Sunday, 16 July 2017

One day on, one day off

Here I am once again looking at a folder full of pictures, taken over the past 7 days, wondering if I'll be able to type something coherent to describe what has been a very full week since last Sunday. We've done so much it has been a brilliant week.

Sandbags to hold down the edges
Sandbags to hold down the edges
Laden BBQ with a view
Laden BBQ with a view
Louise chills out in her bed
Louise chills out in her bed
Thelma wants to play ball
Thelma wants to play ball
Sunset reflected in the clouds
Sunset reflected in the clouds
A moth of some description
A moth of some description
Our Sunday dinner last week was a BBQ, on the new and superb BBQ which A had picked up from Amazon. The gazebo was proving itself worth every penny, with flies taking aim at our food and bouncing off the netting, and I had got round by now to weighting down the edges with sandbags which, combined with the guy ropes, made it very stable in the winds we do experience on our ridge. It was a glorious evening and very enjoyable to sit out there while we were cooking (and going back inside to watch the TDF every now and then). Louise took herself into the gazebo and rested on her bed while Thelma had her ball and was very keen to be played with. As we were clearing up to go back in A spotted one of the lovely stripy moths we are seeing loads of this year and grabbed the camera. There were many of these flying around when we climbed up to the castle last week.

Thelma loving the water
Thelma loving the water
Rambo just adores the water
Rambo just adores the water
Louise on 3 legs, checking this water thing out
Louise on 3 legs, checking this water thing out
She didn't like it so she's barking at it
She didn't like it so she's barking at it
A heron in the distance
A heron in the distance
Tired puppy after the walk
Tired puppy after the walk
Mum chilling out in the pool
Mum chilling out in the pool
We cancelled our Bulgarian lesson, and I stayed around the house all day, on Monday as we were expecting our wood delivery however it never arrived. It still hasn't, actually; I'm going to have to chase that. Anyway A headed out early with my mum down the hill to the river with all three puppies in tow and they all had an excellent time. Interestingly Thelma took herself into the water and swam voluntarily which is awesome to see! Rambo just loves the water as always while Louise was slightly less sure. The heat had got up by the time they decided to return and the climb up the hill was hot and slow. Thelma was pretty tired and fell asleep on me while my mum jumped into the pool to cool off and relax.

A is proud of her spuds
A is proud of her spuds
Such a beautiful rose bush
Such a beautiful rose bush
A rainbow accompanies the sunset
A rainbow accompanies the sunset
Glorious golden sunset
Glorious golden sunset
Watering the raised beds
Watering the raised beds
Preventing the ducks from eating our plants
Preventing the ducks from eating our plants
I had a late call for work so took a nap in the afternoon, we had an early start planned on Tuesday, and the evening was another lovely one. A was most proud of her potato harvest, it's wonderful having the quantity of plants we have this year as we can just lift the correct number and leave the rest for another day. After forgetting for days I finally remembered to get a picture of the rose bush I'd bought A for our anniversary this year which after a slightly slow start has begun to bloom beautifully. After dinner my parents and I went onto the roof terrace to enjoy the sunset and I was stunned by the sight even after these years of viewing; there was a rainbow to one side of the sky and it was just amazing. A was down watering the garden while we were up there and found that the ducks had eaten loads of our pepper and chilli plants; I hauled some pallets over and walled those raised beds off and I think this has proven a successful fix.

Looking out to sea before heading in
Looking out to sea before heading in
The snorkelling was really good around these rocks
The snorkelling was really good around these rocks
A heading out for a swim
A heading out for a swim
More of the superb cheese, sesame seed and honey starter
More of the superb cheese, sesame seed and honey starter
Mum helping me find teeny tiny shells
Mum helping me find teeny tiny shells
Early the next morning we were all up and about and in the car by just before 7am to head down to Greece for a beach visit. The border crossing was slightly longer this time, but not majorly so, and we found ourselves a lovely spot near some rocks and away from where other people would congregate. I was straight into the sea swimming and spent the next three or four hours swimming then sunbathing then swimming again. It was a glorious day and there was so much life to see by the rocks. We saw hermit crabs scuttling around, watched a fish hiding in a crevasse dart out and catch something, marvelled at a few very bright red fish flitting through the shadows, spotted huge sea cucumbers (or sea slugs, I'm not sure which) very slowly grubbing along the bottom, sending out tiny puffs of sand as they moved and just loved every second. After our beach time we headed back to the same restaurant as before and once again were wowed by the quality of the food; perfectly cooked and served by a friendly lady.

