Air Conditioning !

Well summer has definitely arrived! The sun is beating down, temperatures in the shade reaching 36 degrees , hitting 50 degrees at times in the sun, now that is hot! Since the departure of my brother and Mum, it’s been so hard to get motivated. The heat just zaps all your energy and we have been spending most of our time trying to cool down. It got to the point where one day we had 4 fans going in one room, but it just wasn’t enough, so we made the decision to go buy a portable air conditioner, easy said than done! We traipsed around Vidin from shop to shop, sweating buckets along the way and loosing the will to live as it was starting to feel like searching for the fairy at the end of your garden, the one that doesn’t exist ! Bulgaria gets very hot during the long summer so shops do supply air conditioning, except they are the ones that are fitted to your walls in every room, they cost a fortune and are expensive to run and as we are on a tight budget, purchasing that type was out of the question. Finally we found a shop that did a portable unit, trouble was, it wasn’t quite the real deal. Basically you had to fill a tray up with ice then when you turned the fan on it blew out cold air, not really practical and we would need a big freezer to store enough ice cubes to keep it going, ours is only small. Luckily the shop next door also did one, only this was a proper portable unit, but it was a bit expensive. It was a dual one, air con and heater, bonus! After deliberating for about 20 minutes as to wether to buy it or not because of the price (549 Levs), we decided to buy it. Word of warning, never buy something when sweating buckets and dying of heat exhaustion, you end up making rash decisions!
Finally home, hot and bothered, we unwrapped the box and read the instructions….’ Before using for first time,leave to stand for 2 hours’ , GRRR…. a ‘ carrot and a donkey’ situation! Also in the instructions, ‘ attach the vent pipe to the back of the unit and place vent through window or door ( only suitable for sliding windows or doors ) ‘ . Ok, so now my patience has been pushed to the limit, this is Bulgaria, you don’t really see many , if any houses with sliding window, let alone doors!!! We have wooden double windows but the trouble is if we opened the outside ones they would probably fall apart so our only option was to put the vent out our living room door into the kitchen. Not the best idea as, although the air con worked in the living room and it was lovely and cool, the kitchen was cooking as the vent releases the hot air out of the back of the unit ! Not so portable as we thought. It now sits in the bedroom as we use it at night, which is a blessing, and the vent goes out our window because we are lucky to have a missing pane of glass, if you can call that lucky! As for the living room it’s back to using fans…….

Family Visit

Tuesday 11th June and the arrival of my Mum and brother Mark. It was only a short visit due to my brothers work commitments, they were only here till Saturday but we have been looking forward to seeing them. I was a little nervous to the reaction of my mum as she had never been to Bulgaria before so wasn’t sure she would like it. We had also worked really hard to try and get the house in a liveable state and I was anxious to see their reaction. Don’t think the weather helped my nerves either. Monday it was a beautiful sunny day but on Tuesday it decided to rain all day! The trouble with rain is it makes everything look so dreary plus it wasn’t helping with my kitchen floor, every time the dogs went out, my floor ended up with muddy footprints, I was fighting a loosing battle, trying to keep everything clean and tidy for my family’s arrival.
They finally arrived at 5pm and despite the weather and all the traveling Mark was in high spirits but my poor Mum not so much as she was full of cold and the journey pretty much wiped her out, but at least they arrived safely and I was so happy to see them.
The following day the weather had improved slightly, instead of raining constantly it rained on and off all day but it did let up long enough for us to take a wonder around our village. To be honest, it was the first time Andy and I had actually walked around our village since arriving. It’s a big village, with 5 shops,a bar and even a post office, that we probably wouldn’t have found if it hadn’t been for my brother and his inquisitive nature! Some of these buildings look like either someone’s house or slightly run down and disused. It’s only if you peer through the windows and hear someone inside shouting you to come in, that you realise it’s actually a shop or post office. There is a lovely stream that runs along the back of our village, so we took a wonder down to have a look, only we didn’t take the track that is just at the edge of the village, we took one that went behind some houses but the little track, if you could call it that, disappeared, so my poor Mum was taken through long grass and muddy slopes, during which time we were trying to reassure her that there was a proper track up ahead and no snakes in the grass. We never did find the track!
Although our village is big and there are about 400 residents, around half the houses are empty. Such a crying shame to see so many empty, as there are quite a few really lovely properties, with a bit of work and some imagination, they would make lovely homes. Our village, like most villages in Bulgaria, may be run down and surrounded by derelict buildings, but it does have a certain charm and warmth about it as well as being surrounded by beautiful countryside. It was nice to be able to show my Mum and Mark our surroundings and the reasons why we love it here.
The following day, the sun was beaming, so we went into Vidin. I wanted to show my Mum the market, full of fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables, and all the lovely shops where you can buy just about anything. We bumped into our friends, so we joined them for a coffee. It was great to just sit and chill for a while and watch the world go by.
We had lunch down on the river Danube. There is a quaint restaurant on a boat which does nice food and the staff are friendly but the best thing about it is the amazing views. The Danube is vast and along it, across the water are small islands, which if you wanted, you could go across to them, camp, have a BBQ or just relax and soak up the views. There are cafes and restaurants with small playgrounds,running along the edge of the river, children playing, people strolling and some people fishing, Everyone just seems so relaxed and stress free. After lunch we continued strolling around vidin but It was so hot Mark insisted on getting an ice cream. So it was back to our regular cafe to order a bowl of mixed fruit and ice cream, to the amusement of the waiter, as Mark was like a big kid, all excited because they did ice cream !
In the evenings we sat eating and talking till the early hours. Bit of a struggle for me and Andy as we usually hit the hay around 11, usually because of a hard day working, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mark and Andy returned to Vidin the following day as Mark wanted to visit the dentist, he was suffering from toothache so decided he might as well get it done here, as it is so much cheaper than in the UK. Unlike in the UK you don’t have to wait weeks either, just a quick phone call and he was booked in for just over an hour later. Turns out the work needed to be done on his tooth would take 2-3 days and as he was flying back the following day he had to leave it. Andy and Mark ended up spending most of the day in Vidin, while my Mum and I stayed at home relaxing, chatting etc.
Saturday soon arrived and it was time to say goodbye, it had only been a short visit and it flew by and I was sad to see them go. It was lovely to be able to show them our change of lifestyle and I enjoyed listened to Marks enthusiasm for Bulgaria, as he loved it and really appreciated what we were trying to do. We look forward to their next visit, perhaps next time they will miss the rain……!

