Sunday, 15 November 2015

Winter holiday begins

Sunday morning, the new time I think for me to start writing these updates. I hope you haven't all missed me too much this week; we've had a lot going on and I probably could have done an update earlier but it has also been epic to have our evenings together. I'm not totally sure how to arrange this update. I had vague ideas of doing it in subjects like "sunrises and sunsets" and "progress" and "relaxing" rather than try and work through things sequentially. I will give that a go this week and see how it ends up.

The sky

What a week of weather it has been this week. Every day the temperature has got about 20 degrees during the day and almost every day there has been barely a cloud in the sky. It's amazing to be out working in sandals and a t shirt and sweating in the middle of November but of course I'm not complaining as I'd rather that than it be raining and cold and stormy like it is back in the home country.

A beautiful blue sky on Monday afternoon
A beautiful blue sky on Monday afternoon
The sun is behind the Old School
The sun is behind the Old School
Peach clouds opposite the sun set
Peach clouds opposite the sun set
Brightly lit from below the horizon
Brightly lit from below the horizon
Pebble clouds in the evening
Pebble clouds in the evening
Monday started foggy but as soon as it cleared off the temperature soared. It was such a gorgeous day as you can see from these pictures. The few clouds there were just added to the beauty and then with the setting of the sun burst into flames of red and peach and pink and purple. Amazing. At the time I took that last picture, about 6pm, it was still around 14 degrees outside. Totally not what you'd expect for November.

It was a glorious start to the day on Tuesday
It was a glorious start to the day on Tuesday
The clouds came over and they stayed all day
The clouds came over and they stayed all day
Sun shows again right at the end of the day
Sun shows again right at the end of the day
Tuesday dawned clear and promised to be another stunning day but it rapidly clouded over and was actually the coldest day of the week. This prompted the fire to be put on in Room 13 as we worked, the curtains pulled as there was no sunshine coming in through the windows to warm the room, and maybe a glimpse at what it'll be like later in the winter. The sky was still giving, though, as the sun set it broke through in a glorious display just above the ridge behind us. It's amazing how far round the sun is rising and setting compared to during the summer. I'll try and get a comparison shot for here soon.

Pre dawn is so beautiful here
Pre dawn is so beautiful here
Sun shining into Room 13
Sun shining into Room 13
Another beautiful sunset accompanied by bright clouds
Another beautiful sunset accompanied by bright clouds
Wednesday was back to beautiful. I was up really early to the toilet which meant I got out onto the balcony before the sun ruse to capture those beautiful pre-dawn colours again. This time the clouds did not roll in and the whole day was amazingly warm. I was working away and managed to keep the curtains opened by carefully positioning the tied back curtain to block the worst of the glare. I love the sun. The sunset was another stormer and I dashed onto the balcony to capture the final moments. If only I'd taken my camera with me when I dropped the men back; amazing views all the way as those clouds flamed in the sunset about 20 minutes before.

A foggy start to the day
A foggy start to the day
Great balls of fire!
Great balls of fire!
Friday started foggy, as has Saturday and today. The sun burned through in a most dramatic fashion, though, and I had to get onto the balcony fast to catch it before the moment passed. Things change so fast when you're photographing natural phenomena like these and quite often I can be find sprinting as fast as I can to grab the camera from wherever I left it to try and snap something I just saw and so often by the time I get back it has gone forever.

The last glimpse of the sun for another day
The last glimpse of the sun for another day
Just a sliver left, but the rest is there
Just a sliver left, but the rest is there
Yesterday was another stunning day, well above 20 degrees as we were outside. The photographs, though, capture the moment the sun slipped behind the ridge and its last rays for the day. Later on when I was out shutting up the chickens I saw the moon was stunning and so headed onto the roof terrace to take this picture. I really should have got the tripod but I was too lazy so this is the best shot I got. You could see the whole of the moon even though only a crescent was bright. Amazing.

Ridge peeking above the fog
Ridge peeking above the fog
And so we get to this morning and my final sky shot for you. You can see just how foggy it is in the valley though this has burned off around us. It is another cloudy day today, though, and cooler than it has been and the smell of autumn is strong. It was very foggy in the night and we were actually woken up by a shotgun blast in the trees just behind us and I headed out to watch the hunter shouting for his dogs and chasing something. I wish (as I often do) that I had taken my camera but it wasn't anywhere to hand and I was actually out there checking for intruders.

