Far and Away

Roger and I flew from Luton to Sofia in Bulgaria to visit my step-brother David. They live in a tiny village called Ritya and had been burgled only a couple of weeks ago. I was carrying five CCTV cameras for them in my luggage. The flight landed at midnight and we picked up a car I had hired at around 1.00 am (the airport was pretty quiet).
I only possessed a 1-inch to 13 miles map and our destination wasn’t on it, but the nearest town to it was. On collecting the car, I asked the Hertz agent for the best way to Varna and he gave me instructions. At the time I thought he was wrong and it proved to be the case! I had guessed ‘Centrum’ meant the centre of the city and that was in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. Two later stops for instructions at petrol stations and we eventually found the right road. Two hundred and twenty kilometres later we arrived in the ancient town of Sevlievo around 4.30 am. I phoned David and he replied he would meet us in the town square. In the early hours of the morning, I couldn’t find the square and unknown to us, his car had broken down and he was still at home fixing it! After a few more phone calls and a temporary fix, he finally met us outside a supermarket in the centre.
David warned me that the road we were to travel on was rough. The first 28km was along a quite crazy road with a rippled surface, bushes and trees that encroached onto the road and bends that defied gravity. We eventually turned off into what I thought was a very rough driveway but was the road that led to the village. One and a half kilometres later, in the middle of nowhere a few ramshackle buildings appeared in the headlights and we pulled up outside a set of large wooden gates. We had arrived. Very tired we had a coffee and slunk off to bed.
Waking on a bright sunny morning I could see through the window of my bedroom that we were in a very beautiful part of the country, but quite remote. There were twelve houses in the village, of which only two were presently occupied,  the one across the cart track opposite was being lived in by a British English teacher called Mark. The rest of the houses were either derelict or only visited occasionally by their owners (those that were still alive). The village was called Ritya, 20-30 years ago it was judging by the size and quality of the houses, quite a prosperous community. However, most were now in a sorry state of repair and in need of lots of TLC. David’s house had already been renovated by the previous British owner and was lovely, though he was currently doing quite a bit of major remodelling to make it better (his words). There were just three very dim streetlights in the village, giving the place a very eerie feeling in the dark! There is no mains running water, each house has a well, and the nearest rubbish bin was 25 mins away in the car. If you want peace, quiet and isolation, this is the place. David and Genya have no TV or radio, the outside world does not encroach unless you make the effort for it to do so. Shopping is a 30-40 min car drive away along roads that seldom see a car during the day. I thought I would hate this place and I was wrong.
Luckily we had a car that worked, and this proved useful as over the next few days we were invaluable to David and Genya in helping them with their gardening, renovations, installations and general fetching and carrying. David did eventually manage to get his car working, but it wasn’t reliable enough and in need of major hospitalisation. On our second day, we embarked on a forty-five-minute journey to Dryanovo to take Genya to the dentist as she had a painful tooth. On another occasion we drove to another nearby town to get a part for the pool pump, unfortunately, they didn’t have it and didn’t seem very interested in ordering one.
Roger and I helped out around the house and property where we could, working in the garden, digging, planting, and identifying trees for them, on one night I even cooked a meal and fixed their rather poorly computer. It seems tthatGenya hasn’t cooked much in the past they usually ate out or had takeaways. The cooked evening meals were plain but plentiful and Genya was keen to accept any cooking tips from Roger and me. Each day we drove to a different restaurant for lunch, and all but one proved to be very good, especially good was the price.
David and Genya are making a go of their isolated living, they appear to love the peace and solitude, and they are extremely hard-working (Roger and I tried to avoid Genya at times as she never stops moving, very much like my Sue!). Besides all this, they still manage to run their business back in the UK. They do have internet access and phone calls were always coming in with a problem or two which needs solving. They manage to chat on the phone, dig out rocks, and plant tomatoes all at the same time. They wake up at 7.00 am and go to bed at around midnight. Though the temperature is fierce they only occasionally sit down, but not for very long. Roger and I worked alongside them and we thoroughly enjoyed it, I began to love the place.
On one day they had the milkman’s son around, his father had been earlier to deliver two huge tankfuls of water for the pool. The lad played his radio while he pointed the patio floor for them (he had bunked off school to do it and Genya got very annoyed at that). The sound of the radio seemed very out of place and intrusive.
During our stay, we managed to do some sightseeing. We visited a castle, a monastery, a cave, and a typical Bulgarian village and trekked down a gorge. Over the week it became clear that David and Genya knew quite a few of the locals and also the ex-pats living in the area (Roger and I bought honey from one of the neighbours when he turned up to tend to his bees).
With the aid of technology, they are far from being isolated, yet they still have the peace of living in Ritya. They get on with each other exceptionally well and do seem devoted to each other. They were fed up with the pressures of modern living back in the UK and decided to do something about it. Admiration.
Sadly our time in Bulgaria had come to an end, we left Ritya, David and Genya at midnight and had a relatively uneventful journey to Sofia (we were stopped once by the police to check our papers). Our flight left on time and we slept until we arrived in Luton. It was 2 pm when I arrived back in Harborough.
I am looking forward to going back in October.

Latest Comments

  1. chris says:

    Extremely sad to hear the latest news about your mate. Would a burglar alarm deter them?? or a fogging device which blasts the room with smoke—- very effective. Did they capture the burglars on camera??I\’ve upped the anti on the trees in my garden by ordering a Stihl chainsaw attachment and an extension shaft for Combi motor.

  2. David says:

    Hi chrisVery philosophical, but true. However, David was burgled last month and they took all electrical items and on Saturday his neighbour Mark was also burgled, all electrical items. The Leylandii lost!Dave

  3. chris says:

    Hi DaveI found your account quite fascinating. These days, we in the west, have just about everything in terms of consumer items. But are we happier than those in Sofia –I doubt it. There is something to be said for keeping your life simple and uncomplicated. Things mean more to you if you refurbish a discarded item or have to make do with what an area has to offer. Somehow there is a greater feeling of having achieved something valuable which comes over as clear as day on your blog.Cheers Don\’t let the b______ leylandii win. It\’s all out war every other year in my garden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s