157. My commune dream

by | Mar 7, 2018 | Bulgarian life | 6 comments

There’s a walk from our house that goes up above the start of the village to the tiny hilltop hamlet where our neighbour grew up. Long ago, everyone from this hamlet (I say ‘everyone’ – we’re talking about six houses) moved down into the village and the place is now abandoned. A few villagers still use their old plots as allotments, but no one lives there. It’s strange seeing a beautifully maintained plum orchard between tumbledown houses.

Before she died, our neighbour told us how she and her sisters used to have to trek down the hill and up through the village (which itself is a couple of kilometres long) to go to school each day. Then they’d come back down through the village at the end of the day, up the big hill, and around to the hamlet, to their tiny two-roomed house. Rain, shine or snow. Big walk for a little girl.

I like walking up to the hamlet because it reminds me of her. But also, on a more selfish level, I want to turn the hamlet into a commune. No, really. There are three houses in particular, with a lovely plot of land between them, that would be perfect for communal living. It’s a wonderful spot: close enough to the village so it’s not completely cut off, yet it’s totally peaceful and private. The views are outstanding.

(By ‘commune’, I obviously mean cult, where everyone has to do what I say and I’m essentially their queen. La, la, la, peace and love and stuff. But mostly, obedience.)

I don’t even know why I want a commune (cult) so much. I used to think of myself as a ‘people person’, but, as I get older, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that most people just piss me off. Also, I hate mess, so it would have to be a freakishly neat commune (cult), populated by people who were as anally retentive as me.

But there’s just something enduringly appealing about the idea of building a community (cult) with a bunch of lovely, like-minded (anally retentive) people. Everyone mucking in together. Sharing tools and vehicles and recipes and cooking and gardening. Rob actually just uttered the words ‘Claire doesn’t share’, but he’s exaggerating. (Is it too much to ask, Robert, that if you borrow my favourite trowel, you put it back in its proper fucking place? I don’t think so.)

Besides, with me as the overlord, and everyone doing exactly what I say (putting everything back exactly where it belongs, Robert), I’m sure it would be fine. Great even. We certainly wouldn’t go mad and murder each other with trowels in the fields. It would be calm and lovely and beautiful. La, la, la. Obey me.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is we went on a nice walk up to the hamlet in the snow, and here are some pictures…




  1. Katt

    Is this a case of "cabin fever" I sincerely hope so. Roll on the thaw and the planting season.

  2. Mark Shaw

    What can possibly go wrong in a (cult) , have you ever seen the wicker man ! sounds perfect. It looks a beautiful place though.

  3. Unknown

    Great blog, really enjoyed reading it so far, especially the house renovation . BG – bloody great. Better than Grate Britain

  4. the hippopotamus

    Claire, please have another glass of wine and recover your sanity. Then write some more of your blog.

    What about keeping warm in the winter? We are planning to get a boiler that will burn either pellets or logs, so we can switch from one to the other. Do you have a pump that pushes hot water all round your house? What about the bathroom? Do you have a heat exchanger, so that the central heating system will also give you loads of hot water? Was it all very expensive and did they make an awful mess when the system was installed? And how much did it all cost?

    We are still in Shenzhen, where summer has already arrived and the parks are full of flowers. Only 82 days to go to the glorious end of my teaching career. Anyway, you can read all about it (time for the shameless plus!) at http://www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com

  5. Auntie Bulgaria

    Jeez, tell the world you want to be overlord of your own commune and everyone assumes you've gone mad! I've just always wanted my own little community. Maybe that is weird. I don't know. Bulgaria tends to warp your sense of what's normal!

    Anyway, it's comforting to know that, should I exhibit signs of madness, someone is paying attention and can alert the authorities…

  6. Auntie Bulgaria

    We have a big woodburner in the kitchen that pumps heat to radiators in the rest of the house. Pretty standard system for Bulgaria — nothing fancy. We burn logs, not pellets, as it's better for our budget. The system is capable of heating our hot water boiler as well, but we found that sapped too much heat from the radiators, so we heat the hot water boiler using the electric switch.

    Not too messy to install, but then the house was basically just a shell anyway. And I really can't remember how much the whole system cost, maybe a couple of thousand leva including the woodburner and radiators. That whole early period of renovation is now a distant fog, thank God!


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