Saturday, 10 August 2019

Moving on

Moving on.

I have decided to call it a day with this blog.
Mainly because by the time I come to write it I've forgotten what we've been up to. Also coupled with the fact I only have a phone to update it it is very time consuming.

However I have moved the blog over to Facebook where I can put more regular shorter updates so if your still with us follow us on Facebook. Link below.

Thanks for reading so far
Mark and Julie

Friday, 21 June 2019

30. Quick garden update

Things are hotting up now, the temperature here is usually now between 30 and 35 degrees C and sunny. We have had some cracking thunderstorms as well usually early evening or at night which saves on the job of watering the garden.
The garden is going wild because of this.

WE have

Enough garlic to keep Dracula and his dog away for a good while


The picture above are my peas which are not doing too good. From my best friend Google I think it's too hot for them, they were seeds I brought from the UK. my neighbours bulgarian peas are doing great.

Broad beans

Beetroot are ready we already had some in salads and need to put the rest in jars to preserve them.

My melons are getting flowers on them

Red cabbage



Our first onion 

On the flower front we have

Rose in bloom

Geraniums  from seed

Gazanias grown from seed
Petunias grown from seed.

I have discovered a downside to living in Bulgaria though this last month. That is the bloody flies there are fecking thousands of them. I have tried numerous contraptions to trap them and none of them have been any good unlike how they show it on you tube with hundreds of flies in their best ever fly trap video. My fly killing journey continues and I will of course let you know if I invent the best ever fly trap.
WE have this month finally got round to lighting our outdoor wood oven. As its too hot to cook indoors. As I write we have some teriyaki pork ribs cooking away in there.

Homemade pizza for the first lighting of the oven

It was good sorry I don't have a picture of the finished article I couldn't wait to eat it.

Take care
Mark and Julie 

Monday, 3 June 2019

29. Visitors and finding things

We've had some visitors since I last posted.
A couple of weeks ago we had been out for tea and when we got back as we walked into the garden there was an almighty clucking noise. We had moved our chickens and given them free range of the land at the side of our house after our dogs had dispensed of one.
As I walked up the path there was a jackal with one of our ladies in its mouth.
It was broad daylight it must of known we were out and the dogs were in the house.
I ran towards it shouting and waving my arms about and it eventually dropped the chicken and did a swift exit over the fence into the woods behind. Scary creatures.
The chicken thankfully was none the worse for wear.
A few days later I was merrily weeding my strawberry patch which incidentally are now bearing fruit. I looked down and my biggest fear was realised I was stood next to a snake, the air was blue, my hoe went up in the air and for those around the same age as me will know what I mean when I say my legs were like Billy Whizz.
Julie was shouting "what's wrong" I replied " Julie my dear I have just seen a snake in our vegetable garden" ( read FUCK ME THERES A MASSIVE SNAKE)

 I don't like snakes I wouldn't hurt one, but sadly this one Although I didn't know it at the time had got caught in my strawberry net and was dead.

Much scarier than a jackal.

After Julie had examined it she shouted to me whilst I was on the roof of the house that it was dead. This brought the next problem we had to get rid of it. So being the macho man I am I let Julie do it. It was 4 foot 6 inches long so she tells me.
A few days later we found another snake that seemed to of taken up residence in one of our garden walls that had a lovely flat gap in it perfect for it to sunbathe in.
After the day had cooled off I swiftly pointed the gap and we haven't seen it since.

We have had some amazing thunderstorms and rain lately and the other night as we were watching TV we had the door open and a big fat toad walked into the living room. Im sure it said "what ya watchin".
Anyway that was shown the door too.

Terry the toad given his marching orders

We have had others come to see us too. My bird table is getting more popular as more birds are finding it.

A greater spotted woodpecker tucking in

A much safer picture of our first strawberries

We have some compost bins in our garden which we are using, however im still undecided as to wether we will keep them as compost gives ideal conditions for snakes to lay their eggs. As I was cleaning one out the other day I struck gold. Black gold that is not the Ged Clampett kind but a compost bin full of compost, who'd of thought it. Lovely stuff it was too.

