The weather is definately on the up, today it is 15C so I have started to do a bit of gardening. Last year we had some strange weather in June/July, lots of
fog to be exact. This caused my tomatoes and cucumbers to shrivel and die. So this year I have decided to protect myself from unseasonal weather by
investing in a greenhouse.
When I say invest I mean more time than money, the toal cost was 12 Leva (6 Euros). Not a pane of glass in sight. The method used by neighbours has been copied
much to their amusement. I have built what is basically a ‘wendy’ house with transparent plastic. These can be seen in many a garden throughout southern Bulgaria,
they not only give protection to unseasonal weather, but also provide an early batch of salad crops.
So along with the planting of a few tomato and cucumber seeds that are in pots sitting on my windowsill, I have also put in this years parsnips. I have a bet with Mustafta
(the plasterer) as to who can grow thew largest parsnip this year.
I also spotted a few of my neighbours planting onion sets so I copied them and have planted half of my onion sets (I might wait until April to plant the others –
there may still be another snow storm).
Last year my chickens were eaten by a fox, so this year I have made alterations to my chicken coop (Fort Knox) and I am awaiting some chicks from a neighbour
who has one hen that has gone broody on 14 eggs.
Speciality Crops – Most years I try to introduce something new and different to the village (first year King Edward Pots, second year Parsnips) so this year
I bought back from my recent trip to the UK yellow cherry tomato seeds, as well as many a differnet type of flower seeds. So far there are 5 people now growing King
Edwards, and about 10 planting a row of parsnips. I have also made an Asparagus bed, though I am not sure these will catch on!
We have all safely returned from our ‘excursion’ to south Wales. We managed to make the house in Swansea liveable, and my two Bulgarian neighbours
have been immersed in Swansea suburban culture, and now call everyone ‘byt’. I am having problems with my camera cable (think it is broken) so the pictures will have to wait
until my new cable arrives from ebay.
I will leave the story of our visit to the uk until I have the photos to back it up, but it is nice now to have two of my neighbours quizzed about
their trip to the UK, and tell everyone that it really does rain everyday. They were treated to fish & chips had a pint of speckled hen.
Hikmet took pictures of everything (including Lidl and PC World), and on our day trip to the sights of Swansea could have been mistaken for a Japanese tourist.
Mustafa had to deal with a very confused Wickes delivery man who wanted a signature, but got nothing but ‘Ne Ingliss, Ne Ingliss’. Hikmet installed his first
set of spot lights. Mustafa used plaster for the first time (and did a good job).
Annie will be pleased that she no longer has to buy a bottle of brandy everyday from Lidl they were begining to think she had a problem. She will also
be pleased that the three ‘tractors’ have left and she can finally get some sleep.
All in all it was a very worthwhile trip for all concerned.
Oh and it is March and bloody freezing here (-5C during the day)
My better half came over to see me over New Year, unfortunately we had a burst pipe back in the UK which resulted in the police breaking in to turn the water off thankfully the the insurance coughed up, so instead of employing UK plasterers at 400 pounds a day I have two willing builders from my village who are able to come and put everything right for 40 pounds a day!
So until the 28 Feb this will be last update, as I and two of my Bulgarian neighbours head back to my two up to down in Swansea to sort out our house there.
One of my neighbours is 55 years old and has never been on a plane before in his life (like most of the village), and has been watching nothing but airplane disaster movies since he accepted to come.
If the tax man is reading this this they will be working for free, but I might give them a present at the end of it. It should be a really good laugh as neither of my
friends has been to the UK before, not sure what they will think of suburban Swansea with its Heroin addicts and beggars all around it should be an experience. I imagine something similar to Crocodile Dundee!
Up at 4 in the morning tomorrow! Everyone was shaking hands in the pub tonight as if we were on the next NASA mission!
I have spent 4 years studying electro-magnetic waves, I could design you a small power generator (in principle), but can I get my kitchen light to work!
How hard can it be?
Anyone who thinks studying theories is enough to make them an expert should be prepared for a shock when it comes to putting those theories in to
practice. The house we bought although only 35 years old has the electrics and cabling, that would have any electrician worth his salt sucking in air
over his teeth whilst shaking his head, and planning his next holiday whilst he plucks a number out of the air to quote you for the work.
We had electric connected to the house partially since we first arrived, in partially I mean that some of the lights have worked, some of the sockets
have worked but never everything all at the same time. Anyone who has done electrics, knows that this is done before the plastering of walls so all
the nasty cables are hidden. What then do you do if you need re-wiring done? Without going as far as chiseling canals through all the walls to be
plastered over, the only other option is to have the cables on the outside of the walls, either in trunking or as in Bulgaria nailed to the wall.
Last month one of my sockets blew up, lots of smoke, nasty smell of electrical fire but I could not locate the problem.
What could make a socket that has worked perfectly well for ages suddenly decide to spontaneously combust (X – files not required).
After removing the said socket from the wall (Note to HSE I had rubber wellies on and had turned the power off) there holding the cable behind the
socket to the wall one large six inch nail, which after 35 years of work had finally cut through the plastic covering of the cable and had quite happily
joined in matrimony both positive and negative cables. Thus turning it into a small one bar fire and hence the spontaneously combusting socket.
Bulgarian Top Tip on electrics: Do not nail cables to wall!
This is the time year when there is not much to be done int he garden. I have
finished the digging and spreading of manure, so I thought it was time to tackle one of the rooms in my house that needed some renovation.
The floorboards in the room that we use as a kitchen had started to suffer from dry rot, in fact a few had disintergrated completely, so only half of the room
was in use, the other half I found out when clearing it was being used as a litter tray by my cats, bless them.
Concreting a floor how hard can it be? To be honest there is more to it than I imagined, but essentially it is not that difficult. I had recruited a few helpers
who knew what they were doing, with the promise of a night on the beer.
Ilyas, Aziz, and Mustapha all thought this was worthwhile enough and so we got down
to business. The use of concrete mixers unfortunately has not yet spread to rural Bulgaria, and even if they had they would be shunned in favour of the shovel.
The room in question measures 4m x 4m and the concrete we would be laying would be about 7cm and reinforced with a steel grill. I was soon removed from my post as head engineer,
and demoted to shovel hand number 3 when they realised I had no idea what I was doing. Probably for the best. So mixing just over 1 cubic metre of concrete, and leaving
the Bulgarian maestros to the technical work I have fully replaced the floor with a new concrete one. Mixing 1 cubic metre of concrete with a shovel gives the back a good work out to say the least.
After finishing off we headed up to Hikmets pub, my helpers seemed very thirsty indeed. I know I was as well. Hikmet seemed delighted when I went to
settle the bill, he usually smiles when he needs to use his calculator to add up your bar bill. So much for last weeks resolution to stay off the drink!