Every morning, I’m up early, not through choice but because my spaniel Twix seems to have a built in alarm clock ! 6am and he’s awake, which in turn, as far as he’s concerned, means I have to be too ! So the morning ritual begins, let dogs out, put kettle on, feed the chickens and pick up the dog mess in the garden ! Glamorous I know !
Anyway on with the point of this blog, chickens ! We acquired 10 chickens by mistake in April, (misunderstanding in communication with our neighbour ) and as they were only around 6/8 weeks old, we hadn’t a clue as to how many were cockerels. Turns out we had 5 ! Beautiful as they were and as much as I enjoyed hearing them practice their cocker-doodle-dooing every 5 minutes, they were fighting and attacking my hens. Didn’t know, never having chickens before, just how aggressive they can be. Well this particular morning they we being extremely aggressive, so much so, one of my hens was getting a right bashing. Nothing for it but to get rid of 4 of my cockerels. Not a decision I made lightly but one that had to be done I’m afraid.
As Andy or I had never killed a chicken before, we had to ask our neighbours for help. To be honest I didn’t want to be a part of it but my neighbour left me no choice as she insisted I help her catch them, not Andy, me !
Our 5 hens and the remaining cockerel were put inside and the remaining, doomed cockerels were put in the run were my neighbour ( 80 years old ) and myself preceded to catch them. Easier said than done ! They were certainly not going to go quietly ! It took about 10 minutes and a few scratches to finally round them up, then we all set off to our neighbours where the dreaded deed was done.
It was very quick and humanely done but, for me, still not a pleasant encounter. I tried hard not to look but as I was holding 2 of them it was difficult not to get the odd glimps. I felt pretty bad as I was the one that took care of them every day but it had to be done.
Once the worse was over, we all sat on little stools whilst we plucked the feathers. Andy didn’t quite get it right and ended up pulling half the skin off !
Our neighbour did all the gutting etc, not the easiest job, but she did it with expertise and I was quite impressed ( also glad I didn’t have to do it as it was pretty rank !). Every part of the birds were saved and bagged up in their own individual bags ready for the freezer. My face must have been a picture as my neighbour included the head and feet in the bags, I’m afraid there was no way I wanted a chicken head to end up on my plate ! They also gave us all the intestines etc for us to feed to dogs but I’m afraid that was definitely not going to happen either. Those parts were eventually disposed off discreetly so as not to offend our neighbours.
When we eventually finished we tried to give our lovely neighbours one of the chickens as a thank you but they refused and thought we were crazy ! The following day I made them some jam, a cake and gave a bucket of plums as a way of thanking them which seemed to make them happy.
As much as I didn’t feel good about killing our cockerels, we did enjoy our day with our neighbours, not just because we enjoy their company but because we always leave with a little more knowledge and understanding of everyday life in Bulgaria .
As for my frozen chickens, well it took a lot for me to eat one but I did and it was tasty but I think, in future , I’ll just stick to eating their eggs !🙂

Moaning Minnie !!!

