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.
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 of the smoke, so that
there is less risk of a chimney fire. The real problem came with trying to put
all the tubes together. This was a nightmare and I only managed to “persuade”
the various bits of metal to fit together after cutting some of them with a
hacksaw and bending the ends with a hammer. That all sounds quite barbaric, but
it looked quite good when we finally put it together.
The second problem is that woodburners need lots of
firewood. In theory, this should be an easy matter, as there are plenty of
forests in Bulgaria and so no shortage of wood. Unfortunately, the cellar in
the basement is just too damp for storing firewood, so yours truly had a great
idea: store the firewood in the attic. With our new loft hatch and ladder, this
was quite feasible, although it was hard work to carrying two cubic metres of
firewood from the street to the loft.
No bank robbers, just a hole in the wall
Yesterday was supposed to be the great moment when we lit
the stove for the first time and settled down to a warm evening by the stove,
watching Julie and Julia for the
fifth or sixth time. It was a disaster! The stove refused to light properly and
then the room filled up with horrible smoke. As for the stove, smoke was coming
out of the pipes in all the wrong places. Eventually we had to throw cupfulls
of water into the stove to put it out. Our apartment now smells like we have
been cooking kippers for a week. We opened the little door in the wall, next to
the stove, and this was full of black muck that had obviously fallen down the
chimney. It looks as though the flue is blocked and that was probably why the
stove did not light properly. Ivo has given us the phone number of someone who
can put the pipes together properly (Ivo was too polite to say that I had done
it all the wrong way round) and clean the whole chimney.
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…