Monday, 21 July 2014

Road trip.

So the road trip is almost upon us. I've bought my £300 left hand drive Ford Focus, its all on the road legal & ready to go. We decide to buy a few kitchen units from Wickes to take out as they were in a sale & the boxes contained everything i needed. The plan is kick the arse out of as many miles as i can on the Autobahn on the first day then 2 more days through Hungary & Romania as i don't know what the roads are like.  I buy a £30 Chinese Satnav from eBay to leave out there in the car. The Ferry is booked for 2am on a Saturday Morning & i have booked a hotel near Linz in Austria for Saturday night. The plan was to wing it from there on. I have aquired a new labourer to come with me under the false pretence of a free holiday!

Early shift at work Friday, i get home around 3.30pm & start to load the car with bits of kitchen & a bathroom sink I've pilfered from the skip at work. I am loading a few tools & bits to enable me to work & Liz has been stockpiling her own stuff for me to take. We have a few essentials for Sue & Paul, ie a huge slab of cheese & enough tea bags to enable Mr Typhoo to retire. I get to bed around 8pm & i'm up ready to roll at 11pm. Sleep not an option. I pick my mate John up in Dover at midnight & we head to the docks in the overloaded Focus. We check in at the port & are given the option of an earlier crossing, no queue, drove straight on to the ferry, a good start to the journey. During the crossing i program Lom into the untested Satnav, it seems to work ok.

We roll off the ferry around 3.30am Kermit time & we're off, we get a good start towards Belgium, then through a small corner of The Netherlands & into Deutchland. The sun is up, its getting very hot & John is in the passenger seat snoring, i'm feeling tired & shut one eye & then swap eyes from time to time in a bid to stay awake. John & i have both brought a flask of black coffee but its still not enough, eventually i pull over for a power nap somewhere short of Cologne. John wanders off to have a fag & a sausage roll so i can have a kip in the car. Half hour later i awake in a pool of sweat as it must be about 30 degrees & its only 10am. I didn't sleep too well as every lorry in Germany had driven past my car in the services. Back on the road again & i put my foot down to eat a few miles. We are now near Frankfurt & i need to stop again as my eyes are closing again. I find a bench in the shade & i'm out like a light. A hour later i'm awake, the sun has moved round & is trying to burn my face off through a gap in the trees. Now i have driven to Austria before, about 20 years ago, but i'm following the Satnav that's telling me to turn off the motorway, half hour later the signs are telling me im heading to the Czech Republic. My initial plans was once we were at the Austrian border i would look up the hotel address on my phone & use that to guide me to the hotel. I pull over to look at the Satnav to see why its sending me to Czech only to find a blank patch on the screen that were driving round, the blank patch was Austria, the Satnav showed all the countries around it but not Austria. I now have to use my phone to get us back on track. We lost about half hour but eventually made it to the border, I found the Village of Ansfelden on my phone & headed off to find the hotel. Ansfelden is a small town consisting of nothing other than hotels, there are dozens of them all together, after about 45 minutes of driving around we finally find the right one, it is now 6.30pm & i've driven 750 miles with very little sleep. We dump our stuff in the room & head out for food, no bar or restaurant so we go outside to find a Chinese buffet, everything else in town is closed but the Chinese has beer. Never has a Chinese tasted so good, 3 beers later & i.m nearly asleep!

After a decent nights sleep in a very hot room, we noticed as we left it had air con! Down to the cafe opposite the hotel we have a continental breakfast, we explained to the girl serving us that according to my Satnav Austria does not exist. It does she replied, you are definitely here. She also explained that Japanese & American tourists have asked her where the Kangaroos are! Its 8.30am & we decide to try & do the rest of the journey in one go, we top up with petrol & head towards Hungary. A quick cup of coffee at the border & we were off again. I must admit i was impressed with the Hungarian motorway, it was all new & much better than the Austrian roads, we headed towards Budapest & saw miles of farmland with hundreds or even thousands of wind generators gracefully turning in the sky. I also noticed that Tescos have made their mark in Hungary, we passed loads of them. A few hours later we've passed Budapest & the car has about a quarter of a tank left, I'm thinking a few more miles & i will fill up before we leave Hungary as i have some Hungarian Florint to get rid of.  Im now faced with the dilemma as the junction approaches, Romania or Serbia? Romania has small roads & villages to get through but Serbia has better roads but they are not in the EU, I've also heard that Serbian Police & Customs are quite corrupt & like to pick on British tourists as they seem to think were loaded. I had always favoured the Romanian route as it was supposed to be less hassle, too late, I'm in the wrong lane & heading to Serbia!

