Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Leko Po Leko

I'm sure at least one of you is wondering why it has taken over 3 months for me to update the blog.  Well despite this being about us and our life here the reasons concern others so you're only getting edited highlights, or lowlights, in this case.   Different people, close to us, in 2 different countries have managed to hurt us by their actions and whilst we can't control the actions of others they still impact on us, so much so that a lot of thoughts and possible courses of action have taken precedence over moving our life and home here forwards.    The situations still aren't resolved but we are slowly moving  ourselves back on course, my view is as the person causing me  heartache won't be alive for much longer (also a cause of distress) disrupting my life to pander to them is not an option.   Paul is also moving forward but hurting a lot more than I am, so although we haven't discussed it in depth I suspect he is not yet clear on his course forward. Whatever others may think our priority has to be our own long term well being, and any decisions made will be based on that mindset.

I'm slowly learning to 'ignore' the tremors we feel from earthquakes in Romania, although one early hours of the morning, in September, did have me walking around the house, workshop and compound doing a burglar check before I realised what had woken me.   Luckily we seem to be far enough away for no damage to be caused, although day after earthquake is always a check property day.     We also rearranged the furniture in the kitchen/diner for winter living, just before we entered an Indian summer with the temperatures soaring again, pity we had already dismantled the pool and put it away for winter.    As a result of moving the furniture we decided the pechka (woodburner) would be better on a different wall, so we needed to locate some tiles that would match the stone cladding.   This we did, Paul tiled the wall, we moved the pechka and found out that location was not as good at heating the whole area, so pechka got moved back, but at least we don;t need to paint that bit of wall now.    September saw us replacing the chickens that had gone as fox food, the place we got them from had far too high a cockerel to hen ratio and it took the birds some weeks to regrow their feathers, also as they were aviary, rather than free range, birds they are still much more skittish than our previous flocks.

September and October witnessed 'plot 5' being cleared and some of the raised beds being built.    Much use was made of stakes and twine rearranging the layout to maximise returns whilst being usable and visually pleasing.    The 2 main beds will be built in spring, after we take delivery of 2000 bricks (ouch).     As I intend growing in this area during 2017, assuming I get it fenced off, from the livestock, not all the proposed beds will be completed next year and some growing still be at ground level.   Rome wasn't built in a day.    One of the biggest uses of time with the raised beds is filling them, luckily as we have been using next doors barn (unoccupied property) for storing cornstalks, as did the previous occupants of this house, there is some very nice compost/soil,  it just means half filling feed bags and moving them over, any fuller and I can't lift

First of the raised beds, built and filled

We had workawayers (they provide 25 hours work in exchange for bed and meals) from Taiwan,
Spain, UK, New Zealand & Sardinia,  they ranged from 'great' to 'yes well' but all helped move things along here, for which we are grateful.   One of the things I find difficult to do, more than normal, whilst we have helpers here is work on the book, but hopefully first draft will be sent to publishers early next year.

Dojin helping Paul makes a Bodgers Bench

Luis getting to grips with the lathe, he made some nice pieces.

Possibly our (Paul's) biggest achievement in recent months has been the, obtaining materials for and, building of a covered walkway along the back of the kitchen/diner.   The roof of this area has had our first (hopefully more to follow) solar panel put in, whilst it's unlikely we will switch totally over to solar, at least in the foreseeable, it's a start.   In addition having the kitchen basic structure in for the past year, and a bit, I'm finding the areas that don't work as well, like the back of cupboards,  Paul has volunteered himself to make bespoke 'drawers; once I tell him what each area will need to contain.

The area to be covered

Having the walkway means it's easier for Paul to fit the cladding
Walkway, and solar panel, installed pre cladding

I don't know if I have mentioned previously my challenge, to myself, of making curtains for the mezzanine windows ... well they are still not made but freezers have been organised and filled with assorted pies, clothes have been organised, rooms have been tidied.    I did have a friend come over to help convince me the sewing machine doesn't hate me and although it behaved well while she was here it quickly reverted to its previous  malignant behaviour

December was a month of seeing many more people than normal.   A friend who had borrowed our old Audi returned it, bringing with her a friend we hadn't seen in a long time, one without who our mezzazine wouldn't be as awesome as it is, so that was lovely.  We visited the big bad city as we had to go and collect a CO2 regulator from someone who had brought one from Uk for us, we can get the cannisters of CO2 here but not the regulator??  only in Bulgaria   LOL.    Another day we visited friends with new piglets, sadly we are not ready, emotionally, financially or housing wise, to get our own source of crackling and bacon at this time ... one day.   Solstice we had friends over for lunch.   December also marks the beginning of us feeding the neighbours cat for a few months,  sadly the first snowfall we had convinced Illiya that even with us just around the corner it was not in his best interests, healthwise, to stay in the village over winter, so he has moved to his daughters, in the city.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Social Media Destroying Society

Once upon a land in a time not too far away the internet, and by association social media, was a concept of science fiction stories.