Autumn

From those pictures it is easiest right now to slide into pictures of autumn as it very much definitely is over here right now. A described driving back from the local town late one afternoon as the sun set and caught the trees and they all looked like they were flaming on fire, with the drama of the colour change and the angle of the sun. These sights are ones we are treated to every day from every angle and these are just a few of the pictures I've taken through the week to capture a small part of this beauty.

Piles of manure steaming on the fields
Piles of manure steaming on the fields
On Monday morning I headed over to the carpenter to try and arrange for the new toilet to be made. This time he was there and I was able to arrange it all which was really gratifying to do, considering my genuine lack of language skills. Anyway on the way I drove the normal road and could smell a very rich aroma and it was on the way back that it became obvious what it was; there were huge piles of steaming manure all over the fields. Pungent!

This was a really large mushroom, and crusty to touch
This was a really large mushroom, and crusty to touch
A normal poisonous mushroom
A normal poisonous mushroom
Strange colours on this squashed mushroom
Strange colours on this squashed mushroom
There have been a lot of mushrooms popping up around the land in the last few weeks, which I have already commented on, but nothing has come close to the monster which we found underneath the oak tree on Wednesday. At the same time I had spotted a perfect white mushroom which was poisonous and also salvaged another which was multicoloured but had been trodden on and destroyed. The mushrooms which had sprung up all over the hugelkultur have all gone, though. I've still not been brave enough to try eating any.

A thick carpet of leaves from the Tea Tree (Linden)
A thick carpet of leaves from the Tea Tree (Linden)
One purple flower stands above its dead companions
One purple flower stands above its dead companions
Linden trees in various autumnal stages
Linden trees in various autumnal stages
Amazing yellow leaves (A took this picture)
Amazing yellow leaves (A took this picture)
The show that the tea trees have put on for us this year has been just amazing. Now they are losing their leaves it has not got any less, its maybe even got more beautiful as the floor is carpeted with huge golden yellow leaves which whisper as they fall and crunch when you walk on them. The beautiful purple flowers have almost all died or been trampled now however there is one left that is standing proud and strong. I still don't know what these were. Please if anyone can suggest then I'd be so grateful; just add it to the comments below.

Late autumn fruit
Late autumn fruit
The apple tree on the front lawn has been caught out by the gorgeous late autumn weather and we have had another crop of fruits on it. We've not harvested these as we have so much else to focus on (as you'll see in a minute) but I think I may gather some of the fallen fruits and throw them to the birds.

This flew on silk and landed on my t shirt
This flew on silk and landed on my t shirt
Just a few caterpillars on our broccoli
Just a few caterpillars on our broccoli
These lasted about two minutes in the chicken house
These lasted about two minutes in the chicken house
There are still a lot of flies around, and lots of wasps looking out nesting spots by flying at dark patches on the walls. The butterflies are numerous and beautiful but too quick to get a picture of, unless you are just sat waiting for one to land randomly in front of you. I've seen the most gorgeous tortoise shells flying past which are huge and gorgeous. With the number of butterflies obviously comes a large number of caterpillars and we've had to pick them off our greens again in the garden where they were munching through the lettuce and broccoli like we'd planted it just for them.

Lots of progress

This week has been very busy in terms of progress around the place. We've worked very hard and we also had workmen back for one day only. We're trying to take advantage of the excellent weather to finish off the last bits and pieces before the weather closes in and we are unable to work outside because of rain or snow.

The stages of making the flower bed
The stages of making the flower bed
Both sides planted out
Both sides planted out
The first thing that was achieved this week, on Monday, was I cleared out then refilled the holes at the top of the drive behind the wall and then shoveled in a load of soil to make some new flower beds. I did this on both sides of the steps and by the beginning of Tuesday (this was my task first thing Tuesday morning as well) they were both ready for planting out. Later in the afternoon on Tuesday we went out together in the last of the sunlight and planted the ferns we had bought in these new beds. They have now been in nearly a week and are mainly looking pretty healthy.

To help the ducks get into the house
To help the ducks get into the house
Refilling the pond
Refilling the pond
Monday was an off day for me so I didn't get to go and clean the pond as I planned however A did and refilled it as well. She also made a ramp into the house as the ducks have been struggling with getting in and out and they have used it a lot. There is, as you would expect, no gravel left on it now but its still useful for them.

