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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

and so life goes on....

First of all before I start as Sara would have said start "chunnering" I thank each and every one of her followers for the sincere messages of condolence and kind words. It still amazes me how many, like me admired her and enjoyed her ramblings. Sara frequently used to say to me "oh another follower" or "I've had so many view of my blog since the last posting" I don't think she actually realised how many people enjoyed her blog, but the messages received in the last few days really puts it into perspective.

The Ist of March. "Baba Marta Day" is celebrated here in Bulgaria as the arrival of a new spring with Bulgarians frantically racing around trying to get their gardens prepared for the oncoming growing season after the ground has lay dormant over the winter period. For me it is a sign that I must also start a new life, still here in Bulgaria, but without my beloved Sara other than in spirit by my side.  If I were to give up the dream that we had created together and all that we had achieved, Sara would have hated that and never have forgiven me.

So here we go a new chapter of the dream ....

As tradition goes on Baba Marta Day. martinitsas made of red and white thread are handed out to friends and are worn on lapels of around wrists until the first stork is seen whereupon they are then placed hanging in a tree. Part of my daily routine at the moment to find some solace is to go to Sara's grave and sit and have a coffee with her and tell what I have been doing the day before. Where she lays at rest she is at the edge of the cemetery and immediately behind her is open countryside. Each morning I have gone there skylarks are wheeling in the air and singing and her grave faces the rising sun which is s apt as Sara loved to see the sunrises in the mornings and would walk up the path with camera in hand to photograph it. That camera now comes with me everywhere I go and I take snapshot of flowers, bugs and the like just as Sara used to. Yesterday I placed a martinitsa on her cross for her and once the first stork is seen I will place it in the trees that surround the cemetery boundary immediately behind her and so the tradition Sara loved will continue on for her.


Each morning after all the beasts and birds in our small holding have been fed and watered and the goats go out for the day with the goatherd I then go to visit Sara. I plan if the weather is bad to at least sit at the kitchen table and have a coffee with her before I get on with the next job, When I went to her grave on Sunday whilst walking up the road to the cemetery as I came to a junction who did I meet up with but the goatherd and was confronted as she is now herd leader my goat Milly and her kid Tilly (now aptly named by a friend as Tubby Tilly as she is a bit of a barrel to say the least). Milly has always been very vocal and as soon as she was me she started bleated. Staying silent as if I spoke that would be it Milly would follow me , the goatherders, both women  started frantically jabbering away at me. I indicated to them "I keep quiet" and pointed to the cemetary and continued on as they, one with bicycle in tow weaved across the road to stop the goats and as Milly is lead goat the rest of the herd along with a mottely crew of sheep. Finally they managed to get the herd back on course and continue onto the fields whilst I continued onto the cemetery.  

Annoying.  it seems that Milly is not pregnant as she came into season on the Sunday they went out, but fortunately the have a new billy in the herd and virile is not the word, so hopefully there may be kids at the beginning of August. Once the kids have been weaned, around November I can start milking her, a good time actually thinking about it as no gardening so I can get on with cheese making in the winter.

     Tubby Tilly - one track mind, munching in the hedgerow as she goes along

In order to allay some fears from friends inquiring "you do know how to cook?" for as everyone knows Sara was a maestro in the kitchen and more importantly other than having a sandwich in three days I decided to push myself to get on and bake something. Before I married Sara I had lived on my own many years so had a basic idea of cooking, but luckily I found her recipe books where she had written down some of her most frequently used recipes. Her last posting on Facebook was about that she had made some cheese scone so book in hand I proceeded to get on and make some. It was a bit of an effort firstly because Sara had lent her sister the kitchen scales, but also that the recipe did not indicate how long they were to be left in the oven. I ended making two batches, firstly so that I had some which although not burnt had been left in the oven too long but also so that I could hand out some to close friends we had made over at Hotnitsa a village where Sara's sister and husband on baba Marta day in her memory also handing them a martinitsa. Well they must have been OK as no-one has called to say they have belly ache or the raging squits!!!! Sadly by the time I diligently handed them I ended not having any myself. Oh well I always wanted to lose the slowly increased girth from eating too much of Sara's creations. Since producing these each day I prepare a meal whether it be an omelette. cauliflower cheese, last night salmon as in part of Bulgarian tradition is to prepare a meal for the departed as for forty days they are still here on earth going to places they knew and around you. A good tradition I think as it ensures that the one left behind continues to adapt to their life and ensures that they eat which up until the scones had been made I really was not inclined to make anything to eat.   

