Archive for May 30, 2011

Potato Beasts

I don’t like using pesticides, or herbicides, because lets face it the word ‘cide’ basicaly translates as ‘poison’ and as I am eating quite a
lot of what I grow, I will only be poisoning myself. Other than that though, if I could invent a mini-nuclear bomb to wipe out the beasts that
are devouring my potatoes, without leaving any toxic residue my finger would be on the button – The little bastards!

Potato Beasts

These little gits are going to get it!

So out with the sprayer and hopefully what I have been told will get rid of them without causing too much damdege to me, some Bulgarian magic
blue powder mixed with water. As Kilgore said in Apolcalypse Now: I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.

I have also planted out french beans, watermelon, honeydew melons, and some really weird looking gourds, that although you cannot eat
do grow into some great shapes and make my neighbours roll there eyes at me.

May Weeds

A little rain and a lot of sun and suddenly everything starts to grow, unfortunately the weeds also. This year as with previous years I have grown too
much, not kept up with my weeding, and now look out into my garden and think ‘where do I start?’

My greenhouse/Poly-house is having spurts of growth, from small seedlings to ‘Oh my god!’ it appears over night!

My Spurting Green House

My cucmbers and tomatoes are in need of training up the posts. Over in Plot No1 (not deep bed) I have sweetcorn, red cabbage, and carrots generously interspersed with
just as many weeds.

Plot No 1

Whilst over in the deep beds (I am comparing effort and efficiecy this year) I have similar crops that so far are out shining the ones in the normal beds,
but so also are the weeds! There are so many of them I am begining to take it personally.

Deep Beds

I have reached 3 tyres high on one potato stack, and am running out of tyres, as I have not had a puncture in the last year. My Bulgarian slalom driving technique
(around the pot holes) is obviously improving.

Turkey chicks – Don’t bother they need more care than new born babies and have a survival rate of, well, turkeys at christmas. 4 Chicks, 4 days of intensive care, result
= no remaining chicks! This I am told by my neighbours is completely normal, one of them had 15 and lost the lot in one day once, and he has been keeping turkeys for
30 years.

I am off to wage war on the weeds. Barcelona to win 2-0!

Why Am I Here?

I take it if you are reading this that as far as you are concered the world did’t end on 21 May, and you haven’t beenĀ raptured. Well so you don’t feel bad niether have I (although being agnostic I was doomed to stay whatever). As well as the loonies predicting the end of the world this week I have been thinking about the reason that I am here (in Bulgaria rather the more philosophical question). I have been asked many times why I have chosen to up sticks and move to Bulgaria.

There is no one single answer. Although having recieved a very nice email from “Tony in India” this week, I would like to borrow a phrase from him. “one is himself the complete master about the expenses one wants to bear” which pretty much sums up why I have moved to Bulgaria. Out here if all you want is all that you need (think about that for a bit), then you can happily get by on 75 Euros a month.

In fact as that is the current rate of the old age pension in Bulgaria, there are many people doing just that, and they still have smiles on there faces!

If you want to move to ‘rural’ Bulgaria and integrate with the local community, then you have to live as they do. I can confirm that it is the best way of making true friends whilst living abroad. If you want to just come and live like an “ExPat” and have your UK lifestyle in better weather conditions please stay away from me!

Not sure what brought that on, probably the email from Tony – So thanks.

PS Don’t buy Turkey chicks they are more hassle than new born babies!

9 Eggs, 4 Chicks, 2 Tomatoes & A Hive Of Bees

So there I was in the pub last night wondering what I might get up to today, when in walks Hussain the Imam of the local mosque. He wanted to know
what time the buses to Kardjali were the next day as he had to go in and buy some chicken. After my last day trip with the Imam
this was too good an oppoutyunity to miss.