I’ve decided it’s time to have a good old moan today because it’s a miserable day and I’m in a negative mood. I’m a woman, so it’s my prerogative !
So where do I start ? Ahh yes, dare I say it, yes I will…the bloody weather! It’s raining again for the hundredth time, I’m starting to feel like I’m back in the UK ! These past few months it’s like someone in the sky keeps turning the tap on and off just to p**s us all off. One minute it’s a beautiful, hot sunny day, the next the heavens have opened and suddenly we’re living in a castle surrounded by a moat ( well not exactly a castle, but I’m sure you get the picture ). So annoying when you’ve spent the morning clearing the garden of weeds for the hundredth time, the veg plot is looking good, grass has been cut and the washing is on the line drying, then all of a sudden the sky turns grey, the slight, welcoming breeze turns into a strong gust of wind and then,within minutes, torrential rain! Not much fun looking out the window, watching your veggies getting hammered to near death, your garden turning into a river and that load of lovely clean washing that was drying nicely on the line, now dripping wet grrrr.
Ok so the rain doesn’t always last for very long ,( to be fair we have had quite a few extremely hot, sunny days ) but it’s amazing how destructive the rain can be to the garden. Even though it’s not long before the sun comes out, my garden ends up being one big mud pit. Which leads me on to the next moan…..muddy dog prints !
Why is it that dogs feel the need to go in and out every 5 seconds when it’s raining but not when it’s sunny ?! Ok, so my hallway floor is Lino, so, easy to clean and I do put a couple of big towels down so that when they come in,it helps soak up some of the mud, or it would if they actually walked on them instead or around like they do ! I have tried to get them to sit on the towels while I dry them but they think it’s some sort if game, resulting in them getting so excitable that they start jumping around like crazy. Yep you guessed it, muddy paw prints everywhere except on the towels😦 . My reward for my efforts at trying to train my dogs, is spending the rest of the day sweeping and mopping the floors ( I’m changing my name to Cinderella ! ).
That’s the weather out of the way,so moan no.2…….mosquitoes. Nasty, annoying little buggers! Last year, as some of you might remember, I got eaten alive and in a bad way, this year isn’t quite as bad, as in, they haven’t swollen up as much but the mozzies still see me as a tasty treat. I decided this year I’d be a bit more sensible. I made sure I spray repellant before I ventured out, put joggers on instead of shorts regardless of the temperature and thin socks on to protect my ankles. Well I thought my change of summer attire would save me somewhat from the little buggers…..wrong! The other day, whilst eating my dinner ( inside ), I felt a slight itching on my thigh which gradually got worse and was going further down my leg. No surprise to me that a mozzie had somehow found it’s way inside my joggers, so off came the joggers to see what damage it had done. 14 bloody bites running down my thigh ! To add insult to injury, while I was standing there half naked, shaking my joggers to death to make sure I removed the offending insect, I got bitten 3 times on my lower back ! Not impressed especially as the guilty offender was nowhere to be found. So I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what concoction I spray on or what clothing I wear, unless I completely wrap myself from head to toe in cling film, I’m not going to escape from being bitten. So looks like I’m going to spend the rest of the summer and autumn constantly scratching like some flea bitten mutt, waking up every night by the incessant itching and swearing profusely every time a mozzie comes near me.
Talking about insects…..the flies are no better. They are everywhere, buzzing round my head, taunting me. Funny how they seem to do a vanishing act when I get the rolled up magazine ready to swat them to death but when I give up trying to hunt them down, they are back, using me as a landing strip. There is one buzzing round me now as I’m typing which is about to meet his death !
Then there’s the wasps, beetles, barn flies, daddy long legs, carpenter bees, etc, etc. The other day I was just about to go through the wooden gate to check on my potatoes and I hadn’t seen the carpenter bee on the gate, boring a neat hole in the wood to lay her eggs, until it started to attack me ! So there I am, running around the garden like some crazed chimp, arms flailing in the air trying to stop this big, black angry bee from getting me. I must have scared my spaniel Twix because he took one look at me and darted back into the house, I found him hiding in my bedroom . Actually I think I’ve scarred him for life because every time I wave my arm in the air to swipe one of the many insects, he runs away and hides haha . Oh I did forget to mention ants. This year, for some reason ( maybe something to do with the erratic weather ) my whole garden is swarming with ants. Now I’m not too worried about there being so many ants until they start finding their way into my house, especially the kitchen ! And now they have. I’ve tried using all the natural, home made remedies to rid the kitchen of ants but to no avail. My shopping list yesterday consisted of ant killer, fly and wasp spray, mosquito repellant and insect bite cream, so today I’m armed an dangerous !
Well i think that’s my moaning over and done with, for now anyway. For those of you reading this, sorry. On a more positive note, the sun is coming out, so time to go back out and battle with the mozzies !

One Year On !

