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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

85. Five winters in

Usually around this time of year I start reading one of Rob’s old books on Buddhism in a futile attempt to become more zen and live in the moment. This year I’m screwing that off in favour of looking backwards. Not in a gloomy way, you understand, but a reflective ‘blimey, look how far we’ve come’ sort of way.

A while ago a reader called Elina wrote to me and asked me to do a post on how we’re finding life in Bulgaria a few years down the line, and how it compares to our original expectations. Now, as we head into our fifth Bulgarian winter, it seems like a good time to look back. The Buddha would probably disapprove but let’s do it anyway.

The other day I looked at photos of our first Christmas (2011) in the Bulgarian house. What struck me is how resilient we were in those early days when the house was really just a shell and we had nothing (all our belongings from the UK didn’t arrive until the summer of 2012). Take our kitchen, for example. The first picture is the kitchen as it was when we moved in in August 2011. The second is the kitchen four months later on Christmas Day.

In the second picture we still basically have nothing. Almost no worktop space, no oven (just a woodburner), no cupboards, no flooring, not even any paint on the walls (which had only been plastered the week before). But oh my we were so pleased with it. We put up decorations. We marvelled at our lovely new wooden windows and Rob’s beautiful lime plastering. We cooked a full Christmas dinner using the woodburner and the red gas burner that you can see sitting on the floor. We got a bit drunk. We ate too much food. We binge-watched Breaking Bad on the laptop. It was a great Christmas.

We didn’t have a proper kitchen, with worktops and an electric oven and flooring, until the following Easter. If you’d shown me that second picture before we left the UK in August 2011 and said that would be my ‘kitchen’ on Christmas Day, I might well have done a little cry or a scared, accidental wee. But once you get out here and you’re living it for real, you realise how little you need to get by. We discovered levels of resourcefulness that we never knew we had. I mean, I was a Brownie and a Guide but that was in the 80s and Brownies didn’t do any fun, adventurous stuff back then. I had badges in things like sewing and knitting and first aid. I’m pretty sure I had a badge for washing up in a safe manner. I definitely remember having to demonstrate how to wash up a knife safely. So, anyway, I never really thought of myself as a resourceful person, and definitely not one for roughing it. Rob would, like, run around the woods and get twigs stuck in his eyes, but not me. Thirty years later I can confirm I’m pretty darn good at roughing it. I can also wash up very safely.

This is my roundabout way of saying that it took much longer to complete the house than I ever imagined … and we’ve been okay with that. I didn’t know it before I came here but everything takes longer in Bulgaria – paying the bills, doing a food shop, finding floor tiles that don’t make you want to vomit, renovating a whole house – but it doesn’t matter because time is one thing we’ve always had in abundance out here. Everything is more relaxed, especially schedules, and it’s important to accept that quickly and sink into it resignedly. If you don’t, you really aren’t going to enjoy your first year here. Some things are an obvious priority. Like structural work. And a washing machine (seriously, washing and wringing bed sheets by hand gets old very quickly). And good internet. But flooring? No. Plastered walls? No. A fully working kitchen? Not nearly as much as you think. It’ll get done when it gets done. Also, from a practical point of view, it was great to live in the house while it was basically a shell because we got a much better feel for how we wanted everything to be and where everything would go. The decisions we made in haste (like where to put plug sockets, for instance, chosen without thought in a five-minute run around the house with a builder and a stick of chalk), are the only things we would do differently. But the kitchen, done after living in a bare room for eight months, is pretty much perfect. Eventually I want a big range cooker but that’s the only thing I would change.

So, that’s what I think about practical, housey stuff. But what about everyday life in Bulgaria? The first thing to say, unequivocally, is that it’s just normal life. Yes, it’s a bit weirder and there are definitely more donkeys but it’s still normal life. There’s still dirty laundry and washing up, the car still needs MOTing once a year, lightbulbs need replacing. You get me? You don’t escape boring stuff like that by coming here. Especially once the excitement of renovating a house and learning new things subsides and you settle into more of a regular routine. But we did escape the 9–5 working grind (I work for myself from home) and other things like mortgages and commuting. That’s not to say we never have any money worries. Most things are significantly cheaper out here, which takes a lot of the financial pressure off, but we’re living on a single freelance wage and some months are leaner than others. But the fact that we can live off one single freelance wage and still sleep soundly at night is an enormous blessing.

