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

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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?

Transylvania ultra-marathon runners pass my door

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!

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

 

Hallowe’en in Transylvania

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?

But not all of us will be outside watching witches whizz overhead in the black night sky….

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Some of us don’t give a rat’s right knacker about the Undead, enjoying a dreamless snooze in front of the fire

Ranulph Fiennes writes the Foreword

“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.

Ranulph Fiennes in Transylvania

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.

Ranulph Fiennes in Magura, Transylvania

Ran (right) with Adriana Moroie and Dan Marin, in Magura

Ran Fiennes, Sir Ranulph, explorer, Magura, Arabella

Ran as you more often see him, at work at the ends of the Earth