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.
He 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.
This year’s Transylvania ultramarathon runs on 20 May, starting and finishing at Bran Castle, just down the road, and winding around the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului mountain ridges (both over 2,000 metres).
The masochistic runners will almost be passing my door, so if the occasional runner gets lost and ends up on my doorstep, painting and faint, I won’t be surprised.
Too late to register for this year’s race, of course, but put the date in your diary for 2018!
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.
The ghouls and spectres will soon be gathering… here in Transylvania must be the beating heart of Hallowe’en, and here are the images to prove it. Whaaahaahaahaa… Wrap up warm tonight, against the deadly touch of the freezing wind whips up your trouser legs and makes every hair bristle in terror. Is that the wind howling, or the eldritch shriek of the dead, screeching to be let out of purgatory?
Ancient cross below Bran Castle, with power symbols and runic writing
Modern-day impaling: the Thing on the Spike (NB dripping blood) in Bucharest
Encroaching doom appears as a hellish sunset over Piatra Craiului
Vlad III, Voivoide of Wallachia, known forever as the Impaler Vlad Tepes, watching over his home town of Sighisoara
A stake in Transylvania….
The Hand of Glory (or a chicken’s foot)
“Golden lads and lasses must, like chimney sweepers, come to dust.” None of us gets out of here alive… (stone carving in the Gothic Cathedral, Sibiu)
Bran Castle’s weapons of death
The house in Sighisoara where Vlad Tepes, Vlad III, Dracula, was born
A Transylvanian place to Rest In Peace…
But not all of us will be outside watching witches whizz overhead in the black night sky….
Some of us don’t give a rat’s right knacker about the Undead, enjoying a dreamless snooze in front of the fire
“The mysterious region of Transylvania has now, a decade after Abbs claimed her stake in it, become one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Not only that, but Abbs found one of the most beautiful villages in the whole country. She’d say it was by luck, not judgement – but Ginny had this same talent for finding a piece of paradise in the most unlikely places, and would, I know, be full of admiration for her little sister’s brave move.”
My kind brother-in-law has written the foreword to the book, which gives it a massive boost, of course. You can see the full text of the Foreword here.
Ran clearly enjoying his exploration of Transylvania from the warm environs of Magura
Ran, his second wife Louise and her son Alexander came to visit me in Magura a year or so after I bought the house, and had a great time exploring the crags and crevices of Piatra Craiului. Ran – then in the habit of training for marathons – ran down to Moieciu and Bran and back before breakfast at Cabana Moroie every day before the family went off with their guide Dan Marin on another adventure.
Later, when Ran and Louise were in New York, their taxi driver turned out to be a Romanian from Moieciu de Jos, just down the hill from Magura – he was thrilled to hear about their visit to his home town.
To save you Googling, Ranulph is the explorer, Ralph is his cousin, the actor.
Ran (right) with Adriana Moroie and Dan Marin, in Magura
Ran as you more often see him, at work at the ends of the Earth