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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Not-my-dog, not a lover boy

Poor Papi. I thought he must be the Big Daddy of Laica’s pups, as they cohabit next door.

But Laica has had two pups, and my neighbour Emilia tells me that the father is clearly NOT Papi but my uphill neighbour’s dog Haiduc. One pup is white with black splodges – a bit of a giveaway…

As soon as I get some pix of the puppies, I’ll update you.

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Haiduc, the big beautiful boy up the hill

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Laica, new mum. Aboutthe same size as Haiduc, both Mioritic/Carpathian Shepherd mixes, so I bet their puppies are glorious…

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!

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

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?