In those halcyon days people fell out with each other, they disagreed, they sulked for a few days/weeks/months and then something happened and communication recommenced and friendships often returned to the pre-argument days.

School play grounds were full of ever changing friendship groups, based on person A being mean to person B (real or imagined) so person C forced to choose which person they liked more, when in fact person C had no idea about what was going on and couldn't understand why they couldn't be friends with both.

Work places also saw these changing dynamics.  Fred wrote a report which had an adverse knock on effect for his colleagues.    This  resulted in Fred being ostracised during lunch breaks but then after a few weeks the full effect of his suggestions started showing positive benefits for those colleagues and the dynamics changed again.

Sometimes that return to the previous relationship was accompanied by laughter and merriment, as well as confusion over how they could have been so silly to allow such a misunderstanding   deprive them of each others companionship.

Then into these times of arguments and misunderstandings the internet, a tool of research and communication over vast distances, arrived.   Initially this important tool of communication was reserved for the educated, the professionals, the elite but eventually it was made available to the general populous.    Why was such a powerful tool made available to all (who could afford it)?    Some say it allows the masses to become more informed, others say it's to encourage the belief in freedom, most saw it as a way of increasing communication between all.

With the purported aim of increasing communication various social media sites (purely philanthropic and by no means a marketing weapon) were promoted to the masses and embraced with much enthusiasm.     Sadly this new form of communication is a bit like a newborn, it came without an operators manual, old 'rules' didn't seem to apply and a whole new modus operandi was needed, and not just for the older users.

Similarities to the school ground scenario could be seen by people taking offence at comments made by a friends friend and deciding to penalise the long term friend for associating with people who espoused such outrageous views.    Other people would take offence at a friend posting pictures of many social gatherings they had never been invited to, rather than say (privately) 'hey, looks like you had a great time, is there a reason I never get invited to these fun things'  they may brood and feel insecure, bottling up these feelings until they over-react and lose a good friend - who's only 'sin' is to have other friends who invite them out.

I will admit to being guilty of some major mistakes with the new communication system, someone was regularly posting information that had a cumulative negative effect on my peace of mind so I removed them from my contacts.   I later discovered site  has a function which would have enabled me to simply stop seeing their posts, thereby keeping me happy and not offending them.     I also discovered that if I was having a conversation with someone else, their friends could blame them for my views, just by the mutual friend not publicly disagreeing with me - In my world I expect anyone offended to say something along the lines of 'hey, that's a bit unfair, do you really agree with that'

So is social media destroying society?    I'd argue yes.   People read something written by a friend, or a friend of a friend, and decide to be offended, even if the comment was not directed at, or even connected to them,   rather than debate they block.       People will also say they are too busy to have a phone conversation and then spend 30 minutes, or longer, having a typed discussion - my opinion of this is it's easier to hide your true thoughts/feelings when your voice can't be heard.     Communicating by keyboard is impersonal and safe whereas feel life interactions and verbal communications can be fraught with danger (of emotions being displayed).

I will continue to use social media but I hope it continues to play second fiddle to human interaction, either in person or by telephone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Inserting omissions and catchup

Apologies (again) for the big gap between updates,  much and little has been happening in our lives, most if not all of which is touched upon below.

End of June the Brexit referendum was held, Paul and Tracey had opposing  views and other than disagreeing about the best course of action we spent the time in the run up to put as much as possible in place for whichever outcome to have minimal short term effect on our lives in Bulgaria.  Long-term effects are still unsure although taking dual citizenship is an option, English/Bulgarian,  other than the underlying long-term implications the referendum results have not effected our life or relationships with Bulgarians.

Also in June Shadow and Pointy both had 3 kittens,   Shadow managed to lose hers on what we assumed was a hunting expedition but a week  later brought one of them home,.  2 of Pointy's died, of kitten causes, and then we had major trauma and Tracey in tears when she unloaded the washing machine and found the remaining one had been through the wash cycle.   One thing we have noticed is the cats regulate their own numbers, although we think the kitten clamber into the machine herself not that Pointy put her there The thinking behind them self-regulating is in the month after the fire (2014) 3 of the cats had kittens and basically ignored and neglected them, one even giving birth as she was walking.

In July a British friend came to visit.  She first visited us 2 months after we moved in, she just needed some sunshine in her life,  her next visit was a week after the fire (she was told about it so she could cancel her trip).  She was also supposed to come for the roof raising/one year on celebration last year but unfortunately her health didn't allow that.   Diana is one of the few people who regularly tells Tracey when she's being unreasonable and directing her stress in the wrong direction, it doesn't stop us both loving her and appreciating her visits.

