Archive for the ‘The Dogs’ Category

I know I was only away for four days and I had a great time in Turkey with Di, but I have to confess that when it was time to return home I felt just a little excited…I do love coming back here.  I had also left three people and Gina in charge and thought perhaps it was time to get back and relieve them of their duties.

Before I headed down to Turkey, a couple from Denmark ( Australia) came to stay.  Amanda and Di walk together in a walking group in Australia and so when Di was talking about coming to visit me, Amanda and her husband Stuart thought that Bulgaria sounded like somewhere worth visiting as well, so along they came.

They are terrific and it was a pleasure having them here.

Their start in BG wasn’t that great.  They came from Istanbul with a bus company called Metro, and even though the company says on their website that they come to Yambol, they don’t,  and have a very bad habit of dropping people off in the middle of bugger all…precisely what they did to Stu and Amanda.  I arranged to pick them up from Yambol but when Stu rang, they were clearly NOT in Yambol and had been dropped in a village called Zimnitsa, about 20 Ks from where they should have been. I headed out there and found two waifs looking slightly shell shocked standing in the middle of a place they probably had never thought they would visit. I bundled them into the car and so began a very enjoyable few days leading up to my departure to meet Di.

These two were here for some rest and recreation, a good holiday, so you could have knocked me over with a feather when, on their first morning with me Amanda asked if she could go and dig up the rest of my potatoes…” don’t be ridiculous’ I cried ‘you’re here for a holiday’.  But there was no stopping her, She insisted that she really wanted to spend time in the garden and who was I to refuse her.  She was down there for ages and, with some help from Stu, got another great patch of my spuds up, which was a terrific relief for me as I was already falling behind with everything that needed doing around the place.

The weather was incredibly hot and we had many a pleasant evening sitting in my fairy light garden enjoying a few cold bevies and some fabulous fresh food from my vegetable patch. And,of course, they won the heart of the resident tyrant (Gina, not me) and she managed to con many a walk out of them as well, especially Amanda.

I was taking them down the Sozopol for a day, so with Colin in tow, the three of us headed out for a lovely day.  The weather was still blistering hot and the place looked gorgeous. We had a beaut day of walking, looking, good food and sights like this

We were sitting in a great little restaurant overlooking the water on a stunningly beautiful day when this cruised past…fabulous.

When I was heading down the meet Di in Istanbul, Stuart and Amanda were moving off to tour through Bulgaria, intending to come back for a few days before Di & I headed off to France.  I was going to put Gina in the kennels for the days I was away…well, they liked it so much that they asked if they could stay in the house while I was gone and were perfectly happy to look after the old girl in my absence. I was very pleased.  It meant Gina wouldn’t be uprooted twice ( she was going to the kennels while I was in France) and I knew she’d be more settled and less neurotic at home with strangers than in kennels with strangers.  Don’t forget, in 2008 I put her in the kennels for 6 months and didn’t come back for two years…she gets very suspicious when I drive anywhere near the kennels these days.

Anyway, I did the Istanbul run and Di and I came back to Miladinovtsi to a very happy dog and equally happy house guests.  We had a couple of days before heading off to the other side of Europe. We took Stu and Amanda to Plovdiv, their starting point for an eight day walk through the Rhodope  mountains, and said our goodbyes there

Di & I headed back to Miladinovtsi to prepare for our departure to France.  We didn’t have a lot planned and figured a nice, easy restful time before embarking on a cross Europe journey would be good, but the best laid plans…

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Not me !!!   Baba marta!!…

Crikey, she really is grumpy.  We had screaming gales with snow on Sunday night and last night the wind howled like a Banshee all night.  And because my house is so high and has so many corners, the wind seems to scream around every one, so it can be quite disconcerting lying in bed listening to it.  Last night it was -10 degrees, the coldest night I think we’ve had all winter… even though it’s now Spring.

And did I say the wind was cold the other day ??? I clearly had no idea what I was talking about. I just went out to get some coal and kindling. I was rugged up to the nines including having a big thick pair of gloves on and by the time I got back inside the house, about 10 minutes, my hands were completely frozen and numb.   That is cold !!  Gina has already been informed that there will be NO walk today.