We queued at the border for about 20 minutes, the Hungarian border police clocked the UK number plates & head to the right hand side of the car, I'm in a left hand drive & feeling rather smug at this point. He walks round to my side & takes the passports. Asked where we were going & why, asked if there was anything to declare, we said no & were on our way for 2 minutes when we get to the Serbian border control. They seemed to be pulling vans over & making the drivers empty them out so they could look through the stuff. We were just waved through & were on our way. So now i have hardly any fuel & no Serbian currency, 2 miles up the road was a huge services & they took Euros so panic over. I must admit i was Expecting Serbia to be a bombed out dump after the war a few years ago but it was just 3 lanes of empty motorway through miles of countryside. We drove at about 95 miles an hour & passed another car every 2 or 3 miles, it was great. The motorway went through the capital Belgrade which was strange as the motorway through the city had bus stops on it. It was busy for a few miles then back into the countryside & up through a few mountains where we has our first bit of rain. We turned off the motorway to travel few miles of mountains that followed the river Danube towards Bulgaria.  We made the Bulgarian border in about 10 hours from Austria, I text Paul with an ETA of around 9pm but i was not entirely sure at what point in the journey the clocks moved on another hour. The Bulgarian border Police took our passports & the car documents & disappeared for about 10 minutes just leaving us at a barrier in the road. They came back eventually after probably cloning our passports, had a nose in the back of the car & seem surprised that we were there for 2 weeks. We headed into Vidin & found the Kaufland supermarket & stocked up on a few essentials, beer, bread & some dodgy looking ham. I text Paul to say we were just leaving Vidin, he seemed amazed at the speed we got there. An hour later we were at Sue & Pauls drinking a nice cold beer & scoffing a nice curry.

So 11 & half hours from Austria to Bulgaria was pretty good, i worked out that the 1600cc Focus had done just over 40 mpg & had cost around £220 in fuel.

So after 2 days of intense driving, we did bugger all on Monday!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Another dodgy hire car!

So after spending a week wiring, concreting floors & trying not to get raped or shot we head for home. Ive broken Ray or destroyed in his words & he decides he may not want to be my labourer again!

Back home & I've managed to book another week off work in May as Liz still has not seen the house. So another early start is upon us & were off to Heathrow this time as I've got a last minute flight with BA cheaper than Easy Jet believe it or not.

British airways indeed, so i thought a better class of crumpet working as stewardesses, well i got that wrong as we were greeted by a bruiser! But leather seats, more leg room & complementary food & drink, which was typical as i had to drive. This is far better than Stelios & his £5 sarnies on Cheesy Jet, well worth the extra 30 minute drive.

Usual stuff, we land & get collected to get our hire car. Ive opted for a budget car this time & budget it was, a battered Renault Clio. So first stop is Ikea for more household items, none of which i can remember. Back on the road now into rush hour as the BA flight was a bit later than Easy Jet. Were now stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Sofia, me being a smart arse tries to detour off the main road in towards the city to miss the the traffic, big mistake.  So were now lost in a mass of traffic & road works & i have to switch the data back on & use my phone & Mr Google to get me out. Destination of Montana set & we make our way back out of the city. Ive have now driven from Sofia to Stanevo a few times & thought at some point I'm going to recognise a road, it didn't happen. The most sensible route is mainly major roads but a bit longer, the shortest route that Sat Navs use is over the mountains, lorries & busses seem to use the mountain route too, so when you are in a 1.2 Clio the chances of overtaking anything are pretty slim. It was a beautiful scenic route with lots of hairpin bends & streams running beside the roads but you need a car with a bit of grunt on the hills or you do most of the journey in second gear. We arrive in Montana & hit Lidl for supplies & eventually reach the house around 7pm.

This is the first time Liz has seen the house & bare in mind we was working on it up until we left it looks like a building site, the look on her face was priceless, i think we need to go for a beer were her first words. We go & find Sue & Paul & head to the bar.

