Day to day events mostly cataloguing my complete lack of understanding and common sense!

To save space, the most recent blog entry will have relevant pictures in it, but after that the photos will be moved to Flickr for storage, and a link to them added to the blog post. If you want to see all the photos anyway then visit the Gostilitsa Flickr page here.

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There is now a separate site with information on living in Bulgaria, including:

  • An introduction to Gostilitsa and all it has to offer
  • Day to day practicalities of shopping, paying bills, banking, insurance
  • Healthcare matters for people and pets
  • Public transport and issues relating to car ownership
  • Becoming a Bulgarian resident and learning the language
  • Tourism, public holidays, festivals, places to visit, hiking routes

Click here for the link.


Unfortunately I've been having an increasing number of problems with storage on this site, so I've decide to continue the diary section elsewhere. Click here for the link to the new site.  The old diary entries will remain here for anyone wishing to delve into the murky past

Friday 26th June, 2014
Category: 2014/06
Tags: ebay

Grrrr, gripey blog entry coming up.

I'd had in mind, for a few weeks now, to buy a little tablet which could be used for watching online films etc via an hdmi link to my TV.  The tablet would sit nicely on top of the dvd player and would save having to keeping moving my laptop around.  So with this in mind I spent some time browsing my usual shopping holes (Amazon, PC World and Ebay) and eventually settled upon a Ployer Momo 12.  No, I'd never heard of this brand before either.  It's one of the many thousands of Chinese makes but sounded good (after looking at reviews from different sources) and the dealer I was to purchase from had changed it all to English so that I wouldn't be fighting with Chinese pop-ups and instructions.  Sounds perfect, right?

I paid up and the tablet duly arrived a couple of days later.  At first all seemed well - I was able to switch it on, it connected to the internet and I found the volume control - but then a problem arose.  The little port where you plug in the usb was broken - it seemed the metal connector had dropped off inside the tablet.  This is where it all went pear shaped.

I messaged the seller (this is on ebay by the way) and waited for a response.  Two days later and still no reply, at which point I opened a complaints case and messaged them again through this. That got a response.  This was all started on 16th June and time is running out.  It cost me £11 to post the tablet back to them for repair.  They received it this Wednesday morning, finally got the technician to look at it Thursday evening, discovered something else was wrong today and are currently getting the technician (who only seems available in the evening making me think it's a mate who has a full time job during the day) to fix it.  They did offer me a different tablet... if I paid the extra cost! Infuriating.

If it somehow gets repaired tonight I hope they can post it first thing tomorrow morning via special delivery to arrive Monday morning.  If not then I'll be waiting a very long time for my new gadget and if it can't be fixed I'll have spent £11 for nothing.  Whinge whinge whinge!

Tuesday 24th June, 2014
Category: 2014/06
Tags: world cup

Well at least we didn't lose.

I'm trying to remain optimistic as England finish their World Cup campaign 0-0 against Costa Rica before they head home.  To be fair, from my completely non-expert point of view, the team seemed to be quite active in creating chances and there were instances of very determined defending. Accuracy was lacking though with silly passes and wide shots on goal.  Still, they are a young squad and with four more years practice under their belts (or should that be in their fluorescent red and yellow Nike boots) they might perform well next time around.

At least they're all coming home in one piece which is more than can be said for Italy after Luis Suarez attempted to take a chunk out of one shoulder.  Shockingly this is apparently the third time he's bitten someone in a match! Maybe he should forget the usual sponsors and enter a deal with Colgate.

I like international football games as they have that little edge of spice and glamour that ordinary league games lack (for me anyway) but there are some changes I think FIFA could make to improve the spectacle even more:

1.  Do away with extra time and penalties in favour of more interesting deciders.  Whilst the teams are in the changing rooms at full time, the ref should hide the football somewhere in the stadium.  As the teams come out they could have a wild treasure hunt (aided by the supporters) and the first one to get the ball and return it to the ref wins.

2.  Alternatively, have 100 footballs suspended above the stadium. At the start of extra time they are all released and so begins a frenzy of shots on goal. Once all the balls are used, simply count up which team has scored most.

