I prepared for our summer holiday in Bulgaria with epic amounts of fuss and flapping, but nevertheless progressed to something called - 'suitcases packed and the whole family in one location'. This all came together at the last minute with the usual conspiracy of events piled up against any from of sane, normal and normal preparations. First my husband disappeared three days before the holiday in a screech of churned up gravel and hot footed it over to Staffordshire to see his adorable father, who due to unremitting circumstances resides in very well run home for those challenged by serious levels of Alzheimers. Much to our collective delight, old grandpa did recognize his own son and they had a high old time with sneaked in past security pints of beer. Although in Pa's mind, my husband was the one residing in a maximum security rest home, being visited by grandpa. He then reported to my husband that he was on a weekly basis riding out with the local hunt and also covering thirty miles a day on his bicycle, two certain facts in his mind that made him exceptionally pleased, all apparently from the comfort of his own favourite arm chair. After this my over excited husband went off to a Folk Festival, and wore himself out with too much beer bellowing and no sleep, due to lack of camping equipment - ie virtually none at all, burst through the back door one night earlier than planned, to do something called sleeping and taking a bath, not in that order. He then rose at dawn and drove 100 miles to a meeting and only just made it. I could tell from the trail of objects all the way downstairs and out to the back gate that he had managed to leave on time.
Meanwhile my daughter Lilac arrived back from Latitude Festival - flew through the door with a bag or washing, only to then chase an early morning bus up the road to meet her boyfriend, who had been away somewhere else several countries away. My son had chosen to go down with a tonsil infection which caused a delightful head to toe psoriarsis effect in me as I coped with sore throat germs and on fire tendons. Hours before his arrival home and our imminent departure my husband rang up at fever pitch, due to being stuck in Latitude Festival going home traffic, aware that clients were piling up in our house due to see him. Actually they were all very happy drinking endless cups of tea and reading mountains of magazines. After work and general fuss calmed down with nice dinners, the night seemed to come very quickly, and right on time - we all managed to be in the right place at the right time to catch a dawn flight from Stansted to Sofia. 3.30 am is not my best time to be on top form, but apart from the storms.. the roads were very quiet. The upside of having to stay awake is all the extra coffee I allow myself to drink.. a couple of those and I was ready to fly the plane myself!
Once loaded onto the plane, having juggled luggage around so as not to be over the weight limits which of course we always are - we then proceeded to sit there on the runway for two hours. The airport had ground to a complete halt with violent storms. The delightfully confined space was full of tiny children all intent on squeaking and using all seats as possible climbing frames, especially mine, however I did get some sleep and was very pleased to have this. My health at this stage was still in flare and being crammed into economy class is not ideal.. but we do everything in life on the cheap and will always do so. My husband bought me online from a budget catalogue of wives who are cheap to run.
Once I had had a snooze, I was able to practice my limited pigeon Bulgarian on various children nearby - who were very amused at my terrible accent, which usually gets worse as our time in the country progresses. It is not helped by the fact that my youngest son likes to sneak in rude words in the hope of confusing me into saying them! I have nearly said awful things many times, he chooses words that are most likely to phonetically sound the same as something I know well, having used a certain phrase over and over again.
The hot weather in the UK had prepared us nicely for the heat here which is steadily rising to furnace like temperatures, our usual man met us at the airport with our hire car, and our adventure started. It is a great culture shock on arrival and I like to immerse myself immediately. Visually the fields full of beehives get my attention, and remind me of home.. my UK neighbour keeps bees, and the other week drove me out to a fruit farm where he has placed some hives. It felt like an episode of Midsomer Murders - I was left sitting in the confinement of his car among long grasses whilst he dressed from head to toe in all that a bee keeper wears and wafted smoke over the hives before taking layers of bees in and out. They don't appear to wear so much gear here. There are rather more swarms of things, hornets, wasps, bees and exotic sounding birds in the garden. We also have large march groups of termites which come up the garden path and consider moving in to the house on a daily basis.
Having felt totally knackered on arrival, we went out to eat at our local truck stop, I ordered the whole menu in my scanty Bulgarian and we had a very nice feast of simple tasty food, my husband washed his down with the local fire water, I pretended to enjoy my mineral water, drinks for me will take place later in the holiday. I do of course have a gluten free travel translation for Bulgaria, not easy to be so over here, but it is possible with persistence. Round the village the tracks and roads all merge and the houses can look identical after twilight - this became even more apparent as my husband drove home along fields and edges of gardens completely ignoring all roads much to the local alarm of people, before they realized the mad English were back. We have many friends here and they are always pleased to see us. Once back we all went to sleep and felt very very arrived. This became very familiar this morning when I realized I had packed the medicine boxes for various people but not their contents...so.. a quick visit to the chemist using various similar phrases and all was replaced without even a prescription or menu - a word replacement which gets understood when language is limited...luckily the phrase for serious allergic reaction was not too different: Tomorrow we find out if my son needs antibiotics for latest infection, which may turn out to see itself off, just some monitoring at the moment. Seeing our doctor or paediatrician is not hard here.. it does cost a little, but not much.. and in the chemists they simply want to know as one rather severe woman pharmacist said in limited English - 'you want the European drugs which work' not Bulgarian ones which do not! etc.
Tomorrow will bring another hot day with thunderstorms and a trip to a local lido.. and more endless DIY and alarming fiddling in the house from him.He has brought along an internet phone which means our UK telephone rings over here, at a local rate which is very bizarre - not sure if I like that yet... however on the subject of bells, this morning we were all deeply disturbed to hear a long and drawn out disembodied bell ring deep in the house. He was at it again with some dangerous looking scissors and pliers hacking through ancient wiring, apparently disconnecting an old bell which would have last rung from the front gate 30 years ago...the noise it made alerted him immediately to the possibility of electric shock and a wire far from dead. Years back, he announced he was to plumb in a new shower, on showing his plans to the local electricians, they responded with no English, and at the time us with no Bulgarian, by acting out sudden death by lying on the floor and sealing up the box with the shower in it with gaffer tape, until they could return to do it for us.
More fuss very soon.
This evening I am feeling a little better and my various new meds seem to be doing something in the right direction.