Showing posts from October, 2018

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 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 would never have happened in…

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.

A Eulogy for My Old Latin Teacher, Roger Terence Davies

The great Mark O'Gorman, aka Markoi, has asked me to say a few words about Roger Davies and so, of course, I must obey.
For duty, duty must be done The rule applies to everyone Though painful though that duty be To shirk the task, oh fiddledee!
Roger Terence Davies, RTD, the Rather Tubby Dinosaur or dinosaurus pinguior, was my favourite teacher at Lord Wandsworth College, otherwise known as LWC, or the London Water Closet, as I usually called it when I was a student here. RTD taught Latin and double Latin with him on a Friday was the highlight of my week. Not surprisingly, I went on from GCSE O Level Latin to do Latin A level and then Classics at Oxford. Since graduating, I have been a primary teacher in one or two places around the world. I think that it is no exaggeration for me to say that Roger probably had more influence upon the course of my life any other person.
What do I remember most about Roger’s teaching? Of course, dull and stupid people often say that Latin is a dead lang…

Some like it hot, Part 4

Poly and Stefan are Bulgarian friends of ours. They have a small villa along "the Drunks' Road", the old cobbled road that used to be the main highway between Sofia and Belgrade. It was my old friend Peter Adams that gave the name to this neglected country road. Perhaps he gave it this title because we were usually inebriated after visiting Stefan or maybe because this is just about the only road where you could drive "under the influence" and not be a danger to anyone, except perhaps to yourself. 

I think that we must have known them for about thirteen or fourteen years, as we got to know them soon after we bought the villa in Kalotina. (Stefan used to be a diplomat and I have known him to carry on multiple and simultaneous conversations in English, French and Russian.) Last Friday, we went with them over the border into Serbia, to Dimitrovgrad, as it was the market day.
Dimitrovgrad actually quite a nice town, rather better and not as grotty as Dragoman. The st…