So it’s been one year ( actually one year and three weeks ),since we arrived in Bulgaria and what a year it’s been. After a lot of discussions and plenty of soul searching, we have come to the conclusion that it’s time to go back to the UK !!! ……………Just joking🙂
A year ago we arrived in a country we had never visited, to a house we had only seen pictures of, unable to speak or understand the language and to a new lifestyle that was going to be completely opposite to how we lived in the UK. One word that could sum it all up….. crazy !
People say, that when you relocate to another country, you should at least give it a full year before deciding if you have made the right choice. I couldn’t agree more. This past year has been a mixture of roller coaster emotions, a few tears, good times and bad and plenty of soul searching. There have been moments where I have struggled, mostly because I could no longer see my kids on a regular basis. I struggled with the winter, not because of the cold, more due to cabin fever, I loathe being stuck inside for days on end.
Despite the odd struggles, we have fallen in love with Bulgaria. Not only is the country beautiful but we have found the people warm, generous and extremely helpful. We have lovely neighbours that have welcomed us with open arms and we have met a lovely English couple who have helped us so much and have become close friends. We love the village life, so peaceful and stress free and we’ve learnt a lot . Not only about how to grow our own veg but how to recycle everything. It’s amazing what you can do or make ( with a little imagination ) with things you find in the garden or house.
Everything we are doing to the house or garden, we are doing ourselves. It’s been difficult and stressful at times and a huge learning curve but there’s an enormous satisfaction and a sense of achievement whenever we complete a job.
Since being here, our lifestyle has completely changed,for the better I might add. If we’re not working on the house, we are outdoors working in the garden enjoying the weather which has improved our health tremendously. Andy has been asthmatic all his life, every month in the UK, he would go through four salbutamol inhalers and two seretide inhalers. Since being here he only uses one salbutamol every 6-8 weeks and no longer takes the seretide, plus he’s lost over 4 stone in weight ( which has obviously helped his asthma ). I have also lost a little weight and I feel a lot fitter, mainly due to all the work we’ve been doing and eating healthier due to us growing a lot of our own veg.
The language barrier can be difficult at times and have caused us problems at times, like the other week when we were having a conversation with our neighbour ( more of a game of charades really ), trying to explain our plans for the garden. We were telling them we planned to have chickens next year, they asked how many, we said 10. Our neighbour proceeded to have a half hour conversation about chickens, which we struggled to understand exactly what she was saying other than the few words ‘chicken, 10, shop and telephone ‘. Well the following week she came round to tell us we had to go and collect our chickens from a shop! Yes it turns out she ordered 10 chickens for us ! So the day was spent running around like ‘ headless chickens’ trying to sort out a place for the chickens and a secure run! Now, I hasten to say, we try to be careful in what we say🙂 . We are slowly learning the language but it is a struggle, mostly for me, Andy seems to pick it up easier but I’m sure we’ll get to grips with it in time.
So here we are, one year on and all that’s left to really say is what an amazing year we’ve had. Would we change it for the world…no. Do we have any regrets…..no. Would we consider going back to live in the UK….never!
Bulgaria is now our home🙂

Looking like Quazimodo!

Strange title for my blog? Not really, it describes perfectly how I looked after my latest drama ! Last Monday, I awoke early to clear blue skies , beautiful sunshine and a dreaded toothache ! It wasn’t raging, just throbbing and as we were off to Vidin to pay our bills, get our shopping etc, i popped a couple of paracetamols, in the hope that by the time we got to Vidin, the ache would have eased. It did but returned slightly worse by midday, two more pills and it would be fine, or so I thought. By the time we returned home, my toothache was throbbing again, still not raging but niggling constantly. I could feel a slight lump developing just above my lip and realised that it was an abscess. I remembered the last time I had an abscess, swelling, severe pain and no sleep! I wasn’t looking forward to the night ahead. I got Andy to phone the dentist to make an appointment first thing in the morning which wasn’t a problem, unlike in the UK, even in an emergency you still have to wait a week these days!
During the evening the swelling got gradually worse and the tooth continued to throb but not as bad as I was expecting and I was surprised that I managed to sleep through the night but when I woke in the morning I got the shock of my life. I knew my face would swell but not to the extent that it did. What started as a lump the size of a pea developed into a watermelon!! My whole cheek, side of my nose and eye was excessively swollen, I looked like Quazimodo ! I was now in panic mode.
I hate going to the dentist and I really hate needles but at the same time, when I saw the state of my face, I was desperate to get my tooth out. When we arrived in Vidin, we had to park about 10 minutes walk away from the dentist as they were digging up the road and the dentist was down an alley, off a small side street, not really suitable for a LWB high top van. I tried to keep my head down as I felt a bit of a freak and yes people did stare but then I did look like I’d been hit by a bus. When we arrived at the dentist, she took one look at my face and her reaction was the same as when I looked in the mirror first thing in the morning, complete shock. She informed me that as I had a severe infection she needed to send me to a dental surgeon to have my tooth extracted as the usual anaesthetic would not be strong enough and cause me severe pain. After she made a phone call to the surgeon, she gave us directions, explained that he didn’t speak a word of English but for me to not worry as he knew the situation and I was in good hands.
When we arrived the surgeon greeted me with a stern look, directed me in to the dental chair, squirted some numbing spray on my gum area with the offending tooth then proceeded to deal with his other patient who was in the chair next to me. By this time my nerves had kicked in, so every minute felt like a lifetime. The surgeon returned to assess the problem, disappeared for a minute, then returned again with a few tools and the inevitable needle. I braced myself as best I could, the first injection entered the front of my gum under my lip, ( it hurt but not too tragic ), the second needle went into the roof of my mouth and it felt like it was trying to pierce a thick layer of rubber. Well all I can say is it’s a good job the assistant was holding me down and had quick reflexes because my reaction was to grab the surgeons hand and whip it away but his assistant grabbed my hand just in time. The pain was so bad I nearly went through the roof! I think the needle burst my abscess as my mouth filled with blood. When the area of my mouth was numb he pulled out my tooth, it was quick and painless, which surprised me as the tooth had broken at the edge of my gum so there wasn’t a lot left to grab hold off, ( it was a capped tooth that had broken ). They showed me the offending tooth and the root was very long considering it was only a front tooth. I was relieved that my ordeal was over and all I wanted now was the swelling to go down. The surgeon made me sit for quite a while, took my blood pressure, as by this time I think my body had gone into shock as I was shaking like a leaf and when he was satisfied that my tooth had clogged and my blood pressure was ok, he let me go. I was given a prescription for antibiotics and vitamin B complex and a bill for 60 Levs. Despite the needle episode I must admit the surgeon and his staff were excellent, I couldn’t fault them at all and the cost of my treatment was exceptionally cheap. Even the antibiotics, which are one of the strongest on the market, were very reasonable ( 12 Levs ).
On our way home my whole body was shaking and although it was a hot day I was freezing. I was also struggling to stay awake, it felt like I was on sedatives or something and I felt nauseous. It didn’t help that there were potholes along the E79, some of which just couldn’t be avoided. The journey seemed to take forever and by the time we approached our turn off towards our village, I had to get Andy to quickly pull over as I needed to be sick. Not the most pleasant sight for Andy or anyone who was driving by, but needs must and all that.
We had only been home about half an hour, when I decided to go to bed for a while. I couldn’t keep my eyes open or stop shivering any longer. Before I knew it I had conked out. The following day the swelling had got worse and my face and lips were still numb and my eye was itchy and sore. The swelling worried me so I got Andy to phone the dentist to ask if it was normal and apparently it was but he was informed that the swelling will start reducing in about a week. It’s now been 11 days, my face is almost back to normal, I still have a big, hard lump above my lip and part of my cheek and lips are still numb ( weird sensation ), but it’s getting better, I can finally put on my mascara now and at least I don’t look like Quazimodo anymore !!