So we spent our first night in the house together listening out for anything that might be living in the roof, but all was quiet. I had previously bought a bog to install & had the waste pipe in but the 2 were not connected. First job then was fix the pan to the ground & connect the waste. This was done with no drama but we still had not water supply to it so we fill a bucket from the sink. First thing i did was flush it then run down the garden so i could listen to it falling into the cesspit, i really am a sad bastard aren't i! The only problem now was that the bathroom was being built at the end of the hallway & there was no wall up so as you walked into the house you could see people on the bog, this was called a poo with a view!

From this:

To this :

Not too bad after a weeks work, but theres plenty more to do. So we have a few trips to Lom & buy a fridge freezer & a cooker to sit on the worktop that we haven't got yet. Ive salvaged 3 tables from the out buildings, one table seems to have been in a fire but we have carrier bags to cove the tables & now have a makeshift kitchen. 

Getting towards the end of the week & we have heavy rain, come out next morning & the lane is flooded & the car won't start. I finally get it going but its miss firing so i limp it round to Sue & Pauls to higher ground. Paul has some WD40 type spray which i cover the plug leads in & it starts better. We run it into Lom & it coughs & farts a bit but seems ok. We park it outside Sue & Pauls overnight just in case we flood again. More heavy rain over night which has highlighted a slight leak in the porch roof. We walk round to get the car & again it won't start. I finally get it running but its not well, i ring the hire company & they agree to send another car out as we have an early start the following day back to the airport & i don't want to be under the bonnet in the dark trying to get it running. So they send a man out in an identical red Clio to swap it & off he goes. Not bad service really as its a 5 to 6 hour round trip.

So I've spent the week plumbing, Liz has been weeding. We've cooked a meal on our £50 cooker & we have cold beer in the fridge, its coming together slowly.

We have a nice drive back to Sofia, a nice flight back to Heathrow & the M25 at 5pm, back to reality.  We gat back home at 7.30pm & i have to go to work at 10pm straight onto a week of nights!


Wednesday, 25 June 2014


So as the work progresses, i decide to use concrete posts as shuttering for my concrete floor for the bathroom, dig them into the dirt floor to get a level & lay the concrete in between. We do this & it works great but with anther 30 square metres of floor to do I'm going to run out of posts.

Now there are miles of grapevines all around the area & they are all supported by concrete posts. Mr Fuzz has had a few excursions around the area with his metal detector & says i know where there are a load of old posts we could possibly acquire. We get in his van & disappear into the vineyards for a nose, we drive past an old farm house that Paul said was empty, we drive down a steep hill & find a stack of posts. I have a look at the posts but they are much thicker than the ones i had in the garden. we move on down towards the river, there is a nice freshly ploughed field at the bottom that Paul points out was part of an old Roman hill fort & that he has had a dig around with the metal detector. Next to the field there is a large stack of old broken concrete posts, perfect for what i need.

We get out the van & get ready to load when i hear a diesel engine getting closer, i look up towards the deserted farmhouse & see a 4x4 heading our way, we quickly get back in the van & drive towards the river, the 4x4 follows us along the field & we come to a junction & turn left towards the river. The 4x4 stays at the top of the road, we get out of the van & walk down towards the river, the driver sees us & then drives off in the other direction.  We wait 10 minutes then drive back to the posts, Paul turns the van round ready for a quick get away, we load up the van with enough posts & head off back towards the river. As we drive along the track at the edge of the field there is a 4x4 approaching from the direction we're heading. We are trapped!

The 4x4 pulls up, waving for us to pull up along side, inside is a big scary looking farmer type Bulgarian man. He starts shouting at us, we don't speak much Bulgarian & he speaks no English. As we are in a right hand drive van, i have the angry geezer on my side, my reply is "Anglichanin, ne razbiram" (Englishman, i don't understand), this is my standard response in most situations! He then shouts AK74, Bulgarian national 12 years! Which is the international term for i have a gun & your fucked! He kept repeating this & signalled he had been watching us through binoculars & he recognised Pauls van. We came to the conclusion that he thought we were metal detecting, Bulgarian national 12 years? Did this mean you get 12 years for illegally metal detecting? Or he was in the Bulgarian national army for 12 years but had forgotten to hand his Kalashnikov back in? Ne detector we tried saying hoping that he didn't want to look in the van, it then seemed to dawn on him that if we weren't metal detecting we up to something more sinister. Ah sex he shouted! He laughed & we laughed back thinking perhaps we should agree with whatever is least likely to get us shot!

