Archive for Sep, 2013

Ritya 14

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 30, 2013 by David Palmer

Another early start on a day that was promising rain, but turned out to be another scorcher.
100_4947The day didn’t go well, we should have completed the tiling of the roof but rather lost our way due to the heat and the lack of thought. The pace was inevitably slow and so were two sets of rather tired heads. David started well with his task of cutting/grinding the tiles to fit the two peaks of the small roof, but I could see through the clouds of dust that were rapidly turned him orange that h e was struggling. The problem was that this small roof is that it marries into the much larger one of the main house and has a different style of tile. Early on in the project we had made the decision not to replace the two connecting rafters as we had done elsewhere, on the grounds it would make the job of latting and tiling easier at the end. We were wrong. Two level and squared rafters would have made a big difference. We also failed to square off the roof at that side of the house and kept it in line with the wall. Unforgiveable, as we had squared and levelled everything else. Plus, we had no idea/experience of capping the new tiles.

As I couldn’t see a cloud enveloped (health hazard) David or get near him across a roof with increasing layers of red dust waiting to slide you down to ground zero, I left him to his mental torment and finished off the side of the roof at the other (safer) end of the house.

After lunch (cheese sandwiches and spicy sausage) we carried on. Halfway through the afternoon I had completed everything that could be done in every other location around the house and was forced to climb the ladder through the nuclear fallout up to David perched on his apex, looking desperate. Not surprisingly, nothing looked straight, so after discussion it was decided to straighten and heighten the offending beams with two new lengths of rafters. This we did, despite running out of 6 inch nails to secure them and sacrificing our last spare rafter, this meant that David would have to re-grind his tiles (he took it well, and abstained from throwing himself off the roof).

With our new tactic agreed and in operation I cut the wood and nailed it in place, and David ground the tiles and laid them. In no time they were all in place looking straight with only a few slightly wobbly ones. While he started to place and screw the caps over them I pulled out and replaced some of the old tiles that we had broken on the connecting roof through continually walking on them. The light defeated us again before all the caps were in place.
Later, two tangoed Brits showered , drove into Dryanovo to find our favoured eating place was shut, so we re-directed to Casa Volley and ate there. As we left the establishment it was raining. Tomorrow would show whether the missing laid caps were vital.

We got through watching half a film before tiredness kicked in and we hit the sack.

Ritya 13

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 29, 2013 by David Palmer


Another crack of dawn start. It was forecast rain today and it did. Around 11am it began to spit, we were both on the roof, I laying lats over material on the small side roof and David on the apex grinding tiles. The shower lasted around 5 minutes and though gave us a minor soaking, the sun appeared straight afterwards and that was the end of any precipitation for the day.

We know what we have to do now to finish the job and are involved in little jobs that don’t require the both of us working together so little is said and we listen to the music on the hi-fi set upside, endless loops of ‘Tubular Bells’ and ‘Moody Blues’.

A couple of highlights was when David half disappeared into the loft through the material I had just laid and then soon after crashed through the huge pile of old rafters we had thrown over the side when he went to look at some woodworking I had done . On both occasions he had obviously hurt his legs but stoically he didn’t mention it and I to protect his pride didn’t refer to it.

For lunch David had last night’s pasta and I had some cheese sandwiches. Afterwards I wrote the previous days blog and as David had fallen asleep on the settee and Banjo was twitching asleep on my bed, I joined him.

I was the first to wake at 4.30pm. I made a coffee and then it was back on the roof. David was continuing to grind tiles and as they are a bright red colour he know looks as if he has been Tangoed. The roof tiles are now covered in a fine red dust making movement quite dangerous so we tend to move quite slowly across its surface.

Again the lack of light forced us off the roof leaving just the three roof connections to complete and lots of minor snagging. We showered then drove into Dryanovo for food at our now regular bar. The waiter even had a halting conversation with us this time. He informed us he had worked in Spain for 6 years.

On return to Ritya it was straight to bed.


Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 28, 2013 by David Palmer

100_4937100_4918With rain forecast in a couple of days we woke at dawn and worked on the roof until the failing light made hitting a nail a bit of a lottery.

The previous day had been so hot that David suggested that my bush hat didn’t have enough ventilation in it and lent me a better one that that he had spare. I placed mine on the wall outside the kitchen. This morning when I picked up my hat it had a very large hole in the crown. At first we suspected Banjo was the culprit but on loser inspection later that evening we now think it was sossals as there was not evidence of chewing just little teeth gnawing and eating.

I had a break during the afternoon when David went into Dryanovo to buy ridge tiles etc. I took Banjo for a long walk through the forest and collected half a bucket of walnuts in no time. On return I sat on the wall eating some of them with Banjo having the occasional small one, He is a smart little dog yet his walnut hunting skills are rubbish, he watches me pick them up but he ignores those that he passes and only pays attention when I crack one open and then I have have his full concentration. That’s why I only give him the little ones.

