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.

Friday, May 23, 2008

September 2007 Grape Time.

The Grapes are Ready

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

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

The Kittens 7 weeks old

September sees harvest of the grapes and many other fruits and vegetables. We are over whelmed with the amount of gifts in the way of fruit & veg from our Bulgarian neighbours. Hilary is busy in the kitchen making sauces, blanching and freezing the gifts we have received. Most Bulgarian homes will be a hive of activity with the women preparing food for the winter. Pickling, preserving and freezing. We hope that next year we will be doing all of this with our own produce from our garden. We are making plans for the winter now. We have no idea how bad the winter snows will be so it is time to think ahead. We have logs delivered that need to be cut, split and stacked. Wow that is a job in it's self. How do the Bulgarians get such neat and tidy log piles? years of practice is the answer. Albeit wobbly and not so straight we manage to make a log pile for the winter and between now and December every trip to the supermarket we buy just a little extra for the food store. Tony and I are now the proud owners of two very sweet little kittens Mitzy & Jasper one boy and one girl.

August 2007 The End of the Renovation is in Sight

One of many parties

The House is looking good

What a difference

We have been in Bulgaria for just over 2 and a bit months. We are really enjoying the village and the new friends we have made. The locals have made us feel most welcome. We have been invited to many celebrations in the neighbourhood. Here in Bulgaria they celebrate their name day, it's a little like a birthday but it is to celebrate their name. The locals are watching with interest our house developing. Often one or two of the villagers can be found wandering around the house looking at how a western house looks and exchanging the odd joke with our builders. They are all intrigued with some of the reshaping that has been going on in the house. For example they are amazed that the once dark and damp store room in the bottom half of our house is now a bedroom. We have been told that the moving in date for us will now be the 14th August great news we can't wait to get into our new home.

July 2007 the Heat Continues

The Grapevine

The Goats having a free Meal

July was even hotter and we are still camping out in our friends house. The days are very very hot and we are taking a time to adjust. We have both managed to avoid getting sunburn. We have followed the locals up early in the morning and get your chores done. By midday it is time to go inside and catch up on the chores inside. The time to come back out is around 5 pm when the heat is not so fierce. The evenings are warm and very pleasant the only annoying thing is the bugs and mosquitoes. If you are unfortunate enough to get bitten by a mosquito the cure is at hand with the traditional Bulgaria drink of Rakia. No no you don't drink it you water it down and apply it to your bite and soon it will be soothed and feeling much better. Rakia is made from many different things here grapes,fruits etc. It is very much like a whisky neither of us like it and we laugh with the locals that try their best to get us to drink it. We decline telling them that for us it is like " FIRE WATER" they laugh and nod, and still try to get us to drink it. The local wine is very different we have tasted some absolutely beautiful wines made by our friends and neighbours. Our mission in 2008 is to make our own wine from our own grapes. I will keep you posted.

June 2007 Heatwave and Still waiting for the Renovation to Finish

The Renovation in Progress

June came in with a flourish of very hot weather, something we in the UK are really not use to so again it was watch the locals and follow them as much as possible. When you enter into a new culture my best advice is to watch, learn, and listen. Watching is easy, learning by watching is easy, however listening is not quite so easy when you don't speak the language. This is something else one should take into account when thinking of living in a different country. We set about trying to learn Bulgarian. Not an easy task but we try our best and the locals are such friendly and helpful people, if you show them you are trying they will offer you all the help they can. When all else fails explanation and demonstration always come in handy. Sometimes much hand waving and charade type actions and much laughter would get the point across. We don't beat ourselves up that the learning process of the language is a slow one. Each day we try hard to learn another word or two. We know it will be a long and sometimes frustrating process. Having said this the joy of learning a word and using it and being understood is worth all the effort. the locals are by now getting to know us and us them. We feel very much at home and are still keeping a close eye on our house renovation.

Where we were last May

The VW Camper we drove across Europe

As I write this a year on thoughts go back to may 2007 the 23rd of May to be exact found us crossing the border from Romania into Bulgaria and the start of our new life in a new country. We had travelled across Europe in our VW camper van enjoying the ride and smelling the roses on the way. Always bear in mind any journey you take in life is that much more enjoyable if you take time to smell the roses along the way. We lost a fan belt in France so we were delayed by a day. Belgium,Germany, Austria,Hungry,Romania, and Bulgaria a great five day trip. We travelled and took time to look around. A tip if your travelling across Europe night stops were always taken near or with the lorry drivers. They make great night time companions looking out for you and each other. We arrived in our village to find our house was way off completion this is not uncommon in Bulgaria. So what next well we set up camp in the garden of some friends. They were soon to return to the UK and offered us the use of their house. The house was typical Bulgarian no running water inside, toilet or bathroom, just a shell, and so the adventure began. Unknown to us the villages can suffer from lack of water so our first lesson is to find the local spring and get water in bottles to use for household chores etc. I set to and did my washing in a bowl outside much to the approval of the local ladies. They would stop at the gate and shout BRAVO and clap. They approved of the English woman that did what many of them had been doing for years. We had to walk from the house we were staying in to our house to use the outside toilet yes that is right you read it correct the "outside toilet" funny to think back now we did this for almost 3 months while our renovation took place.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How our Adventure started

A Beautiful Bulgarian Sunset

We lived in South Wales in the United kingdom, Tony was a professional painter and decorator and Hilary was an Administrator. We both worked full time and Tony's trade took him away from home for weeks at a time. In my spare time I handcrafted and sold jewellery. This is something I still do here in Bulgaria. Quality time together was few and far between. Our working lives and commitments always seem to get in the way. We took holidays and often while abroad we would think about what it would be like to live in a different Country. We took a month off in 2006 and travelled about looking at different places. In October 2006 we visited Bulgaria and fell in love with the country, the people, and the wonderful flora and fauna. The breathtaking countryside and the culture. How beautiful is this sunset?

A Look Back Over our First Year in Bulgaria

Our Home in Bulgaria

Rock house is our home here in Bulgaria this is the story of how we got here. The ups the downs, the laughter and the tears. We are Tony and Hilary an English couple who have chosen to make Bulgaria and the village of Glavan our home.