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!

Floss cover 2.jpg

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International cats

Today (8th August) is apparently International Day of the Cat. So here are mine for you to enjoy. I get a buzz out of watching them play, and just having them around. Hobbs and her three kits Mouse, Buster and George are now middle-aged (7 and 6) but they are the happiest cats in Romania, and sweet-natured with it.

Do you have cats? Tell me about them!

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?

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…!