166. Things I do during a(nother) power cut

by | Jun 28, 2018 | Bulgarian life | 12 comments

My ‘oh goody, ANOTHER power cut’ face.


Just as VAR is fast becoming my favourite thing about football (the drama as the ref jogs off the pitch to look at that telly!), electricity is fast becoming my least favourite thing about Bulgaria.

Today we had no power for over two hours. Yesterday it cut out just briefly, but as my laptop battery is knackered, it was enough to lose some of my work. Last week we had three afternoons without electricity.

Is it just our village, with its awkward nestled-between-mountains position? I can’t believe towns suffer this much disruption. How would anyone get anything done? How would an actual business (not a working-in-my-joggers freelancer like myself) serve its customers with this shitty infrastructure?

It’s always been unreliable, but it seems particularly bad lately. Tiny bit of rain? Power cut. One clap of thunder? Power cut. Perfectly sunny Tuesday in June? Power cut. I think about a power cut? Power cut. A butterfly flaps its wings in China? Power cut.

Perhaps we should get a generator or solar power. I don’t know. I’m so rigid with frustration and anger that I can’t think sensibly about how to solve the problem, let alone whether we could afford to. (All I can think is ‘Aaargh, not a-fucking-gain. Aaargh. Balls. Aaaaaaargh.’ And so on.)

How’s a gal to amuse herself when she can’t work, stream the radio, watch a movie, or do any gardening (to add insult to injury, it’s raining loads – England has stolen our weather)?

Here’s what I do:

  • Quickly send two emails on my phone, then hope no one replies because I probably don’t have enough battery to deal with them
  • Cook a leisurely lunch, even though it’s only 11am
  • Eat lunch, sloooowly
  • Pace around the kitchen table a bit
  • Decide I need to have a shower
  • Roast some peanuts for tonight’s match
  • Have a shower
  • Hand-write this blog post in a fuming, scrawling spider script that’s barely legible when I come to type it up hours later
  • Wish I hadn’t already spunked my one daily coffee at 8am because that would totally kill 15 minutes
  • Organise my to-do list, shopping list, any other list I can get my hands on, and my recipe folder
  • Bored lunges

Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re in actual Europe and not some far-off developing nation run by a mad general in gold braid. But we are. We’re in actual Europe. I mean, this is the continent that launched a man into outer space in 1961, and I can’t switch a fucking light on in 2018.

As an eternal optimist (*cough* bullshit *cough*), I live in hope that next week, next week, we’ll have a whole luxurious week with uninterrupted electricity. Place your bets now, please.


  1. Боби Димитров

    Next week the weather *should* improve so 'tis a solid bet you'll have uninterrupted power!

    Oh and I haven't ever heard about such power outages even with all my traveling around the most rural and wild parts of the country. Not sure how much of it is an exaggeration, but if there's serious problem, usually the power's out for days, not just a few minutes here and there. In cities usually it's years between power outages and in the last 20 years spent in Sofia, I've only once seen an outage longer than 30 minutes (it was on national news…)

    That said, all the folks I know in rural areas have at least a small battery array + an inverter, so at least laptop/phones can have power in a case of emergency. A reasonable array could have you lights/laptop/tv work for a few days at least without any problem. A small 2-3kw generator seems also like a good idea, just in case there's a sudden… outage? with your eternal optimism.


  2. the hippopotamus

    Dear Claire,

    When I was in China, the expats there would talk about "bad China days". These are days when things go wrong, seriously wrong (and in Mandarin). We have now been back in BG for just over a week and this has been "a bad Bulgaria week": lousy weather, endless trips into Sofia to go to dingy government offices and then being told that those documents should have been translated, signed and stamped by the notarius.

    The good news, just to make you jealous, is that our electricity supply here in Kalotina has been just fine.

  3. Cherry

    I came back from Bulgaria couple of weeks ago. I've bought the house in a village near Pavlikeni recently, and I was going to spend couple a days in the house, for the first time. The day was very hot, but the skies suddenly darkened, and the heavy rain started, followed by hale, and then the power went out. I couldn't read a book, I couldn't go to the garden because of the rain, I couldn't do anything, except lie on the bed and wait for the power to come back. It didn't. In the morning, I packed my bags, and went to VT, and booked the hotel! It's obvious that I'm not been made for a Bulgarian village life, and that I have made a big mistake buying the house there! Anyone want to buy cheap, well kept property in a lovely village lol?

  4. Alan Charlesworth

    I live about 30 minutes south of VT. There have been power cuts for 5 of the last seven days. There have been storms nearly every day and that virtually guarantees a power cut. Thankfuly most have been quite short, with the longest being around an hour. I think it’s normal in the villages.

  5. the hippopotamus

    Dear Cherry, no, you have NOT made a big mistake buying a house in the countryside. You just need to do a bit of forward planning. Get some books, some oil lamps, candles and all that sort of thing. If you cannot get on with some work outside, then put up some shelves or repaint a few doors.

  6. the hippopotamus

    Dear Cherry,

    Please do not give up on Bulgaria! Rome was not built in a day. It really is a wonderful country. When my wife and I first arrived, there was a big storm and we woke up in the morning to find the back garden underwater, as the river had burst its banks. About an hour later, a group of villagers arrived with buckets and spades, determined to help us out of our difficulties. Well, I cannot bring round a bucket and spade, but there are LOTS of Brits (I am assuming that you are a fellow-Brit) have settled happily in Bulgaria. Yes, we all have stories about the tough times, when we had no electricity, when we had to sleep on the floor, when we could not unpack our suitcases because we did not have any cupboards or wardrobes etc., etc.! Anyway, keep reading lots of blogs about Bulgaria and I hope that they will inspire you. You can find mine at http://www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com

  7. Auntie Bulgaria

    Bobby, long time no speak! Much as I enjoy exaggerating for comedic purposes, the electricity supply in our village really is this bad (during any kind of 'weather', at least). A power cut of anything from 1 minute to 4 hours is normal, although the village did once have a 3-day power cut. For the most part, we're used to it and cope pretty well. It just pisses me off sometimes.

  8. Auntie Bulgaria

    Cherry, our first ever afternoon and night in our house was spent without electricity. Not because of a power cut — we just couldn't figure out what to do with the ancient ceramic fuses! We sat in torchlight, swigging from a big bottle of beer and asking ourselves if we'd made a huge mistake. Stick with it. It gets easier!

  9. Auntie Bulgaria

    Alan, so glad to hear it's not just our village and that others share in our power cut misery. I mean, it sucks for you. But it makes me feel better!

  10. Cherry

    Thank you for all of your good advice. Next time I'll be better prepared, and probably be too busy with decorating and plumbing to think about escaping, and show some stiff upper lip, even though I'm not English.

  11. the hippopotamus

    Dear Claire,
    I thought of you last night. We had a power cut! Okay, it only lasted half an hour, but it was the real thing. You know, with no electricity.


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