So I told him that I would give him a lift and we could go whenever he wanted. 08:30 the next moring we depart for the metropolis that is Kardjali. Park next to the market and head off to the live
chicken stalls. Much haggling, inspecting and choosing later we head back off to the car with a box full of chicks all chirping away quietly to themselves. Before leaving Kardjali
we visit one of the soup kitchen thingys for Chicken soup (Irony just doesn’t work here), the obligatory half a loaf of bread, and lots of dried chilli and garlic
sauce all before 10:00 am.

On the way back through Djebel Hussain suggests we stop off for a quick Turkish coffee in his local cafe in Djebel much to delight of everyone in there. After the usual greeting
of everyone it seems in the whole of Djebel we head back to the car to make our way back to Samodiva. In the car park we spot one of our neighbours so fill the car up with his shopping and head back.

It is still on 10:30 when we get back and I already feel as though I have had a good day.

The sun is out, so start on the planting out of my red cabbage (everyone else grows green ones but I like to be different). I am not in my garden more than 20 mins
when Hussain is back, thinking he must have left something in the car I go over to meet him. He is carrying the chick box with 4 chicks still in it.

Turkey Anyone?

My Turkey Chicks

At this point Halil turns up telling me that as Metin his son is away in Belgium could I go and give him a hand as his Bees have swarmed. This whilst taking detail instructions
from Hussain on advanced Turkey husbandry – By all accounts they are a bit more difficult than your standard chickens!

So off I head to Halil’s house with bee mask gloves and smoker. I should say that I have never actually done this on my own before I have seen it done, and I have helped, but actually
hiving a swarm of bees on your own is a bit like the first time you drive a car on your own after you have passed your test. It just feel a bit weird not having somewhere
telling you what to do!

I am now though a complete Pucheli Maestor, All bees successfully hived and not one sting!

As I was leaving Halil’s house I was presented with 9 fresh eggs and two fresh tomatoes for my trouble, they know I don’t accept cash as payment only beer or food.

It is still only 12:30 and I feel as though I have done a days work – so decided to take it easy for a while and study up on Turkey’s.

I should point out that my village is completely Turkish, so I shall have some fun come New Year when I tell them I might be killing a ‘Turkey’!


How to Buy A Stamp

I love living in Bulgaria, but sometimes some of the strange things that happen really do bewilder me. I had two letters to post this morning, so
knowing that Safette my local postman would open up the shop at 09:00 am I sauntered down to the post office.

The village of Samodiva where I live has about 40 residents, the majority of which all live with their extended family no more than 3 km away. So I suppose it
is no surprise that letters are not the best way of communicating with ones friends and family when you actually see them most days. There are however people in the
village who have friends and family in Turkey, and for the last 3 years (me) some stupid Englishman who keeps putting stuff in the post box.

Me:Stravay Saffete, Kak see? (Hello Saffette how are you?)

Saffette:Dobrei Dominik, te Kak see? (I’m good how are you?)

Me: E az sum dobrei. Eyma li marki? (an I am good. Is there any stamps? – (This is a post office))

Safette: Nyama (No this isn’t)

Me: Koga marki eyma? (when stamps is there (My Bulgarian is still not that good)

Safette:Az nis nam, ak oh iska bursa Djebel eyma (I don’t know – If you want them fast there are some in Djebel))

A post office without stamps! So I head in to the local metropolis of Djebel (pop 25,000 ish) and head straight to the post office. The postman there
I also know as he actually lives in Samodiva (a modern day Bulgarian commuter!). He has been warned of my arrival!!

So as not to have make the trip every time I wanted to post something I decided to stock up and asked if I could buy 50 x 1 lev stamps and 50 x 20 stotinki. This
it seems was not so much bulk buying as considered hoarding. After much negotiating he gave into my demands. Unfotunately the regional office of the post office
only contained 24 x 1 lev stamps! Well as of today they actually don’t have any at all, as I bought the lot.

Every Stamp in Djebel

Every stamp in Djebel

At times Bulgaria is a really mad place – why on earth would a regional post office have more than 25 stamps at there disposal!

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