New Laws On Gas Driven Vehicles In Bulgaria

New Laws On Gas Driven Vehicles In Bulgaria

There is a new law that has been brought out this week concerning car and the use of gas. Now any vehicle that is powered by gas cannot be filled up at a service station without showing the official sticker on the gas cylinder that proves that is has had an official service check made on it.

Owners have to attend an inspection that cost 20 leva (5 leva for the label and 15 leva for the document) in order to be legally able to buy and use gas. This is another EU dribble that has come in making life harder for the Bulgarians. Most Bulgarian drivers use gas because they can’t afford petrol and this will force more to give up their cars. This is not the point of the exercise.

I was told not to pay anything other than 20 leva when I went for the test. If I was asked for more then I should refuse. The trouble was the guy who was doing the test and documents was a typical weighlifting built ox of a man who I didn't want to argue with. So it was a relief that I was asked for 20 leva and no more. This was after his professional services of putting washing up liquid on the gas connections to check there were no leaks. I think the correct charge to me he made has a lot to do with me speaking Bulgarian, I was also in blue dungerees Bulgarian village clothing and had a Lada with me. The reason I was warned about being overcharged was that many other British expatriates have already been charged 50 leva or more and paid it without question many with monster 4x4 vehicles.

May I add that once a year vehicles go through a test for their roadworthiness anyway and get a sticker on the window screen to prove it. Why introduce another test when everthing is meant to be checked yearly anyway? Another money-making scheme to fill the pot form the EU. Another tax that has been introduced, what's next? I'll take a guess at tax on well water, more parking charges in towns and cities and fees for municiple rubbish to be taken away.

Another 20 leva a year to pay for a gas driven car in Bulgaria, to be quite honest I really could do without a car from the point of expense. A car is a luxury for me here and something I feel quite guilty about considering the lifestyle I have chosen to live here.
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July And August In Bulgaria - Very Hot And Usually No Rain

July and August here in Bulgaria are the dry months and apart from being unseasonably flooded out early this month we are back into the trend of no rain and sweltering temperatures. This Saturday it was 42+ C! No one was outside expect grazing animals during the day; it was just watering crops early in the morning and last thing at night.

July And August In Bulgaria - Very Hot And Usually No RainThere was no water again this weekend it would have been nice to have a shower after grafting in the fields, but we were lucky that we have the well water to rely on and a ice cold shower in the heat was to say the least certainly refreshing.

We have a problem again here with our grapes. The thieving starling wait until our backs are turned and swarms of them clamber around every bunch of ripening grapes where most of them fall to the ground. This happens every year and there is nothing we can do about it. We cannot be there all the time and it is so frustrating after al the time and effort we put into looking after the vines. It could well be that there will be no wine or rakia this season with the damage they have done. I have written about this before and the Bulgarian way of dealing with it is do nothing, just be there.

July And August In Bulgaria - Very Hot And Usually No RainThe potatoes have been invaded with thousands of little orange beetles, but that is not so much of a problem as the actual buried potatoes are now full to size and just waiting to be dug out. The foliage being eaten to smithereens now doesn’t matter so I let them get on with it, in fact their doing me a favour by devouring them, less for me to transport to the tip at the top of the hill.

Watermelons and honey melons are set and just need a little extra time to 'sweeten up'. This is the first time I have grown these and I am very excited at the prospect, although Galia is quite keen to try them, but she can’t see what the fuss it all about when she can buy one for a couple of leva that is just as good or better in the bazaar and not get her hands dirty!

We get strawberries every week now albeit smaller with only watering once a week, but they’re sweet enough. The pumpkins have taken off and their massive umbrella leave spread out and suppress weeds that now get no light. They are such a low maintenance crop to grow once the roots settle in. We have created a small reservoir by the base of the source root and fill it up before we go back to town it last five days quite well now.

July And August In Bulgaria - Very Hot And Usually No RainThe proudest crop this year in the Skalitsa village farm is the sweet corn. Again, before this year I had failure after failure, but I’ve got it right this year albeit on a much smaller scale. Next year I will more than double the crop. Once again the foliage once grown suppresses weeds and they look after themselves if doused with water once a week.

