The book that made Magura famous

Grab the chance to get my book cheap, in time for Mos Craciun, with the lovely discounts at librarie.ro! The online bookshop is almost giving the book away – a lifelong present for the cost of a couple of coffees. How could you resist?

Book cover, Din Liverpool in Carpati, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, TransilvaniaReaders have said:

“…extrem de sensibilă în fața miracolului naturii, împovărată de un trecut cu lumini și umbre, frământată de griji cotidiene, o femeie despre care cred însă că nu e conștientă de farmecul pe care-l posedă fiind timidă și în prea mare măsură rezervată.”

“You lend us your sharp eyes and understanding. You make us understand ourselves better, you make us better understand you. You give us importance by understanding us better than we sometimes do. Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven.

A real painter in touch with the pure essence of things and beings. I found myself immersed into a dialogue with you, dear Arabella, about solitude, the energy that comes from living close to nature, the joy of being present to the sounds of the forest.”

I simply love the way in which it is written, the fact that the words can make me actually SEE/FEEL your world, is just brilliant!”

I’ve appreciated both your humour and your self-irony or the finger pointed at various strange characters you’ve come across … I got carried away…”

“The book is unlike anything I’ve read, full of emotion, in which the author puts her heart out for you, so it’s impossible not to be moved. And the language is so normal, alive, it’s like a friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time.”

“I had a ‘white’ night last night. I couldn’t take my hands off your book. It made me laugh, it made me cry or both at the same time. Regardless of what this country has been giving you, I am sure I speak on behalf of all of your Romanian friends when saying: “Thank you for what YOU give us.”

“Honest, deeply sensitive, beautifully expressed. What a fabulous book this is.”

“…the quality of your writing is top-notch and I adore the naturalness of your use of metaphor: ‘longing for dreamless oblivion cradled in the city’s roar’, ‘I’m a molecule on the skin of the earth’ and your precise punctuation, which gives your writing such a lovely flow.”

“Really, it’s wonderful – you’ve basically opened the door to a different way of seeing and understanding Romania.”

“…fascinating, and it reads just as you talk, flows so naturally. … Your chapter on Ginny was painful to read,  powerful and compelling as the reader joins you every step of the way as you navigate the darkest of times.”

Buy the book online here!

More books to read here

I’ve updated the books page on this site with two new entries on the non-fiction page and an interloping entry on the fiction page. If you’re coming to Transylvania, or have been here, and want to read more, here are some cracking books to buy or borrow. Here’s the non-fiction page to start with.

Medicine Cabinet Salad (MCS)

My ‘lawn’, which is actually part of a virgin wildflower meadow, is crammed full of medicinal plants and herbs, so by eating my way through the lawn over the spring and summer, I should be bursting with health.

Today I had my first MCS – mostly salad things from the shop (celery, butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and toasted sesame seeds, with a squeeze of lime juice) but the final thawing of snow and a return to seasonal temperatures gave me a handful of chickweed to add to the much less nutritious commercial stuff.

Here’s a link to more information about chickweed‘s incredible list of nutrients and properties. No wonder chicks love it (and they do!). We’ll be competing for it…

Chickweed in my vegetable garden

The spinach bed is crammed with chickweed, which makes a tasty and highly nutritious salad…

Mixed salad in a bowl

My lunch – salad with sesame, feta… and chickweed fresh from the garden

New book about Magura

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My new book, Fericita in Transilvania: drumul din Liverpool in Carpati, will be published by Editura All in mid-November. All about my life in Magura – how and why I came here, and why I’ve stayed – the book tells the story of why an English woman left a world-famous city for a remote mountain village in Romania.

Follow the book blog to find out about the book launch, events, signings, talks, offers, competitions and more.

If you’re searching for the right Christmas present, this might be the solution…

 

 

 

Romanian faces

Another photo gallery in place: Romanian faces – friends, neighbours, visitors, strangers…

Typing in gloves

First mention of the forthcoming book in this piece, published today in Viitorul Romaniei

megreenhouse

A charming new-old book

The latest of my finds, The Romanian Furrow is Donald Hall’s delightful tale of life and work among peasant families in Transylvania. Written in 1933, at about the same that Patrick Leigh-Fermor was tramping amongst the castles and manor houses of the Carpathians, Hall was working in the fields alongside his hosts, living a thousand-year-old tradition of the seasons and the cycle of natural life. The book deserves to be better known – and is not entirely an echo of a forgotten tradition: even in Magura much of the seasonal cycle still rules families and village life. Attitudes and values remain much the same as they were 83 years ago. The perfect read for travellers who might be Transylvania-bound. Read more…

Romania Transylvania peasant life between the wars

Cover of The Romanian Furrow, by Donald Hall (1933)

New video links

I’ve now loaded up a few links to videos about Magura and the surrounding area. Some of them are images of the village with no voiceover, some are mini-documentaries in Romanian, and there are a couple of American-voiced Dracula-based vids. If you make or find any good vids, do please let me know and I’ll be happy to post them here.

