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2013/02
Monday 25th February, 2013
Category: 2013/02
Tags: renovations clay oven

Exactly eight years ago yesterday I was in a bar in Veliko Tarnovo, trying to count out the deposit on my house after downing two neat vodkas - not an easy task.  Yes that was the day I signed on the dotted line and began the journey which, eight years later, sees me living the life of my dreams here in Bulgaria.  Not that the place looks very dream like at the moment.  The next phase of building works began in earnest on Saturday morning when Toncho & Co arrived to demolish the garden wall.  It took them just one day to turn it all into a pile of rocks (much like the rest of the garden) which they are now rebuilding into a much straighter and hopefully more solid wall:

          

These pictures show the demolished wall, the beginnings of a new foundation layer, and the first layers going in.  

The plan is to also insert metal rods at intervals to which a wooden fence will be added so that I will end up with a 2m high boundary wall/fence which should hopefully keep out the dogs and any unsavoury characters.  The first night after demolition was weird because I felt like the property was very vulnerable and kept peeking out of the window expecting to see half a dozen people in the garden.  

Whilst they have been slogging away hard at work, I have been plodding along still tackling the wretched veggie patch.  To be fair I have almost finished the area I intend to use, though the last few square metres are solid clay (as well as the millions of rocks) and really horrible to turn over.  I have so far uncovered 4 huge boulders (there were 5, but hats off to Nikolai who happened to be passing and managed to lift one out for me) which will need some muscle to remove.  It has annoyed me that the workmen who did the very first renovations thought it was okay to bury so much rock in the garden.  Why not just leave it piled up at one side??  I hope to use the flat stones as a border around the base of the house, or for the vinery area and I had the idea of using a lot of the others as a colourful border at the base of the fence.  I could paint them all in different bright colours and have them all the way along the wall.  Perhaps I could even get visitors to each do their own!  In my mind it seems a good idea and should look pretty jazzy when done.  Tomorrow Vlado and Macho should be here to help get out the boulders and a couple of tree stumps. Once they've done that I will finish digging the veggie plot and mark out the border neatly.  I've already started off various seeds in the shed so fingers crossed for a bumper harvest!

 Disheartening mess which will be a lovely veggie plot.

My other little project (since discovering the clay in the garden) has been to try and mend the clay oven which broke.  I've had lumps of clay sitting in water to make them pliable and have begun slapping it over the frame I made from sticks and paper:

   

If all goes well I will need to light a fire inside it to bake the inner layer and so make it strong.  One of the cats has already made their mark, which I'm sure felt lovely and squidgy between the toes!

Saturday 23rd February, 2012
Category: 2013/02
Tags: slow worm coin garden

Yesterday I finally finished the first digging over of the veggie patch - well, veggie patch part one anyway.  There are several other areas to be cultivated but which are so far blocked by mounds of rock, tree stumps and old timbers.  I must confess the digging has been very slow and exhausting because of the phenomenal amount of stone buried just beneath the surface.  I suppose when the first renovations were being done, the builders dumped all the rock in the garden, used what they needed and then decided to hide the rest!  At least I have a fine collection of flat slabs which will either do for the top of the garden wall (more on that to come) or for my planned grape vine area.  Whilst I was digging I was hoping to turn up hoards of treasures - old pots, tools from a bygone era etc - but it was not to be.  Apart from the tons of rock there have been numerous chunks of broken glass, a few bits of plastic, some scrap metal and a lot of earthworms.  I did find a couple of interesting things though.  One was a one lev coin dating from 1962:

   

There were also a couple of broken pieces of pottery with nice patterns on, and this little fellow:

 (Click the picture for a video)

It's a very young slow worm who presumably was happily snoozing beneath the soil until I dug him him (or her?)  Molly was very excited so I had to keep her away so that Mr Squiddly didn't become lunch.  I'm told that they're a sign of clean soil so that's a bonus unless of course he decides to chomp through all my veggie seedlings when they go in.

I began sowing some seeds in small pots today and so far I have a tray of flowers, some courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.  I might play it safe and also buy some ready grown seedlings from the market later on.  As well as these I have lettuces, sweetcorn, runner beans, parsnips, onions and squash which will more than fill the little plot I've dug over.  Just need to plan what order to arrange the plants in when I put them out.  No doubt Baba Ivanka will have plenty of input in the matter.

Here is the plot I've dug though I have also removed all the clumps of weeds since these pictures were taken:

   

Tuesday 19th February, 2013
Category: 2013/02
Tags: Vasil Levski

Yesterday was the 140th anniversary of the death of Vasil Levski though since the 1950s this event has been commemorated on the 19th February each year instead.  Vasil Levski spent most of his adult life in the fight to free Bulgaria from the rule of the Ottomans, travelling to any parts of the country and establishing rebel groups.  It was in 1862 that he received the nickname 'Levski' meaning leonine.  (Interestingly the Bulgarian currency - lev - means lion).  He was captured by the Ottomans in 1872 and sentenced to death by hanging.  This took place in Sofia on February 18th, 1973.  He was just 35 years old.

There have been events all across the country to remember his death as well as TV events, so this evening I headed into Dryanovo to see the commemoration there.  About halfway along the main high street there is a church with a clock tower and in the square next to this stands the statue of Vasil Levski.  At 6pm the church bells tolled and the circle of children all lit their torches.

Off to one side a man and woman took turns at relating the events of Levski's life accompanied by a slide show projected onto the wall of the building showing revolutionary scenes, and photos of Levski and the places of relevance to him.  I think the man also read a poem though I am guessing this mostly by the tone of voice he used.

A small choir sang a couple of songs,

 (Click picture to see video)

and the major of Dryanovo made a speech.  Everyone was then invited to kneel whilst wreaths of flowers were laid by the statue.

It was a very interesting event to witness and clearly the Bulgarians are extremely proud of this national hero.  I half wondered if the spirit of revolution will spur people on during the current climate of protest against fuel prices and corruption or if fighting the powers that be is something inherent in every Bulgarian anyway.

Molly of course elected to stay home!

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