We feel incredibly lucky to have found our little piece of heaven in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, a small but strong community village, frozen in a bygone era, and have embraced the old ways of living for health and happiness. Living a more rural way of life has many benefits but we’re glad we could bring our modern advancements to lessen the hard physical work and combine the two in peaceful harmony.
The yin and yang. In life there are always juxtapositions and we knew water would pose a challenge in this remote off grid village. Pipes had been installed to our village from a natural mountain spring back in the 1950’s. This pure and clean water, devoid of chemicals, would run dry in the dry summer months so we made a storage tank complete with pump. However, we learned this wasn’t big enough so have since added another 10,000 litre tank, mainly to aid garden watering and many of our neighbours are following suit.
The 4×4 Land Rover we brought from the UK is perfect for traversing the forestry tracks around our village to enable wood collection but now we also use a donkey for the steep off-roading it can’t do! The donkey has other benefits too and does a much better job of mowing the uneven lawn and providing fertiliser. Instead of fuel the donkey needs food and while we admire our neighbours scything their hay, we are too inexperienced to learn fast enough so have brought in our modern day machinery, a clearing saw. We still fork and bale by hand as most of the land is too steep to safely use vehicles on.
The old telephone lines, installed to our village in communist times, are redundant and too costly to replace but they’re surpassed anyway with Bulgaria’s fast advancements in mobile communication. A 4G mast is in clear view from the front of our house so we have excellent reception and for internet too. It’s also far across the valley, on the top on the mountainside opposite so not obscuring our view. Another bonus is video chats, meaning I see my parents more frequently than when I lived in the same country.
There is much to be said for the benefits of the internet. Seemingly anything you can possibly think of has a been put online and surfing the net helps as an easy research tool but not all information is correct and sometimes the best answer is only available by word of mouth. One such time is when an extremely heavy 120k barrel was accidentally dropped on Lee’s foot, the automatic response was, ‘Go to the hospital’ but we knew the foot is a very difficult part of the body to treat and he would just be prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain killing drugs. The swelling and pain can be subdued but only time can help… unless you have onions! On hearing about the injury, our neighbour finely chopped an onion and wrapped a compress around the injured foot to a miraculous recovery. Swelling reduced dramatically and normal colour returned. What at first seemed like a week of bed rest, became a few days of hobbling before being well enough to drive a long distance, play several rounds of golf and win every game too!
But the new can have benefits too. My chickens, kept for their tastier-than-shop-bought organic eggs, are targeted by large birds of prey, particularly golden eagles, and results in frequent losses. Scarecrows were tried but they were not enough of a deterrent and after hearing that birds were put off by the flashes of light from compact disks, I decorated my garden with a few. It seemed sacrilege to be hanging such modern items around my rustic garden but they worked. I suggested my neighbours should do the same, thinking maybe a tall order as no-one had CD players but obviously the word went out to relatives and soon other gardens were decorated with the spinning discs. One neighbour taking it a step further and hanging old shiny cooking pot lids extremely high up. Unfortunately they don’t reflect the rays on cloudy days but luckily Bulgaria has the most sunny days of all Europe.