Man taking a sheep for a walk, coffee with the sheep walker and setting off for home

Friday 7th August 2015

Friday we woke to such intense heat and still the water company had not connected the water.  We did have the well water but much to my chagrin I had lost 2 vessels to it’s deep and sparkling depths in trying to bring the water up.  Mental note to myself; a particularly strong rope is going to be required alongside a sturdy pail to get water out of the well.  I was despatched into the village and the shop to get our morning Banitsa’s and a lighter for Terry.  There is a fair amount of unemployment in the village that or many people are on their summer break because I had that walk of shame when one passes a cafe full of men and one is wearing a pair of shorts that are just a bit too short for public exposure.  Who knew the whole village would be abroad at that time in the morning.  I shan’t make that mistake again! We had to go into Levski to try and find a lock for the padlock we’d bought the other day.  It turns out that whilst we could buy a padlock we couldn’t buy the loop that it attaches to.  We drove back home and parked up to see a man taking his sheep for a walk!  It turns out he is our neighbour of 3 doors up and his name is Ilia.  I’m not sure how I understood this but I did.  He accompanied us into our property and then began the usual war of gesticulation and misunderstandings.  He asked to see the house and we gave him a tour of a much tidier and cleaner house but still one that was basically a shell.  Like many Bulgarians he was enchanted with the newer side of the house and poo pooed the charming and far more beautiful older and original part of the house.  It reminds me of the 70’s and 80’s when the Brits were hell bent on getting rid of all original features in their houses and their furniture for cheap, sleek modern variations – only to regret it bitterly years later.  I clumsily explained that we would be leaving and returning in April.  He gesticulated wildly that we should secure the property.  Exhausted by our mutual misunderstandings he waved cheerily and left.

sheep walking

Terry and I made decision that we’d leave in the early evening rather than the following morning.  To that effect we began collecting up our things, securing the house and moving the rubbish outside to a pile that we’d have to deal with in April.  The local rubbish bin was in no way going to cope with the somewhat ignomous and large mountain of old clothes, tiles and building materials.

In the latter half of the afternoon we had makeshift showers under the 10 litre water bottles suspended from the trees amidst our beautiful garden.  Butterflies flitting and bees, birds, cicadas all emitting their cacophonous songs it was heart breaking to think we had to leave and not return till April.

paradise

Just as we were about to leave Ilia returns with his 15 year old grandson Vladimer who lives in Germany.  As I spoke German and he spoke English suddenly the conversation flowed and we were cordially invited to drink a coffee at their house.  We secured the property and without a backward glance we started up the track to Ilia’s house.  I was almost transported back to Greece and Pappous’ summer home.  The house was smart and tidy and the patio was shaded by grape vines and what can only be described as a type of camoflage netting that was extremely effective but a tad gaudy.  Ilia proudly turned on a tiny overhead fan that looked as if it had been salvaged from a fridge or freezer.  His wife and Vladimer’s grandmother came out with coffee and many sweets.  Vladimer worked fantastically as translator and even took me on a guided tour around the veg patch and the barn holding the sheep, rabbits and chickens.  It gave me courage that we could be self sufficient as our land was more than triple what this family managed on.  It was heart warming in the extreme to meet such lovely neighbours.  Ilia insisted that he would visit the house daily to ensure nobody was taking liberties.  I have to say both Terry and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I made a pact with Ilia’s wife that I would take yogurt, butter and cheese making lessons from her in turn for cakes I’d baked.  We eventually said our goodbyes and as we left we were plied with tomatoes, peppers, pears and apples for our journey.  I felt awful that I had nothing to give in return but I will make sure I bring them something on our return.  We climbed aboard our mobile oven, aka the van and started for home.

    bridge

 ruse

This time Terry had marked out the map and we left the sat nav firmly in the back. The trip to Ruse and the border was without incident and breathtakingly beautiful.  The bridge crossing into Romania wasn’t. We idled on the bridge between the 2 countries for 2 hours in full sunlight.  Everyone disembarked from their vehicles and stood around passing the time of day until finally the traffic started to move.  The Romanian border guards surprised us by being urbane and helpful.  We found the Romanian motorway and simply slid through the country without hitch.  We’d decided we’d wait till Hungary to eat and as we hit Hungary we pulled over and I set up the camping stove and Terry stretched his legs.

hungarian river

We’d stopped in Levski on our way outbound and bought some beautiful pork chops which I fried up with potatoes and the beautiful salad stuff we’d been given.  We decided to have a sleep so we could crack Austria and Germany the following day.  The 3 dogs we’d fed our scraps to and given a bowl of water repaid us by guarding the van as we slept.  We had a good 5 hours sleep before boiling up the kettle for drinks and the flasks and setting off again.  We slid through Hungary and into Austria and without stopping reached the German border.  In celebration we pulled over and set up for breakfast.  I cooked the beautiful Bulgarian sausages with eggs, fresh tomato, cheese and bread; almost the last of our Bulgarian supplies.  We ate quickly because the Autohof we pulled over into was absolutely filthy, definitely not what we’d come to expect in Deutschland!  Germany was a slog, no other word for it but Terry was epic and he slaughtered that beast that is Germany.  Our camping gas cooker died on us just before we left Germany so we resorted to a quick meal in yet another Autohof and sped through Belgium and France and on to the home bound ferry without a hitch.

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