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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Down Memory Lane




The first phase of the journey complete. After seeing our belongings off we travelled down to Dave's parents in Kent. If all the journey is as trouble free I will be very happy. Even the M25 at 5.30 was not too much of a nightmare, and apart from the odd heavy shower, the weather was good.

Today we have been on a tour of Dave's old haunts from his childhood. Rural Kent in spring cannot be beaten for fresh beauty. I have never been down when the apple blossom has been out, and it is worth seeing. Most of the old orchards have been re-planted with small, easy to manage trees, planted cosily together.

We took the girls to a wood where Dave and his brother used to play as children. The broom was just breaking out, as were the bluebells. I'm glad we saw them , good native ones.



The girls had a whale of a time, with Bella finding lots of revolting things to roll in, much to Dave's disgust...and mine when we got into the car....pheeewww!


There were a lot of very busy wood ants, they're HUGE! I managed to take one back to the car.

We went to see where the family lived, cottages which are now very much des res. We would kill to live in a place like this now, surrounded by apples and woodland. But we now have our little slice of Bulgaria, and we are looking forward to seeing what it is like now, in late Spring. A lot greener than when we last saw it!




We have managed to see a lot of Dave's family. Living so far North we haven't seen an awful lot of them over the past decade, but they are always on the other end of the  'phone, and Skype is a marvellous thing. I hope at least some of them will make the trip out to Bulgaria, and they will always be more than welcome for however long they want to stay.
Tomorrow we will be leaving at midnight to catch the 2am ferry over the channel, so will be well and truly on the way. The biggest thing for me is having to leave the girls in the car on their own for the duration of the crossing, they are not the bravest of animals, but I hope they will take comfort from each other.



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Goodbye old life

Dave's last day at work today, he had to do the rounds to say goodbye to colleagues, and pick up some leaving cards and pessies. Despite some aggro these last few weeks, after a letter from the States and a certificate recognising the hard work he has put in to his records, he is feeling more cheerful, despite not getting recognition from his own superiors.


Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it might seem. Despite Dave being super organised, ferry and hotels en route booked, boxes labelled, with two lists, one detailed, one general. Everything taped up so well it will take hours to get in to anything (I blame his Mother for his over use of tape!) and stacked so all the boxes are straight.

We had an e-mail from the company moving our stuff to say there will be a delay of five days as there is a problem with the wagon taking it out to BG. Not their fault, and at least they can pick it up as arranged, which is just as well as we have to move out tomorrow. So we now have to decide if we are going to look for a dog friendly B&B or camp on beds which haven't been used since goodness knows when.

Ah well, I'm sure it will be all right in the end. At least we have been able to arrange to have the keys left with English speaking Russian neighbours, so we can at least get in!

The two of us (plus two)

As we both like to tell a story, there will be two styles of writing on this blog. Whoever has the time to add to it will. One Northerner and one Southerner. We may also comment on each others' posts, as we both sometimes see a different slant on things.

So, to do a proper introduction, we are a middle aged couple who are fed up with our life as it is, and are determined to do something about it before we are too old. Dave has worked in his job for 22 years and has gone as far as he can with it, I have worked in a supermarket for the last 5 years, gradually shortening my hours ready for our new life.

 We have no children, just our two dogs, Bonnie our re-homed labrador bitch, aged 10, and Bella, 4 this year, rescue bitch of unknown breeding and full of character. We have had Bonnie for 7 years, and Bella from an 8 week old pup. We are her third owners. Both have behavioral issues...but then so do we!



We put our house on the market over three years ago as we wanted somewhere with a bigger garden, firstly for the girls, and also because I like to grow as much of our food as possible and our garden was tiny. We also had three hybrid chickens, mainly as we had given up waiting for a sale, and after speaking to the neighbours to make sure they didn't mind, took the plunge. They were adorable.


After three years, and getting fed up of our inactive (second) estate agent, we changed to the third. As soon as the board went up there was a knock on the door...and we sold! Hrray. Now what?

