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.

Wednesday 18th April 2018
Category: 2018/04
Tags: car boot sale retaining wall veggies bugs

Last Sunday we had the first car boot sale in Gostilitsa, down on the stadium field. It's part of our ongoing efforts to raise funds for this year's HorsePower Festival on September 1st, and we actually had a great turn out of both sellers and buyers.

I had my own little stall with a few bits, out of which the plants proved to be most popular, especially the veggies.

Intriguingly, the guy who had been annoyed about my dog walking the other day, came over all smiles, shook my hand, bought the sander off me, and was very jolly and chatty. In my heart I like to believe this was an olive branch, but either way it feels very good to know I haven't made a mortal enemy in the village.

The retaining wall project is now complete, and I'm thrilled at how it turned out in the end (actually, I'm mostly thrilled that I can't make the bricks move when I try and push on them).

It's been planted up with a few herbs and strawberries which will hopefully take off and trail all over the sides to hide the bricks. If not, I might just give them a good scrub with a wire brush and slap a couple of coats of white paint on (the bricks tha is, not the plants!)

There's been a bumper crop of these little red firebugs this year, and they've taken to having mating parties all over my remaining winter cabbages, happily sitting there, bum to bum and chomping on the leaves:

Someone gave me a load of old net curtains last summer, so I've salvaged the good bits and had a go at wrapping the cabbages. I shall probably find that I've just cocooned the bugs inside where they can eat to their hearts' content without fear of predation from birds or other wildlife.

One cabbage has been left unwrapped, and if all goes to plan, that will be the sacrificial decoy.  I'm trying to plan my planting a bit better this year regarding companion planting, and have made a big list of which of my veggies do and don't get along. It turns out the spuds are surprisingly fussy, and will only tolerate my beans, but other things have been matched up in the veggie area. I'm most excited to see what my red sweetcorn turns out like - hopefully juicy and tasty!

To see pictures from today's blog, click here.



Friday 13th April, 2018
Category: 2018/04
Tags: asparagus snails bean seeds mulberry tree garden wall

I only just realised today is Friday the 13th, and perhaps that explains why I've been told off twice in as many days. Yesterday I was indoors late afternoon when I heard sounds of chainsawing coming from next door. A quick peak out the window showed branches being lopped off the mulberry tree at the bottom of their garden. One of the sisters who owns the house had mentioned some months ago about getting her brother-in-law to do this as the estate agent had mentioned it was making the garden look too cluttered for potential buyers. So, now the planned tree-felling was taking place. Mr Chainsaw shouted for me so I went out into the garden.

Do you want these branches? he asked, pointing at several which were due to fall on my side of the shed roof anyway. Sure thing, I told him, I can always make use of kindling.  He began pushing the branches over into my garden. This is all because of you, he said, accusingly. It's blocking your view. I was momentarily stunned before telling him I'd said nothing about the tree at all, and that the sister had said she wanted it cutting down for the house sale. And do tell me what else I'm guilty of, I continued. He rapidly conceded defeat. Well, it's an ugly tree anyway, he said, they grow too big.

Complaint number two came this morning. I'd been awake since about 5am and so decided to take the dogs for an early walk up to the top of the village (just in case there were any new tasty pickings at the dump). It must have been about 7.30 when we set off, though already quite hot. We had our walk (I came back with a Flintstones story book) but just as I was opening the gate a car came to a flying halt outside. It was the farmer from the house along the street. Your dogs woke the baby up, he said. Why don't you go and walk down there (pointing towards the stadium). Apparently when his dog barked upon hearing mine passing, the baby was startled awake. So it was your dog who woke the baby, I clarified, your dog barked. He wasn't happy. Walk them after 8 o'clock and not so early, he said before driving off. Do you know, if he'd just mentioned it in a slightly politer manner it wouldn't be so bad, something along the lines of sorry to bother you but do you mind walking the dogs after 8 if you're coming past my house... Perhaps my brain is still too entrenched in British niceties.

I've been busy DIYing in the garden again, this time trying to create a bit of a disguise for the septic tank area. I've had a few tubs of herbs around there but fancied the idea of making a retaining wall so that the fumes might not drift up towards the patio so easily, and being in full on cementing mode, having just finished capping the second part of the garden wall, I decided to crack on with the project. It's extremely rough and ready, and will probably collapse the first time a cat jumps on it, but in my mind's eye it will be an oasis of lovely scented herbs trailing down, mixed with a gaudy display of summer flowers.

When I moved the bricks that the tubs had been standing on I was shocked to find a very well established snail colony.

It's a wonder I had any herbs in those tubs at all! I was going to throw them all over the fence for Baba Ivanka's chickens, but then I relented and transferred them to a patch of undergrowth in the park.