Right, so it’s normal life with dirty socks, but (generally) less money worries than in the UK. Which is pretty much what I expected. And Bulgarians? Oh my God, they’re brilliant. Bulgarians are a lot like Portsmouth people in that they look a bit grumpy and sound like they’re on the verge of having a fight but they’re not at all. (In Portsmouth, however, they might well be about to have a fight. Best cross the road, just in case.) Bulgarians are the friendliest, most generous and most helpful people I’ve ever met. We’ve read and heard some bad stories – burglaries, getting ripped off, that sort of thing – but we’ve never had any experiences like that. We have wonderful neighbours and we feel really at home and welcome in the village. Any time we’ve needed help a Bulgarian has popped up with a solution – like the many, many times we’ve got lost, like that time we had a four-day power cut and no way of keeping warm that didn’t involve electricity and our neighbour helped us rig up an old woodburner, like that ridiculously long first winter where we almost ran out of wood in March and the mayor gave us a fallen-down tree, or even that time I bought a bike then couldn’t figure out how to fit it in the car and an old man came out of his house and said, ‘look, put it in like this, silly’. They are, as we say back home, good eggs.

One thing I wasn’t expecting though is the huge culture difference between what Brits consider polite and what you can expect in Bulgaria. Maybe it’s different for other Europeans coming here but there’s a big difference between British sensibilities and Bulgarian. I’ve said how friendly and helpful Bulgarians are, right? But weirdly that does not translate to customer service of any kind, such as in a shop or restaurant. Surly, slow service is often the norm. Not in a nasty way, just in a customer-service-isn’t-really-a-thing-here-get-used-to-it kind of way. Lots of places in Sofia and one hotel we stayed in in Sinemorets are notable exceptions. Also, the polite thing. Show a Brit something and, even if they hate it, even if it makes them want to be sick until they dry heave, they will find something nice to say about it. For example, give a Brit a hideous cardigan four sizes too big with a disgusting pattern on it and they’ll say something like, ‘Thank you so much, I LOVE the buttons!’ Do the same thing with a Bulgarian and they’ll say something like, ‘But why is it so BIG?’ and then proceed to demonstrate how it is four sizes bigger than all their other, far superior cardigans. And they’d be right. We’ve lost count of how many times our neighbours have leaned over the fence and said, ‘Why are you doing THAT? No. You want to do this.’ This isn’t a criticism of Bulgarians (I’m British, I can’t criticise anything), it’s just something to get used to if you’re a sensitive Brit. Eventually you do get used to straight-up, no-nonsense, truthiness and learn to love it. Then you have to painfully readjust to being British every time you land at Gatwick Airport – you know, where you queue for 20 minutes for a sandwich in Marks and Spencer, finally get to the checkout and they say ‘Sorry to keep you waiting’ and you want to scream ‘Yes, I’ve been waiting 20 minutes, why are there only TWO of you on the fucking tills?’ but instead you have to say ‘Oh that’s FINE, no problem at all’ then thank them 10 times in the space of a 30-second transaction. Imagine a world where everyone just says what comes into their head. That’s what life in Bulgaria is like.  

If I was unrealistic about a reasonable timetable for renovating a whole house, I was even more unrealistic about how long it would take to learn the language. Oh we’ll be fluent in six months, I thought. I was an idiot. We’re fine with the language, we get by no problem and we still have regular lessons, but we are close to fluent like Australia is close to Iceland. What Rob and I need is to separate, both marry Bulgarians, move in with our Bulgarian in-laws, be forced to speak Bulgarian 24/7, then return to each other a year down the line, after becoming fluent. But that’s a bit extreme so we’ll just keep having the lessons, chatting with the neighbours and writing down interesting words that we learn off the news – words like ‘granatomet’, which I recently learned off the news and which means rocket launcher. Hopefully not one I’ll have to use too often but you never know. Bulgarians are very forgiving when we fumble words – they get that it’s a difficult language to learn – but it’s important to try. Seriously, if you aren’t going to learn at least some of the language, stay home.

