Archive for July 31, 2010

Pets in Paradise

Prior to the unexpected windfall and thus our move to Bulgaria, Dominic and I had settled into the mundane life of the Jones’s.
I was working and getting paid a handsomely amount of money and Dominic was expanding his mind by doing a Maths and Physics degree.
We had the house (actually still do, that’s why I’m stuck in Blighty…. I digress), the car, the standing orders, fortunately minus the 2.4
children and 2 cats – Dave and Alan.

Dave The Cat
Alan The Cat

Now I’m one of these people who believe that ‘a pet is for life, not just for christmas’. If there is
one thing that gets my goat is how people can neglect, abuse and abandon animals. Actually there are a couple of
things that rattle my Karma but I won’t bore you with those. Anyway, back to Pets in Paradise.>br>

Basically, I thought it would be very wrong to leave the two behind, the two being Dave and Alan. Unlike Dom, I like to do
things properly and boy did it cost me dearly. Having searched many websites, scanned expat website etc, I made an appointment
with Mr Vet. (It did make me chuckle when Dave Lewis and Alan Lewis were called into the surgery). So Rabies jab, pet passport and
microchips later, I was presented with a shocker of a bill!!!! Some £260.

Although I do not regret from one minute taking the cats over, I do feel somewhat pained by their travelling experience. We did get some pet
equivalent of Valium to chill them out but being stuck in a travel box (oh yes, additional costs) for three days in the autumn heat is no fun for
man or beast. Do cats suffer from travel sickness?

Never in a million years will I ever get those two cats back into a cat carrier. I believe they are scarred for life.

However, I do believe they have forgiven me. They love the Bulgarian life. To show their appreciation we have been brought field mice,
lizards and even a rat. Dave has learnt that attacking a tortoise is pointless and knows to avoid chickens. In summer, we only see them at
food time, especially when we have a bbq, sleeping out in the derelict building next door. However winter is another story. They love nothing more
than to sleep under the wood burner (who can blame them when temp reaches -15).

Dave in Winter

So points to consider if thinking of taking pets to Bulgaria:

  • Cost: ok so we did not get stopped once during the journey. I think the passports are only needed if you plan to bring them back to the UK – ain’t going to happen to Dave and Alan. Microchips are a waste of time. Microchipping has not reached rural Bulgaria. Also, if you do intend on bringing them back consider the hassle of having to get a rabies test done 6 months before you intend on coming back.
  • Cat food: another source of amusement to the locals is that we buy cat food for our very spoilt cats. Local cats survive on the scraps. Cat food is therefore quite expensive.
  • Vets: The vets in rural Bulgaria specialise in cows, sheep and goats. I should imagine that working on cats would require working from a textbook.
  • Girl cats: See above – Vets. I would therefore recommend that you get your female cat done before you come over otherwise one cat could become a lot more. There are a lot of stray cats and basic instinct is basic instinct at the end of the day.

Not Just Fruit & Veg!

As well as growing lots of fruit and veg I have given over quite a lot of my garden
to flowers not just to help the bees but to make it look a bit nicer. I don’t know the Latin names and to be honest I don’t really want to.
People that tell me I am growing Lavandula angustifolia, oh you mean my lavender!

Does it really matter knowing the latin name for things as long as
I know what it is that I am growing. So just to confuse garden experts I have renamed all my flowers below.
Please don’t email with the real names
as I don’t want to know.

Here are some of my favorites:

Read Dreadlock plant

Red Dreadlock Plant = Reddius Dreadius

Pink Flower

Pink Flower = Pinkus Maximus

Lots of pink Flowers

The aforementioned pinkus maximus in bush form.

The Amazing Everlasting flowers

These flowers are great for drying and last forever.

Everlasting Flowers = Flora Infinitum.

Not really a fuscia

I think these are fuscias, but I call them Chandalier Plants = Luminar Shadus Flora.

So for anyone who read yesterdays update and was expecting to see the foundations of the National Botanical Gardens of Samodiva,
unfortunately I am a slave to the weather and it piddled down so not much digging was happening. The weather has picked up today so will try
and make a start.

24 Hour Melon Service

The last couple of days have passed in a blur, the weather has proved all those
climate change enthusiasts right (at least this week), it is coming up to the end of July, the weather in Southern Bulgaria should read: Today Hot & Sunny,
Tomorrow Hot & Sunny, etc, etc. However we have had tropical storms and max temps of 21C, which was the minimum temp the week before!