 Tasty cheese 

Sleep at the moment for me is a little erratic, but when I do sleep it is sound although it may only be for a couple of hours each night.  Two days before Sara died she had asked me to buy some apples and some onions at the weekly market at Polski Trambesh for her to make some brown sauce for selling at the first carboot. By the time she had made produce, selling them at the carboot she effectively made no profit, but she enjoyed making them, but most of all she enjoyed going to the events a a socialising event. The amount of friends she made was evident by the sheer number of them who attended the funeral service which in Bulgarian tradition took place the day after she died. 

All through the turmoil of the last few day the apples and onions sat in the kitchen and so at 4am on the morning of Baba Marta Day I diligently went through the process of using some, I say some for in my wisdom I doubled the amount she asked me to buy thinking that Sara could bulk produce. The recipe required 3 apples (effectively 225g) and I had bought 4kg. Oh well I had better get some more prunes tomorrow to make another batch. After what seemed like eternity I completed the first batch for sale with slightly amended label that Sara used to use I was very pleased. I am looking forward with some trepidation to the first carboot where I will still sell her produce albeit in smaller quantities as there is only myself dealing with the garden and cooking and living our dream now.



The newly named produce from Sara's Kitchen 
(thanks to my niece for the suggestion of the new name) 

On the poultry front things are a little manic with ten eggs a day being laid. I can only eat so many omelettes  so surplus are being sold which at least covers the cost to feeding the birds. I had and will still continue on breeding the newly acquired Light Sussex chickens which the first hatching of chicks that had hatched in the incubator 5 weeks ago are due to go to their new homes today. Although I paid a premium for the adults, the speed the chicks were sold as the breed is a good all round utility breed  they were a good investment.
  Five week old Light Sussex chicks (fortunately one male and three females)
along with one of Sara's ex battery hen cross bantam chick

As soon as these have been sold, their indoor pen needs cleaning and the next batch of chicks (five Light Sussex and three ex battery cross bantam) which are now a week old will be moved there. Currently in the incubator there are another fifteen Light Sussex eggs  which is good for from the one sale of the first chicks I already have three requests for some.

The Indian Runner ducks have at last started laying now as again these were a big investment. As with the Light Sussex chickens the duck eggs will be incubated and reared to around five weeks old (once they are off heat). They will be sold as unsexed as they take longer to be able to be sexed accurately and so would not be cost effective to keep them until they can be sexed . In addition to this unlike the Light Sussex which can large enough to rear for meat, the ducks are a little slim, but are the clowns of the duck world and really good for natural pest control in the garden which Sara was keen for, avoiding using pesticides and chemicals in the garden. Like the Light Sussex I already have a waiting list fro chicks. maybe I should have bought another incubator as the chicken and duck eggs require different incubation setting so cannot be incubated together, so at the moment I have to decide which to incubate. At the moment it is not a problem as the ducks are not in full flow laying and I am currently getting two eggs as day from them.
First Indian Runner egg of the season

There is another option that I sell surplus eggs from the Light Sussex and Indian Runners for hatching as the price of one egg is ten fold to what I can get for basic eating eggs from the ex battery hen or other duck breeds.

