This was written by Kathy a few years ago but we thought you’d be interested to know the beginnings of our story and to see how we ended up here.
A brief bit of background – my daughter Elly graduated as an Engineer in 2005. She really didn’t fancy the prospect of being trapped in the mortgage abyss that happens in the UK so with her first job she bought this property in Bulgaria. It had happened through a chance conversation that a friend of mine told me her sister had bought a house in Bulgaria for £5,000. That was very interesting and it set us thinking.
We spent quite a few months researching properties on the Internet before coming here on a viewing trip. This house in Voditsa was the second place we saw and it really fitted the bill in terms of land space and outbuildings. But the thing that really sold this place for us were the neighbours and the general feeling about the village. People in nearby houses came out to see what was happening and who we were – everyone was friendly and welcoming and they were very happy (and surprised) that anyone would want to come and live in their village from another country.
You may be wondering about the name of this place, St James’ Park. Elly and I are Geordies and recognising where a big piece of my heart lives, we thought we’d name this lovely piece of land after another beautiful patch of green. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, St James’ Park is the home of Newcastle United. Everyone is welcome of course but anyone who arrives in a Newcastle shirt, gets an extra piece of cake.
We’ve had the most amazing help ever since this idea was born and we’ve been lucky enough to have fantastic volunteers. We originally had a ‘people’ page where they were all thanked individually but there are just too many now. Their names are all in the Visitor’s Book and they are all remembered. I can only say that this place would not have happened in this way without them.
But volunteering is not just about people coming to hoe and rake the field – there have been around 250 people from loads of different countries. An unusual amount of international visitors to Voditsa but the general feedback in the village has been very positive (even if people are still a bit puzzled). Most visitors have tried to learn a little Bulgarian, they’ve smiled and talked to everyone in the street and of course they’ve had a positive effect on the local economy and many of them have been so in love with the place that they’ve bought their own property here.
So people in Voditsa have accepted the idea that their village is a point of attraction for people from all over the world.
A few years ago, Elly gave up her job as an Engineer in England and came out to join me in Voditsa. She’s learned a whole new set of skills here, as I did, and she’s especially interested in working and building with mud.
Things are changing in this village as they are in the whole of Bulgaria but for the most part, life continues much as it has done for generations although that word ‘generations’ is a key to all of the change. People here still value their traditions and their attachment to the land, but more and more young people don’t see any future here and they head off to the city or to other countries to earn a living. They don’t all want to do that and if there was more opportunity here, perhaps they’d stay or be happier to come back. It’s certainly an interesting time to be in this village –we want to be part of that future and perhaps have some input into that by creating jobs or encouraging more dynamic people to come here.
We look forward to welcoming you to Voditsa either as a guest, a volunteers or a prospective neighbour.