It’s white and cold – still February

This was today. This is winter in the village. Saturday – I woke up late (10am, shameful) to find more snow falling. Forecast is dire. Fridge close to empty, gas bottle getting light. If I don’t go down to Zarnesti NOW, I might be stuck for weeks. So…

Car under tarpaulin so that’s okay – no shovelling of snow off the vehicle. But the battery is dead as the proverbial dodo. Trudge up to the neighbour and beg for help. He’s happy, as ever, and cracks open the crocodile clips and the power pack with the longest cable imaginable – about half a mile of it, seemingly. Bonnet up, clips clipped to battery, men retire to shed, I sit in chilly car while juice flows to battery. Now then I try the ignition and slowly, slowly, there are signs of life. After 20 minutes, the ignition roars. I hoot for neighbours and they come back, unclip clips and carry on with their day. I owe them beer and more.

Off to Zarnesti. Gas bottle swapped (69 lei today), Husqvarna chainsaw chain not to be had anywhere, not even for ready money. Off to Lidl to stock up on cat food and me food, for a siege. Snow bucketing down, blotting out all but nearby buildings. Magura hills invisible under snowful low cloud. Shoppers scurrying in and out, wrapped in fleeces, hats, scarves, boots. Intent on doing only the necessary before retreating to warm homes.

Me too. Scurry to car, load up and flee. Not really cold, just -2.5C, so nothing is freezing yet. The car pootles unconcernedly into the national park and up the hairpin road, snow settling fast but not yet icing over. Even the north-facing track, with new snow on the old iced ruts, is no problem for my heroic little car.

Do I drive down to the house with my heavy shopping and the full gas bottle – and risk being snowed in for two weeks? Or drag the gas bottle down, then make two more journeys for the shopping? Lazy. Drive down, unload, and spread the tarpaulin.

Shopping in, then have to go out and get wood from shed to light fire. Feed cats, who missed lunch.

All urgent wintery chores done, it’s 3.30pm. On with my postponed working day….

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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!

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

Happy May Day!

After a wet, foggy weekend, 1st May is mild, still and dry, the sun trying to break through the hazy cloud and everyone about their Spring business.

How’s your Monday?

Just another Magura sunset

One of the things I love about being here is the clouds. Are you a cloud-watcher too? The sort of person who looks for shapes in the clouds, luxuriates in the colours and textures, is happy leaning on a fence and watching for ages? What do you see in tonight’s offering?

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Icy white Carpathian January

Forget frost – this is the real Transylvanian, Carpathian, Central European start to the New Year… Hard winter, knee deep powder, frozen pipes, icy fingers, cats by the fire, sun making diamond dust of the snow… Happy New Frozen Year!

Launch date for my new book

Book cover, Din Liverpool in Carpati, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, TransilvaniaPut the date in your diary! Gaudeamus Book Fair at Romexpo, Bucharest: Saturday 19 November, at 5pm (1700 hrs) is the moment when my new book is  launched on the world. Come and join us! We have one or two lovely surprises for the launch itself, and of course I’ll be there all day to sign your copies (one for you, lots more for Christmas presents…). Meet some of the people from the book and sample a taste of Magura’s English corner.

The book is available from the start of Gaudeamus, which runs from 16-20 November, so if you can’t get there on the Saturday, don’t worry – the book will be waiting for you. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.