I have so much more to say, but I wanted to at least start n the normal vein of Sara's writing of letting everyone know that that 'Life goes on' here in a slightly different paradise, but still a paradise. In order to continue I will have to change adapt processes and procedure for I cannot do what we did together before on my own now for I will not be returning to the UK unless they drag me for not that I must but I want to continue on here in our new home. I know as sure as the sun rises each day, some days will be better than others, but I find comfort knowing that Sara was happy in the short time we had together out her, that she lived the last years of her life to the full. I was proud to be husband for nearly eleven years, and am pleased I helped her fulfill her dreams and that she was was an inspiration to so many people. We only have one pop at this life and Sara 'you did good' 

Although I have already said thank you for all the messages from Facebook friends and followers of her blog, I must thank Sara's sister Helen and her husband Graham for their support here in Bulgaria along with many of her friends living their dream in Bulgaria, but more importantly thank goodness for modern technology which enabled family members, my mum and dad, sisters and brother to grieve themselves , the support that they have given me via Skype which enables them to see that yes at times I my falter, but I am OK.  

Anyway enough of this babbling lots to do and the most important thing each morning go and have a coffee with Sara.


In memory of
Sara Elizabeth Brunger 

31.10.1956 - 26.2.2016




51 comments:

  1. I have both smiled and cried at your post. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the comfort of including Sara, the familiarity of sitting in front of my desk and reading all of yours and Saras news

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    1. Many thanks for your comment - if it can prove live live to the full and gives someone comfort and hopefully joy at later times then it is what Sara would have wanted.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your world, and your journey onwards. I found the post to be very moving.

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    1. It helps me and comforts in ways that no-one can describe. Further posting may be less frequent than Sara's posting, but for sure other postings from me will follow.

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  3. Sara would be so proud of you. I read this with a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. You are doing what she would have wanted you to do. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Messages like this make it all worthwhile.

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  4. Dave that is a beautiful post. I loved the detail about the goat herd.

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    1. Well they are my babies, thankyou Judith.

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  5. I have always read Sara's blog Dave, not always commented but enjoyed it immensely. This one is beautiful, well done to you. Lots of love. XX

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    1. Many thanks Cindy. Take care you guys.

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  6. I see future blogs are going to continue making me feel inadequate, reading about the amount achieved in the Brunger household.

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    1. you should never feel inadequate Tracey, each of us has our own strengths, it was just lucky for me Sara and my strengths each complemented each other.

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  7. Thank you Dave for continuing with the blog and updating us about your life there. I really like the Bulgarian tradition of sharing food with the departed. Sara will never be forgotten even to those of us who only knew her virtually - I feel proud that I could call her a friend, and will miss her. xx

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  8. I miss her too, but though my future writing on her behalf she will live on. xx

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  9. What a touching post Dave, I am so pleased you have the courage and strength to keep this blog alive. I was very impressed with your cheese scones they looked delicious, shame you didn't get any yourself though! I look forward to all future posts on your experiences of Bulgaria, there has been many times I have said to myself 'I wish I could do that' fact is you and Sara did do it that which is such a fantastic achievement. You take care of yourself and enjoy your coffee with Sara every day.

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    1. Thank you Jackie and like you said I am so pleased we took the leap of faith and achieved our dreams.

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  10. Such a a wonderful post its lovely to know you are going in Sara's footsteps she will be so proud of you :-)

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    1. Thank you Dawn - having loved her when she was alive and she me makes dealing with her loss a little more bearable knowing she is in my heart and by my side all the way.

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  11. hello. just found this weblog. so sorry for your terrible loss.
    cried throughout the reading.
    hard to take comfort, but God is in charge in the end.
    we are Eastern Orthodox so i will tell you a story.
    friend's mother died. her son-in-law, a methodist, was at the funeral or the fortieth day panachida [i cannot remember which] with the rest of the family but only he saw this.
    he looked up and there was his mother-in-law ,holding hands with two angels. she smiled at him and then they danced away. full of joy she was, and why not?
    Sara is full of health and joy in the place prepared for her by our Lord.
    as saint paul says, he would not that you grieve like those who have no hope.
    we know Who our Hope is and Sara is basking in His Presence.
    God bless you.
    hope you will keep up the weblog as time allows.
    my husband is very interested in the english emigration to bulgaria and reads about it on the internet, so when i saw a link to your log i was interested to see it.
    i want to show it to him.

