Thursday, November 27, 2014

Competitions and weather

So Paul finishes working away and arrives home unexpectedly to find me having cereal for dinner, as it's not really worth cooking for one.     I blame the friends he was working with as they had vehicle problems and the plan was for Paul to leave our van with them and me collect him the following day.    But never mind the telling off I received Paul is home and after a few days rest, for him, we can get back to work on our home, a can we discuss a proposition we have received.

Since 17th October we have been going around to the neighbours to feed his dog and cat, which enabled him to visit his son and grandchildren in New York.     I know our Bulgarian is not as good as it should be but we were definitely told 15 or 16 days.   Three and a half weeks later! neighbour returns having had a great time and most grateful to us for animal sitting.  The fact that he returned with gifts and then offered to pay us for looking after the animals (he bought the food and we refused his money) made me feel mean for getting frustrated about his delayed return.    His pleasure at seeing his family also made me think again about a quick trip to France next year to see my father, not a snowballs chance in hell of him visiting me, here.

 Pops place

 After Illiya returned we decided to have a trip to Ruse in the van and stock up on building materials for winter projects.    Unfortunately Paul damaged his back moving out old kitchen petchka  (which I had sold) so we ended up going in the car, as it's more comfortable.    this meant we didn't get plasterboard and more insulation but we did manage to buy a set of ladders that fold down to a sensible length but fold out to enable us, actually Paul, to access the roof easily.     Much to Paul's delight I also managed to locate a set of metal wood planes in one of the DIY stores.  We also added a new DIY store to our Ruse trips making a trip there consist of 4 DIY stores, a Chinese meal and very little else.

We were approached by researchers, for a channel 4 television programme, who had been given our details and after reading our blog wanted us to agree to Kevin McCloud spending a week here in January or February.   Much as we like Mr McCloud we felt that the stated purpose of the programme was not appropriate to having a film crew here during 'hunker down' months.    We also felt that anyone agreeing to appear on a 'inspirational self-sufficiency' television programme would be setting themselves up for a lot of back lash from some elements of the ex-pat community.    It's not even as if they pay for the inconvenience - if they'd offered to finance a new barn roof they MAY have received a different answer.   teehee

I manged to find a couple of very good condition preloved single beds for sale at a  good price, and whilst not a double they'll be an improvement from Paul having a mattress on the floor.  We can always push them together.

It's said that 'good things happen to good people' what a pile of crock!     Some friends of ours, two of the nicest most generous humans around, had a major house fire in which the husband suffered bad burns trying to save one of their rescue dogs.    Mutual friends  discussed whether Paul and myself should be informed,  I love them for being concerned enough to have the discussion but would have been so annoyed if they had kept the news from us.   I understand they wanted to protect us and if I was going to return to being a blubbering wreck it wouldn't help the friends who needed help now.     We couldn't drop everything and go when we heard but did manage to get to see them a couple of days later when we found out what they may have need of over winter.    Following day we sorted out loaded the van with tools they had loaned us, after our fire, blankets/rugs and curtains ready to go help with the clean-up the next day.    They have a house to live in, less than 50 metres from the fire damaged property, and when we left it was well on the way to having many life enhancing features, such as a woodburner and beds, ready for them to occupy.   

We'd already 'stolen' some of the EPS (expanded polystyrene) boards from our extension for insulating between the beams in the main house and after seeing how our friends house, which was timber construction insulated with EPS went up, we are now stealing the rest, for ceiling insulation, and only using rockwool insulation in our extension.

Insulation between beams

As mentioned in the last update the staircase needed repositioning, otherwise Paul  knocking himself out on a beam was going to be a regular occurrence.    We cleared floor space so we had lots of 'wiggle room' and proceeded to play 'where will the stairs fit'.      They've ended up about 4 inches (100cm) from their original location and in their original orientation.    Oh well at least we now KNOW the other half a dozen possibles wouldn't work long-term.    

