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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sara is still with me...

Apologies for inconsistencies. This I wrote on another site which I know many of you may not follow, but it needed to be included in Sara blog.

Bulgarian traditions get it so right sometimes...

For the last two days following Sara's death all I have eaten is one sandwich and really do not feel like eating. I am certain bereaved partners/family members have been in the same situation themselves.

Part of the tradition of a passing of someone (if I am correct) is that for 40 days it is thought that the person departed is still on this earth and goes to places they once frequented and this is the time for those left behind to grieve and deal with life without their departed other than them being in spirit. Part of the customs is that each day a meal is made for you and the departed and whilst you have the meal you chat and talk as if they are there. At night a light is left on outside or inside the house for them to find their way home.

Well today pushing myself to carry on, I have started eating properly again albeit it being a smaller portion. Maybe it does not look as appetising as Sara's creations, but it is a start (honest I can cook). Nothing exciting, cauliflower cheese and a piece of gammon included for me. Although Sara did not really drink occasionally she would drink a glass of red wine made by our neighbour Jordan with a meal. So seated outside in the sun to anyone else chummering away to myself I am not replete and can continue on again through the day.

Some may think hogwash, there is no life after death or that we pass to another being on earth, but Spud effectively Sara's cat who as everyone knows could be a bit of a monster is a totally different cat now. He is more laid back and has been by side throughout the morning when I am at home, purring and wanting a fuss as I feed the chickens, water Sara's seedlings (which was a major task I must say) sweeping the path and the such, but strangest of all a thing he has never before sat on the chair set at Sara's place at the table throughout the meal and only left after I had finished.

Oh well washing to do must get on...

Debrazza Man

No poet am I...

Before I go any further I must thank each and every one of Sara's followers of her blog for their kind thoughts and messages at this devastating time for me. Each one of them have been read and it gives me strength to realise how much Sara was admired and loved. not just by me.

I apologise for not replying to each message individually, but as you can understand at the moment to survive without her is a daily ordeal and as with the tsunami of emotions I have at the moment. It is hard to reply to each message individually and to give Sara the praise that she so deserves. Each morning I wake to face the new day ahead without my beloved Sara, but I find some solace in writing a poor attempt at poetry to try and build some strength to carry on with day to day life.

As time goes on I will write not just prose, to embrace what Sara not only gave to me but to many others her love for life, that she was living the dream that so many desire, I was blessed to have known I will try to continue on her blog as her legacy.

Shine bright for me my Darling

Shine bright for me my darling
So that I can find you
Be it rain or snow
In the darkness to the night
Shine bright for me my darling.

The morning sun as she rises
Carries my love up to you
Be sure to catch it in the wind
As is sails on up above
Then at night, Shine bright for me my darling.

As each new day I may falter,
Be sure to know for sure,
My love for you will never falter
Wait for up there and

Shine bright for me my darling.

Good night to you my Darling

Does the flame upon the candle I light for each night,
flicker lightly in the breeze,
Or that you have returned all but briefly,
To comfort me and see that I am alright.

Each passing day without you I will surely falter,
But my love for you is so, so strong,
And that love gives me so much strength,
To then get up and help me carry on.

As  I lay my head upon my pillow to try to sleep at night,
I wipe the tears from my eyes and wish you a fond goodnight.
Tomorrow will be another day and I will soldier on,
Knowing that one day we will be together and kiss and embrace each other once.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

True love conquers all.

There is a saying 'true love conquers all'. How true that is.
True love helped me today, giving me a strength I did not know I had. Many search an eternity for such love and never find it, others it just appears, but no matter that love helps in times of turmoil, grief and pain as was proved its worth today
Today I along with 50+ of her friends, many Bulgarian, escorted my beloved Sara from home to church and to her her final journey.
In the church I ensured the bench for family members not only included my sister-in-law and brother-in-law Helen & Graham, but also my Bulgarian neighbours Venka and Jordan who are my surrogate parents out here always looking out for us when Sara and I first arrived in Bulgaria.
At times through the whole ceremony from people attending the house to pay their last respects to my beloved and lay flowers, money and food in her coffin, to the time in the church, to the procession to the cemetery friends would falter and cry in grief.
But I, I held my head held high, in the suit that I married Sara back in 2005 occasionally puffing and looking upward to the sky I keep composure. No torrents of tears were shed, but this was no arrogance on my part for as we were all with her in body I had her in spirit deep within my heart.
She in life was my rock, my inspiration and in death that spirit continues to be my rock. There will be times when tsunamis of grief will pound that rock as sure as the sun rises each day, but that spirit will hold strong and guide me onward.
I could sit and grieve to think why so short a time with her on this earth, but at least I had time, a time I will cherish forever.

