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.

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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.

 

I live in a fairytale

It’s true: I know it, and am grateful every day. My brother Charles and his family came to Magura this month for their first visit, and he was utterly bewitched by the place. He told all my neighbours that it was magical, like a fairytale. And not just the beauty of the landscape, but the survival of so many traditions: folklore, traditional dress, time-proven skills, food and the whole way of life.

Roxana & girls singingHe was fascinated by my neighbour Viorel’s skill with the scythe (I’ll post a video later), and was captivated by a happy moment when Viorel’s wife Roxana and a little chorus of children stopped on their way to a village wedding to give us a preview of the song they would sing for the bride.

I love it here. Wouldn’t you?

Weeds and cholesterol

19095332_1601402143267072_3596137347554648961_oHere’s my piece in the first edition of the new print magazine OZB (O Zi Buna). The English-language mag, well-illustrated, is produced by a British-Dutch-Romanian team for Romania’s international community (aka immigrants / expats) and is a lively read. Get stuck in – if you’ve got a story of your own, or know of one that needs telling, get in touch with editor Douglas Williams. And if you can distribute copies (they’re free), let him know that, too.

Here’s my piece on food, wild and otherwise. I’d love your feedback…

Dandelion season – here’s how to use them

The meadows all around my house are dotted with splashes of sunshine – dandelions. Heralds of Spring, these little sunny plants are crammed full of nutrients and have lots of healing properties. So don’t curse them, don’t poison them or dig them up… pick them and eat them, make syrup, salves and tea with them. Along with nettles, the first great gift of the natural year.

I came across things to do with dandelions on Pinterest – you can get a free ebook of ways to exploit these wonderful plants, so get cracking!

What’s your favourite way to use dandelions?

Snowmelt produces stunning patterns

The snow’s melting fast – but boy-oh-boy, is there a lot to melt!

I noticed amazing patterns on the foothill slopes as the thaw progresses – like some fabulous markings of a giant green creature.

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Reflections of a leopard shark?

Animal skin patterns on slopes of mountain

Stunning patterns like shark skin appear in the thaw

Spring…winter…spring…winter…

This was yesterday – Easter Sunday. Stunning late afternoon sunshine after a grey day. Here the sun lit the new leaves of the silver birch tree to perfection.

birch in sun

But when I went to bed just before midnight, the rain was hammering on the roof. After a while, it all went quiet. But it hadn’t stopped, merely frozen. In the morning, I woke up to this:

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So Spring is postponed yet again. I bought a car full of plants last week, but I fear this freezing week ahead may kill them off before they can get going, poor things.

What’s the weather like where you are?

New friends for Spring

A couple of days ago I made three new chums, who came to tea here in Magura. Colin (fellow Sussex expat mentioned in the book) brought Rebecca, who’d been housesitting for him in the Saxon village of Bod. Then Marcus arrived with his dad – two more English expats. Both parties arrived in Landrover behemoths, which cope very well with the “roads” round here. Rebecca has written a long blog post about her day, with photos. Have a look.

Rebecca Carlton in Magura, Transylvania

Photo by Marcus Taylor

 

The last straw

16387958_1221176964602984_4997131151376956040_nRomania is on the streets protesting at their new Government of Thieves. It’s the biggest outcry from the people since 1989 and puts the country at a crisis point. Will the corrupt politicians win and drag Romania back into darkness, or will the people prevail and pull the country forward to a new, cleaner, straighter path?

You can read the background here to understand what’s happening this week, and here is an excellent blogpost with a very apt allegory.