Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting ready to go back to Bulgaria

This is what I miss when I'm in the UK  , in Bulgaria views like this are everywhere, this is about 2 mile from Vetren on the road between Yulievo and Maglizh, Sunflower fields are everywhere, with the Balkan mountains in the distance. Temperatures on this day were close to 40C, the thing about when I am in Bulgaria is that I miss nothing about the UK

 This is the house lizard....not from one of my houses, it lives at the one I rented in Yulievo, It seemed to live on the wall outside the house and given a chance its inside through the window or door like a flash causing mayhem, At the house in Vetren I've seen no lizards at all, plenty of snakes.....but no lizards

I'm back in the UK now, and I have spent the last few days getting ready for a trade show in the UK so not much time for planning the return trip, I know its probably next week but could be next weekend...., I don't plan much ahead! , I tend to suddenly decide to go and book a ferry online on the cheapest crossing.

I'm trying to decide on what to take with me, last time I took a lot of tools with me but this time I think I will go to somewhere in Bulgaria like Mr Bricolage for a strimmer and similar items , I'm taking a rotorvator over I just haven't decided which rotorvator....mine here is a bit small so I might get a bigger one.... I must make a decision soon as I need it delivered before I leave!

The plan is on this trip is to get as much done as possible.....I`m planning the next trip to get it ready to live in over Christmas so insulation will be going in as well,

The roof although it looks bad in some places dotted with stones to hold slates on doesn't leak but will be re tiled next year when its dry ( and ive read up a bit more on doing it!) , this year i plan to sort out the few tiles that have slipped, before the winter, I have checked the roof and the main structure is fine, the wood has no rot and shows no damp even in the rain, rock hard wood that looks like oak is used for the beams.

Ive had someone check it all out for me and structurally its fine

The tree next on the road next to the house has to go....or needs serious chopping at least as its banging on the roof and knocking tiles off, i need to get permission to chop it, i may just trim some off for now...but its close to the main electricity wires so I'm not happy doing it myself.

Rendering is being repaired.....I should redo it all with new render all over but most of it is sound and has no hollow sound when tapped so for this year ( and for practise rendering! ) I will render the gaps and then give it a coating over the top with a plaster flicker gun I've just had it delivered this morning...

Window frames will have to come out and be sanded and coated with linseed oil based paint ( colour or clear...probably clear ) , new glass , and an internal set of windows fitted to give old fashioned double glazing, along with a set of mesh fly screens

All the electrics are to be re done, its the wires all over the outside that have damaged the rendering, I will do the electrics as I've done it before, I'm going to get it checked over before I use it!

The inside is to be stripped and painted, new kitchen and bathroom, wooden floors sanded, concrete floor tiled and the tilled floors re grouted and cleaned

Loads more things also to do, but I only have around a month in Bulgaria and I`m also supposed to be doing some work on the machines in the factory  , then its back to the UK again...I'm trying for 1 month UK, one Bulgaria and so on,

Ive been back in the UK for about a month and a half and I feel it really is time to go back, in the UK I live in Liverpool near the city noisy and busy, no wonder i want to go back to Bulgaria

This is the view looking down the road at the Balkan mountains, this is the land the village goats and other animals go to every day to graze
Another view taken from the end of the road, about 30 seconds walk away

This is what we had nearly 2000sqm of growing in the garden. It took some time with the brush cutter to chop it down and it will probably come back its Southern European elder....not as bad as ground elder but still hard to kill, I don't want that much elder, some is fine , 2000sqm not a chance!

The garden after a rough chopping with the brush cutter

Another view of the garden, weed stack in the center after cleaning the elder up a bit, Balkan mountains in the distance, when the elder comes back I think it may need weed killer, something I've never used but this may need it once to get shut of 20 years of weed growth
Some fruit from the market in Maglizh, about 10 minutes drive away, fruit in season is very cheap here and tastes so much better than in the UK, all the fresh food tasted better.

A local Roma village near Maglizh

Lake Zhrebchevo

The drive takes about 20 minutes from Vetren to lake Zhrebchevo , I have a video of the mountain road the GPS took me on to get back, much slower than the other route but more fun and better scenery.

Its all this that makes me want to go back, once the factory is running full time I intend to try and move most of the year to Bulgaria.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

June 2012, driving to Bulgaria

June 2012, the trip to Bulgaria

I often drive around Europe, sometimes in a hire car or van but more often in one of my old cars, I like 1980s and 1990s turbo cars i currently have 4 * 1990s Vauxhall Calibra turbo 4x4 cars and a 1989 mk4 Ford Escort cabriolet convertible fitted with a 1600 turbo engine....not the kind of cars people usually head off for a 2000 mile drive in , I do it regularly....I do take a lot of tools and spare parts and usually all is well!

