This blog is supposed to be all about Bulgaria, but for five years we were in Shenzhen, in southern China. That is the reason for the weird title, "Bulgaria with Noodles". In June of 2018, Irena and I left China and retired to Bulgaria, to our villa 60km north of Sofia and to our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. This blog is really all about some comparisons and contrasts between China and Bulgaria, two very different countries.
A Model Husband
honest, I did not think that my dear wife Irena would get some more modelling
work quite so soon. But I was wrong. As all of my regular readers will have
noted by now, it does not happen very often, my being wrong, but it does actually
Anyway, Irena’s Friday morning meant a train
journey to Guangzhou, surely one of the most impossibly-spelt words in that
non-existent language known as Pinyin, and then five hours in front of the
cameras. Just in case you are interested, “Guangzhou” is actually pronounced
“Gwanjo”, but then how should (and how would) you pronounce “Cholmondeley”?
It was all
in aid of a UK cosmetics company (I am not allowed to mention the name) and
Irena’s job was to tell everyone how this company has developed an exciting series
of skincare products and creams that use the power of Nature and plant
extracts. Irisha’s speech was in Chinglish, a language that really does seem to
exist and is in fact regularly used in China. She had to deliver the speech to
the camera, while at the same time looking very intelligent, professional and
convincing. The speech itself was garbage, as it was full of grammatical
mistakes, exaggerated claims and pseudo-scientific twaddle, all padded out with
the names of some faded celebrities who probably need to smear a lot of this expensive
gunk onto their wrinkled faces. On Thursday night, we went through the speech
together a couple of times and I must say her pronunciation was pretty good. (I
hope no one ever asks me to do a speech in Bulgarian or in Russian!)
I think that
the photos make Ira look about thirty years younger and very German. She looks
as though she is about to give a Nazi salute, eat some strudel and drive off in a Porsche. Well, the reality was not so
pleasant. She almost missed her train back to Shenzhen and it was nearly eleven
at night when she finally got home.
I am not, of
course, going to break my promise and circulate any of her modelling photos,
but fortunately some of these photos of Irena came from the agent’s WeChat “Moments”,
so really they have been circulated already. I did not even complain when she
woke me up because she had forgotten her keys. I reckon that all of this makes
me a model husband.
This is Irena's "model card" that she has sent to lots of agents.
Okay, so it is 5.30am on a Monday morning. It is time to get up. Showering, getting dressed and having breakfast are usually slow-motion action replays, only not so fast. Then, after a twenty-five minute walk along the street and through the park, I arrive at Green Oasis School, also known as GOS. It's a good school in the centre of Futian, the posh central district of Shenzhen. I am now in my fifth and final year as a Year 5 teacher. Of course I cannot speak much Mandarin and I cannot read any at all, but fortunately I have the wonderful services of my assistant or "teaching partner", Miss Yanee.
Friday, 15th of June, 2018, will be my last day in the teaching profession and then my wife and I will be returning to Bulgaria for our retirement. We will be leaving just after my 59th birthday, so I will still be a whisker away from being an OAP.
Teaching Chinese students is a delight. The nine- and ten-year-olds in my class have Mandarin as their first language and that is a b…
now 45 days to go, to the end of my teaching career. Well, it has been quite
interesting: the UK for about twenty years, followed by my misadventures in
foreign parts: Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Romania, Qatar, the UAE and now
China. On Thursday, 14th June, 2018, I shall be teaching my
last-ever lessons at Green Oasis School and then on Monday, 18th, we will be
flying to Bulgaria. As you may
have noticed, this blog is called “Bulgaria with Noodles” because Irena and I
are still in China, but in many ways our hearts are already in BG. But what
will we do, once we have settled down in Bulgaria? A lot of travelling is
fairly high on the list of priorities.
The truth is, we really do not know most of Bulgaria. Sofia, Kalotina and a Veliko Tarnovo: that is about all we are
familiar with. Whenever we come to Bulgaria for the summer, there is a long
list of things that need to be sorted out: the grass in the back garden is
about two metres high, the car will not start, the fridge i…
readers of my online ramblings will know that our apartment in Shenzhen is in
fact in Futian, opposite the huge and splendid Lianhuacun park. Another
advantage is that our apartment is located half-way between two MTR stations on
different lines, Children’s Palace and Lianhuacun. However, in this posting I
am going to take your, dear reader, into our apartment and show you round a
bit. This may perhaps be of some interest to anyone who is thinking of living
and working in China (and Shenzhen in particular). The
good news about our apartment is that it is cheap. All of the Bank of China
Towers blocks are clad in ghost-busting reddish-dark pinkish tiles. This is in
order to keep away the evil spirits of those who were executed nearby. (It
seems to work, as so far no spirits have appeared, although I do sometimes have
a glass or two of vodka when Irena makes some Russian-themed soup.) As a
result, a lot of Chinese people do not want to live in these blocks and so our
apartment is …