Some of the staircase reject positions

The walls behind the staircase location have been deplastered, ready for a new finish to be applied, and as I was on a roll the hallway also got deplastered.       Whether we do any work in this area during the next couple of months will depend on the weather,  we may just use winter as an excuse for planning, designing and working on small projects near a woodburner.    The Bulgarian sunshine, which we normally see most days even in the depth of winter seems to have gone on holiday.  I'm not sure if it's the lack of sunshine, replaced by miserable UK type grey skies, or just general tiredness that has produced too many slobbing days.     Lots of lists have been produced of things we need to do to move the rebuild forward but as yet none of them have been translated into completed tasks.

 Partially deplastered hallway

I also won in two competitions.     First one was a new tattoo, which I'm not ready for yet but the owner of the tattoo saloon ( agreed to me donating the prize to another friend who is addicted to getting tattoos and was our mainstay back in June/July.     The second competition was ran by a UK friend, to get her crafts FB page ( to a hundred 'likes'.   My middle sister tried to get me to chose things she wanted, yeah like that was going to work - I've got a home to decorate.

22nd of November we felt the earth move.    Wayhey     Initially I thought it was one of our kamikaze cats trying to jump through a closed window, but even they don't cause that much disturbance, an 11 litre water bottle was definitely wobbling.    Google search showed that there had been an earthquake about 300 km north of us in Romania (5.3 on some scale or other), no damage caused here or elsewhere as far as I know.     One good thing about Bulgarian house insurance (yes we have some now) is they don't refuse cover for acts of some mythical being, so earthquakes, floods, lightening strikes, etc can all be insured against.

In other news my mobile is on mute with friends contacting us via internet or Paul's mobile.    It seems some sad individual is having problems sleeping so 'phoning us at silly o'clock,   FYI  silly o'clock is anytime that is too early to let the animals out for the day.     The first couple of times, before we muted the 'phone it was great as we achieved so much in the extended day provided.   Paul has been having problems getting to sleep due to injuring his back so after a couple of days early morning wakeup calls started taking their toll and the phone was muted.    If it's someone who wanted to build bridges but hadn't built up the courage to talk they will have other ways of contacting us, if it's just a sociopath no doubt they'll get bored of not getting an answer.

In the past few days we have also updated our profiles on and so it is more reflective of where we are now.      Since June we have just been adding updates which made the profiles very messy and confusing, not sure we're happy with the finished article but as we are unlikely to have any helpers before March we have plenty of time to fine tune.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reluctant update

OK I can't put this off any longer otherwise I'll never get back to giving you monthly updates.     The last post from us was Paul in England for 10 days (mid August) lots and little has happened since then and as I'm still excessively emotional apologies, in advance if this posting is more disjointed than normal.

The helpxer who arrived just before Paul left for England gave me peace of mind regarding bee stings, or other accidents, by his mere presence but despite telling me I shouldn't be doing so much whilst injured never thought of offering to feed the animals, or us.    He was very aware of social injustices and unnecessary consumerism but hadn't yet made the jump to adjusting his own requirements preferring to comment on others failings.    To be fair I think when younger we are, nearly, all selfish idealists gaining insights on personal change and compromises as we age, and learn living in this world isn't as simple as we'd like it to be.

I deglazed, stripped, painted and reglazed what seemed like, hundreds of window frames (actually only 10 frames with 20 panes) whilst Paul was away although with hindsight it wasn't a clever move.    I should have either left the glazing or cobbled together a lower work surface as the reaching up to press down, for the putty, aggravated my back injury.   I also managed to lose the only immobiliser fob thingy in town.   Luckily I had been meeting a friend and she drove me back to the village, but that meant for 4 days I had no car, phone, internet or other means of contacting the outside world.

When Paul returned we were able to repay, in a small way, some of the help we received immediately after the fire.    Although we had always said we wanted to do all the work ourselves we had to accept that sometimes you need others to take some of the pressure off you.   One of the couples sons has been training to become a plasterer and although he hadn't done a full wall, let alone a full room before we employed him to work on our home.    Dayle lived with us during the week, and was a pleasure to have around, I have eventually stopped referring to him as a Stepford child.

