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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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.

Crow and cat get their own book

Dahlia’s Pet Detectives (Dalia si micii detectivi) will be in the spotlight at the end of next week (Thursday 31st May, Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June) when my new book is launched at Bucuresti’s Bookfest (Romexpo).

It’s my third children’s book published by Booklet Fiction, and the second set in the village of Hay, which looks amazingly like Magura…

If you read Floss the lost puppy, you’ll recognise the village of Fân (Hay) where Dahlia and Chip are neighbours and schoolmates of Thea and Tudor Thimble. A completely new story, but set in the same Transylvanian village, high up in the Carpathian Mountains.

Dalia cover

I have a Pinterest board devoted to pictures of cats like Onyx, and crows like Gossip. So you can see what Dahlia’s friends look like as you read their adventures…

I’ll be waiting to meet you on the Booklet Fiction stand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at midday, ready to sign your copies. Come and say hello!

Read more about Dahlia and her friends here!

Simon’s Cat explains my year

If you don’t know Simon’s Cat, prepare to fall in love.

Here he is, the furry pillock, scampering through a year. He could very easily be Arabella’s Cat and has characteristics of all four of mine, but looks most like Buster.

Simon Tofield is the genius animator, cat lover, observer and entertainer. English, too. You can find out all about Simon and Simon’s Cat here.

This is largely how a year goes chez Arabella. Enjoy.

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?

Even the snowman has stayed in bed

Still snowing. The Queen’s birthday, 21st April, and the weather is insisting that it’s only January. The wind has changed direction, about 180 degrees, and has strengthened a lot. So my gates are blocked and would need digging out, plus a path from the gates to the house. Where the wind has blown the snow off the trees, I can see colour of leaves, and some whiteness of blossom. I can’t believe the blossom will survive to become fruit, but I hope hope hope. Also hope the poor young bees and other pollinators have found somewhere warm to shelter.

Time to light the fire again. It’s 3 degrees outside, so there must be a thaw in progress, but it’s going to take a while…

Cat scan gives book clean bill of health

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Sarah, a friend in Bucharest, writes to tell me: “Oscar adores your wonderful book Arabella McIntyre-Brown. He’s been reading it all the afternoon and purring up a storm. He says he particularly loves all the “nature stuff. Especially the birds…”

There’s plenty in the book for cats, dogs, birds, chickens, sheep, horses, cows and moths. Creatures great, small, tame, wild, furred, feathered, scaled and winged all get a look-in.

An excellent present for gardeners, nature-lovers, cat and dog fans, herbalists, chefs and tea-drinkers.

Look, look – book’s here!

Book Din Liverpool in Carpati against snowy landscape

Monochrome setting, colourful book

The book, with half the number of authorial hands that typed it. Of the individuals on the cover, the bear is behind a tree on the left; the sheep are huddled just behind the book, the horse is in her stable, birds are fluffed up on their perches, dog’s in his kennel, and cats are all snuggled up in their beds by the fire in my study. I’m the fool with her hand out of the window…

Listen to this!

My friend, journalist Diana Mesesan, has produced a wonderful, colourful soundscape of Magura, with me talking about the first snow of the autumn/winter. Diana’s partner in the project Revin în 5 minute, illustrator Alexandra Gavrila, has produced these beautiful images specially, to go with the soundscape. Called Phone call from a snowy planet, listen for the green woodpecker, and the crackling fire, and much more.  Listen to it here. Massive thanks to both of them…! A talented pair – I’ll look forward to their next five-minute escape.

Where do you want to escape to – even for five minutes?

Organic garden pros and cons

One of the big differences between England and Transylvania is the diversity of insects. Entomologists love it here, chasing down small beasts no longer seen in more industrial countries of Europe.

Of course we have all the English favourites – the honey bee and the Red Admiral butterfly share a late white rose in the warm autumn sun. We also have a familiar English enemy – the Cabbage White butterfly – whose eggs turn into cabbage leaf munchers that create filigree vegetables.

What do you grow in your garden?