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And so, it was with great trepidation I returned to Bulgaria. 

The closer I got, the less courageous I felt about coming back.  I was lucky to be able to spend a couple of days with good friends,Kate & Bill, in London, where they showed me great hospitality and gave me great encouragement about getting back here and getting on with things….assuring me that I shouldn’t worry about the ‘swine’ here that had caused me so much pain, because like swine do, they would eventually end up devouring each other.

Gary & Louisa picked me up from Sofia and a few hours later I walked back into my wonderful home….I had missed it very much and I know it may sound silly, but the first sight of it as I came into Miladinovtsi filled my heart with excitement and gladness…it was good to be home.

Ths second thing that greeted me was the sound of hell breaking loose in my backyard.  The slavering beast that Ivan had put here to protect the house, was still in residence….

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and, apparently, not happy that someone was getting into the house.  Jesus, the performance made my blood run cold…and bought all the neighbours out……

And I know he looks like a great, big cuddly bear of a thing there, but he can be really fearsome……trained as a ‘bodyguard’, according to Ivan.

I tentatively stepped out onto the balcony to be ‘welcomed’ by a growling, foaming giant of a dog that appeared to be trying to pull the garage down….but more about him later….needless to say, he’s still here  🙂

I so enjoyed the feeling of being back in the ‘big hoose’, sleeping in my own bed, waking up to the the village sounds that I’ve grown so fond of, seeing the shepherd come through every evening, the sound of the sheeps bells, enjoying the peace and quiet and almost no vehicle noise…….gee, it was quiet, but fantastic as well. 

It was so good to see Christina and Volcho again, Maria and Tanyo, and Dimitor, the Mayor and Sanka,his wife, Donna, Maria at the store, Michael at the bar…….and what a warm and loving welcome back I received from everyone…with the Mayor telling me that I had ‘mnogo dobre preatyli’ in the village ( many good friends)…and I know I do.  These are good people, who are my friends and for that I am truly thankful….it’s them that make my life in this country good.

As I had made the decision to return, I figured that meant I would be staying, at least for a while, so I got in touch with Krasimir, the man I now work with. 

 Kras saw the state I was in before I went to Australia, and I think he didn’t expect to see me back here again….and I had said to him I thought that returning was very unlikely.

But I was back and the first thing I had to ascertain was whether or not he was still interested in making a serious go of Real Estate with me……he is, and so we are underway.  If you want to contact us now about matters real estate, you can do it through this very website……or email me, aussiebulg@gmail.com

We’ve got some great houses, from the very cheapest to mid price range up to and including a couple of damned fine (and quite expensive) houses. Mind you, I say expensive, but if you’re after swimming pools and stables, I guess the price is always going to be that little bit more.

and this is the man himself, young Krassie…

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He’s a lovely young bloke and has a blunt honesty that I really like….the same sort of blunt honesty that I have and prefer in my friends. He works very hard and hopefully, I can live up to his expectations. He’s also quite easy on the eye…so very pleasant to work with all round 🙂

So, to everyone who tells me that they’ll assist in any way they can to enable me to stay in this fabulous country, here’s your chance……talk about us, recommend us, whatever.  We’re keen, we’re honest and we’ll do our damndest for any customers that come.  And Hey, don’t forget, I’ve got accomodation available as well…..which brings me smoothly to the next topic for this entry…..the house !!

Ivan appeared soon after I arrived back and conversation soon turned to the roof and other bits and bobs.  As the weather was still quite cold when I returned from Oz, the first thing he did was to rectify the useless fireplace that I paid my old agents contractors vast sums of money for way back when. I now have a fireplace that not only works properly…it heats the entire kitchen/living room which is over 10 metres long, even with the draughty windows (the other thing I was ripped off over…window repairs) but it now looks truly fantastic

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Ivan basically tore the whole top of the fireplace apart and rebuilt it.  He installed the missing damper (which the previous contractor told me the fire didn’t need) and did me some lovely stonework up the wall behind the fireplace. It looks gorgeous, uses about a quarter as much wood over an evening as it used to and gets the room as hot as a bastard….. what more can a woman ask for 🙂

As soon as the weather warmed slightly, the boys moved back onto the property and got to work.  Starting with smaller jobs like painting all the parapets, the metal framework that the grapes grow over and any metal fences and gates around the place, it didn’t take long for the place to start looking better.  These little jobs are always irksome and somehow usually get done last…….now it’s all been sanded down and painted, it’s just made everything in the yard and the house that much neater.

Before I could say ‘Jack Robinson’ the sound of tiles being ripped off the roof started…….and heavens, they’ve moved quickly.  Already another section of the roof is complete.  This year, Ivan has purchased proper scaffolding…..a relief to me, as I was never happy with the standard Bulgarian wooden scaffolding. He erected it around the part of the house where they were working on the roof…he then announced that he was going to render the building while the scaffolding was up, as he didn’t want to have to re-erect it in six or twelve months time when I was ready for the rendering to be done.

So……..From day one, I’ve had a picture in my head of what I thought the house would eventually look like…..suddenly,my house is starting to look like that picture.  I’ve even had times when I’ve thought that rendering it might not be such a good idea because the brick look was pretty good as well….but not now. 

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Yes….it’s pink !!!  Ivan was aghast when I told him my choice of colour and I got a big Ivan ‘No Sue’ from him, but I think now that it’s starting to take shape, he’s not quite so horrified.  And I’m just thrilled to bits.  It’s just how I imagined it could be….. I can’t stop wandering outside and looking at it, imagining what it will look like when the whole house is done.

OK, I may have to sell it to settle my debt, but what a house I’ll have to sell  🙂

Which is a segue  ‘almost’ as smooth as the house one……

‘Cos, how could I possibly sell up and leave when I have this to take care of…

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Ah, Yes..Ivan’s skills of persuasion have finally paid off….I’d like to introduce Pirat (Bulgarian for pirate…something to do with the eye patch) the latest addition to my life, my not so little bundle of joy.  But let me backtrack a little….. let’s return to the slavering beast in my backyard…..his names Byal (white) and can you guess what his relationship is to Pirat ?

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Oh yes, I not only have the son, but his father as well.  Byal is supposed to return to Yambol, but everytime I ask Ivan when, he just says ‘tomorrow Susanka’ and we all know about tomorrow…it never comes !!  So it looks like I may have the big fella for the long run.

The little guy came to me about 8 weeks ago looking like this

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and very soon, became Mr mischief..

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There are no easy tasks any more…he chases the broom, wrestles the mop, his discovering my ‘soft bits’ and nips them with his razor sharp little teeth and just generally creates havoc around the place…but shit, he makes me laugh.  He’s a funny little bloke and is already bringing me endless entertainment.

He and his father get on like a house on fire and play for hours every day

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which is great for me because it wears the little bastard out….god, he’s got so much energy, and I’m not as young as I used to be.  Though, now that I’ve been smoke free for thirteen months, I can actually take him for….wait for it……runs.!!  Yep, I’ve been doing a wee bit of running with him and I feel great….well, felt great.  Yesterday I twisted my knee and just now can hardly walk……but I’m sure I’ll be good as new in no time.