When David returned it was back up the ladder and tackling the myriad of jobs left to do. By the end of the day we had the whole of the back roof completed bar 3 ties in the furthest corner and the whole of front roof had been covered in material and 3/4 of it had been tiled. There was the ridge tiles still to be put in place and a couple of bits of facia board. We resolved to get up the following day and make and early start and go until the forecast rain or dark brings the proceedings to a halt.

I made a pasta bake with some spicy sausage for the evening meal washed down with a glass of beer. We watched “Rock Star” and re
tired to bed quite late.

Ritya 11

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 27, 2013 by David Palmer


100_4929The day was another scorcher, even hotter than the day before. Working on the roof after midday became quite difficult, ladders become hot to climb and the black material already laid a definite no-no to touch. Work slowed to a lethargic crawl punctuated with many water stops, until we ran out of water and then had to resort to a more satisfying if not more dangerous beverage.

The morning went well. David laid the tiles already up on the roof across half of the front-side, and they looked really very good and straight. I experimented in converting the chute we used to take the tiles off the roof into an elevator to slide the new tiles back up to the balcony. By the time David had used all his tiles I had refined my contraption to the point where I could load pack of 8 onto a little sliding platter and pull it up effortlessly after the application of wax rubbed on to the contact surfaces from a candle to the balcony. After just 10 minutes I had raised 5 packs (40 tiles). I can sack- barrow 16 tiles from the garden to the chute, lift/slide 8 tiles to the balcony and carry 4 tiles at a time up the ladder from the balcony to the roof.

Lunch was spam sandwiches.

After lunch we secured the facia board at the back of the house in readiness for the guttering. As the afternoon was stifling I took a welcome break while David pre-painted them before fitting and we had to wait until they dried, so for half an hour I lay under the roof and nearly slept.

Next we set the last rafter in place on the end of the house, laid material across the roof, worked out and fitted the first lat then fitted the rest against this measurement. Again, we ran out of daylight, for which I for one was grateful.

We ate in the same bar as the previous night and again the food was good. We stopped at a shop on the way back for some provisions and I bought a large chocolate bar each with the aim of watching a film and pigging on the sweet stuff. Like many of our other plans it went awry, after scoffing the chocolate in double quick time we went to sleep. Not even 10pm!

Ritya 10

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 26, 2013 by David Palmer


100_4922100_4924We were hoping to get most of the tiles on today, but we didn’t.

Being on a roof in full scorching sun is not pleasant! The work went slow and mistakes were made and had to be rectified. During the morning we painstakingly set the metal edge to the place which the end tiles would sit up against. First we had to fit the bitumen material underneath and then cut, position and nail the lats through both. It took both of us to hold them in place, with David on the top of the ladder with a 15m fall below and I perched on the rafters we had fitted. Having done this and making sure that it was right, David laid the end tiles and then the next 3 rows. On checking the look of them from below at the front and side, everything seemed spot on.

As we prepared to move along the roof, pedantically we checked the position of the metal. IT HAD MOVED!!!! Only by 1 cm at the top, but this 1cm would offset our angle and progressively increase as we went further along the roof. We discussed possible remedies at length but the inevitable had to be faced. The tiles had to come off, the lats prised up and the metal relayed . Disheartening, but we did it.

With that done I changed into shorts, bush hat and sunglasses and risked the splinters as the sun was now quite fierce. We passed on lunch as we didn’t feel like eating with the heat but stopped regularly for glasses of water, luckily we had run out of beer or might have been tempted and made even more mistakes.

During the afternoon the postman arrived with a parcel for David. Two strobe lights to put on the new loft space when finished to keep out/annoy the sossals. I rather think he is inviting them set up a disco and is more likely to attract the party rat set and he will be soon hearing continuous Bee Gee’s music emanating from the roof. A little later a van turned up with two shifty Bulgarians. They had some rather nice tools in the back, drills, generators etc. and wanted David to buy them. They obviously were the proceeds of some thievery and he sent them away.

Back on the furnace roof we decided to lay out a longer run of material and lats to catch up on lost time. This we did, diligently measuring the distance between each lat precisely (so we thought). With a last look at the position of the lats before the tiles went down one didn’t look right. On investigating it dawned on us that the end of one of the previous lats that had already been re-sited one had been measured incorrectly by 3cm. After prolonged discussion on the effect of this (the tiles already laid, did sit well) we again faced the invitable and took them all off again. Remeasured and this time (hopefully) nailed them in place. However, before we did this we decided to punish ourselves for our lack of accuracy by moving 80 tiles from the garden next door (that was a siting mistake from the first day that has now come back to bite us) to the first floor balcony. The effort totally exhausted the pair of us.