Proving the point with soil next to the path
Proving the point with soil next to the path
Wednesday morning we fell back into the well worn routine as A headed to get the men while I did an hour of work while she was out getting them. Bekir had rung the day before to say the window people were coming so they could work. First thing in the morning I shoveled soil and spread it on the ground next to the path between the washing line posts. I just about managed to get the first line of soil done before they got back.

Very exciting as the picture window is prepared for
Very exciting as the picture window is prepared for
Bekir and Sally immediately got stuck into taking out the old windows and then knocking through the central pillar to make way for the new huge window which will illuminate the nook next year. We were both working all day Wednesday, as usual, and so the times we got to get out and check on progress caused very much excitement as you can see from A's face in the inset. Bekir rang the window people to check dimensions heightwise and found that it was actually gonig to be 140cm high so he had to chip away some of the stonework as well however before lunch they had completed this and removed the double door frame into the entrance porch as well. We were ready for the fitters.

Can you spot Bekir in the Oak Tree?
Can you spot Bekir in the Oak Tree?
Making sure everything is a clean cut
Making sure everything is a clean cut
Even higher now and trimming these branches
Even higher now and trimming these branches
Job complete he swings down
Job complete he swings down
After lunch I asked Bekir if he could quickly remove the damaged branches from the oak tree and he said it'd be so quick he may as well get the lot done. Almost before I knew it he had shimmied up the tree and was standing near the top with the chainsaw running and the branches were raining down all around.  It was fascinating to watch as he trimmed all around where he was standing, leaving something to hold onto as he moved to the next safe place to stand and then removing the final branches of his previous perch. I must admit that while he was doing this I sat and watched from beginning to end and it's a good thing I wasn't that busy at work as it did distract me for a while.


As well as snapping pictures I took some videos of this process and I've edited them together for you above. The amount of wood which has come off that tree was astounding and Bekir said that next March he'll start the working year by trimming all the Tea Trees in the same way which will be a shame as they then won't flower next year but it'll make them stronger and more healthy for all the years after that. We also probably won't need to buy much wood for next winter at all.

Caught in the act of surprising me
Caught in the act of surprising me
Explaining the lagging to me
Explaining the lagging to me
Fully lagged and no risk of freezing
Fully lagged and no risk of freezing
The window men had still not turned up so Bekir pulled the other workbench out from the green building and fixed it up for me as a surprise which was just lovely. He's put new wood in where the old wood was rotten and cleaning it from the muck that had accumulated over the years. He also got the insulation onto the water tank in the roof and so every little task has been finished for the year. Brilliant.

All hands working to lift the big window into place
All hands working to lift the big window into place
Our new front door; keeps Rambo safe from wolves
Our new front door; keeps Rambo safe from wolves
Picture window in, and back door
Picture window in, and back door
Inside the nook with all that lovely light
Inside the nook with all that lovely light
About 3pm the men finally arrived with the front door, the back door and the big window for the nook. Bekir and Sally got stuck in and helped out where they were needed and Sally swept more of the rubbish out from the back corridor while he was free; he is just excellent. It didn't take them very long to fit everything and as soon as the window men left I told Bekir and Sally to pack up and took them home early. Now their holiday can start in earnest and so can ours.

A chainsawing wood while Thelma gets covered in sawdust
A chainsawing wood while Thelma gets covered in sawdust
Stretching her back out once the job was completed
Stretching her back out once the job was completed
The pile of wood A chopped
The pile of wood A chopped
On Thursday lunch time A got the chainsaw out and cut up all the lengths of wood that I had piled up while doing the kindling. It's actually quite hard work doing this as the chainsaw is not that light and you have to bend your back quite a lot both while you're cutting as as you are getting the next length to chop. She was pretty exhausted by the end but also very proud and so she should be; that's another good pile of wood to go in to dry and these sizes we're finding we are using a lot of to just get the fire going before the larger chunks go on.