I decided the best way to go was Dover to Dunkirk , not only was it a shorter route it was a lower cost ferry as well, booked on line return tickets for 2 weeks were around £25 each way, Trip to Tescos as they were cheapest for Euros , changed some pounds into euros ( for petrol, hotels if needed and in case something went wrong with the car.... ), I decided it was better to change as much as possible as it was needed once in Bulgaria as the rate was better.

I packed the car, as well as the tools I had many car spares, including...Pistons and rings, Big end bearings, head gasket, head bolts, power steering pump, loads of tubes, wires, cable ties, a radiator....

Then the important bits, The laptop , The garden tools... Brush cutter, chain saw , spade, rake, petrol, oils, generator,

Emergency food..... 
coleman duel fuel stove, cheap asda gas stove and gas cans, pans, cooking foil, Easy to cook food....Hotdogs, minced lamb in a can, cans of soup
Some blankets in case of break downs ( yes i know its the summer, but could still be cold at night! )

After that lot was in the car, we were off.....

Ferry was at 4pm Monday night ,we got there in loads of time, got off the other side, all going well, the countries were flying by...

We planned to go the standard route people use UK to Bulgaria, travelling France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and into Bulgaria via the Vidin boat , All was fine till Romania....

We were getting close to Calafat in Romania, looking for the ferry terminal location,it was going dark probably around 10pm Wednesday night , on the road that is the `main` route....we were driving on a mainly unlit road in a built up area, drunk people staggering home every now and then, occasional horse drawn carts with no lights, stray dogs in the road.....
Bang....just one loud bang and the engine stopped.........we coasted to a stop, I started checking it out
It wasn't anything i could find, i checked the engine, cam belt, water etc all looked fine, plugs looked ok...ecu light working correctly ( common fault on a vauxhall, ) i changed the fuel pump relay just in case, it still wouldn't start.
I checked the fuel pressure...there was none,  fuses were ok so the fuel pump or the wires to it had gone!

At this point some `helpful` drunk romanians turned up and started trying to push start the car, one claimed to be a mechanic, i let him look....his answer was to take fuel hose off and poke a screwdriver in and to short the battery out and declare it needed a new engine!
Then they all went away and left me alone ( with claims of coming to take the car and fix it in the morning....while i waited here on the road side!!!!! )
I was awake all night trying to work out what to do, as it went light i started work on it again to see if i could find the exact fault, as i opened the bonnet I heard a strange noise.....I worked it out it was someone snoring, just across from the car was a pile of blankets with 3 people sleeping on them....
It didn't look so bad once it was light and people turned up, the area we were outside was a few shops and the car park was used as a morning market, the gypsies were waiting for the deliveries to come , they worked   at the market.
I was parked outside a shop, a DIY shop and as the owner turned up he got his computer out with google translate and asked me why i was there, what the problem was
After a few minutes with Google translate explaining the problem he phoned someone up and gave me a price for a repair including towing me there, 50 Euros , I thought great....and off we went on a bit of rope on the back of a tractor.
After an hour we were repaired, a strange repair, an extra Mercedes fuel pump under the bonnet, it worked.....they looked quite happy with themselves, i had to help a lot as they knew nothing about the car, they had never seen a petrol turbo car, never mind a modified one but they seemed to come up with an answer to the problem quickly, as no Vauxhall or Opel pump for the car was available.
The guy with the red hat, fixed the car and showed off to all his mates about fitting a Merc fuel pump to a Opel

After the slight delay...Wednesday morning we were off

Ferry, quick trip across, and into Bulgaria

By early afternoon we were in Bulgaria, The plan was to stay in Vidin overnight and then go on to Vetren, due to the breakdown we missed out Vidin and decided to go straight to Yulievo to the house we were renting.

After getting lost a couple of times...(the GPS took us the scenic `across the mountain` route....) we got to Yulievo and as we had no idea were we were supposed to go, and had no phone signal we asked at a small shop in what looked like the village center, they phoned up for us and we were in the right place, she would come to get us, even though we were a day early....( due to not staying in Vidin )

After a few minutes we were collected to go to the house, after about a minutes drive we were there

Monday, August 20, 2012

Early summer 2012

Having nearly died in the snow back in January when I travelled to look at the house in Vetren.....
It took me a little time to decide to go back to Bulgaria!
But summer 2012 the date was day i got up and thought `oh...I think i will go over next week!`, a quick email a week before and i had rented a house in Yulievo, it was fairly local to the Vetren house, this time it would be easy to have enough time at the property to work out what I was going to do with it!
Im starting to think, no external foam insulation cladding, no UPVC windows i will just make sure its leak free for the elements, and fit secondary window glass and wood shutters to the windows and doors, internal insulation , loft insulation etc , theres obviously loads more to do such as painting, plastering, external rendering repair, and rewire, replace the toilet with one with a u kitchen and this year a quick repair to the roof, next year i will do the whole roof

The plan is, complete DIY , if i get anyone to help it will be as paid by the day labour as the whole point of this is to do it DIY

If i get stuck....I will get someone in for that bit, for now its DIY

Why i bought a house in rural Bulgaria.

