I do not want to write about the situation with the Coronavirus. It is just awful. The evening news reminds me of the concert parties or entertainment troupes that were supposed to keep up morale during the Second World War. The initials were "ENSA", so the soldiers joked that it stood for "Every Night Something Awful".

The snow has all gone now and maybe the Spring is thinking about coming back. It has not quite made up its mind, as the weather, though sunny, is still quite chilly and perhaps we are going to have another big freeze next week.

Typical blooming Brit, always going on about the silly weather. You probably do not want to read about that, so let us get on with the much more important matter of sirniki.

What are they? Well, sirniki are little cakes, made with lots of izvara, a sort of Bulgarian cottage cheese. 

We had some of these yummy little cheesey things (well, quite a few, actually) for breakfast this morning, with some good Bulgarian honey, smetana (t…

Marmalade, Part 2

Okay, so we are in the middle of the most terrible pandemic since the Black Death, with stock markets crashing all around the world and the health services struggling to cope with more and more cases. There is, quite obviously, only one thing to be done: make homemade marmalade.
First you need a lot of oranges and sugar. My dear Irena says that it is more or less one kilo of sugar to a kilo of fruit. Then you need to “top and tail” the oranges and start the long, laborious process of peeling. Now don’t go breaking my heart, as Elton John and Kikki Dee used to sing, by throwing away any of that peel. When the outer, orangey peel has been peeled, then you need to peel it again (yes, I know it is not so exciting) in order to get rid of the white stuff.
Then all of the orange peel and then all of the oranges go into the splendid Bosch mincer. This Bosch mincer is the real deal. (Yes, I do hope that a kind and generous Bosch executive is reading this blog and then maybe we can make some sor…

A World Turned Upside Down

The Coronavirus. Although I did not want to mention it in my blog, it seems that I do not have much choice. The situation in Europe is turning from bad to worse to absolutely ghastly and there does not seem to be much chance of things improving sometime soon. The only light at the end of the tunnel is China, where life is slowly getting back to normal. After nearly three months of staying indoors, my friends in Shenzhen tell me that gradually more and more people are venturing out of their apartments and the streets are getting busy again.

Last Tuesday we left our apartment in Sofia in the morning and came to our house in Kalotina. My Nissan X Trail is still waiting to be repaired, so the garage lent me a courtesy a car. First, we drove to the big METRO supermarket near the ring road and bought some food. The store was pretty well stocked with just about everything, including toilet paper, but there was almost no pasta left on the shelves.

Wednesday was mostly spent making a second batc…

Dear Janet

Yes, I have had another e-mail from a teacher in the UK, this time asking me about teaching in SHENZHEN! Hooray! This gives me an opportunity to include lots of my old photos of SZ and it certainly makes a pleasant change from yet another post about Dubai.

Dear Janet,
No, I am sorry. I do not know anything about BASIS. I was at Green Oasis School in Futian. As I say, I cannot tell you anything specific, but maybe you could find what you are looking for on the ICS website. It is pretty good. 

Secondly, with regard to benefits and your overall package, I was paid 23,000RMB a month after tax and the school also paid the rent for our two-bedroomed apartment in the centre of Shenzhen, right next to Lianuacun Park. (Every day, I would have a twenty-minute walk through the park to get to school. It was a nice way to start my day.) I hope that BASIS will offer you something similar. 
Generally speaking, salaries in Beijing and Shanghai can be a lot more than in Shenzhen. In fact, I had one lady c…

Why Dubai? Part 3

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do 

Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

I must say that I more or less agree with Humbert Wolfe's little poem, as I have not always found journalists to be reliable or truthful. If you are a journalist, then the most important thing seems to be to have "a story", something that people will want to read or hear, whether or not it is biased or exaggerated. Journalism really seems to be a form of entertainment, not a reliable way to convey information. Anyway, while doing some rummaging around on the Internet, I came across these criticisms of the infamous article, "The Dark Side of Dubai" and, in the British tradition of fair play, I thought that I ought to include them, together with some more of our old photos of Dubai and the UAE.
Comments on Johann Hari’s ‘Dark Side of Dubai’ article
While I was on holiday last week, Johann Hari of the UK's The Independent had …