As we now had electric decided it was time to pop into the Vivacom shop and let them know our 'phone line wasn't working an we may have burnt their box.     Anyway engineer comes out, none of the boxes on the back wall were anything to do with Vivacom and we just had a problem with our base unit.   One new base unit later we can talk with our family, back in the UK.    That seriously made me feel better, I don't need to see them often but keeping in touch is important to me, although if they managed to join the 21st century and used Skype that would be so much better.      Talking of Skype, when we'd originally had internet put in they had taken the cable to the pole in front of the house and just thrown a load of cable over the roof to feed in through the living room window.    Luckily although the fire had burnt (obviously) the centre part of the cable there was sufficient at either end for Paul to splice said cables together and get us internet access back.   Wow at this rate, electric, hot water, phone, internet we may become civilised once again, then again this is us ...

Just as Dayle was finishing the plastering another friend, a carpenter, informed us that he had juggled his work load to come over and help us put the extension roof on.     This was great news as David was enthusiastic about our ideas to reuse some of the old timbers in the roof, something the builders who did the main house roof had refused to do.     The old timbers weren't to be used as part of the main structure, although they would add strength their main purpose was to tie the post fire property back in with it's past.   Oh yes and look beautiful.        Dayle was asked if he'd like to stay on for another week, for 2 reasons mainly we hoped it would lead to him getting more work (it did) and secondly I had to be honest about my limitations and accept I wouldn't be able to work on this project.    Hell I was still having problems walking more than a few metres.   As you'll no doubt be able to tell from the excess of photographs I am so happy with the roof.

I'm also very proud of Paul and the mezzanine he put in, with a LITTLE bit of help from myself.   

At the end of September we visited a chiropractor, in Veliko Turnovo, that a friend had recommended..   There is no appointment system just queue and wait (4 hours) but on the upside if you decide to visit the builders merchants after a couple of hours people keep your place in the queue for you.    The chiropractor relocated my hip and a spinal disc or 2 but then told me no work for a couple of weeks and to take painkillers/anti-inflammatories.      I did rest, as much as possible, for 2 weeks and even now I listen to my body much more, although I'm still inflicting pain to myself - the work won't do itself and Paul is still doing more than his fair share.

We had a couple of days snow towards the end of October, which although earlier was nice as it showed us where our winter preparations were lacking,  apart from the obvious not having 3 months of supplies in the cellar.     This winter is going to be a challenge as we are living in the (unfinished) main house for the first time and we still have much work to do to finish off the property.     Although in all fairness to ourselves, I think the fact that the extension has NO heating in it means we will do minimal, if any, work on that until March concentrating instead on getting a couple of rooms in the main house decorated.     If we don't feel like work we may just hibernate and start afresh in spring, although I do have a couple of pieces of Bulgarian, furniture I want to refurbish and we've put a petchka in the temporary  workshop  (main house spare room).

Before the really cold weather arrives we need to relocate the internal staircase that Paul, the genius, built.     Luckily we didn't fix it into final position because using it, unfixed it's THAT good, has uncovered a siting flaw.   This is nothing major and fits in with our ethos of living with ideas before making them fixed in stone, or wood in this case.    The final positioning of the staircase does effect the kitchen design though, so we need to sort it so I can have a 'proper' kitchen again.  Field kitchens, or corner of living/sleeping area kitchens, are all well and good but I miss creating proper meals and treats.

I mentioned earlier that Dayle helping with the extension roof led to more work for him it also led to work for Paul, helping on a building refurbishment.    Unfortunately this meant he was away Monday morning until Friday night for a couple of weeks,   Miss Independent I Can Do That  had been taught it was ok to ask and accept help only for her 'teacher' to abandon her.  Boohoo.    It was a sad time but also I realised how much I had learnt about my own limitations, we had some MORE windows that needed stripping down and sanding and much as I love playing with power tools the size of these windows made them hard work so I did little and often.  My favourite Bulgarian expression at this time is leko po leko (literally it means "slightly slightly" but tends to be used as English speakers would say "little by little")

Reading back over this post it has a definite negative feel about it.  I apologise for that but will admit to having lost my mojo recently, as my strength returns it'll return and hopefully lots of little projects will be completed over the hibernation months.   In between looking after the animals