Thursday, 10 April 2014

Rain Day

Well today I haven't done any blogging through the day so we'll see whether that results in a longer or a shorter post today. It all depends on when I decide to bail to go and sleep. Anyway, on with the update.

These birds are pretty, but they can't stay. Sadly
These birds are pretty, but they can't stay. Sadly
The forecast for today was not very good at all and when I woke it was overcast but not raining yet; a good sign I thought. A cacophony of tweeting, while I was drinking my first brew of the day and not really very well able to deal with such a raucous noise, made me realise that the problem with the birds was not really going away at all. As I left to go collect my helper, and the men, they were on the stairs and as per ususal they flew ahead of me down the stairs and started flying around like lunatics in the entrance hall. I managed to snap a few pictures of them as they attempted to find somewhere to land but eventually I got fed up and left them to it. After tomorrow they really won't be able to get in (but more on that later).

A bit lower down the river
A bit lower down the river
Today I was collecting T, my friend's friend's son (I HAVE to have made an apostrophe error there huh) for the first of what I hope is many days of him coming to work for/with me. It wasn't that much further than the turn off for the men but initially I went too far and, after a few minutes, realised and turned back. One benefit of this little diversion was I got to drive over the river and snap a few pictures (once again, doing my patented running along the road having parked a fair way from the best photograph technique) and I was not late to collect him so it worked out fine.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
We proceeded from his village the few minutes to the men's collection point and were quite earlier, so had to sit and wait a bit however they came out slightly early, piled in, and we were off. About 2 mins extra gained, I thought. When we got back to mine I saw that the two little sheep dog puppies were still sat out (I had tried to get a picture of them as I left but it was too dark for the photo to come out) so I walked down and snapped a couple of pictures.

It'll go to any lengths...
It'll go to any lengths...
While I was there I spotted the goat which had made its usual effort to get to tasty food. This makes me think that a few lengths of barbed wire around the perimeter might be in order, not just the chain link. They are such determined animals! Having said that there were two of them last year, and earlier this year, and now only one. Goat curry, anyone?

Bekir and his precious parcel
Bekir and his precious parcel
There is a meal booked for tomorrow night with my friend and, as mentioned yesterday, Bekir was providing the meat. He was carrying this as he came to the car in the morning, and had a separate plastic bag with the kidneys and liver to stuff inside while it is cooking, and today it has been residing in my fridge, after I removed a couple of shelves to make room. It was a bit of a mission to get it fitted in but we got there.

Trying to stop the birds getting in
Trying to stop the birds getting in
At this stage it was still dry. The men got themselves changed and dragged all the kit out to the run to continue with the cementing and then the heavens opened. It wasn't just rain, it was a downpour. I was busy working with T to get him involved when it started, getting him to fill water for the cement but it quickly became apparent that work was not going to be possible outside. There were some pretty impressive rumbles of thunder also, which really did put the end to working outside. I managed to get T working on putting the bird netting around all the non-plastic-sheet-covered windows which he did until he ran out of netting; something to put on the shopping list.

With his new bag, and the pancake
With his new bag, and the pancake
Bekir and Sally were sheltering in Rambo's House when I went out to see how they were and I made a decision that it looked like this wasn't a short shower and I needed to find them something to do. I decided (even though I probably shouldn't have) that I would get them working inside to do some of the alterations that are needed for my ultimate plan for the building. The first thing was to knock down the wall into the bedroom, which will then be rebuilt and a window put in. As we were just getting set into doing this Usmivka Mush turned up with the first (of what I have been warned will be a mountain) pancake I have had this year. It was really tasty. While he was here I grabbed the rucksack I had bought him as a gift and gave it to him. He was very very pleased with it, and I snapped a picture for posterity.

Starting to knock the wall down
Starting to knock the wall down
After this the men set to with their chooks and the pick axe and started knocking huge lumps out of the wall. It really did not take very long before the majority of the work was completed and it was only a few bits and bats left to do. It had got to the time when we had arranged to go and view the car (finally) as well so I dragged Bekir away from the work (he really does hate to leave a job half done) and left Sally to finish off and tidy up, and we jumped into Thomas and headed into town.

It didn't take long to find the place (but I would have had no chance of any success without Bekir along) and we waded (yes, it was that wet; there were some huge puddles on the road, and my sandals were totally useless to walk in after a couple of steps) down to where the car was parked and the lady was waiting. My first impression was "it's really clean looking" and we couldn't see any problems under the bonnet. A few pointers on how to work things, like the manual tail lift and the back seat bench, and I was ready for a test drive.

