So on the 2nd of September 2016 Terry and I headed for Sofia airport once again. It was a particularly hectic morning because the day before I had realised that James’s house had to be registered before the end of the week and with a 4 day bank holiday I was about to miss the deadline. Alex our friend came with me yesterday and showed me how to put the ball into action. But of course the wheel of Bulgarian bureaucracy grinds exceeding slow and after the papers were handed to an advocat, in another building across the road, to complete we were told to return the next day. In effect the morning we were leaving to pick up the kids. On Friday morning I was super organised and had a full english breakfast on the plates of the building crew by 08:50. This was in lieu of a lunch. I was showered, documented to the hilt and ready to leave at 09:45 to meet Paul outside the Advocats’ office in Levski. She was a very personable woman and between her English and my Bulgarian she made it very clear that she was very much happy to carry out any advocacy work I required and indeed any Brit. It is always nice when Bulgarians “approve” of you.
Paul and I tackled the council offices and in true red tape style went to 4 different offices and 2 cashiers before the deed of registering the house was complete. I held the much stamped and validated piece of paper in my grip, said a hurried thank you and goodbye to Paul and leaped in the motor. I stopped at the ATM and the petrol station before screaming up outside the house to pick up Terry. We had also organised to put in an order for the tracks for the mini digger at the head office in Sofia, a mere 15 minutes away from the airport. We had to run a tight ship and I knew I was in for one of Terrys “fast” runs. They are not pleasant unless you have some kind of sub conscious death wish.
We did pop into JBC to order new tracks for the digger. Anyone who has had any dealings with buying items in Bulgaria will know that it is never a quick business. Red tape rules even in the commercial sector. Buying a lightbulb requires the inspection and testing of each bulb in front of you, any type of machinery ditto. Then there is the fiasco of entering the details on the computer and for good measure in a paper based log. Hence the drive from the JCB building to the airport was even more hairy! We made the flight arrival with minutes to spare and as we entered the airport we were met with not only armed security but with balaclavas too! My stomach churned as I wondered what event had caused this degree of security.
It wasn’t long till the diminutive form of Danielle and the lanky one of Alfie came through the doors. It was a Daddys girl kind of moment and my heart melted. Alfie had a ciggie rolled and ready to go for both himself and Dani. Neiher of them had smoked for 7 hours. smokers reading this will recognise this feeling.
Of course we had to go to Perfecto for our first meal together. Amalia was in Thessaloniki at the Free Earth festival and then on to a spot of free camping so as a foursome we set off with our weary travellers. It was good to be able to lay a spread of Bulgarian food in front of them and even better that Dani, notoriously a picky eater, leapt in and choose a quite risky choice.
They were both shattered but in good spirits. We left with 3 boxes of food we’d been unable to eat. Terry quipped “the dogs will be eating well tonight” and indeed they did. As we left the restaurant Terry suggested we pop into the local bar which was greeted with agreement on all sides. We were met at our local bar by Alex, Paul, Dave M ad Dave W who had been enjoying the contents of the bar in a very generous manner. They good naturedly spilled out their bon homie on us. However by midnight we wended our way the 250 metres to home. Despite the hour the kids made a great effort and we caught up on family news in the comfort of our living room. It was of course way to early to ask what they thought of Bulgaria so I held off. Terry and I made the first move for bed and left the youngsters to make themselves comfortable. Dani, who is officially the crazy cat woman was enchanted by Ted our ginger Tom kitten. The dogs refused to come with us and lolloped in canine heaven as they jimmied themselves in-between, on top off and in contact with Dani and Alfie. I don’t know if dogs hold memories, olfactorial or not but they certainly knew that family members were home where they should be.
The next day they rose late and we left them. We have come to accept that in our family we are the only early risers by choice. Terry was on the roof at 7am with a Kango drill and even then they didn’t emerge till 1pm. I had suggested that they might like to accompany me to the Levski market in the morning but at 11am I realised that they were still non compus mentum and left them in their warm cocoon. We had cleaned and refilled the pool so they would have some time to acclimatise to the weather. Early September and Bulgaria is still reaching the 30’s plus by midday and by the look of the kids and their pallor the last thing we wanted was to have them burned!
When they did emerge they were engulfed in an animal frenzy of love. Not only our 2 dogs and kitten but our outside “visitors” Voula, Soula and the puppy Royston. It was a cacophony of aural love. I put out a full English which was devoured by all. Soon enough the heat was such that the pool cover came off and Dani and Alfie went in and spend a fair amount of time floating atop the pool interspersed with hand holding sessions on the loungers. It was unbearably sweet!
The next day the kids had decided to tackle the Krushuna Waterfalls. They did make in out of bed somewhat earlier at 11am and as Paul had volunteered to work on a Sunday to help with the roof I put another full English on the table for everyone except Dani who had found the cornflakes. Soon after I jumped in the car with them, popping quickly into Amalia’s house to water her plants then straight on to the waterfalls. It is a 4 day bank holiday till Tuesday of next week so whilst the roads to the falls were good the area around the falls was heaving. I drove as close as I could and dropped them off telling them to ring or text when they wanted picking up.
When they did ring at 6pm Terry and I dressed and decided to go immediately out to eat. This time we choose Pavlikeni and a restaurant we’ve used before. The starters were excellent but the Sachs; what should be a sizzling plate of meat in a sumptuous sauce turned out to be a disappointment and more like a casserole. Fortunately the conversation and company made up for the food. As I write now it’s 9:38 the next day and all is quite from their bedroom despite a team of 4 burly builders clomping around over their heads and the angle grinder crunching it’s noisy way through steel bars!
On that note folks I will write off as I have lunch to prepare for quite a few people!