A Stupid Idea !

I know that when people read this that they are going to think how stupid we are and to be honest, they will be right.
As we had been stuck in our village for nearly two weeks because of the snow, getting low on supplies and cabin fever was setting in ( more with me than Andy ), we decided to go for a long walk. Ok that doesn’t sound too bad or stupid, except we decided to walk to the nearest town, 13km away ! Yes a 26km round trip in the snow! Now your probably thinking we don’t have any shops in our village, we do, five to be precise. So now your thinking, so why walk 13km? The answer to that is the town, Dimovo, is bigger, more shops, more choice…..oh and we are mad.
We set off just after 10am, wrapped up like Michelin men, layers of clothing, hats, scarves and snow boots. It was snowing slightly but only very light,fine snow and it was -3c, so not really too cold. It took us 20 minutes just to get out of our village, as it’s quite a big village, although it did feel longer. The roads were thick with snow and ice even though the snow plough had been out every day. We would have taken a bus but i think due to the roads, they hadn’t been running for a few days. Still, the walk would do us good, even though it would take us hours.
The scenery around us was beautiful, very picture postcard. Although the snow causes so many problems, there is still something magical about it. I couldn’t resist taking a few photos along the way.

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We hadn’t walked far out of our village, when I got a slight sharp pain on the top, inside of my leg, near the groin area, an old problem I’ve had in the past. It was nothing sever, just a sharp tugging feeling every time I took a step. Andy kept suggesting turning back, but me being the stubborn sort, I refused, said it was only hurting a little and I was fine. As we kept walking the pain grew worse but still I refused to turn back. It was one of the biggest and most stupid decisions I had ever made! Part of me wanted to turn back but another part wanted to do it, kind of a challenge really. In the past I’ve walked long distances, hour upon hour, but of course, never in thick snow.
We’d walked about 5km when my other leg started hurting in the same way and I couldn’t understand why. Yes, you guessed it, I still wouldn’t turn back!
About half way, there is a bridge over a river, a police car was heading our way in the opposite direction. When it stopped along side us, I thought they were going to ask if we were ok as we were, more or less, walking in the middle of nowhere. How silly of me to think that they were concerned in any way! They asked us for our identity cards, where we were going and if we were walking there, ( no we are bloody flying……fools! ). If nothing else at least we gave them something to laugh about.
After the bridge, there was a fairly steep climb and that’s when it really started to hurt my legs. Andy suggested I walk up it backwards and in all honesty it did help. It would have been a comical sight to see for anyone that drove past us, except we turned around every time a car was approaching, just so we didn’t look silly, ( a bit late for that! ).After about just over two hours walking we finally made it to the main road (E79), only 2.5km to go, except by this time I was in agony. Every step had become a battle. So much so, I had to stop every 30 seconds. Poor Andy was getting worried, he knew I was in a lot of pain but other than offer to carry me, ( which would have probably ended in a worse disaster ), there was nothing else he could of done except keep telling me ‘ not much further ‘. It took us just over an hour to walk that last 2.5km and every step was hell ! The pain was so intense I just wanted to cry. Worst thing of all was I knew I couldn’t walk back. It took us 3 1/2 hours to walk 13km.
I’d seen a couple of taxis pass us by, so we decided to get a taxi back, how naive were we ?We made it to a shop that we had been to before, as I knew the young woman could speak a little English. After purchasing some groceries, (although not everything that we needed, as I wasn’t in the frame of mind to shop, I just wanted to get home), I asked the woman if we could get a taxi or phone for one, well she just laughed ‘ no taxis here’. The only way we might have been able to get a taxi is if we called for one in Vidin, well that was miles away and would cost a fortune. So that’s when I panicked. I couldn’t walk and we needed to get home! In the end we had no option but to phone our friends to pick us up. They were shopping in Vidin at the time but were just about to leave and they didn’t hesitate to agree to come pick us up. I was so relieved and grateful, especially as they had to travel 36km just to rescue us. It was just over an hour by the time they got to us, by that time we were both frozen. I couldn’t apologise more to our friends, ( our heroes 🙂 ), after all it was my stubbornness and stupidity that got us into this mess, worse still, we weren’t the only ones they had rescued, as they had just rescued another couple who had been stranded and had to drop them off first before coming to pick us up!
It was such a relief to get home into the warmth and safety. After a nice hot shower and some hot food, we settled down for the evening in front of the fire. Andy was aching and I was still in pain, so much so, I just couldn’t get comfortable. By 7.30pm we were worn out so decided to go to bed. It hurt just climbing into bed and although it was great just to be able to rest my legs, it wasn’t long before I was in agony again. Every time I tried to turn over, it was torture. In the end I couldn’t stand it any longer so I got up and sat on the sofa until eventually I was so tired, I fell asleep. It’s still painful to walk but I’m hoping by tomorrow, my legs will feel better. I suppose i got my just deserts.
Moral of this story, don’t venture too far away from home, especially in the snow and more importantly never be a stupid as me !!!!!

