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Catch Up

John Wright


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I know these entries are sporadic. I am amazed any one ever reads what I have to say. Anyway I felt the need for a catch up, today, now. No idea what prompts it, but here goes


I have not been out to Spain very much this year, been busy at home and I have had jobs to do. I have a four week trial starting 13 October so lots of preparation and I have been working for a client in Bulgaria on and off.


I have had a coupe, of short Spanish trips, suffice to say that all is done now apart from snagging and after the trial I intend spending more time down there. It really is a gorgeous place, in a most amazing locality.


There was a break in earlier in the year, they managed to pull out window bars and then got in and opened the doors from inside. What got taken, well, an industrial bacon slicer, a new, but plumbed in dishwasher, the Dyson, but they left Henry(!) 4 TV's with built in DVD players and one sky box, plus my old Praktica SLR and its lenses and a VHS camera and a mini DV camera


I now have heavier duty window bars, iron bars across each door and a burglar alarm with a loud noise and flashing lights, that will frighten the buggers off, It connects to a local service centre and I pay an extra fee so that if there is a call out they send armed security guards.


I managed to replace all of the camera equipment on e-bay for less than £250 and I have now replaced the other stuff. All the builders have to do is replace a door and two windows which were badly damaged plus paint the outside of the jacuzzi with teak oil.


Any way clouds and silver linings, the gardener, who discovered and reported the break in offered the services of his dad as key holder and regular visitor, he offered the services of his wife as meeter and greeter for guests and cleaner and sheet and towel changer and then we did a deal about the allotment. They live in an apartment in the nearest village, about 5 miles and he misses his garden so he is now growing veg. I provide the seed/stock, he grows three or four times what he needs and I and my guests can pick, within reason.


Upstairs needs underlay and carpets but that apart it is ready for lets. The website is in development and I am about to sort out the broadband access by satellite at reasonable band with and cost and VOIP compatible.


I have become a traveller, a Romany, gypsy and am benefiting from an EU programme to bring Broadband to travellers. Its called ipCopter and is on the Greek Hellas sat and the equipment is by Alden of France. I am having it fitted on the motor home and the farm so I will be able to work whilst travelling and abroad. There is a big dish, 90 cm which tunes in automatically to 39 degrees east then a router and a wifi unit. I pay about €70 per month for telefonica broadband and a landline in Sitges at the apartments. The satellite system is €700 for a year or €500 for 200 days over 2 years. all sorts of packages and you can buy top up.


Bulgaria, what can I say. Strange schizophrenic place, with its own Cyrillic alphabet but most adverts in English. Impossible to get around as you cannot read any signs. Very hot in summer and cold in winter. Very cheap. Charming people, wonderful country side. Sofia has enough to justify a weekend break, just, and is served by easyjet and BA and Bulgaria Air. The suburbs are dire, depressing and still run down. Taxis run on empty, but only because they have been converted to LPG and so the tank level indicator does not work.


There is a huge sex industry and night clubs of the sleaziest sorts with gun toting door men


I had dozens of business meetings, you go by taxi or they send a car for you as it really is impossible to go anywhere when you cannot read street signs. There is a huge corruption problem, a Russian and local mafia turf war and there are kidnappings of members of rich families. It was only after my third limo trip that I twigged that the big black Mercedes had extra thick metal, and glass, they were armoured and then I noticed the shaven headed driver in armani shades and tee shirt and snappy suit a had a bulge, not a pleased to see me bulge but a padded out area below his left nipple, so did the next one, and the one after that. On one journey as we got into the office he removed his jacket and yes there it was holster and automatic.


I got to the coast at Varna and up to Sunny Beach. Sunny Beach is like the worst Costa ten or fifteen years ago and is invaded by Brits and Russians with the Russian having the upper edge. They run about 90% of the local building operations and apart from the horrible all day English breakfasts and wall to wall estate agents it is a 10 mile long unregulated building site. 3 miles in land Fort Noks, the biggest builder of them all is throwing up apartment blocks with one bed apartments from €30,000.


So back inland to Bansko a new ski resort. What beautiful country side. Nice development. In a valley basin there are three developments based on original mediaeval towns. One a ski resort with great facilities, quiet in my visit, I stayed at the 5+ star kempinski for €60 per night and was one of only 5 guests, one other being my local driver translator. Next village has chosen golf, three new courses with housing. One Woosnam designed course and then a third is selling spa treatments with some nice looking hotel/treatment complexes.


Bansko is less than an hour from Greece, Turkey and two hours from Sofia. There is a decommissioned military airport being converted to civilian use.


What else does it have, well as well as winter sports there is trekking kite ascending, fishing, horse riding, a narrow gauge railway. The villages in the hills are mixed ethnic/religious, Bulgarians and Muslims, each village with an orthodox church and dome and a mosque and minaret. The fields are like alpine upper pastures, wooden buildings and cropped by hand with sickles and scythes. I couldn't work out which were Christian and which were Muslim, they all wore black scarves to shield from the sun. The kids were all along the road side with grandparents, toothless grannies in black with black shawls and scarves. Selling wood strawberries, bilberries and honey and jam plus wild mushrooms. Idyllic


I have to go back a few times over next 12 months, I shall enjoy


And finally to the Manx front. Well I have swapped my Smart car for a new Fiat 500 to tow behind the motor home and I have had another adventure with locked cars. This time I was locked out.


My partner loses keys, give my partner a set of keys and the set gets deconstructed and then lost. I have an anal attitude to that. Our doors only lock with a turn of the key. If I lock inside I want a key in the barrels in case of fire so I can get out. each key set has the keys for that car, a house key a garage zapper, etc. I had friends in Summerland. Sometime in June the landrover set went missing, never to be found. £100 replacement via dealer from Germany. I didn't order because I hoped they would turn up. One morning I had to deliver some files to Mount Pleasant. Took the dogs. Returned to car to find lights flashing, dogs on dash board and they had hit the lock door button. The keys were in the ignition. I tried to persuade them to play games to jump onto the seats and then back onto the dash in the hope that struggling claws would hit the button and open. They looked at me as if I were totally stupid, which at that moment I felt. I went into the new government library, did they have a tool kit, could I borrow a hammer to break into my car. Geoff the librarian said, no Mr wright, we don't know its your car. I rang the police on 63 1212, after all not a 999 matter, no reply 20 minutes. Went to nearest office. Asked for hammer, was loaned one without question and proceeded to smash window. No one stopped me, no one called the police and it took me five goes


New key, £100, new window £87 and fitting £120......... Dogs........partners.......idiot for leaving key in car!


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