Last Minute Rush

Well it was only just over a week till our visit from my Mum and brother Mark, so we decided that we needed to sort out the kitchen, paint the bedroom and at least the toilet plumbed in. As usual it was a visit to Vidin. For the kitchen we visited Myra, a furniture shop, in fact there is 3 in Vidin. One sells kitchens , dining furniture and sofas, one sells bedroom furniture and the third one sells all wood bedroom furniture. We visited all of them ! I must admit we were pleasantly surprised at how cheap things were and how much there was to choose from. We purchased kitchen cupboards to fit one wall, kitchen sink and a solid wood bed frame. We also bought carpet for the bedroom and Lino for the kitchen floor, total cost 895 Levs (£397). I’m sure you will agree that is bloody cheap!
First job was to clear the bedroom, fill in all the cracks then paint the walls. Took us 2 days to complete including fitting the carpet. it wasn’t perfect or the way I would like it but it was a lot more presentable and at least we had a bed, no more mattress on the floor!
Next was tackling the kitchen. It was the usual agenda, clear the room, fill cracks and paint. The trouble with having to clear the rooms every time we do something, is that it’s hard to find enough space to store all the furniture and stuff. Bit of a nightmare to be honest. The kitchen was worse because I still needed to make lunch and dinner. Our living room was stacked, so was the back room, so not much room to move about let alone cook. Another 2 days of hard work and our kitchen was finished. It looked so much cleaner and brighter and we were both really pleased with what we had achieved . Ok we still didn’t have plumbing or electrics for the cooker but it was still a lot better.
As we had worked so hard we decided to take a morning off and meet our new friends in Vidin for a coffee. As usual it was great to catch up and relax. Andy was discussing the electrics and our friend offered to help us instal a new circuit board and electrics for the cooker. We decided to take up the offer,so it was arranged to be done the following day. It only took a couple of hours to instal and I finally had a full cooker to cook on, pure luxury! Amazing how we take things for granted.
Next job to tackle was the drainage for the toilet. Took us a while and a few holes till we found where the pipework ran to the main drainage in the street. Next job was to tap into it. We had to run it under the path and around the back to where our bathroom was going to be, so that meant breaking the concrete path and then digging the trench. That was hard work as we only had a sledge hammer to break up the concrete. In some parts it was so thick we thought we would never get it done on time. It took us a full day to dig the trench, connect the drain pipes and instal the water to the toilet. To be honest it was a bloody nightmare, trying to make sure the pipes had the correct flow, especially as it had quite a distance to go and screwing and unscrewing the water connections because there were leaks, was really testing our patience but in the end we finally had a flushing toilet. It isn’t secured to the floor and the water connection has only been temporarily fitted ready for my family’s visit because when they have gone we will be disconnecting the toilet so that we can get the bathroom done properly, shower, sink, tiling etc.
Having a flushing toilet after all these weeks was pure heaven. We were both like little kids taking it in turns to flush it as if it was a new invention, you would think we had never had a toilet before !
Yet again another back breaking week but we have achieved quite a lot in such a short time and at least when my family come,they will have a few home comforts and I can at least enjoy their visit more…….