He drove away laughing & we escaped with our stolen fence posts, no bullet holes & bottoms still intact!

The moral of this story is that in Bulgaria, if you're not metal detecting then you're obviously having sex!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Bobski the builder.

So its Saturday 29th of March, im on a 12 hour shift at work with a 6am flight the following morning, oh & the clocks go forward, planned that well didnt I!

Home from work at 19.30, throw a few pairs of pants & socks in a bag & a short kip! Or no kip due to being too excited. Its 1am with the clocks going forward to 2am, i pick Ray up & he gets in the car in shorts & a Tee-shirt shivering. Under the impression that Bulgaria is foreign it therfore will be hot so he has no jeans, jumpers or a jacket! So then the usual blurry eyed drive to Gatwick, park the car & get the bus to the terminal & wait for Sue & Paul who have had a few days visiting family. They have suitcases weighing as much as a family car which i add to by giving them some padlocks to take through for me. We go our separate ways as they join the queue with 2000 other people to all check in the cases at the same desk, while me & Ray head straight to departures.

We get on the plane & go!

2 hours & 40 minutes later & were at Sofia, Sue & Paul go off to get their van & we go to the car hire place for the latest executive car, a Romanian built Dacia Logan, an ugly van like MPV but i must admit it was a nice car to drive. We meet up at the local Ikea for meatballs, which is compulsory at any Ikea! Food scoffed, time for shopping. After the usual arduous trek round the Ikea 1 way route ive bought 2 double beds & some other shite im not really sure i needed, im also 960 Lev lighter (£400 ish). We get back on the road & meet up again in Vratsa at Lidl where we stock up on supplies of bread, water, dodgy cheese & chocolate buiscuits. We hit the road, wave at the tarts selling it in the laybys & eat the buscuits. An hour or so later were in Stanevo.

Its now starting to get dark so we go on a mission to have a look round my new house, we have no keys yet so we climb over the fence for a sneak preview before tomorrow. The general feeling is, it dont look too bad, but more importantly im kind of on holiday so why am i still sober?

So after another stay in the highly recommended Stanevo Lodge, we're up & im eager to get into Lom to get my keys & Deeds. We meet up with the estate agent for coffee then head off to the Notary Public to sign the deeds.

Now me being a 6 foot tattood skinhead, im not easily intimidated, but shut me in a room where i am wedged inbetween 2 Bulgarian guys facing a man in a suit who is talking to me & sounding like Pingu, where i have no idea what is being said, then its fair to say my confidence faded a little. There is lots of talking where the agent is translating but to be honest he could be making up any old bollocks! This is followed by me signing lots of paperwork with lots of wiggly writing on (courtesy of St Cyril) & then lots of stamping of the signed bits of paper & a bit of hand shaking. We leave the rather sweaty office & im told to return on Thursday to collect the final paperwork, im also told i wont need to say anything as they are pretty sure they will recognise me. Not sure how to take that.

We now arrive at the house & im handed a set of keys & basically thats it, I own a house in Bulgaria, this is followed by a strange ovewhelming feeling of what the f*ck have i let myself in for.

I think a beer is needed! So now the fun begins!

Now we need supplies, surprisingly there are loads of hardware stores around in Lom & most are very helpful despite the painful language barrier. The Fuzzwoulds have already been through this so know the best places & seemed to have created their own code for various places.

Tuesday:   i bought a boiler & electrical stuff from the electrical shop as you do.  I needed a door for when i build the bathroom & Paul & Sue remembered a shop selling second hand white goods that had doors. We get there, no doors! The man then says the guy that had the doors was in the shop next door. We go to the shop, no doors! We are then walked 2 roads away by this guy to his house, he cant speak English but decides German will do. We go into his house where the stair well is comlpetely full of doors, i chose one, we do the deal, he tells us about importing dogs for some reason & then we leave.

Wednesday:  I bought a toilet & some plumbing stuff from Jacks (codename). I also bought paint from Dannys yellow shop (codename) & some bits from the flats (codename).