Pirat is bringing me so much pleasure and also bringing me some things I really don’t want.  I’ve talked before about the birds nesting in my roof and walls.  Now, there’s always been a certain amount of mortality amongst the baby birds and I’ve always had to pick up the dead ones that have fallen from the nests and dispose of them.  Now Pirat is finding them and bringing them to me as little ‘gifts’…it’s God awful and when I try to take them, he eats them….yech !!!  then he wants to put his face near mine…double yech !

And Byal ??  well, after his initial fierceness towards me, he’s starting to trust me and even allows me to pat him now…..apparently, I’m the only person who gets to do that.  Even Ivan doesn’t get too close to him.  Maybe one day he’ll rip my head off. he certainly gets close enough to do that.  When I bend down to put food in his dish, he’s started giving me a huge lick on my face, which scared the bejeezus out of me the first time he did it and sees me very close to his enormous teeth and huge doggy breath, but for the moment, we’re becoming the best of friends…..and he does love a good ear scratch  🙂

and, lets be honest here, no matter how savage a beast he his, ( and make no mistake, he is) it’s hard to take him completely seriously when he sleeps like this

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Must be a Karakachan thing, cos his son assumes the same position often

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and yes, he does have a funny little black and white spotted tummy..in fact,his whole body is like that.  the first time I bathed him his hair went into ringlets and under the ringlets I could see this cute little spotted body….maybe inside every Karakachan is a Dalmnation trying to get out….. 🙂

And so, I restart my life in Bulgaria in just about every way……..the people I’m surrounding myself with, the constantly changing house in which I reside, the getting of a dog…well, two actually, my new and hopefully successful career with Krassie and just about everything else that’s happening now….., I have much more to talk about but it’s late and I need my bed…much to do tomorrow.

in fact, I will just add one more thing……something I’ve wanted since coming here was a garden of heavily scented roses. …a garden where everytime I walked out of the house or pulled up out the front in the car, I would smell the beautiful heady,pefume of roses. I planted many last year and this year they are everything I want……they look stunning and the smell is just amazing….overwhelming…beautiful

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On that note, I’ll say Leka Nosht – Good night

until next time

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Sit back, pour yourself a huge drink, make yourself comfy…this is going to be a long one….though there will be lots of lovely pics  🙂

No, hell hasn’t frozen over and I think I’m back to my diary properly…note I say ‘think’. I’m a mighty busy woman just now and time is agin’ me.

I guess from my later entries in 2006, there was a realisation that, due to some rather odious individuals that had insinuated themselves into my life, my Bulgarian dream had become a little tarnished.  I left here in February to return to Australia to lick my wounds and see the friends and family that, when I was so ill last year, I really never thought I was going to see again. I also had it in my mind that I would not be returning to Bulgaria….I didn’t really know quite where I was going, but Bulgaria wasn’t that high on my list.

I had the most wonderful time in Oz…I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, I consumed my own body weight in food and booze and generally regained my emotional strength, thanks to my extraordinary and wonderful family and my fabulous friends. I saw most of the people I had hoped to see, and even a few really dear old friends that had disappeared into the ether for various reasons and who I decided I wanted to see again……I guess a near death experience makes you realise how precious good people are….

I even started to miss Bulgaria and my Bulgarian friends and when one of my brothers said to me ‘Susie, you have to go back to Bulgaria…..your story there isn’t finished yet’, I knew then that I would come back, at least long enough to test the waters again. 

After spending time with good, honest folk who love me and care about me, I knew that returning to Bulgaria would mean slashing the BG Christmas list to the bone.  And this has been done.  All the unpleasant, untrustworthy, badly behaved, lying, cheating bastards have been removed and just a couple of expats, who are very precious to me, remain on the list, along with my many good Bulgarians mates…..

I’m back…. my physical and emotional healing is complete, I’ve got my Mojo back, my tenacity and strength is back….I’m not a woman to be messed with !!!  🙂

So…..here’s a quick pictorial rundown of the last few months. 

Suffice to say, during February there was a lot of this…my precious family

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far too much of this [photopress:DSC03297_th.jpg,full,pp_empty]

a generous serving of folk like this

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Far, far too many of these [photopress:DSC03318_th.jpg,full,pp_empty] 

No, not men in strange hats…….. BBQs !!!

Then even more of this[photopress:DSC03335_th.jpg,full,pp_empty] [photopress:Jack_s5_th.jpg,full,pp_empty] [photopress:Martin_s2_th.jpg,full,pp_empty]

and this fella here talking to one of my brothers, the guy in the middle, who you may recognise from my January diary[photopress:DSC03385_th_th.jpg,full,pp_empty]

took me to dinner here

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It’s parliament house in Western Australia…I’m just not a great photographer and cut out half the writing..DUH !!   It’s good to have friends in high places…you get to have fantastic dinners in sumptuous surrounds…for nothing 🙂

and one of the main reasons for going back to Oz…..the wedding of my gorgeous nephew James to his equally gorgeous lady, Laura….you may remember this pic from what seems like eons ago…in fact it was just a year ago here in BG

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Well, this was their big and very wonderful day……sadly, my pics aren’t much chop

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It was a wonderful day, a beautiful wedding with the reception held in the Fremantle Martime Museum, an interesting and lovely venue…right on the water. And why would anyone settle for a boring old wedding waltz when you can Swing dance, as James and Laura do,..in fact, it’s how they met…..it was fabulous !!

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Their love of each other and the joy of their lives is written all over them…..here’s to a wonderful future for both of them  🙂

and then, just in case I hadn’t done enough socialising, there was more…more eating, more drinking and more time just appreciating the friends I’ve left behind…..

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and taking in the views of my old home town and the views from my brothers balcony in Perth…..and occasionally asking myself why I’m here and not there……

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Unfortunately and regardless of the fact that I was socialising from dawn ’til night every day for four weeks,I still didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to.  To everyone I missed, you’ll have to make the big journey and come see me in Bulgaria…..you should, it’s wonderful and I’ll be here to make your stay fabulous 🙂

To everyone who made my stay in Australia so wonderful, my family especially, my friends and everyone who let me invade their homes…my sisters Jillian and Marie and her husband Ari, my brothers Tony, David and Jack and their wives/partners, Enid, Virginia and Marilou, my incredible nieces and nephews, James, Elizabeth, Dan and Kerrigan. The dozens and dozens of friends, to numerous to name, who always make me realise how lucky I am….

Sometimes it’s really, really hard being away from you all….

all too soon my time was up and I had to prepare for my return here to see if I really was ready to have another crack at it…

So much has happened since I got back…The lovely Ivan is back and the work is underway on the house again….I need to tell you all about my venture into real estate and introduce you to my new work colleague, Krasimir. And then there’s the newest addition to my home…..something that makes me realise why I never had children…. 🙂

With any luck, and in between being as busy as a bastard, I might get another entry up this week….

To all those folk who aren’t family and personal friends who have been asking after me, Thanks for being so constructive and encouraging…..I hope my future entries continue to entertain and amuse….

for now, dovishdane..

mercer

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Before I start this entry, I’ll just go and slip into something much, much cooler…..you have no idea how warm the weather is here at the moment.  Basically since the New Year, the temperatures seem to have been steadily climbing.  The last few days have been spectacular, but I am very concerned to see my garlic and all my bulbs starting to germinate.  Is this a good thing ??  What happens if the weather takes a nasty turn for the worse ?? Will all my bulbs and garlic die ???  Answer on the back of an envelope please…….

Now, where do I start on the happenings of the last couple of weeks ……..