The Pime Minister of Bulgaria has visited Kirkovo a town about 15 Kms way on a popularity drive, I only knew of this as I was driving to Djebel and every 200m
a policeman was lined up at the the side of the road, and Annie has posted a picrure of me whilst fishing in my underpants on the forum! So I have
had better weeks.

I was in Djebel yesterday taking one of neighbours to visit a sick relative in hospital, and at the side of the road was someone selling watermelons, we
decided to stop as ours in our gardens are only the size of apples at the moment and at 40 stotinki a kilo they really are quite cheap.

My Melons

Bulgarians really are
quite enterprising and never miss an oppoutunity to make some money, but what made me smile was the sign put up to advertise the water melons, I wish I had had my
camera, but it looked like this:

24 Hour Melon Service

So not only is he selling watermelons (Dini) and they cost 40 stotinki a kilo but this is availbale 24 hours a day. You just
don’t get that commitment to work in the UK. Today I will be in my garden starting on the construction of my Bulgarian Greenhouse I will post the
details with pics tomorrow.

Be Careful When Buying Bread!

I have been learning Bulgarian for the last two years and now have a good grasp of the basics and can understand a conversation, even if
my grammar is terrible. I have never heard of Bulgarian swear words and have not looked any up in the dictionary as I have as yet never needed to
use them. I am also trying to learn Turkish as my village is Turkish/Bulgarian.

Bulgarian has lots of words that sound similar just like all languages. Some in English for example: Duck, Tuck, Muck. Now if you get just one letter
wrong you can get in almighty trouble. Imagine being at a restaurant and trying to impress you waiter by asking for a fork but you get the first vowel
mixed up with the last vowel in the alphabet. Your waiter might not take to kind to it unless they have a big crush on you. Well this is exactly what I did.

Let me just set the scene, I was in my local town Djebel and I wanted to buy a loaf of bread from the bakers. The Bulgarian word for a round baked loaf is ‘Pitka’

A Bulgarian Pitka

This is easy to remember as the Bulgarian for ‘Hole’ and ‘Pothole’ of which there are many in ‘Dupka’. They sort of rhyme.

A Bulgarian Pothole

Unfortunately I asked for a ‘Putka’ which took the young girl behind the counter by surprise. Fortunaltely I was pointing as well. Always a good tip if you are not
fluent. Because what I had asked for was, well without swearing, ‘the c word’.

Luckily I didn’t know this at the time and so could not be embarassed by it. Unluckily, I decided to check in the pub the following night why
my Bulgarian had not been as fluent as thought it was.

On retelling my story in the pub, and with their explanation that I had just asked the girl behind the counter for a strip tease, I caused the whole pub to erupt in laughter
!They have never let me forget.
When I said she looked surprised they encouraged me to go back again with the same request just in case I get lucky! Don’t think Annie would be too impressed though!

So now that I am learning Turkish, I have made a point of learning the swear words, not so I can use them, but just so I don’t use in the wrong environment!

Not Always A Good Crop

The problem with trying to grow most if not all of your own food,
is that sometimes you are at the mercy of the weather.

Last year for instance, grew over 60 tomato plants and completely over did it, salad everyday during the summer and over 100 jars
of bottled tomatoes for the winter of which I ate about 60.

So this year I completey scaled back on the tomatoes to 25 plants, thinking this would be more than adequate. Unfortunately the weather man
has not been on my side this year and late June and early July just as my plants were in flower we had two weeks of Welsh weather descend on
us in Southern Bulgaria!.

My Poorly Tomatoes

The tomato and cucumbers, as well as my grapes have suffered terribly. The wine may have to be more parsnip, than merlot this year. Luckily due
to the glut of tomatoes last year I have just enough for salad this year, and will be finishing off last years bottled ones this winter.

I am contemplating a small poly tunnel for next year just in case for the tomatoes and cucmbers, this is an extra expense not only for the tunnel but
the extra watering that will be required. It does however give you a certain guarantee of at least some crops, so I see it as insurance against the

The strange weather we have been having has also affected my bees, they have made plenty of honey for themselves but have yet to make any for me! I wasn’t planning on
feeding them during winter so if I am to get any honey it will have to be in the next month or so.

On the upside my potatoes have really done quite well with all the extra rain as have my beans, and the peppers seem unaffected as well. I suppose it is all
swings and roundabouts though.

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