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…

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!

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?

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:

20170417_092144

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?

Dragons in the catalogue

Dragons - Booklet catalogue

If you’re keen to get your copy ASAP, you can pre-order straight from the publisher, Booklet Fiction. Either:  call the order line: 021 430 30 95 Or email:  comenzi@booklet.ro

You’ll be able to order online, straight from the website, in the next few weeks.

The book is in Romanian and English, as a bilingual edition (one page Romanian, one page English). Most readers will be Romanians learning English, but if you’re an English speaker learning Romanian, this would work too! This is what the blurb says:

Dragons over London  We begin in the 11th century. After travelling around the world, the imperial Chinese dragon Xiaolong settles in the Tower of London, not long after it was built by William the Conqueror. But London’s own dragons do not want a foreigner on their patch and, for many centuries, do their best to kill the Chinese invader. With so many enemies around, Xiaolong badly needs a bodyguard. And a friend. These roles are taken on with pride by George, only a common-as-muck mouse who lives in the Tower, but the most brave and loyal companion of all. Nearly 400 generations of Georges devote their lives to Xiaolong, from George I in 1086, until today when we meet George CCCLXXXVIII. An action adventure written with humour, Dragons over London is a wonderful opportunity to read an alternative history of London (almost entirely based on known facts), with a dramatic climax in the skies over Britain’s capital city.

Here’s George, beautifully illustrated by Andreea Chele:

George 1

Nice surprise this morning

Blue Air spread

Thanks to Dean Edgar, flying on Blue Air this morning. The in-flight magazine has this spread – Dean snapped it and sent it to me. The joys of smartphones…!

Do you judge a book by its cover?

book cover selection

Most of us do, for sure. The art and science of cover design is getting ever more sophisticated and there are some brilliant designers and illustrators working in the market. Each genre is building its own visual vocabulary, so that someone looking for a fantasy novel would never pick up a crime novel or a romance by mistake. Book buyers unconsciously learn the visual shorthand and all the clues which point to the kind of book they enjoy. At least in the UK – if you live elsewhere, is this true for your local publishing world ?

I’d love to know what you think of these covers on my Pinterest board (click for more covers at larger size). They are all covers I like, sometimes adore.

• Which are your favourites – and can you say why?

• Do you like the modern ones, or prefer the earlier design periods – 1960s, 1950s?

• Do the styles of particular geographic regions appeal, eg East European or Scandinavian?

• Are there covers here that put you off?

•Which do you dislike, and are there any you hate?

• Which covers make you want to go to a bookstore and buy the book?

Look forward to your thoughts.

 

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…