I’ve been doing an awful lot of socialising and it’s been a lot of fun.  My state of mind is much better but I still haven’t made any decisions about my future….well, no solid ones anyway.  A number of things have occured that are making me optimistic about having a future in Bulgaria, but I’m not allowed to talk about them just yet.

I’ve had a few more guests. Tracey,a woman that stayed here with her family last year returned, this time with a friend, Dianne.  Both have properties here and came over to take care of a bit of business.  And it looks like they both may return in the next few months, this time bringing their families, so the possibility of more clients.

Ivan killed his third and final pig and this time came and asked me to attend plenty of time before the actual event.  He has a tendency to ask me the day before to attend things…..I often miss out because I have other stuff on.  This time he gave me plenty of warning, but I had guests.  Dang !!  I knew if I missed this one he might be a little offended, so I explained this to my guests and they were perfectly happy for me to leave them to their own devices while I headed off for an afternoon of meat and Rakia….bloody hell !!!  No wonder I’m squeezing the kilos back on….Ooops !!

Here’s a  thing though…he asked me if I would like to strike the actual death blow….Shit, Shit !!! Holy mother of God !!!  NO !!!  I had Bo here at the time and asked her if being asked to do the killing was a priviledge….it is…but she assured me that I wouldn’t be offending him if I said no, which I did.  I told him I’d never killed anything and couldn’t, but even then he offered to help me do it if I wished……..er, No thanks Ivan  🙂

Had a great afternoon with Ivan and his son Martin,

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Kremena and her family

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 and the lads that work for Ivan. 

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There was much revelry,much eating, much drinking and even a spot of dancing

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and just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, this is what I had to look at all the way home

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God I love these spectacles that mother nature seems to revel in putting on for me…Oh, and the rest of the world…..

Sunday morning dawned and it was time to put Tracey & Dianne on the train for Sofia to catch their plane at half six that night.  Just the one small problem…the train timetables have been completely changed and the only train leaving that morning was arriving in Sofia at ……………….6.30pm……wasn’t going to work, was it ??  The irony of the whole situation was that we were joking on the way to Yambol about what we’d do if they missed their train or something else went wrong.  I piped up and said ‘ well, of course I would drive you through to Sofia’  and that’s exactly what I then had to do…..well, just over half the distance anyway.  Keep in mind that I’m also sporting a reasonably bad hangover after my day at Ivans…..Yech !!

Got just the other side of Plovdiv and stopped for a much needed coffee.  Parked at the petrol pumps was a bus travelling between Nova Zagora and Sofia.  Dianne very kindly suggested they try and get on that and save me having to face the Sofia traffic, which, if youv’e ever been there, is completely crazy and something I really wasn’t looking forward to driving in.  The Driver was perfectly happy to take them and I have to admit, it was with a certain amount of glee that I turned the car around and headed back to Miladinovtsi….where I promptly returned to my nice warm bed (had left the electric blanket on) and slept soundly for a couple of hours.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been lounging about in my bed at all as I had much work to  do…..the next day I had Peter Watson, one of my dearest old friends from Albany and his lovely wife Liz, arriving on my doostep for what was going to be a brief stay…but, fortunately, became somewhat longer, but that’s for another entry I think….along with baby lambs and one way tickets to Australia…

For now though

dovishdane

mercer

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I guess the first thing I should mention in this entry is my visit to Dr Drinkoff. So many of you have very kindly and in some cases, very cautiously, asked how the checkup went and you’ll be pleased to know that everything appears to be in good shape.  He’s happy with the appearance of my vocal chords and has assured me that the pain I’m experiencing is just part and parcel of the healing process.  I’m not completely off the hook yet…I still have to go back in December and hopefully, this time, it will be the last visit.  As much as I love to gaze into the soft, compassionate eyes of Ivan Drinkoff, the last visit hopefully means that I’m OK for the foreseeable future. And if everything continues on track, then I guess that’s the best Christmas present I could ever ask for….

And so to guests…..Jan & Harleys stay with me was coming to an end when Ivan asked me if I could accomodate six builders, men coming up from Bourgas to work in the area. Just the one night, and No, none of them spoke English….

I figured that I had to at least give it a try and see how I coped, though confess to feeling somewhat overwhelmed that night when six burly bits of Bulgarian rough invaded the house and Ivan jumped in his truck and disappeared home to Yambol….

I didn’t have to worry about an evening meal for them, as they had already decided that kebache and rakia at Micheals Bar was their preferred evening option…but they did want breakfast….at 6am !!!  And what does an Australian, with  limited Bulgarian cooking skills,feed to hungry Bulgarian men first thing in the morning ? Well, a great slab of freshly baked, warm banistas, that’s what. I cranked up the coffee machine, put tubs of yoghurt out and an enormous tray of banistas…..there was a brief pause as they all eyed them off and, for a moment, I thought that they were all going to decline.  Perhaps they didn’t look like the ones their wives and mothers made, but then Dimitor the boss made the first move. He ate, he didn’t keel over and that was it. They got stuck in with great gusto and demolished everything on the tray….Phew, you have no idea how relieved I was. 

I have often wondered how I would cope if non english speakers fronted at the house and though it was just the one night with these guys, I now know that I can deal with a  houseful of non english speaking people and give them good service.  Apparently, they were all very happy with the accomodation and the food and didn’t even mind that they had to go out onto the balconies to smoke…….

Jan, Harley and of course, the lovely Sally, were able to move into their own house last week and in true Sue Mercer style, I went from as busy as a bastard to crook as a dog.  The moment I stopped running, the cold germs muscled in and laid me very low indeed for a couple of days. Mind you, a few days in my bed were very good for body and soul. 

It was a very strange feeling though to have the house to myself again……Jan and Harley were with me for over five weeks and it was a very busy and enjoyable time.  It’s a nice feeling to have someone to look after..and an even nicer feeling to get paid for doing it. But, suddenly, it stopped, and I felt quite lost for a few days…well, at least until the cold slapped me on the back of the head and saw me to my bed.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but every now and again Ivan, for no explainable reason, chucks me in his truck and takes me on what I call his ‘Magical Mystery Tours of Miladinovtsi’.  Keep in mind that he grew up here and spent his childhood roaming the district, so he knows the place inside out. He’s taken me all over the place and shown me beautiful forests and interesting areas and has lots of tales to tell. 

The other day I got the ‘Sue, come, come come…’ and off we went again. Just a brief aside here….the ‘Sue, come, come, come ..’ thing amuses me no end.  It’s always done with Ivan heading off  calling ‘Sue, come, come, come…’and is accompanied by him beckoning me towards him with his hand……little hard to describe, but maybe you get the picture. Now, I’m a woman who rarely does as she’s told and will rarely stop what I’m doing for anyone or anything.  I can yell back ‘Ivan, I’m busy !!’.  Does it make an iota of difference…does it f***.  He just looks slightly perplexed that anything is more important than what he wants, he becomes more insistent, I drop what I’m doing and follow, like a small child……what’s happening to me ???!!!   🙂

Anyway…..I digress. Now, behind the village is the Manastirski Vazvishenia, and this is where we headed.  At the large gate we disembarked from the vehicle and started walking up the hill. Suddenly I found myself standing in front of an enormous, though now derilict, building and Ivan then explained to me that this was the Hotel/Restuarant that served the village in it’s heyday.  It was the place where all the village celebrations like weddings, christenings, birthdays etc, were held.  The restuarant area must have seated hundreds and there was also a large floor of hotel rooms. This place was really big and the sight of it bought home the sad realisation of what the end of communism and the brave new democratic world was doing to these villages…….they are dying off one by one and probably in ten or twenty years time, some of them wont exist at all. The young have all left, the old are leaving or dying, and so the smaller villages must face probable extinction….it’s really very sad indeed. Ivan was also saying that at it’s peak the school had between 400 – 500 students…now there aren’t even that many people in the village.