Galia isn’t with me this weekend and stayed in Yambol as she has gone down with the flu, she was much better by Sunday when I got back to Yambol. We wanted to go to the Black Sea this weekend for a little break, but the apartment we found that had a great offer on was fully booked, everything else was too expensive so w have to wait for another deal probably not until September now.
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Flies In Bulgaria - They've Won

Flies In Bulgaria - They've WonFlies in Bulgaria are accepted as part and parcel of life here. Bulgarian’s just aren’t bothered about them as they have the free run of the place. From April to October flies are around everywhere and they are really cheeky with it.

Now I come from a culture where cleanliness is paramount, if a fly is in the house everything else stops unit that fly is either ushered out or exterminated the latter the preferable option for me. I know flies are on this earth for a reason and we would be sky high in sewerage without them, but there is a time and place for flies that doesn’t correspond very well with me. With this mind of flies out of my environment, this is one instance where the disadvantages of being in a climate that is perfect for flies. I have adjusted to most things here and made headway with the fly problem, but I still have a long way to go to accepting them as permanent guests wherever I am.

My home is still a fly free place, there have been provisions put in to prevent flies entering with fly screens on every window and the only entrance, this works very well. If there happens to be one that sneaks in there is the battery hand vacuum to suck it up, I don’t use chemicals sprays purely down to the cost. Eating food and drink in the house presents no problems if left uncovered and unattended – I feel very happy with this.

Turning to my Bulgarian family, friends and neighbours they have had a history of flies, whether they originally tried to fight them and just gave up knowing that they wouldn’t win I don’t know. I know they are fully aware of the germs flies carry around and the dirty business they leave on the food left around, but that is no worry for them. There is absolutely no panic involved in seeing a fly on food, on their arm or leg or in the house. The flies are left free to do what they want without any retaliation from Bulgarians and that is something I find quite alien.

If a fly lands on my leg I swipe it instantaneously, I never get it and it is free to roam again. Flies on my food and in my drink if seen would trigger and immediate reaction again to swipe and get them off, then think twice about eating the food they have just been on. When first coming here, I’d never eat food that I knew a fly had landed on unless it can be washed i.e. fruit. I have now accepted that I would starve to death if I kept this up when dining out or with other Bulgarian’s homes. There is now a new Martin that accepts that you have to go with the flow eating and drinking with the knowledge that flies have had the first course. I still feel quite uneasy about this, but it is getting easier as time goes by.

Flies In Bulgaria - They've WonI know that food that is presented to guests in Bulgarian restaurants and flies have has had flies as guests beforehand, this is unavoidable and you have to accept that. Many people here just can’t understand why I have such a problem with flies being around. I explain the reason of hygiene and they understand. Then they explain that this is not a problem and if no one has been ill or has suffered from food that has been visited by flies why should I worry. I have no answer to that, in fact even though I have an obvious cultural phobia with flies I do believe that missing with a few germs helps build up you immune system and it is with that knowledge I accept food that flies have tampered with.

Eating with my good neighbour friends outside in the village in the height of summer is a bit like going through a round of Survivor. Their home is right next to the village rubbish tip and the flies we get there both in and out of the house are unfounded. We spend lots of time with them and the friendship we have with them overrides any fear of flies, but it is a relief indeed for us to get back into out home next door inside in the fly free zone. Even Galia freely admits that the swarms of flies that we all have to endure with our neighbours are extremely uncomfortable and she is glad to get home. Again we know for sure that the flies have invaded food whilst being prepared but is still beats any food in the UK. Flies are of course all part of nature here, why shouldn’t I accept that like the Bulgarians. I stress once again, not once have we been ill or suffered form the food we have eaten there. It is prepared and eaten fresh on a daily basis therefore there is no time for any incubation. Problems lies with in correctly stored food over days and that’s where the health problems lie.

Finally, it is a strange phenomenon, but if there are a group of people (Bulgarians) sitting with me, flies always seem to land or hover around me. Whether this is because I have a different scent than I don’t know, it is quite annoying that the person that finds it hard to accept flies around gets this treatment.

Does anyone else in warm climates have a problem with flies? If so how do they deal with it?

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The Lada Car Keeps Going In Bulgaria

The Lada Car Keeps Going In BulgariaThe funny thing about our Lada is that although it is 19 years old, rough around the edges and seemingly falling apart at the seams it get us from A to B. There have been many stories attached to this particular Lada and it will remain with me for the rest of its life, as I can’t sell it due to it being in my company name. It needs both managers’ consent for this to happen and my business partner is nowhere to be found in the UK so I am stuck with it.