Thursday:  I bought sand & cement & tried to buy timber from Jocks (codename).  This was quite bazaar as using google translateski we had written our order out, 1 ton of sand, half ton of ballast, 10 bags of cement & a sheet of re-bar. This was for putting down a concrete floor onto the rock hard mud floors & also to put a cap over the cess pit the gypsies were going to dig. Now the timber was another story, in there wood shed they had a pallet full of 4 metre lengths of 60mm square timber, this was ideal for the stud wall for the bathroom. We asked for 6 lengths & were told no! We were now confused, the wood was there, the owners mate decided to phone a friend then repeated back in Dalek English "we will sell you the wood in 15 days" WTF was that all about?

We left, woodless!

Fridays was all about doing a bit of work, Ray changed dodgy wiring, Sue painted while Paul & i layed concrete to make the bathroom floor, the gypsy lads appeared & agreed to come & dig a cesspit on Sunday  for 500 lev which i thought was a lot of money but i was buggered if i was doing it!

Saturday was a day of rest, off to Vidin market for various bits & a visit to the Kin Dobre cafe (my codename), we then went to visit other friends as the British Empire slowly gets a foothold in Eastern Europe!

Thats all for now!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Up the Danube without a paddle!

So as the weeks go by i start to send money to BG via a currency exchange website. You agree a rate, you transfer a load of money from your account & then you don't hear anything! A few days later as you start shitting yourself you finally get an email confirming the transfer has taken place but it may take a few days to show up in the recipients account. Almost a week later i finally get an email from the Estate agent saying they have received the payment. Thank f**k for that!

So the weeks pass, plans are being made to build a new kitchen & a bathroom, flights are booked for March & again in June, the house is nearly all paid for. I buy a car to take out & leave at the house & everything is looking good. Christmas & New Year pass us by & i'm working nights & then i come home from work & get into bed around 8am. The house is empty so i can snore & fart without fear of being elbowed in the ribs! In my slumber around 10am i hear my phone vibrating on the wooden floor, i peer over the side of the bed to see the blurred word Bulgaria on the caller ID on my mobile, its all gone tits up!

The Bulgarian accented broken English voice on the phone says hello Stiv, we have a problem! I am now wide awake!

So the problem is, the agent has gone to court to get the deeds for the property, this includes tracing any family that may have a stake in the property, there is & they do. So once the distant cousins realise they are entitled to a share in the house, they want more money for it. The issue they have is that the lady selling us the house has allegedly stitched the family up over property before. The choices are, wait for the court to sort the mess out, could take months or even years. I could have my money back or the agent can hang onto it for when i come out & we can look at more houses.

Im now on the website looking at more houses in the village, ive messaged Sue & Paul with the news. Trawling through the website we spot a few houses, some i recognise from our last visit & a few new ones. We spot one we like that we sort of recognise, within budget with less land & a bit more work needed. Its about £600 more than the last house but i like to haggle. As i cant just pop over to view it i ask Sue & Paul if they can try to find it, its now February & theres 18 inches of snow on the ground!  The re-con mission goes well as they fire up the Huskies & brave the cold. It turns out that this house is more or less behind theirs, result, on site security!

I receive a few pictures from the spies who have dug themselves into a snow drift on a stake out (i may have made that bit up). There is someone living there, the local piss head who i have met, or at least one of them!  I now try to arrange an official viewing. A few days later Sue & Paul get to view it in the snow. Paul sends me 30 odd pictures of various rooms & out buildings, the house seems to have a hoarder of shite living in it but the house itself has a few cracks here & there but looks ok structurally.  I asked Sue & Paul for their opinion ,which was they would buy it, sounds promising!

I go in with a low offer whining about cracks & water damage & how i feel ive been let down by all this. The reply is, our client wont go that low but here is the counter offer, a whole 90 Euros more than what i offered. Im shit hot at this haggling business! They come back with another offer of, for another 500 Lev (£220 ish) they will leave all the furniture, i went back to the photos to see if id missed a Chippendale or a grand piano or 2. I decided not to spend the extra on the firewood they called furniture, even a charity shop would turn its nose up!  I am now banking on the fact the owner will take one look at it all & think its not worth moving & leave most of it. Failing that i will have a blank canvas to work with :)

I contact our new neighbours with the news, at this point they seem more excited than we are! Prices agreed, money now paid, the agent confirms he has the deeds to this one & just need to go to the local notary to sign it over.

