Saturday, 5 December 2009

What the hell is a "No post zone"?

Well I'm a bit confused today to say the least. After contacting the bank a couple of days ago to let them know that I hadn't received my new cash point card I've had a lovely reply from them.

Now bear in mind that this particular bank/building society has no problems with account holders living abroad, sends me regular junk mail and statements via the postal system and doesn't even charge me extra for withdrawing cash abroad, you'd think that with facilities like that they'd be quite forward thinking wouldn't you?

Not so I've just read! They in their wisdom have decreed that Bulgaria is a "No post zone" therefore my new cash point card has been sent to my branch in UK for me to collect! Which would be fine if I was in the UK, alternatively the branch may allow a nominated person to collect the card on my behalf or even if I'm really lucky they'll agree to forward the card to me. Either of which would actually be classed as posting the card to me which the bank in their wisdom won't do!

It's utter madness, I'll admit that the postal service here isn't always 100 % reliable but neither is the service in the UK. And why couldn't they have at least let me know that my new card would not be arriving so that I could try and make some other arrangements? Oh dear, I suppose I'll have to spend time on monday phoning my building society branch and begging them to send the card to me as none of my remaining family in the UK live near said branch and it would be well out of their way to go and collect the card for me.

Just another quirk in life's path to keep me on my toes......and here was me thinking that this week had been relatively quiet and mundane! Ha

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Gypsies and Roma etc

The Roma as a whole get a load of bad press and treatment where ever they go as do what the Bulgarians call "Gypsy's". When we moved here we had no pre-formed ideas about anyone and decided that although we'd read various things about the so called gypsies that we'd make our own opinions based on the people themselves.

In any Bulgarian village there will be a population of gypsies, Roma whatever you want to call them. Personally I do think that many of them are not true Roma but just get bundled in with them as they don't fit into the Bulgarian bracket. Certainly here a part of our community is from Turkish decendants, whose family's have been in Bulgaria for more than one generation. Let's not forget that Bulgaria was ruled by Turkey years ago and there is still some bad feeling between the Turks and Bulgarians, at least there can be. Our village nightclub was closed due to fighting between the 2 races although majority of the people involved were born in Bulgaria!

If you listen to most Bulgarian people they say that gypsies are lower in the pecking order than a dog and have various other names for them including Mangalli, Siganni etc although I believe gypsy is the most derogatory. Madonna mentioned the plight of the Roma people on her recent world tour and was booed and jeered at in Bucharest, Romania. More details of this story can be found  Here!

I must say that the Bulgarian people are lovely on the whole but I can understand some of the reasons why they don't like the so called gypsies/roma,siganni etc. There is a difference between the 2 peoples, not always evident from the outside although some of the gypsies do have darker skin. From experience I find many of the to be arrogant, ignorant and able to lie their way through anything! They seem to think that the world owes them something and if they want an item it's ok to take it whether it's theirs or not. Before anyone jumps on this - I'm not saying that they are all the same, but majority of the ones we have met are as I've already described, some to a greater extent than others.

We've employed and worked alongside some of these people in the past, even classed some as friends at one point but to be honest we learned the hard way, had our fingers burnt and realised that although these people acted friendly they were only truly interested in finding out how much money we had and how was the best way they could get some!

School Days

Schooling here is somewhat different than the UK. The subjects are mainly similar with an emphasis on teaching the 3 R's, reading, writing and arithmetic. The school books I've seen are colourful and informative without being overbearing or boring.

I love my mornings when the kids are at school, the house is peaceful and I can get on with things before they get home at lunchtime. Our kids go to the village school and are learning Bulgarian very quickly, also Russian which they don't care much for but it is part of the curriculum. School starts at 8am and the younger classes get breakfast at school (free), by 12.30 school is usually finished for the lower classes and 1.30pm for the older students so every day the kids have the afternoons to themselves. Most children here help their families and do some kind of work, whether that be helping prepare a meal or collecting firewood etc.

Our kids do help around the house and feed the animals twice a day as part of their chores, we feel it's important that kids are involved in things and do help out and learn life skills etc. Sometimes they complain about having jobs to do but there are days when I don't feel like doing much either!