We went up the road and along and into town and it drove very well, handled well, and had no nasty noises of any kind coming from the engine. After a few minutes of driving we decided to go to a cash point so I could get the remainder of the money I needed out to be able to afford to buy it. There was a brief moment of frustration when the bank stopped one of my cards but they had text me about "fraud prevention" so I rang and dealt with it. I hate to think how much that call cost me. Anyway, long story slightly shorter we went back to the lady and said we wanted it, she accepted my low offer straight away (should have gone lower!) and then she said "I need to deliver this washing machine before selling it" and Bekir and I loaded that in the back then left to wait for her near the notary.

Lucy, the newest member of my family
Lucy, the newest member of my family
We had a nice coffee sat outside and then T and I had a nicer one sat inside, in the warm, and then suddenly the lady was there and we rushed over to the notary. Now the process for buying a car here is very different to the UK so I will endeavour to explain (as much as I understood what was going on) as best I can. Basically you both go to a notary, the seller with all the documents and you with your identification and the cash, and a contract is drawn up describing the sale which you both have to sign. Yes, an official document. The notary also checks the legitimacy of the sale by asking if you understand what you are buying, and checking the price. She was a bit amused at me because the car sounds like a tiny cheap thing, but is actually a substantial vehicle well worth (I think) the money I paid. After about half an hour or maybe a little more of sitting waiting while the notary pecked at her keyboard, and muttered about the documents that I had brought, I signed a contract three times and the documents and keys were exchanged. I had bought my first Bulgarian car.

This was a furnace
This was a furnace
I threw the keys to T and told him to go fill her up and then head back to the house as I had a few bits to buy (mainly the cable for the HiFi, and some more coffee for the men) and we headed back, cold but happy, towards home. On the way Bekir rang Sally to get the fire going and he did so really well which meant we arrived back to a roaring blaze, and a baking hot Room 13. It was past lunch time so I made my potato salad, with a bit of bacon on the side, and the men had their chow sat downstairs (I did offer chairs in Room 13 but they weren't interested) and then before I'd finished eating they were ready for more work.

There will be a large window put in here
There will be a large window put in here
Sally had been far from idle, however, while we were gone and the upstairs was fully swept, and the wall completely gone. There is a small crack in the wall above this gap which will need supporting with a concrete beam however, should the weather get bad tomorrow, I will get them on that. If not, it'll wait til next week.

Starting work on the next wall to be removed
Starting work on the next wall to be removed
As it was still completely hammering down, and the thunder and lightening was getting worse, I set the men to doing the other bit of internal modelling I feel confident with doing pre-plans; widening the door downstairs into the bottom corridor and creating the shelf. I grabbed a pen and drew a rough line marking where I wanted the wall to be knocked through and then left them to it. They are amazing at this and it is great to have such confidence in your workmen.

And completed. Exactly what I wanted
And completed. Exactly what I wanted
I set T to finishing the bird netting and this is when he ran out of materials. Around this time the rain stopped so I started getting itchy feet to get the men outside and finishing the concrete. True to form, however, they were not about to leave a job half done and quickly got the shape exactly correct that I was looking for. I am really pleased with this; it is exactly what I was wanting and has transformed the space already. It bodes well for the rest of my designs.

What a disappointment
What a disappointment
I was still too cold so this was the moment when my resolve cracked. I had been determined that I was only going to wear sandals all the time I am over here this year but I couldn't cope any more with the unremitting cold (the weather app said that the real feel temperature was -1 so I don't feel too soft giving in). I pulled some socks out of the suitcase and put my work boots on. It felt great to have warm feet again.

Bekir waiting patiently for T to take the photograph
Bekir waiting patiently for T to take the photograph
I dragged Bekir over to help me and T start putting the first of the perimeter fencing around and thankfully he came over and was happy to help. We started by securing one end and then stretching the roll out completely; not an easy task as the hooks top and bottom were determined to catch in every way they could. We then secured the far end and worked our way along, putting three twists of wire per fence post to hold it tight as possible.

I have (the beginnings of) a perimeter fence!
I have (the beginnings of) a perimeter fence!
Thankfully Bekir kept popping over to help, particularly when it came to beginning the second length which involved threading a length of the chain link (previously removed by the thoughtful Bekir) to join the two sections. This took about 15 or 20 mins of careful, painstaking and painful work and if Bekir hadn't done it I may still be there trying to complete the task. After we had strung the second 10m length out and fully secured it we reached the bottom of the garden area. Here we decided to stop as the existing fence is here and also that was overgrown and almost part of some of the trees here. Still, a good start and 20m of 300 is a step in the correct direction.