Good night. Love you my Darling. See you in the morning.

Friday, 26 February 2016

My song for Sara

Apologies I am no poet

As angels stand resplendent waiting for you to arrive,
I look up high through tear stained eyes to see you just once more.
What will I do each passing day not hearing your voice again,
Will such a pain that I now have ever, ever subside.

So quickly taken from me, no chance to say that last goodbye,
No time to say a final "I love you" and tenderly kiss your lips,
As my heart keeps breaking as I try to hang onto your memory,
I beg of you please help me to guide me through these times.

Hold that torch aloft for me as I struggle though each day
So that one day with resplendent angels
With arms outstretched and calling me,
We will finally embrace and kiss once more.

and so Sara signs off....

Before anyone becomes confused, I Sara's husband am writing this next chapter of her blog.

Today my world, my life shattering into a million fragments as my beloved wife Sara died this morning in my arms. I cannot believe that only twelve hours ago I was talking to her and that yesterday she was translanting tomato seedling ready for this years growing season. How can my life now a constellation of memories of events over the last three years be suddenly sucked into a huge great chasm of despair. My heart pounds for her to speak to me once more, I wish she were her ready for the arrival of the first stork that she so looked forward to, heralding the beginning of spring here in Bulgaria. Will the melancholic call of the golden oriole in the walnut tree in our garden chant her name. How can it be that the burning flame of my life be extinguished so quickly.

Initially I was going to write a final chapter in her blog for her, but I cannot let her hard work go and maybe it will help me through the times of darkness that I am sure to have if I were to continue her blog on her behalf,

I must go how as I really do not know what to say to strangers other than she was my life, I loved her with all my heart and always will. She was my rock and at this moment I am frantically trying to survive in a sea of emotions in a world where the only lifebelt I  have is her memory to cling onto.

My Darling Sara, I love you, rest in peace and I will see you again one day.

Your ever loving husband Dave

Sunday, 21 February 2016

And more eggy a rant about rubbish

It seems there have been more eggs laid than we thought. I thought the last remaining Shumen had been a bit late laying this year and put it down to age. She is four this year and I thought she was slowing down. But no. After Dave saw her coming out from under the goat platform he moved it to find a multi coloured clutch of fourteen eggs, including a few white ones which can only be the Shumen. (I had mentioned that some hens had been coming out from under there a while ago, but the platform was too heavy for me to move!) Unfortunately we had no idea how long they had been there, and though I had frozen so many and had few in the kitchen we decided to scramble the fourteen and feed them back to the chickens. They looked fine when broken as it happens....but there are a lot more where they came from.
Secret nest

Six Shumen eggs amongst them

Scrambled eggs for the chooks
And they keep coming.....
Banana egg custard

Frittata to take to my sister for lunch
Eggy dough to make fruit buns...they were yummy

After a visit to a friend in the next village we also had a couple of goose eggs given. I had never had goose eggs before and assumed they would be a larger version of duck eggs, with very thick white and a yolk a bit bigger than a hen's egg. But actually they were nearly all yolk and with thinner white than the duck, more like a hen. I forgot to take a photo but they made a great omelette for two! Interesting.
Goose eggs and one of our large hen eggs

Still no eggs from the ducks, but a friend of our's with several different ducks says his aren't laying yet, nor are the ducks the goose people bought from us last year. By the way, for those who remember Ducky, he has grown into a splendid drake, and very virile!

All the fowl were let into the garden for a nibble of grass and they were ecstatic! Busy busy. We decided all that was in there was plants which would survive a nibble and they are unlikely to bother with the garlic. What we didn't reckon on was that they would sniff out a trough of recently sprouted salad leaves at the top of the outside steps! Not sure how many of those will recover.

Meanwhile the Sussex chicks are huge! They are dwarfing the other two. They have their door open now when the weather is dry but with chicken wire over the door so they can't get out. We think they might be too big to get through the holes in the run so when the weather warms a bit they can go out and start being proper chickens. Next week they should be joined by the next batch so will have to share the light between two pens.