Black gold.
My other find Is, when my brother was here in April we were discussing some daffodils that hadn't flowered and wether to cut them down. That very week good old Monty Don on Gardeners World said just leave your daffs to die back, so I did.
This week im thinking these daffs should of died back by now.
So I pulled one up , there not daffs there there garlic !
We now have enough garlic to keep Dracula and his dog away for about 3 years.

Lesser spotted Bulgarian daffogarlic plant
Shows what I know about plants.

Oh and we also had a lizard watching us the other day

See ya soon
Take care

Mark and Julie

Sunday, 12 May 2019

28. Cherry baby.

Only 12 days since my last post im getting better.
Things have been swinging along since last time here at walnut cottage.
In true brit style my weather update. So far this month we have had some lovely days today is 29 degrees but my god have we had some rain, not only rain but torrential rain with thunder and lightning storms. They are really really impressive. It's great to sit outside undercover and watch the lightning. I've been trying to get a photo of it but to no avail. But I got a video of the thunder to give you an idea, please excuse my stupid laugh at the end.

Hope it plays
The garden is really coming on with all the rain we have had and everything is shooting up i have also nearly planted out all i have grown from seed flowers and veg.

Veg plot today Sunday 120519.
Grapevines sprouting.
Radish from the garden 
These radish are our first produce from the garden they are not like shop bought ones they are lovely and juicy and peppery.

What I thought last post were plums turned out to be cherries we have two cherry trees and although there not very big trees they had loads of cherries on them. Imagine my excitement, fresh cherries I love cherries. Cherry pie, cherry vodka brilliant. Anyhow the following day when I looked I couldn't see any the bloody birds had had them. Fortunately Julie had brought with us when we moved over a large selection of shit Cd's so I promptly tied some on string to the trees as their reflections scare the birds off. Unfortunately this was a case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted we were left with two cherries. Oh well a learning curve for next year.

One of our two remaining cherries
Apparently birds dont like Westlife and can't stand Robbie Williams
This week I also made some nettle tea to put on our veg.Nettles are something we aren't short of . You mix nettle leaves with water and wait a week till the nettles dissolve then put the liquid diluted on your veg as its full of nitrogen. But oh my god does it stink.

In our village there are two other British couples one couple have got me interested in birds. Not like a swinging party or anything but the feathered variety. I never realised there were so many birds here. I have put up two bird tables and im trying to entice the birds to feed obviously away from my cherry trees so far visiting we have had sparrows, Jays, greatits, blackbirds woodpeckers. The air when you take the time to look is like an international airport. We sat last night outside and were treated to an air display by the swallows flying round our garden absolutely amazing. I managed to get some photos albeit there not very good.

Swallow in flight above our house
A swallow checking out our eaves 
And finally I will leave you with a picture of Daisy the little bundle of fluff we rescued back in February. She is now taller than Bailey the pampered pooch and she is still only just about 5 months old. I hope she stops growing soon.

Dainty Daisy (not)
Take care
Mark and Julie

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

27. A visitor, visiting and getting back to Bulgaria

Wow it seems like ages since I last posted and I suppose it is.
Since our last post we have had a visitor. My brother Phil came to stay with us for a wèek and I flew back to the UK for a week with him.
He arrived on the 5th April and it was good to see him. We did all the tourist things had a day in Ruse and showed him the city and we had a walk along the Danube, we had a trip to VT and even went for a Chinese meal when we were there the first one we had had in four months boy was it good. Although in true Bulgarian style the prawn crackers came when we had all eaten.
On the 13th of April we flew back to Manchester.
Apart from going to see family I had to go to court. Not as a defendant I might add but after 8 years of being divorced I had finally got my Ex wife to sort our financial separation out. All I will say is I've had cheaper weeks in the UK. But finally at last I now know where I am financially and can move forward, she has been a massive millstone round my neck and a weight has been lifted and I can finally close that chapter of my life and never have to deal with the stupid bitch again enuf said.
Whilst I was in the UK I filled my boots with all I had missed.  I had a chippy tea, 2 indian curries, a kebab, a Chinese and a full English breakfast obviously not all at the same time so that should do for a while.
Oh and I also saw my family.
Whilst I was away I had a phone call off Julie in a panic our dogs had attacked one of our chickens and killed it. Fortunately I was able to call one of the other two English couples who live in our village and they went round to our house to help. We have had to seperate dogs and chickens and I have since getting home diverted their run to the land behind the house. Julie said it was probably Daisy our 4 month old puppy that was the villan of the piece as she had feathers sticking out of her mouth whilst Bailey the pampered pooch was stood looking gormless