Originally my plan was not to have a car in Bulgaria, I had a donkey and cart and that’s all I needed when I first came here living in the village. But then work called and work was only in Yambol 35 kilometres away. I struggled using the bus services spenting five hours getting there and back and only two hours actually working. It wasn’t practical, so I bought a car and a Lada was the only type of car I could afford bar a Trabant.

Work dried up and I was left with the Lada, like I said I couldn’t sell it. Then Galia came along living in Yambol and the travelling backward and forwards 70 kilometres each week from village to town just carried on. The Lada has never let us down, even on airport trips for guests and family coming over to Sofia and Burgas airports 300 and 130 kilometres away respectively.

Each year that goes by the car gets rougher and the ride a bit bumpier, I haven’t enough fingers and toes to count the little problems that the Lada with things not working. The Lada still moves forward and backwards and stops and that’s what a car is primarily for.

The Lada Car Keeps Going In BulgariaWe are now in the habit of taxiing our neighbours backwards an forwards to the village each weekend as they work in the town and retreat to the village as we do. We don’t’ accept any money, but are forced (without too much resistance I might add) to accept fresh food from their parents smallholding where they stay so we are basically catered for when getting back to town with our own produce to add.

The car is also borrowed to our neighbours, they used it recently to attend year anniversary of the death of a relation in a neighbouring village 6 kilometres away. I am more than happy to do this even though I know the driver has impaired vision and a sense of coordination and direction more than suspect. The car puts up with this with ease. That's what rough verges are for on the road, to tell you that you are off course my neighbour tells me.

One might feel that I have some sentiment for the car, but to the contrary. I still have a mild hate for all cars and it if I could get rid of this one I would, but there are hold ups. Firstly the administrative hold up in selling it and secondly a Galia, who I think just puts up with the indignence of being seen in public boarding a Lada in town, she wants a Mercedes in its place. Well she knows my thoughts on that as I said I’d compromise by getting another donkey and calling it Mercedes!
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A Weekend Of Violent Storms In Skalitsa

We had a weekend of non-stop storms that scared the life out of Galia in the outback of the Bulgarian countryside based Skalitsa farmhouse. Being a town girl she is used to the protection of many building around her so when there is a violent storm she is shielded from natures extremes of weather by man made elements. This last 48 hours was a first hand experience for her of the powers of nature.

It really was a humdinger of a weekend for me, I just love the extremes of weather and was outside feeling it for the most unblocking drainage pipes during the deluge of rain that came from a seeming ocean full above. Having been through weather like this before alone I knew that there would be some damage, but is would be soon repaired or more like patched up, as it always is in Bulgarian villages. The way in which the trees bend to extremes in the almost tornado force winds is quite a feat of nature especially being born of a full set of leave that act as sails. Galia was concerned of the extent of the swaying and bending, but then if they didn’t I explained, they’d just snap!

A Weekend Of Violent Storms In SkalitsaThe storms one after another last from Saturday midday through to around midnight. We counted the number of storms that cascaded upon us to around 6. Throughout that time we had no power as unbeknown to us the power cable had been severed with trees beating on them. It wasn’t until Sunday lunchtime that we realised that it was only our street in Skalitsa that had been cut off for 24 hours when an massive cherry picker came to chop down the culprit trees across the road from us to free up the electric cables that were entangled. The whole neighbourhood came along to watch on this now sunny Sunday.

Galia was concerned about the farmhouse and I was concerned about my sweet corn and melons. We had water pouring in from the ceiling of the bathroom, but that’s okay it is a wet room in any case. The septic tank had flooded and half a metre of water was standing on the concrete surface so it was out with nothing on expect a pair of underpants wading through the flood water in torrential wind and rain to clear a drainage point that have clogged up with branches that had fallen from the linden tree.