As we nailed in the last lat the sun had gone down and we couldn’t see to re-lay the tiles so we climbed down the ladder.

We had our evening meal in a bar that we had not been to before and the food turned out to be surprisingly good, but best of all they sold the dark beer that is so hard to find. We were fast asleep and very tired in bed before 10pm.

Ritya 9

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 25, 2013 by David Palmer


100_4919No Sevdolin today. We woke at 9am to a very windy day. By the time we were on the roof it was 11am.

Most of my day was mortaring the end bricks at the gable end to bring it in line with the top of the beams in readiness for the lats to sit on it. That meant the hated job of mixing the moratar then lugging it up the ladder in a tub that seemed to get heavier the higher I went. Prior to that I had scavanged old bricks from anywhere I could find them (that pleased Banjo as he got an extra walk). Then began the annoying task of chipping away at the bricks to make them fit then perching on top of the apex to fit and mortar. The gusts of wind made that job interesting. I completed the task about mid afternoon then moved to the opposite side of the roof and mortared in a few missing bricks.

David spent the time cutting wood and fitting them in the gaps between the rafters to make them sossal proof and then braced a couple of beams that we had not yet done.

We finished about the same time and stopped for lunch. I buttered a whole loaf and sliced 500g of cheese and chopped some cucumber while David picked and cleaned tomatoes from the garden. We had English sandwiches, washed down with a glass of Bulgarian beer.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning the roof space in readiness for tiling. We removed all the tools to ground zero , David swept the rest of the small debri while I threw the larger stuff over the wall into the garden. We next brought a couple of insulating rolls and a roll of chicken wire up to the roof along with six lats. David cut and laid the insulation down the middle of the roof between rafters and I overlaid it with the wire. Next we laid out the six lats across the rafters with equal spaces between to make a walkway and nailed them in place. As we were doing this Milen surprised us by climbing the ladder and popped his head over the roof. He stayed only long enough to express his disapproval of what we were doing before disappearing back down the ladder.

With that job done we stopped for a coffee. Back up the roof with more lats we placed the tiles that were already up there, in situ on the bottom right hand corner of the roof. After a bit of adjusting we worked out how they fitted and what the line was likely to look like when they were all in place. Back down the ladder we observed our handiwork from the barn steps and smiled, “That’ll do donkey, that’ll do”.

I took Banjo for a walk and collected a whole bucket of walnuts blown down by the wind, I then sat on the wall shelling them and watching the sunset.

A pizza each followed by a bottle of beer and a film “The Revenge of Wyatt Earp” and bed.

Ritya 8

Posted in Uncategorized on Sep 24, 2013 by David Palmer

We wake up thinking roofs. We spend the day talking about roofs. We go to bed and dream about roofs. Roofs aren’t so complicated back in the UK. They are made from standard materials, machined to accurate dimensions and thus are put together using logical and architecturally sound methods. Bulgarian roofs (especially this one) was put together using an adz to shape the timbers, nails to join everything, and there is the rub, the timber is so hard that they could never get more than half a nail into the wood before it is bent over.
Much of its structure relies on the stability of the box and the hardness of its wood held together by half driven in nails. It has proved itself as a roof for well over a hundred years or so, but UK building regulations would have it condemned. Nipping out into the woods and cutting a branch or sapling for a rafter or beam that bent in a particular way so that it met another peculiarly shaped one works here because the timber used is amazingly tough (though still not immune from woodworm or rot). Our task has been to straighten and restructure the internal shape of the roof to one that we are familiar with whilst using modern Bulgarian materials that are nearly but not quite standard. A 3 by 8 timber is just an average, don’t expect every piece that you pick up will be exactly the same, it won’t be. Bulgaria is now part of the EEC, they have a lot to change.



Sevdolin came today. He worked on the wood store roof and generally kept to himself, though he expressed disapproval of our work on the house roof, but wisely left it at that (I like Sevdolin). During the afternoon over lunch of a tasty but confused stew/soup/ goulash made by David from a few packets and tins that he randomly picked from the larder, I did have a long chat with him concerning the love of his life, motorbikes.

The roof work went on at a steady pace, both us are well versed in what we are doing now and apart from the occasional stop for a chat to discuss an issue that might crop up we are silent. Though there is the frequent thud of head on rafter to be heard which prompted me to fetch my bush hat and line it with a tea towel to reduce the inevitable impacts. To illustrate how close David and I have become, on one occasion whilst supporting a rafter we both turned around and head butted each other. He was considerable more stunned than myself due to the amazing properties of towelling as proved by the large lump on the side of his noggin.

At the end of the day we had completed fitting all the rafters bar one, which was left for further consideration as this married two roofs together. We have some minor snagging left to do before tackling the latting and laying back of new tiles.

That evening we were so tired we didn’t feel like eating, but watched the obligatory film (Host) and went to bed.