To vaguely happier thoughts…. or maybe not.  I’ve been really suffering from ‘family sickness’, as opposed to homesickness, just now.  I don’t really know where ‘home’ is any more, but I sure as hell know where my family are and I’m missing them very badly at the moment.  And I’m not really sure what to do about it.  I’m supposed to be returning to Australia in February for my nephews wedding and am really struggling with feelings that if I do, I wont return here….

I dont think I want to live in Australia though, so where does that leave me ? 

I’m seeing some behaviour patterns in a lot of non-Bulgarians in this country that are, quite frankly, leaving me flabbergasted and I’m wondering if I want to be surrounded by people like this. I’ve made some really lovely friends and if i go, I know I’ll miss them terribley. But I think I said once before, there are times in your life when we all have friends that need losing, and there are certainly some in this country that I could quite easily walk away from.

And, of course, while I’m struggling with this confusion of thoughts, I realise that things like the Real Estate business are starting to show promise and if I walk away, I’d be walking away from that….just when it looks promising. The Guest House is also starting to show signs of possibility. Do I walk away from that as well. ?

Is this lifes great irony ?….just when things are getting good for me, I want to walk away from it all.

OK, this time I’ll turn to happier thoughts….proper ones.  

Christmas…….Ah yes, when all else fails, bring on Christmas so that I, the Queen of Christmas can be in my element…just for a wee while. I’ve already started the process of getting lights strung around the place, checking globes in the ones my sister put up for me last Christmas (god Jillian, I’m going to miss you this year) and making Christmas decorations for friends.  I make these rather large and lavish door decorations, which I am currently bestowing upon friends here in the district.  Another aside…..not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad, but the Chrstmas decorations in the shops this year are much bigger, bolder, brassier…good for me and my decoration making, because I can create ball bursting door garlands that are positively blinding…..

I’ve ordered the Christmas turkey from Christina….how much easier was it this year than last ?? You have no idea.  Last year I phaffed around trying to buy one and ending up finding someone that spoke English to help me.  This year I just asked Christina (in Bulgarian) if I could buy one of hers….no head, no guts, no feathers…just the meaty bits…and she understood me…Hooray !!!!  And it’s cheaper than last years was ….Double Hooray !!!

I had a mob for dinner the other night and decided to give the fruit mince a practice run to see if it was edible.  I made a kind of strudel thing and, Holy goodnight….it’s fantastic ( even if I say so myself).  Laden with Whisky, it smells divine and tastes damned fine.  Time to make the mince pies I think.

The Christmas cake has had it’s third and final drink of black rum and whisky and is now back under wraps until Christmas Eve.

The drunken berries are looking positively plastered and I’ve gathered most of the ingredients for the Christmas icecream.

And Yes, I have advised my Christmas guests that no one is to drive home, even if they don’t have a single drink, because the food will tip them over the limit anyway.  🙂

I’m heading off to Sofia next week to get another Christmas ham just like the one I had last year.  Again, I’m searching the district for a good one but even the bigger supermarkets like Billa & Kaufland just don’t have what I want.  I haven’t been in Sofia since February and I could really do with a day or two out of this place, so Louisa and I are jumping on the bus and off we’re going, ham hunting….

Is it too early to put up the Christmas decorations ????  must check my diary and see when they went up last year….  🙂

I reckon that’s it for November…time to turn my thoughts to December…..I wonder what it has in store for me ??

ciao, ciao

mercer

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and so the first snow comes and goes and the weather returns to something that resembles Spring, rather than the depths of winter.  The nights are still cold though, and I really think that it’s going to be another hell winter….can I do another ???  I’ll tell you the answer to that around about the middle of February……perhaps a large, spooky, gothic style house in the wilds of Bulgaria might appear on the market then…for a huge price, of course 🙂

I’m still ridiculously busy and so am just going to get to this when I can and write down whatever I can remember of days previous…..all a bit random, but better than nothing I think.

The heating’s been getting a bit of a run and the house is certainly better than last year, but because my money didn’t stretch to heating on the third floor, it’s as cold as a mans heart up there at the moment….so I think I’ll just be closing that floor off for a couple of months.

I’m still very busy, still have my guests and their sweety pie dog with me and still out there getting the real estate business organised…..

Speaking of which…the things you see when you go to photograph a house…

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Yep, that’s the head of a wild boar hanging over the door of the house….and just how proud do you think the guy that killed it was ??  Very…..explained that he’d shot it on the mountain up behind the village and did I want a closer look ???  Er, no……. jesus wept, it was just a touch gruesome…..eyes kinda followed me around the place 🙂

I know I’ve mentioned before that I can’t seem to get hold of coriander here, even though I can smell it in the air during growing season.  I asked Ivan ages ago if it was available and he just kind of shrugged and said ‘I don’t know’.  I asked him if he could ask around for me and he shrugged again and said ‘OK’  but he seemed fairly adamant that it wasn’t easily available.  Anyway, the other day he turned up at the house and, as he walked past me I could smell something familiar on him….I made the comment that he smelt nice, to which he replied …wait for it…..have you guessed yet ??  Yep, ‘coriander’ !!! He’d been out helping a friend load bags of feed for his animals and he smelt really strongly of coriander.

I reminded him that I’ve been trying to find it all summer to which he replied ‘animal food..not for you to eat’.  So, if nothing else. he’s answered my question about where all that coriander that I can smell growing, goes.  They dry it, bag it up and feed it to the stock during winter. I have, however, asked him to make me a promise that next summer he’ll guide me in the right direction to the land of fresh coriander….paddocks full of it…..apparently. Will he ?? Who knows…he can’t understand why I would want to eat it.  Bulgarians don’t, why in the world would I ???    Ah, Bulgaria  🙂

I may not be turning into much of a Bulgarian cook, but it would seem that I have mastered the great Bulgarian favourite, Banitsas. I’ve been knocking up batches of them with Sirene cheese and also ‘Tikvenik’, a banitsa filled with a sweet pumpkin mix. I found out about Tikvenik when the Mayor bought me a pumpkin.  He said ‘banitsas’ and indicated that i should grate the pumpkin, add some sugar and some butter and something else I didn’t understand. So I got onto the internet and found me a recipe. I knocked up one batch and tried them out on my Bulgarian business colleague…he loved ’em, so I got a wee bit confident and decided to knock up a batch for the Mayor and his wife, Sanka. Never heard a word back but in the meantime I had a crack at making the Sirene ones..they too seemed to impress my business partner…a good sign from a Bulgarian 🙂

I then received an invite from the Mayor to join him for morning tea on his name day.  I got really cocky and decided to make some banitsas for that.  Checked that it was appropriate to take food to a name day morning tea, found out it was, so got cracking in the kitchen……wheeled out the old favourite, Banana Cake and a slab of fresh, warm banitsas.  And why do I think I’ve cracked them ? Because they were consumed in record time…….as was the banana cake. AND I got a compliment from Dimitor and Sanka about the Tikvenik…

While there I was presented with another very lovely plant by Sanka…lets hope I can keep it alive through winter.  I also managed quite a lot of conversation with the eight Bulgarians that I was sitting with.  The Mayor knows that if they speak slowly, I can pick up a reasonable amount of what’s being said, so everyone was being really great and kept it slow for the foreigner…..whether I can respond is a different matter, but I did manage much better than I thought I would.  Last time I was in the Mayors office the concensus was that it about ten years I would be speaking good Bulgarian.  That has now been amended to two years, so that’s really good…I’ve obviously made more progress than I think.

