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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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?

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.

Din Liverpool în Carpati… la New York

 

My little book went on holiday for Christmas – to New York, USA. My chum Sarah, who bought lots of copies to give to friends (bless her), took a signed copy as a Christmas present, which was received with delight, she said.

But before her friends were allowed to settle down to read, the book was taken on a city tour. Here it is enjoying the sights of a Big Apple Christmas…

Hope in a world where we have lost heaven

Silviu Schuster, a Romanian friend who introduced me to my publisher, has sent a wonderful response to the book. It was read out at the Brasov book launch and it brought a tear to my eye, as you can imagine. Thank you, Silviu, for everything you’ve done for me, and for your warm and generous response which means so much to me.

Here’s an extract  you can read the whole thing here.

I met a phrase they say Leo Tolstoi has written it: “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.”   În timpul călătoriei am întâlnit o frază care i se atribuie lui Lev Tolstoi: „Nu există măreție acolo unde nu e simplitate, bunătate și adevăr.”

Not that the book is simple, but it has a simplicity that is contagious, what in German would be “Leichtigkeit”, which might be “easiness” in English. Nu că ar fi cartea simplă, dar are o simplitate care este contagioasă, ceea ce în germană s-ar numi „Leichtigkeit”, ce ar fi „ușurință” în română.

You borrow us your sharp eyes and understanding. You make us understand ourselves better, you make us better understand you. You give us importance by understanding us better than we sometimes do. Not that you only answer that untold questions, but you made me ask some deep questions about myself, my life, my deeds. And I do love all this in a good book. Ne împrumuți ochii tăi ageri și înțelegerea ta. Ne faci să ne înțelegem pe noi înșine mai bine, să te înțelegem pe tine mai bine. Ne dai importanță înțelegându-ne uneori mai bine decât ne înțelegem noi pe noi înșine. Nu numai că răspunzi la întrebări nerostite, dar m-ai făcut să îmi pun câteva întrebări profunde despre mine, viața mea, faptele mele. Și asta este ce iubesc într-o carte bună.

Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven. It shows us that it is worthy to stand up when you feel down, that a tiny ray of hope can activate powers one never thought they lie in oneself. Life might be bad, but we must make it better. Cartea ta ne dă speranță într-o lume în care am pierdut paradisul. Ne arată că merită să te ridici atunci când te simți la pământ, că o diafană rază de speranță poate activa forțe pe care nu ne-am fi gândit niciodată că există în noi. Viața poate fi rea, dar noi trebuie să o facem mai bună.

Sunteti in Brasov? Petrecere, vineri! / Are you in and around Brasov? Party on Friday evening!

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În seara de vineri, 16 decembrie, are loc în Braşov lansarea cărţii mele şi m-aş bucura tare mult dacă mi-aţi fi alături.

Vă veţi putea bucura de:

  • o tombolă cu multe premii delicioase
  • un interviu telefonic cu Ranulph Fiennes, cel mai mare explorator în viaţă din lume (şi văr al actorilor Ralph şi Joe), care a semnat Cuvântul-înainte al cărții
  • colinde cântate de copiii de la şcoala din Măgura (îmbrăcaţi în costume populare)
  • o scurtă, dar fascinantă intervenţie a lui Dan Marin, unul dintre cei buni ghizi turistici din lume
  • ocazia de a-mi pune orice întrebare doriţi în legătură cu volumul sau cu viaţa mea în Transilvania
  • gustul minunat al chutney-ul de casă pregătit chiar de mine, din mere româneşti, alături de brânza organică făcută de păstorii din Zărneşti, precum şi de o prăjitură de casă delicioasă.

Programul va fi distractiv, dar scurt, aşa încât vom avea timp pentru a ne relaxa şi a discuta pe îndelete. Vă veţi întâlni cu câteva dintre personajele din carte, putând, totodată, să achiziţionaţi o mulţime de exemplare – cadouri minunate de sărbători, cu care îi veţi încânta pe cei dragi… mai ales că vor purta autograful autoarei!

Evenimentul va avea loc la Librăria Okian (Str Mureşenilor, lângă Orange, telefon 0728 728 315) și începe la ora 6pm (18.00). Am rugămintea de a vă confirma prezența, precum și de a mă anunța de câți prieteni veți fi însoțiți. Nu întârziați, riscați să pierdeți lucruri absolut minunate… Ne vedem acolo! xx

English:

Next Friday evening, 16th December, my book is being launched in Brasov and I’d love it if you could be there with us.

You will find:

– a prize draw with lots of delicious things to win

– a phone interview with Ranulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest living explorer (and cousin to actors Ralph and Joe), who wrote the foreword to the book

– colinde sung by children from Magura school (in traditional dress)

– a short but fascinating talk by Dan Marin, one of the world’s top tourist guides

– the chance to ask me any questions you have about the book or my life in Transylvania

– a taste of my home-made Christmas apple chutney with some organic cheese from Zarnesti’s shepherds, plus my home-made cake.

We’re keeping the programme entertaining, but short, so we all have plenty of time to relax and talk, meet some of the characters from the book, buy lots of books to cross all the names off your Christmas present list… and get them signed!

The event is at Okian librarie (Str Muresenilor, next to Orange, tel 0728 728 315) and starts at 6pm (18.00). Please let me know if you are coming, and how many friends you are bringing along. Don’t be late or you might miss something… See you there! xx

Natural charm in traditional dress

din-liverpool-in-carpati-gaudeamus-2016-matei-buta-25Seven children from Magura school, singing at the book launch with their teacher, Roxana (my neighbour). Fresh and utterly charming, don’t you think? Watch video

Double or quits

greg-helm-in-two-books-1-of-1Greg Helm appears in two books launched on 19th November – mine, and Nigel Shakespear’s book Stabilit in Romania. Greg doesn’t look overly impressed… But he’s a cool character.

Next project is to persuade him to write his own book. He has more outrageous stories than anyone I can think of – but he says he’d have to censor a lot of them pretty hard before they could go into print…

Ran Fiennes admits to Fear

51cccvccwl-_sx323_bo1204203200_Hear the author of my book’s foreword read his own new book, Fear, on BBC Radio. It’s the Book of the Week, but you catch it any time of the day or night on BBC iPlayer.

“Sir Ranulph Fiennes has climbed the Eiger and Mount Everest. He’s crossed both Poles on foot. He’s been a member of the SAS and fought a bloody guerrilla war in Oman. And yet he confesses that his fear of heights is so great that he’d rather send his wife up a ladder to clean the gutters than do it himself.

“In Fear, the world’s greatest explorer delves into his own experiences and those of others to try and explain what fear is, and how we feel it. With an enthralling combination of story-telling, research and personal accounts of his own struggles to overcome fear, Sir Ranulph Fiennes sheds new light on one of humanity’s strongest emotions.”

Then you can find his earlier book, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, in Romanian. It’s a great read and a brilliant Christmas present for anyone who loves adventure and human excellence.

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