Would you believe that during these storms on Saturday afternoon we had a barbecue! The summer house has a little a metre square tin roof, but this wasn’t enough to prevent the forced rain and hailstones that hit from a vertical angle in the gusts of up to 80 mph winds. I was forced to withdraw right into the summerhouse and continue amongst the tremendous noisy of weather that was around us. I was having a ball, what fun, living a bit on the edge is something that just hits the mark, Galia thinks otherwise, but then she ate the barbecued tikvichki and pigs ears and thanked me for making the effort as we ate dinner under candle light. We went to bed at 8:30 that evening and just listened for ages at nature at work around us

A Weekend Of Violent Storms In SkalitsaThe series of violent storms wasn’t the highlight of the weekend though. After the wild weather the calm and another simple yet effective food was experience on Sunday. A Weekend Of Violent Storms In SkalitsaThere was Dill Potatoes, a basic dish knocked up in forty minutes of which I have given details of this dish and recipe in my Herbsways blog. Then there was the simple strawberry milk shake made from this morning’s goat’s milk from next door, freshly picked strawberries picked from from the farmhouse grounds and a touch of sugar. A bit of technology from a liquidiser once we got our electric back and Galia had her first every Strawberry milk shake. This was another weekend that was different and not expected in July, which is meant to be the dry season. My well is also very happy for the extra water, which again was taken back to Yambol with us along with all the other home grown vegetables. I won’t mention the carrot that disappeared before I could take a picture of it and I won’t mention Galia’s name!
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Bulgarian Well Water - We Are So Lucky

Bulgarian Well Water - We Are So Lucky

Water for free from well in Bulgaria is one of the great pleasures of living here. I have been drinking my own well water for years now from source and it has always been reliable and I have never suffered from any ill effects. The well water is sought from deep plates of underground reservoirs that come from mountain springs. It is always, cold, fresh, crystal clear and sweet tasting it seems a shame to water my crops with the quality of the water that comes out.

It amazes me why so many people bother to buy spring water in 1, 2, 5 or 10 litres plastic bottles. It cost a few leva in the first instance the water usually comes from the other end of the country from the mountain ranges south of Sofia so there is transportation involved. The plastic containers are recycled most of the time, but still a resource that we could do without.

Bulgarian Well Water - We Are So LuckyI wish I could have had another say on the renovation of my farmhouse and had the well water connected direct into the house. The mains water is full of calcium and clogs all metal heating elements up. It is not really safe to drink over the long term and may well contribute to the many cases of kidney stones to those who persist in drinking it. I bring well water into the farmhouse kitchen to drink and cook with and take 20 litres back to the town house each weekend for Galia and her family for the same reason. How fortunate are we to have such a luxury in this world of pollution and expensive water costs.

The only overhead I have is for the electric pump that brings the water up from 23 metres underground. The cost is nominal. I had to register the well a couple of years ago. I am sure this is for a reason beyond just accountability. I'm sure this will soon be looked at as a tap to be opened for tax in the future. It is quite unfair that natural water on your own land will soon have to be paid for. It will be like paying for the air you breathe. This of course is another idea from the EU and not a Bulgarian ideal.

No Outside Toilet - Doesn't Feel Right

One of my favourite places in the village farmhouse is my outside toilet. I’ve done a few articles on the use of this facility and the advantages of outside toilets over using the inside toilet. I have a major soft spot for my outdoor roofed hole in the ground.

Last month there were a few earthquakes and disaster for my outside toilet. A massive crack opened up on one of the walls. This was looked at and presented no problem at the time, but as each week went by it got worse, no time or money to repair this it was left thinking it would be okay.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my neighbour. He told me that my outside toilet wall had collapsed and it was only the doorframe keeping the roof intact. This was a worry and when I got there at the weekend the worry was just reasoning. The whole wall has crumbled and the small building was structurally unsafe, it had to be demolished for safety reasons. I was quite devastated and had a slight uneasiness knowing that there wouldn’t be an outside toilet at the farmhouse. It’s a bit like having part of the your soul going missing. And thoughts about how it could be rebuilt without cost were ringing in my head.

It was a painful operation last weekend dismantling the outhouse brick by brick. All the bricks that where whole were saved and the rubble was physically transported by wheelbarrow to the dumping ground at the top of the hill. This took over half a day to complete and all that was left was a few broken fragments of brick and mortar dust where many used to squat.

It was a sad day, but I know if ever a spare bit of time and cash for cement I will have another built, it just doesn’t feel right not having one there, I can honestly say this is on the top of my want list. Simple pleasures!
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