One of my neighbours has not had electricity installed, does not have mains water and has refused to pay council tax on his house since he has lived there. So is he some strange hermit? Quite the opposite, he speaks three different languages, used to teach at the local school, he just doesn’t believe in giving the politicians a single penny, and has an opinion on everything. He has offered me a game of chess that I intend to take up (after I have practised a bit so that I don’t look too foolish).
So how does he manage? His house is by a stream – water, washing machine. It is also near the forest so firewood in winter is not far away. He works strictly for cash/food/beer in no preferable order, he gives nothing to the politicians and wants nothing in return. Some might think this is a hard way to live, but I see him smile everyday. Take a walk round London during rush hour see many smiling faces? He has more spare time than he knows what to do with, and goes without nothing. Deep down I envy him. I am just playing at self reliance in comparison.
The way he does this is by not having any official money. If you haven’t got anything, there is nothing for them to take. It is no good fining him for not paying his council tax – he has no money. If they imprison him for not paying his fine, they will have to feed him, clothe him, this will cost them money. So he just gets left alone. The ultimate protest vote.
I have just been into Djebel, the local town to do some shopping and get my gas bottle refilled. I don’t buy much, coffee, washing powder, and rice. Things that I have trouble doing without, and have yet to work out how to make my own. So to depress all those that do their weekly shop in ‘every little helps’ this is my shopping bill.
300 g of Coffee – £1-70
500g Washing Powder – £0-80 (I have guests coming normally I don’t bother)
5 Litres(nearly 7 bottles) of Red Wine (Essential) – £4-30
Loaf of Bread – £0.29 (at < 30p a loaf it really is not worth making your own, and there are no preservatives in these loaves)
750ml Gin (Essential Again, it is summer!) – £3.51
2 x 1.5l Schweppes Tonic (see above) – £1.70
1Kg Rice – £0.70
Total (excluding new Liver) = £13.40
Think you would be hard put to get the bottle of gin for that in the UK! I have a lamb lined up for dissection to be put in the freezer (15Kg of meat for £44) and I get to select it from a field full, and keep the wool if I want.
I have just a had my quarterly water bill (£12.55) and that is with the hose going daily and I even have a wash whether I need it or not.
The joy of not believing in dragons, pots of gold at the end of rainbows or the tooth fairy, may make me a miserable git. Thankfully though I don’t have to get carried away buying shit for people to celebrate the birthday of the son of a carpenter from 2000 years ago. Why am I mentioning this now. I have just had an email from the better half advising me that now available in shops are this years christmas cards. It is August 22nd!
Why are shops selling this crap now? I really have no idea, can it be that some people actually buy them in August? If you really are one of these people that plan so far ahead why not buy them in March, I am sure they are stocked somewhere on the internet 365 days of the year. So that cannot be it. Is it so people like me will laugh at the stupidity of selling seasonal goods out of season? I can’t imagine so. So somewhere some shop manager has decided to advertise christmas goods when they should really be pushing school uniforms, and new pencil boxes. It really is quite funny.
We have ‘Santa’ in my village of Samodiva, although the village is the Muslim brand of after life, and he appears not on the 25th, but on New Years Eve. So good is the marketing of ‘Santa Claus’ that he now sells across the religious divide. Perhaps I should get Hikmet to stock up on ‘Faity Lights’ next time he goes to the wholesaler!
I have had to cheat some what when it has to come to canning peaches. My peach trees are only three years old and although they were covered in blossom earlier in the year, and even produced some fruit, they all fell off apart from two. Two peaches just weren’t enough to stop me eating them direct from the tree. So as I was in the local fruit and veg market yesterday I picked up 5 kilos of peaches (45p a kilo) and as a real extravagance a pineapple. I hold no hope of ever growing a pineapple in my garden but just wanted to know what they taste like when they are home preserved rather than ‘Del Monte’.
Here is how I did it. Peel and slice your peaches (and pineapple) Place in a large pan with enough water to cover. Add sugar if you want and bring to the boil.
Spoon out in to your storing jars whilst still very hot. Invert the jars to ensure they have sealed properly. You are done here are mine:
They should keep good for a year or so, but I don’t fancy there chances of lasting that long. I have kept the peelings from the peaches to make into ‘Peach Honey’.
The weather here at the moment is a bit oppressive and requires me to have an afternoon ‘siesta’. Its a hard life.
Two pints of beer a packet of fags, and a grilled salami sausage – change from a fiver(£4-03). Whats not to like. Before moving to Bulgaria, a quiet beer after work (playing with computers), this would have set me back nearer £15 and I would have to stand out in the rain in case I killed anyone else in the pub with my dirty smelly habit!
Bulgaria has just started to intergrate no-smoking policies (so they qualify for EU money), they are just doing it with a bit of common sense. For example if you own a bar/cafe and it has over 100sqm of floor space you can have smoking/no-smoking sections. If you have less than 100sqm then it has to all smoking or all non-smoking. I have yet to find a non smoking bar. They would be bankrupt within weeks. Most buses are now non-smoking, well almost.
Every bus that I have been on the driver is normally getting through 20 smokes, as the ban does not affect him. No-one complains, no-one screams that they are being killed by his sencond hand smoke in fact the seats directly behind the driver are much coveted so you don’t get the DT’s before the 2 hourly ‘fag-brak’ that is compulsory on all long distance bus trips. All taxis have no-smoking signs that are ritually ignored.
Which brings me nicely to planning permission. In Bulgaria you need planning permission, and as in the UK it is virually impossible to get, works out very expensive, for example if you wanted permission to build a new house, all the documents would set you back about 10,000€, whereas building the actual house would cost you less. So the Bulgarian people who have become accoustomed to ignoring legislastion that serves no purpose other than to line the pockets of politicians and civil servants do what anyone with any common sense, and total disregaurd for legislation should do. They just don’t bother with it. One of my neighbours has converted a one storey building and stuck another storey on top. So being a bit naive I asked about getting the documents etc for this to which he said the documents would cost him €8,000 whereas the fine, if he ever gets caught would be €300, or more likley just €50 as a back hander to the planning man. The last government was only over thrown in 1989/90 so the current politicians are still wary of upsetting the masses as they should be! A victory for the people!