Yambol City Life and New Book Started

Well it has been nearly two years since moving into our apartment in Yambol and things have settled down well. Galia is due to start work this month and I have a set routine of various fitness programmes, piano playing based around housework and preparing evening dinner for Galia every evening.
Yambol, City Life, New Book, Started,
A Yambol Apartment Block
Life here is very different from the village life which was experience when first arriving in Bulgaria in 2005. The contrast of so many things rawly stand out in the City of Yambol. Some good some bad, but to many here, especially the older ex-village folk. City living in an apartment is a luxury compared to the never ending work laden village life they left behind. Rural life living off the land has always had an idealistic picture in the minds of many who haven't experienced it. In reality, in the midst of poverty it is no fun and a hard labour needed just to survive is how is for thousands still in those folds.
It is still question of survival in the City of Yambol where I see many Bulgarian folk, (not  just Gypsies) begging for money for a loaf of bread. In the rural areas there is food, in the City there is also food but you have to buy it!
Yambol, City Life, New Book, Started,
Cycling in Yambol's City Park
There are many things I have noticed with City life. Having said City life I guess many would think of the grand cosmopolitan Cities such and London, Paris, New York etc. That's the thought I have when someone says they live in a City. Yambol is a City but probably one of the smallest I know of more equivalent for small town, but with the accolade of the bigger title.
Yambol, City Life, New Book, Started,
Yambol City Centre and the Cultural Museum
Having written about village life in a book published called Simple Treasures in Bulgaria back in 2008 I now turn my attentions to current times of 2019 with my new chapter of living in Yambol and a home in one of the many concrete panel built apartment blocks. Many aspect which probably expatriate would never get a chance to experience as it certainly would be the choice of living here when village life appeals to most.
So, coincidently with the New Year just arriving,  I have started writing a new book based on what I see, hear and experience here living near the City Centre in an apartment. (No, it wasn't intended a as New Year resolution.)
As mentioned, Galia is due to start work. That was the trigger with the thought of more time on my own and dominoes into using that time start writing again. During the current winter and early spring months when inclement weather tells you to stay indoors is also and ideal time to start.


A Bike Ride to The John Smith's Pub in Sunny Beach


When we were in the UK Galia's favourite beer was John Smiths. Made in Tadcaster and comes in a green can, there is more reason than you think to why it is here favourite beer in the UK. If you know Bulgarian mentality then you will know it is because it is one of thee cheapest beers off the supermarket shelf. Also the cheapest usually in pubs, not that we went to pubs when we were in the UK due to cost.


Image result for john smith beerSo we are back in Bulgaria and have been for the last 18 months and we had searched high and low for John Smiths beer locally with no success. We did however discover that there was a place in Sunny Beach called the John Smiths Pub which obviously serves this beer on site. It was meade a mental note of and I planned when we ventured near Sunny Beach we would buy some John Smiths cans and take back to Yambol as a treat for Galia.

It came to pass that we took a 6 day break in Pomorie on the Black Sea Coast some 20 Km from Sunny Beach. On this trip I took my bicycle as I planned to ride in the mornings before we did Black Sea things such as cover ourselves with the therapeutic black mud as such. Unbeknown to Galia I planned a bike ride to Sunny Beach to visit the John Smiths Pub load up my panniers with four cans and return as surprise for her.

The morning arrived as I checked the bike for roadworthiness as always before embarking on such trips. Sporting just a vest, shorts and sandals the trip began. Checking on Google for a route that avoids main roads, there wasn't one! The only route was on the major A road that runs up and down the coast. not too happy about that but I was on a mission to please.

Needless to say the route was hell speeding vehicles that left me wobbling in their wake on hundreds of occasions. Not their fault I might add as this was a dual carriageway designed for speed not for cyclists more the shame. I do wonder whether provisions should be made for cyclists on main routes, but in view of the number of cyclists who would use these provisions wouldn't make sense for many reasons I won't go into details right now, but catering for the odd English eccentric is one of those reasons in Bulgaria.

Arriving at Sunny Beach couldn't come too soon as I stopped at the concrete jungle amidst holiday makers wandering around as if they are lost. I found that I arrived at the wrong end of Sunny Beach and the John Smith's Pub was actually nearer to Nessebar than Sunny Beach. It was another 3 kilometers before the location was found. I really don't know what the attraction is at Sunny Beach from my perspective, it is a dive with no atmosphere or for that matter Bulgarian culture. It would suit many who just want a beach, hotel and loud surrounds nothing wrong with that, but it isn't Bulgaria!
Bulgaria,  Bike Ride, John Smith's, Pub, Sunny Beach, metro cash and carry,


Bulgaria, Bike Ride, John Smith's, Pub, Sunny Beach, metro cash and carry,
I found the John Smith's Pub and parked my bike up and walked in. there were English families there seated and being served by an English speaking waiter. I waited patiently at the bar for some attention which arrived after a few minutes. Speaking English to a Bulgarian doesn't come naturally after so long under the Bulgarian tongue but I endeared asking for two cans of John Smith's Beer to takeaway. They arrived on the bar ice cold and I asked how much they wanted. 14 leva was the price, 7 leva for each 500 ml can. I couldn't believe it! I as willing to pay over the odds as it was a tourist place, but 7 leva for one can!? I only had 10 leva on me and apologised for this and purchased only one can. I was buggered if I was to come all this way and go back to Galia with nothing, (although she wouldn't mind considering the price!)