Oh, and morning tea was actually morning Rakia….Ooops !!  I keep saying ‘malko’ and Dimitor just smiled broadly and poured another huge slug of firewater into my glass…..this is 11am, by the way. By 12.30, I was Ms wobbley knees and had to return to my house and clean my guests rooms…..bloody hell !! I was sweating Rakia….Poooeeee

Then there are the sights you see when you don’t have a camera with you.  I was driving into Yambol on Monday to meet my business partner and go look at some houses. I was passing through the village of Rosa when I found out where old Trabents go to die…well, to have a second life actually.  Some creative soul had cut the back end off an old Trabby station wagon, cut the roof off and turned it into a cart, one that was being pulled by a horse.  Talk about a clash of centuries ! And yet, what a great idea…why waste the perfectly good arse end of a vehicle…….

And then there’s the large, very much alive fish that Ivan presented to me today. He did offer to head and gut it for me, but, as I used to have a fish and chip shop and spent many hours cutting up fish, I declined his offer and headed inside to do the deed.  I slapped this big fish down on the counter, sharpened my large carving knife and prepared to separate the body from the head….it was then that I noticed the very bright eyes and the moving gills !! Shit,the bloody thing was still alive !!!!  As I said, I used to have a fish & chip shop and must have cut up hundreds of kilos of fish in my time, but hell, they were dead….very much so.  I’ve never taken a live-un and killed it….I just couldn’t do it.  I left it there, hoping it would pass on to the great river in the sky but every time I came back to it those eyes just twinkled away and those gills just pumped like crazy getting that air in…..Bugger !! 

Anyway, Ivan returned from wherever he’d been and was more than surprised to see the fish lanquishing on the bench, completely intact.  I explained the reason why, he just looked at me like I’d grown a second head, grabbed the knife, and off came the head and out came the guts…….I think I’m going soft in my old age….I found it all quite disturbing.  Mind you, once it ceased to be ,I was quite happy to get in there and skin it, bone it and throw a couple of very nice fillets into the freezer.

It’s a cat fish though, so besides being very handy as part of a joke…. ‘what’s the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?  One’s a scum sucking bottom dweller and the other one’s a fish !! ‘  What does one do with catfish ? What do they taste like ? and what’s the best way to cook them ?  The flesh is very firm and very white, so I’m assuming it will be a good eating fish…..and I guess I’ll know soon enough if that assumption is correct.

I reckon that’s enough random thoughts for the month, so far…there’ll be more I’m sure before November is through.

’til then, take care

dovishdane

mercer

 

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and I bet you all thought I was dead…… 🙂 

Sit back, make yourself comfortable…this is going to be a long one.

What was that ??? Go and live in Bulgaria for a more relaxed lifestyle, the good life, a bit of peace & quiet ?? Chance would be a fine thing. I am as busy as a bastard, and let me tell you, there’s nothing busier than that. !!

My reasons for the appalling diary I’m keeping just now ?? Well, I’ve decided, after a lot of persuasion, to take this real estate lark seriously and try and make a go of it.   The B&B side of my life was pretty quiet, so I figured that I’d try anything from which I can make a living and which will enable me to remain here.  So, I’ve teamed up with a very nice young Bulgarian man and this month was going to be all about getting stuck in and selling some houses. I have actually already sold a couple, which is nice, but from left field has come a flurry of customers for accomodation in the house…Oops.

So…..I hit the ground running at the beginning of this month and haven’t had time to stop and scratch myself since.  Haven’t even had time for a haircut…I really do look like I’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge just now.

Still not making any money, but things are certainly looking a wee bit more optimistic.  And, of course, if there’s anyone out there wanting a house in Bulgaria AND/ OR a fabulous place to lay your head, do contact me.  I have actually started another site for the real estate, http://southern-cross-real-estate.blogspot.com/ , but haven’t had the time to get much up on it.  I do have a good supply of houses though, so may have just the one you, or perhaps friends or family, are looking for.  🙂

To the rest of my life……summer is most definitely over and winters icy fingers have tapped me on the shoulder a couple of times already.  The country is bathed in the most wonderful autumnal colours and the leaves are gradually departing the trees and covering the ground in a red & golden blanket.  All the harvesting is finished and the paddocks are all ploughed over in preparation for another year, a stark contrast from just a few months ago when the country around here was a riot of golden sunflowers.

I picked my very last produce from the garden just the other day.  One last batch of tomatoes, a final bowl of peppers and a bucket of carrots.  I have a big bowl of green tomatoes as well and have found a few recipes for Fried Green Tomatoes…one of my very favourite movies and hopefully, a nice tasty way to deal with all those green tomatoes sitting at the end of my fabulous, huge new table !!

The heating has been tested and so far, so good. It really does make a difference in the house, though the temperatures obviously aren’t quite at freezing point yet.  January/February will be the big test I suspect.  The system that Ivan has installed though is so much better than the Kamina that I paid a small fortune for last year, and which is as useful as a one legged man in an arse kicking competition.  Still makes me a bit angry when I realise how badly ripped off I was there…so much for guaranteed work.

And, Joy of Joys, the pig slaughterings are already underway.  I’ve had my first invite to one…Ivan was doing his first killing for the year. I had to say no as I had two lots of guests coming in that day and didn’t think leaving them to fend for themselves on day one would be a very good idea.  So I may have missed a grand day out, but he did bring a slab of pork here and BBQ’d it for me.  God it was gorgeous.  I asked him what he fed the pig before it went to its maker,thinking that it had probably had all the household scraps for the year but was informed, rather indignantly, that his pigs do not get scraps, he only feeds them greens and grain.  This must make a difference because I have never eaten pork that tasted as good as this. And he’s promised me more….Yippee !!

To my guests….I have a couple, Jan & Harley with me for a few weeks.  Now,here’s a couple I can’t help but admire.  Neither of them are in particularly good health but did that stop them from driving from……wait for it………the Isle of Lewis (somewhere away off the coast of Scotland) right across Europe to Miladinovtsi.?? !!  Hell No…and they did it with their dog, Sally.  She’s just a complete sweety and once again, I have a really nice Scottish couple AND a fabulous dog taking shelter under my roof.

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Jan & Harley are awaiting the arrival of their furniture from Scotland and when that arrives and they get unpacked, they’ll get themselves settled in their own place….and I just know already that when they leave and take Sally with them, I’ll again be vunerable to the offers of puppies……this time I might even say yes.  Mind you, when I told Ivan that I would be having any male dog that he gave me sterilised, he looked absolutely horrified. You would have thought that I had said it was his bits I was going to have removed. I did explain that I didn’t want a large, uncontrollable dog around the house that would probably keep trying to hump my leg.  He seemed a tiny, weeny bit more accepting about it when I said that, but let’s see if he still offers me a pup.

