We’ve been in Alekovo 3 weeks!!

Looking up the drive

It’s hard to believe that Toby (our middle son who is going to be living with us in Alekovo) and I have been here over three weeks already. The passing of time is very different here and it has not been difficult to slip into the habit of waking and getting up when it gets light and by the time it is dark (like really really black as there is no ambient light) it must be time for bed!!

Our trip over via Doha, Sofia and a night in Veliko Tarnovo was trouble free – except that the day after we arrived, while moving our bags from my room to reception, I split my head open on the corner of a power box. Blood spurting everywhere 😦 ; anyway the hotel called an ambulance and a very nice paramedic called Phillipe came and cleaned me up and said my brains weren’t leaking – thankfully no real damage. We picked up our hire car (2 very nice guys brought it to the hotel and we did the paperwork over coffee – very civilized). An hour later we were home – memory and the GPS in the car served us well.

Our four dogs’ journey from Abu Dhabi to Alekovo via Dubai, Frankfurt and Sofia didn’t go quite so well once they arrived in Bulgaria. The airport vet decided not to work that night so they could not be released until the next day – so they ended up being in their crates for nearly 48 hours after leaving Frankfurt, disgraceful. There were also unexpected local paperwork and customs issues (I wont bore you) BUT they did eventually arrive safe and sound thanks to the excellent animal couriers in BG that we used (Charles & Janice Myer who run “Dog Tired & Cat Nap” boarding kennels and cattery. They have settled in well apart from a little tiff between Lilly (the Rottweiler) and Rosie (Rotty x Dobermann x Saluki) that resulted in Lilly’s ear being ripped open, so we have now met the village vet (2 home visits, treatment and meds for just 7 euros LOL). They are definitely enjoying the space, freedom, smells and myriad little critters around the place – it is very heartwarming (and reassuring) to see them go off as a pack first thing in the morning to patrol the boundary. They have accepted the work team very well – much to the surprise of our Bulgarian workers who are used to all dogs being chained up – they have been surprised at how quiet and well behaved the dogs are as they arenot used to dogs that are even just a little bit trained!

The weather has been great on the whole; we had a few days of rain immediately after we arrived and then over 2 weeks of constant dry, sunny days with temperatures up in the high 30s. This week the temperature has dropped by 10-15 degrees but it is still very pleasant, even on a slightly overcast day like today.

In our first week we didn’t have internet due to a router problem. But it’s back up and running and the local service is sufficient for our needs as neither Toby or I have been using the internet much. But it can get very slow in the evenings and it’s the only service to the village at the moment. The main thing is that we can Skype with Jane every day (or whenever we want) which is the most important thing.

The house is not 100% finished yet – there’s about 2 weeks of work yet to finish things like the woodburner and central heating, finish off some plumbing and the worktop in the kitchen – and finally paint the 120m of boundary wall and build and tile the roof over the main gate. And then maybe 2 weeks worth of snagging to do! Toby and I have been making a list and it will be interesting comparing our list with Nigel’s!!

Most of our time is still spent keeping an eye on the dogs as they interact with the workers, but we try to set ourselves some physical tasks every day (a few hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the evening) in particular we are going all over the site scavenging left over bricks, blocks, timber, stone, tiles, etc. and organising that all so we can see what spare resources we have to do things or make things with in the future. Even those few hours morning and evening is hard work for two people who have spent the past years predominantly in airconditioned rooms sitting at a desk! There’s a healthy amount of aching muscles and joints but these are reducing noticeably as each day goes by.

On the agricultural front we haven’t made huge progress but some. We’ve found (thanks to Toby’s eagle eyes) all the Paulownia trees we had planted in May along the edge of the big field. These have now all been cleared around the bases, ringed with bricks and mulched with straw and manure to see them through the winter. We’ve also done the same in the orchard. In May we planted 12 nut trees and 20 fruit trees; since then we’ve lost one hazel and 5 fruit trees which we will replace later in the Autumn.

The biggest news at the moment is that I have bought our first 4 pigs which will be ready in the 4th week of September, so now we have to build a pig house and get some electric fencing so we can move the pigs around to dig the land over – all very exciting!

This coming weekend 95% of our furniture in Abu Dhabi is being packed into a container ready to ship over. It’s estimated to take 5-7 weeks so should arrive sometime towards the end of October. That will definitely be a busy time. We are looking forward to Jane arriving for the Eid break on the 18th of September – Toby and I both miss her but especially me :-).

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