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

Saturday 30th November, 2013
Category: 2013/11
Tags: coal national health service

So annoyed with myself, as today I've realised that I went to the wrong office yesterday in my bid to register with a doctor here. It's such a long drawn out process and every little step seems to take me ages to achieve. I'd gone to the doctor last Tuesday afternoon, thinking that since I now pay into the health service I will be able to register as her patient and then receive treatment at a much reduced rate. Apparently not. She told me I need to go to the office in Gabrovo in order to register with her and then bring the document back to her. I wasn't sure what document she required and she wasn't able to explain in English, so I asked her if I needed to go to the same place where I pay the health contributions. I thought she'd said yes, so yesterday I found time to head into Gabrovo again and went to the tax office. I told the woman behind the desk that my doctor was asking for some sort of form in order to register with her, so the assistant sent me to another desk where they duly printed out and stamped a form. Back home I studied the form and discovered it's identical to one I already have and which the doctor has already seen. Uggh! Clearly this isn't the form I need. So with a lot more Googling this morning I now discover that it isn't the tax office I need to go to but the regional health service office which seems to be located up a side street by the fruit and veg market. The website has copies of the form which you apparently need to fill out in triplicate at the Gabrovo office, then take the forms to the doctor to be stamped, she then sends one of the copies back to the office and hopefully you are then registered with a doctor. So, it will be another trip into Gabrovo on Monday to try and sort out these wretched forms. I'll need treatment for severe stress after all this, so it had better work!

Whilst I was in Gabrovo on Friday I thought I'd see if I can buy a couple of bags of coal, as apparently it's very handy for keeping the fire going all night in extreme cold. Near the little DIY shops by Lidl there was an open shed with a big stack of coal so I pulled in to ask about getting some. The little man said the sacks held between 25 and 30kg each so I asked for two which he promptly hefted into the car. They weighed about 55kg altogether (he has a set of electronic weighing scales that the sacks are lifted onto) and the price was just short of 20 levs. Back home I got nice and black as I dragged the sacks round to the patio and last night I thought I'd see how it burns. So just before bed I put a small heap into the wood burner, shut the top vent and opened the bottom one (as per internet instructions) and went to bed. Sure enough this morning there were still lumps of glowing coal embers in the grate. It wasn't enough to keep the radiators warm so I imagine if I wanted to do that I'd have to put a much bigger pile of coal in, but even if it wasn't enough for the radiators at least it would take the edge off the chill in severe cold weather.

Wednesday 27th November, 2013
Category: 2013/11
Tags: snow

Yesterday was the first snowfall here of this winter season, and it certainly came in full force, pretty much non-stop all day. I had originally wanted to go into Dryanovo to see about getting the car serviced and to buy some coal but driving in the snow when you don't really have to is never a good idea, so it was a cosy day at home.  For once the snow was nice and wet, so I had a mad half hour building a snowman on the patio:

Doesn't he look great? Back indoors for a warm up and to mess about on the computer for a while. About half an hour later I happened to glance out of the window and saw that poor old Frosty appeared to be trying to come indoors with me:

If it had been night time it might have been creepy - like a snow version of Children of the Corn or something! I tried levering him up with the snow shovel but he collapsed entirely and is now scattered in several snowy mounds out there. Next time I will need to make sturdier foundations for him.

Dr Boteva was in the village this afternoon so I went along to make an appointment for a blood test for my thyroid and to show her that I had paid into the health service. It turns out that I need to collect some registration forms from the office in Gabrovo and then come back to see the doctor to register with her. Once I've done that, the blood tests will be free - if I have to pay, she says it will be about 30 levs. So the blood test is now on hold and hopefully if the weather is okay Friday, it will be another trip into Gabrovo to try and get the right documents ready for the doctor on Monday.

And finally I've decided to buy some snow chains for my car. When it began snowing yesterday morning I quickly parked the car just outside the house because the slope at the top of the side lane where my garage is is pretty steep and I'm not sure how well the tyres will grip in the snow. The plan is that if I really had to drive somewhere and it's been snowing, then I can put the chains on in the comfort of the garage, use them to get up the hill and then remove them once I'm on the flat. Watch this space...

Sunday 24th November, 2013
Category: 2013/11
Tags: DIY

Explored a great DIY place in Veliko Tarnovo yesterday. It's located up the same road as KAT but further on and then set back on the left (43.085114, 25.609342). You can easily see it from the road as it's a huge blue building:

In a way the process is a little like buying things from Argos but with everything on display instead of in a catalogue, including lighting, boilers, bathroom fittings, decorating stuff, stoves, gardening, tiles and hundreds of tools, all at very good prices. Everything has a label on it with the code number (circled in red here) and the price (in yellow here):

Bear in mind that the price is the trade price and tax will need to be added onto this, just like in Metro. You take your list of codes to one of the cash desks situated in the centre of the store and the assistant taps it all into the computer and tells you everything is out of stock... kidding! Well, okay some things might be out of stock. You then pay for your order and depending how much and how large the items are, either collect them from a little desk by the exit door, or go to one of the loading bays just outside. I bought a big door knocker for the front gate, a pastry brush, a thingy for smoothing plaster and four shopping bags with 'Bulgaria' plastered across them because I am still in holiday tourist mode even though I live here. I saw these interesting showers by the vending machines:

They have little stoves and grates at the bottom for heating the water with solid fuel. Genius! 

Had a bit of spare time in Novo Selo on the way home so headed up to the main bar in the square to see if they did food. When I went in there were four guys having a confab by the counter, and I'm sure one of them said 'closed' when I walked in. In mumbly Bulgarian I asked if they were shut and after some hesitant staring (while they translated what I'd said into proper Bulgarian) they said no, the bar was open. It seems they were getting things ready for some sort of party that evening as most of the tables were laid out with cutlery and glasses and whilst I was there the guys were chopping onions and getting dishes of spuds ready and arguing over the salad.

I ordered a plate of cheesy chips (my favourite unhealthy snack) and a coffee and went and sat by the window. I was just on my second coffee when another customer came in and, since the other tables were full, asked if he could sit with me. Sure thing. So that's how I met Angel (pronounced 'angle' before you get excited) who is from the village but now works in Italy. Oh, so you're here for a holiday? I stupidly asked. He half rolled his eyes at the barman and laughed. Yes, holiday! Hmm, clearly the work in Italy has dried up for the moment. Anyway, the conversation then turned to drink and which alcohols I like. I politely declined his offer of a vodka, explaining that I was driving and there were bound to be police around, at which he nodded understandingly. An explanation that I'm sure was more acceptable to him than  a) It's only late afternoon, b) I rarely drink anyway and c) I don't drink and drive regardless of the presence of the police. He seemed a pleasant chappy anyway, and when it was time for me to go we shook hands and wished each other a nice evening. Understanding and being understood - a far bigger buzz for me than any amount of booze could produce!

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