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 Itchyfeet's Blog

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PostSubject: Itchyfeet's Blog   Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:52 am

First topic message reminder :

I haven't tried Blog Writing before, but have put our first reflections of living in Bulgaria down in print so that we can look at them in a few years time:

Our last pieces of furniture from our home in Turkey finally turned up here in Bulgaria this past week and our two leather sofas that we bought off of Ebay many weeks ago are being collected from the UK to come here in the next few days.  This will complete our inventory of things much needed for sustaining life here in this former Communist country.  Whilst this is going on some of our wood has also arrived and is pilled up just inside our gate, these come in metre lengths but have to be cut up to useful sizes in readiness for putting on our wood burner in the coming Winter.  This means that I have to cut them up with the newly acquired Chain Saw in the coming weeks before another great load turn up to be cut up, we expect to use somewhere in the region of 15 cubic metres of wood to stave off the cold.  Thermal clothes are in abundance in our wardrobes and are being held in readiness for the Winter to come.    So as you can see this is an action packed Ranch style homestead that we are currently living in.   Our massive gate which keeps unwanted intruders from our property has wooden staves rather like "
South Fork"
and we need a lot of strength to get them open.

Our life here has changed from being Townies to "
The Darling Buds of May"
- I have been fortunate in securing my own Katherine Zeeta Jones in the personage of Annette and she has shown that our own Zeeta is up to the mark and has even outshone the real one in many ways.  On the other hand of course I can't help but feel that I have been short changed from some of the exciting and exhilarating things of the real one, but I am not complaining!!   Must remember to go to Specsavers when I am next in the UK.

The house seems to be full of furniture, nick knacks and most things and there is still boxes and bags to unpack, goodness knows where they will all go.  We moved out from an apartment in Turkey to this big house of 200 square metres and we still need more room, strange, but it appears to be the case.   The dogs are happy and spend most of their time smiling and looking at us and commanding attention with nuzzling our legs and arms until we put our hand out and stroke them.  Ayla is due for her clipping of her coat tomorrow, she looks more like a sheep wandering around the field as her coat seems to have grown even more than last year and so to keep her comfortable and cool it all has to come off.

It is in to Veliko Tarnovo tomorrow to get an air conditioner apart from other things, temperatures here seem to be higher than Turkey and come July and August it will be impossible to sleep without something to keep us cool.   The grass and weeds appear to grow at an alarming rate and the strimmer has been working hard in an effort to keep the field to a reasonable height, this means that anything that is hiding in the foliage has to get the hell out or stand the chance of being sliced by the saw blade on the end.  Endless snails have been topped whilst this extensive task is going on.   The snails here are huge and resemble almost half the size of a tennis ball, it wouldn't be so bad if there was only a few of them but the field is covered in them, there must be thousands hiding in the grass and weeds keenly watching out for the strimmer to pass by followed by me wielding the massive machine across our large field wishing that I hadn't started doing the job.  We assume that the Storks come here to eat them and this is what makes up most of their diet, there is the green Lizards of course, they are about a foot long and although their bodies are green, their heads are blue and they can change colour according to what surrounds them. So in all, a great change from living near the sea in the Aegean region of Turkey and also a great change from living in the UK.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:42 pm

[size=150:3mjg6h28]Cooking here in Bulgaria!

I've been cutting wood with the chain saw in freezing conditions today, but the alternative is to have a real cold day indoors, shame I hear you say!! The field has come into good use, but yesterday I tripped over the leg of the cutting block whilst walking past the wheelbarrow and injured both knees. I left the wheelbarrow in the way whilst carrying some wood indoors, so really my own fault. Poor old knees hurting a bit, my right knee has been bruised badly and last night I had to go up our stairs sideways one step at a time, a sad state of affairs, poor old f--t!!

Taking the dogs out on the tracks and roads is not too good at the moment with snow on top, but ice underneath, so a recipe for disaster laying there for some old soul, such as myself to walk along and fall headlong into whatever happened to be in the way, much safer to walk around our field with the dogs, they enjoy it anyway.

A few days ago we were invited to "
Bernards"
and enjoyed some Bulgarian cooking that he had prepared, which included some of his distilled BG Whisky and some Vino which he also makes as well. His Whisky was already poured into a heating pot and was sat there on his stove waiting to be poured into our small Bulgarian cups that Bernard had got from his cupboard. We assumed these cups are traditional because he often produces them when I am innocently passing by his house with the dogs and a nogging is enjoyed before continuing with my journey back to our house. So after the BG Whisky is poured our first delight appeared in the form of lovely sliced apples, this was followed by soup which had been seasoned with the fish that he had bought. Finally the main course was put in front of us and it was beautiful fish with potties and vegetables. A serving of Vino was necessary with the fish and a continuance of the Whisky followed not long afterwards. A hearty meal was consumed by all and after a few hours of talking in pigeon English and mustering as many Bulgaski words as we could it was time to head home and top up the wood burner before the house started to freeze.

