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Monday, 23 March 2015

A strange week

We seem to have been here, there and everywhere this last week. But try as I might, I can't remember why for some of it. All I know is I seem to have trouble fitting in such routine tasks as making bread.

One thing which has been on both our minds is that Dave's Dad was poorly and in hospital. It seems it was a combination of drugs fighting each other, the aftermath of his virus and pneumonia in one lung. He was soon stabilised and is well on the way to recovery, but it does bring home to you that family are a long way away. He will soon be home being fussed over by the family. Get well soon Bert, summer is on the way, something to look forward to.

Yesterday was mostly taken up with replacing a tap in the kitchen. Why do these things always happen on a Sunday? Dave got up at 4am because he couldn't sleep and found a flood in the kitchen. Luckily we have tiled floors, and the leak from a perished hose was small. But on removing the tap Dave found a broken hose so it was off into the city to a big DIY store to get a new mixer tap. The day had started cool but sunny, and with so much to do we could have done without it. However, I do now have a nice, shiny and practical tap to go on my caravan sized sink, which means I can get a bucket under it...great stuff. It even has a directional tip. All for about forty quid. Of course, it wasn't as simple as driving all that way and picking it up. All boxes are opened in Praktiker and checked for contents, everything was there, hoses, washers etc, and we left with a five year guarantee. But when Dave came to attach the hoses, the nuts where they attach to the pipe were a different size! Grrrr, didn't think of that, assumed they would be standard. By this time we were hoping there might be a shop open in our local town, ten minutes away, and so there was and the hoses bought (though a little short) and tap fitted. Time for a bit of sunshine.

We had made a small detour on the way home from the city. The river we used to visit so often when we first arrived has been flooded for a lot of the last twelve months and we have missed out trips to see the kingfishers and other bird life. Yesterday we went down to have a look and were surprised that the water levels are still so high. The lines of small and large trees in water well up their trunks, parking places we usually use to take photos inaccessible. But despite all that it was lovely to hear thrush and blackbirds singing their hearts out, flocks of squabbling jays (never seen them in such large groups) tits, cormorants, ducks and waders. The susliks, a small ground squirrel, were darting about everywhere,  The blossom is breaking and there is a haze of green. Lovely. And of course, Dave couldn't resist a quick dip, with instructions from Horrified Wife to stay in the shallower, slow moving flooded bits.
Approaching the first tunnel on the road into Veliko Tarnovo, overlooked by the Yantra Hotel

A track at the side of the river now runs straight into the water

Tyre tracks in the water

Trees which used to form a boundary on the bank

We used to park at the end of this bank, and Dave used to wade across a shallow stretch of water to see the bee-eater colony. No chance of that for a while

Pussy willow

Yet another blurry picture of a buzzard...but it was a long way off!

Suslik, very common around here but numbers are right down to critical levels in Europe

The roads, with their lining of fruit and nut trees as well as the usual hawthorn and dogwood, are bursting into leaf and flower, and every so often there is a bright splash of yellow where forsythia is almost in full flower. And when we got home we found the sun had brought out the daffodils at last, and the peach blossom and mini plum blossom has also started.

Today there has been a cold breeze but good weather for getting some sowing done. Hedging my bets as we have no idea what weather we might get this year, I am trying to plant drought resistant, cold tolerant and a local variety of some veg. Hopefully one of them will do well. We have sown more peas and broad beans, different varieties to the first lot, three varieties of carrot and beetroot, spinach and chard, and planted the peas we brought on in the cold frame. Tomorrow we are planning on planting out some bargain dahlias and some cannas Venka gave us when she found out we had let our's rot. Then we can decide where we can put some of the perennials I have grown from seed collected last year. I'm hoping the neighbours might want some, there seem to be plenty. Despite being drowned out from being underneath a down spout in all the wet weather, peonies, day lilies and geum are up and looking healthy. there is going to be a shortage of flower border space this year! We have annuals to put in too. We will have happy bees I think.

Despite deciding not to raise any chicks this year, Dave ordered twenty blue araucana eggs for hatching. We are hoping for a bit of a better result than the twenty last year which resulted in not one chick, most were infertile. These are from a different breeder. We thought at least one Shumen was going broody in which case she could have had some but she can't make her mind up. No doubt she will want to go broody as soon as it's too late! So the eggs are in the old incubator which has actually proved to be the best of the three we have had since being here.

Meanwhile, Cagney continues to sit tight to her duck eggs. The new ex-commercials are starting to lay and the Shumens are both laying regularly. The ducks are still giving four eggs nearly every day. Today they are all a little miffed as they have been excluded from the main garden as we start sowing, so Dave rotovated a patch of the run and that has kept them happy for hours.
Happy fowl....except the new girls who haven't cottoned on to the sound of the rotovator

We are not seeing much of Splash now the weather is better. He goes out early, comes in for a nap and is then out all afternoon (maybe having a game of chase with the dogs) and most of the evening till bed time. Lets hope he is discouraging the rodents.
Put a vet bed out so Bonnie's old bones could be cushioned. No hope!


  1. I love reading your blog, it makes me happy that you seem to be doing exactly what you want to do. I spent the Christmas reading everything from the beginning and I SO enjoy each new post. Thanks!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Yes, we are doing what we want while we still can, and for the most part loving it.

  2. We have occasional reminders of family a long way away (my father is 92) but its great to be able to skype... I doubt we could live here if we didn't have the internet - it makes all things possible and we don't feel quite so far away. A few barrow loads of your soil would go down a treat here. I would love to grow so many flowers - I've planted marigold and nasturtiums (again) this year with slightly higher hopes of something coming of it... last year out of three packets of seeds I didn't even get a single plant. Hey ho. Fingers crossed for the chicks...

    1. Dave's parents use Skpe too, amazing how they can pick things up.

      I carefully collected seed from perennials last year and have been happy with the results of sowing, though we have far too many....then when weeding today found some have self sown and there are lots of seedlings about. Ah well, will just have to try to give them away.

  3. The suslik is a cute creature - not heard of them before. Interesting to see how advanced your spring is - about the same as here although the forsythia is not yet in full bloom. Noticed first flowers on peach trees yesterday. Cross fingers for the funky blue eggs!

    1. We were ecstatic when we first saw a suslik between the tip and the river, but have seen many in the two stretches we go to see wildlife despite them being classed as vulnerable.

      Our peach and apricot blossom has broken properly overnight. Peach blossom is particularly beautiful. We will have very happy bees when the sun comes out.