Archive for April 26, 2011

Easter

Annie is over on her 3 monthly visit, so the house is getting a well deserved ‘spring’ clean. In doing so we have unearthed, that although we use an
outside toilet, our cats have decided that during winter they would prefer one inside! Size 10 boot to each of them!

Annies message to the cats!

The planting season is in full flow, the tomatoes are being trained on poles in the greenhouse, the cucmbers have germinated along with the peppers, and at last I have finished
digging my ‘deep-beds’. John Seymour eat your heart out!

The deep beds are finished

So now we will see if it is true that upto 4 times the yield can be grown for the same amount of space! Not sure what I will do with all the onions if it is true.

Our fruit orchard (apples, pears, cherry, peach, and nectarine) has started to get a bit over grown so the Bulgarian lawnmower has been out. If nothing else
it will help keep me fit. When we first moved here I bought a strimmer, much to the derision of my neighbours. So to fully integrate I am now only using the scythe.
Although not yet fully licenced I am slowly getting better with it.

The Bulgarian Lawnmower

Red Wine

With the weather stopping play in the garden (cold and very wet) the last few days, although the promise of sun is on the horizon. I have had to
saw some more wood for the petchka as winter has extended into the second half of April. I have also been enjoying some very nice red wine.

I have several wine grapes growing in my garden but they are only two years old an so only produce enough juice for an odd bottle between them. So
I have been testing the local stuff and for 2 lev (1 euro) a bottle you just can’t really go wrong.

So whilst buying some cat food in the local Bila shop the other day and I stumbled upon a demijon of red wine(5l) for 10 lev. Thinking that the container would
come in handy for storing my homemade vintages in the years to come I decided to get myself one.

My new red wine container

The downside being that I have to empty the damn thing before I get the chance to use it. Oh well we all have a cross to bear! Mine just happens to
a be a Carbernet Sauvignon variety!

As you can see from the pic I have made a good dent in the contents, the only problem that remains is that I could do with another 10 of them!

Bulgarian Waterboard

When we first moved to Bulgaria, one of the first things we did was to get the mains water connected to the house. Having visited the nearby
spring with 10 litre bottles for a week it was quite a luxury to have water coming out of tap!

The process here is some what different to the uk. First we had to go to the local builders yard and by a water meter. Then we had to inform the water man
(Moojoo – who has an uncanny resemblance to Annies Uncle Ade) that we would like hook up to the mains.

This was all done with minimum fuss, and Uncle Ade came and plugged us into the mains one sunny morning. My Bulgarian at that stage was somewhat limited to saying hello
and counting to 10. Much miming went on and finally he took out his wallet showed me a 20 lev note then pointed at my pocket then back at himself. Light bulb goes
on in the brain, and I hand over the required 20 lev for connecting us to the mains.

6 months pass no sight or sound of a water bill, when someone I had not seen before is at my door saying ‘Arden, Arden’ my six months of Bulgarian was obviously not enough as
this waas a new word for me. I explain to him that I do not understand (I learnt this the first week) but all I got in return was a blank look and a repeat of the same
‘Arden, Arden’.

He then points at my outside tap, points to himself, then proceeds to repeat ‘Arden, Arden’. At this point my neighbour passes by the front of my garden and
starts to laugh. He calls out in Bulgarian ‘He needs to know your name for the water bill’. It transpires that water man doesn’t know any Bulgarian so was speaking to me in Turkish!

I hand him my passport so he can copy down my details, then he announces to me ‘Chelasea, Chelsea’ and smiles (I didn’t tell him that I am Tottenham fan) so I returned the smile
and listed off a few Chelsea footballers much to his appreciation.

Another month passes and my Turkish speaking water man comes round again with my water bill in hand (6 months worth = 28 Lev = 14 Euro = 3 pints in a pub in the UK). I promptly pay
up we have another Chelsea footballer naming competition, which he won hands down as I got stuck after Drogba, Lampard, and Terry.