There is good news from all this though. Firstly, Baba Marta’s great gales are clearly blowing the last vestiges of winter away. Even though the wind is still screaming down from Siberia, the place is bathed in sunshine today and if you can find anywhere out of the wind, it’s really quite warm.

The forecast from here on in is getting better and better,  Days with temperatures in the mid teens and nights around the 5-6 degree mark.  This means that very soon I can stop lighting the fire and get the house cleaned properly.  I love a wood fire, but holy mother of god they are dirty bloody things.  The amount of grey dust I clean up everyday around the living room and kitchen is unbelievable.  I want to wash all the walls down, but no point while the fire is still on every night.

But with good weather around the corner, I’m looking forward to getting to work again..

Secondly, I seem to be winning the battle to seal this enormous house of mine from the elements.  I have spent years replacing windows that have blown open and smashed during big wind storms. And during the big gales I also used to have little gales blowing in through all the gaps in the windows and the house itself.  I couldn’t even begin to count the hours I’ve spent wandering around this house armed with a tube of selastic, nails and various other bits and pieces for repairing windows and closing gaps.  I seem to be succeeding. The rendering of the house has certainly reduced the gaps in the brick work and the icy fingers of winter that used into sneak in through the windows have been reduced enormously following all the work I’ve done on them.

Today is Women’s Day here in Bulgaria and I’m supposed to be up at the bar with all the local ladies having another knees up. Sadly, I’m sitting at home writing this having pinched a nerve in my neck.  I’ve done this before and it seems to flare up about twice a year.  I just wake up and my hands and arms are numb. !!  Not a great experience, and even though I’m saying ‘numb’ the pain is excruciating. I took myself off the Yambol yesterday and had a massage and though things are markedly better today, I’m still in discomfort and figured that drinking and dancing probably wasn’t a smart thing for me to be doing, especially as the masseuse told me to go home and do nothing.

I took Gina with me for her yearly top up for rabies, parvo and all the other things she’s protected from.  It took me a while to drag her out of bed but once she was in the car, she was as happy as a sandman.  She loves a day out.  Now, Gina and I have had a pretty good ‘pasture’ this winter. I’ve certainly plumped up a little and was concerned that perhaps Gina was a wee bit ‘debel’ (fat) as well.  I asked Yanko yesterday if it was diet time for her, but he said No, that she is ‘perfect’ and I should leave her be.  He reminded me of the starved dog that he first met, around the same time as I met her, and told me she’s fine…though she wouldn’t want to get any plumper.

I did ask about the nipping incident. He told me she’s protecting me, this is what my dog should do.  I did mention that I had guests coming, but he thinks that because she’s living inside with me over winter, that she possibly perceives people who come here as a threat to me, especially if they are behaving in a loud fashion, which Donna was the day Gina nipped. I’ve already decided that she’s back out side as soon as the weather warms up, so I’m pretty confident there won’t be any problems with her. And as I’m sitting here writing this while she is flea-ing my leg, I couldn’t imagine her hurting anyone.

Because it’s really cold and I not up to doing a lot, I’m making yoghurt again.  My first attempt was pretty successful, though I only had fat reduced milk and it was a bit runny. So today, there’s no poncing around with stupid weak milk..I got me two litres straight from the cow.  It’s thick and rich and gorgeous and overnight it formed a 2 in slab of cream on the top.  At the moment it’s on the stove top cooling down before I put the culture in.  I foresee really nice thick yoghurt this time…I hope, anyway.

I’m also making bread, but this time without the machine.  I’ve been experimenting for a while now, making different things like bread rolls and pizza dough.

There’s a couple that I’ve become friends with, Mike & Mandy, who come here for holidays. He’s a baker and has convinced me that hand made bread is better.  So today I’m starting completely from scratch and if it works, the bread machine can go.  If it doesn’t, perhaps Gina will get a nice brick to eat with her dinner tonight and the machine will live to cook another day.  🙂

next mission…Cheese !!  I’m already on the internet finding out how.  I have no idea, so this could be fun…or not, as the case may be.

Some time later: Someone told me cheese was really easy to make. Hmmmm… I’m looking at these instructions and my brain is turning to mush.  I’m going to leave you now and direct all my brain power to the ‘art’ of making cheese.