I’ve also had a fabulous addition to the house if the shape of this

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This is one fine table and again, I have to say thanks to Ivan, and not just the one Ivan, but two of them.  Ivans mate Ivan from Jeravna had a hand in getting this table made for me and I’m almost embarrassed to say how much I paid for it.  in fact, I’m not allowed to as apparently, it was a special price just for me. 

This is 3 metres long and weighs a ton…it’s fabulous.  Could we get it in the house ?? Er, No…too big.  So with Ivan, Kremena, Angel, myself and Patrick ( a guest who happened to be staying in the house), we hoisted it up over the balcony and through the large double windows.  And thank god I’ve got these huge windows, or we’d all be sitting at this splendid table in the backyard….far too large to get up the stairs.  As I said to poor Patrick, after he’d busted a gut helping get the damned thing in, ‘bet you’ve never had such an exciting time in a B&B before…..come and stay with me and I’ll work you to death’..but he was the first person ever to sit at it and have a meal…and that honour will always be his.

In fact, Patrick’s back with me just now as I’ve also managed to help him buy a house.  I put him on the train tomorrow and then get back to the house to prepare for the arrival of another guest, this time a women who’se bought a house in the next village and is here to sort out some work on it. So at least you know that I haven’t been sitting here all month picking lint out of my navel…..Oh how I wish I had time for the simple pleasures of life like that. The lint is really building up at the moment and not a spare second to sit down and remove it  🙂

And speaking of lifes simple pleasures…I mentioned before that I’d made fruit mince for the Christmas mince pies.  The other day I went to my home made produce store to get some more jam.  When I picked up the jar, it was all sticky and my immediate thought was that something had got broken somewhere in the cupboard and there was an ooze situation occuring. 

I started unloading jars and it wasn’t until I got to the Christmas fruit mince that I found the problem.  All the jars were oozing and I thought I’d lost the lot…thought the fruit was fermenting and forcing the lids off.  Not quite right….the recipe I used advised putting a couple of centimetres of whisky on the top of the fruit to help preserve it.  The fruit, in turn, has soaked up ALL the whiskey and had swollen enough to start forcing the lids. I still wasn’t that confident that all was well in the land of fruit mince, that is until I tasted it….Wow !! it’s fantastic….boozy, but fantastic.  So I spooned enough out of each jar to create two more jars of the same and, leaving a larger gap between fruit and lid, I once again poured over the whisky….just to preserve the fruit you understand  🙂  Can’t wait to taste it when I make the mince pies!!

And with only 55 days until Christmas, I’ll be getting ready to do just that soon enough ……..Jesus, where has this year gone.  Though I guess I can thank my lucky stars that I’m actually on the planet to enjoy another Christmas. 

I’m really feeling as fit as a  mallee bull just now.  I was starting to squeeze a few of those lost kilograms back on, but at the moment, because my guests can’t manage the stairs, I’m up and down them like a Jack in the Box.  Running up and down my very steep stairs 15 or 20 times a day is having a great effect….The weight’s falling off me again and as one wag noted the other night, I should soon be able to crack walnuts with the cheeks of my a***   🙂

There’s so much more to say, but only 2 hours left of October 2006 in which to say it.  I have a new guest, Norma, in the house and Jan & Harley ensconced downstairs.  Stewart is talking about coming back again soon and I have a couple of other possibilites for accomodation.  The real estate thing looks like it might just go OK as well. I suspect things aren’t going to quieten down as much as I had hoped.  Maybe I won’t get to spend winter sprawled out on the couch with a bottle of Rakia watching DVDs after all….

Will November afford me more free time to keep this up to date ????  Who knows, but I’ll do my darndest…

Until then

leka nosht

mercer

 

 

 

 

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And just in case you think I’ve been sitting around throughout September buffing my fingernails, let me tell you about my latest cooking escapades……

Given that there’s only (frighteningly) around 70 days until Christmas, I’ve been very busy indeed making fruit mince for those fruit mince pies and I’ve even banged out a Christmas cake.  I’ve done all this as part of my optimistic hope that I will still be here at Christmas…..the next month or two will be  crunch time for me.  

And then there was my kilos and kilos of peppers…..I sat watching the bushes become ever heavier with lots of lovely big, fat green and red peppers.  Those bushes really were groaning under the weight of the fruit.  I asked Ivan if he could find me a recipe for Lutinitsa, a Bulgarian pepper, tomato and eggplant sauce, and he did, but it was all in Bulgarian and he didn’t quite have enough english to translate it for me.

I was really starting to despair, as I didn’t want to waste the fabulous produce in my garden and there really is only so many peppers one can consume. I did get a really nice recipe for peppers in a herby, tomato sauce from a Bulgarian friend, Bo.  This is eaten with some good bread and a tile of Sirine (Bulgarian white cheese), but delicious as it is, after four or five nights on the trot, I had to have a change of diet.

So, my next port of call was my sister Helen, who lives in Italy and always keeps a substantial vege patch going.  I figured if anyone had some suggestions for what to do with tonnes of peppers, it would be her.  And, indeed, she did not disappoint…….a plethora of recipes for preserving peppers were forthcoming and  so I decided to get to work.

Apparently my neighbours had been watching the progress of my peppers as well and were obviously waiting for me to pick them, for no sooner had I appeared in the garden with a bucket and got to work on the peppers, than Christina appeared saying ‘Lutinitsa’  and telling me how many tomatoes I needed and how many eggplants I needed and how much oil I needed, and so on until I understood all the required ingredients and the fact that Lutinitsa what I was going to be making with all those peppers.

Have you ever peeled 20 kilos of peppers !!!!  I did try to explain to Christna that I thought half the quantities would be enough for me, but she was having none of that and 20 kgs of pepper, 10 kgs of tomatos and 2 kgs of eggplants it was.

So, the peppers were just being flung onto the oven rack and roasted.  Another discovery…..peppers excrete a kind of thick, sticky syrup when they’re roasting and bloody hell, you should have seen my oven the next day. Covered in a layer of something akin to black concrete, is the only way I can describe it. Thank the good lord for Mr Muscle !!!  🙂

Anyway, Christina and I started the roasting and peeling process and were joined a little later by Karlina and so the three of us spent about 4 hours getting everything ready for the next day….

I naively thought we’d be cooking the lutinitsa in my kitchen……don’t be so bloody silly !!!  I was phaffing about getting jars ready and noticed that the ladies had disappeared. I heard the garage door slam and looked out into the backyard and there they were…..lighting a fire in the backyard and putting the biggest saucepan I have ever seen, full of a rather luxurious looking red mass, onto it. 

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 And this is how we cooked it…..

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It was such fun and the sauce is gorgeous. 

So, this winter, things are looking good…I have 20 jars of lutinitsa, 5 litres of Rakia, loads of jam and relish, plenty of fruit mince for Christmas, a christmas cake AND some central heating in the house.  Could this winter be better than last ??? Will I be here to enjoy all these things ?? Lets see what November/December brings.

Mind you, not all my cooking escapades have met with success. I had friends coming over for dinner and got gripped with a dose of Australiana.  The first thing I made was a batch of Anzac biscuits, and they were a great success. Then again, Blind Freddy could make those without too much trouble. 

