On Wednesday morning Ilia our neighbour announced his arrival by a resonant Allo from behind the board of OSB we’d placed over the entrance to the garden. He came in and without breath started speaking to us in Bulgarian as if we were fluent. His soliloquy was met by two blank faces and two very happy dogs. He didn’t mind at all. Terry looked at me totally panic stricken and actually asked me to translate. I felt the need to laugh hysterically but kept myself in check. Eventually Ilia took us to the well and said Voda and pointed down the well. The next word I heard was pompa and then I got it. He was suggesting we buy a pump for the well. I’m pretty certain he was saying a whole lot more but that was what I got.
He then turned to Terry and began explaining how it should be done. Now here is where the magic began. Terry as he freely admits struggles with English let alone foreign languages but as Ilia spoke and gesticulated at Terry in Bulgarian, Terry began to respond in English and before my very eyes a bond was riven between the two. Some form of understanding of all matters technical and manly had circumvented the language barrier. Ilia also took a tour of our house as it stood and showed his appreciation of the new part of the house and an utter disregard for the quaintly beautiful old and original part of the property. When he reach Terrys workshop he was especially impressed.
We had to get a water pump as a matter of urgency and it was at that moment that fellow Brits Alex and Paul messaged us a welcome and invited us down for a coffee. They gave us the latest news from the village and then directed us to a hardware shop in the nearest big town of Pavlikeni. Paul kindly offered to drive in front of us to show us where the shop was an to invite us for a coffee at a cafe that had internet access. We jumped in our autos and set off
It takes about 15 minutes to get to Pav as it is known and we pulled up outside the hardware shop nicknamed the Wheelbarrow shop by the Brits. To our immense joy the young pony tailed shop assistant spoke pretty excellent English. Terry wondered about with an ecstatic smile on his face as the young man showed an excellent understanding of water pumps and all the plumbing things that a Well would require. I chose myself a wheelbarrow, a green soviet fashion wheelbarrow that was both capacious and light. I also suggested a huge water barrel for collecting the water that was going to be pumped. An hour later we left the shop laden and headed for the cafe that Paul had left directions for. We found it quite easily, opposite the centre squares fountains. We met up with Paul and Dave from our village and sat and caught up whilst I surreptitiously checked Facebook and email. Data roaming is ridiculously expensive but not having contact with your loved ones is expensive in another way.
After we finished talking we all went our separate ways and I took the time to snap some pictures of the surrounding countryside as Terry hurtled Bulgarian style down potholed roads back to Gradishte.
Ilia was waiting for us magically as the van bounced and rolled up the grass track to the house. The village post must have pre announced our arrival. He inspected Terrys purchases with relish and not long afterwards Vlad his grandson entered the garden. He is 17 and lives in Germany with his Mum and step Dad but returns regularly to his beloved grandparents in the village. He is such a good tempered 17 year old as he stood an translated. His gangling teenage self earnestly trying to impress his grandfather. There was of course no need; Ilia’s love for Vlad was clear for all to see.
Terry got to work installing the hydro pump and I started digging a trench from the well to the summer kitchen and from the summer kitchen to the house. I had to laugh, whilst most things in my life exist in a Boolean fashion and logic rules my heart my trench was anything but simple and clear cut. My trench wend its way merrily around stumps and various other immovable roots. Terry wisely said nothing but did dig out the trench a little lower
Terry and I continued with the water works and by the time Vlad came back and invited us to eat with his family that night Terry had the hydro pump working from the generator and pumping into the enormous water barrel and better still into the house. Whilst we don’t have a kitchen sink there is a bathroom minus toilet bowl and sink, still intact. Aha I forgot to say we purchased a Chinese toilet at the Wheelbarrow shop earlier. Terry also had that plumbed in too. Chinese people are quite tiny and so was the toilet. It is definitely a short term measure.
All we needed now was electric to run the pump without the generator and give light to the house. Terry has already put in a fuse box and has a temporary lighting system ready to go. Until then it’s lamps. torches and candles. I boiled up 2 saucepans each of hot water and added them to the big green bowl and some icy well water and both of us had an impromptu bath of sorts. Ilia had offered us his bathroom but we are so ridiculously dirty all the time I had to decline. At 8pm we arrived at Ilia and Grosda’s house where their god dining room was beautifully set for us. Vlad our trusty translator had vetoed a night with his friends to chair the evening meal. The traditional Shopska salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and white cheese similar to feta was served with a glass each of the fiery Rakia that had been distilled in their back yard.
Then chicken legs with an onion relish and fresh bread followed. Terry had beer poured for him and I, rather devilishly accepted another Rakia. The conversation flowed and much merriment was had. Terry and I had bought a shop bought Torte as an offering and we finished off with that. It was by that time 11pm so we said our goodbyes and thank yous and headed back to our dark home and very grateful canines.
Early the next day the electric company arrived and connected us to our electric. The two men were fascinated by Terrys UK fuse box and despite several scare stories from ex pats they ok’ed Terrys work and the older man spent some time explaining the system to his younger colleague. Once the work was done the pair sat outside with us and in pidgeon English and a modicum of Bulgarian we swapped stories of our children. The minute they left we bundled into the van and set off for Technomart and Praktiker in Veliko Tarnovo to purchase a hot water boiler and the necessary plumbing accessories. Terry also pulled into MacDonalds and I agreed good naturedly to join him. He has been an absolute star about the food here and I am truly proud of him. Burgers eaten we headed to Technomart and purchased an 80 litre boiler that can be run with electric or a solid fuel boiler. That done we popped next door to Praktiker for the rest of the necessary bits and pieces. This took longer than we anticipated so by the time we reached the till we were both hot and sweaty. We still had a quick trip to Lidl to undertake. Bacon supplies had depleted and bottled water was necessary. We didn’t find bacon per se but a lump of something that resembled bacon. some massive bottles of water, a shower and bath tap set and some spot lights.
I forgot to say we got lost on the way to Veliko Tarnovo and we got lost on the way back but were rewarded with beautiful scenery. Sadly my trusty phone had run out of juice so I’m unable to provide evidence. When we arrived home Terry set about plumbing in the boiler whilst I put together a meal fit for a king on 2 gas rings and a teeny tiny grill. The meat here is beautiful and so cheap it’s almost embarrassing compared to UK prices.
There came a barrage of expletives from the bathroom and investigation into the cause found Terry red faced, sweaty and completely frustrated. He’d plumbed everything in and when the boiler was switched on the system blew the fuse box over and over again. Eventually he had to admit defeat and we sat down to eat. At least we had light now which meant eating and seeing at the same time. Terry put on a DVD of The Big Bang Theory and we fell into bed and asleep.