Sunday, 20 February 2011

Targovishte and helping the Police with their traffic census

My apologies for keeping you all hanging around for your next instalment of our blog. Last Thursday we had made arrangements to go over to Peter and Claire's (Uncle Inya and Sonya), and we were due there at 10 in the morning. The day started off by not being too bad, just a bit overcast but at least it was above freezing. On the way out of our village it seemed as though there were Eagles perched at the top of every other tree. There were also plenty of Magpies and Jays hopping around at the roadside, now this might have had something to do with the fact that there have been fields of stubble being burnt off near the village. It was starting to look like the cast of the old Hitchcock film were having a reunion. By the time that we had got to Lozen all of the birds had disappeared, and the sky was starting to change colour.

We made it through Kamen before the first flakes of snow started to drift down, but they were only small flakes and there was no cause for concern. The closer that we got to Popovo the heavier the snow was getting, and the flakes were getting bigger and bigger and pitching on the road, about halfway we got a text from Claire telling us that it was snowing in their village. We had a choice, did we press on and hope that the weather improved or did we turn round and go home. As we were over halfway there we decided to carry on. It turned out to be the right decision, as just as we turned into their lane the snow slowed and then stopped, almost as though someone had turned it off. After a coffee, Net and Claire set to hanging the curtains that Net had altered. It is all looking more homely each time we go over there, and the new curtains provide a warm splash of colour against the white walls. Coffee and curtains finished it was all into our car for the mystery tour to Targovishte, as none of us had ever been there before. We needn't have been concerned as it is very nearly a straight road, the only problem being that the snow from earlier was turning to slush and passing cars and lorries were throwing up plumes of rubbish which coated the windscreen. I must have gone through nearly a whole reservoir of screen-wash on the trip there. Just after we got off of a roundabout, and headed towards the centre, we saw a roadside Police checkpoint.

Sure enough we got waved over by a little man and his lollipop, as he waved us over I could see his face going "Oh bugger, it's right hand drive. That means English". On all previous stops, we have just been waved away once they twig that we are foreign, but this one had committed himself. Normally there are just two traffic policemen, but this time there were three, maybe he was being checked so that he could qualify for his harassing motorists badge. He was about five feet tall, and it looked like his Mum had made his uniform, either that or he had borrowed it. I duly pulled to a halt in front of their Lada police car, and lowered my window. He inspected the windscreen for the current vignette, tax and MOT stickers, luckily only two days previously I had removed all of the old stickers. I had read somewhere that there is now a 20 Leva fine for displaying out of date stickers, I did wonder what they would have made of a 60s camper-van with it's collection of holiday venue stickers. Unable to catch us out with anything on the windscreen, he puffed himself up and stood at my window and said "Dokumenti, dokumenti", to which I replied "Angliski molya". Not to be put off, he totally ignored me and demanded "Passport, dokumenti", he seemed a bit disappointed when I handed over my lichna carta and the vehicle documents, but he took them all to the fellow with the clipboard. On returning to the car he gestured for me to get out, I suppose his reasoning being that if he was stood outside in the cold then I could stand outside too. The other member of the trio seemed human, and even seemed to be enjoying his colleague's discomfort, he wasn't bothered by the weather either in his ski suit and woolly hat. I even managed to have a sort of conversation with him in my limited Bulgarian, and he told me that there was no problem so Net, Pete and Claire relaxed in the car. Clipboard man eventually finished with all of my documents and short stuff thrust them back at me, and reluctantly waved us on.

After having helped them with their traffic census, we carried on into the centre of Targovishte and ended up parking near what I can only assume is the fruit and veg market. Still none the wiser as to where we were going, we decided to follow in the general direction that the majority of pedestrian traffic was headed. This turned out to be the correct thing to do as we ended up in a pedestrianised shopping precinct. We were hunting for somewhere to have coffee, but ended up in Vivacom instead. We had told Peter and Claire about the Vivacom duo package that we have got, but Vivacom in their wisdom have now discontinued this. The closest that Pete and Claire could get to it was the new duo package which is now home phone and internet. Whilst there Pete also got the Vivacom TV package deal sorted out. We were told when it would all be up and running, and we know that they are able to go online now, so the internet dongle works, The TV gets fitted and sorted out on Wednesday (weather permitting) but none of us can remember when the home phone becomes active. Pete and I vaguely recollect something being said about Monday, but we can't be sure with what Monday was reference to, hopefully it is the phone as it isn't working at the moment. By then we had gone from in need of coffee to being in need of food so maybe we weren't concentrating on what was being said as much as we should have been. The English speaking chap in Vivacom pointed out a couple of places where we could eat, which was kind of him. I have to admit that I hadn't realised that we had been in there for quite so long, but my stomach had.

We decided to go for the posher of the two options, and went into this very nice restaurant. They even had proper loos and dual language menus. It was very comfortable in there, and the food was good too, Pete and Claire had something that looked a lot like Spanish chicken, Net had lamb with rice and spinach and I had the chicken livers with onions. Oh and all apart from Net had chips too. Well fed and watered, it had to be a case of strolling round the town just to walk some of it off. All in all a worthwhile trip, and for Peter and Claire quite a successful one. Claire did say that when they are with us things get done, but left to their agents it all seems a bit wishy washy, and undecided.

On the way out of Targovishte we noticed that the three musketeers had moved to the other side of the road. As we drove past, the human one even waved to us, cheeky sod, but it goes to prove that some of the traffic police do have a sense of humour.

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