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.

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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...............................
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The forks cleaned and greased

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Handlebars not original but cleaned up ready for re-use

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Rear wheel sprockets dismantled an lovingly serviced 

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Forks and handlebars set up on frame now

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Wheels added to frame looking like a bike now

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Jockey wheel shining after cleaning and degreasing
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Original cantilever Braked sets after a bit of care

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Gear and brake sets now repaired and devoid of rust

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Brake and gears mechanisms now fitted 

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Brakes cabled up and chain in place

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All new cables installed and running free

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Seatpost clamp lives again waiting for the saddle

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Handle bars prepared for taping

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Nearly there.....



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Teh finished product after a test ride!


Smoking in Restaurants in Bulgaria

In recent years there has been a big push for smoking to be banned in public places. Starting off in Western Europe and being forced into place in Eastern Europe in more recent years. There is meant to ban on smoking in restaurants with severe fines for both the smokers and the owner of the restaurant who are responsible for complying with the directive. But this is Bulgaria as you will find out.

Galia has accepted the fact that smoking just doesn't happen in public places now after spending a few years in the UK with that rule firmly in place. Arriving back home to Bulgaria last year she was quite prepared to accept that condition of not smoking in public place, but wasn't too happy about it. As a guest in the UK she  had no problem conforming out of respect without question, but in her homeland there was a hint of frustration being forced to refrain in certain places. In the Bulgarian ice cold weather that we get here it is an uncomfortable environment she is forced into to get her habit in.

Well, I did say this was Bulgaria and things and people are different here. We were off for a four day break at a Spa Hotel and Restaurant at the foot of the Balkan Mountains which we were looking forward to immensely. The deal was for an apartment room with a balcony with breakfast and evening meal included. We had free use of the Spa facilities on site such as a sauna, turkish steam bath and jacuzzi. Added to this was use of the fitness centre which we intended to use. This is rare for us as we usually do self catering as nothing can beat the freedom of choice of food, knowing what we are eating, no problem choosing how big or small the portions are and not least the relative cost which is a fraction of the restaurant prices. the disadvantage of all inclusive meals as we realised when we got there was that we didn't have any choice of menu for breakfast or evening meal. Also the portions were skant. Also as expected we had to pay for drinks and ended up cost three to four times the amount we would have paid for self catering on drinks alone!

These facts saw us rather down on the decision as we chose this deal because of the assumption it was cheap, but the overheads and extras proved otherwise. However there was a big surprise for Galia on the first night in the restaurant.

We arrived and was seated at 18:45 and had a simple salad for starters and pork steak and chips for main course, that was it! No dessert or drink included. In between two courses Galia went outside for a cigarette, it was freezing cold, but no option apparently. The restaurant was quite empty ujp until 20:30, but then more guests arrived. After a couple of beers I noticed a guy smoking on one table, this was mentioned to Galia, we though it might be because he was police or mafia, (some say they are the same) and they would just let it go here, we ignored it. Moments later we saw another table with smoked drifting from it, surely not more mafia? Within the next hour every single table that was occupied had smokers smoking except our table. I was quite taken aback by this in view of the potential of fines for both the smokers and hotel if rumbled.

I felt quite a sense of proudness in fact that this went on, regardless of me being a non smoker in my later life. I can equate the love for smoking with food and drink and even now the urge to start up again is still there from this. If I smoked now I would embrace the freedom to smoke in the warmth of a restaurant surrounded by friends, food and fizzy drinks. As I told Galia, If knew I was to die soon I'd be smoking right now.

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Better than freezing outside for a smoke 

Galia now was feeling the odd one out being on the only table without an ashtray. So a request to the waiter get was was put in. It turned up moments later and we joined the smokers party. Every so often there was a fresh ashtray being replaced, old hands at this game here it seems. Galia and I were very happy with this act of a retro smoking permissible restaurant. I could however see no smoking foreigners from further west in Europe getting very angry with this invasion of smoke in their environment.




So, rules disregarded in this and many other public places and Bulgarians don't complain about it. It is only parties outside the Bulgarian culture or do-gooder politicians who kick up a fuss.  

Another Accidental Offensive Bulgarian Misunderstanding

NOTE:
Before you read this I must point out that there is the use of a rude word, so if you feel you would be offended please stop here. (Done in all innocence I might add.)

Sometimes people say things here that shock you and in many cases I put down to maybe not understanding the gravity and intensity of the language. I must admit it also works the other way around and I say things that shock Bulgarians as sometimes I take a Bulgarian word literally and use it in completely the wrong context. This week is was the turn of Galia's Son Anton who came to visit us. Which was a prime example of  misunderstandings that in this case caused some stress on both sides of the contextual language barrier. Let me explain....

misunderstanding, Football, Arsenal, F.A.Cup, League Cup, Liverpool, Bulgarian, Bulgaria, Fuck Up, facup, humour, Now my favourite football team is Arsenal, I have been following them for over 50 years through good and bad times. Anton knows this full well and we often argue the case of who is best - his favourite English team Liverpool or my Arsenal. Well this evening it was a semi-final League Cup match between Arsenal and Chelsea which I planned to watch live on TV that evening. By the way, the Cup is not called the League Cup but is known by a sponsor's name, but I refer to the original Cup's name as a little protest in retaliation to business over tradition.
The subject of football inevitably came up with the match this evening and Anton went on to say it going to be a 'Fuck Up for Arsenal!' This shocked me for a few reasons. Having known Anton for over 11 years there has never been an occasion where this kind of language was used. On top of this he cannot speak hardly any English. I straight away said this is very bad language to use. I went on to explain why, he obviously didn't realise how bad that those words were that made me feel very uncomfortable. He replied saying there is nothing wrong in what he said again, 'Tonight is Fuck Up for Arsenal! What's wrong with that?' 
We begged to differ for a few hours on the phrase until the match was just about to begin. Anton them said again, 'Look Fuck Up for Arsenal soon!' This time I was quite angry and basically told him I didn't want to hear this again. The fact that I had a feeling Arsenal were going to win tonight fell into deep insignificance as a argument with Anton this evening after this. Anton too was getting irate with my complaints and stance on his words, he just couldn't for the life of him understand why I was so mad.
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The match prelude had begun as we both eyed up the team announcements. Art this point there was shown the list of players on screen under the title of the Cup. Anton chose this moment to point to the word Cup printed on the screen and said, 'Fuck Up!' The penny suddenly dropped in my head and I thought this was very funny and bust out laughing. Anton just didn't know what was going on Have you guessed the misunderstandings as this point?
Quite clearly Anton in all his innocence had misunderstood which Cup match was being played tonight, He thought it was the F.A. Cup not the League Cup (as explained earlier). The biggest misunderstanding however was his version of the Cup. to Anton the F.A.Cup was one word namely, 'Facup'. Phonically it sounded exactly the same as 'Fuck Up!'
Mistified why I was in tears laughing, Anton took some convincing that the F. A. Cup was not one word but three, (Football Association Cup). Also I explained the fact that is wasn't the F. A. Cup we were playing for tonight but another cup, which to me made it even funnier. When he finally did understand my explanations, he didn't think it was funny at all! Guess his Bulgarian mindset on this particular event which I thought would have been a universal accepted humoured tainted event just didn't turn on.
My guess now is that when we do mention the F. A. Cup, he will continue to use his one word version, not because he thinks it is funny, probably because still he thinks he is right!
Arsenal did win that evening and are now in the Final of the League Cup, but I will certainly look back on this match and clearly remember it for other reasons.