Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

To save space, the most recent blog entry will have relevant pictures in it, but after that the photos will be moved to Flickr for storage, and a link to them added to the blog post. If you want to see all the photos anyway then visit the Gostilitsa Flickr page here.

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There is now a separate site with information on living in Bulgaria, including:

  • An introduction to Gostilitsa and all it has to offer
  • Day to day practicalities of shopping, paying bills, banking, insurance
  • Healthcare matters for people and pets
  • Public transport and issues relating to car ownership
  • Becoming a Bulgarian resident and learning the language
  • Tourism, public holidays, festivals, places to visit, hiking routes

Click here for the link.


Unfortunately I've been having an increasing number of problems with storage on this site, so I've decide to continue the diary section elsewhere. Click here for the link to the new site.  The old diary entries will remain here for anyone wishing to delve into the murky past

Tagged with "weather"
Sunday 10th December, 2017
Category: 2017/12
Tags: weather turnips wool

I was peering into my winter veggie bed the other day (at the moment it's completely cocooned in green plastic to protect the veg from being swamped by snow or damaged by severe frost) when I noticed that some of the things which struggled to get going all through summer are now flourishing quite nicely.

The kale has developed quite long leaves - not in vast numbers but enough for a meal from each plant - and the savoy cabbages are finally getting little round hearts to them. Best of all are the turnips which suffered badly from flea beetles turning the leaves to a network of lace and remained quite small and spindly till recently. Now they have dense crowns of leaves and signs of actual turnips under the soil! I pulled one out just to see what they looked like and was pleased to find a nice white root, sort of like a fat parsnip. The turnip was duly washed and peeled and then chopped up along with onions, garlic, pork and plums to make a fruity dish accompanied by rice and spinach.

I've still to find a successful means of roasting the beets and squash without them going too soggy, as I think it would be nice to have a selection of roasted veggies instead of the usual spuds. Maybe I need to cut them into smaller chunks and have the oven really hot to get a nice crispy outer layer. I have all winter to experiment!

Speaking of winter, I took the dogs on a walk Saturday morning up to the top of the village. It was glorious sunshine and felt hot in just a t-shirt, and would you believe, sitting there on the hillside I could still see little crickets hopping around chirping, and butterflies!

Then, less than 24 hours later the ground is covered in a few inches of icy snow. Crazy weather!

I keep putting off shutting down the outside water as it's so useful for filling up the animals' drinking bowls, but I guess I should get on and do it to avoid getting leaks from frozen pipes. Hopefully, now that the main switch for the outside taps is sunk underground it should be a bit more protected from any severe low temperatures, though looking at the forecast it's nothing like as white and cold as it was this time last year.

I still like to have the log fire going though, especially in the evening, and I've now made a very cosy couch right next to one of the radiators. I mainly did it to have some extra comfy seating for when I have visitors as the settee only seats three people and it's weird to all be sitting side by side in a row. So I brought down the camp bed, which has been living unused up on the balcony since moving here, bulked it out with some of my big scatter cushions, and then covered it with a gorgeous double sided fur blanket which I bought from a second hand shop in Gabrovo. I curl up on there when I'm watching telly in the evening, usually with a mug of tea keeping warm on the radiator next to me, a bowl of snacks by my side, and at least one animal snuggled down next to me. Bliss!


Monday 31st July, 2017
Category: 2017/07
Tags: Mazalat hiking veggies weather

At this time of year the veggie patch starts to bear fruit, and I develop an ever stronger urge to patrol the rows of greenery several times a day to chart progress, harvest crops and urge on the stragglers.

After a slow and troublesome start earlier this year, the raised beds are doing a fantastic job, with the only weeds being the ones sprouting from unrotted manure (mostly grass) and these are very easy to remove.

I've just done a mad photography session with the new camera (practising with different settings to see which give the clearest results) so here's a quick round up of what's currently growing in the garden: Turnip; beetroot; mange tout; kale; chillis; cucumber; 4 kinds of beans; potatoes; spinach; peppers; parsnips (sadly only a few); butternut squash; sweetcorn; asparagus (not to be harvested until next year); white and green courgettes; 5 varieties of tomato; lettuce and rocket. Add to that the garlic, onions and shallotts which have already been harvested - I'm beyond thrilled! The potatoes are much nicer this year (last year's were savaged by underground slugs) and as soon as I get any sprouting bits I shall pop them back in the soil to see if I can get a late autumn harvest too.

We had some mad weather late last week, with torrential rain, thunder, lightning and even a hailstorm. Luckily there was no damage to anything in the garden.

I was really luckily that the stormy weather didn't hit a day earlier because I was away at that time hiking in the mountains with a couple of friends!

