing, drying and baking. Unfortunately we lost our entire crop of peas to the pea moth. This is something you have to expect as it is our first year of growing, and we have chosen not to use any pesticides on our crops. We grew English peas and next year we shall grow Bulgarian peas as none of our neighbours had a problem. Another lesson learnt. We have some new arrivals here at Rock House. We are the proud owners of eleven chickens they are settling in very well, we watch them with great interest, each of them forming its own character. We are looking forward to having our own eggs later in the year Jasper and mitzy also watch them with interest, but we are sure for very diffrent reasons. Hopefully in time both chicken and cats will lead a full an happy life here in harmony.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May 2008 One Year On

The veggie Garden Now

The Patio

The Back Garden Flower Bed

The House

Where did that year go. We have had our ups and downs but would not have missed the journey for one moment. Would we leave our bit of paradise NO NO NO is the answer to that. Life here is different and can at times be a real challenge but we love everything about our new life the ups and downs make you even more stronger to strive to get things right in the future. We are growing all our own veg, and we both feel so much healthier we pick we cook we eat. We lead our lives at our own pace and are so much more relaxed. We do work hard and sometimes the challenges are not easy to meet. We work as a team and if we really are stuck we know there is always someone that will help and advise us. The locals are a warm and friendly people and we are privileged to call them our friends. The weather now is beautiful and we are looking forward to a long hot summer. I will post once a month to keep you updated with our progress as we head for year two.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

April 2008 Showers come to Bulgaria

The bulgarain Lawn Mower

The Veggie Garden in the Making

The Flower Bed in the making

April showers come to Bulgaria just as they do in the UK. March saw changeable weather with some high winds and now we have showers. We are not altogether unhappy about some rain. We know that in the following months every drop of water will be needed to tend our gardens. Sometimes we suffer for water shortages in the villages so any water we we can save now will help with this situation. We have had a back up tank installed in our home so that when we have mains water the tank fills up and allows us to have water in the house even when the mains is not working. We take running water for granted in the UK but here we have learnt to save water where ever possible. We recycle whatever water we can, also we have a working well in the garden and this is used to water the veggies with.

March 2008 the Month of Change.

March the 1st Celebrations Stara Zagora

The 1st of March sees Baba Marta Day here in Bulgaria. March 1st is probably our most intrinsic holiday because it is unique to Bulgaria. The custom of wearing martenitsas (red-and-white threads worn as a decoration) is only popular in Bulgaria and it is perhaps the most positive one in all our folklore. The traditions related to March 1st as well as the martenitsas themselves are associated with optimism and anticipation of warmer weather, fertility and well-being. This tradition is based upon the founding of Bulgaria in 681 AD. The name March comes from the Latin Martius, i.e. ‘of Mars’, the god of war, son of Jupiter and Junona. Old Bulgarians called it “birch month” – because the birch trees begin to grow leaves and give sap. Other traditions connected with March include that very early in the morning, even before the month begins, the young ones must be the first to meet the willful old woman. Thus she will be smiling and merry, the weather will be good and sunny. People wear the martenitsas until they see a stork. Then they tie it on a fruit-tree branch, make a wish and are sure that it will come true.

February 2008 and the Snow has Gone.

You can't See Me

A Good sleeping Place

The Boy's Relaxing

The snow has gone now but the temperature is still low and cold. We have been out and done some shopping. Just to top up the cupboards in case we get more bad weather. We are busy planning the veggie plot. Again we are making a journal of what we want to grow and where the best possible place to put everything is going to be. We are also planning on having some chickens so we are getting plans down for making the hen house ready for our new arrivals. We are not sure how our two cats will feel about having some feathered friends around only time will tell. We are sure that they will cope with them very well. Mitzy & Jasper our two cats have been with us since September and are really part of the family now. Our Bulgarian neighbours say they are lucky cats to be spoiled the way they are. We don't think they are spoilt we just think they are well loved.

Monday, May 26, 2008

January 2008 and Still the Snow is here

The Village Church
The Village School
The Park
One of the Village Streets

Christmas has come and gone and still we have snow and lots of it. We have not been able to get out of the village for some 3 weeks now even with the 4x4. We spend our days chilling(no pun intended) We use the time to relax and prepare for the busy spring and summer months. We keep a journal of things we have learnt this winter to make next winter even more cosy. We pride ourselves that we have not run out of food or any essentials. So we got something right. Our Bulgarian is coming on slow but sure. We have spent time with friends in the village over the winter and all this helps us to learn. We are told by the village people that the snows will last a couple more weeks then things should get better. We have taken many pictures of the village in the snow it really is very pretty. Not many adjustments to make for next winter just a couple of things to make us even more cosy.

December 2007 Christmas is almost here

The First Snow

Our Village in the First Snow

Well we had the first snows and it was not so bad we could still get about, having the 4x4 jeep was great as we could drive it in the snow without much trouble. The whole landscape has changed now and we are seeing yet another side of Bulgaria. It is still beautiful and we love the ever changing scenes outside. We are both feeling a bit strange not being with our family at Christmas. The first one we have spent away from them in many a year. We have the Internet so we can keep in touch and speak with them on Christmas Day. Here in Bulgaria the main celebration is Christmas Eve. Everyone meets up and families spend time together and have a meal on Christmas Eve. Tony and I spend Christmas in our house it is cold outside and we have had yet more snow this time lots of it. Everywhere you look is white it is very pretty and here the snow is different very clean powdery and fine. Our two cats have been playing in the white stuff and looking with amazement at it. I guess this is the first time they have seen snow. New years Eve is celebrated with many parties, lots of food and drink and at midnight fireworks are let off. Not really much different than in the UK.

November 2007 and the First Signs of Winter

The Sky at Night

It is now November and the weather is changing the days and nights are much colder. We have learnt to start and make our fire. We light the fire in the afternoons to warm the house soon I think it will need to be lit in the mornings. We have taken stock of the store cupboard and the freezer. We are sure that we have enough food to see us through the winter if we are unable to get out for a few weeks. We have Bulgarian socks at the ready they are fantastic keep your feet really warm. Hilary has been watching the ladies buying woollen tights on the market so has now got a stock of her own. Yes they go under your trousers and come down to your ankles, not the height of fashion but so warm. The secret is to wear layers and a hat and scarf. We have been told that the first snows could well be on the way. The night sky is just awesome.

October 2007 One Year ago we Bought our House

From this ................................

To this ...............................

The Kittens are Growing Up

It is now one year since we bought our house. How time goes past so very fast. We are still making plans for the winter. Although at the moment the weather is still good. It is hard to imagine what our first winter here will be like. We know that last year there was very little snow and this is very very unusual for Bulgaria. Again we are just hoping that we have done enough to prepare for what ever the weather throws at us. We have had to move our freezer upstairs into the apartment as we have been told not to leave it in the utility room as it will be to cold for it there. How strange!!!!! but apparently if the temp falls below 10 degrees it will ruin your freezer. Well they do say you learn something new every day and that is just the case here in Bulgaria you learn at least one new thing a day. Another thing we learnt today after a visit from the local vet is that we have two boys Mitzy is a boy oh!!!! dear to late to change his name so he will have to be Mr Mitzy from now on.