Welcome to my blog about my renovation of this traditional style Bulgarian village house, this photo is the one that made me buy it, taken by the seller some years ago

When people find out I have property in Bulgaria the question usually is.... Why and how I decided to buy a house in Bulgaria

So here we go....why i bought in Bulgaria!

Around 15 years ago I started to believe the UK was not the place for me, so I started looking around to see what was available in places that were fairly easy to get to.
I wanted somewhere rural, some places were suggested by estate agents, Scotland looked nice, North Wales another very nice place, while viewing some properties near Llanwrst I ran into a man in the estate agents selling his house , he was moving to Bulgaria..... I looked at the photos of some houses he was looking at, instantly I liked what I was looking at, nothing else had been so close to what I wanted!
Time went business was growing and I decided a move like that was too difficult and at that point the factory could not be moved so the idea was forgotten about.

In 2005 my dog was diagnosed as having CDRM, he was virtually paralysed from the middle back, over a period of a month his fur fell out and he started falling over, soon he was unable to walk at all, a trip to the vets said he had a few months left they could find nothing wrong, i would not have that as a diagnosis and started searching the net, loads of info was available about diets, and supplements to diets , we decided on a treatment regime and very soon he was able to walk again, I started thinking how much better he would be if he had a large garden to play in instead of going out to parks for long walks, his legs could conk out at any time and it wasnt easy to carry 25kg of muddy dog back from the park. 

With taking so much time off work I had managed to sort out someone to run things for me so i  didn't need to do so much work, meaning i had more spare time in between looking after the dog, One day browsing ebay i found houses for sale, and then Bulgarian houses.

Some years went by.......I had to travel for the business , most times my dog would travel with me but occasionally i left my dog with family ( with a complete instruction manual...)  but most times he traveled with us as he needed constant care, we started to travel Europe a lot , about 10 days a month were in Europe, mainly Germany, Czech Republic and France , I decided more business was over there than in the UK so we could move to somewhere warm, with a larger garden . it all happened!

I was having a bad day, the car was broken into in the night , my dog was getting ill again , so I decided I would move , I logged onto ebay and put some bids on a house, I lost the auction.... Suddenly it was easier to buy one as it could have already happened, I looked at the companies website and found lots more properties, so a few emails later I had arranged to buy a small factory, and a house.....Near Vidin , why Vidin....its close to the crossing meaning i had less distance to drive.
   A few days later I popped over by plane ( the only time i have travelled to Bulgaria by plane ) , I paid the deposit and arranged an agent and a solicitor to sort it all out, luckily i was not ripped I had no clue as to what i was doing, I had a translator but they worked with the solicitor....
   I only went back another few times in 2010 to sign things and pay the rest of the money, My view of this transaction now is I was very lucky not to be ripped off, The factory is great ( and will be covered in another blog for the company ), needed some work but is still fine now, the house i have stayed in a few times, its quite nice and does not need much work as for Bulgarian property it is quite new being made in the early 1990s.

In June 2010 my dog died at 14 years old, he had been on wheels to help him walk for 2 years, this had a strange effect on me , overnight I cared little about the business , I couldn't have cared less if it had closed down at that point, luckily i had someone step in to run it.  
I decided to get over to Bulgaria full time I wanted to get away from the UK.....Having not completely lost my mind....but once realising I no longer needed or wanted to work , (I decided I would need food!) ,so I needed a much larger garden....something the Vidin house didn't have so the search started for a better house for growing food!

2011...Another ebay purchase
Back in the UK for most of the time, I made another random purchase, I bought a traditional style mud brick house near Maglizh ,StaraZagora in a village called Vetren , this house i liked a lot, there was a video of around the garden and in the house, the seller looked trustworthy...( OK,  many sellers do look trustworthy.... ) but i checked there history and they had been round some time on forums and lots of people knew them, so i decided as it was only very cheap (due to being a village house in the center of rural Bulgaria) i had nothing to loose.

The house on ebay had a buy it i bought it! paid the deposit,  completed the sale within a few months and then it was mine just before Christmas