Thursday, 27 January 2011

Yesterday and the Bus Trip

Hopefully you will be pleased to know that we continue on our road of recovery. We woke up with more energy than we have had in the past few weeks, so it was decided that various little niggling jobs could be done as well as the normal bits and pieces. The 'highlight' was giving the fires their monthly clean, this also involved stripping down the flue pipes and cleaning them too. Luckily the sun was out and a nice bright blue sky, so I would be able to do it all outside. So wrapped up warmly and armed with my trusty flue brush I started on the fire in the upstairs lounge. A top tip is to have a bin bag handy, so that the base of the flue pipe can sit in it as you remove it from the chimney. Failure to do this can result in a shoe full of soot and tar if the flue gets slightly knocked when extracting it from the chimney. You can also get told off for not remembering the bag in the first place. Cleaning the flue is relatively simple, knocking the outside will shift most of the debris, the problem normally lays with separating the various lengths so that the insides can be swept with the flue brush. Then there is the joy of reassembling it all and sticking it back up the chimney and connecting it back onto the fire. Feeding it back up the chimney normally results in another deluge of soot and tar, so it is a bit of a messy job. You could see where I had been, as there were sooty footprints leading from the fireplace, through the kitchen and out of the back door. It makes a change from muddy paw prints though. Leaving the scene of my crime, I then repeated the process in the downstairs lounge. Once everything was thoroughly cleaned and reassembled I had more than a passing similarity to a chimney sweep. I was black from head to foot, but it was a job well worth doing as the fires draw nicely now.

I had enough time for a wash and brush up, and a quick coffee before heading off to the village bus stop. Normally we would drive into town, but with the snow and ice the bus, as it is longer and heavier, seems like the safer option. There are no bus time tables, so I had to try and remember from last winter. You have to make sure that you get to the stop in plenty of time, as if the bus is early and there's no one there it won't wait. At the bus stop, outside of 'Bridget Jones' Knicker shop', there is a bench in full sunlight, an ideal place to wait I thought, until I noticed that the snow thawing from the eaves was dripping straight onto the bench. Whilst waiting the bus came through on it's way to Vinograd, where it turns round and retraces its route into Gorna. This meant that I had another 15 to 20 minutes wait, but it was sunny and at least I knew that it was running. Sure enough the bus returned, and in my basic Bulgarian asked for a ticket to Gorna whilst handing over a 5 Leva note. The fare should have been 3.60, but neither of us had any small change so I was only charged 3 Leva. I think that the heater on the bus must have been jammed full on as it was like a sauna, and being bundled up like the Michelin man I was soon sweating like a Marine in a spelling test, but I had promised Net that I would keep my scarf up round my nose to avoid breathing in any germs. One good thing about being driven somewhere, rather than driving, is that you do get to see so much more. I was able to check out the road conditions and let Mum and Dad know as they were considering driving in the next day. The roads round the villages were still patchy with ice, but once the ridge road started to drop down to lower levels they became largely ice free.

After a largely uneventful trip, the bus arrived in Gorna, and I was able to do the most important thing and pay the M Tel bill, Again somewhere else with the heating stuck at full, so I needed a coffee to rehydrate myself. Since we have been a bit poorly we have been going through fruit like the clappers, so I had been given a 'small' shopping list. A quick trip round Kauflands, and then back to the bus station to wait for the trip home. A wonderful place to people watch, but it was bloody freezing in there. Even the sparrows were shivering, but I did manage to see some characters while I waited. The traditional drunk was there, mumbling and slurring at anyone who came within 10 feet, gypsies on the cadge for either money or cigarettes, various women laden with shopping bags and a Numpty with a Harlye Davison real look leather pvc jacket. I wonder if he thought it was the genuine article?

Having grown bored in the waiting room, I went outside to wait for the bus. There were 2 likely candidates, and they both started up at the same time. Would it be the bus with the permanent list or the one belching out diesel fumes everywhere? It was the latter of the two, and a free for all ensued as people jostled to get on the bus. Once I had managed to get a seat I was able to survey my surroundings, the driver was wedged firmly behind the steering wheel, he has probably missed one to many salads. It was a bit disconcerting to see pictures of saints on the driver's blinds, but probably explains his driving, and next to the no smoking sign there was an advert for Victory cigarettes. By now the diesel fumes were building up in the bus, so why bother about no smoking? The only bits of the bus showing little wear and tear were the overhead luggage racks, so at a guess they have never been used. In a cloud of diesel exhaust, and a grinding of gears the bus coughed and wheezed its way out of the bus station, and my seat shifted a wee bit as it was a bit loose on it's mountings. My seat wasn't the only one loose, as a lady's shopping was thrown all over the floor by her wonky seat.

It was difficult to see out of the windows, with the grime on the outside, the ice on the inside, and the dubious bits of cloth hung at them wafting backwards and forwards. Not fancying a faceful of the closest 'curtain' I tied it in a knot and tried to keep a safe distance from it. Luckily the smell of the diesel fumes would keep the smell from the press of bodies to a minimum, I can only hazard a guess at what it must be like in the height of summer. Whereas the bus into town was like a sauna, the bus home was like an Igloo, no chance of the ice on the windows melting so I had to content myself with trying to peer out of the grubby windscreen. The driver's eyesight must be much better than mine. Once we left the bus station at Draganovo the bus was largely empty, only a few hardy souls remained to go to the outlying villages. With a lurching and a grinding the bus turned off of the main road header off up towards the villages, sticking to the middle of the road and not seeming to care if anything came the other way. I'm sure that there must have been food at the bus's destination as unless a woman from the village had said something to the driver I don't think that he would have stopped to let us off.

Well that was yesterday's bus trip out of the way and reading back over this blog I can see why I don't make a habit of using the service.

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