I think this time we have actually bought a house, even if we have never seen it!

Flight booked for end of March, I have my labourer Ray coming with me (holiday my arse!)

Car bought to take out in June with Ray (now known as my 2nd wife). A left hand drive Focus for £300 Bonus.

No more updates from me now until i see what ive let myself in for!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Round 2.

So after reporting back home about how much I enjoyed Bulgaria, the other half (Liz) agreed to come out with me to have a look at a few houses & to see if she liked the area.  We booked flights for October half term & arranged to be shown a few houses by an estate agent. Our daughter in the mean time decided she didn't want to come & booked herself in with a friends parents for the week so she could go trick or treating, flight non refundable of course. 

The day arrives & up with the sparrows fart at dark o'Clock we drive to Gatwick.  Another overpriced breakfast & were on the way. On board a new plane with posh Recaro seats & more legroom we get seated. We are now delayed waiting for another passenger, when along comes an elderly Bulgarian lady with her mentally ill son who seems to have overdosed on a lethal cocktail of sedatives & Maryland cookies. A battle then commences between the lady & her son involving lots of shouting, dribbling & biscuit crumbs, with the other passengers now getting agitated & trying not to stare & the non Bulgarian speaking cabin crew looking terrified the battle heads to the rear of the plane & into the toilets. After a few minutes of banging & screaming the old girl comes  back through the plane with the poor stressed fellow in an arm lock which was impressive as she was half his size, they headed to the front of the plane & were escorted off leaving a trail of broken biscuits. We get the usual pre flight announcements done & taxi off to the runway where we sit for another hour as we missed our slot!

We finally land smoothly thanks to our Russian sounding lady pilot (i expect a man parked it for her!) & get out into the sun to see which comedy budget car we have this time. We are presented with a not too shabby Dacia Sandero (James May would be pleased!) & this one had tires at no extra cost! So another road trip 120 ish miles to Stanevo, a swift drive through the Sofia pikey camp (Dobur den my chav), then a quick wave to the poor unfortunate ladys in the lay-bys that cant afford any clothes. Into Lidl in Vratsa for supplies & a strange margarine type substance that keeps the same consistency if you put it in the fridge or leave it out in the sun, I cant believe its not shit & fat!

We drive through beautiful sunshine for an hour or 2, then as we drive down into the valley towards Lom its thick fog, pitch black, freezing & the car steams up!  We arrive at house of Fuzz, give Liz the quick tour of the estate & go to the bar where she has the introduction to a few of the locals & more importantly Rakia! She politely drinks the local brew & then has the face of someone thats just stuck their tongue on a 9 volt battery for the first time, to be honest the taste is pretty similar. I politely smile through the pain of my shot thinking just neck it & get it over with, this again gives the locals the impression i like it & im handed a small mineral water bottle full of it. Liz said to me quietly, youre going to die, i know, i whispered.  I drank it, it went down & more importantly stayed down. Game over!

We wake on a bright autumn morning to the sounds of horses & carts, donkeys, various dogs & birds doing there thing. We went out into the sun & ironically it was warmer in October than it was in June. We spent a few days looking round the area, went into Vidin & visited the Pheonix cafe for a lamb pasty & a bun, English run would you believe! We eventually spent a day being shown various houses in even more various states of disrepair, the choices were either buy one to do up or dont be such a tight bastard! The tight bastard won!

We discussed it for a while, Liz & i liked the idea of holidays away from the tourist areas & more importantly away from gobby drunk English people (I fit this description very well myself). We decided to go for it, narrowed it down to 3 properties then agreed a very good price on one that needed the least doing to it & more importantly had an indoor bog! We spent a few more days with Fuzzy & Sue, we went out for Sue's birthday for a nice meal & then had to fly back to reality.

The reality being, oh shit did we just agree to buy a house in the middle of nowhere in a country we know bugger all about?

Yep, we now need to try to learn a bit of the language & look oaround to see what is in the area.

If there is a god, his name is Mr Google!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Bulgaria or bust.

Thinking of buying property abroad? No? Neither did we, but friends of ours took the plunge & it got me thinking. A year or so ago, friends Paul (Fuzzy) & Sue said they were buying a house in Bulgaria, why would anyone want to go there I thought, I now apologise to the people of Bulgaria!