The not so tiny anymore chicken killer

It was with great joy at 3 am on the 18th April I left my brothers house in Stockport in my hire car off to Manchester airport for the flight back home.
After dropping the hire car off it was a short 5 minute bus ride to the airport and an as usual on time flight back to sofia airport with easyjet.
Our nearest airport is Varna or Bucharest in Romania but I flew to sofia as Varna is a pain to get to from the north of england out of season although whizz air start a regular flight from Liverpool to Varna but not till 1st July, that will be used next time I visit the UK.

As I flew to Sofia I had to get back home under my own steam so to speak I've always had a car when we've been on holiday and it was somewhat of an adventure to get home. From terminal 1 I caught the free shuttle bus to terminal 2. From there I got the metro to Sofia central train station. The metro is ultra modern and very good all the stations are clean and appear new and it is 1 lev 60 stinkies per trip (80p) its quite busy and the carriage soon filled up. It was good to see a young lad stand up and give his seat to an elderly baba who got on.
I got to central station and had just missed my train to Popovo and had to wait another 3 hours for the next one.
First class from Sofia to Popovo is 21 levs about £10 and that's for a 5 hour train ride.
Eventually I boarded the train which was like a train out of a Humphrey Bogart movie. It had a cubicle with 6 seats a sliding door and a corridor down one side.

First class !

I kept expecting German soldiers to walk down the corridor opening the doors looking for spies. Except it was a Bulgarian female ticket inspector who checked my ticket after every stop all 17 of them ?

"Papers ve believe you are a British spy"

Although I was first class the toilet on these trains are not. I have seen better toilets in crack houses. It was disgusting and although there was a toilet of sorts it went straight out to the track.
On the whole though it was a good journey and on time and i got to see some stunning parts of Bulgaria I had never seen before. There are no announcements on the train so I had to use Google maps to track my location after 5 hours so I knew where to get off.
When I got back to Popovo Julie and our neighbour were there to pick me up. I was glad to get home it had been a long day. A 30 minute drive home and we were back in our village taxi fare being a bag of licourice allsorts. From a 3am start it had taken me 17 hours.

It's good to be back 

We bought a meat grinder and after watching several you tube videos we made some sausages, you can get all sorts of sausages in Bulgaria some are nice some are bloody awful so we wanted to make some good old British bangers. Oooh they were nice.

Putting the sausage skin on the funnel, no rude comments please

It was quite easy and the finished article was NOT too shabby

Proud owner of some British bangers.

Since being back we have have been concentrating on the veg plot. We now have growing potatoes, garlic, onions, radish, broad beans, peas, peppers, chillies, beetroot, tomatoes, red cabbage, cauliflower , strawberries and melons as well as having grown lots of flowers from seeds.