You need to be adaptable if you’re going to make a go of life here. You can’t do everything the way you would back home (indeed, why would you want to?). Here’s a pretty banal example, but you get the idea. I’m a keen baker, right? But it’s hard to find things like self-raising flour, buttermilk or sour cream in the shops. Our nearest supermarket is a 50-mile roundtrip and I try to haul my arse there as little as possible. Anyway, turns out you don’t really need any of that stuff – I add baking powder to regular white flour to make it rise, add lemon juice to milk to make buttermilk and bung Bulgarian yogurt in anything that requires sour cream. I made my Christmas cake recently and realised I needed candied peel for it, so I had to make that the day before I started the cake. But again, time is one thing we have here. Given enough time and the power of Google, you can always make do. Nice ketchup? We make our own rather than pay over-the-odds for Heinz. Same with baked beans. (Rob would be able to give you better, more manly examples of making do, but he’s not here so you’re stuck with my cooking ones.) Anyone who insists on resolutely sticking to their British ways in Bulgaria is rather missing the point. Having said that, icing sugar is one thing I do bring over from the UK in my suitcase as the stuff here tastes like sherbet, and I also bring Yorkshire Tea and cheddar (which you can find in the supermarkets here but it’s expensive and usually too mild). But that’s it these days. Oh, and Marmite. I’m not fannying around making yeast extract. We don’t have that much time.

As well as time, the next best thing about life here is having loads of space. Specifically a garden, which we never had in the UK. I've become an enthusiastic, if not particularly competent, gardener. We're better at veg but I am finally starting to get into flowers. I even have a pair of ankle wellies. I'm living the dream, man. I seem to obsess about the garden more than ever at this time of year: buying seeds, planning where things will go, drawing up funny little timetables of when to sow stuff (which I then forget to refer to come March or April). I haven't written much about the garden this year or our new summer kitchen, so I'll follow up with a post in January, complete with sunny pictures of summer 2015. That should cheer us all up in deepest winter ... or depress us because it's still deepest winter. We'll see.

Finally, if I could have a word with my 2011 self, I would tell her not to buy a Ford Puma. ‘Claire,’ I would say, ‘you know it’s not really suited to Bulgarian roads. Even with your limited knowledge of Bulgarian roads, you know it’s not suited. Don’t buy a Ford Puma on a whim on the way home from work. Think. Buy a Rav4 instead.’

Finally, finally, here’s our lovely kitchen in 2015. We’ve come a long way baby. Happy Christmas x

Monday, 21 December 2015

84. Work in progress

Just a quick (and unusually chipper) update: the builders are making great progress and we’re thrilled with the work so far. They did half days for the first few days (finishing up another project I think) but have been here 9–5 every day since then. Three of the walls have already been covered with polystyrene and rendered. Now that the polystyrene has been covered up, I can look at the house again without wanting to have a little cry. And we’ve chosen a paint colour – we’re sticking with pink, although I lobbied hard for yellow – so I guess they’ll start painting any day now. And, quality of the work aside, my favourite thing is how they tidy up after themselves at 4.45pm every day.

There’s still a bloke at every window I look at but we’re all just getting on with it and pretending not to see each other. All in all, it’s not a total disaster. It’s a Christmas miracle.  

Marvel at our polystyrene and bare render. Also marvel at how the scaffolding gets better the further along they get. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

83. Polystyrene walls

The 'before' pic. You'll have to wait for the big reveal...

We’ve got the builders in. That’s not a euphemism for getting my period or having vaginal reconstructive surgery. We’re finally having the house re-rendered. In Bulgaria this means having the house coated in huge polystyrene insulation slabs and then rendering on top of that.

I hate having builders around. The last lot of builders we had left a lovely old set of wooden chairs out in the rain for months (we were back in England at the time) and they got ruined. I would also come home to find random smelly food items, like half a raw onion, left out on my kitchen table despite there being a perfectly good bin two feet away. And one time they tried to get us to agree to work being done before they quoted for it, you know, just because it’s such a hassle coming out to quote and they didn’t want to bother if we couldn’t, like, guarantee they’d get the job. Hahahahahahaha, I laughed manically before ripping out handfuls of my own hair. Then we found new builders.

This lot seem jolly enough. But I still find the whole experience of having builders around to be grindingly awful. Couple this with my natural tendency to assume everything will be a complete fucking disaster and it’s really rather stressful.

‘Have you ever considered that it’ll look lovely when it’s done?’ said Rob.
‘Er, no.’

There’s the difference between him and me. That and Rob is already best mates with all the builders while I spend my days pretending they aren’t there.

Rob’s perspective: The builders turn up promptly at 8.30am every morning.
My perspective: They have yet to work past 2pm in the afternoon. And they were supposed to start six weeks ago.

