I have spent 4 years studying electro-magnetic waves, I could design you a small power generator (in principle), but can I get my kitchen light to work!
How hard can it be?
Anyone who thinks studying theories is enough to make them an expert should be prepared for a shock when it comes to putting those theories in to
practice. The house we bought although only 35 years old has the electrics and cabling, that would have any electrician worth his salt sucking in air
over his teeth whilst shaking his head, and planning his next holiday whilst he plucks a number out of the air to quote you for the work.
We had electric connected to the house partially since we first arrived, in partially I mean that some of the lights have worked, some of the sockets
have worked but never everything all at the same time. Anyone who has done electrics, knows that this is done before the plastering of walls so all
the nasty cables are hidden. What then do you do if you need re-wiring done? Without going as far as chiseling canals through all the walls to be
plastered over, the only other option is to have the cables on the outside of the walls, either in trunking or as in Bulgaria nailed to the wall.
Last month one of my sockets blew up, lots of smoke, nasty smell of electrical fire but I could not locate the problem.
What could make a socket that has worked perfectly well for ages suddenly decide to spontaneously combust (X – files not required).
After removing the said socket from the wall (Note to HSE I had rubber wellies on and had turned the power off) there holding the cable behind the
socket to the wall one large six inch nail, which after 35 years of work had finally cut through the plastic covering of the cable and had quite happily
joined in matrimony both positive and negative cables. Thus turning it into a small one bar fire and hence the spontaneously combusting socket.
Bulgarian Top Tip on electrics: Do not nail cables to wall!
This is the time year when there is not much to be done int he garden. I have
finished the digging and spreading of manure, so I thought it was time to tackle one of the rooms in my house that needed some renovation.
The floorboards in the room that we use as a kitchen had started to suffer from dry rot, in fact a few had disintergrated completely, so only half of the room
was in use, the other half I found out when clearing it was being used as a litter tray by my cats, bless them.
Concreting a floor how hard can it be? To be honest there is more to it than I imagined, but essentially it is not that difficult. I had recruited a few helpers
who knew what they were doing, with the promise of a night on the beer.
Ilyas, Aziz, and Mustapha all thought this was worthwhile enough and so we got down
to business. The use of concrete mixers unfortunately has not yet spread to rural Bulgaria, and even if they had they would be shunned in favour of the shovel.
The room in question measures 4m x 4m and the concrete we would be laying would be about 7cm and reinforced with a steel grill. I was soon removed from my post as head engineer,
and demoted to shovel hand number 3 when they realised I had no idea what I was doing. Probably for the best. So mixing just over 1 cubic metre of concrete, and leaving
the Bulgarian maestros to the technical work I have fully replaced the floor with a new concrete one. Mixing 1 cubic metre of concrete with a shovel gives the back a good work out to say the least.
After finishing off we headed up to Hikmets pub, my helpers seemed very thirsty indeed. I know I was as well. Hikmet seemed delighted when I went to
settle the bill, he usually smiles when he needs to use his calculator to add up your bar bill. So much for last weeks resolution to stay off the drink!
Translation from welsh: small house
This is a subject not normally discussed, however, in light of the recent news reports on squat toilets being introduced in Rochdale shopping centre and
subsequent discussions with colleagues, I think it is time. The reason for the introduction of the said squat toilets in Rochdale has been introduced due
to a cultural awareness course. This article is not about ethnic, religious rights etc. This article is a ‘bog’ standard article about the standard
Bulgarian toilet. Pun intended.
Now, I really do not see what the issue is. In some respects, the squat toilet could be considered the more healthy option. I mean exposing yourself
to bleach and toxic cleaning product to get that germ-free rim cannot be good for you or the environment. However, the sit down does have its
advantage – they are inside the house. This is particularly useful when it is pouring with rain/snowing and for the 2am wee stop.
Anyway, after years of use…. and the clay soil that surrounds our toilet (i.e. it is not draining away), it is time for Dominic and I to decide
whether to squat or not to squat. As I refuse to get someone (as it has been recommended by the locals) to empty our existing toilet with a bucket, we either
need to dig another pit or go for the plush flush system.