3.  More points for fancy goals. Someone who grips the ball between their feet, does a handstand and flicks the ball into goal should score at least 3 for entertainment value.

4.  Deduct points for spitting. Seriously, how disgusting is this habit? And they do it constantly! Every close up of a player, even while warming up on the side, shows a constant flow of saliva onto the pitch. Conditions must be horribly slippery by the end.

5.  Random changes of direction during the game.  A device is installed in the stadium so that at four random points during the game an enormous klaxon sounds, signalling that the goals are now switched and the teams are shooting the other way.  How cool would that be!

6.  Finally, if all else fails, here is my fool proof method to ensure England's success in Russia in 2018.  As soon as we kick off, all the players form a tight circle around the one player in the centre who has the ball. With linked arms they slowly shuffle their way towards the goal and simply walk into it - instant goal! If there's a rule against this, someone enlighten me.

Saturday 14th June, 2014
Category: 2014/06
Tags: memory lane Southend on Sea

Yesterday the temperatures hit a heady 26 degrees so Sharon and I planned a day out at the seaside. The destination was Shoeburyness on the Thames estuary and the scene of many a childhood day out.

Growing up it was common to have days out during the summer holidays rather than going away for a week, and one of the places we`d often head to was the coast around Southend. I say coast, in fact it's just the river Thames as it winds its way into the North Sea, but when you're a child any expanse of water with a beach is definitely seaside.

We'd get the overhead train from Upminster to Thorpe Bay which in itself was exciting. The train was the kind with individual carriages only accessible direct from the platform, and whenever the train pulled into a station my sister and I would slide down the window and lean out as a deterrent to anyone considering getting in our carriage. Thus we would travel the whole way in our own private family carriage, just like royalty!

Once we got to Thorpe Bay there would be the hideously long walk along the road, past very posh houses, to the beach. The best bit would be as you neared the end and you could see the view of the horizon with no buildings and you knew that the sea was waiting mere seconds away. And then that first sight of it! Sparkling in the sunlight, the tiny boats bobbing about, the mile long pier in the distance with the little trains moving up and down it, the scent of salt and seaweed... magic!

The tide goes out a long way here, I mean REALLY far, so if the tide was out when we arrived we'd walk out across the mud to meet it. Ah, the squelch of sinking up to your ankles in soft mud, feeling the odd razor sharp bit of broken shell cutting into your skin and pulling your foot out to discover it was now daubed in sticky black oil... nothing like it!

Shoeburyness is the furthest beach area along that coast before the huge swathe of land owned by the military, and is generally quieter with the cleanest beaches, or so we thought. The car park was suspiciously empty when we arrived, though perhaps this was just because it was a weekday we thought. The other more unusual thing was the high metal fence which had been erected all the way along the promenade. Hmm, were they doing some major repairs to the sea wall or something? On walking over to have a closer look at the fence the reason became apparent. According to the sign an inordinate number of unexploded bombs, guns and other wartime munitions had become uncovered during the winter storms, and so the whole area was now deemed too dangerous for public access. These bombs etc had been hidden under the beaches for going on 70 years, the same beaches we sat on and dug holes into as kids! Ah, I guess health and safety is a bit more of an issue these days!

So it was back down the road to Thorpe Bay where we found a bomb free beach lined by pretty little beach huts. What a great day! Surprisingly the sea wasn't as horrifically cold as you might imagine and we ventured in for a swim... twice! The water is much cleaner now than it used to be, and you can actually see through it to the bottom - unlike years ago when it was like ploughing through extremely well used bath water :-)

We'd brought the Swing Ball with us but the arrival of several rather genteel beach hut owners made us think that the loud wack wack wack of bat on tennis ball wouldn't go down so well, so we reserved our energy for later in the day when we had a game of bat and ball on the grass field opposite the beach.

I've started a bucket list now and I have one item on it... to hire a beach hut for the day, one of the ones on stilts, and to sit on its little balcony when the tide is fully in and pretend I'm on a ship as the waves splash all around me! Or perhaps I'll buy my very own... a mere snip at around £22000.


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