Onions and garlic

Strawberries under netting to keep the birds off

Broad beans and peas 


Red cabbage under netting to keep the butterflies off

My plums are swelling oooh errr  missis

All is good here

Take care Mark n Julie

Monday, 18 March 2019

26. Bumps & lumps amongst other things.

I am a mahoosive 5'8" tall thats 1.73 metres for anyone not from the UK. Now I know am not the tallest person in the world but in the 55 years I've been on this earth I've never really had to worry about banging my head on doorframes. However move to Bulgaria and that all changes. It appears the majority of doorframes especially in our house are around 5'4"  the majority of you will already of worked out that that leaves a shortfall of 4 inches. I used to work with someone who was 6'8" tall and I asked him once how do you remember to duck when you go through a  door his reply was " you soon learn. Well I'm at that stage now.  I'm soon learning after banging my head about 50 times the last time I swear I saw stars. Feck me does it hurt and my head is still tender after 5 days.
Bulgarians are small people I stood in a queue the other day and towered above everyone, something I've never had the chance to do before it was quite nice really.

We have also purchased some chickens for eggs we bought three initially and another 3 a few days later. So far in 10 days we have had 10 eggs. Including buying the chickens and chicken food although they are also getting kitchen scraps they have cost 44 Levs so that's 4 levs 40 stinkies an egg about £2.20.... Bargain it is 20 Stinkies an egg in the shops. Obviously as we get more eggs we will be in profit.

Our first egg

Some of our girls in their coop
I don't know how old they are and were a bit straggly when we got them but they are being well fed and have free roam of one of our gardens and are starting to look a bit better.

In other news and as promised I bought a strimmer. I got everything with it a harness several blades little petrol pot to mix petrol and oil even a hard hat which I now wear around the house for going through doorways.

Me assembling said strimmer with instructions in Bulgarian 
It's made good work of chopping down our veg plot and top field and this also helps us keeps the snakes at bay as apparently they like long grass. It won't be long now till we get invaded by millions of snakes so I'm getting in early so they go next door.

Action shot minus my head, probably for the best.

In the veg garden I have been doing more digging and now have 5 beds dug but at times its hard going. It seems you have to pick your time of day to dig otherwise you get swamped by flies which take great delight in biting my forearms which now look like a map of the rhodope mountains.

Veg bed starting to take shape.

In the background you can see the cherry blossoms that are now out in force all over the village, spring is definately here it's gorgeous. We are having our wood burner on less and less and are able to have breakfast outside. We have had some gorgeous weather today is 25 degrees with clear blue skies.

Onion starting to sprout
Garlic growing 
Tomatoes from seed.
I have planted all sorts. Tomatoes, beetroot, purple broccoli, melons, leeks, peas, radish, broad beans, onions, garlic and strawberries. Not knowing much about gardening we will see how it goes.
We also got some more  fruit trees from Opaka market we bought 3 another cherry tree and two plum trees. The guy who had the stall also gave us three more smaller fruit trees but not being able to understand him I have no idea what they are. Also on Friday we got a nectarine tree all have gone in the ground in the land behind the house.

One day last week I was trying to tidy the front of the house up when I heard a car with what I would describe as boom box grind garage funk jazz shit music blaring out the window. It was efan our neighbour he is a lovely guy aged I would say in his mid sixties " I don't know where he got his shit taste in music from". Efan always stops to say hello and shake my hand, his favourite saying in English when he sees Julie is " COME ON BABY". Always makes me chuckle.
He abandoned his car in the middle of the road thankfully turning off his shit music.
He came into our garden to see what we had been up to. He looked at my grapevines which I think i have killed by trimming them back to nothing when we got here.
Shaking his head I said OK He said Dobre which means good so maybe I haven't killed them. He then gave me a masterclass on pruning some of my fruit trees which I had already pruned and told me my secatuers were crap. Then he was off back in his car up the hill to his house with shit music blaring out his window. I love how the Bulgarians will always help and are so friendly. I'm not used to it being from England but I like it.

Lovely cherry blossom

Today we saw the storks that have arrived in our village which signify the start of spring for Bulgarians. When you see the storks you hang your martinitsa on fruit trees for a productive crop. Martinitsa are red and white bracelets given out by people we even got one given to us with our shopping in Lidl. So we duly hung ours on some of our trees. Here's hoping we get fruit.

Storks have arrived

Martinitsa hung on one of our Apple trees
Well that's all for now
Take care
Mark n Julie