Nine years today…

8th July 2010

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My poor little car rolled into Magura, loaded to the gunnels, bringing me to the village as the newest resident. We trundled across Europe for 8 days, after leaving London SE1 on 1st July, taking the scenic route and having adventures in six countries.

The house was nowhere near ready, even for camping in.

And it was years before every room was habitable. But I had my books and other comforts, and I acquired cats.

IMG_6939First, skinny kitten Hobbs, who blackmailed me for biscuits and tins of food.

Then she became Mama Hobbs, producing three kittens in May 2011. Mouse, Buster and George grew to become handsome and all bigger than their mum. Officially the happiest cats in Romania.

I only survived thanks to my neighbours, who have been kind and tolerant of the odd English writer in their midst: they’ve fed me, entertained and helped me since I arrived.

There have been furry souls in need of rescue:

…and members of the neighbouring family, and occasionally a new and beautiful friend.


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There have been visits from friends, strangers and family over the years, the strangers becoming friends, of course.

But every day there is beauty all around me, in every season, wild and domestic, rain and shine.

This is indeed a little corner of heaven, my stake in Transylvania.Stake_AMB 3D render with shadow

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Not-my-dog, not a lover boy

Poor Papi. I thought he must be the Big Daddy of Laica’s pups, as they cohabit next door.

But Laica has had two pups, and my neighbour Emilia tells me that the father is clearly NOT Papi but my uphill neighbour’s dog Haiduc. One pup is white with black splodges – a bit of a giveaway…

As soon as I get some pix of the puppies, I’ll update you.

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Haiduc, the big beautiful boy up the hill

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Laica, new mum. Aboutthe same size as Haiduc, both Mioritic/Carpathian Shepherd mixes, so I bet their puppies are glorious…

English edition out in a few days!

I can’t show you the whole cover yet, but here’s a teaser…

A Stake in Transylvania - Version 2

 

I’m delighted with it and will be so proud to show it off, take it with me everywhere, till I bore people to death with it. ‘Shut up, Abbs, we’ve seen it 99 times… Yes, we love it too, now go away…’

The book, A stake in Transylvania, will be out in digital form first, as an ebook for all you digital readers around the world. A couple of weeks later on, I’ll have the first printed books in the boot of my car and winging their way to readers in UK and elsewhere.

I’ll post links to online and physical shops here on the blog, so you’ll be able to get your hands on a copy easily and efficiently.

Lover boy is back

Papi, not-my-dog who vanished in the pursuit of love, eventually came back. He was beaten up, scarred and limping – presumably he’d been doing battle with younger, stronger dogs for the favours of whatever luscious girls they’d found in the village.

But he was home, he was alive, and has since recovered. Here he is, lounging in the sun at the end of this winter. Looking tiny besides Laica!

IMG_6771 - Version 2Now, in fact, he has his very own wife. Now adult, Laica has been on a chain for two years since she was only a few months old. She was released over Christmas, when I got the chance to tame this vicious biter (wouldn’t you be angry and ready to bite if you’d been on a chain 24/7 since your childhood?) with a couple of dog chews and some gentleness. She is a sweet dog, full of energy and enthusiasm, always hungry, always longing for love. And now, very pregnant… Papi is about to become a father. Watch this space…

Undogged

 

Papi, or Not-My-Dog, has vanished. Along with Codita, his canine friend up the hill, Papi has not been seen all week.

The last time he went missing, he’d been down in the valley chasing sheep with his girlfriend. A neighbour said the farmer who owned the sheep tried to spear Papi with a hayfork, but missed him by a whisker. The farmer complained to my neighbours, Papi’s owners, and threatened to charge them for any sheep killed.

Stupid damned dog! He has a fabulous life, free to roam, fed by three households, friend to all, and left to snooze in the grass for much of the day. He is only required to chase off foxes and birds of prey, and warn of strangers coming close.

The sheep-chasing incident got him chained up for two weeks, and only by a lot of begging did I persuade my kind neighbour to liberate him. But if the fool dog has gone sheep-chasing again, it’s very possible that this time he and Codita didn’t escape the wrath of the farmer. We may never know.

So my visitors’ companion on long walks, my loyal friend who chased off unwanted dogs and cats (and bears and wild boar who came too close), and the familiar black-and-tan figure who came to greet me when I drove down to the house – Papi may be no more than fond memories. Of course he may just be off on a spring jaunt, and might be back, exhausted, starving and happy…

Papi leads the way home

Papi loved taking visitors on walks around Magura

La multi ani, România!

Romania’s National Day – 99 years since the union. A day of pride and warm emotions, some regrets and many wishes for a brighter future.

Lots of posts on Facebook today have been wishing that Romanians abroad would come home and help drive their country forward; other posts by the diaspora around the world are about remembering the good with great fondness and regretting the frustrations of a country with such potential and so many rare assets, thwarted from development by its own government…

One of the most common comments I get from readers of this book is that my enthusiasm for the country reminds readers of what they love about Romania, and so many wonderful aspects that they’d forgotten.

It’s not a sentimental book, but it seems to prompt strong sentiments in those who read it. A good book to read on 1st December…

 

I’ve just brought out another book, this time for children aged 7-10. It’s a sweet Christmas story, based on truth, set in a village rather like mine, in the Carpathian Mountains. I’m donating my author’s royalties to two fabulous charities: Eli Pet Transport, and Romanian Animal Rescue, which do so much amazing work to rescue and save dogs and cats. So every copy you buy will help a homeless dog or cat– do buy lots!

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Pita the puppy gets his own book!

Do you remember the story of the abandoned puppy I rescued? Here’s the start of the story.

Now Pita (which stands for Pain In The A*se) has his story immortalised in print and the book will be published in November at the big book fair in Bucharest.

floss cover cropped

Floss the lost puppy, or Floss, catelusul pierdut is published by Booklet Fiction, illustrated by Andreea Chele, and is bilingual (English and Romanian). Pita’s story is 100% true, but I’ve turned myself into a Romanian family: the narrator is Thea, a 10-yr old girl and her 7-yr old brother Tudor. Read more here.

Ideal for Romanian students starting to learn English (aged 7+), or for English-speaking students learning Romanian, come to that. You can order direct from the publisher, on +40 (0)21 430 30 95, but if you would like to buy in volume, let me know and I’ll arrange a discount (% varies depending how many books you’d like).

Come to the launch at the end of November! I’ll put a general invitation here and on Floss and Thea’s own blog as soon as the time and day are fixed.