Dave has been busy in the garden, widening the borders for more flowers, clearing and tidying and fixing the outside sink tap which froze and blew off in the cold spell. How we've missed that tap! We managed to get most of the bits he needed but eventually had to get the neighbour's help to get a short length of pipe with threads on each end. Anyway, all done and we needed a new tap on there anyway. Encouraged by another blogger I would like to get round to tiling the outside sink and making it look nicer. Concrete sinks have a peculiar smell.....

One of our favourites, Veronica, has come through well

The cornel is in full blossom

Dave has put the new cover on the polytunnel, a bit loose but OK

Posts supporting the roof....just in case
And under all the mayhem the peas are sprouting!

We have been round to my sister and BIL's house to collect some of their unwanted furniture and very grateful we...and the animals... are to have it. There is a corner sofa with the added bonus of a spare bed which is firmer than the squishy one which came with our house, and with nice high back for Dave, if he can get a space. Bella particularly likes to be able to watch what the neighbours are doing from her new spot. We also have a kitchen table which is outside and covered for the moment till we decide how we are going to use it.
Charlie trying out the high back


My sister's daffs

After one visit to my sister's we stopped off at one of the places by the river where we like to photograph birds. The side of the river has long been a site for the locals to dump their manure and building rubbish, as well as digging small pits for the sandy gravel. It took a while to get used to the piles of rubbish, but over the years the pits created have developed into small habitats full of insects, frogs and terrapins, which in turn feeds such birds as the iconic white stork, herons and rare black storks. The bigger excavated pits have colonies of sand martins and bee eaters nesting in the sandy banks. Last year the rubbish was flattened and things were looking a bit tidier. But now it is an absolute nightmare. There seems to be a lot of building work going on locally and the rubbish from renovations is being dumped in huge amounts, as well as general rubbish including plastic sacks and bottles, masses of plastic box strapping, valuable stone, concrete and general rubble. Not just at the regular site along the river, but at random sites including where the sand martins and bee eaters were nesting. The consequences of all this on the wildlife and sheep, goats and cattle which graze there, will be dreadful. So terribly sad. I dread to think what might be leaking into the river, Dave will have to resist going in from now on.

The pictures say it all

And how it should look

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Eggs and seeds

I have mentioned before that we have had a glut of eggs. It's why we have hens so I'm not complaining. We are getting up to ten a day which really mounts up. One outlet for them (my sister) has now dried up as their new neighbour also seems to have a glut and is handing them to my sister. We were sending a couple of dozen next door and no doubt any they don't need the daughter can use, but Venka is delighted that she has now got some hens that are laying. She usually only has meat birds and eggs are a bonus, often eaten by the chickens before she gets to them, but seeing that we have eggs all year seems to have spurred her to getting layers mash for the hens (which we get from our supplier) and it seems to be paying dividends.

We have some more eggs in the incubator and they are looking mostly fertile so we should have more chicks in a couple of weeks, both Light Sussex and backyard.

So now we are fully fed up of eggs all ways we will have to be making stuff from them until the car boot sales start and we can sell them there. Dave is fretting because his ducks aren't laying yet, but I am breathing a sigh of relief. He hasn't an incubator big enough to take a week's worth so I would have to find something to do with them as well!
They may not have started laying yet, but they are mating a lot and making a heck of a din!

So it has been a baking time with the freezer now having cakes, fruit bread, quiches and the like with it emptying fast of veggies. There is also a double batch of St Clements curd in the fridge, we have been eating creme caramel regularly (Dave found some fresh creamy milk in the village) and there are thirty eggs in bags of two in the freezer. I have also made some pink and white pickled eggs. No idea how they will taste and there aren't many as the big batch I cooked using my fail-safe technique for boiling and easily peeling fresh eggs failed miserably. So a few were fed back to the chickens. Still, the ones I did will give me an idea whether I will like them enough to do more. The pink colour was from some beetroot vinegar from the beets I pickled last summer. Thanks to Tracey Macdonald for sending me her recipe.  I'm sure if anyone wants to try them she will not mind me passing it on, please ask.
Good old stand by when you have too many eggs, creme caramel. The caramel could have been darker and the extra egg I sneaked in was not really necessary, but they were yummy all the same

Lovely, fresh, creamy cow milk!

