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

Sunday 26th May, 2013
Category: 2013/05
Tags: baby-sitting

Yesterday I was left in charge of a six year old for three hours... today I am recovering.  The six year old concerned is my great-nephew Jack (the 'G' word is not to be used!)  'Great Aunt Julie' conjures up images of an ancient grey haired old lady who must not be disturbed as everyone sits eating cucumber sandwiches and sipping weak tea in silence.  Thankfully I think this is far from the image Jack has of me.  With several hours to occupy him we decided to set up a zoo on the dining table.  Like most children he has a phenomenal imagination and we soon had an organised zoo with bears, a parrot, a lizard, three dinosaurs and an enormous tarantula.  We even had an egg incubation centre and of course several trucks, a helicopter and an airplane - after all, what zoo can function without these?  Over the next few hours we dealt with disaster after disaster (ours was the unluckiest zoo ever).  

It began well with the bears all being inoculated (in between Jack's tarantula breeding programme) but then said tarantula had a mishap when one of its legs snapped off (a fatal injury).  Fortunately head keeper Jack had some 'life glue' which revived the poor creature.  Whilst the bears were being flown back to their enclosure (post-inoculation) the plane got hit by the moving mountain and crashed.  All available vehicles were sent to fix it and the bears were delivered okay.  

Things took a considerable downturn (as far as visitors to the zoo were concerned) when the dinosaurs went on the rampage.  We tried to control them with tranquillisers but due to a miscalculation gave them too much and killed them all.  

Thank goodness for the eggs in the incubator which were successfully hatched into more dinosaurs!  The parrot was taken ill after a child on a school trip tried to feed it with a banana sandwich but once again head keeper jack came to the rescue and tucked the poorly creature into bed with the special feather pillows so it could recover from its ordeal.  At this point the head of medical centre 41 (yours truly) requested a much overdue tea break and sloped off to the sofa!

Best moment of the day?  The following conversation:


Yes Jack?

I love you.

Cue the tugged heart strings :)

Thursday 16th May, 2013
Category: 2013/05
Tags: UK Stansted

On Tuesday I flew back to the UK to stay with my sister for a while and to earn a few pennies.  It was cold and cloudy in the morning so it sort of got me back into the UK weather vibe before I'd even left the country.  I was seated next to a guy called Yanek on the flight, who was off to spend a few days visiting London.  He seemed to have travelled quite widely as his mum used to work for Balkan Air until they closed down/ got taken over, whatever happened, but he's never been to the UK before and was really looking forward to seeing the tourist sites in London and trying everything British.  This must mean decent tea and fish and chips ;)

The flight was to Stansted and it's the first time I've been to that airport.  I think it's all been modernised in recent years as it all looked shiny new, and there was a little subway train to take you from where the plane landed to the main terminal building.  I hope I can find my way back to the plane when it comes time to return to Bulgaria!  The change in air pressure as we landed gave me a horrible headache so before going through passport control I dashed into the nearest loos to throw cold water all over my face whilst resisting the temptation to just curl up in a corner and fall asleep.  

The new microchip passports meant I could join a very fast queue for passport control, the only downside to this system being you get to see your face on screen as the computer tries to match the haggard sleep deprived face in front of the camera with the haggard 'rabbit caught in the headlights' face in the passport photo.  Luckily it was a good match and the gates opened to let me through.

Having failed to book a place on the Stansted Flyer, I'd bought a much cheaper bus ticket with a firm called Terravision (yes, it didn't sound much like a coach company to me either).  It was only £6 for a ticket from the airport to an underground station from where I could catch a London bus to the end of my sister's road.  As soon as I got on the coach I sank into a much needed sleep.  As we neared my stop the driver called out "Was there someone who wanted Redbridge?"  In my sleep addled state I shouted out "Da!" much to the amusement of everyone on board.  In my defense the driver had a foreign accent which triggered my Bulgarian response.

Caught the bus to my sister's okay though if I make the journey again I will dose up on travel sickness tablets first as I felt like 50 shades of green by the time I got off.  Still, here I am and today the sun is shining brightly, so all's well again.

Sunday 12th May, 2013
Category: 2013/05
Tags: picnic St George's Day balcony Easter

The fantastic weather continues unabated and I'm really appreciating having the lovely new porch extension as it gives me a nice big shaded area to sit in all day.  The garage is coming along great guns and they have now begun building the brick walls and adding the windows and door.  This coming week the main gates should be fitted and once the tiles arrive they can start on the roof, including my 'gypsy' roofing material! (More about that later).

Angie and Andrea worked in sweltering temperatures to get the balcony tiled and I must say that walking out onto the terrace now is just like walking out of a holiday apartment!  All I need now is a nice little coffee table out there and a view of the Mediterranean ;)

 This is Andrea cutting the tiles

  This is Angie fitting them.  The balcony had such a massive dip in it that they had to use a lot of terraflex and old bits of tile to get the surface even enough for the new tiles, but the girls rocked and did a fantastic job.

  This shows the tiles all laid ready for me to finish the grouting (a new skill for me).  Since this photo was taken they have also put a tiled skirting board around the edge to complete it.

May 1st to May 6th was one massive 6 day bank holiday here (the Bulgarians certainly know how to celebrate) beginning with workers' day, then Easter and ending with St George's Day.  One of the Easter traditions is to dye hard boiled eggs and exchange them with friends and neighbours.  You then each select an egg and tap them together, hoping that yours will be the lucky unbroken one.  The eggs can then be eaten.  I bought some dye and a few other bits and made two little baskets of eggs, one for Baba Ivanka and the other for Gancho and his family:

  Happy Easter!

I also ate more than my fair share of Kozunak - a sweet tea bread with some fruit in which is traditionally eaten at Easter.

On St George's Day Andrea, Angie and I took a picnic down to the river Yantra between the villages of Slaveykovo and Skalsko.  There's a bridge there so we went and sat in the shade under it and shared our picnic food before having a wander about and a paddle.  There were a couple of baby dice snakes in the water and lots of little frogs sunning themselves by the water's edge.  As soon as we walked near they all hopped into the water and wriggled down into the mud.  Under the bridge there were some martins' nests with the birds swooping in and out while we sat there.  We also saw some strange bees, almost like little hummingbirds with huge long pointed proboscuses (is that the word??) which they used to probe the rock as they hovered along the wall.

  Ladies that picnic!

 The river Yantra - only shallow here but surprisingly forceful with all the melted snow water from the mountains.


  Swallowtail butterflies

Later in the day we went to the village of Skalsko where they were having a village party.  We just sat to one side and had a couple of drinks and listened to the music.  People were getting up to dance now and then including one old guy who was sitting by a taxi (I REALLY hope he wasn't one of the drivers!) with his bottle of booze, and a couple of young girls who did the traditional dancing with ease:

Link to the taxi dancer

Link to the two girls



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