35. Camping out at our house

by | May 22, 2011 | Bulgarian life, House & renovations | 0 comments

For all you naysayers who thought I’d only make it a night or two without my creature comforts: I am delighted to inform you we did the full 8 nights at our house. In your face, naysayers! That’s right, 8 days and nights peeing in a bucket, washing in a bucket (different bucket) and living without hot water. Here’s how it went down…

For various reasons we arrived at the house later than expected, about 8pm at night. The light was fading as we lugged our cases through the mud – dodging the donkey pats – and into the house. The electricity wasn’t on, nor was the water and we couldn’t find the stopcock in the dark. (As for the electricity, we later found out the ancient fusebox just needed a couple of ancient fuses screwed back in – but again, difficult to attempt in the dark. Not to mention scary when the fusebox looks older than your parents). So we braved that first night without power and water, setting up camp in the smallest, warmest bedroom with just a wind-up lantern and 4 litres of Bulgarian beer for comfort. I confess, for a few minutes, I had my first  “oh my god, what have we done” moment.

“Are we mad?” I asked Rob.

His resounding “Yes” was little comfort. But then the beer kicked in, and everything felt just groovy. Besides, everything looks more romantic by wind-up lantern light. Even cracks in plaster. Even that cute little 1980s radio with the doily on top. The house definitely looked crumblier and more decrepit than it did in December – a product of a slight leak in the upstairs hallway combined with the surgical removal of rose tinted spectacles. But to be honest, it soon felt like home. The house has a lovely feel and we happily passed that first night sipping beer, winding our lantern and listening to the river rush past. We slept for about 12 hours, rising at lunchtime the next day – having only been disturbed by tinkle of goat bells first thing in the morning as the herd passed by the house. It was a good first night.


Rob on our balcony


Pretty in pink, and with the grape vines starting to show green shoots….


We spent the whole 8 days just bedding in really, pottering around the village, going to the shops, meeting the neighbours, practicing our Bulgarian, checking out the local towns. We never did get around to sightseeing any further afield, we just wanted to be at our house. But it was productive nonetheless. We embarked on a little light demolition work and got a full estimate for the renovation – more details to follow. We found the best restaurant in Bulgaria. And the worst road in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the best restaurant in Bulgaria is located on the worst road in Bulgaria, but that’s Bulgaria for you.

As for the bucket thing, it was okay. Totally, totally fine. Really. No problem. Well, at least for the first few days. The novelty did wear off by about day five. Actually the worst thing was not being able to have a shower or wash in hot water. We had cold running water in the house and more wet wipes than a maternity ward, but after a few days we just couldn’t shake that dirty feeling. Before flying home we’d booked an apartment in Sofia, with the wantonly luxurious intention of just washing, sitting on an actual toilet and sleeping in a proper bed for a couple of nights. As we drove away, sad as we were to leave our lovely house and village, we so needed a shower. As soon as we checked in, we flew into the shower, repeatedly soaping and rubbing like a Lady Macbeth/Crying Game montage. The water collecting on the floor had a weird, oily, dirty sheen to it that I’m not keen to replicate any time soon. It was definitely one of my top 3 showers of all time (the others being after music festivals). The next day I showered twice, just because I could.

Lots more posts to follow soon featuring the villagers, Nachko the builder, a smattering of other crazy English folk, goats, donkeys and a Russian shopkeeper and her singing dog.


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