Rob: The house will be warmer thanks to the insulation.
Me: The polystyrene is so ugly I can’t look at my own house without wanting to have a little cry.

Rob: They’re throwing lots of men at the job. Many hands make light work and all that.
Me: Every time I look up there is a different Bulgarian man at the window. I have become a freelancing nomad, carting my laptop to whichever room currently doesn’t have men at the window. Going to the loo has become a perilous game of hide and seek.

Rob: It’ll be nice to have smooth exterior walls, and for all four sides to match. (The front and one side of the house were flat-ish and pink but the back and other side were, for reasons unknown to us, done in dirty beige pebble dash.)
Me: It’s going to look like a prefabricated council house.

Updates and pictures of work in progress to follow soon. For now I’m off to cook lunch and pretend not to see the eight men at the kitchen windows.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

82. Polytunnel city

‘Let’s build a greenhouse for the tomatoes,’ we said. ‘Just a small one,’ we said.

You might wonder why, when we live in the land of hot summers, we felt such an urge. Well, reader, last year we had a pretty wet summer (warm, but wet and stormy) so Rob hastily erected a plastic covering for our tomato plants. It was ugly as sin but it certainly did the job; we had our best tomato year ever, despite the rain. Meanwhile, our neighbours’ open-air tomatoes were ruined by blight and hailstones.

This year, we thought we’d take it one step further and build a more permanent, polytunnel-style greenhouse. It’ll be great, we said. Just a small one, we said.

Yup, we ended up with the biggest polytunnel ever built in a back garden. It’s eight metres long. It’s three metres wide. It features more plastic sheeting than a whole series of Dexter.

Rather than buying a greenhouse kit, we made it ourselves out of plastic sheeting and bendy central heating pipes, all for about £50. The result is, um, something that looks like a £50 greenhouse. But it’s survived some heavy wind and it doesn’t leak, so that’s good.

Wouldn’t you know it, as we went to all the trouble of building a greenhouse, this summer has been crazy dry and hot. Some days it’s 50°C in there. At the start of the summer, we used to go in regularly just to obsess over the temperature. (‘Look, it’s 30°C already!’ Nerds.) Now, in July, it’s basically a no-go zone after 9am. But the tomatoes keep on thriving, so we’ve decided to stop worrying about it.

Building it together was fun. If fun means spending your entire Easter weekend sweating and swearing at the man you love. We had some strange looks from the neighbours when we started bending pipes and unfurling an acre of plastic. Then, as it took shape, we got the odd ‘bravo, extra’ from them (‘extra’ meaning very good). Then they said they might build one themselves.

Then they built two.

It’s probably the biggest compliment any Bulgarian has paid us since we moved here. I mean, Bulgarians love giving advice, especially when it comes to the garden. To pass an idea onto them is … well it’s kind of like a Mongolian moving to Britain, teaching everyone a much better way to play cricket, mix Pimms and queue, and then being awarded an honorary knighthood and one of Mick Jagger’s daughters. It’s that epic.  

Of course, the downside of becoming gardening gurus is that we now have three damn polytunnels to look at. And, man, are they ugly. 

'Let's build a greenhouse.'

'Just a small one.'

'Is it a bit wonky? It looks a bit wonky.'

'Let's never do this again.'

Four months on. 'Tomatoes!'

Thursday, 18 June 2015

81. Snakes and housing ladders and other imaginary worries

My anxiety has been a little woo-hoo lately. (When you read ‘woo-hoo’ imagine me doing bug eyes and waving my fingers in the air). It goes like that sometimes. In Bulgaria you really just have to go with the flow, which is not only a dickish phrase but also a difficult thing for a control-freak like me to get used to. I’m pretty good at it now though. (Example: I fully accept that dinner in a restaurant will take anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours to arrive and dishes will arrive in random order and all at different times.) But I do find my need for control manifests itself in the weirdest worries and obsessions.

For instance, my current list of concerns are things I never worried about, or ever even thought about for a second, before we came to Bulgaria:
  1. Getting ringworm (again).
  2. Getting bitten by a tick and catching Lyme disease.
  3. Getting bitten by a tick on my scalp and having to shave my head.
  4. Horned vipers.
  5. Finding a horned viper in my kitchen/shoes/bed/toilet/hair.
  6. That big pile of rocks in the garden which obviously (probably doesn’t) contains millions of horned vipers. Millions (probably none). I’ve seen Snakes on a Plane.*
  7. Breaking my leg while walking in the mountains.
  8. Getting bitten by a horned viper while walking in the mountains.
  9. Being gored by a wild boar, Robert Baratheon-style, while walking in the mountains.
  10. Being mistaken for a wild boar while walking in the mountains and getting shot by hunters.
  11. The house being struck by lightning.

