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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Spring really is on the way, the birds say so.

Although the temperatures have dipped a bit there are still signs of spring being imminent. It seems the huge number of corn buntings are one of these signs, and yesterday we saw large flocks of goldfinches, something we have not seen for ages. Dave is painting the outside of the house and says he heard a bee eater call, then added it may have been a starling, they are amazing mimics. However, while I was picking broccoli I definitely heard a stork clacking it's beak. There have been several reports from ex-pats around the country that the storks have made an early return this year, I will send Dave and camera out to investigate. But we still need rain!


All the neighbours have been busy on their plots. We can see that the one behind us has marked out his beds with different methods.All are surrounded by little raised hills to stop any precious water escaping. The large one has trenches within, possibly the tomatoes will be going there again. The precision has to be seen to be believed and there is no way these newbies can replicate them so we will just stick to our version. Venka has been down to our English neighbours' garden and planted more onions and garlic and I'm not sure if we should put some more garlic in for eating fresh.

When Dave went to move the car out yesterday he found the neighbours looking through the wall bricks and chattering loudly about something. On inviting them in it seems they were excited about the new cold frame and were wondering what it ws for! They then did a bit of a tour around what is already on the go with lots of ooohs and aaahs and bravos. Dave had to try to explain rhubarb, and alien species to Bulgarians, so he showed them a picture in a gardening book, whereupon they asked if it was edible! So we will be having a rhubarb tasting with the neighbours in the summer and my mind is already whirling around jams, chutneys, crumbles and fools, roasted with the delicious local yogurt, stewed with custard....the list is growing! The overwintered chervil also caused interest. Jordan was going to pull it out thinking it was a weed, but was persuaded to try a taste instead. The onion/garlic bed was admired and they wanted to know where everything was going to be planted. It is so nice that rather than tell us how the Bulgarians would do it, they were interested in how we do it. I only hope we get good crops! Finally Jordan told Dave what to do with the vines, something very new to us and we value his advice.

                                          Dave with Jordan, Venka, their neighbour and Baba Danka
                                         Checking out the rhubarb

Well, I got my new camera. Dave went off on his own to get it after browsing the website and checking reviews. They didn't have any of the ones he went for, but they had a more powerful version of the one I love so much, so he got that. It has amazing zoom capabilities (I thought my old camera was good) and all sorts of extra functions, you can even link it to wi fi (?) whatever that means.I have mixed feelings, I love the camera, but it was expensive. He says I'm worth it, who am I to argue? So off we went to try it out and although it was still a bit foggy it was not as bad as it has been lately. Shame I was not quick enough to get a photo of the squirrel we saw, but a huge plaster on my right index finger hampered me (don't try to pick up smashed pyrex, it is incredibly sharp!) Can't wait for some decent mornings again.

                                         Slightly better pics of the cormorants

                                         This bird of prey thought it was hiding....but not from my new camera!
                                                   This reminded me of fish bones
                                          Corn bunting singing

We had two plates of party food brought over yesterday. The first from Venka was in remebrance of her parents. I have no idea how this works, need to research. The other was from Baba Danka, who explained very slowly what it was for, but of course I had no idea. She seemed happy with my response and I felt guilty for not understanding.
                                          Venka's rice pudding with walnuts, kiwi and satsuma and chocolate bars
                                          Baba Danka's rice pud with pancake, swiss roll,salami, sweets and bread roll.

The chickens are slowly coming in to lay and as well as Chubba's broken egg we got three yesterday, Yorkshire puds for lunch today! The Scrawnies are settling well. They mix fine with the others once they are evicted from their house, though they would rather entertain their visitors 'at home'. They have discovered the taste of grass and the pleasures of the dust bath. Sevi has paid a polite interest (they are girls after all!) but is not pushy, and all the others have had a peck of feather but there is no real animosity and everything is calm. We have a feeling Sevi might be firing blanks however, we put five eggs from his current favourite hen in the incubator two weeks ago and it seems they are infertile. We will be putting some shumen eggs in when the marans hatch and will see what happens there. If he is infertile (the bitter cold can do it apparently) he can reside with my layers as an amorous ornament, a very handsome one, as he keeps the bossier ladies in line. We will then have to decide whether we will get another cockerel, but we are not at that stage yet.

They really do make our other chickens look digustingly healthy.

Dave and Bella chicken watching, from Bella's favourite look-out post.

I would like to thank all those regular readers and commenters, whether on here or by email, for your continued support, and especially Ky for her valuable advice on chicken keeping.


  1. I thought I entered a comment yesterday, but I must have done something wrong! I thought it was nice that you see your neighbors a lot and get to chat and look at each others gardens. I loved the plates that Venka and Babd Danka gave to you. All that lovely food and chocolate! Hope to see my neighbors when the weather warms up here. I love your photos of all the birds.

    1. Yes, we are very lucky with our neighbours Tana. We will certainly never go hungry! I know one lady who moved out here on her own a few months ago who has not met her neighbours and people are not friendly at all, such a shame. Our village has altogether a lovely feel.

  2. I don't know if your neighbour is Orthodox but in the Orthodox church there is pudding like concoction of boiled wheat with various sweet things added (honey, nuts, dried fruit, pomegranate gems) called sometimes koliva and sometimes kutya (those are the names I know, I am sure there are others) and it is taken to church to be blessed as part of a yearly memorial service and then shared with everyone. The Russians usually just give out the koliva/kutya itself but I know I've been given bars of chocolate and other goodies with it from other ethnic groups, just can't remember which ones.

    1. Margaret, you are a star! I warmed the pudding up to have with fruit and got confused by the husks on the grain, but as you don't 'chew' rice pudding ....anyway, it made me Google BG milk pudding and I couldn't find anything. I have to confess we sometimes don't eat it if I have made other stuff as cooking is a hobby, but it does explain the smarties which sometimes adorn it. Thank you, I will do some more googling.