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As I gazed out the window this morning – I’m snowed in, so doing quite a bit of that – I couldn’t help but notice a vehicle that was sliding it’s way up the road.  Actually, it wasn’t the masses of snow or the sliding car that  caught my attention, it was the sheer numbers of people in it. !

The car itself was absolutely packed to the gunnels and to top it off, there were four people sitting in the boot, crammed in like sardines, lid up, legs hanging over the back and all of them having a merry old time.  Let’s not forget that the road is so dangerously slippery just now and it was also snowing quite heavily as, with engine roaring, they slid off up the road. Heaven help them if someone had come around the corner in the opposite direction.

And I know I shouldn’t say it, but it was hilarious to see. They just didn’t have a care in the world and were as happy as anyone could be.

I was relating the story to Mitko later on and he told me they were on their way to the cemetery because it’s one year since their mother died. I commented that perhaps they all had a wish to join her…  🙂

I desperately wanted a pic, but couldn’t lay my hands on my long range lens…by the time I found it, they had slid around the corner…damn and blast.  I must start leaving the camera and all its bits on the kitchen table. I often look out and see bizarre things happening in the streets below me and as they can’t see me, it really is a chance for good shots. I just need to get more organised.

This isn’t the first time the guys that own and drive this particular car have stopped me in my tracks. They obviously have a gas conversion on the vehicle and  a couple of weeks ago, I was walking up to the village centre when I came across one of them doing some repairs to it.  He’d pulled the tank out of the car and was sitting on the ground doing said ‘repairs’ ….mainly with a hammer !!

They just make the best of what they have I think and do the best they can with what they have and all the time they appear to be pretty happy and relaxed about it all.

And what else am I doing to amuse myself while the snow falls ?  Besides making the living room and kitchen lovely and warm for myself and Gina, I’m having my first ever go at making my own yoghurt.  I never realised how easy it is. Well, in saying that, the technicalities appear simple but I won’t know for another 6-7 hours if it’s actually working.  I may just end up with a large dish of sour milk, which Gina will love…so nothing wasted.

And Gina is still insisting on her daily walk.  We’ve just got back and again the snow was falling and the air was bracing, but I actually love it.  I feel great when I get home. There’s been a very nasty flu doing the rounds of the village and one of the women reckons I haven’t got it because I go for a walk in the freezing cold every day. I doubt that’s a correct medical opinion, but I’ve certainly managed to avoid it…so far.

Slightly worrying occurrence last night…Hristina’s sister Donna has been here many times and yesterday she popped in to see if I wanted to buy some Martinitsa’s…they’re the red and white wristlets that people here give on March first. You wear them and when you see your first stork, you hang them on a tree or place them under a stone. In winter when there’s no leaves on the trees, you can see loads of them from previous years hanging on the branches.  Anyway, Donna came up the stairs and Gina and I were waiting for her at the top.  As she walked past Gina, madam took a sly little nip at her backside !!  Fortunately, she only made contact with Donna’s very thick coat, but I was stunned & Donna was frightened because she thought ( and possibly, rightly so) that Gina was going to bite her. I called out ‘Gina !!!’ and she immediately let go and sat there looking deeply ashamed, but none the less, this is not something I want to see happening.   I’m worried that it might be a possession thing with me…she doesn’t want anyone coming here…but I have guests coming and if needs be, she will be banished to the dog house whenever I have people here.  She’s strong and has very big teeth…I don’t want any problems.

And yet, as I look at her here, fast asleep on her luxurious bed with her best ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ face, it seems hard to believe that she would do such a thing.

I wont lie, she has bitten someone.  When she was having her pups one of them died and she was distraught.  I very carefully took the dead puppy away, but she was not happy about it and she even growled at me.  I had people staying downstairs at that stage and I told them that under no circumstance were they to go into the garage because Gina was beside herself and I couldn’t guarantee how she would react to people going in there.  Unfortunately, the woman who used to breed dogs, thought she knew best and went into the garage as soon as I turned my back.  I was at the front of the house burying the puppy when I heard a god awful scream and a terrible commotion ….Sure enough, Gina had sunk her large teeth into the woman’s calf.  I felt terrible that it had happened, but I had been very clear with my instructions.  I always advise people to approach her gently and not to suddenly lunge at her…she doesn’t like that at all.  A hangover from her beatings, I’m sure, so she does need a little understanding, but she’s been so good since I came back that she really caught me off guard yesterday….something to watch for I guess. And she was fantastic with the guests I had last year, so maybe she was just having a bad day.

