Since the last update our main priority has been keeping warm and safe. Although we still have no backdoor, the oak is arriving for that this week, Tracey was determined to continue using the kitchen/diner area even though it had been accepted we could not sleep on the mezzanine this winter. Eventually Paul 'put his foot down' and made Tracey give up spending her time in the kitchen, even with the fire on she was bundled up to keep warm. The reasoning behind not wanting to move totally over to the main house was the lack of space to work on any significant projects, also you can't really strip old paint from furniture in areas where you are planning on sleeping, because of the fumes created. Tracey's solution to not being able to cook, or do any useful projects was to patch her old German army jacket which has definitely seen better days. The choice of heart and flower patches, along with replacing the buttons with more colourful ones seems out of character.
Now Paul's workshop is mainly finished and tools have been moved over from the cellar a major clean up and organisation was planned by Tracey. It took her about 2 hours before she realised how delusional her intention to have it finished in a day, or even a week, was, but leko po leko (bit by bit) as they say around here. It didn't help that Paul had very kindly decided to share his cold, complete with streaming nose, with Tracey so neither of us felt like doing much.
The first snow of winter was late, arriving on 31st of December, and didn't stay around for long at all. Not sure if it was because of the snow, or the hamper she was given xmas eve but out Baba delivered warm eggy bread mid morning - just as we were thinking about what to have for breakfast - life doesn't get much better than that. Despite the earlier snow Paul managed to dig up a bucket of fartichokes which Tracey had decided to ferment, after reading, somewhere, that this removed their more unpleasant side effect (still to be tested).
|A selection of ferments|
Proper snow arrived on the 5th of January, and made our garden look as good as the neighbours. Unfortunately proper snow comes with much lower temperatures so we had a few days of relying on bottled water, because of frozen pipes, we were also unable to flush the inside toilet as either macerator, or the sewage pipe, had also frozen. Unfortunately frozen pipes proved to be one of the lessor inconveniences, defrosting pipes can be much as we found out one evening. During the defrost process our shower fitting split gushing water everywhere at the same time that the macerator decided to back up adding sewage to the mixture. A bathroom floor covered in water and sewage is not something we recommend. At least this wasn't one of the days we were also without electricity, although for such a mild winter our electric and internet have been decided intermittent.
|Cracked shower fixing|
Because of the frozen pipes restricting our access to useable water - the water in the IBC's is for the animals, and that from the well unsuitable for more than crops, we were thankful of the deep snow as it meant we could fill pans with it and melt it on the pechkas (woodstoves) for washing and cooking. Our bottled reserves were running low and were being used purely for much needed coffee fixes.
At least we had an advantage when we decided to move to Bulgaria simply from the month we spent helpxing here and the amount of online research we'd done. There are many expat forums out there but one we found to be most useful was expat-blog now renamed http://www.expat.com. As well as easy access to blogs written by people already living in the country it also gave us access to a forum, jobs offers, feedback from expatriates, country guides and much more! We highly recommended it for anyone considering starting a life in a new country. Seemingly there are more than 1.5 million members worldwide with 3.672 of them being in Bulgaria. Unlike some of the other forums we looked at the participation rate is good and the answers are helpful and relevant.
Although we had planted garlic and red onion in the garden a few months and the main crop of white onions will be started from sets in April, edging the paths in the fodder field, Tracey decided to start some shallot, onion and leek seeds off, early January, - accepting they may not germinate due to the cold (they did germinate so now she's wondering where she can squeeze them in).
A week after the snow hit the weather was warm enough to visit town with just a t-shirt and cardigan on, unfortunately all the plans made that day came to nothing as the following day we were back to arctic conditions, sinking our spirits. So because Tracey couldn't do as she'd planned she retreated to the kitchen producing more jars of ferments and her first loaf, from Sid the Sourdough.
|First attempt at sourdough, achieved the taste but texture need improving|
We'd asked our UK friends if any of them fancied a couple of weeks holiday in Bulgaria so we could visit Tracey's dad, and some friends, in France before going over to UK to pick up a new (s/h) car and driving back. Unfortunately work commitments meant none of them were able to help luckily a friend living in Bulgaria, who supplements her income by house sitting, was available so ideas about only one of us going were cancelled.
February, so far, has seen little achieved apart from the Lemongrass and Dragon Palm rescued from the unheated area and put into intensive care and many seeds started in front of the, main house, landing big southfacing windows. (There were going to be more pictures but blogger doesn't seem to want to upload them, and after half an hours waiting they have been abandoned, by us)