It’s not Bulgaria’s fault. No one else here seems bothered by this stuff. Everyone else I know can walk past a pile of rocks without visualising being bitten by a viper. It’s me. I invent Things to Worry About.

So, whenever I find myself eyeing that pile of rocks or performing hourly tick checks, it helps to remind myself what I used to stress about in the UK. At least my Bulgarian-based worries have a whiff of danger and excitement about them – it’s better than this boring arse bunch:
  1. Paying the rent.
  2. The nagging feeling that paying rent is really just paying someone else’s mortgage and I really ought to get on the housing ladder.
  3. Never having a spare £30k for the deposit to get on the housing ladder.
  4. Spending too much money in Costa. This has absolutely nothing to do with item 3.
  5. Noisy neighbours.
  6. Damp.
  7. Slug infestations indoors and mouldy clothes/shoes/books. See item 6.
  8. Performance reviews/targets/generally caring what my employer thinks. (If you’re thinking about going freelance or setting up a business but are nervous about making the leap, don’t be. It’s fucking brilliant.)
  9. Commuting. It’s a mug’s game.  
  10. Obsessing about losing my £4,000 season ticket while I was commuting to London. (I had this OCD thing where I would constantly check it was still in my handbag. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night to check it hadn’t wandered off.)
  11. Accidentally sitting in wee on the Tube.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m off to smell the roses. Literally. I like wandering around the garden in the afternoon running my fingers through the asparagus ferns and sticking my nose into stuff. I enjoy these moments even though danger lurks at every corner. I’m brave like that. 

* If I do run into a snake, I’m borrowing Samuel L. Jackson’s immortal line, ‘I have had it with these mother fucking snakes. It’s time to open a window.’ It won’t really work because we won’t be on a plane (or at least I bloody well hope not), and there won’t be a window for the snake to get sucked through, and it’ll probably just bite me. But we can all have a jolly good laugh about it. You know, while we wait for the ambulance to arrive.  

Friday, 20 March 2015

80. Love letter to Sofia

Sveta Nedelya Church, Sofia

Moving to a Bulgarian village is like moving to the 1950s. In our village, they could easily film one of those TV programmes where people live like Victorian farmers or Tudor doctors or something: everyone knows everyone, chickens roam the streets, no one throws anything away ever, and plenty of people still have a donkey and cart. It’s like living in a Hovis advert. Except for the fact that the bread actually gets delivered in a white transit van with the words ‘Let the good times roll’ written on the side. Otherwise, it’s exactly like a Hovis advert.

And that’s great. It’s what we wanted. But I’m a Pompey girl and, every now and then, I miss city life.   

Unfortunately, our nearest towns don’t deliver much in the way of city buzz. If our village is like the 1950s, nipping into town is like visiting the 1980s. It’s all big hair, bumbags and matching tracksuits. And that’s just the men. There’s also an unfortunate amount of concrete. Our nearest town is a friendly and useful place, but our trips there tend to be more functional than fun.

So thank God for Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital and a mere hour down the motorway.

I love Sofia, and not just because it’s the only place near us that is located in 2015. Sofia probably rates in my top three favourite cities of all time, behind Istanbul and New York. I’ve been to some wonderful cities; many are prettier or more exciting than Sofia, but there’s something strangely loveable about Sofia. Maybe it’s the strong sense of culture. It’s like a cross between Berlin and Havana – arty and gritty, historic and crumbly, quite poor but very charming. Sure, there are tons of weirdos. (In fact, I’ve never seen so many weirdos in one place – and I spent three years commuting on the Northern Line.) And the broken pavements are designed to snap as many necks as possible (I think it might be a deliberate population control exercise). And there’s a minor problem with packs of killer stray dogs. But if you watch where you put your feet and don’t carry bacon in your pockets, it’s totally fine. 

Flowers, cracks in the plaster, electrical cables and beautiful architecture. This is Sofia.
You should come. Yes, you. Come now before it gets any damn cooler. In the past four years Sofia has seen a 900% increase in beards, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Not that I mind hipsters. I happen to like beards and craft beer and artisan anything so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. But you should come now before it gets too cool or too sanitized or too expensive.