P.S. To my Mum and family, don’t worry I’m fine 🙂

Happy New Year !

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We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our family , friends and everyone who has been following our blog a Happy and prosperous New Year. I hope the new year brings you everything you wish for and more.
Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement, we are truly blessed to have amazing family and friends.
Love you all so very much xxxxx

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…….

The Good life

Well it’s been quite a busy week and whatever plans we made seemed to change from one day to the next. Nearly every day we were heading into Vidin for one reason or another. To be honest, when we were living in the UK, life was so mundane , but here in Bulgaria, every day is different and life, so far, has never been so good.
Monday we headed into the city to buy a new Hoover, our Blue Peter attempt on our old Hoover wasn’t really that successful. The dust blowing out of the hoover was causing Andy to sneeze excessively and as he suffers from asthma, I thought it better not to kill him off just yet! So it was back to Teknomarket to make our purchase. Now when we walk in, we are instantly recognised, so they send over the only member of staff that can speak a little English, quite amusing really. The service is excellent, items are good quality ( mostly Samsung ) and the prices are reasonable. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for electrical goods.
Back home and it was back to sorting and a little strimming of the rear garden as we have clumps of wheat growing everywhere. we didnt stay out too long as the mozzies were out in full force!

Tuesday it was back to cleaning and trying out the new hoover. Took us most of the day but we managed to get the living room, cleared and clean. There was a corner settee and two armchairs that had been left in the house that was covered with blankets. To our surprise they were not too bad a condition, a bit dusty, but with a thorough Hoover and a couple of throws, we had ourselves somewhere comfortable to sit, and one added bonus was the settee was also a metal action, double sofa bed! Ok the mattress was past its sell by date but the metal frame was in good working order, just have to buy a new mattress and voila, a guest bed! I must admit it was lovely to be able to sit down at night on something a lot more comfy than an old wooden kitchen chair. Our Hoover did us proud, money well spent !

