Pauline and Guillaume arrived back Tuesday evening, we met them in Popovo and went for a meal with the intention of finding out what their plans were before they saw the house and decided to stay and help. Unsurprisingly they had already discussed the situation and decided they were staying for as long as we needed them, this was a situation we wanted to avoid as they had places they wanted to visit and a limited timescale, at the same time we were very grateful as just having them around raised our spirits. On the Wednesday I helped Pauline establish a field kitchen, in the gazebo we had been loaned, whilst Paul and Guillaume walked around the damage coming up with a plan of action. I 'd offered to wash their bedding whilst they were away, as they'd had problems washing it in streams and getting it dried whilst travelling. I felt terrible telling Pauline that one of her pillowcases had obtained a scorch mark which she took as an opportunity for telling us off for not using Martin for sleeping and showering, she didn't understand that we couldn't as they weren't around to give permission.
The builders had given us a price to put the roof on the main house based on us removing the remaining roof timbers, attic joists and ceilings, ie take the roof back to the top of the first floor walls. Guillaume was invaluable during this time, as although I had been up ladders since the fire I hadn't overcome my fear of them and dreaded working on the roof alongside Paul. To remove the attic floors we first needed to remove the plaster from the ceilings and then use long handled tools to push the lathes upwards, causing a fall of wood and dirt, it's one of the few jobs where we actually used the dust masks and safety goggles we kept around for helpers. A dirty job but someone needed to do it and we were lucky that four of us worked well together achieving a lot in a relatively short space of time.
Despite all the hard work Pauline reintroduced a sense of civilisation with 'proper' lunch breaks and interesting conversations around the table. We'd already had a discussion following Pauline and Guillaume offering to split the shopping bills with us that I thought had been resolved by saying I would be offended if people staying in my home felt they had to buy their own food, beer and cigarettes fine but food was my department. Pauline had been looking for a particular type of material so when she asked if they could borrow the car on Friday morning I just assumed that they wanted to check out the Friday market. Humph, they returned with carrier bags full of food, along with premade banitsas for lunch, much to my annoyance they 'couldn't remember' how much we owed them. I accepted their generosity with bad grace and made sure that every time I needed to go into town, to try and sort out the electric, I picked up some tobacco for them.
We had also sent my friend Diana a message telling her our house was now a convertible, like her car, although we were having problems raising the roof. She had booked a weeks holiday with us starting the 21st of June, a week after the fire, to see the progress we had made during the 2 years since her last visit (3 months after we first moved in). Her response was as long as the sun was shining and she could get a tan she was coming, as long as it was all right with us.
Diana arrived Saturday evening and I think she was a bit shocked at how much damage our home had sustained, even her sun roof was cluttered with rubble and materials. Despite her, well deserved, reputation as a diva and the fact she brought white flip flops with her Diana was brilliant at borrowing some of my clothes and a pair of trainers and helping us remove plaster from the walls. Probably her most valuable contribution at this time was telling me when she felt like slapping me - this was more often than I'm proud of as lack of sleep and stress is no excuse for the times I verbally lashed out at Paul. Also not an excuse but a feeble explanation is the fact that Guillaume and Paul knew what they were doing, I couldn't get the electric connected which the builders said they needed to reinstall the roof and I was feeling useless and out of control. My only purpose seemed to be to get the boys whatever tool they needed and to feed them. Pauline also was experiencing some frustration at this time as a lot of the work that the boys told us we could do required a physical strength neither of us possess. Message for the males out their - it's NOT helpful when you see your partner struggling and you come along and say 'do it like this' (when that's how you showed us in the first place), that's how we were doing it so seeing you make it look easy just makes us feel more inadequate.
10 days after their return from France Pauline and Guillaume decided it was time for them to move on. Although their decision made us sad it was inevitable and to some extent a relief, we had reached a stage where the work needed doing was lots of little unsatisfying jobs, both of them were tired and we could see it putting strains on their relationship, thankfully those tensions seem to have disappeared since their departure from Lomtsi. Recent communication implies they will be returning to Lomtsi, in a year or so, this gives Paul and myself so much pleasure to hear. Diana left the day after Pauline and Guillaume and has already booked in her visit for 2016, as long as we don't burn the roof off the week before her visit. 7 days after Diana left I was due to fly to England to see my family and return with Paul's youngest 2 children, possibly because of this and our dip in spirits following our friends departures we pottered around doing little jobs but not seeming to achieve much, although the builders were now on site and work on the roof was starting. We did have a visit from Energo Pro which resulted in another visit to the main Targovishte office - because the reconnection of our electricity was such a farce it's getting its own blog entry. We also obtained a Bulgarian sim for Pauls phone, as I was taking my phone with me to England, anyone we didn't send the number to please let us know (assuming you want it).