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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sun at last....phew it's suddenly hot!

I am starting to get used to doing the car boot sales now. Being a very shy and insecure sort of person I don't find it easy, but now we are starting to get to know people and getting people seeking us out for cake/chutney/cards it is getting easier. We didn't take the paintings this week as the weather continues to be unpredictable and space is rather limited at this particular sale. Despite that someone did ask where they were. We did ok, selling all the chutney and jam, most of the cake (despite competition from some 'professional' bakers) and quite a few cards. We even had a friend park next door so had a good old natter and gossip.
The field stood up well despite the massive amount of rain we've had

Dave chatting to the friend we got the first two geese from.

The only fly in the ointment is trying to communicate with Bulgarians. I can understand a fair bit at home, and if we are with the neighbours I can work quite a lot out, but my insecurities come out with my shyness and my brain goes in to freeze mode when out and about. I'm the same if someone tries to test me. Total brain breakdown. Hopefully by the end of the season I will gain a little confidence.

On the way home from the boot sale we called in to see a couple who are wanting a hand with building jobs about their home in return for teaching Dave how to do more in the way of DIY. It will be good for Dave to have some new company occasionally and actually learn something too. He must get bored pulling up weeds and walking the geese.

Last weekend was also the annual Village Day, when the square fills with stalls and rides for the children, the fountain is filled and the week preceding it the streets are given a trim and tidy.  Saturday morning was sunny and the day started well, with people going to the church and stirring a cauldren of something. Dave had a wander and chatted to a few people but didn't feel he could go into the church on his own, which is a shame. Later Venka came round with a couple of meals on a tray, our share of the village feast. It smelled lovely but was full of lamb, but Dave really enjoyed his.

There was a concert planned for the evening with a live band, usually a loud and joly occasion. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated and we were 'treated' to the most incredible storm, with roll after roll of thunder, constant lightening and torrential rain. So the celebrations were called off, such a shame after all the planning. Bonnie was beside herself, she didn't know where to be. Dave went to the village to have a beer with some friends while I stayed with the girls. Poor Bonnie. To cap it all there were fireworks too. I love a good storm but not when our girl is so distressed. Bella more or less takes things in her stride, with just a small wimper at the very loud bangs.

On Sunday we were invited next door to Venka and Jordan's, with our English neighbours, to their family celebration meal. It was nice to see their daughter, her husband and (English speaking) son, we see little of them now we are so busy. They are such lovely, warm, people. So an exhausting weekend.

No rest for the wicked though. The sun came out on Monday so it was out into the garden, weeding and planting, picking the last of the peas, a mountain of broad beans and an equally huge mound of chard, which I have frozen like chopped spinach, chopping the thinner multi coloured stalks and keeping the thicker ones for braising. The freezer is looking quite healthy with veggies. There is also a good amount of courgettes already in there. I also made a couple of batches of chutney but have now used the last of the larger beetroots so there will be none of the beetroot chutney for a while. We had the rather large peas braised with chard stalk and onion in stock, and added chard leaf at the end, very yummy.

The flowers are really coming out now. The dahlias have joined the poppies, antirrhinums, nicotianas and roses and the smell at night is incredible. Dave was a bit scathing of the poppies at first, but with the lovely bright colours and constant fresh flowers he is a convert. And, of course, the bees love them so all good.

Frilly pink poppy

A stunning rose

A pumpkin has self seeded under the flowers

Our first dahlia

We have a very satisfying amount of hoverflies this year, good for pollination and pest control
Dave has checked his hive despite the fact that he doesn't really know what he is looking for. But he found a few grubs on the landing station so thought he had better have a look. Your's truly was delegated to filming. He does really well for someone who was worried about bees till recently. He will put a video on youtube, hopefully before I finish this.

Bella, not wanting to miss anything
We have had to dig the potatoes up but luckily they are a good size. Along with an attack of scab, they are now covered in Colorado beetles and their babies, many of which have met their end in the septic tank. We will be planting more later, trying to time it so that we miss the second wave of beetles with young leaves. It is not such a problem once the potatoes are of usable size.