We had been looking and dreaming about moving to Bulgaria for a while. Now our options were three. We could do as originally planned and look for somewhere locally, but we really wanted to get Dave away from his job. We could move down to the south of England, nearer his family, and buy enough land for what we wanted and rent a house, always presuming Dave could get another job. Or we could follow our dream of self sufficiency in Bulgaria. The Winner! A bit of a cliche maybe. But our main interests are wildlife, photography, painting and growing. I also love to cook and preserve...and eat! We are both crafty too in our ways. So the research, which had been going on for a while, stepped up a gear and we booked time off for a look-see in March. We moved in to a rented house, very lucky to find one where we could take the girls. Unfortunately we had to re-home the chickens. I was so upset, and Dave worried about how I would cope when we had to find a home for our beautiful big horse, Murphy. Unrideable by us but dearly loved all the same. We eventually homed him with a work colleague of Dave's. It still brings a tear when i think of him, but there is no way we could take him to BG for lots of reasons. But enough of that.


So off we went in March, just for a look you understand, and we had another trip booked in May. We loved it straight away. The long drive from Sofia to Veliko Turnovo, the area we chose to explore first, took us through lots of diverse landscapes. Even in the starkness of the end of winter, when there is nothing growing, we could see what it could be like later on. Of course we had seen loads of images on the internet, but a lot of those were taken in the spring and summer when everything is green and lush. Of course, some of the photos shown on estate agents' websites showed winter and the starker months, and we know enough about looking at houses to know that a camera does lie, and things are not necessarily what they seem. We had picked out quite a few houses in the VT area we would like to see, but gradually dismissed most for one reason or another. We were not intending to make any decisions on this trip, but we wanted to see as many villages in the area as we could, just to get a feel. Originally, we had been looking at mountain villages. being wildlife fanatics it appealed to us to be on the outskirts of a quiet village with wildlife on the doorstep But our sensible natures kicked in, and practically, if Dave had to go off to GB for any reason and leave me on my own, he would not have been happy in that situation. Also with us getting older we really needed to know we could get out in the winter if there was an emergency. Added to this that the wildlife we love so much would have their hungry eyes on our livestock....definitely better to be in a larger, more lively village. Which is why we started to concentrate on the agricultural areas around VT.

Our trek around the villages with the agent was very interesting. We managed to persuade him that, although a house with pool was possible in our budget, and who wouldn't want a pool, the upkeep both financially and physically would be a drain. Some of the houses we saw would have been great had we been a lot younger, but they needed so much work. One of the first houses was one we had earmarked as interesting from the start of our search, and another got Dave very interested. The first was great, the second not at all as described and totally impractical. yest another was amazing, with every kind of gizmo and gadget you could possibly want, modern and beautifully done, very luxurious. But not us. We went to visit some friends the next day, and they kindly showed us around their house and the area, took us for a meal and put us up for the night so we could chat and thrash out some ideas. But the house I liked stayed in my mind, and I wanted another look. Just a look you understand.....

And yes, we agreed it was what we wanted and put in an offer. It has been modernised for use as a holiday let, so no heating, and the only way to get to the bathrooms upstairs from the kitchen/sitting room was outside and up the stairs on the outside of the house, so there are things to do. there is the usual half acre of garden and outbuildings, plenty of space for chickens, growing and the girls. And later even some goats. There are a few mature trees, one of which is walnut, but others are unknown. There are unfortunately some stubs where younger trees have been cut down, and a vine on earlier agents' photos has also disappeared. Never mind, it will be interesting to see what is left. So, come the end of May, instead of having a holiday,we will be moving out to start a new life.

 BG is such a beautiful country and we can't wait to explore with our girls, and we could afford to be without loan and mortgage, surely everybody's dream.

So we are packed and ready to go. Dave has a couple more days in work, but we had an evening in the local pub last night, and more colleagues than expected came to send us on our way with their best wishes. it was a very emotional evening, 22 years is a long time and a lot has happened. Also, some of those present I had known since the mid 70s as I worked there myself as a teenager. Many promised to visit, and I hope they do. Everyone is welcome any time, the more the merrier. It is not these people we are wanting to leave. Of course, they will be expected to put in the odd hour of work here and there to pay for their keep, or donate a sack of chicken food or some compost!

So as soon as we get internet in BG there will be regular updates for all those friends who have shown an interest. And we will try not to put you all off visiting.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Well the countdown has begun for our new adventure, but leaving work on a good note will not be the case as issues have occurred that make leaving that way not possible. One of the big problems working for a big business is that you are just a cog in the mechanism in the way it works and the days were you felt human and appreciated are gone. It is sad to think that twenty two years have been spend working there, but life goes on and more importantly it means that our dream for a new start and a new life can happen.

All of it seems to have come together so quickly, viewing of property in a new country we had not visited before in March and then in two months we are now surrounded in packed boxes with our worldly goods  ready for collection in two weeks and then we set off for our adventure ahead of us.