    deb harvey

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    1. Many thanks for those words Deborah.
      I am not overly religious, but have found comfort at times of hardship throughout my my life visiting churches and making prayers. The reason I wanted an orthodox service and follow the Bulgarian ways is that although Sara was not religious it was a further way of integrating into the village and for many who were only acquaintances to pay their last respects to Sara. From the understanding of the religion on the fortieth day Sara leaves this earth and goes to heaven. She will there in her paradise and I will be in mine down here, the paradise we made together until the day we meet again.

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  12. Post when and if you can,anything will be welcome. That you have picked up Sara's baton is a major step along the path and for which you have my admiration. Go well.

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    1. Many thanks Paul, loving her the way I did when she was alive and she me, makes the future journey possible without her other than her spirit by my side and the love for her continuing to burn within my heart.

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  13. Dave, I ran across Sara's blog several months ago and enjoyed daydreaming about what it would be like to up and retire to a new country. I enjoyed the daily gardening, cooking, and yard activities, as well as your forays to trying new things and meeting new people. The internet is a funny thing--I am saddened by the loss of Sara, whom I feel I know as a neighbor, and yet you don't know that I've been reading from Minneapolis. You have my sympathies and my encouragement.

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    1. Many thanks Bonnie. Ironic that you are from Minneapolis. Part of my work before coming to Bulgaria was managing animal records at a zoo that I worked at. This entailed regular contact with a group of guys who eventually many became friends and are in your neck of the woods at Bloomington. What a small world we live in.

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  14. I love reading about the way you've integrated into Bulgarian life, it was that that attracted me to Sara's blog. I am looking forward to any further posts you are able to add.

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    1. I will try and post at least on a weekly basis time permitting Alcea Rosea.

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  15. Maybe, when you're ready and able you could describe in a post the Bulgarian way of dealing with death and grief as from what Sara wrote regarding Baba Danka and your recent posts it would seem to me to be a caring and human attitude which is lacking over here in the UK. Regards Kath

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    1. I will do Katt, but not at this moment.

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    2. I understand totally.

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  16. Dave,
    Thank you for keeping Sarah,s blog going, glad it is giving you some strength that people, even though they have never met you do care and in a way feel part of your life.
    Holding out a hand.
    On a lighter note love the goat heard picture, is that a full time job for them or a hobby?.
    Regards Kirrie x

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  17. Many thanks Kirrie for your kind words.

    A full time job weather permitting. They come and pick up the goats at 8.30am and bring them back around 5pm now the weather is improving. Ultimately the goats get to socialise as they are herding animals, get a varied diet and I get some peace for if they are in season they just stand at the fence bleating all day.

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  18. Hello Dave, I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear of Sara's passing. What a shock! I so enjoyed reading the blog and hearing how your lives have changed since you moved to Bulgaria. I always loved to hear what she was doing in the garden and her wonderful cooking, and you with the chicks, ducks, goats and garden. And both of you with your dogs and cats. Your days will be very busy now and that will be a blessing. During times like these our work keeps us going. Please know my prayers are with you.

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    1. Many thanks for your kind words Tana50, indeed at the moment there does not seem to be enough hours in the day. Some days are better than others, but I am keeping a handle on it all as Sara was my world when she was alive and so although my is world without her in body she will always be with me in my heart and her spirit beside me makes the pain of the loss of her a little more bearable.

      Regards

      Dave & Sara (in spirit)

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  19. What a very lovely post. I am so glad that you are finding comfort in the continuing Sara's blog. It would have been awful to just have it stop... I think so many of Sara's followers thought of her as a good friend, even though we had never met. Her encouraging comments on my gardening efforts were really appreciated and I am very much looking forward to seeing how your garden comes along this spring. I did worry that you would be overrun with produce and not know what to do with it but I am delighted that you are discovering the joy of making preserves. But blimey you are turning out to be just as accomplished as Sara... those scones looked great.

