Showing posts from December, 2018


As you may or may not have guessed from some of my posts on this blog, I am a great fan of the European Union. This is, of course, why I think that BREXIT is such a disaster, both for Britain and for the EU. 

In Bulgaria, the EU has done a lot of good things: discouraging corruption, stimulating the economy and providing funding for new infrastructure projects. It is mostly thanks to the EU that the Sofia Metro (MTR) system is really good. Before Bulgaria joined the EU, the MTR system was much smaller and a lot more antequated. Not surprisingly, there is even a metro station called "European Union".
Our nearest MTR station is Vitosha, about five minutes' walk from our near apartment in Sofia. Vitosha station is also the very latest station to be opened, so it is very clean and modern. At the top, you can see a photo of Irena the Elf buying a ticket from another Microwave Woman.

Although you can buy a ticket at the cash desk, usually I buy my ticket from a vending machine an…

The Covered Market

Sofia's Covered Market is one of my favourite places. Irena and I have been going there for years. In fact, I think that we even visited the Covered Market before we bought our house in Kalotina. That must fourteen or maybe fifteen years ago, when we first visited Bulgaria. 

The Covered Market is a great place, located slap bang in the middle of Sofia, conveniently next to its own car park and the Serdica II MTR station. It is also just round the corner from the Ladies' Market, so Irena and I often arrange to meet each other there.

There are lots of interesting little shops selling yummy foodie things like olives, as well as a branch of our bank in Bulgaria, FiBank. I like the little place that sells the funny leather bags and the handicrafts place. The things on sale are mostly carved out of walnut, and it was there that I bought our chess and backgammon set. There is also a great cafe, Tosca, and many other places, like the key cutter who made some spare keys for our new apart…

Christmas in Sofia, 2018

Merry Christmas, dear readers! Well, the last few months have been rather interesting, what with my new job and our move to the new apartment in Sofia. It really has been quite hectic and we have had to make several trips to Kalotina, in order to collect all of our bits and pieces. The new apartment is now looking less empty and a lot more like home! We even brought some logs from Kalotina, but so far we have not lit the fire because the apartment is wonderfully warm, thanks to all of the electric radiators. I am glad that we will not have to pay the electricity bill!

I was very impressed that my old friend Peter Adams somehow managed to get a Christmas card to us, with a bit of IT ingenuity. The card arrived on our doorstep in Kalotina a few days before we left for Sofia. It caused a lot of laughter in the village.

Yesterday we went for a little walk in the park, even though the weather was bitterly cold. It is a lovely park. Yes, maybe we did not see it at its best, but Mount Vitosha …

Flat Out, Part 2

I have not written a lot of blog posts recently because we have been very busy, moving into our new apartment in Sofia. Well, I say that it is "our" apartment, but of course St. George's School is paying the rent, the utilities and just about everything. 

As you can imagine, Irena and I are very happy all of this! Our apartment is HUGE. You could probably have fitted all of our flat in Shenzhen into the main room of our new apartment in Sofia. Our kitchen in China was almost like a big cupboard and the bathroom was pretty horrible. 
In our Sofia apartment, the kitchen is a fair old size, big enough for a large table and lots of cupboards, plus we have TWO rather nice bathrooms. Regular readers of my blog will know that we used to live opposite Lianhuacun Park in Shenzhen and that was really convenient and very good for walks. Here in Sofia, our apartment is right opposite the park and in fact the park is one of a chain of green spaces that goes right into the heart of Sofi…

A Winter's Tale, Part 6

Sometimes things happen just in time. On Friday the man from BG Therm came and he spent an hour or two adjusting the boiler, as it had developed an irritating habit of shutting itself down after an hour or two. The sensor for the exhaust gases was set too low, so that was why we kept getting the error messages on the boiler's mini computer.

On Saturday I went into Sofia on the train. First I visited the Elephant Bookshop, hoping toi buy a copy of Adam's book, Kings of the Yukon, but they did not have a copy. Bother!

I also went to the Christmas Bazaar at St. George's. My main reason for going was to talk to the two very nice ladies who are sort outing my employment details and our new apartment in Sofia. The Irish coffee was good, the sausange and sauerkraut were so so and the kindergarten children were sweet when they did their little songs and dances in the theatre. Lots of happy, cooing parents.

We were supposed to go to church this morning, but it just did not happen. Whe…

Well done, Adam!

It is not every day that I get a message from one of my old students, but today I discovered that there was a comment that someone had put at the end of my latest blog post.

I remember Adam Weymouth when he was about 11 or 12 years old. He was a most marvellous Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace (directed by yours truly) and he was a singularly evil and Machiavellian Cardinal Richelieu in my production of The Three Musketeers. 

Well, today I had a message from Adam Weymouth and here it is!

Simon! Although I still feel compelled to call you Mr Hill...I've been trying to track you down for a few days, and with some help from Sue King and Isabelle Assali they've pointed me in the direction of your blog. This is Adam Weymouth, who you taught for some years at Northaw back in the mid 90s. I've been wanting to get in touch to thank you - last week I won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year for my first book, "Kings of the Yukon" - and I feel like it's time…

A Winter's Tale, Part 5

Veliko Tarnovo used to be Bulgaria's old capital city. It is a rather splendid place, with the River Yantra winding through the old town and the Tsarvets fortress up on the hill.

There are two main bridges across the Yantra, the stone bridge for cars and the old wooden footbridge. Our apartment in the Assenova quarter is next to the wooden bridge and from the window of our dining room you get a great view across the river to Tsarvets.

Now it is time for the bad news. Our apartment was horribly, dreadfully COLD. It was like a freezer. (Unlike our house in Kalotina, we have never got round to having the insulation done.) There was a bottle of olive oil in the kitchen and it had frozen! There was also something wrong with the guttering, as it was probably clogged up with ice and snow, so there was a nasty-looking damp patch in the bathroom. Okay, enough moaning for now. It is time for some more snowy photos.

Claire Ruston had lots of super snow photos in her recent post on her blog. Ala…

A Winter's Tale, Part 4

Yes, the never-ending battle of my Chinese Police Certificate is still going on and it does not look as though it will be over for a few more weeks. As well as taking up big chunks of my time, it is also rather expensive.
I have been working hard on writing lots of PowerPoint presentations (ppts) because the headmaster at St. George’s wants me to be involved in Professional Development (PD). So far I have written ppts about Assessment for Learning (AFL), Design and Technology, Robotics, Flash Cards, Gifted and Talented Students (G & T) and How to write a PowerPoint! The ppt about G & T students is rather good. One of my better efforts, in fact. I did not realize that I had some many photos of my students doing all sorts of interesting things. In some ways I am quite looking forward to doing some PD at St. George’s. Doing some PD yourself ought to be a lot more fun than listening to some of the dreadful so-called PD that I had to endure at GOS. The principal was addicted to PPTs…