ARTICLES 
60 BRITISH CITIZENS BECAME RESIDENTS OF A VILLAGE IN SAKAR MOUNTAIN NEAR ELHOVO
Article by Krasimira Slavova, Standard Daily (22 June 2004)

People from UK learn to speak Bulgarian in the village of Ustrem near Elhovo

Brook Family: "There is nothing tastier than the home made rakia and cheese of our neighbor uncle Ivan"

The village of Ustrem, municipality of Topolovgrad, is one of the biggest settlements in the region with population of 1400. A month ago the local people welcomed the first 3 families from UK, who came to live in their newly-bought houses. Ever since, the atmosphere in the village is very different and much livelier. The local people not only welcomed heartily the foreigners, but also try to help them with everything.
The real estate properties in the region of Sakar Mountain have become well-known and much preferred by the British people thanks to a real estate agency located in the capital of Sofia(note: the agency is Bulgarian Properties Ltd. www.BulgarianProperties.com) , which started to advertise them. People from the agency came and made lots of pictures to houses which might be interesting to the foreigners, says the mayor Hristo Ilchev. The owner of the agency - Mihail Chobanov, who was born in the village of Granitovo only a few kilometers away from the village of Ustrem, explained that he would like to advertise his homeland an asked us for our help.
The local people accepted the request and the process now results in the sale of numerous houses. For a short period of several months British people have bought 60 houses in the village of Granitovo. Many houses are also sold in the villages of Sinapovo, Srem and Mramor. Another British family lives in the village of Knyajevo.
In the beginning the local people in the village of Ustrem were suspicious about the newcomers and thought them unfriendly, but soon found that the new residents are young, smiling and friendly people and welcomed them warmly.
Angela and Ran Brook are sitting under the trellis vine in their new house in the village of Ustrem, enjoying the sunny afternoon. They come from Liverpool and are the first British family, which settled in the village several weeks ago. Now they have given shelter to Ronda and Antonio from the city of Manchester, who have purchased a house in the village of Knjazevo and are waiting for the repair work to be completed. The two families have met in Bulgaria but are already good friends.
We knew your country only from the pictures on the internet. But in reality it is far more beautiful. People here are very friendly and good-hearted, says the 32-year old Angela Brook and adds This is a very special place for my husband Ron and for me.
Back in Liverpool Angela is working in an accountants office, while her husband has an own company dealing with building materials. In England we have everything we need, but in the big city it seems you loose your individuality. Here, in this beautiful village, we feel wonderful. Near Sakar Mountain and close to Tundja River we find all the peace we are missing back home. This is the perfect place for lasting recreation.
Angela already knows a little Bulgarian, which she learned from her English-Bulgarian phrase book, but most of the time she tries to talk to her neighbor old grandma Mina. She tells us about the interesting history of your country. I cant wait to learn your language and understand her stories better. I want to learn about the haidouks (Bulgarian rebels), says Angela in Bulgarian. We and our new friends Ronda and Antonio are much impressed by the nearby monastery St. Trinity, were we saw the mortal remains of several rebels killed during the Turkish yoke, she adds.
Angela remembers very well the moment when she went for a walk with a cart driven by a donkey. But what she and her husband Ron love best are the evenings spent in the house of their neighbor uncle Ivan. We have never tried anything tastier than his homemade rakia and cheese. I will bring along my brother here. Everyday I write him and tell him how wonderful is the life here and he is very eager to buy a house in Sakar Mountain ends her story Angela.
The roads will be repaired thanks to the foreigners
The arrival of the foreigners is a good investment for us. Now we have to do our best to make the village look better and prettier. Thus we will advertise it more successfully, says the mayor Hristo Ilchev.
The local authorities have already developed a project for repair of the streets and creation of more attractions for the tourists. Part of the sum will be used for the reconstruction of the monastery St. Trinity, which is located only 5-6 km away from the village of Ustrem. Thus, this architectural monument with 180-year history will become a major attraction for the tourists in that part of Bulgaria.
The local people now not only feel that it is pleasant to have British people for neighbors, but it can be very profitable too. Most of them earn their living planting tobacco, but this work is labor-consuming and low paid, adds the mayor. The interest of the tourists in our village changed our lives. Unattractive and desolated houses are being transformed into beautiful homes with landscaped gardens. The shops offer more and various goods and the local people try to maintain the streets cleaner, says the mayor and cant hide his happiness with the changes.
Best sold are the houses close to the forest
The British people prefer to buy properties in the outskirts of the village, which are not very close to other properties, but are near the forest. All houses bought in the village of Ustrem have inner bathroom and toilet, large veranda and spacious yard. At the moment houses here are sold for the price of 12-13 000 BGN. Some of the local people plan to sold their properties and move to the town close to their children, while other hope they will be useful as gardeners or guards of the newly purchased houses.

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