I started to write this article some month ago and was concerned about what the locals would think. Keeping with the traditions of how the locals
live was very important to me and did not want them to think ‘bloody english’. However, it has come to light that Dom and I are behind the times
and at least 2 houses now have the sit down toilet and they are very proud about it!
So the decision has been made. ‘Keeping up with the Hassan’s has hit the rural village of Bulgaria. Annie
Our toilet in winter
I like to think that I am quite sensible when it comes to the necessities of life. Food and Shelter are a must. Here in Bulgaria
it gets quite ‘nippy’ in the winter, we had -15C day time temps last winter. So keeping warm is definately a must.
The traditional way, and the way I do this is to have a log burning stove and basically live in one room that you keep warm. Friends have
told me that they find central heating a must, but heating the space in rooms that are empty 95% of the time just seems like a waste.
I am not really bothered about global warming, carbon dioxide ommissions and the like, I think there is a red herring there somewhere. We don’t
go around stopping volcanoes erupting because of CO2 output do we? Volcanoes contribute a lot more CO2 to the atmosphere than me burning too many logs
to heat rooms that are not used. This is just a natural cycle in the planets life. If we as humans ruin the planet, then we will all die. Big deal.
We have only been here for blink of an eye anyway, what difference will it make when we have gone! So stop telling me not to burn things!
Opps, got sidetracked there, back to keeping warm in winter. I get through about 4 cubic meters of firewood during the winter, keeping my one room at a nice
temp, this also provides me cooking facilities, and helps with hot water. In addition to the wood I probably use about 100kg of coal. This is mainly done to stop me
from having to relight the fire every morning, I just dampen it down at night with a few lumps of coal and it is ready to go in the morning. Efficient or
just damn lazy!
Here is my wood burner which set me back 130 lev (65 Euros)
If you don’t use coal to dampen down at night or haven’t done it well enough, the normal way of lighting them in Bulgaria seems to with
fircones which I am collecting at the moment. They are great natural firelighters. There is a Bulgarian superstition, at least in my pub. That says
if you sleep with a Roma girl you will always light your fire first time. I doubt the accuracy of this, and don’t think Annie would like me to test it out
to see if it works!
The continuing saga of a computer engineer slowly turning into a mr fixit.
Well almost. I have not owned a television since 2000, but I know that it was, or maybe still is filled with programmes on interior design
, changing rooms type programmes, and all other such tosh of interior design. Well being a typical non effeminate bloke
I can happily say that I have never rag rolled anything in my life or owned a scatter cushion. I like my houses to work. If it rains I don’t
want to get wet. If it is cold I want to be able to light a fire and make it warm, when I turn the tap I want to see water come out of it (not always guaranteed
in Bulgaria). All other aesthetics really are for people who are
bored with life and have too much time on their hands. How painter and decoraters turned themselves into camp Interior designers that
charge you money for telling you what colour to paint your room, rather than just painting it is beyond me. I have even overheard a converstaion
between too middleage (35-40) women discussing a visit to a colour consultant. Having worked in IT I know what a consultant is, it is an engineer who
charges twice as much and does half the work. Colour consultant though, you tell me.
So if you are reading this in the hope of seeing some pictures of my house to inspire you to decorate yours, let me save you the trouble ctrl+alt+del now.
Not only for keeping you warm in winter, which you definately need in Bulgaria. Here is a pic of my garden after a light snow shower.
But they also keep your house cool in the summer, (todays temp 29C – 18 June, goes upto mid 30’s for most of Aug). This is practical enough
even for me to understand. So double glazing it is. Now we have had double glaze salesman leaflets aplenty to burn in the UK. The price
for windows and doors in the UK is a complete rip off, and I really do mean extortion, I trully believe there must be some price fixing
involved, because we had 4 large ‘Profilink’ double glazed windows and 1 extra large exterior door, all fitted for £350 here in Bulgaria.
I mentioned this to my builder of a brother and was told that the equivalent in the UK would have set me back 2 – 3 thousand. Same windows.
No salesman. No marketing. What you are paying for is the leaflets and slimey sales people. I will stop ranting, I am beginning to remind myself
of Bill Hicks. ‘No, if you are in marketing do the world a favour, kill yourself.’ He does it far better than me
here. By the way he swears – you have been warned!
Bill Hicks DVDs
Next up (central) heating……. here is a clue.