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 Winter's Tale, Part 2
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.
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
important step when preparing for winter’s icy blast is for your dear wife to
go to the numerous second-hand shops in Sofia, where she can buy for you an
amazingly warm “lumberjack” shirt. It is a bit like wearing a duvet. However, there is one more thing that is
going to keep the whole house warm and toasty when the temperature outside is
below zero: fuel.
A warm blogger wearing his special winter shirt
Sacks of pellets, ready for the boiler
We have two
main types of fuel for heating, wood pellets and firewood (logs). The good news
about the wood pellets is that they are very dry, with almost no water content,
and it is easier to buy them and transport them because they come in 15 kg
plastic sacks. The bad news is that a sack costs about 9 leva (and that is about
4.5 euros) and one sack will not last you very long. If you are heating a whole
house, then perhaps you might get through one sack every day or maybe two, if
the weather is really cold.
Firewood, on the hand, is messy and it takes up a
lot of space. We had three or four cubic metres of firewood that was left over
when the fruit trees were cut down. This was done about fourteen years ago,
when we first bought the house. This wood was not cut into manageable pieces,
so I need to buy the Einhell bench saw and finish the job myself. Since then,
we have also bought another five cubic metres of firewood from a builder
supplies merchant in Slivnitsa, at 90 leva a cubic metre.
So why have
two different methods of heating the house? Well, the firewood will heat the
sitting room, where we have a wood burning stove, and we also have another wood
burner in the kitchen that we can use for cooking. These two stoves, however,
are not really going to heat the whole house. On the other hand, the central
heating system is based on the pellet burning boiler in the kitchen. This is a
very effective system for heating every room, but it relies on electricity for
the fan and for the electric pump to push the hot water around the pipes to the
radiators. In other words, the central heating system will not work if there is
a power cut and there is no electricity. Power cuts can be quite frequent (and
long) during the winter months in Bulgaria.
You will, I am sure, be glad to know that I am
not an estate agent. Yes, I have done some silly things in my life, but I have
never worked for a real estate company and no, I am not sponsored by the
Veliko Tarnovo is more or less in the
centre of Bulgaria and it was the old capital, before Sofia became the capital.
Greece is just around the corner and there are overnight trains to Romania and to Turkey, so you can go to bed in Sofia and wake up in Bucharest or in Istanbul. In Bulgaria, the main language that
most people speak is – surprise, surprise – Bulgarian. This is a Slavic
language and there are many similarities between Bulgarian and Russian. Bulgarian
is also quite similar to Czech, Ukrainian and Serbo-Croat. The Cyrillic
alphabet is used throughout Bulgaria
and, for some people, this can be a bit strange and confusing at first.
Actually, learning Bulgarian is not quite as difficult as it looks, once you
get over the shock of learning a different alphabet…
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…
post about buying property in Bulgaria, Why
buy BG, seems to have collected more "hits" than any of the other pages of my
blog. In the interests of fairness, I am therefore going to write a few lines
about why you should NOT buy a property in Bulgaria. I will try to be as
objective as possible. Yes, I love my adopted land, but even a Bulgarophile like me has to admit that this country does have its downsides.
you buy a property anywhere outside the capital, Sofia, then it is not going to
appreciate in value. Silly Brits have this idea that buying a house is always a
good idea because it must go up in value and this is not true in BG. A
country house in Bulgaria is simply NOT a good investment. It will not go up in
value and, if you do try to sell it, then you probably will not be able to get
back what you paid for it. (That is, of course, assuming that you can find a
buyer at all!)
There are a lot of abandoned houses in our village of Kalotina
and the reason for this…