During this time we had made some progress on the house including a concrete path that led to our road (un-metalled road I should add) so that I could get my motobike close to the house.
When I noticed that there was a torrent of water flooding down the path and onto the road. I get in touch with Uncle Ade (Moojoo) and he promptly comes to rectify the problem.
The mains water pip runs right through the middle of my garden and had sprung a leak. He came armed with two labourers who found the leak directly under my new path.
My concrete and steel path soon gave way to two pick axes and some sawing with a hacksaw. After completeing the job they called me over and told me I was not to fill in the hole they
had dug for 24 hours to ensure the leak was properly fixed.

It was at this point that I realised I would be the one filling the hole in. There job is find and fix repairs, but this does not include filly the holes back in
afterwards, let alone fixing my new path!

Now having been here nearly 3 years last week whilst strolling around my garden I noticed another puddle in the garden, dirctly in line with the repaired hole
in my path. It had not rained for 3 weeks. It was time to call Uncle Ade again. I phoned him at 12:00, he arrived at 16:30 (Sameday call out I was impressed).
However he had got a lift down from wherever he had been, inspected the puddle. Then said ‘I’ll come and fix it tomorrow as I have been drinking beer’. I just love
the honesty of the people here. No making silly excuses like its a bit late in the day to get started, or that he has other things to do. Straight out with it.
Best leave it until tomorrow as I have been drinking beer.

The next day Uncle Ade arrives again with his two labourers, and dig me a new hole.

My new swimming pool

This time again they inform me after they fix the leak that I must not fill the hole in for 24 hours. I thank them much for my new hole in my best Bulgaran.
To which they look a little confused I then ask if they will be coming back next to dig me another one. I think irony has yet to catch on in Bulgaria, although I am trying my best to introduce it!

The Sap Is Rising

Long gone are the days of winter where the main objective of the day was just to keep warm, now the persperation comes with the spring dig of the garden
and the planting of this years food crops. As well as the staple foods which the majority of the village grow, as I have quite a big garden (or in UK language
bloody huge) I have dedicated part of it as a fruit orchard. I bought the saplings at the local market in Djebel and they have been in for two years
now, so I am expecting my first fruits this year (if only a taster of what is come in following years as the trees mature.

I have in total 12 trees in my orchard, including cherry, pear, apple, peach, nectarine as well as the ones that were already there which are some type of plum/damson
and are locally known as ‘Jankey’ or ‘Sliven’ trees. Which by all accounts make great brandy (Rakia) see here.

Well this is the time of the year when the trees are advertising there wares to the bees and other insects to secure pollination and what a sight it is.

The plum/damson tree in flower

My new cherry tree although not as good looking as the mature plum tree is promising enough cherry at least to grace the odd cocktail!

My Cherry tree with 20 odd flowers

So this year I will be on scrounge for cherries to make more cherry wine (cherry wine recipe here)

Spring Is In The Air

Some great new laws have come into effect today in Bulgaria, after successfully turning my garden into a cow free zone by applying
100’s of metres of barbed wire around it, as from today cows are not allowed to roam freely around the village and have to be either tethered
or escorted.

More interestingly though due, to a recent plague of rodents in southern Bulgaria it is now possible to get an EU subsidy for keeping cats! Luckily
my two cats (Alan & Dave) have full EU status and therefore qualify for the grant. Which dependent upon the amount of rodent kills they make could
make keeping cats a full time business. I am begining to regret having them neutererd, as this could be a real money spinner.

If you live in Bulgaria and would like to register your cat for the subsidy you will need to get the documnet from your local Kimet or email me
tgl@thegudlife.com for more details.

Alan & Dave = CASH!

This year I am also trying to grow some more unusual crops, including asparagus, celery (I know its not unusual), and I even have some seeds for red
bananas. I have distributed a few of the seeds around the village and have offered a prize for the first of anyone to grow an actual banana!

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