Saturday, 19 December 2009

Keeping Warm

Keeping warm in the winter is a must and there are various things you can do to help keep an even temperature. We wear layers of clothing rather than one thick item, vest tops, t-shirts, fleece jumpers, leggings, thermals etc can all help to keep you at a comfortable temperature when it's freezing outside.

One of the best things we did was to install a central heating system that runs from the wood burner. It wasn't as expensive as we thought either and definitely worth the time and money we spent installing it. We are lucky that my hubby is good at most things and after over 20 years in the building trade has picked up enough knowledge to be able to do plumbing, electrics, tiling and most things also his chosen trade of joinery. If you're good at plumbing and have a knowledge of how central heating systems work you can install a basic system for around 1500 leva (under £1000), the price all depends on how many radiators you want and how big your home is. Don't be taken in by people asking silly amounts to install a system that can be done by anyone with some good DIY skills.

There are lots of jobs that you can do yourself is a relatively short amount of time and with basic skills. Insulating a loft or cellar area is easily done and not too expensive but can cut your heating costs. If you're using a wood burning stove then your firewood will burn hotter and better if it's at least a year old and has been stored somewhere dry, also the type of wood burnt can give off differing amounts of heat. Keeping flue's clean is a must for safety reasons and will also help your fire burn better.

Friday, 18 December 2009


I'm very happy today - my brand new, shiny cash point card has arrived, well done Nationwide! So after a few weeks of waiting and me saying this morning that I'd have to contact the bank and have them send another as the first seemed lost it's been sorted out.

So this afternoon I put the old card to good use and re-grouted some of the bathroom tiles with it. It's not the fact that we've not really had access to money that's bothered me, more a feeling of being cut off and slightly lost. We physically don't have lots of money and do have to watch what we spend. So a trip to the "Hole in the wall" isn't something that happens too often.

I'd like to find a job here in Bulgaria and have been trying to think of things I could do to earn some money and so far I haven't come up with anything wonderful. A few vodka's and a brainstorming session may help there though lol either that or we'll get drunk, have a laugh and suffer terribly the next day with hangovers! I know which is more likely to happen lol So any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Soon I'll be starting my garden planning and once spring arrives everything will be all go again. There is so much stuff I'd like to grow and we have plenty of space here but some things just don't do well and others require too much hard work to make them viable. Hopefully the last 2 years will help me plan what to grow and where to help minimise the work that has to be done to produce a good crop. I'd really like to try and sort out a watering system this year too as that alone was taking me over an hour a day, every day.

So I'll be trawling the net after Christmas to see if I can find any easy to do and cheap plans to help out with the workload and also general hints and tips. There are a lot of good sites around it's just a case of searching for something specific and weeding out the rubbish.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Donkey's Don't do Snow!

Well we've had more snow overnight and the garden looks lovely, the scenery is fantastic here all year round but I do love to see the smoke coming from chimneys and the sparkle of frost/snow everywhere.

The animals are all in their houses happily munching away and every so often the donkey likes to let me know she's run out of hay by braying loudly every half hour. Not having kept a donkey before I assumed they were very similar to horses and didn't mind the snow but I was wrong......very wrong! Maggie does not do snow, or rain for that matter. Horses don't seem to mind and will scrape the snow away to graze, in fact our horses love to roll in deep snow, play in puddles and generally get filthy at any opportunity. But donkeys, well, the like to roll in sand, are truly stubborn and strong willed and refuse to go out in snow!

Even the dogs have to stay inside during some of the extremes of weather we get. In summer it's just too hot to let them run around (as Spaniels do so well) during the middle of the day and in winter they tend to collect snow on their legs, ears and belly's making them resemble yeti's so again they're housebound and only go out for the obligatory number 1's and 2's and a quick dash around the garden then back in to the warmth for a nap!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ooooh MMMM I want!

Right now, more than anything I'd really like a large tub of Celebrations chocolates! Mmmmm I'm almost drooling just thinking about them lol

I'll admit to being a bit of a chocoholic but most of the sweet stuff here just isn't up to scratch. For a country whose people have a sweet tooth you'd expect some wonderful delicacies but sadly it's not the case. Really good chocolate is as rare as hen's teeth and when you do find it expect a hefty price tag.

The one thing I did enjoy on a trip back the the UK last June was being able to buy chocolate almost anywhere, although my waistline did show a difference when I got back home! I really thought I'd missed the likes of Asda and other well known supermarkets but in reality I'd missed the variety and amount of produce they stock. Although there are now quite a few supermarkets here (and more opening all of the time) they all seem to stock the same stuff, the only difference being the prices occasionally.

Clothes shopping is not something I do a lot of here - the prices are quite high on anything of half decent quality and the sizes are small, small or small, if you're over a 10 then you are large or even extra large as one woman told me once. When we first moved here I lost 3 stone without trying, the extra manual work and change of diet suited me and the weight fell off. Size 16/18 to a size 10 in 6 months or so. Now I've evened out at a size 12 and am quite happy, much healthier and feel younger too.

Possibly the weight loss was helped by the "Not so good" chocolate situation, who knows? Oh well, back to dreaming and slobbering over chocolates I can't have..............I'll just have to stock up if/when I go back to the UK for a break again lol

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

10 Days to go....

What will you be doing over the holiday season? I'd love to hear from readers what they have planned.

Christmas seems to have come around very fast this year, only 10 days to go and as yet we've not really done much shopping - mainly because of a shortage of cash (and still no cash point card) and also because there isn't much to buy here for the kids that they A) haven't already got and B) need or want.

We'll be having a fairly quiet Christmas I expect. A nice lunch and a relaxing day, maybe the neighbours will come round, who knows? There will be no queens speech for us or games of scrabble as we're not that kind of people (not that there's anything wrong with either of those things) but more of a chill out day where the animals get cared for, the meal gets cooked and we get to spend some quality time together. We might even have a glass of wine or 2!

Christmas is one of the times when we do miss other family members being around, but in a way it does make us appreciate them more and when we do get to see them makes the time more special. We'll be making a few calls and sending text messages to special people over the holidays and also chatting to some friends online I'd imagine, but if you don't hear from us it either means we've not had a chance to get in  touch or our phone/internet is playing up again, which is something that happens regularly in rural Bulgaria.

Monday, 14 December 2009

An Interesting Poem

I found this poem on another site and liked it. Unfortunately have no idea who did write it.

The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

We love having a wood burner and it does make the house warm throughout thanks to a back boiler and radiator system. It's very cosy and you quickly adapt to living with fire as opposed to a gas fired central heating system like we had back in the UK. Wood burners can change the whole atmosphere and feel of a room but do need extra care when cleaning otherwise you can end up smoked out!