I recently had a caipirinha in a bar in Sofia. A caipirinha! It’s a cocktail. A Brazilian one.

Urban hipster image 1. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the end of the road.
Urban hipster image 2. Taken on a bus. I'm SO street.
Come now while you can still get a coffee at a news stand for 50 stotinki (about 20p). Come now while the old fellas still play chess in the parks. Come now while you can buy a handmade jumper or a tablecloth outside the cathedral from a sweet old baba. Come now while the police still direct traffic by hand outside parliament and there are hardly any Subways.*  

Let me know if you do. I know where we can get a killer cocktail.

* Hardly any Subways. Not zero, unfortunately. And there’s a shit load of Costas springing up.**

** Ah, Costa, I’ve missed you!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

79. Time flies when you have a fungal infection

As it’s been so long since I last wrote, I shall attempt to summarise the last six months in 200 words. Ready?

August 2014: Catastrophic rain and floods in Bulgaria. We go to the beach for five days. It rains. I get the shits. It rains some more. We come home.

September 2014: A tiny, disgusting kitten appears in our garden. He’s so vile we’re not sure if he’s a kitten or a mutant rat. We take him in. In return, he gives us all ringworm.

This dude.

October 2014: We still have ringworm. It’s immune to all medicine ever invented. Our lives revolve around covering ourselves in borax, vinegar and garlic. We go to beautiful Veliko Tarnovo for a few days. The ringworm tags along.

November 2014: We have beaten the ringworm but the emotional scars remain. Also, turns out garlic burns like a bitch so I have proper scars too. Thanks ringworm, you total arsehole.

December 2014: We go to England. I spend the entire time converting the cost of everything into Bulgarian Lev and screeching, ‘That’s 25 Lev! 25 Lev! That’s a whole meal for two in Bulgaria!’ I am charming company, everyone agrees.

January 2015: I work almost constantly. I buy a very cool teapot. That’s about as good as January gets.

There. Wasn’t that cheery?

I like the cut of 2015’s jib though. So far, winter has been kind to us. I’ve just had my busiest two months of work since going freelance last summer. I’ve got lots of cool projects lined up for 2015 (work and otherwise). One of my BFFs comes to stay next month and the other BFF, who hasn’t been out in three years, is coming in the summer. And my parents are driving out this summer, which is obviously an insane thing to do but at least I’ll finally get that Le Creuset pan that was too heavy to pack or post.

I have decided 2015 is going to be the year of yoga and vodka. Having never suffered with hangovers in all my smug little life, I’ve started getting dreadful hangovers from wine. It must be my age. I embarked on a search to find the right drink for my advancing years. Gin was excellent for a while but did make me feel a bit leaden if I drank it after 6pm – rendering it mostly useless, except on a cheeky Saturday afternoon. The locals swear by rakia but I think it tastes like weedkiller (but not as nice). And, personally, I think beer is only right in the summer after a bike ride or when I’ve been digging in the dirt. Turns out vodka is the answer. It is excellent, readily available (even in the village shops) and kind to me in the mornings. Oh and yoga. Yeah, yoga is good too. Flexibility…woo yeah. (Mainly, though, vodka.)

This is also the year of Mad Men. We’ve never watched a single episode of Mad Men and have been waiting until the final series airs so we can binge-watch the whole lot in a short space of time. I can’t stress enough what an act of restraint this has been. I’m looking forward to finally wanging on about how great it is…five years after everyone else. Mainly, I am looking forward to some very classy Mad Men dreams. Whatever series we’re watching always ends up invading my dreams – which is fine when it’s something like The West Wing, but not so great when it comes to The Walking Dead and I spend my nights being chased by zombies.

We’re also going to get fabulous at speaking Bulgarian this year. Or at least significantly better. Or maybe just a bit better. Look, we’ll try and learn a few new words here and there, okay? Jeez, no need to nag.  

2015 is also the year that I finally finish a knitting project. Having said that, I’m about 10 inches into a jumper and flagging already, so this isn’t looking good.  

Sigh. This is why I never make New Year’s resolutions. Still, I am definitely going to update the blog more often. I’m aiming for weekly. Fortnightly at the very least. Alright, let’s agree monthly as a firm target. 12 blogs this year. Or maybe 10, that’s a nice round number.

See you at Christmas then, right?