The BG's have many bank holidays and days that they celebrate certain things, so the day was called "
Name Day"
what that really entails is still a mystery, but nevertheless Bernard informed us that it was his grandsons name day and he had been called Nickolay. His daughter and family live somewhere in London and they were over here yesterday in Varna, so Bernard phoned them for a chat while we were there, he was very emotional, please him. They also have an Independence Day which they celebrate in recognition of their freedom from the hammer and sickle days of the Russian Empire, most Bulgarians don't seem to have a good word for Russia any more and are pleased to be independent and nearly full members of the European Union.

Bernard came over to our place for Sunday dinner and like me he also had some injuries, but his injuries are from slipping on the ice, poor thing. He has a black eye, also his left hand is in a bandage and he has aches in his chest from falling over, so he was a poor sight to see. So he and I were in a sorry state with me limping around the kitchen with pain in my knee to reach the work top and cut the meat and Bernard looking as though he had been pulled through a hedge backwards, from the condition we were both in I believe we would have looked more at home in a soup kitchen!

After being served with his Sunday roasted pork meal he put some Bulgarian mustard on his pork and half way through eating the meal I made up some Colman's mustard for him to try, he duly tapped the Colman's mustard onto his plate with a spoon I had provided and then before I could stop him, he licked the spoon clean. Well . . . . I thought he was going to go into orbit by the expression on his face, it was a face of strain and agony with a strong burning sensation, but bless him he smiled when the effects had subsided and then went "
Whow"
in Bulgaski. Annette thought it was time to introduce him to some of our other English foods that we like and looked into our kitchen cupboards to see what we had for him to have a go at, the first thing she produced was some of that "
you only like it, or hate it stuff,"
you know what I mean don't you, yes the Marmite, a small amount was placed on a spoon for him to try and without hesitation he licked the spoon clean, he seemed to like that very much.

The pudding was now ready and Cherry pie was produced from the oven with lovely thick Bird's custard on top, it's no good giving someone runny custard is it, you have to present it in it's best condition and she placed this lovely pie with real thick custard in front of Bernard. Of course you have to understand that custard is not something that not many people outside the UK have tried and so another test was presented for him to try, he looked at this sight put before him with intrigue wondering what this yellow stuff was doing having been poured all over his pie and after his first taste, guess what . . . he loved it, who wouldn't!

Before Bernard went home I made some more Colman's Mustard for him and he put it in a container to take with him (he likes it so much!). He is coming over to our house tomorrow for Christmas Dinner and I wonder what he will make of my home made Chestnut and Cranberry stuffing, there will also be some bread sauce on the table as well, so another escapade into the unknown.

So after a hearty meal a successful day was brought to an end, but not without incident of course, we all enjoyed the meal, albeit with stops for the odd English made bites that we all like so much, the house was also nice and warm with the heat from the wood burner.

We very much hope that you enjoyed our exploits in this British Outpost, deep in the heart of Bulgaria.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:25 pm

Another good blog Itchyfeet but you really should have all your wood chopped long before the snow arrives and stacked very near your door and around the fire! Also go out with some kind of walking stick helps steady you in the ice and snow. Its so easy to fall when there is ice under the snow.
Name days are different to birthdays and everyone named after a saint celebrates by paying for the drinks or passing round chocolates!
Enjoy your Bulgarian life. s
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:27 pm

Fab!!! :Great:Well done Thanks Itchy enjoy both of them - You are certainly getting to grips with living in Bulgaria now. Remind me to birng you some horseradish got some last week and it nearly blew my head off - Bernard will love it c

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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:24 pm

Sorry about your and Bernard's aches and pains, hope there is no lasting damage.

Really enjoyed this latest installment, Mr Eq is wondering what is making me chuckle! Bernard obviously likes a bit of flavour with his food. Looking forward to after Christmas........... g

Mrs Eq

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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:46 am

Thank you thank you, this was a fantastic read and so refreshing, you obviously have a great sense of humor which is going to help you in your new life here in Bulgaria, along with a savory taste too.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:07 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Thank you thank you, this was a fantastic read and so refreshing, you obviously have a great sense of humor which is going to help you in your new life here in Bulgaria, along with a savory taste too.


Many thanks for your friendly comments. I shall be posting a story of our Christmas Dinner with Bernard very soon. As usual the day had some moments and I will be really pleased to share them with the Forum members.

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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:25 pm

[size=150:mqre4ed5]Christmas with Bernard!!

