Tracey had said, within a day or 2 of the fire that we were having a party on the anniversary to thank those who helped us, Bulgarian and ex-pats. As June approached this was looking like a very silly idea, in fact just a week before the date (all invites had gone out) we still had no kitchen. For most people this wouldn't be an issue, after all it's summer we could have a BBQ, yes and all the salads, breads, nibbles etc that HAVE to be home made, need a kitchen, bloody women. Anyway kitchen was usable, at least 36 hours ahead of the arrival of 40+ friends. The highlight for us was Pauline & Guillaume who interrupted their renovation process to come from France. Unfortunately our English friend, Diana, who had also stayed and helped in the aftermath had a medical condition that prevented her from flying over. Despite all the panicking, by Tracey, nobody was horrified by how little we had achieved, there is enough still to do, including the barn rebuild for those who'd given us remote support to get an idea of our starting point. At least one of those people commented that they hadn't realised how extensive the area affected had been.
July saw the arrival of Ruby & Jim, Paul's youngest 2 children, for the summer. Last year hadn't been the holiday they had been expecting with us having no roof, electric, hot water, etc, etc so this year we didn't want them working on the property preferring them to enjoy 'normal' fun activities.
Jim decorating a headboard
That didn't stop Ruby help us concrete a floor and act as her father's assistant on some rustic gates someone asked him to make for them. That's an interesting process - watching an engineer build rustic. In addition Ruby went to help a friend, as a photographer's assistant for a wedding he was working at. As a thank you our friend took his younger brother, Ruby and Jim out for the day to a local open air swimming pool - where Ruby experienced sunburn incident number 2, the temperature had dropped to 25 degrees C and there was cloud cover so she didn't expect it.
Ruby's first ever apple pie
Jim's jammy bodger biscuits
Beginning of August a friend was having a BBQ to celebrate being in Bulgaria for a year and kindly included the kids in their invitation to us. August also saw us acting out of character and booking a house sitter and a couple of nights away at the coast. Paul didn't think it was necessary and Tracey would have preferred the coast in the north of the country but as we were using the children as an excuse we went to the old town of Sozopol in the south. Sozopol itself is split between the old town and the newer area, our guesthouse was between the 2 so we managed to experience both. The main beaches were exactly what you would expect from a tourist destination but we found a rocky outcrop at the far side of the old town which was much quieter and interesting.
Coastal fun and games
Highlight of the holiday was buying a smoked roast chicken, some corn on the cob and having a picnic on the empty beach, the rest of the visitors heading towards restaurants and bars. The kids eventually had to return to the UK and it was Tracey's turn to go back with them. She had planned on going to France for a few days to see her dad before heading to the North East, of England, to see the rest of her family but left it too late to book the French flights.
A week in the UK started with Paul's mum collecting her from the airport which gave them a wonderful opportunity to talk and get to know each other better. The following day Tracey's mum & sister, along with her sister's 2 grandchildren collected her for the trip up north. A detour had been organised to visit Tracey's ex mother-out-law, who has aged dramatically in the past 4 years. The remainder of the trip comprised of shopping, shopping and more shopping - Tracey was extremely glad to return home where life revolves around things that matter. That said, family is important to Tracey so how accurate her decision not to visit the UK next year proves to be we will wait and see.
Little things have been done around the property and this year Tracey has managed to get produce grown in sufficient quantities to preserve some for over winter. Do we regret having a summer of none-achievement? No - we didn't move to Bulgaria and this lifestyle to work to deadlines. Yes - we are now at the end of summer and some things we wanted to achieve this year remain undone, life won't end because they aren't done though.