I then decided to make a batch of lamingtons.  Now, once upon a time, any good Aussie would knock up their own sponge cake and then creat their lamingtons from that. These days, not very good Aussies, like me, head for the supermarket and grab a ready made Victoria sponge or similar.  What ever made me think I could do that here I’ll never know, but sure enough, no plain sponges to be found in Yambol, so I bravely decided to have a crack at making my own. 

Hmmm….my mother used to make the most incredible sponge cakes with, what appeared to be, minimal effort. Apparently the sponge making gene skipped a generation….I made one and it was appalling.  I figured I couldn’t go that horribly wrong twice, so had another attempt….get a load of these !! 

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Anyone for Frisbees ????

After the first disaster, the lamington idea went out the window, but this left me with no dessert for that night, so I figured I could create something half edible with the ‘alleged’ sponge cakes, some fresh fruit, some home made raspberry jam and some cream.  I ended up with one of the most impressive looking cakes on the planet…..completely inedible !!!  My guests bravely struggled to eat some but I think the only reason they managed to eat any of it at all was because they’de had a half gallon of wine….each !!  Boy, I do love kind friends  🙂  I think I might just leave the sponge making to the experts, so no lamingtons in Bulgaria I guess.

And the roof ????  Coming along nicely, thanks for asking……..

The weather is decidedly cooler, which has been good for Ivan and the men working atop the house. They’ve made great inroads in the last weeks and it’s starting to really take shape

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Looks good, doesn’t it…..and I’m happy…and that’s all that really matters.  🙂

OK…..Time to take the leap into October…before another month slips through my fingers….I’ll tell you all about my latest challenge, the world of real estate.  Yep, I’m taking the plunge and am going to give it a go

for now, dovishdane

mercer

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Just when I thought I was catching up, October comes crashing around the corner and smacks me squarely in the head……..

I think the best way to deal with September is just to write a huge summary of the entire month, with pics,of course….. 🙂

The month didn’t get off to a fantastic start as my visit to the lovely Dr Drinkoff, which was supposed to be my last, didn’t go as perfectly as I had hoped.  There’s a thickening of part of my vocal chords and nothing definite about why.  My voice had started to get deep again, though not as incredibly deep as it was, and I was a tad concerned about the reasons why. Well, now I know, but it hasn’t made September the easiest month to get on with and it has hung over me like the sword of Damicles.  Dr Drinkoff insists I musn’t worry, but as my friend Sue Short said when she enquired about my health and my peace of mind, ‘when you’ve had a bad scare the hardest part is the peace of mind,  keeping the mind “quiet” ‘  And she’s dead right. Every little twinge, every little change, every little thing that doesn’t seem exactly right gets my heart racing and sees me waking at night worrying…. Anyway, fingers crossed for a good October report.

I’ve had some nice visitors through September.  Got a visit from a gang that read this very diary and decided to pay me a visit while they were in Bulgaria. It’s a rather strange feeling you know. I guess people read this and probably end up ‘knowing me’, so to speak and I have met some very nice folk because of this.  Shirley, Paul, Brian and Lee (if I’ve got any names wrong, blame my old age) were no exception. They arrived on my doorstep, we all settled in for a wee natter, and four or so very funny hours later, they departed. I’ve made some nice friends there and look forward to catching up with them again when they return for their next holiday.  I’ve added Shirleys webpage to my links, so you can go and find out more about her there.

Life in the village through September has been reasonably varied.

I’m lucky enough this year to have a little more Bulgarian and have actually joined the ladies on the biddy benches a couple of times for a bit of a natter. OK, I’m not fluent, but at least now, with a lot of patience from them, I can often make myself understood AND I can understand more and more of what they’re saying to me….except perhaps Maria, who talks at a similar speed and sound to a Gattling gun…Jesus, she fires off and I haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of keeping up with her.  Christina understands, and asks Maria to slow down for me…which she does momentarily…and then she’s away again.  Still, it’s nice to feel just that little bit more included in the village life…makes a huge difference to my frame of mind.

The local poultry are still amusing me endlessly.  I noted that a lot of the older roosters have disappeared…into the pot perhaps ??? Anyway, the younger ones have been doing their darndest to take up where the old fellas left off, and it’s been one of the funniest things I’ve seen for years.  Do we all know the Old Bull/Young Bull story.? Well, it’s that kinda thing.  I used to watch the old roosters methodically work their way through the chickens……strategy, planning,skill and speed seemed to be the order of the day, and they would work their way through the entire flock.  The youngens’ hit the street running and furiously try to have their wicked way with every chicken in sight…no planning, no strategy and no rumpy pumpy either. !!  The chickens scatter, the young roosters try to pursue all of them but eventually they run out of steam, conk out and the chickens return to their free range feeding, virtue intact  🙂

And Yes, even after more than a year here, I’m still very easily amused.  🙂

September has not been a good month for water here in Miladinovtsi.  It went off a few times when I had my friends here and they made their escape in the nick of time…..they were hardly out the door and the water disappeared for 8 days !!!

I’m reasonably patient ( No, really!!) but even I had a few choice words for the Mayor this time.  He may not speak english, but I suspect the look on my face, the tone of the my voice and frequent references to ‘Voda’ might have had the desired effect.  He was very apologetic and made sure I got an english version of what the problem was.  Apparently it was a breakdown somewhere away from Miladinovtsi, but I did make it very clear that it will be impossible to run a business here if i can’t rely on the water supply.  I had to turn away a couple of paying guests and I was very clear (through a translator) that it just wasn’t good enough.  Let’s hope 2007 is better.

I decided to round up Gary and Louisa and have another night at Jeravno. Once again it was great fun but I really think I have to stop going there.  Once again I drank far too much and once again I became the dancing fool, but this time I had my builder in a very firm tango clutch and was whirling him around the floor and periodically, and just for good measure, giving him a resounding smack on the arse. !! And it wasn’t just Ivan the builder who was dragged from pillar to post…I did it to Ivan the hotel owner as well…because I don’t know him that well, I did manage to restrain myself and not smack him on his arse,…..thank god !!

Every now and again I was sure I heard a low rumbling sound, and am convinced that it was Mum & Dad turning in their graves as I drag the family name into disrepute  🙂

I’ll just go and hang my head in shame and when I return, I’ll tell you about changing seasons and Christmas food…and let’s not forget my effort at going a wee bit Bulgarian and, after a great deal of persuasion from various folk, my foray into the land of selling real estate !!  Is it the business for me ??? I guess time will tell……

No pics in this episode but plenty to come in part two…

for now

dovishdane
 

mercer  

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Bulgaria in August cont.

August has been a very busy month indeed for guests and friends.

I had contact from a couple, Tracey and Barrie, who were looking for two night’s accommodation for themselves and their daughter. ‘Nyema problem’ I cried, ‘plenty of room at the Inn’. Plans were made, bookings were put in place and though I was expecting a small overlap between the guests and the arrival of my old friends, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem…and it wasn’t, as the terrorist threats against the airlines saw my friends stranded on the ground in Glasgow.

I was so disappointed. I had been looking forward to their arrival for weeks and to have the rug pulled out from under our plans at such a late stage was devastating.