Tracey is having some interesting times currently, which means Paul is also, by association.   Possibly it is an age thing but her forgettory is operating better than her memory.   Luckily for both Paul knows her well enough to often know what she meant to say but also have the patience to talk her through things she has temporarily forgotten how to do (such as make a loaf  FFS).    Also the temperature is effecting Tracey more this year so she sends herself on major guilt trips about lack of achievement, whereas Paul seems to have accepted the pair of them have less energy and taking things slower doesn't mean things don't get achieved - eventually.   Despite her forgetfulness the fact that Tracey has started writing down her recipes, rather than recreate them from memory, has meant all the preserves and biscuits have turned out very tasty,   although she does seem to have had some issues with new main course dishes she's creating - not inedible just not her normal standard.

The east wall of the mezzanine extension has been externally clad in timber, which was pre-treated, by Paul using a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban.   Hopefully the south wall will be done this autumn and the north wall next spring/summer.  Paul also started building balustrades for the mezzanine, walkway and landing after finding out Tracey nearly walked off the edge when half asleep.    The area done so far is nearest the new doorway connecting the two parts of the house, and will double as a display/storage area,  Ideas for the actual mezzanine and walkway are still being discussed but could see Paul leaving the woodworking for a while and welding some metal into beautiful safety rails.  Paul also took the opportunity to use a beautiful piece of oak to make some storage drawers for the kitchen,   Tracey thought he was going to do the adjoining cupboard first but now admits the drawers are so useful, that doesn't mean she no longer needs the cupboards.





Tracey has spent  some time unpicking seams, measuring, pinning and tacking material for the mezzanine bedroom curtains (heat retention in winter) and then took advantage of having a teenager around to thread the sewing machine for her.   Unfortunately  despite her best efforts much swearing and frustration followed as the the sewing machine seems to sew correctly for 10-15cm and then something goes wrong with the tension.   Surprisingly she has actually asked a friend for help - to sit with her and point out the mistakes she is making, for someone who is not domesticated (other than in the kitchen) she is showing strong determination to master the art of sewing.


Paul's youngest 2 children (17 & 15) arrived at the end of July for their annual months visit.   the month turned out to be very mixed, one of the children learnt to ride a (pedal) bike, drive a car, spent time painting (art) with their dad, cooked some extremely tasty dinners (although the wok needed a blinking good clean from a few years none use),  visited neighbours but to be honest I'm struggling to think what opportunities the other child embraced, other than leave the internet and their room 3 times a day, for food.    We did have a few trips out, including one to a Rock Monastery and Nature Park, somewhere Paul & Tracey plan to return to when the weather is cooler.    We also went to a music festival, some friends had organised, and all agreed the highlight of the evening was their village ex-Kmet playing Bulgarian, and Russian, music on his accordion

Since illiya came home, after his broken hip recovery period,  he is being introduced to English food as when Tracey makes things he can keep in his fridge and eat whenever, scones, pasties, biscuits, etc, Paul is being sent round with food parcels.    One such delivery run resulted in Paul coming home with a workmans apron, from one neighbour and a a couple of days work, from another 2 neighbours, as well as 5 jars of honey off Bati Illiya.,

Also whilst the kids were here we had cause to visit a friend we hadn't seen for a few months her car had broken, beyond repair, and she was stuck half way up a mountain with 2 toddlers.   Luckily the old Audi hadn't been sold as neighbour who wants it hasn't raised the money, so we offered it to loan it to her, giving her time to find the right car, at the right price. It also gave Paul the opportunity to visit an area of Bulgaria he had not been to previously and his initial reaction was someone had views to challenge our own.



We were woken up one night by a herd of elephants rearranging our roof tiles,  the following morning a number of tiles, including a ridge tile had been dislodged.    We think it may have been a byalka (pine martin) after the wasps nests, which every roof in Bulgaria seems to have in abundance.   Tracey was hoping be hiding inside when Paul was replacing the roof tiles, possibly under the duvet, just in case Paul found a wasps nest and they decided to sting her.  Commonsense over-road illogical fear though and she did assist, admittedly from the bottom of the ladder and ready to run if a swarm of wasps appeared.

Since the children went home we got the opportunity to buy dry winter wood at a good price, unfortunately being used to working in cubics, as opposed to tonnage, we slightly over ordered, we may not need to order anymore this decade.  Moving it is a long slow process, especially as bits are being extracted for turning and making some garden furniture, which also adds to the storing it challenge.   Why couldn't it have arrived when we had 2 teenagers to bully into helping us? 


Very recently we received great news and news that was less great.   We are to become grandparents at the beginning of 2017 - OK we may not be blood related to future parents, hell we don't even have the same nationality but our French 'kids' are expecting and we are claiming grandparent rights.    Sadly the same day we learnt one of the most unique and talented individuals we know has succumbed to societal pressure, accepted, even embraced, the labels put on them and become a legalised druggie.

This is being edited 17th October, due to my (Tracey's) last paragraph being taken as offensive and an attack.  
Yes it is an attack - on a modern society that puts people under immense pressure, and a pharmaceutical business that takes advantage of those pressures.