The veggie planting is still moving along nicely, and the other day I planted some bean seeds. I have a stunning collection of assorted colours of bean seeds given to me by Ivanka, and have previously randomly sown them, but then never knew which seeds the nicest beans had come from. So, this year I am being a bit more methodical. I've selected 4 varieties and have sown them in twos along the bean poles. I've also made a photographical record of the beans so I'll know exactly which seeds the pods come from. Clever, huh?

My little asparagus plants are in their third year now and so I'm able to harvest the little spears for the first time. Very tasty they were too!

To see pics of snails, asparagus, a million tree branches, and more, click here.



Friday 6th April 2018
Category: 2018/04
Tags: garden veggies squid Easter Dryanovo football candle-making

There's something fundamentally flawed about the design of hole in the ground toilets, at least with the ones with the proper metal foot pads. No matter how I try and line myself up or adjust position mid-flow I always end up with a delightful shoeful. This doesn't happen out in the wilds, therefore I must conclude it's the loo at fault and not me. Point in case yesterday when I was forced to make a trip down into the depths of the community centre from whence I returned slightly damper. Even more gutting I happened to be wearing a pair of brand new pumps I'd only bought the day before.  Thankfully the shoes were a phenomenal bargain at a mere 4.50 levs (just over £2), part of a post stress shopping trip on Wednesday.

I'd made an appointment to see a lawyer regarding some advice on the citizenship process, and made my way into a baking hot VT on Wednesday afternoon to see her. I left a bit later than planned and hadn't allowed for a) following the satnav whilst avoiding breaking the law as it told me to turn the wrong way up a one-way street b) finding a parking space within a 10 mile radius of the lawyer's office and c) discovering that number 2a on the street was actually several hundred yards away from number 2 which I'd arrived at. Anyway, I made it eventually and had a good chat with her about all the documents, and formulated a plan of action for later in the summer. The ensuing shopping spree was my reward. There's a brilliant shop on the outskirts of VT called Denzil's where you can buy all manner of plastic junk and luminous trainers, and at the moment pretty much everything is half price. I came out with two packs of huge clothes pegs (for securing the bubble wrap round my greenhouse), some pretty stickers (for making birthday cards), a pair of cotton trousers and three pairs of shoes for 22 levs. Love it!

It's Easter week here in Bulgaria, hence my being in the community centre yesterday as it was egg decorating day. This year we were allowed to take our eggs home with us, so I have a carton of brightly coloured creations in the fridge ready to smash competetively against other people's on Sunday.  Dryanovo has various events on all week, and were advertising a candle making workshop on Wednesday morning. The photo with the ad showed some lovely beeswax candles and I envisioned coming away with some beautiful honeycombed hand rolled creation. I checked the location of the event with the organisers who confirmed it was in the square down by the police station.

Well, a friend and I turned up there in plenty of time to find no sign of candle making anywhere. The next half hour involved going into random buildings (community centre library, some other citizens advice place, Kolyo Ficheto museum) where people who had no idea about the event suggested various places we should try. The last place we tried asking was the town hall and finally someone who knew of the workshop. It turned out to be in a little room at the back of the town hall. Excitedly we entered the room (only 20 minutes late for a two hour workshop) to be told by the five occupants that it was over! I was peeved to say the least. To make up for the disappoinment I was given a tiny red tea-light (thankfully there were no beautiful beeswax candles to be seen so I guess we didn't miss much) and my suggestion that it might be an idea to put a sign up on the door so people would know where to go, was met with blank stares. One of the things I find irritating in Bulgaria - events are put on but there's no concept of actually caring if anyone turns up or not!

Having lots of time left we headed down to the sports stadium where a children's football tournament was underway. There's a huge tall chimney stack nearby with a stork's nest on top, so we were treated to some pretty close views of one of the storks gliding down towards the river.

Everything is flourishing in the garden at the moment (including the lawn weeds which had their first cut of the year this week).

The veggie seedlings are growing well though there have been the usual casualties from overwatering or too much heat. Some are staying out in the greenhouse overnight, and it's just the best tomato seedlings, peppers and cucumbers which still come inside.

The spring flowers have really come on nicely, and this year there's actually a good splash of colour from bulbs and primroses.

It's all looking much fuller now than it used to, though there's still plenty of room for another thousand plants from the garden centre. (I'm busy saving my 2 lev coins for the next visit).

And finally, I cooked squid for the first time this week. They were selling it off cheap in Lidls, so I bought a pack (which promptly leaked all over the conveyer belt at the check-out) and cooked it up with some tomatoes.  Very tasty it was too, so I think it will be on the menu again.

To see lots of pictures from this blog entry, click here.



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