Adjusting To Village Life

It’s been over 5 weeks since we arrived in Bulgaria and yet it feels so much longer. We haven’t really had much relaxation time as there is so much to do and to be honest it’s not always been easy. Don’t get me wrong, we love it here and it’s one of the best decisions we have ever made, but it can be a struggle at times. Anyone who is thinking of moving to Bulgaria needs to think about it long and hard, as life here is completely different to life in the UK. In order to enjoy living here, you have to embrace it with an open mind, respect the Bulgarian ways and try to integrate as best you can.
Buying a house that needs renovating and trying to live, even a partially self-sufficient life, takes a lot of hard work and determination. We don’t have a toilet or water inside the house, so it’s a bucket for a toilet and dishes, clothes, etc is done outside at the moment. Most of the time I don’t mind, but there have been days that its wore me down. Take the other day, my sheets and towels needed washing, trying to wring out king size sheets outside from a bucket is no mean feat, then trying to hang them on the line without dragging them on the floor is even harder. I failed miserably and the bottom of the sheets hit the dirt, I just wanted to cry! It takes 20 minutes and 5 boiled kettles to fill up our big bowl with water for a bath, which is placed inside a small, dry paddling pool and a cup is used to pour water over ourselves. It does the job but its time consuming and a little awkward.
Then there’s our neighbours that regularly invite us around last minute for something to eat. The other day we had been working all day painting and fitting our little kitchen, I was just finishing making our evening meal, when our neighbour invited us around to eat. Andy tried to explain that I had just cooked, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer, so he told them we would be round in 10 minutes. Well I must admit, I threw my teddy out the cot ! After ranting to Andy that I wasn’t going, I wasn’t going to waste our dinner and I’d had enough, I gave in as I didn’t want to offend our neighbour. I wasn’t trying to be mean, I was just so tired, my hands and back was hurting and all I wanted to do was eat my dinner, have a bath, then go to bed as we had another hard day ahead of us. Turns out we had a lovely evening and ended up a little worse for wear ( too much drink! ).
In all honesty, despite my one moment of acting like a spoilt child, I love our neighbours. They are a kind, generous couple who have welcomed us with open arms from the first day we arrived. They are one of the reasons why we love Bulgaria .
Living in a village is like going back in time, 50 or 60 years. Most of the food that the villagers eat is grown and reared. Not much is thrown away, it is kept and recycled. They use what they have around them to make repairs on the house . Nothing seems to be wasted, everything seems to be put to good use, right down to a branch that has been pruned off a tree! Even though we have only been here a short time, watching our neighbours has taught us to use our imagination more, if its broken we no longer throw it away and go buy a new one, instead we try to find a way to fix it. If we can, we try to use whatever is in our house or on our land to make things. Some things we need to buy but if we can avoid it we can. To us it’s a more positive way to live as it makes us appreciate things more and gives us a sense of pride.
I admit, I can’t wait to get water into the house so I can have a flushing toilet, a shower and a washing machine, these are the luxuries I miss the most, but I don’t miss the ‘throw away nation’ that we lived in, in the UK. Although its hard work, it’s good to go back to basics, to learn how to live of the land as much as possible, to create things by your own hand, to take the time to know your neighbours and learn from their vast knowledge, to do things the ‘ old fashioned way ‘, these are the things that are lacking in the UK and what makes us so glad to be living in Bulgaria. I know that in the future we will be faced with difficult times and have moments when we might want to give up, but we will overcome those moments because this simple, basic life we have chosen will give us the most satisfaction and happiness than we have ever had and you can’t put a price on that…….

Driving Through To Our Village

The first time we saw the scenery on the drive through to our new home, we just loved our new surroundings. We just thought we would share this short clip, as we enjoy the drive every day, and find ourselves driving slower each time just so we can take in the beautiful scenery. Feel free to check out our other videos on our Youtube page, we have many more to upload and will be doing as soon as we have time.