Well, here we are on Christmas Day in Bulgaria and we are very keen on making our Christmas like a traditional one in the UK. So what are the requirements? First of all is snow and we have mounds of it laying all over the place, the roofs on the house have 12 to 18 inches of it up there. Having looked around our loft it is clear that all the beams are substantial and all of them are oak beams. Next is the blazing wood burning fire and we have that, lastly is the hearth rug of course, which if we followed tradition would mean that we would have to relax on it. No problem there, only trouble is the dogs usually lay on it and roll all over it, but help is at hand, Annette had spent the past few days cleaning the house and all the carpets had a good clean with the vacuum cleaners and were now in a sterile and virgin condition. However, we were far from being in a sterile or least of all a virgin condition and so no laying on the hearth rug for us, especially with my knees after falling over in the snow, having got down on the hearth rug there was a good chance I wouldn't be able to get up again.

Last of all and important to all of us is sharing this magic moment with our families, but we are in the same situation as many British Expats, our families are back in the UK and the best contact we get is a Christmas card, or if we are really lucky a phone call. But all is not lost, we have Bernard arriving in a few hours for his Christmas Dinner English style and I had made some cranberry and chestnut stuffing which is seasoned with some oregano and thyme. After our last meal with him it was important that we presented the meal in it's best condition and that it consisted of food that we thought Bernard would enjoy.

I had gone down to his house in the morning to make sure that he understood what I had told him the day before and that he would be with us for this momentous occasion. So at 2.45 pm he arrived and made himself comfortable at the table at which point he delved into a very large holdall to extract the contents. First of all of course a bottle of Paskalevets Whisky appeared, which was quickly followed by two bottles of Paskalevets Vino and then to our utmost surprise he followed these with a lovely Christmas wreath which he had written on with the date and our names. We know that he had gone to great trouble to write our names because his Englisti is very limited and he must have met with someone who could do the translation for him.

Annette was now ready to start getting various dishes out of the oven and I was strolling around to the turkey to get slicing it because otherwise everything would either be overcooked or the roasted totties would get stuck to the bottom of the tray that they were being cooked on and then . . . "
ne, ne"
shouted Bernard and a halt was brought to the proceedings and when we turned around his hand was deep in his bag that he had brought with him. As his hand ascended from the bag out came some food in neat plastic cartons that we were unaware of, he produced red and green pickled peppers, a salad and six hard boiled eggs that he had taken the trouble to to take the shells off for us. So we sat down and without hurrying because that would be rude wouldn't it, consumed his delights that he had brought with him which included spices for the eggs and all of it was lovely. Whilst eating Bernard's delights there was the occasional "
chin, chin"
whilst the Paskalevets Whisky was consumed which was followed with his Vino with the main meal.

It was back to the turkey for me and back to the oven for Annette and much to our delight there was no more interruptions whilst we put the meal together which still looked OK although there had been the delay in presenting it to Bernard. He was amused to see us make bread sauce which came out of a packet of course, even so, he very much liked it, he also enjoyed my cranberry and chestnut stuffing and to our delight he liked the whole meal. I don't know whether it is traditional for BG's, but Bernard always eats his meat last and we sit there thinking does he like it or not, the meat sits on the edge of the plate until he has finished everything else and then he eats it all, perhaps he saves the best for last.

Much "
chin, chin"
was going on through the meal whilst we swigged the occasional glass of wine and I presented Bernard with a glass of Taylor's Port, he looked at it quite thoughtful and had a sniff of it and then a quick sip and all was well, who wouldn't like it anyway!! We talked for half an hour and grappled with as many Bulgaski words that we could with the aid of a phrase book come dictionary, it's wonderful what you can find in this book. Finally it was Christmas Pudding time and into the microwave it went, these puddings are done in just over 3 minutes and I remember my Mum with the same pudding in a saucepan of simmering water for what seems hours when she did one. Just to make it tasty, a spray can of cream was used, Bernard was not too sure about the cream, but thoroughly enjoyed it and the pudding.

So it was a traditional Christmas meal for us, as much as we could make it considering we live here in BG, also combined with some of Bernard's traditional delights. He enjoyed himself with us, which pleased us because he lives on his own and as the dark started to descend a quick "
chow chow"
and off he trotted down the road to his residence, which he appeared to do reasonably steadily, but not particularly in a straight line!!
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:38 pm



Glad everything went off ok and Bernard enjoyed his meal. Thank you for sharing the tale with us. It's great that you have such a character for a neighbour, and let us enjoy him too. g

Mrs Eq

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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:03 pm

Wonderful Itchy! fab ready and delighted you all enjoyed your first Christmas in BG. g

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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:43 pm

Great read and you had a great Bulgarian Christmas too and I expect it will be 1 of many. T
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:42 pm