We had these walnut macaroons at Venka's one day (no doubt she was using up the eggs we had given her!) and they were so good I found a recipe on line. Made mine with chunkyish nuts..yum
St Clement's curd, bagged eggs and pink pickled eggs.

Another good way of using the eggs is pasta. Dave loves his lasagne and I like tagliatelle. We are getting a bit of a stock of lasagne sheets in the freezer ready for quick summer meals later.

Lots of pasta

Dave's lasagne with rosemary and garlic bread

And my veggi pasta with sprouted seeds

So at the moment I have just a dozen eggs in waiting and will see if I can keep up this time.

The seedlings are coming along, not too fast as we are still in February but germinating and I have been able to get some annuals, onions, salad and brassicas into the cold frame. It is far too early to put tommies and other tender seedlings out there of course, but hopefully as things germinate upstairs and are moved out it will make space for tomatoes, peppers etc to be potted on into their own pots.
Sweet peas and marigolds can go out once they have all germinated

Tommies under bottle cloches, salad and fennel in cells. Just waiting for herbs to germinate

Peppers seem to take forever

The over wintered chilli plants have come through well and have started to sprout new leaves. They will be getting a heat boost this week as temperatures are set to soar to 23C making the corridor a rather nice greenhouse temperature by day without the steep drop a glasshouse would have overnight. Also up there the geraniums we have on the outside stairs are growing well, making cutting material and that can be done when there is space.
Chillis properly alive. They are only mild and two large plants, plenty for us.

Lots of fresh growth on geraniums

Dave has straightened up the polytunnel frame and strengthened it, putting supports down the middle so that if we should get more snow hopefully it will not collapse this time. We need to get the new cover which came over with my sister's belongings (I hope, we didn't actually see it!) and see if the frame is strong enough to take it. He has also put in steel supports for the raspberries and grapevines after the weight of the fruit snapped the 4x4 timber last year.

Well, the frame is upright and reinforced so we will see....

The new vine frame

I always get a hankering for fresh veg at this time of the year and with the broccoli, kale and cabbage frosted and ruined we were relying on the few sprout plants we had left. But they are now done...we had the last sprouts I have started to sprout seeds in the kitchen, something I used to do a lot of in years past. I love the sweet, nutty and fresh texture sprinkled on to salads, pasta and on a sandwich (fresh crusty bread, butter, marmite and a pile of sprouted beans....yum!) as well as picking at them.
Sprouted lentils to the left, mung beans on the right

Soaking chick peas and lentils ready for the next lot

But with the weather picking up for a while the lettuce and herbs in the garden will soon get going and there are some fresh half grown onions if I need them. We still have the threat of some low minus temperatures at night but hopefully it won't stunt things too much if daytime temperatures are higher and for longer. Already, in just a few days, everywhere is looking greener, bulbs and rhubarb are getting going, shrubs and perennials sprouting and the cornel tree is showing a little yellow on the blossom. Not forgetting the lush weeds of course.

All the animals are more active in the warmer weather and the cats especially spend more time out in the trees or barns night and day which is a relief to Bella as their rough play worries her. She should be grateful that they are now playing with each other and not attacking her! They have us in stitches as they fly in through the cat flap and scoot around the kitchen, playing ice skating on the tiles.
Charlie cooling off right in the middle of the kitchen floor...just where I want to be! He's losing his winter fluff in clumps

Spud enjoying just sitting in the sun and contemplating. He doesn't have winter fluff

And of course the goats are not here much as they go out if it's not raining

Out in the nursery the chicks are growing fast, with the Light Sussex now much bigger then the two hairy legged ones. With the warmer days and their feather growth they can now have the heat lamp off by day and have been given the run of the shed with a mesh door to keep the cats out. They should be fully feathered by the time the next lot need the lamp.
Going through a plain stage

We went over to my sister's last week as their worldly goods were delivered, and helped to unload the van (well, I was supervisor and lunch maker) My they have a lot of stuff, but it looked more as the house was fully furnished when they bought it. We have heard little from them as they try to make sense of the many boxes and flat pack furniture. At least it makes a change from chopping up branches! They did come over in the car the next day though, it must be great to have their own transport once again as they couldn't get out with the camper with the weather being dodgy and the verge very swampy.
And the Range Rover joins Kevin the camper
All tuckered out