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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Getting rather warm and stormy

Poor old Bonnie is always expecting the worst. Last year we had storms nearly every afternoon for a while and it was a race to get peas and broad beans  picked between the surface of the mud dryig out enough to walk on and getting wet and slimy again. Consequently the trigger for Bonnie getting stressed and imagining the worst is me going out picking peas! And wind, as we rarely get wind unless it's stormy.
Trying to keep cool, poor Bonnie

What is really irritating is when the weather does it's worst in wind, bangs and flashes (which I actually love to watch) and then we don't get any rain for the garden. Like yesterday. We put off watering when it started, then were invited next door for salata at short notice so it was too late (10 ish) when we got back to do it. And it was still flashing forked lightening and sheet style too. But the bangs had subsided.

I don't normally sit out much at night, I react to insect attack with lumps and itching, even large painful swellings sometimes. I feel it's a shame really, we have the warmth to have an outside lifestyle but it really spoilt by these reactions. But if we have to sit outside I try to remember to apply insect repellent and take pleasure in sitting in the dark, with only a small light, watching lightening and fireflies, listening to nightingales, crickets and owls. Chatting and laughing and eating food alien to our upbringing. Last night was a vegetarian night, with tomato, cucumber and olive salad with garlic, followed by cheesy chips....cold chips with grated local white cheese. As we had eaten an hour earlier it was a relief! We (but mainly Dave) have a Bulgarian grammar lesson while we are there, resulting in lots of puzzled looks and laughter. They have started to pull us up for using non-Bulgarian phrases even if they are used every day by them. It must be Bulgarian. Then we have to tell them the same...more laughter.

Today I was determined to have lunch outside and we went Greek style as it was hot with a light breeze. I had been banned from making jam as Dave felt I needed a break, so spent an hour making tzatziki, spicy cannellini hummus, marinated Kalamata olives and tomatoes, little meatballs smothered in my brown sauce for Dave and courgette fritters and left over potatoes. Oh, and halloumi and a glass of local wine for Dave. Lazy meze in the sun. We are supposed to have massive storms later and it's unlikely we will have  electricity so that's all out of the way....and I am well garlicked up after using our own juicy fresh stuff from the garden. Insects beware! (and anyone else getting too close!)


We were given a load of 'treasures' the other day when Dave helped someone clear out a house. One of the things you miss when buying a renovated house are all the traditional bits and pieces that appeal to our British natures. You see dealers selling them at the boot fairs but that's different somehow. So we have a trough that used to be used for dough on bread making days, which are hand carved. Two heavy wooden trunks smelling of mothballs and with signs of family history, a large wicker basket to go with my small and medium ones, great for collecting the harvest of veggies. A wicker covered bottle, various weaving bits and pieces and a large, heavy wooden chest which is ideal for keeping animal feed in (All in the goat shed at the moment) There was a bread paddle too but it had really bad woodworm. Woodworm is a problem here and though we don't like using chemicals when it means the difference between the house being eaten away and a single dose of anti worm treatment.....

So everything is treated and Dave has put new hinges and a zinc sheet on the lids of the big feed bin (because you can guarantee the chooks will be up there) and it will live in the dust barn. The chests will go upstairs in the corridor to store shoes and other items that will not be affected by the mothball pong. The neighbours probably think we're nuts...they would throw them away.

Great job

In the heat most things are growing well in the garden, though there are exceptions. The peas and broad beans are definitely a disaster this year. Whether that is due to drier weather or the variety of Bulgarian seed I'm not sure, but will be going back to British seed next year. Meanwhile the late ones I sowed are up so will need careful watering. Summer green sprouting broccoli has bolted a couple of months earlier than it's supposed to be ready, though the few that haven't will do us if they perform as they should. It did make a nice change though. Aubergines have bad blackfly and ants in attendance and are looking a bit peaky, though still flowering. I've mentioned the autumn planted onions going to seed before, the red ones the cat and/or dog haven't uprooted are bulking up, as are the seed sown ones.The strawberries are not great. The spinach went all curly and is now going to seed in the heat. Will sow more at the end of summer.
A huge haul of blackfly on runner beans

Ugh, aubergine flowers covered in blackfly and attended by ants

We have nasturtiums everywhere to try to attract the bugs away from our crops...but other than looking pretty they are not doing their job

But elsewhere things are coming along, though the neighbours can hardly believe it. We already have the promise of a glut of cucumbers and courgettes, the squat peppers have good sized fruits on them as do the beefsteak tomatoes. We have beanlets on the borlotti, more flowers than I have ever seen on the runners (though that bad case of blackfly at the moment) but the climbing French beans have less flower. We have our first ever artichoke on one of the plants our friend gave us and flowers coming on the first sweetcorn (only a few, I was going to chuck them away but planted them randomly instead)
We;ve started eating the kale...yum

Getting big, the pink tomatoes

Squat peppers

You should have seen the ones the chooks had! Theyare already growing too big before we can eat them

Flowering sweetcorn

Our first artichoke...possiblyone for the bees

The flowers are great, they keep giving and we have added a couple of new ivy leaf geraniums bought form a Baba at the market. But nothing new has started flowering since last time, though many are due to.

In the hen house the chicks have decided to join the main flock and will have to take their chances with the snakes. They have the choice of being in their pen or out in the sun and go where they please. Hopefully Splash realises they are chickens and not to be messed with. The magpies seem to have fledged and moved on so they are not such a threat. Ducky is looking more adult every day.

Three little mites hiding from the sun. One at least is a cockerel

A few random pics

Such an innocent face
A lady bird larva...unfortunately a harlequin rather than one of the good guys

Bee beetles mating (thanks Mandy for the ID)


  1. that black fly is icky. Everything seems to be doing well. I am posting photos of my few veggies I am growing on my blog tomorrow.

    1. Icky indeed Gill. A forceful spray of soapy water has done the trick!

  2. Your Greek meal looks delicious! I love eating Greek salad in summer - best with home grown tomatoes and cucumber of course.

    All those interesting finds look like they will be very handy. I guess when you move to another country you can't take things like this with you as it probably costs more to transport them than to buy 2nd hand when you are there. Out of interest, did you bring a big removal van with your own furniture, or did you come light and buy the bigger furniture items once you were there? It's expensive enough moving house within France (much more expensive than in the UK)!

    Great to see the mating Bee Beetles!

    1. I love Greek food, and although we are neighbours to Greece I feel a bit guilty sometimes that I don't enjoy Bulgarian food more. A lot is similar with a tarator which is basically tzatziki watered down to a soup and lovely on a hot day. But yes, Greek salad is a favourite, over here it is shopska salad with grated white cheese and little of it.

      I love old things. There are people who trawl old abandoned houses and sell what they find which is why I am wary of buying. There were many old rugs and blankets with the trunks, but they had been left out and were ruined by rats so burned. We had a small company move our furniture and only took what was sentimantal or new or better quality than you can get here. It's not too dear really and they were very good. It was just a luton van. The house had beds (new but abandoned for six years) a huge wardrobe, bedside tables, white goods, kitchen table and chairs and a sofa. Holiday home stuff. We have an oak bed with expensive mattress for us! We bought all our clothes, even old stuff, as we knew we would need lots to wreck.

      Got a new insect to me yesterday, but I have no idea how I saw it, red on a red flower. Pics to follow