Mind you, Tracey and Barry ended up extending their stay considerably, so I had plenty to keep my mind and body busy. Again, I was fortunate to have a really pleasant family staying in the big hoose and I thoroughly enjoyed their company while here. And they proved to be the hardy type of guests that this house needs…Those that can deal with anything life throws at them. In their case, the bloody water went off !!!! You have to remember that the temperatures here at the moment are still as hot a hell and not being able to throw ones self under a shower can be pretty inconvenient, but they were really good about it. Fortunately, it was towards the very end of their stay. Did they complain? Did they demand a refund? Not a bit….they were fantastic in the face of adversity and when I waved them off on the next stage of their journey, we were still friends…maybe slightly ripe friends, but friends none the less 🙂

And all through everything else, the roof repairs continue.

It’s turning out to be a bugger of a job and this is not helped by the very high temperatures we’ve been experiencing. It might be 40 degrees at ground level, but when you get up into the highest part of the roof I reckon the temps got to be at least 5-10 degrees hotter, if not more. I instantly turn into an oily spot of the floor when I go up there and I really don’t know how these guys can continue to work under such adverse conditions….but they do, and seem to retain their sense of humour throughout. It’s really starting to take shape though and you can really get an impression of what the finished job will look like…

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I was a little concerned about having the grey tiles in a village full of orange tiles. And why was I concerned ? Because I didn’t want to stand out too much…but as someone pointed out to me, the house already stands out like dogs whatsits, so a few grey tiles really aren’t going to make a lot of difference. 🙂

Now, do you all remember this little fella?

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Well, just take a look at him now….

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Doesn’t that just tear at the strings of your heart ?? He’s certainly won Louisa over…that’s her holding on to him. It looks like the next litter will have a little something special just for her. And, Oh, how my resolve is weakening 🙂

In amongst all the rest of the goings on here, I received an invite from the Mayor to accompany the villagers to a place called Roxhjen (sic), where a national festival of traditional singing and dancing was being held. That’s an entire diary entry on its own though, so you’ll have to wait for the next instalment to see the fabulous photos, of which I took hundreds.

Suffice to say, I headed off into the Rhodopes and left my guests to fend for themselves, but that’s another story for another day.

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And here I was thinking I could get my life in order AND keep up with the house AND my diary…..definitely getting my capabilities mixed up with my ambitions.

But I have made one positive move in the direction of perhaps getting things sorted. Ivan and Kremena have found me a house fairy…did I say fairy ??? I mean angel. They paid me a visit the other day and I was once again working like a bastard, mostly exhausted and glowing like a horse in the 30+ temperatures. Kremena gave me a lecture on keeping my health and told me some help was a pre-requisite if I was going to continue and stay well. Anyway, in the true style of these two fabulous people, a cleaning lady was forthcoming…and she’s lovely. Her name’s Galia and already the house is starting to take on the look of a professional accommodation residence. She’s working miracles here. I feel a bit embarrassed about what I’m paying her, but I’m told it’s the going rate.

She came last Saturday and left a few hours later with all the beds made, the rooms clean and everything looking just fine. And she’s is looking for more work and in the blink of an eye, she’s already working together with Martin, who also wanted work, doing a house cleaning, garden maintenance thingy.

On Sunday I had some Scottish friends over for lunch. They had come to spend some time in their newly renovated house in Tamarino only to find the yard a mess, no electricity and a number of other problems that made their holiday a disaster. They were deeply despondent when I spoke to them on the phone so I told them to get out here for lunch and a chat so we could get things sorted for them. I had already intended to make them stay the night…just so they could have one decent night with hot water, decent food etc while they were in the area. Invited Bill & Leslie and Martin over for the BBQ as well and had a damned fine and very social day with a group of fine folk. Got them all sorted and found them an apartment on the Black Sea Coast for the rest of their holiday. Took them back to their own place on Monday, where they were relieved to find that they actually had electricity, so at least their last couple of nights were a bit more civilised.

I’d also had contact from another young couple, Gary and Louisa. They organised to come out to the big house for a chat and I told them that if I wasn’t back from Tamarino, to just go inside and make themselves a cuppa and wait for me. Told them that if challenged by Ivan, just to get him to ring me. Anyway, I got later and later and by the time I got back home I felt sure they’d be gone. Came upstairs, no sign of them. Picked up the phone and rang them to apologise but when Gary answered, his voice sounded strangely close and slightly echoey….Sure enough, they were downstairs… in a room with limited facilities and probably wondering why I lived such a sparse existence. Anyway, I got them up into the really lived in part of the house and once again, had a really pleasant evening getting to know a really nice young couple who are, like many of us, toiling away to try and make a living so we can stay here in this fantastic country.

Anyway, bouncing back to the reasons for some help in the house…after Gary, Louisa and the gang of Scots had left, I realised that the house was right back at square one and that meant starting from scratch to get the place back in order. Oh, I was so glad when Galia & Martin turned up today. And five hours later, all the rooms are once again spick and span and the five and a half miles of windows are sparkling clean. 🙂

The work on the roof continues, with conditions getting no easier for the men up there. Jesus, it’s so hot up there. I take them drinks all day and every time I go up there, I come back down feeling quite faint.

Always happy to have their pic taken though……..

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And doesn’t Ivan look sweet in his hat…..at least he’s got the common sense to wear one up there so his brains don’t boil in their own juice. That’s Angel with him, and they are up really, really high…nestled in between two of the peaks on the roof…and yes, Angel did get a rollicking from me for not being tied on.

Had another night of rain last night, but so far, it isn’t causing any problems.

I did have a visit from Ivan’s mum on Sunday. She came down to stir the Rakia but as always, we had a wee Bulgarian/English chat and she is so worried about her baby son being up on my roof. How could I assure a mother that her favourite boy would be OK and I had every confidence in his common sense, but that I was very worried also? And I am, very…like I’ve said, I’ll be so glad when this roof replacement is finished.

The hot weather continues relentlessly. I was in Yambol the other day and I was just so hot and sweaty. I headed into a hairdresser with Stefka and told them to ‘take it off…short’… Ooops…perhaps I should have been a tad more specific. It’s very, very short indeed. I won’t be finding a ‘good Bulgarian man’ with this haircut….I suspect that only a ‘woman in comfortable shoes’ would be interested in someone with this haircut 🙂

And the garden continues to produce. The tomatoes seem never ending and I just can’t help but say it…they are bloody fantastic!!! Even if I’ve grown them myself.. The peppers are just starting to fruit as well and today I actually sent Martin home with this little lot for his dinner this evening……doesn’t it just look fabulous. Freshly picked today and the colours, the smells and the flavours are just so wonderful.

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I’m very excited just now…I have friends from Australia arriving next week. One of them, Deb Westerberg, is a very old friend indeed, one I’ve known for nearly 40 years !!! She lives in Scotland now, but currently has Deb & Marshall, a couple of mutual friends from Australia with her at the moment and they’re all coming to stay. I’ve had a lot of fun with these people over the years and am so looking forward to having them here.

I’m away to Stara Zagora for another check up tomorrow. Still feel a bit nervous about these, I guess because there’s always a small chance that things might change. But fingers crossed, I’ve had a lucky escape and will get to enjoy another few good years on this planet.

Just now, it’s time for some of those spuds I grew myself, with a nice shropska salata, also mostly made up of produce from my garden….bloody hell..what a great feeling !!!

Dovishdane

mercer

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