The good life

 
 
 

Take a walk in a Bulgarian country village. What do you notice? Nearly every house is detached, in a little plot, maybe a quarter or half an acre. Some of the houses are empty, some occupied. It's summer. Look over the wall of a house which is occupied (nearly every garden has a solid wall around it, with a little roof to keep the rain off the rendered mud brick construction). But never mind the wall, look at the garden. It is overflowing with produce. For many centuries, almost every Bulgarian has had a kitchen garden to feed the family. Wealthy city types had a weekend retreat, ordinary people lived in the villages permanently. But all of them knew the value of their home grown produce. With rich dark soil, long, warm, sunny summers, and enough rain to keep the place looking green in all but the hottest times, a Bulgarian garden, at least in the area I know, is astonishing in its variety, its sheer exuberance. Fruit trees, mainly apricot, sweet and morello cherry, peach, apple, pear and several varieties of plum, around the house and at the bottom of the garden. Perhaps a third of the plot is a vineyard. 500kg, yes half a tonne of grapes is not an unusual amount, mostly for wine and for rakia, the Bulgarian national spirit (take your wine along to the municipal distillery, and for a small (read very small) fee, turn it into rakia, drink it as an aperitif with the amazing salad that always precedes dinner. A few bunches are held back for the table of course (in the cellar, bunches are kept in an ingenious way. They are cut from the vine with maybe 4" of stem either side. A piece of dough seals each end of the stem, and they are hung between two sticks. Like this, they last until Christmas, any left over in the new year, raisins). The tomatoes are to die for, red (except for the yellow ones) and round (except for the funny shape ones) is about all they have in common with the supermarket, air-freighted, hothouse variety common in the UK. We could go on. Aubergines, peppers, okra, chillies, courgettes, etc, etc will all be there in profusion. They are all traditional varieties, and they are all organic. Not soil association, inspected, newly created technical organic, just centuries old never been anything else organic. Most villagers have a few hens for eggs, and goats for milk. A few also keep bees.


Bulgaria So why are we writing this? Right now, a large number of English people are buying into this sort of village lifestyle (other parts of this site explain a lot more about the practicalities). We are guessing that many other people are considering it, but would like to try before they buy, so to speak. Bulgaria Discovered has a number of these village cottages which we would like to let on an annual basis to tenants with a serious interest in self sufficiency. The houses are freshly decorated in a simple style, typically a living room, kitchen, two or three bedrooms, and one bathroom, and a barn and/or outhouses. While this is not an opportunity for a family which would want to employ a gardener, you can be assured that local people would be supportive, providing help and advice when required (and of course, we would do whatever we could to ensure your success!). We are looking for people who appreciate that to make the most of this will involve interacting with the community, learning at least a little of the language, and generally contributing to village life. It is not a matter of first come first served, you can always choose a property to buy. We are looking for people who will make a go of things, who are friendly, enthusiastic, outgoing and would really enjoy a simpler lifestyle. A twelve month tenancy will cost around ?1800, depending on the property, and there will obviously be some unavoidable living expenses, so some capital is required. Also, it would not be realistic to expect to depend on employment in Bulgaria (unless you can carry on some existing means of earning a living, for example writing, from your new location). Perhaps you have a house in the UK which would provide sufficient rental income, or perhaps you just want to use some savings for a year or two time out.

If we have sparked your interest, please contact us to discuss the matter further.

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