Wednesday was a rather interesting day in some respects. The morning was spent trying to clear some of the front garden from all the overgrown weeds, whilst I was also trying not to get bitten by the dreaded Mosquitos and as usual, I lost ! The gardening was short lived, as Plamen, our agent, turned up with a plumber and electrician, to do quotes on some work we needed doing. As we have no water in the house or no bathroom, we wanted a quote for all the pipe work for the toilet, a shower and boiler and connection from the outside mains into the house, plus the cost of installing a wood burner and radiators. As for the electrics, they needed a complete overhaul ! The tradesmen were Bulgarian, so we couldn’t understand a word they were saying, so all I can say is thank god for Plamen ! I found it rather amusing listening to them, voices being raised every now and then, arms flailing in the air on the odd occasion ( just like the Italians do) . I couldn’t understand a bloody word but I could tell that there was certain things that Plamen wasn’t happy with. During this long exchange of words, was approached by a gypsy that had been hanging round our gate. He called me over and proceeded to ask me something, which I replied ( as usual ) ‘ I don’t understand, I’m English’. As always, I find, as soon as you say ‘ English’ they understand but still continue to have a conversation with you. So I just stand there and smile and nod ( probably not the right thing to do ! ). But this time I asked Plamen to interpret. Turns out he was offering to dig up the whole front garden for 10 Levs, wasn’t going to turn that down in a hurry ! We agreed and Plamen told the man he can start straight away, but the man then asked for more money to which Plamen said no, he offered to do it for 10, so take it or leave it ! He eventually decided to leave it but return later that evening to try to get Andy to let him do it, but Andy also sent him packing.
Anyway after 2 long hours we finally got our quotes. To be fair the quotes were good in comparison to UK prices but more than we wanted to pay, so after all that, it was back to the drawing board. But on a good note, Plamen had also sorted out our Internet connection, so we were finally up and running, all we had to do was nip into Vidin the next day, pay 3 months in advance, ( 69 lev ) collect our router so we can have wi fi, and that’s us sorted, happy days !

Wednesday we returned to Vidin to meet Plamen, he took us to the Internet shop to pick up our router, then to the bank to exchange some money. We were impressed with the exchange rate we were given. In the UK we were given 2.13 lev to the pound, here it was 2.29 ! He also took us to a builders merchant, which he said had probably the best prices. I must admit, the prices were good and had almost everything you would need for renovation. We were feeling guilty for taking up so much of Plamen’s time, but he assured us it was not a problem and that it was all part of their service to help us settle into Bulgaria, now you don’t get that level of service in the UK !
We headed off for a coffee by the Danube river and sat on a small river boat restaurant. The views were magnificent and this was our kind of heaven, water, sun , beautiful scenery, what more can we ask for !

Friday, it was up early and back, yet again, into Vidin. Our router wouldn’t connect so we had to take it back to get it sorted. Service was good and they managed to sort it quite quickly. So it was off to meet some expats, Sandra and Rich, that we had been speaking to on the forum. They were kind enough to take us to meet some other expats who were all as equally nice and very hospitable. We did a lot of driving today but it was worth it, not just because of the people we met but because we got the chance to see a little more of Bulgaria. Such a beautiful country and at times quite breathtaking. It was a long but informative day and hopefully we made some new friends.

Saturday it was back for the hundredth time, to meet Sue and Paul, an expat couple who left the UK a day before us. We had arranged to meet at the weekly outdoor market, a place where the locals sell their produce and other items, tools, bikes, clothes etc. it is also where you can get livestock from, like chickens, ducks, rabbit etc. It was pretty impressive and so cheap, I couldn’t believe the sizes of their tomatoes, bloody huge! Sue and Paul also took us to another indoor market that was surrounded by lots of small shops. That was even more impressive. You could get pretty much anything you wanted even guns and knives! Definitely somewhere we will be frequenting, although we would need a few hours to have a good rummage around! It was such a gorgeous, hot, sunny day, so we went for lunch down by the river again. Food was good although each persons meal was served individually, but not together, so by the time Sue got here’s we had already eaten! Prices were fairly cheap and the food was nice and the company was even better. On our way home the inevitable happen, Andy got pulled over by the police ! after being asked for our passports and driving licence, Andy was told to get out the van and follow them to his car. apparently he was speeding, 77 klm in a 60 klm zone, funny how there wasnt a sign to say it had changed from 80 to 70! The police said he had to pay a 50 lev fine but Andy told them he didnt have enough money, they told him he would have to go to the bank but as it was shut he couldnt, in the end they muttered something about English, shook their heads and told him to go. Phew, that was a lucky escape! Apart from that fiasco, all in all it was a truly enjoyable day. It’s been a busy week and we’ve done quite a lot of driving but it’s all been worth it and we can honestly say, although we don’t have much, we are truly blessed …….

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