Epic dry stone walling skills
Epic dry stone walling skills
The point at which the animals have been in the habit of climbing into my land from the lane had become very eroded and the fence was gaping over a massive gap underneath it. Having done as much of the actual chain linking as we could manage (blood had been shed in getting even this much done, on all our parts) myself and T lifted rocks from the roadside into place to shore up the gap and stop creatures from getting underneath. We disturbed what I think was the same frog/toad as came into my house last night while doing this but I had no camera to hand at that point. The task was completed without any strained backs or damaged limbs which, considering the size of some of the lumps of rock we were moving, was not a certain thing.

These lockers weigh LOADS
These lockers weigh LOADS
This job done I decided to do the final part of my preparations for Rambo to move into his house; remove the lockers. Myself and T managed this with much effort as they are really heavy. We tried a few techniques for shifting it to the house however eventually pure brawn won out and we just hefted it and walked. I am going to clean this out and mend it (it needs a new back, and some of the base is quite worm-eaten) and then strip and repaint and finally use it maybe in Room 13 for storage. I'll be keeping as many of the original features as I can.

All this time the men had been cracking on with the cementing and had actually finished, including putting a little ramp over the concrete base should I need to use the barrow inside it. This has now been left to set overnight and first thing tomorrow the three of them will be putting the chain link around and making the gate for this. I am really happy with what they have done, so the fact it has taken a little longer isn't a problem. The weather this week hasn't helped and I just hope it is on our side tomorrow.

Almost without realising it the time had come for T to take the men to drop the sheep off at the restaurant and then head off home; I think this surprised Bekir too as he was talking about getting another length of the perimeter done but then noticed the time. I have chatted to him about future plans and hopefully everything is in hand. My Bulgarian is really good enough to be sure though.

They grabbed the sheep out of the fridge, loaded up Lucy, and off they went leaving me very happy at not having to drive. Ahh yes, Lucy. That is her name and it was a bit strange because the name came to me while I was driving home and then I noticed the number plate; 666 which meant Lucy was very suitable indeed.

The sheep, very confused indeed
The sheep, very confused indeed
I set to preparing my dinner and as I was doing so I looked outside and laughed out loud. The sheep had come up to come onto my land and encountered the fence and were trapped, confused, and not sure where to go. The sheep dog was barking and the herder was shouting and eventually they got themselves straightened out and moved on. As I was standing at the window my little neighbour spotted me and shouted me down with a huge handful of salads which I went and collected, with thanks. She was desperate for me to put a gate in for her which I have obviously agreed to, but later, and I have spotted the correct place for it too I think.

Roast chicken, butter fried mushrooms, fresh salad
Roast chicken, butter fried mushrooms, fresh salad
Dinner was the remainder of the chicken pieces from yesterday, with butter fried mushrooms and the fresh salad brought just now and it was absolutely lovely. I got a load of abuse from a friend about my experiments with chip making however I think that I cook very well for myself and my tummy seems to agree.

And so I am sitting here having finished my beer a while ago, with the petchka going if not as hot as when Sally was in charge, and looking back on what has been a mixed day, with high highs and low lows, but which has turned out epic. It seems this place is like that; you never really know what to expect and you need to just roll with things. Tomorrow I don't have to be up before dawn to collect the men as T will bring them in Lucy and that is another nice thing to think about.

My first visitor arrives three weeks today and I am really very excited about that. It could be that I have even started on the roof by then. Rambo will be collected on Saturday, when I'll also have lunch with my friends who live over that way, and I am looking forward to seeing him and getting him housed. One thing which hasn't happened is Georgi Stankov of "Bulgarian Properties for Sale" hasn't turned up which is a disappointment; he did say he'd be here this week. I was hoping to gain some clarity on his understanding of the PuP situation as it seems that most Bulgarians you talk to really don't have the faintest clue about it.

Now I'm going to go and get into bed and maybe read for a bit, but get an early night. I have another long and busy day tomorrow so I need all the rest I can get.

Thanks for reading, and yes, it is a long one whenever I write them, huh.

3 comments:

  1. I hope you're getting a proper lintel put in where that wall used to be!

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    Replies
    1. Of course! Steel reinforce concrete one :)

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