A start made on clearing the Oak away from the front lawn
A start made on clearing the Oak away from the front lawn
Me and my most proud possession
Me and my most proud possession
I wasn't idle while she was working and I started the process of dragging the oak tree branches out from the front lawn and onto the patio where they can be trimmed easier no matter what the weather. The other reason for wanting to clear this quickly is my new lawnmower has arrived and so we need to rake all the leaves and sticks and stones off the grass so it can be cut to a neat length. I cannot deny that after pushing that mower, and seeing it cut so effectively, I spent the whole of the rest of the evening grinning madly. I'm very pleased with it. I'll have to sharpen the blades, and oil it and maybe put some more paint on as well to protect it from rust but it works perfectly even as it is.

A dragging a huge branch into the pile on the patio
A dragging a huge branch into the pile on the patio
That is all of it
That is all of it
Friday I was super busy working at my computer most of the day but A was outside working like a trojan. She shifted most of this wood on her own and I just went down for an hour at lunch to help out with some of the really big bits that had got stuck standing up leaning against other trees. It was seriously heavy work dragging these around and towards the end we did resort to the chainsaw and trimmed some down in situ before trying to move them. All of this will need to be chopped into shorter lengths and stored inside over winter to dry for next year. Of course to do this we'll need to have a clear room for it.

Before and after we cleared some of the wood
Before and after we cleared some of the wood
A proudly next to her excellent bonfire
A proudly next to her excellent bonfire
Another row of soil is down
Another row of soil is down
Which is why, on Saturday morning, we headed down and started to clear out the mess in the wood room which we had so laboriously filled up last year. I was inside and A was out stood next to Thomas and we worked efficiently together to pass the wood out through the window and load it onto Thomas. When he was full A drove him up and built the bonfire while I shoveled soil and spread another strip of it next to the path. It took us about an hour and a half all in but at the end we had a lovely looking bonfire, a clearer store room and more soil shifted to where it needs to be. Success.

Some lovely flowers to greet us in the spring
Some lovely flowers to greet us in the spring
A also got stuck in extending the flower bed round by the drive way. She got the pickaxe and dug away some of the rubble that had been piled to fill it too much and then we worked together to fill the void with soil and finally she planted out all the bulbs which we have accumulated during various shopping trips. This will be a riot of colour in the spring and I can't wait to see it.

Relaxing, and the animals

It hasn't been all hard work this week, we've done a fair bit of relaxing as well. This is going to be the last section of this update as there has already been more than 50 pictures before I start on this. I've been typing on and off through the day and it is now evening on Sunday and I think A is thinking I should do this a little more regularly than every week as this has turned into a monster. I'll see how busy next week is as it could be a quiet one, huh. Anyway, on with relaxing.

A walking back from the chicken house with lots of company
A walking back from the chicken house with lots of company
Puppies getting some play time with me
Puppies getting some play time with me
They love tug of war with sticks
They love tug of war with sticks
Then they are tired and curl up asleep
Then they are tired and curl up asleep
An arm around A's neck; so cute!
An arm around A's neck; so cute!
They love each other really... honest...
They love each other really... honest...
With the glorious weather we have had all week we have been able to spend a lot of time outside with the animals. This has been really good for Rambo who has at times really shown improvement with the increase in attention he has received. It's also been good for the puppies as they have played long and hard and tired themselves out a lot. We've been able to sit on the balcony ourselves and relax, sometimes it's been so warm that I have had to sit in the shade which is just crazy for November but there is no complaining going on; it's been stunning and long may it continue.

Room 13 is nice and snug when it's cold outside
Room 13 is nice and snug when it's cold outside
Veal tongue at our favourite restaurant
Veal tongue at our favourite restaurant
As mentioned earlier on Tuesday it was actually cold so we buttoned up Room 13 and lit the fire and worked in there as if it was really winter. It is a very cosy room indeed and even if we only light the fire for a few hours in the morning when the curtains are closed and we keep the door shut it retains heat very well indeed. We haven't only been house-bound this week though and we also went out for dinner to our favourite restaurant which was just lovely. I had veal tongue which is the first time I've tried it and while it was very tasty I think it'd be better as a sharing dish as it is very rich.

The Little Lady checking A's foot size
The Little Lady checking A's foot size
Rambo and The Little Lady
Rambo and The Little Lady
We had a few visits from the neighbours and I was lucky enough to have the camera handy for this one. The Little Lady had popped over to check out the size of the warm socks she is knitting for A and so there A was sat on the porch offering her foot up for a quick test fit. I laugh but today while the bonfire was going (pictures in the next update) I was called down by her and she has started to make me some as well. Bless her!