Today I've gone about my usual routine of horses and donkey out, animals checked etc then decided to head off up the garden to one of our derelict properties and collect sticks for lighting the fire. That done I headed back to the house to grab a coffee to warm up. A strange smell seemed to be following me so I left my boots outside thinking that I'd probably stepped in something.....still the smell was around me and getting stronger by the minute! So after looking about and not seeing anything that would cause such a nasty smell I decided to drink my coffee and have a break. Now this is when the smell seemed to get worse! and it wasn't coming from me......At last I spotted the culprit - my lovely little Cocker Spaniel Molly, not known for being ladylike and affectionately called "The Ginger Minger" by all of us she;s lived up to her nickname today! Oh and boy does she stink, she's been rolling in something dark coloured and rancid smelling and looks ever so proud of herself. Time for a bath me thinks. She aint gonna like it but it has to be done!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Rant a Day

Sometimes living here can be a pain! Oh for most of the time I love being in Bulgaria and most things that come along with being an ex-pat on foreign land. But today I need to have a rant!!!

The Bulgarian postal system is absolutely rubbish, the pits, unreliable, haphazard and many other things that would involve me using foul language lol. For instance - last march I posted qa card to my mother for mothers day, didn't cost loads, I'd posted it in plenty of time, in fact I'd posted it weeks before the event as she lives in Cyprus and the post there isn't wonderful too! I got the card back months later - it never left Bulgaria, why? Because the address was in the middle of the envelope and not the bottom right corner like some pen-pusher in Bulgaria has decreed is the correct way to address a letter!

Ok then, lesson learner and now all addresses go in the bottom right hand corner of the envelope. Some things sent to us here do find their way, although sending anything valuable or cash is not something I'd suggest or ask anyone to do as items like that invariably never arrive. Neither has my cash point card, hubby had trouble getting his cash point card sent here last year and when it finally arrived there were 2, from the same place and sent weeks apart, both arriving here on the same day!

I never thought to check the expiry date on my card so went to withdraw some money today for food shopping and was a bit miffed to say the least to find my card was out of date. Out of date card = no cash from machine. I've no doubt that my new card has been sent from the UK, but where it is, is a mystery. Possibly stuck in a forever loop of Bulgarian post that hasn't arrived, gathering dust down at the village post office or worse still in the hands of someone who has illegal uses for it in mind - fat chance of that with my card!

So I've e-mailed the bank and requested a new card, god knows how long it will take to get here if ever. Hopefully it won't take too long or I'll be off begging in the village centre lol But that's my rant over, now I can get back to more normal things and chill out with a lovely cup of coffee, since I haven't yet given up caffeine!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Not long till Christmas

Only a few weeks now and it'll be Christmas, our 3rd here in Bulgaria. Time flies so fast here. This year we'll be having pork and turkey (home reared of course) loads of veggies and all of the trimmings too. The tree and decorations are ready to be put up around 10 days before the event and we'll be having a few days off hopefully over the festive period.

Last year we had the neighbours over for lunch, which they enjoyed although they were a bit confused over certain things and not used to being served a full meal at once instead of many small courses. Some things they liked better than others but in all we had a great time.

Christmas shopping here is a bit of trial and error, there's not a lot of good quality items for children to be found unless you're willing to part with large amounts of money. A lot of the stuff here is cheap tat imported from turkey or china and likely to fall to bits 20 minutes after opening the present. Our kids are too old now for games so they tell us and are mainly interested in clothes these days although they have developed a knack of thrift shopping and are quite happy to wear things bought from the second hand stall as long as they're good quality and not marked/patched or worn out, something which I also do. There's no harm in wearing used clothing as long as it's washed and not things like underwear/socks etc.

We're all looking forward to Christmas and don't mind missing the Queen's speech, we'll have a couple of quiet days where the only work to do is cooking, caring for animals and making sure there are logs for the fire and I'm sure we'll have some friends round and maybe even have a few drinks! And if we're really lucky it'll be a white Christmas here, something that rarely happens in the UK and the kids love.