She’s still my girl and I love her.

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Chilly Air, Chilly Dog

And so the weather has taken a turn for the dreary. After all that superb weather, there’s been a little snow and quite a lot of rain.

Gina has made another move, this time from the bathroom to the living room.  And why has she done this?  Well, I think it’s because she’s cold…and before you say ‘don’t be ridiculous, she’s a dog’, I do have a reason for thinking this…besides the fact that she has been shivering since the weather turned cold again.

Let me tell you a little story…

When Mia died it was late December and the weather was very cold.  As you know, Gina was badly affected by the death of her daughter and one of the things that happened was that she started to mault.  This concerned me a little because she was losing that very thick woolly hair that Karakachans have under their normal coarse hair during the colder months, and it was coming out in great big handfuls.  I did mention it to Yanko, the vet, and he said that if she was living inside it really wasn’t a problem because she would be warm there.  Of course, at that stage she wasn’t living inside…she hadn’t made the move and was still in the kennel.

Anyway, as you know, she did move inside so I wasn’t as concerned.

This house is huge, so I’m only warming the areas that I am living in and the downstairs gets really cold during winter. One day I found Gina sitting down there in the corridor (I have no idea why she was just sitting there) and she was shivering…a lot.  But she was by this time, living inside, so I shooed her up the stairs into the nice warm kitchen.

I don’t warm my bedroom as I have an electric blanket…warm bed, warm me.  I put Gina’s bed in my bedroom and she was perfectly happy there while the temperatures were a little warmer, but when the weather chilled off, she moved to the next warmest room, the bathroom, which I keep heated. She couldn’t always get in there though because I keep the door closed so as not to waste heat, so she’s moved into the living room, which has a lovely fire going from about 3pm onwards and the room stays warm overnight.

Could she be any more comfortable…and happy ?  I don’t think so…




And do I care if she is taking up half the living room with her luxury bed and rather plump figure ? Not at all. By the time my guests start coming, the weather will be warmer and she’ll probably move back outside…or I may kick her out if she becomes a bloody nuisance.

For now, she’s happy, I’m happy and we’re both warm and comfortable.

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After all the warnings I got about what a terrible winter this was going to be, we start the month of February bathed in sunshine.  OK, the nights and early mornings have been mighty cold…minus 7, minus 9 etc but the days are just glorious.  The air is still cold enough to keep a little snow unmelted on the ground and there’s no way you could dig that ground just now, as it’s as hard as nails, but it certainly hasn’t been a bitter winter by any means ….so far. And the forecast for the next fortnight is ‘fine’ with temperatures in the early to mid teens, and Spring is just 4 weeks away.  Fingers crossed there isn’t a nasty (late) surprise around the corner.

Even Gina has actually got out of her bed voluntarily and let herself out of the house to soak up a few warm rays.  She may love the snow, but she also gets great pleasure out of baking her old saggy tummy in the warm sun.

And this weather really fills me with energy and verve, so rather than wait until March to start my cleaning blitz, I kicked off over the weekend. I’ve started tearing the house apart cleaning. I’ve taken down all 75 curtains, for that is how many there are in my house of windows, and they’re with the local laundry becoming beautiful and clean, and I’ve got a young local fella coming here tomorrow to start cleaning the windows.  I’ve got walls to wash and walls to paint before my first guest arrives in late March…

From then on in, at least through April and May, I’m going to have to juggle guests and gardening.  I’m going for a much bigger vegetable garden this year and have had the very back area of the yard prepared for that. I also have to get lawn and fruit trees planted in the areas closer to the house, so holes to dig and ground to prepare.

What was that ?? Why didn’t I do this when I was 35 instead of 55  (nearly 56)??  Good question, and one I ask myself every day after a hard days work when I can hardly stand up straight…but  hey, it’s better than being dead.

So I shall continue to put myself under intense strain, at least while I still can or until something goes ‘POP’  🙂

And then, when I’ve done all this, what shall I do ?? I have to admit to a certain restlessness in my soul again.

Perhaps it’s  time to look for another project…perhaps something a little smaller.