Smothered in babies...ugh!
We hope we now have the red mite under control with the remedy that the locals use. Unfortunately, with the health and sanity of our chooks in mind, we have had to resort to chemicals, but carefully as we need to protect the bees too. The swallows have been banished and told to build their nest elswhere and the door to the nursey has been propped so that the chicks can get in but it's difficult for swallows and hens and pea netting over the opening at the top. Feel a bit mean but don't need any parasites they might have. The last of the chicks are integrated into the rabble and the weather has helped by being fine at least during the day. The broody Shumen is still being protective bless her. Luckily she is more inclined than Cagney was to the occasional leg stretch.
Scary Mary, all puffed up

Our boy Sevi, the white in his wing (a fault apparently) showing

With the better daytime weather we have been eating outside. After a lovely leisurely salad the other day Dave went into the run to collect eggs and yelled for a camera. There was a snake caught in the chicken wire on the chick run, which is inside the main run. Luckily there were no chicks in there (could this solve the mystery of the disappearing chick?) as it was huge, nearly five feel long we reckon. The ark was just by where the hens were dust bathing...not a peep out of them, totally unconcerned! Which is more than can be said for Dave. He doesn't like snakes. He tried keeping them to try to get used to them, but it didn't work. But he was very brave, even though it struck at him, and climbed into the run to cut the wire to let the (non-venemous) snake free and it shot off to the wall. What a beauty. Nice to have natural vermin control....but I hope he stays away from the chicks.
Yummy lunch, mostly home grown or local, cheese salad with beetroot home made cheese and garlic bread and tzatziki, local honey to go with the village cheese which was lip-puckeringly sharp.

Poor stuck snake

Short vid of a shaky Dave freeing the beautiful snake

We had the first taste of globe artichokes yesterday. Graham, from Morgan's Plants, had told us he had some and said if we wanted some to message him, but with the weather we were not sure if we would be going to the car boot sale so we didn't bother. But bless him, he brought some anyway. We wanted to know if it was worth growing a few plants and I think we will. We will get some from Graham later in the year. We were not bowled over exactly, but they were nice and a change for a simple lunch, with some home made herb and lemon mayo to dip into.

Also in the kitchen, I had a total disaster with my usually easy carrot cake. I had used our own precious carrots and six eggs...which are in short supply at the make the cake and had waited for Dave to come back from the shop with sunflower oil. Cake made and cooking in the oven, and on clearing up found the measured out oil on the side! The cake looked lovely but is chewy and not at all what it should be. It is more like a teabread so we will use it up with butter. So easy to get distracted. But I had some disappointed friends who like to buy some at the car boot sale. But alas, no more eggs.
Hard to see why such a cake is a fail!

I have finished making the glace cherries but will not be doing any more. I have tried leaving them to dry but they are very tender and I can't believe they are robust enough to be mixed into a cake.
It is mulberry season here in Bulgaria, the hedgerows are dripping with them, white, red and black ones. After seeing them when we arrived last year I was looking forward to tasting them as I have been told how nice they are. I had tasted white ones in Greece while on holiday,they had no flavour, just sweetness, I had a taste of Venka's, that was vaguely better, and a taste from some along the road. But they do nothing for me. They have a very watered down blackberry flavour. I think it would be a waste of sugar to use them for jam, and adding more flavour in the form of some stronger fruit would cost money. Shame though.
And finally, a bug to finish on. A dowdy brown grasshopper, but I do like my bugs.

The video link will be put on tomorrow. Right now I have chutney to make!


  1. Your flowers are just beautiful. I really enjoy the glimpses into your garden and life. Have you posted photos of the village? I would love to see what it looks like.
    Dave should get a treat for his bravery with the bees and snake!

    1. Thank you Cynthia. There are photos scattered about, but maybe some new ones are in order. It has to be said that the villages are not the chocolate box type a lot of the year. Most homes have a high wall or fence around them, partly for privacy and partly security. Added to that a lot look run down, even the better off find other things to do with their money then cosmetic work on the house.

      I would make Dave a birthday cake for today, but the chooks are on a go slow so no eggs

  2. I've missed a couple of posts due to family and paying guests coming to stay- lots to get ready.
    Sorry to hear about the chicks. That was brave of Dave, tackling a snake. Lovely flowers.