Well winter finally landed here, although to be honest it's not that bad. The snow is making the garden look pretty and the woodburner is keeping us all snug inside. Bit of a change from last week when we were sitting outside in the sunshine in over 20 degrees C and now it's just about freezing.
The donkey is refusing to go outside now and some of the pigs are enjoying their last few weeks of life - not that they know they won't be here in the new year! So it's pork on the menu for christmas lunch and I'm really looking forward to it. The kids have been cajoled into decorating the xmas tree but as they're both now teenagers a small part of the magic seems to have disappeared.
As I'm typing this the village bells are ringing, such a shame as it means that one of the residents has passed away. It's a sound we'll more than likely hear quite often in the next couple of months as the harsh winters do tend to affect the elderly a lot more. Just last week a lovely man we know fell and broke his shoulder after slipping on ice, luckily he'll be fine but it is a worry.
So on to my winter essentials list, for anyone living or thinking about living in Bulgaria there are some handy items that can save a lot of hassle and help you survive the worst months.
Top of my list has to be a decent chain saw with a good chain. Unless you're planning on heating your village home by electric, which is expensive and we do have power cuts, you will have a woodburner. Of course woodburners are fantastic but unless you have a supply of dry, aged timber, cut to a reasonable size to fit in your fire then you may be in trouble. Having a chain saw is essential to keeping your winter wood supply going.
Next I'd have to say thermals - I live in mine almost and they do help. Although they are possibly not an essential they are definitely worth investing in, along with decent gloves and a warm hat. Try to wear layers rather than one or two thick items.
Snow chains and/or snow tyres are incredibly useful here. And best not left until the last minute as you may find yourself stuck!
Books, candles and a freezer full of food will also help if the weather gets so bad that you're snowed in for weeks. We've learnt from past winters to never underestimate how much snow can fall overnight or how long it can take to thaw enough so we can get the car out safely. Safely being the key word, if you don't NEED to make a journey why risk it? There's nothing worse than getting stuck or having to crawl home in dangerous driving conditions. Always carry a shovel in your car boot in case of emergencies and make sure you have a working mobile phone in case you need to call for help.
In the house there are things to do too - make sure your water pipes are lagged to prevent freezing. Switch off any outside taps and put those hose pipes away. Make sure your chimney has been cleaned, this will help your woodburner to work efficiently and also lessen the chances of a fire starting due to soot build up. Don't forget that animals will need access to water and shelter at all times too. Try to keep paths clear from ice and snow and don't forget to put antifreeze in your car!