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    1. Many thanks for your kind words Jane. Sara had fortunately made a plan of what she wanted and where to plant in the garden this year which at the moment cannot be started as it has rained for the last two days. If I think too far ahead I would I realise how much we did together and that being on my own now I will need to change and adapt plans and downsize livestock in order to successfully manage to continue our dream. It is times like these where I begin to get tearful as I feel I am disrespecting her, but picking myself up and dusting myself off I know she would understand that is necessary for me continue here. Regards Dave & Sara (in spirit).

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  20. Dear Dave,
    It's strange and wonderful how reading a blog written by a stranger on the other side of the earth can make them feel so familiar. Please accept my condolences; your wife was a sweet and interesting person. Thank you for the posts which had to have been difficult to write but are much appreciated.

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  21. Dear Dave,

    I was so very sorry to hear the sad news about Sara, I used to love to read her blog, so much of your lives reminded me of our own here in rural Portugal. The pictures of her cooking used to make my mouth water, I so wish I had taken more time to comment and tell her how much I enjoyed reading her posts. Keep writing, very best wishes x

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    1. Many thanks for your message Catherine. Although I do know how to cook I have a lot to live up to with hers and and there are only so many hours in the day, so posh nosh will be infrequent fr the time being whilst I set the garden sorted for the season.

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  22. w're into moving to .BabaTonka ; what happened Dave ? How is this possible ? without any notice ? be strong & take care

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  23. Good luck and live life to its fullest.

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  24. Dave I think of you and dear Sara daily. For the longest time I posted on Sara's blog referring to her as 'Deb'', because of the Debrazzaman. I have just realised that it's a reference to a monkey. Very clever and well suited to a couple who love and respect animals. This is a silly thing of course but I thought it might make you smile just a little, as I am sure you might of had a chuckle or two with Sara, over the reader who kept referring to Deb.

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    1. Cheers Curly Club. Yes indeed a monkey and she was Debrazzawoman and I am Debrazzaman. Basically when I worked at Chester Zoo I attained the highest grade for the year in the City & Guild Animal Management Course that I had taken. Part of the course was to do a project to which I did research into reproductive behaviour in female Debrazza Monkeys. It project was considered to be degree level although I had only done CSE's at school. Subsequently following this I then took on the Debrazza Monkey studbook for the UK population and using the information I obtained from the study managed to get the first UK 2nd generation birth (captive bred male and female producing young). I received a silver medal from City and Guilds which I have given to my nephew as he works in zoos as I have no children to pass it on to. Hence Debrazzaman & woman.

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  25. Oh Dave, my heart aches for you. It is so brave of you to continue the blog. Sara will be walking by your side every step of the way. I bet she smiled when she saw you cooking those scones. I would say 'make her proud'... but I am sure that you did that already.

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    1. Many thanks Cherie - at the moment some days good and then some days bad and the slightest thing can tip the scales. Due to workload I am only able to watch one TV programme a day at the moment and so I sat and watched "Call the Midwife". Subsequently blubbling like a good un and has taken most of the day to buck myself up.

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  26. Dear Dave I am so sorry to hear about Sara. I have read all of her blogs looked forward to them eagaly I have been away and have just read your sad news. Thank you for having the courage to carry on with the blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  27. Dave I am still enjoying reading Sara's blog, which you are keeping going wonderfully. The new labels for the jars of sauce are an excellent idea and the fish board is fabulous! Lots of good wishes from me

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  28. Dave,
    You are doing so well, please keep on keeping on, one step at a time!.
    Don,t allow the black dog to get a grip!.
    Sara was positive and adored you!.
    You an do this!.
    Thoughts with you!.
    Kirrie xx

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  29. Dear Dave I am so sorry to hear about Sara.https://www.afu.ac.ae/en/hr/vision-and-mission/

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