One of my favourites is the real-time drive from the edge of Zarnesti up to Magura – the road I take every time I need any shopping, or have to head off to Brasov, Bucharest or further afield. I love this road, but it can be a challenge if you’re not concentrating. If you’re thinking of hiring a car for your Magura visit, I’d get a high-wheel based 4×4…

What’s your favourite image here?

Enjoy!

Come on, baby, light my fire!

A blaze of Transylvanian excitement on 25th October! Julia Leescu tells us about an event you won’t want to miss…

fire, bonfire, Sumedru, Saint Dimitriu, foc, pagan festivals, fire festivals, Transylvania, Carpathians, Romania

Sumedru’s fire in Sirnea – come and join the autumn festivities in one of the prettiest villages in the Carpathians.

While most of Europe burns festive fires on Midsummer’s Night, Romanians of the Bran-Moeciu area do things differently and celebrate their Bonfire Day in late October.
Not a bad decision, we say: all work in the fields is done, sheep are back in the villages, shepherds are back with their children and wives, huge piles of local cheese and dried meat are prepared and palinca (local strong alcohol) is distilled for winter. Time to party! Winter is coming: it’s time for Sumedru’s fire (Jim Morrison would be proud).
If you thought that Romanian rural tourism is all about Christian orthodox traditions, your tourist guide might be just wrong. Scratch the surface of many traditions and you’ll see pagan roots. Same goes for St Dimitrie’s holiday – the pre-Christian god Sumedru has transformed himself into Saint Dumitru over the centuries, but the meaning of the old celebration stays the same. The great fire in each of the nine villages of Bran means the death of one season and the birth of the next: the start of a new cycle of life. The bonfire is also said to protect the village against lightning strikes. With wooden houses, this is an important consideration…
The ‘funerary pyre’ of the dead summer purifies everyone around it: dancing and singing children, old folks with boxes full of homemade pastries and chocolate bars, flirting teenagers with torches, daring youths leaping through the flames, locals and tourists.
The fire is usually built on a high hill so everyone can see it. The celebration may last well into the night with concerts around the fire and late festive dinners afterwards at someone’s house.
Visiting any of the Nine Villages on Sumedru’s night offers charming surprises: last year we attended the night celebration in Sirnea village, where local school professor Radu Fruntes organised a great concert with local children lighting the fire, singing and dancing. Later there was a huge party at Radu’s house with hot wine, authentic shepherd-style food and treats and long talks about life with the local police and the mayor.
This year we’re going to Sirnea village again to charge our batteries with authentic Carpathian earth energy, and enough good food to survive the long fast until Christmas.
If you feel a bit cold this Autumn – join Sumedru’s celebration and feel the heat…

Would you like to join us in Sirnea? the evening is Saturday 25th October, but we’ll confirm other information (how to get there, where to stay, what to bring etc) as soon as possible. Leave a comment here, or send us an email with your contact details and we’ll be in touch soon. Please note: this is a traditional and local event, unlike the big commercial thing happening in Bran, so there will be a limit on how many can come to Sirnea. Let us know you’re coming as soon as possible See you there!

Weekend in the country for city group

This summer we’ve had visitors coming and going like wasps to a picnic. To close the season in early September, a group of expats living in and near Brasov came to Magura for the weekend. Drinks and dancing at Roxana’s house followed by supper for 12 and a movie show chez moi on Saturday night, then the next morning a hike round the village viewing spots, and lunch (again at my place) for 17 on a gloriously sunny Sunday. Only one Brit (apart from me) in the group: a happy mix of French, German, Ukrainian, Russian, American and Romanian. Lots of energy and great ideas, amazing stories and lovely gifts – a promising group.

If you have any memories you can share here, do please leave a comment (if you have a photograph to add, please email it to me).