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soft touch

I figured with guests coming I had to get Gina off the furniture.  Not a good look for the guests to find my old tyrant languishing on the downstairs couch.

She started the process herself by recently deciding to sleep in my room again, which is where she used to sleep when I first got her back in 2007.  She would sleep in my room for a little while and then sometime during the night, move back downstairs.  I decided to encourage her to stay upstairs and she seemed quite happy to do that. She set herself up on the very thin mat next to my bed, and that’s where she’s been the last few nights. I did notice though that because she’s a wee bit creaky in the morning, not unlike myself,  when she slept on the hard floor she really was stiff and sore in the morning.

I decided to go to Yambol and see if I could find a slab of foam rubber for her to sleep on. I called into the vets to see if they could point me in the right direction…Did they see me coming ? can they read me like a book ? Am I a bit of a soft touch ? Oh yes indeedy. I went in for a slab of foam and came out with this :

It wasn’t very expensive…this is Bulgaria and it only cost  me about $60aud.  I could have had the Italian version for $350, but I declined on the grounds that she is, after all, only a dog.  The vets were joking that if she decided to move onto my bed, I could sleep in hers…..it’s certainly big enough !!!

And if you’re wondering what the words around the bed are, it says ‘Love’ and No, I didn’t choose the fabric but thought it was very sweet when I picked the bed up because, as strange as she can be, I do love her.

Does she love it ? What do you reckon…she’s hardly left it since I bought it home of Thursday.

There’s just one other small problem to sort. Those of you who have been with me since way back in 2005 will know that when Gina came to me and decided to sleep next to my bed in the old days the biggest problem was the fact that she snored like a bloke…she still does. It’s almost like having my husband back. (EEK)  You should hear her !!

But it’s also strangely comforting to wake during the night and hear her, when she’s not snoring and just breathing very quietly next to my bed.

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are just getting on with it… well, I’m getting on with it, Gina is sleeping and having a thoroughly lovely time.

There’s been a few rather dreary days …grey with fog, which I hate, though it has dawned bright and sunny this morning.  It may have been a little dreary but it’s been a good opportunity for me to try and get this damned website for the Bed & Breakfast sorted.  Tim has saved me again ( all hail Tim) and got the bones of it up for me, but I’m sitting here struggling to do the simple tasks that I have to complete.  Hmmm…

Because I’ve been sitting here for so many days and only moving to do simple things like clean out the fireplace and get wood in for the day or make a coffee, I was starting to feel just a little too sedentary, so yesterday I dragged the old girl out of her bed and we headed off for a day out in Yambol.  She  got off her bed, the couch (reluctantly) but as always, once in the car, she was as happy as a sandman. I took her to visit the vets, just to have her looked over and to check when she needed her injection top ups for rabies etc.  I may have lost her daughter, but all the vets said Gina looks great.  Yanko commented that people keep telling him if you sterilise a dog they get fat.  He said Gina clearly proves that wrong because she really does look great and make no mistake, she loves her food.  And madam just stood there in the surgery wagging her tail, the whole time I was there…she loves ’em all at the vets.  She’s a strange beast sometimes.

We had a lovely day out…she’s filled my car with hair and there’s dribble all down the back doors and windows, as she has her head hanging out all the way in and all the way home, but I really don’t care. She’s happy, I’m happy.

The weather continues to be very mild.  No more snow and not particularly cold day temperatures.  Nights still warrant a small fire, but the days have been mostly fine…except for the few days of Magla (fog).  My bulbs are all starting to poke their little green tips up from beneath the soil. I’m really hoping for a glorious display this year…I planted so many bulbs, tulips, daffodils, crocuses and lots of others who’s names I can’t remember, and I’ve just done the rounds of the garden and there’s loads coming up.

I adore Spring here…even if we get more really cold winter weather now, Spring is just so close now and it really is something to look forward to.  You know the place is going to burst into life and with any luck by mid summer, my garden will be glorious with bulbs first, then roses, vegetables, grape vines (with grapes) the trees in full bloom and fruit and everything looking just wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, I’m going to extract myself from this desk and go take advantage of this wonderful day…time for the two old girls to go for their walk…but only one of them will be wee-ing and poo-ing around the countryside  🙂

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