About bloody time. Thursday we had the first rain fall for 6 weeks and my vegtable patch certainly needed it. I can now take a few days off from the daily hose work. My only fear is that due to the down pour the cucumbers may well start up again, just as I finished picking the last lot.
The tempreature has also dropped to quite a pleasant 25C instead of the very hot 35C, this is my first day in long trousers this month, and the first night when
I haven’t woken up in a sweat!
The food production this year has met and exceeded all targets so even if the global economy completely blows up I shall not be hungry this year, I have even had to invest in some more jars as I have filled over 100 jars with tomatoes, carrots and pickles, as well as strung 400 onions and dried 15kg of beans. The ‘domashno’ which will be ‘stilled’ into rakis has about 20 days of fermenting to
go and I live in a tobacco growing area of Bulgaria. So should I so wish I have beer, cigarettes, food. Without spending a penny and without giving a penny
to those nice people in the tax office! The best thing is it is actually not as much work as you would think, and you really don’t need that much space to grow it either. I have sown a second crop of french beans, have winter cabbages just beginning to set, as well as broccoli, and leeks to provide a bit of fresh veg throughout the winter. I should point out that I am in no way a garden expert and three years ago I was a complete novice, I still have too many weeds.
Coming up next month is the election of the village mayor, why in fact does a village of 300 residents need an elected mayor? I think this is just a fall
back to communist era party political overlord in every village. So everyone knows though, politics in Bulgarian villages, is just as corrupt as national
and european politics. Our current ‘Kimet’ who has won the last four election, held a meeting to put forward candidates for the post, basically behind close doors and only invited people who were going to vote for him. The outcome, our up coming election (of which I shall not be taking part) will have one candidate. Democracy works!
After my two weeks back in Swansea (rain everyday) I was looking forward to returning to BG, with March on its way and unusually warm couple
of weeks at the begininng of Feb. I thought spring was well and truely on its way.
The 1st of March in Bulgaria is a holiday, Baba Mart ‘Grandmother March’ and is celebrated by the exchanging of red and white wristbands, and the exchange
of seasons tidings. The seasons being goodbye winter, hello spring! These are then tied onto the nearsest tree when you first spot a stork. They could be on your wrist a while this year.
Well Baba Mart, has messed up big time, I awoke this morning to 3 inches of snow and 40 mph winds direct from the Urals. My thermometer read a miserly -5C
add into that the wind chill factor, and there are some very sorry looking brass monkeys about.
I had planned to go shopping in the local town today (Djebel), their being lots of ice and snow around I have given it a miss and have decided to have a day
infront of the woodburner. Todays mission is simply to keep warm. The forecast is the same for the next few days, so more staying in could be on the cards.
My two cats (Dave & Alan) have parked themselves under the woodburner, and from the look of them would quite happily stay there until the weather gets better. If
I was small enough I would be under there too!
The end of January today and the weather is definately middle of winter typr. The snow this year has
been thin on the ground, we had three or four days with 50 cm of snow, the tempreature however has been completely normal for this time of year.
I have not succumbed to heating the whole house as is the norm in the UK with central heating systems. I do however have a hot room, with a
woodburner going most of the time. The rest of the house is unheated and the tempreature even inside is well below 0C somedays and probably every night.
The thermometer in the picture above is located outside in my porch which is on the north side of the house so is especially chilly,
no need for a deep freezer here during winter.
January is the month of documents in Bulgaria, new road tax, tax declarations and such like. They really do like nothing better than documents, especially
with stamps and signatures even to get the simplest of things done. When we bought our house foreign nationals were not allowed to purchase property in Bulgaria
but they could own a business. So the process of buying a house entailed opening a business in your name and getting the business to purchase the property.
Obviously businesses are required to submit annual tax returns, the first year I did this was a very convaluted process I have however found a short cut!
Instead of joining the 300 metre queue at the regional tax office to submit the return it is quite possible to send it by post! My first year here I was told that
they had to be submitted in person. Even a nil return.
So today I have been copying the details from last years nil return and putting them on this years document which will be handed to my postman this week sometime.
Next month I am off for a short visit to the UK, as our house there need some replastering doing, UK plasterers quoted us 1600 pounds so we decided it would be cheaper
and more fun to take two of our builder neighbours in Bulgaria back to the UK and let them have the work instead. They only wanted paying 40 euros a day! It should also be quite fun
as Mustafa who is 56 has never been on a plane in his life, and Easyjet is going to get the priviledge of introducing him to flight! (Think he might
need a quick mastika before take off)
Winter has come early here just as with the rest of Europe. This makes it the time of year
to stay in side and keep warm.
At least that is if you don’t have drive and pick the better half who was lucky enough to leave the UK before they decided to close all the airports. My normal
drive of 35 minutes to pick her up from the bus station in Kardjali, was preceeded by a two hour dig to get the car to the road.
As well as a 35 km drive that took an hour each way. Not being an expert driver in these winter conditions, and the feeling of not being able to steer making me feel
out of control I thought I would take it steady. Not for your average Bulgarian. The drivers here like nothing more than a challenge, boosted by the confidence that
winter tyres are compulsory they hurtle along overtaking on blind corners. They seem very interested in the contents of my boot if they are not overtaking. British drivers
have nothing on these guys when it comes to tail gating! It is obviously a sign of weakness to more than 6 inches from the car in front.
So the better half is here there is nothing to do in the garden and it is too cold to much else. Enjoy the pictures of the winter setting in!
Saved at last, just as the month ended a storm erupted in my village and poured
buckets of lovely rain all over my garden. Also the tempreature has dropped to a lovely 25 C.
Part of trying to live self reliant way is ensuring that you have at least some fresh food at all times. The summer is very easy to cope
with as everything is ripening at the same time. Autumn too has plenty to offer, especially fruit from the trees. When it comes to winter though
there is very little fresh produce to be had. Even the chickens stop laying for a while.
This year though I will have winter cabbage (not sure what I am going to do with it), parsnips (the only ones grown in my village), and leeks
direct from the valleys in Wales!
The very early spring I will have my winter sown broad beans. The first year I was here I grew broad beans and was busy in November planting them
when I was accosted by Ilyas my neighbour and asked what I was up to. When I told him that I was planting beans, he merrily laughed and told me not to be stupid
and that beans should be planted no earlier than april after the last frost. When I told him that these would be ready to eat com late April he scoffed again.
This year I will not be the only planting winter sown broad beans. He doesn’t like the taste of them but his cow does, and since they are full of protein
this means his milk yield will be up.
At last I have left my mark on the village! Broad Beans!