An absolutely gorgeous beetle in our orchard
An absolutely gorgeous beetle in our orchard
The sun descends behind a distant cloud
The sun descends behind a distant cloud
What a sight; it just does not get old
What a sight; it just does not get old
The backlit cloud, zoomed in
The backlit cloud, zoomed in
The test Corsair with a real shell on its base
The test Corsair with a real shell on its base
I drove us back (having rested on the way there after my late call) and when we reached home everyone had a doze for the afternoon. We came round for the evening chores and while watering in the orchard I saw this stunning beetle sitting near one of the pear trees. It was another absolutely amazing sunset which once again we enjoyed from the roof terrace. The only slight downer was A who had caught the sun quite badly and was in a bit of pain. Lots of Aloe Vera sap spread over the effected area seemed to do a good job of cooling it down. One other thing was I got a bit of time to test out the microscopic shells I had been collecting, and put one onto the base of a miniature. It worked really well.

It's been an interesting day since I finished typing that chunk of this update, with work intruding and distracting me for most of the day; I'm going to do what I can to get this done before my next work interruption.

Thelma with a Ming feather
Thelma with a Ming feather
A starting the game, while my mum watches on
A starting the game, while my mum watches on
The moon, rather well captured for once
The moon, rather well captured for once
Wednesday was a day off, much needed after the travelling of the day before. There's actually only a couple of things to relate about the day. Ming (of whom more later) has continued to be a very friendly chook and s/he jumped onto A's lap during the morning. Thelma, being the jealous puppy, decided she wasn't too keen on this and caught a feather as she chased the chook out of the way. Naughty Thelma! A and I played a really fun game of SBG as we get me ready for the convention and competition that I have insanely booked myself onto next month and it was a very close game after which we were quite tired. Finally as I was going to bed I saw that the moon was really red and actually managed to get a photograph to come out well. And that's it.

S found a tortoise
S found a tortoise
One of the many caves showing signs of human effort
One of the many caves showing signs of human effort
At the top and admiring the view
At the top and admiring the view
It was a very hot day; all that water was drunk before we got down
It was a very hot day; all that water was drunk before we got down
S looking out over the mysterious mine in the valley
S looking out over the mysterious mine in the valley
Thelma jumping down off a rock
Thelma jumping down off a rock
A post-hole near the top
A post-hole near the top
After our day off we had plans for the Thursday, meeting up with Nik and Emma and family over at SandS's place. On our way to their house we met up with S to try to reach a castle signposted from the road to their place, a sign we've all seen but had never followed. We took a wrong turning down a road at first but finally found that my Mum's initial suggestion had been correct and started climbing towards the summit. It was rather a hot day and we were all sweating as we went, apart from the tortoise which S found which was just annoyed at having its breakfast disturbed. It was worth the effort, however, as the view from the top was outstanding. This region has so many ancient sites and some of them aren't even really documented anywhere. After a while pottering around we headed down, following Thelma who is the best path finder among us all, and went over to a wonderful lunch party (with super tasty home made pizza and cake made by S) which involved much fun and laughter. None of us are particularly the kind of people who want to hang out with other expats all the time however we are very lucky that those expats we DO hang out with are awesome people.

