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.
I promised you a big piece of news and here it is: I
have a new teaching job in Sofia, starting in January. Yes, yes, I do know that
I am supposed to be retired and in many ways I was looking forward to being
retired. Now, however, I miss the buzz of school life and there is not much for
us to do in Kalotina in the winter. On Monday I went for what was supposed to be an “informal
chat” with the headmaster of St. George’s School in Sofia. The photos on the
school website make the new school building look quite posh (and huge) and the
head also has quite a posh name, Justin Kilcullen-Nichols. The salary is not quite so impressive, alas, but the important thing is that we are going to get an apartment in
Sofia as part of the deal. There is no way that I can commute from Kalotina
each day. (It is at least an hour and a half’s drive from our house to the far
side of Sofia.)
St. George’s School is an amazing place. I have seen
quite a few schools over the last thirty-something years and I ha…
I seem to be getting more and more teachers contacting me through the TES.
. I messaged you recently on the TES forum
regarding moving to Shenzhen and you were kind enough to give me your email
address. I am Charlyrainbow23 I am trying to apply for the visa and I am
finding it difficult to get clarification on a few points and wondered if you
could help. Firstly, I have to obtaining a non-criminal record certificate
for the last 12 months, would a basic DBS suffice? We've only been in Tanzania
since last August and HR say I have to get one from the UK.
Thanks, Charlotte Here is my reply. Dear
am always glad to be of help. Please remember that my advice is just that:
advice. I am by no means infallible and sometimes I am not 100%
yes, I would try to get something from Tanzania. Go along to your local copshop
in Dar or Arusha or wherever you are and get an official-looking document from
the police. It should not cost much. It is just a sort of…
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