Boys' Toys

Today it is exactly three months to go before I retire, so of course I spend a lot of my time crossing off the days and thinking about what I am going to do once I have come to the end of my teaching career. No more boring meetings, for one thing – three this week – and I will not have to check that the alarm clock is set to go off at 5.30am. In fact, I might even give away my alarm clock and not bother having one at all.

There's no boredom with a snowboard.
However, one of my main pleasures is thinking about what we are going to spend our money on over the summer and when we return from the Crimea. (That is, of course, if we actually go to the Crimea. The British government and Mr. Putin are not the best of friends at the moment.)

I once tried skateboarding, when I was about 15. It was fun, but falling off a skateboard onto concrete or tarmac is probably a lot more painful than falling off a snowboard onto snow. How difficult can snowboarding be? Okay, so we do not have any draglifts or chairlifts in Kalotina, but on the other hand the expense for us will just be the cost of the equipment. Most snowbunnies pay a fortune for their plane tickets and hotel accommodation and then they must pay for their equipment hire as well.

For Chinese users, a red (ghost-free) sledge.
As for sledging, that cannot be too dangerous, as long as you are not completely reckless. The sledges that I have been thinking of buying look as though they have fairly effective steering and, even more important when you are heading straight for that tree, good brakes.
When the weather gets cold, good central heating is even more important than sledges and skis. This coming summer, we are going to have a new woodburning boiler installed, as well pipes and an electric pump to push the hot water all around the house. The bathroom could be included in the system, so that the boiler would provide lots of hot water for showers and baths. It’s going to be great! There is, however, one little problem: the wood. 





Woodburners get through a lot of lumber and it has to be cut and stored properly. The wood has to dry out thoroughly and that can take about a year. There is plenty of storage space under the garage and more is available under the front steps. Cutting up the wood might be a bit of a problem, so another little thing on my “wish list” is a bench saw. 
I have tried cutting up firewood with a chainsaw and you are more likely to chop off a few toes or amputate your own kneecap. I used a bench saw before, when I was teaching at the British School of Bucharest. They can be dangerous, of course, but I think that on the whole they are much safer than a chainsaw.

Self-amputation, here we come!



The most expensive thing on my long shopping list is the car. We bought an old Nissan X Trail last summer and just about everything needs to be fixed. The engine guzzles oil and produces lots of smoke, so it is likely that new gaskets and bearings are needed. My guess is that the catalytic converter is bust and probably the piston rings need to be replaced. There is no GPS and the shock absorbers are probably ancient. I paid 5,000 euros for this car and my guess is that I will probably need to spend the same amount again for all the work on the car that needs to be done. I suppose that all of this serious work on the engine will make a huge difference to the car’s fuel economy, so maybe it will all be worthwhile.

One piece at a time...
I remember that someone once said to me, “There is no such thing as a second-hand car. There are only new cars, but are you going to buy a new car all in one go or a piece at a time?”

Today I asked Miss Yanee, my Chinese assistant, “What’s the difference between men and boys?” The answer, of course, is the price of their toys. She smiled.

This blog is not sponsored by Bosch (but it ought to be)
So while we are on the subject of bangers, here is a new toy for my dear Irisha: a top of the range, deluxe mincer. (We are Bosch collectors and our list of their appliances gets longer and longer each year.) A few years ago, Ira bought her mum a new mincer and it has seen a lot of active service at the datchaMinty and Peter have been writing about their sausage-making experiences in their excellent blog, www.movetobulgaria.blogspot.com. A really good mincer is, of course, pretty much essential for the making of beautiful bangers. They even had a go at their own salamis. According to Minty, a clothes peg is important too, as the pig’s intestines are horribly stinky. (You can learn how to tie the special salami knot in the swine's guts by watching a video all about it on YouTube.)       

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