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.
Spring in Shenzhen
four seasons here in southern China, but they are rather different to the ones
you get in Europe. Most new expats, especially teachers like me, arrive at the end of the
summer. It is hot and wet. Either it will be raining or else it is about to
rain or actually it does not matter whether it is raining or not because you are already
sweating so much that you’re soaked anyway. Then, sometime around the beginning
of October, it stops raining and the weather is pleasantly warm and dry. This
continues right on into December, but in January you will get a few cold weeks.
No snow or frost or anything like that, but it will be a lot colder, especially if your apartment only has single glazing and the windows do not fit properly. Then,
around the beginning of March, it warms up and you get some pleasant and fairly
dry weather through to the middle of May, when the rain seriously begins and
Shenzhen becomes one big sauna.
believe that I have written so much about the weather! (Blooming boring Brits,
always going on and on about the weather. Well, it makes a change from Brexit
and house prices.)
we had a visit from our dear Chinese friends, Bill and Julia, plus Diudiu, the
naughtiest dog in China.
went for a walk in Central Park. It was so beautiful! This park is like a
botanical garden, as there are so many different kinds of bushes and trees, all
arranged so neatly and thoughtfully. Hammocks, tents, people playing musical
instruments and singing: it all happens in a Chinese park. Sometimes there is
slow-motion, ballet-like Taichi. You can take part in it too, if you want to, and join
the inaction. It is great to live in the Bank of China Towers because we have
the huge Lianhuacun Park on the opposite side of the road and there is Central Park
another five minutes’ walk away from us.
we were in church (yours truly was preaching) and then we came home on the MTR
and NOT the bus, for once. Oh yes, and here is yet another picture of Diudiu, the naughtiest dog in China.
really enjoy going back to England any more. Last year it was RTD’s memorial
service and last month I went back to try to sort out what to do with my lump
sum from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
Well, why don’t I enjoy going back to my
own country? First of all, I think that it is because I just do not belong
there. Bulgaria is my home and therefore, more and more, I feel that my roots
are in my adopted country. Bulgaria is “home” now. Secondly, there are the
practical issues of going back, as I have no place of my own in the UK, no car,
no nothing. My old friend Peter Adams was very hospitable, as usual, and we
certainly enjoyed some splendid scoffing: lots of roast beef, roast potatoes,
Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings! This was then followed up with the
inevitable crumble and custard. Then we also had a good lunch with Peter’s mum
(fish and chips), followed by a delicious Chinese meal. But food leads on to my
next anti-British moan: the outrageous cost of just about every…
Even though we left Qatar more than five years ago, many teachers still contact me through the TES and ask me what it is like to teach there. Hi Hippo
I hope you don't mind me pre-emptively sending you a conversation about my job
GEMS Wellington Qatar have offered 13.5k which I think is reasonable for three
years' experience qualified (five including unqualified experience).
However, they are not offering medical insurance for my family nor are they
covering flights for them. At the interview, the Director intimated that my
family might even have to stay here in the UK while stuff like permits got
sorted out. My gut instinct tells me not to accept the offer as a result.
Also, I've heard Qataris can be quite racist towards non-white people. How true
is this? I've always fought against this sort of thing in the UK as an Asian
man and don't want any trouble when I go out to work.
Is the cost of living higher than Dubai or London? Obviously, I'd not have to
In many ways Veliko Tarnovo, also known as V.T., is a much nicer city than Sofia. It is smaller, less polluted and the traffic is nowhere near as bad as it is in the capital. Every year, we go and spend a week or so in our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. For I don't know how long, Irena and I have been saying, "When you retire, we will move in V.T. and that is where we will spend the winter, as it won't be much fun spending the winter in Kalotina." The main problem with this plan is that we have not retired yet. Well, I was retired for six months, but then I started working again and now we have started to put down roots in Sofia, not in V.T. This trip to V.T. was rather different, as it was dominated by the presence of Tina. Yes, it was a lot of fun to have her delightful company, but she was also seriously ill. Several trips to the Vet were needed, along with quite a few injections and a course of antibiotics. First she was vomiting and had bad diarroheia, followed by …