Evidence of my Dad eating salad
Evidence of my Dad eating salad
Big smile from the Birthday Girl
Big smile from the Birthday Girl
Happy parents on holidays
Happy parents on holidays
A happy that Kunefe is now on the menu
A happy that Kunefe is now on the menu
Two puppies relaxing
Two puppies relaxing
The weather was changing as we were leaving their place but it didn't really rain much over us before we went out for a birthday meal for my mum. We were at our favourite restaurant and had a lovely time, with very good food including dessert! When we got back it was just starting to spit with rain and shortly there was an epic downpour. I was pretty tired from the day and after a small amount of hobby time, and being sat on by the puppies, I took myself up to bed for an early night. I am not sure what made me look outside but when I did I had a huge shock; the downpour that had happened during the evening had all but flattened the gazebo with the weight of water on the roof tarpaulin. I made a strange panicky noise and dashed outside, emptied the water from the pockets it had caught in, and pulled the roof off but it looked like the frame was very badly damaged by the strain. I went to bed kicking myself for not remembering to remove the roof when it rained. Not a happy end to the day.

The damage seen in the morning
The weight of water pulled the legs out of their screws
The weight of water pulled the legs out of their screws
Damage to the bolts in the joints
Damage to the bolts in the joints
Zip ties and edging to reinforce the bent struts
Zip ties and edging to reinforce the bent struts
Mum fussing Sassy
Mum fussing Sassy
An unladen African Swallow
An unladen African Swallow
Another test game is begun
Another test game is begun
Dad harvesting plums
Dad harvesting plums
I was up the next morning still feeling stupid and went out to check the damage. It looked bad but with a bit of checking I discovered that the bolts had bent in the joints, but the metal struts were still relatively straight. I headed into town to buy some replacement parts and then set to fixing it, with A helping as we strapped some spare edging across the most damaged parts. By the end of this process it was looking much healthier and I was feeling relieved. We were able to sit out for our dinner later in the day and it stood up very well to some quite strong gusts. Other events of note was my mum getting to interact with Sassy for quite a while, Sassy is such a friendly little bunny, and us spotting an African Swallow sat on our power lines, strikingly different to all the other swallows we have flocking around. A actually thinks it may be nesting in the Green Building; I need to remember to get a photograph of the nest she has seen. We also played another test game which went well as well and my parents took a pot down to the plum tree and did some harvesting.

The fancy museum, funded by the Japanese as it happens
The fancy museum, funded by the Japanese as it happens
The actual burial mound, locked up under conservation
The actual burial mound, locked up under conservation
An Orthodox Church we stopped at
An Orthodox Church we stopped at
Some lovely looking stained glass windows
Some lovely looking stained glass windows
And so we get to yesterday. Sadly A really badly stubbed her toe, so badly she thought it was broken, on one of the guy rope hooks while we were sorting out the gazebo in the evening after taking it down again and she was in agony and so decided to rest up while I went out with my parents to Alexandrovo, a Thracian tomb a little while away. It was an easy drive and we got to the place in good time but just as a coach load of Bulgarian women arrived who proceeded to walk around the museum, in which photography was expressly banned, with self sticks walking into people and generally being annoying. We did the exhibit, which was very good, and then found our way to the actual site where I chatted to the security guard while my parents found a cache. The large ladies of the coach group didn't bother to make the short walk to see the real deal (something I totally don't understand, but was very grateful for) so we had that time in peace. On the way back we stopped at a beautiful church and were again met by the same coach load, this time we were enough ahead that they didn't really impinge. I drove us home and we got back to find that A had actually rested and her toes were feeling a lot better.

Ming is such a friendly chick
Ming is such a friendly chick
Before the battle
Before the battle
And so the update is nearly done. I've just got a picture of A with Ming once again sat on her lap (Thelma was behind me as I was taking the picture, trying to get out to chase him/her off. S/he really is a lovely chook. As you can tell we aren't yet sure if Ming is a male or female. Anyway. Whichever sex it is, it is a keeper. Today has been writing this blog, playing a game (this time massively one sided in my favour which was a shame) and working. The weather has been horrible and the wind is still whipping through the trees. My parents took the puppies up the hill for a walk during the afternoon and A is currently turning some of our excess tomatoes into a sauce. I've got a call in just over an hour and tomorrow is set to be a very long day as we have a super outing planned.

You'll have to wait for the next update to read about that, though...