Little purple flowers inside the large pink flower
Little purple flowers inside the large pink flower
Last but not least we had a really lovely visit from SandS this week as well and we were able to show them all the progress that had been hidden by darkness, and beer, on the party night. It was only a short visit this time as they were heading off to shop but I was able to reinforce my thanks for their lovely gift which has flowered inside the flower since the last picture I took. It is so beautiful and I look at it every day. We've spent quite a lot of time in the living room this week, as we've gone in there to eat every evening and also watched some films and started on Sopranos. We bought ourselves a large chest freezer which will eventually be plugged in in the garage over winter and I also picked up a nice new bluray player which is great as we did have a very old and knackered DVD which whirred and skipped and was annoying.

So there it is, only sixty seven pictures and one video. If you have managed to read every word as well as looking at all the pictures then well done. What do you think of this new format? Please do let me know by the comments box below. I don't know when I'll be back for the next update but I'll try and make it a less epic humongous ridiculously long post next time.

15 comments:

  1. Like the new format! Some amazing photos, too. Mushrooms: would the local pharmacist be able to identify them for you? I know that this sort of service is provided in France.

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    1. Thanks :) I think it will work better for these less regular updates :)

      Yeah, the neighbours can probably help as well - at least with what is good to eat and what isn't :)

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  2. Hope you both wear those knitted socks with pride and update us all with the pics. ;-)

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    1. Cheers dude :) wish you could get back out here

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  4. The big white mushrooms are parasols, we picked and dried a quite a few big baskets of those this year. They require a sunny autumn to appear, last year was all too damp and cold for them. Get them while you can! Delicious fried in batter or added to nettle soup (conveniently nettle appears at the same time in autumn), or dried and powdered as a condiment (?) for most cooked dishes.

    The purple flowers - could it be a crocus? Tons of those in the autumn. The photo is pretty bad, need a close up with the flower cleanly shown, plus interior. If it is a crocus, you can pull out (use a digging fork) the bulbs and plant them whereever you want them to bloom.

    Regarding the pollarding you've done on the oak and plan to do on the tilia... Sad business. Destroys the majestic crown and reduces those grand trees to bushes on sticks. It's your land, do whatever pleases you, but at least don't pretend this will somehow help the trees.

    What I did love is the mower! Where did you get it from? It looks ancient! Does it run OK on uneven ground?

    As a side note, I do remember posting some comments recently - they got censored or stuck in the moderation queue?

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    1. Ahhh nice one; I'll see if it survived the Oak tree falling around it.

      I took a detailed picture a few weeks ago; we both thought it was a crocus though so that's good.

      That isn't strictly true as what Bekir has done is return it to a previous pollarded state and its crown was pretty magnificent. The issue was that there was a lot of damage caused by the snows last year. This, left alone, would have killed the tree.

      I found it on UK ebay and got my friend who does a "man with a van" service to bring it over for me. It's going to be a project both to get the mower fully working and to get the ground we'll mow to be perfect but yeah, I pushed it over stony, bumpy and stick-laden ground and it cut fine :)

      I reserve the right to publish or not publish comments. This is, after all, my blog ;)

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  5. Dorothy (Fi's mum)16 November 2015 at 15:54

    I love room 13! Those red and black tiles and the wood burner ... Hope you have a lovely cosy winter. Hope, also, that I get to meet you when you are over in the UK.

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    1. It's lovely :) this time next year it should be just an office which will be even better; no fridge or food preparation areas :)

      Thanks, we're going to try and for sure, I'll obv be going past Fi and Cjc at some point (or twice) :)

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  6. Love the presentation of your blog. I like to follow the progress of people who're making a go of it in Bulgaria and you're at the top of my list. I'm not there yet, but I'm hatching the plan to ride out next year to see if it's for me.

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind words :) We're loving it so much out here :) good luck with your plans :)

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  7. Glad everything is going well there!
    The views really are stunning.
    It's so nice to read about your amazing caring neighbors and wonderful workmen (we are very jealous!!)

    The flower could also be Colchium.

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    1. Thanks :) we're so very lucky with where we are because of all those things; the views, the location and the locals.

      Ahh OK - they have all gone now; they didn't last very long but were very beautiful while they were there.

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