There and back again.

I have now become a considerable land baron. I was surprised when the week before I flew to see stepbrother David in Bulgaria, I received a letter from the Council notifying me that I had an allotment. I went to have a look and discovered it was a split allotment, it had been divided in two and was just the perfect size to supply two people with fresh vegetables. It was situated across town and a 10-minute cycle away. I sent off the agreement and committed to paying £12.50 a year for rental. After returning from Bulgaria, I set about clearing the ground, chopping back the hedge and managed to dig four rows. The soil is quite heavy but looks productive. Then, on the following day, I again got a letter from the Council notifying me that I had an allotment. This time, more conveniently on Welland Park Road. I went to have a look at it to find it was not as picturesque as the other and was quite unkempt. However, the soil is very good. I rang a man at the Council (a Mr Parrott) and pointed out that I would like to have it, but as I had already dug over the other one, could I have both? Surprisingly he said that he wondered why my name was so familiar and admitted that as it was his mistake I could have them both. This one costs £14 a year. I shall be drilling for oil soon.

Bulgaria Trip

On Wednesday I drove to Thurcroft via Newark to see Charlotte and Ellis and then on to stay the night with Nan. The following day I returned to Harborough with Nan. On Friday, I collected Roger Woolnough from Braybrook and then the three of us (I, Nan & Roger) caught the 6.45 pm train to Luton Airport. Our flight was an hour late, but we eventually flew with Wizzair at 11 pm to Sofia. Somehow, we managed to be first onto the flight, first off and then first out of the airport (teamwork!). We arrived at 3 am (Bulgarian time) and thankfully David and Genya were there to meet us. We were very tired and after a bumpy three-and-a-half-hour drive along roads that had not improved from the last time, we arrived in Ritya. We immediately went to bed.

Still very tired from the journey, we didn’t go anywhere for a few days, the weather was pleasant so Roger and I busied ourselves chopping down trees and sawing into logs for David’s winter supply. During the week we did venture out to eat in a variety of local restaurants and ate very cheaply on three occasions. Later in the week, on other excursions, we visited the local monastery, the old capital of Veliko Turnovo and a local market in Dryanovo. The weather turned very hot, a scorching 35 degrees in the shade!!!! David, Roger and I managed a few jobs around the property in the early mornings, but by 10.30 am it was too hot to do anything after that. Roger and I bought some honey from a bee-keeping neighbour in the village and planned lots of walks that unfortunately because of the temperature we didn’t go on. Not surprisingly we spent a lot of time near the pool, though only David and I  ever went swimming, the others preferring the sanctuary of sunshades to keep cool. We did a lot of eating, talking, dozing and listening to Nan’s endless stories of her youth. David’s house is much changed from when I first saw it and it looks like and is a very comfortable place to live. On one of the evenings, it got quite chilly so we lit a fire in the lounge, the room quickly got very hot and snug, satisfyingly the insulation work David and I did last November certainly works. We took the opportunity to bake some bread in the oven above the fire, but because of the heat it cooked very fast and some got burnt before it was noticed. Unfortunately, I was visiting the toilet when the bread was baking so guess who ended up with the scorched ones?

Our return journey to the UK was a re-run of the previous week. A midnight start and a four-hour gentle and sleepy drive to the airport continued with being first on the plane, first off, first to the train station and then a sleepy two-hour wait for a train to Harborough, because of Sunday track workings. Again, on arrival, it was straight to bed.

Nan stayed with us for a few days before I took her home via Newark to pick up Charlotte, Lucas and Ellis. I was taking them to Harborough as Charlotte wanted to check out the pre-schools and nurseries in the area.

As Sue was working most days that week I drove them to all the educational establishments we could find. Suraj joined us later that first evening. He now works in Wellingborough and has been suffering a two-hour commute each way from Newark. He looked very tired. He has bought a Fiat Brava to save on petrol, but it is still costing £25 a day.

On Thursday both Sue and I were working at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, so Charlotte and the kids were wrinkly-free for the day! Annoyingly, one day, Suraj had a car run into the back of his Brava on the way to work at 7 pm. Thankfully there wasn’t much damage but, as it is an insurance job he is picking up a courtesy car this week. Hope it is economical on petrol. On

Friday I took Charlotte and the boys to look at the schools in Desborough. Loatlands School is just 5 mins walk away. The Head is Andy Spencer, I went to DeMontfort University with him and we also played rugby together. I think I rather confused him, he didn’t know whether to offer a cup of coffee, pass us on to the secretary, let the Foundation teacher take us to the unit or go to the pub for a pint with me. We had a good look around his foundation unit, it was quite impressive with a seemingly efficient Unit leader. I thought it was a shame Farndon Fields School couldn’t tempt her to work there (I did try).

Charlotte is hoping that the house will be built by Christmas, optimistically one afternoon when we visited the building site they did seem to be cracking on with it. They were working on the second story, but the roof needs to be on before the weather turns. Suraj and Charlotte are having a headache negotiating with the builders on types of doors, wardrobes etc. To installed.  It is amazing how the cost of things seems to mount up. A stressful time, but I am glad Sue and I are not moving house.

Jamie asked me to sit down with him this morning, he wanted to discuss how I could help him attempt to get onto the housing ladder. I promised to look into purchasing a one-bed apartment in a new build by the railway station with him. It could turn out to be a useful investment for him, but ideally he should have started saving a lot sooner and not wasted so much money on his car. He does seem very serious, so we shall find out what it entails and whether he can get a mortgage.

On Saturday the Newarks went home and I refereed my first game of the season. The match was in Leicester,  Vipers against Harborough Vets. A was a bit of a shock for the Harborough team when they saw who was the referee, but if they thought it might have given them an advantage, they were mistaken. They narrowly lost to a try against the run of play in the last 2 minutes. Despite  nearly scoring themselves at the death, a desperate Viper’s defence kept them away from the try line.

On October 3rd I will fly to Italy to do some grape picking and meet up with my old doggy friend Wags and his guardians Joan and Phil. I will be accompanied by another old dog, Roger Woolnough. I am looking forward to it.

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