Showing posts from October, 2018

A Winter's Tale, Part 2

It really started about two years ago, when we had insulation stuck onto the outside of the house. Tako and his team came to our villa in Kalotina and they started sticking large polystyrene blocks onto all of the exterior walls. Then they put a plastic mesh on top of the blocks and covered that with the yellow-coloured plaster. It looked so much better, as the old white paint was decidedly shabby and, much more importantly, it made the house wonderfully cool in the summer and, we hope, warm in the winter too. The insulation also made the house much quieter inside, as external noises were muffled.
The middle of the house could be bitterly cold in the winter, as heat escaped under or round the front door. The solution to that problem was to fit another external door. As well as keeping in the warmth, the second front door makes us feel much more secure and it is a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of breaking in.
Another important step when preparing for winter’s icy blast is for your …

In the dining room

Our dining room in Kalotina is one of my favourite rooms in the house (or anywhere else). All around the walls are pictures, mementoes and souvenirs of our various wanderings and foreign peregrinations: Romania, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and China. The dining table and the chairs are from England and we brought them with us in the van we hired and drove to Bulgaria, a few months after we bought the house.
Originally the dining room was just going to be a rather dark and gloomy store room when Penka and her husband originally built the house, but we had part of a wall knocked down to connect the dining room to the kitchen. We also had a new window put in, giving us a view of the garden. These things made the dining room a much brighter and more interesting room.
The best thing about the dining room is, of course, my dear wife’s cooking. Here are a few photos of some recent highlights. 
The chicken pâté was delicious and creamy. My dear Irisha usually has some dark, solid and chew…

Down by the riverside

We have now been back in Kalotina for about a week, having returned from Veliko Tarnovo rather earlier than we had planned. (Yes, there is a big secret attached to that one, but you will have to wait a bit more before I reveal it.)
The weather has been wonderfully warm and sunny, even though it is nearly the end of October, so on Saturday we decided to go for a walk along the river. 
The River Nishava is really not much more than a big stream when it flows through the village of Kalotina. A lot of the water comes from the springs in Berende Izvor and so the river has kept flowing, even though we have had hardly any rain for the last few months.
First we went along the road and then turned right by the fishing lakes. Then we came across the field to the river. On our way across the field, we said hello to a couple of friendly horses. Next time, we must remember to bring some carrots with us.
Of course we had to stop quite often on our walk, to rummage around in the leaves for the last of t…

A Walk in the Woods

This morning we went for a lovely walk in the woods, not far from our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. Veliko Tarnovo (or "VT", as we usually call it) is quite a small and compact city, so you are never far from the countryside. 

Our apartment is in Assenova, the area down the hill from Tsaravets and over the bridge. This means that our apartment is just on the edge of the city and so in a few minutes you are out in the countryside.  

We went along by the River Yantra and then up the hill to the spring next to the road. There is a quite a good path that leads from the spring and up into the woods. 

The autumnal colours of the trees were wonderful: reds, greens, browns, oranges and yellows. 

For most of our walk, the sun was shining and it still felt like summer, but it is nearly the end of October. Soon the temperature is going to fall and winter will be with us again.

Today I wrote to Minty Woodfine, telling her how sad I am that she is no longer writing her blog, Move to Bulgaria. …

Trying Tryvana

We are still in Veliko Tarnovo. I am not sure how much longer we will be here. Today the chimney man is supposed to be coming, following our unsuccessful attempts to light the woodburner and fumigate the apartment.

Tryvana is a pretty town about 50km from VT. It has lots old-fashioned Bulgarian houses and it is a major tourist magnet. The beautiful old church is roofed with stone, with the obligatory candles, icons and lots of dark wood. The shape of church’s bell tower reminds me of something rather non-ecclesiastical. 

The town square and the clock tower are impressive and it is very pleasant to wander along the cobblestoned streets and over the old stone bridge.

We went to Tryvana a few days ago and the GPS did not do a good job. In fact, the GPS really led us in the wrong direction and some of the “roads” that the GPS recommended to us would have made the road in Kalotina look like a blooming brand-new motorway. They were terrible! Narrow, steep, twisty and sometimes almost no tarma…

Some like it hot, Part 5

Our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo has quite a few air conditioning / heating units, installed by our friend Ivo, the Bulgarian engineer who lives along the street from us, but we also wanted to have a woodburner in the sitting room. As well as giving us the usual warmth and the pretty flames, we felt that a woodburning stove would be a good idea because we would still be able to have some heating if there was a power cut. (In Kalotina, power cuts happen quite often and the electricity sometimes does not come on again for an hour or so.) This is why we went to the Prity factory a few years ago and bought our rather smart Prity woodburning stove.
There are, however, one or two little problems with woodburners. First of all, you need to connect the stove with the chimney flue. This meant a trip to Praktiker, to buy the metal tubes that go from the back of the stove to the round hole in the wall. I also bought a heat exchanger, as I thought that this might perhaps cool down the temperature o…

Dear Jaye

Dear Jaye,
How lovely to hear from you! Yes, of course I would be happy to help you, if I possibly can.
No, I am not such a great fan of Dubai. It is an exciting place and I have visited it quite a few times, but I am not sure that I would want to live there. It is a bit overrated, in my opinion.
China is seriously foreign. It is about as foreign as you can get. I think that I make this clear in my blog, and if you want everything to be the same as in the States, then do NOT go to China. 
My wife and I had five happy years in Shenzhen (just around the corner from Hong Kong) and we had some lovely Chinese friends. In some ways, I wish that I had not retired and I was still there!
I did know several African Americans in Shenzhen and they liked it. Yes, of course you will "stand out" and you might be stared at. Children might look at you as though you have three heads. However, all laowai (foreigners) get some of this treatment. Having blue eyes and …

A Letter to Markoi

Dear Markoi, I am writing to you again, hoping that this time you will give me some photos of the memorial service, if you have any. And please, do you have any RTD photos? As you probably know, I put my eulogy onto my blog, as nearly everything I write goes onto my blog sooner or later, and so I wanted to include some photos of Roger. Well, if you have not got any, then that is okay, but please let me know, one way or another.  I had a rummage around on theSternianwebsite, but alas I did not find many photos of thedinosaurus pinguior. The one of Robin Craig is quite good.

It was strange, being back in the UK after so long and in fact it was the first time ever that I had been back to Lord Wandsworth College (LWC) since my departure, back in 1977 or maybe it was 1978. So much has changed! The whole school seems to have re-developed, with a massive building spree. On the day of Roger’s memorial service, there were lots of pretty girls running around hockey pitches in short skirts. That wo…

On Your Bike

We have two new bicycles, presents from my old friend Peter Adams, Cycling through the Bulgarian countryside in the autumn is wonderful. The trees are a riot of colour: reds, greens, browns, oranges and yellows. Your eyes have a visual treat and you get some exercise and fresh air at the same time.

At last, my dear Irisha's enthusiasm for collecting more and more walnuts seems to be declining and she is getting keener on cycling. 

We have not had any rain for a long time, so there are a lot of stones and dust on the roads, but fortunately our bikes have chunky tyres that grip really well.