We'd gone up to Uzana and then along a lane to one of the hiking huts (Partizanski Pesen) where we'd left the car. From there it was about a three hour hike to the next hut - Mazalat.

It's a lovely place with dormitories holding around 10 beds, proper toilets (always a luxury), plenty of hot water for the shower, and inside and outside seating/dining areas. The scenery round about was, as always, stunning.

We checked in and then left much of our baggage in the bedroom before continuing our day's walking westward along the trail. Our first target was a place known as the Singing Rocks.

They get their name from the sound they make whenever there's a strong wind blowing up from the south, but unfortunately for us we were there on a hot calm day and the rocks didn't make a peep. (I bet they were belting out some songs in the next day or two with the storms!)

There was plenty of noise from the insects around though as all the moorland was full of wildflowers of all kinds. One insect we saw a lot of were huge grasshoppers:

They were all actually on the narrow walking path and didn't hop out of the way when you walked by. On closer examination they all had their long rear spike wedged into the ground which made us wonder if they were all laying eggs.

At one point as we climbed higher and higher we passed a large herd of horses amongst whom were several gorgeous little foals.

I must admit I found the hike a struggle which surprised me because last year's walk to Botev involved a much higher climb and carrying a large pack, and I don't recall huffing and puffing half as much. This time I found myself stopping ever more frequently to catch my breath and foolishly didn't take anywhere near enough water to drink and so had to ration it a bit. Maybe it was the heat that made the walk more tiring, but we continued onwards until about 4pm (hoping to reach the Thundering Forest) but by that time we were a good 3 hour walk from the hut and so turned about and headed back.

From where we were walking we could see across to Uzana, Buzludzha, Gabrovo, Sevlievo and Mt Botev at various points.

Back at the hut we showered and had a much needed drink, and then later on had some dinner. We chose Shopska salad and a hearty dish of shredded cabbage in a sauce with a massive chunk of tender pork. We took it out to the shelter to eat, where there were benches and a huge fireplace. A group of Bulgarians next to us were cooking a mixture of tomatoey beans and sausages in a huge pan, and when it was done they brought us a bowl and some bread to share. Boy was it tasty!

We sat in the shelter playing cards and talking till night fell, and then I headed up to bed.

The next day we had a breakfast of French toast and jam before hiking back to the car. From there we drove back into Uzana and had a quick look at one of the new stone shelters which have been built down one of the tracks. It's a big stone structure, open on one side, with wide wooden benches down two sides, a wooden table and log seats, and a massive stone fireplace at the far end. Apparently anyone can turn up, light a fire and spend a night. So our plan is to pick a warm night, bring our sleeping bags and some food etc, and then spend the night there in front of the fire (which should keep any hungry bears at bay!) Always love having an adventure to look forward to.

Click here for the link to today's photos.



Monday 13th March, 2017
Category: 2017/03
Tags: weather snow dairy snails

I have completely and utterly jinxed the weather in so many ways: shaving my legs, wearing shorts and vest top, boasting in the last blog entry...  So now I'm sitting looking towards the nearby hills which are completely enshrouded in mist and watching slushy snow settling on the grass and feeling all cut off and miserable. I have high hopes for the weekend onwards though as my daily scrutinisation of the weather forecast promises sunshine and warmth, ahhh.

I shouldn't be surprised really as every March so far has produced a flurry of snow at some point, it's just that those early glorious days of sunshine lull you into a false sense of 'summer's here' and I so want to be able to sit outside again.

My early planting schedule may have hit a bit of a setback, though the planted areas (leeks, parsnips, carrots and radishes) are all covered over with plastic sheeting and, aside from the radishes, have yet to germinate so maybe they'll come bursting through once the temperatures rise again. The indoor planting is faring better with the tomatoes all looking strong and healthy and peppers just beginning to come through.

I'm not at home very much these days as I'm looking after other people's pets whilst they're away and tend to just pop down to mine to feed everyone and sometimes light the fire to keep the house warm (Alfie and Bella enjoy a prolonged sniff at my shoes and trousers each time I come home whereas the cats just want to fly indoors as if there's some kind of banquet being laid on in there) .

It was during this past week that I learned something new about the dairy down by the Yantra river. It was a dairy for many years and then seemed to shut for a while (during which time I availed myself of the broken pallet boards to make my compost bin). A while ago it seemed to be back in business and I assumed as a dairy. Apparently not. I've been told that the business there is now snails of all things! I don't know if they're breeding them or if it's just a processing plant for ones found in the locality, and my informant seems to think they must be headed for Spain or France as there isn't a huge demand in Bulgaria for them. It makes me think that I should stop slinging the huge beasts I find nibbling my flowers and veggies over the fence and start driving them down to the ex-dairy to turn into stotinkis. This time next year, readers, I'll be a millionaire. Lovely jubbly.


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