Bulgaria,  Bike Ride, John Smith's, Pub, Sunny Beach, metro cash and carry,
It immediate decision never to come to this place again as I thanked the staff and bid them farewell and they totally ignored my compliments and farewell. I could see they were only interested in the foolishness of other English paying stupid money for English exported goods in a place that might as well be England! Looking at the menus as I left it was all English breakfasts and roast meals all at ridiculous prices. I won't comment any more on this as I have my own opinions on this that differ and upset others from the UK.


Back on the bike with relief and my return journey to Pomorie. As I arrived to Nessebar after just 2 kilometres I knew I had to face that A road again as I swore never to ride this route again. It was a faster pace back with a slight tailwind and it wasn't too long before I arrived back at the hotel with a can of John Smith's beer for Galia.

Was it worth it? Well just for the experience of cycling along the Black Sea Coast, seegin Sunny Beach and then deciding never to do this again yes. Also, Galia got her favourite beer and I felt a bit like the man on the old advert get a box of Black Magic chocolates for his woman whilst risking his life with the endeavours.

And finally to add to the act. We visited the big cash and carry store Metro on the way back home to Yambol and found John Smiths on sale there for 2 leva per can. Never knew it was being sold there as on previous visits we never saw it there. So, 7 leva for one can in Sunny Beach can go begging now with this new source known. Galia of course was the happiest in this event and me happy with that.


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My Raleigh Kalahari Finally Renovated and Now Thriving in Bulgaria

It has taken a few months, but at long last the project has been completed. My 25 year old Raleigh Kalahari bicycle which started its long journey in Huddersfield now resided actively in Yambol. For me it is the arrival of a long lost friend where we both now will head toward the sunset of life in retirement together.

One of the main reasons it has taken so long to renovate was a logistic problem. 90% of the spare parts that needed replacing came from China. Being on a very modest pension here we have to be very prudent as most Bulgarians are. If there is a better deal to be had with the only drawback being the time it takes to get it, then that's the way to go. In this day and age of, 'I want it now!' especially in the UK it wasn't hard to hang on in time to save a few bob. What is the rush anyway? It is just the English mentality that has been that drummed into you to get things a.s.a.p. So in a way the waiting was purposely done in retaliation of that conformity that had been forced upon me over the years. Did I need the bike up an running straight away? No, but my mind had been trained not to think of that question, just to point things in my hand now rather than later. So who won and saved money at the same time on this occasion?

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The start after stripping all the parts
Having got that off my chest, the rebuild of the bike was something I enjoyed immensely. there are many reasons behind this.

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
The finished rebuilt and very proud
Firstly, it was like looking after a friend, helping with love and care when in need. The bicycle helped me in the first instance by supporting my quest to give up smoking all those years ago. Effectively without the bike, I would be less healthy than I am now.

Now I'm retired means there is no need to rush anything. When stripping, cleaning and rebuilding the bicycle it was quite difficult to slow down and take my time with making sure everything was done thoroughly. Whenever I felt I was rushing I stopped, thought through as to why and started again at a snail's pace again. It takes a bit of getting used to after lifetime of rushing.

Before I began, I made sure all the tools for the job were available, those needed and not to hand were bought. I don't know how many times in the past a job is started knowing that without the proper tools, mountains out of a molehills always occur. All the tools were bought on Ebay from China at a fraction of the cost, even compared to Bulgaria prices. Some tools took two months to arrive, some didn't turn up at all and I had to reorder extending the waiting time. I purposely made time not to be an issue, besides which it is Winter here a lot of the time it was too cold to work outside in sub zero temperatures.

From start to finish the whole hands on process took around 24 hours spread over three months. this included the three coats of paint on the frame initially.

So the bicycle lives on, I have a family of three bikes now each one has a different role to play on the road. No need to search any further as they all should outlive me.

Pictures of the progress follow...............................
Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
The forks cleaned and greased

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Handlebars not original but cleaned up ready for re-use

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Rear wheel sprockets dismantled an lovingly serviced 

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Forks and handlebars set up on frame now

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Wheels added to frame looking like a bike now

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Jockey wheel shining after cleaning and degreasing
Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Original cantilever Braked sets after a bit of care

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Gear and brake sets now repaired and devoid of rust

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Brake and gears mechanisms now fitted 

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Brakes cabled up and chain in place

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
All new cables installed and running free

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Seatpost clamp lives again waiting for the saddle

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Handle bars prepared for taping

Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
Nearly there.....



Raleigh, kalahari, yambol, rebuilt bicycle, bike, cycle, Bulgaria, mountain bike, road bike, hybrid bike, renovation,
The finished product after a test ride!