Spring Has Arrived !

At last, spring has finally arrived and I couldn’t be more happier🙂. We survived the winter by the skin of our teeth and so glad it wasn’t as bad as it should have been. We now know roughly what to expect and hopefully we will be better prepared for the next one. Looks like we have a lot more work to add to our expanding list ! I must admit Andy dealt with winter a lot better than me emotionally. I found it a struggle being stuck indoors 24/7 and I was definitely getting cabin fever, Andys ears are proof of that! The boredom drove me slightly nuts, I became very irritable and of course Andy got the brunt of it haha. Once the snow cleared, then came the rain, day after day of bloody rain ! Over a week of solid, unrelenting rain. Within a few days we had gone from a garden covered in deep, white snow, to a brown, muddy quagmire arghhhh ! Yes, I’m now going to vent a little. Two dogs and an extremely muddy garden results in a nightmare. Constantly trying to wipe paws, sweep and mop the floor a hundred times a day just about drove me to insanity. Even worse were the times I forgot to close the kitchen or living room doors before letting the dogs in and before I had a chance to stop them, there were muddy paw prints on the carpet and settee !!! To add insult to injury, when I was trying to Hoover up during one of these nightmare days, my Hoover decided to die a death but not before it blew out a big puff of dust everywhere ! All I can say is I had murder on my mind that day !
Anyway less of the moaning now, we have survived the hardest part of the year and now Spring is here and months of mostly sunshine ahead of us🙂
These last four days have been exceptionally beautiful, clear blue skies and wall to wall sunshine. There is nothing more exhilarating than to feel the warm sun on your face and the way it make you feel like your bursting with energy. Now that the sun is here it’s time to get back to some hard grafting, which is exactly what we have been doing for the past four days. We have been digging, clearing rubble, pruning, chopping wood ( lots and lots of wood! ), filling in a large hole in the garden, taking down fences and mending fences and moving the caravan. It’s amazing how our garden looks so much bigger now we have managed to clear all the crap.
Next on our list is clearing a patch in the front garden and rotorvating it ready for planting our vegetables. Now that we have been here almost a year, we have a clearer view as to how we want our garden but it’s going to take us a long time to get it the way we want it. In October last year we sewed some grass seeds and that is now growing and there are flower bulbs appearing all over the garden, daffidols, tulips, crocus, hyacinth and some that I haven’t a clue what they are haha. My onions I planted last year are sprouting nicely, as is my strawberries and raspberries. I’m really looking forward to planting the veg and sowing lots more flower seeds, I’m not exactly green fingered so it’s going to be a case of plant them and pray !
So much work ahead of us over the next 7 months and no doubt a few problems and tantrums along the way but we’re looking forward to it now the sun is shining !🙂