Thank you for the lates insalment and lets hope there are many more to come.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:12 pm

Bernard sounds a real character and a very nice man.Always enjoy reading about your day to day Bulgarian experiences.
Look forward to the 2013 installments.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:13 am

A lovely Christmas story Itchyfeet. Thoroughly enjoyed it but I have to ask - is Bernard his real name or one you have given him? Originally we gave our village friends nicknames before we got our tongues around the real Bulgarian ones. I haven't come across a Bernard! No matter - its a good name for your story.
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:13 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
A lovely Christmas story Itchyfeet. Thoroughly enjoyed it but I have to ask - is Bernard his real name or one you have given him? Originally we gave our village friends nicknames before we got our tongues around the real Bulgarian ones. I haven't come across a Bernard! No matter - its a good name for your story.

Hi oldun - one of my earlier stories tells the tale of where Bernard came from and it tells that we had trouble remembering his real name which is long and requires a bit of tongue twisting to pronounce. At the time I thought he looked rather like Bernard Manning and that is where his name came from. But we have learnt of another name that he uses which he put on the Christmas wreath that he gave us and that is Tsonev. When I looked at the name he puts above his gate presumaably for the Ghost Postman that never calls, it reads B Tsonev, so it appears that the BG's are happy using their surname as well as their christian names.

He enjoys being called Bernard, but I have since called him Tsonev and he is more than happy with that. Bless him.

As you say that you have used nick names and we have always done the same, it does make it clear at least to each who we are talking about and makes life easier from that point of view. I once worked with a Gordon Bennett, he of course didn't need a nick name! Poor soul!

c
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PostSubject: Re: Itchyfeet's Blog   Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:35 am

[size=150:4m204sfj]A Normal Day in the Summer?

Taking down a chimney that has been built with the house many years ago would not really present much of a problem to most people.  But this is our house we are talking about and this is Bulgaria and so our newly appointed workman John and his team arrive in readiness for this momentous occasion and guess what . . . the chimney has a bees nest in it!!  Now in an ordinary neighbourhood this would present a huge problem, but no, this is Paskalevets a tiny village nestled in the far outback of Bulgaria and we have a bee keeper that lives near us.  John naturally panics with these things as they start wizzing around his neck whilst he is perched high up on the roof and so do his two workmen who have only come to take the chimney down, after all they didn't expect this when they got out of bed to start the day.  A quick visit to the Bee Keepers house and within minutes he is in the car being taken to our house to bring what would have been a tumultuous day into some form of order.  Once arrived at our house a long gaze is given to the chimney with a few dozen bees buzzing around it and his hands descend into his tool kit to get things going.

First thing out was his hat with a long gauze which he puts on and tucks into his shirt, next thing is his puffer, this is not an ordinary puffer, it has to be lit with something so that it smokes a lot!!  Some paper and a couple of eaten corn on the cobs are produced and put into the wretched thing, within minutes smoke is puffing out all over the place with the bee keeper squeezing the bellows on the back of this intricate looking machine.  Having got the puffer smoking nicely he climbed up two sets of ladders to reach the chimney and the now active bees who were wondering what the hell was going on while they were trying to deliver their goods to the queen bee while Mr Bee Keeper was up there watching them.

The Bee Keeper settled himself behind the chimney and proceeded to remove each brick by hand which was easy because they were all loose.  To our horror he wasn't wearing gloves or socks and his skin was exposed for the nasties to have a sting if they so required, but he was enjoying himself with a big smile on his face and proceeded to remove the bricks until he got near the bottom.  At this point two or three hundred bees appeared and were buzzing around his head quite peturbed at what was going on and at this point the two workers who were catching the bricks he was throwing to him put out an urgent appeal for gloves and some coats to wear although it was 25C in the shade!!  The Bee Keeper had now really got to the bottom of the chimney and was always looking for the queen bee, who, incidentally was worth money to him and in one slow but careful move removed the queen and put her in a bucket together with 3 or 4 hundred bees that were keen to protect her.   A few more bricks were removed together with some honeycomb and that was the job done. he climbed down the ladders and proceeded to show us the spoils of the few hours work, there in this bucket was hundreds of the stingey things, but they were happy thankfully to stay there and leave us alone.

John and his team returned to the roof and replaced the chimney with tiles and all was well with a nice roof now covered completely with tiles and no nasty chimney that had been leaking water when it rained.  In all. it was an interesting day for all of us, especially as we kept our feet firmly on the ground for a quick getaway into the house if the bees showed any nastiness.  I am sure we could have written another episode for the Darling Buds of May with all this happening, my own Catherine Zeeta was plying everyone with Coke and Coffee while the chimney was being removed and everybody had a good day, we very much hope that your day has been good as well.
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