So, as the months passed Fuzzy & Sue sold everything they could & moved to Bulgaria, I was under the impression it was just a holiday home but there you go. They seemed to have done their homework & off they went driving across Europe in 2 vans in April of last year.

Then along comes a mutual friend of our called Ray, he said would I like to visit Fuzzy on our bikes, I thought this sounds fun. So after a bit of planning & working out costs we decided to go in June. After a few words with the wife who kindly pointed out 2 things, firstly she said your bike is 25 years old & secondly your back is f***ed, which one will give out first? She had a point!
After some more research, the 3000 mile round trip looked a bit expensive when you totalled up the cost of fuel, hotels & ferries etc. So it was an £85 return with Easy Jet!

June arrived & I booked an economy small car to collect from Sofia airport, which stated Corsa or similar & for less than £60 for the week who knows what to expect. I picked Ray up at around 2.30am & drove to Gatwick. A rather overpriced breakfast at the airport later & we were on the plane, 3hrs later were in Bulgaria where it was rather warm. We were met at the airport by the hire car rep where we were handed the keys to a 4 year old Chevrolet Aveo, which was basically an Astra sized saloon & a bit bigger than expected. A quick look round the car revealed front tyres that were as bald as me! The response from the rep was, its Bulgaria & it is what it is! With that we drove off following Fuzzy's very comprehensive directions.

We drove from the airport out of Sofia through a Gypsy village which was interesting then onto a dual carriage way & off on the open road. Head towards Botvegrad then turn off towards Montana & Vidin, then the schoolboy gigggles started. As we passed Botvegrad we saw several women in various lay-bys wearing bikinis & heels selling their wares, this we found was common on the outskirts of most larger towns, it kind of relieved (for want of a better word) the boredom of the 3 hour drive. We needed to get food for when we arrived at Fuzzy & Sue's so we found a Lidl in Vratsa & stocked up with something that resembled cheese, some bread, crisps & a large quantity of beer, Ray pointed out afterwards that he didn't really drink much, luckily i drink like a man thats just got out of prison!  

We arrived around 5pm at Fuzzy & Sue's & had the grand tour of the lodge & the garden & then went to the local shop come bar where we were introduced to the local brew called Rakia which everybody makes & then takes to the bar. We were given a shot of Rakia which took the enamel off my teeth & removed the lining of my throat, but being a polite English boy i said thank you it was very nice. The response to this was oh, he likes it & more came my way. I don'tremember much else!

I awoke the next morning feeling slightly jaded to the sound of very loud birds singing & a cockerel that really was taking the piss! We spent the week being shown the local area, Lom is a nice small town with a few restaurants & bars, a nice bakery where I was most amused by Sue trying to buy a loaf of bread. Now speaking Bulgarian is like any other foreign language, you learn certain key words & phrases & do the best you can. the most difficult bit is yes & no. Da is yes & nay is no, simple you may think until your head moves, nodding in Bulgaria means no & shaking your head means yes. Now bare in mind that since most of us could crawl we learn the basic yes & no head gestures, welcome to Bulgaria where  it is now a game. So we are in the bakery & Sue asks for a loaf of bread whist pointing to one she likes the look of, the young shop assistant acknowledges by pointing to the same loaf when Sue says yes & nods her head, the confused assistant moves to the adjacent loaf & points where Sue  says no & shakes her head, the confused shop assistant moves back to the first loaf, i am now in tears of laughter & whisper to Sue keep your bloody head still. At this point i have to walk out, she emerges a few minutes later slightly red faced but clutching her bread.

As the week went on we visited Vidin, & went round the market amazed by the size of the vegetables & how cheap everything was. We spent all day looking at tools, household items & basically everything whilst complaining about how we are ripped off in the UK. So after a week of drinking beer at around 40p a bottle i dont want to leave. The area we are in is very rural & lacks all the creature comforts we are used to & i loved it! So the week comes to an end & Ray & I drive back to the airport giggling at the ladies in the lay-bys (£7 a go allegedly!). We've had a great week, the weather has been hot but rainy at times & has been eaten alive by mosquito's, i have not been bitten at all which i put down to my higher than average blood alcohol level & poorly controlled diabetes, which incidentally is due to my higher than average blood alcohol level!

We arrive back at Gatwick & head straight to McDonalds!

I now have to convince the wife to come to Bulgaria with me!