Floss returns!

Floss and the circus_Cover - smallFloss, the black fluffy puppy, who was lost and rescued in 2017, is BACK! His true story (in real life, he was Pita, the mongrel of Magura).

So many kids loved Floss’s story (Floss the lost puppy) that they demanded a sequel. So on Saturday 17th November, his new book is launched in Romexpo, Bucharest’s exhibition centre.

Floss & the Circus puts the little dog in the centre of the ring, right in the spotlight with the audience agog… Will he survive his dangerous stunt? Will he find the runaway horse? Will he save the thief’s life? It’s a wild holiday for Floss, Thea and Robbie when they meet the strangest circus on earth. They discover that however odd and different people look on the outside, they are just the same as everyone else on the inside: kind and brave and amazing.

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Greenly warmer

IMG_5406Spring is well sprung. Compared to last year, when the end of April saw me wading through knee-deep snow in late April, wrapped in thermal layers against the -8C freeze, this year it was sun, and no rain all month so we were beginning to face the horrible prospect of drought.

But early May has seen lots of gentle rain and the very occasional thunderstorm, which is perfect for the earth and growing things. ‘Nori si soare’ says the weather forecast. Occasional ‘furtuna’ warnings with lightning symbols lancing through the cloud, and so it’s proving. Perfect mixed weather for the cycle of wildflower meadows and sweet hay, and happy herbivores munching through lush spring grass. Glorious.

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….

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!

Second book about Magura soon out

Book cover, Din Liverpool in Carpati, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, TransilvaniaAfter six years in Magura, I wrote a book about life in the village, why I came here, why I stayed. Non-fiction, it’s all true; factual as well as a little philosophical. A patchwork of impressions, stories, portraits and essays all written from my window on the world, 1,000 metres up in the Carpathians. One chapter told the story of a stray puppy who came to my door and begged to stay. Starving, and weighed down by balls of ice on his feet and face, he inveigled his way into my house and my heart until I found him a permanent home. The adventure wasn’t without its dramas, but all’s well that ends well.

FLOSS mock-up 3D COVERThis year, in November 2017, Booklet Fiction will publish a book called Floss the lost puppy (Floss catelusul pierdut). This is exactly, 100%, purely the story of my stray puppy… but I have turned myself into a Romanian girl and her family (much more interesting) who have to overcome some challenges to save the lost puppy.

It’s a bilingual book, in English and Romanian, to help children of 7+ to learn English (or Romanian) and perhaps to offer them some new ideas about owning dogs.

Now, when you read it, you can imagine the Thimble family living here in Magura (called Fân in the book) and sparing the life of the little black dog who begs for mercy at their door.

You can find out more about Floss, and read some early reviews, on the book blog here.

Your chance to have kittens

If you’ve always longed to have kittens, now’s your chance! Here are two Transylvanian feral kittens, about 12 weeks old, happy and growing fast. No longer wild, they purr like Ferraris and are now pretty tame. The girl is still a bit shy but no longer feral. No more hissing!

Click here for a short video of them.

Click here for a second short vid.

They’ve been wormed, but I will take them to the vet for a proper check-up and neutering before I let them go. They should stay together, and need a loving home where they’ll get affection, play and good food as well as care when necessary. They’re already very different characters, but both very sweet.

Fig, the boy (grey tabby and white) is smaller, but full of spirit, and loves to play. Loves cuddling, too, and promises to be very affectionate as he grows older.

Mango, the girl (with orange splashes in her brindle coat) is the bigger, but shyer of the pair. A fierce huntress, though, judging by the way she plays with a thing-on-a-stick toy. Has a massive purr and will snuggle inside a dressing gown very happily!

I love them already, of course, but I have a family of four cats who are ridiculously happy as they are, and don’t appreciate newcomers (I’ve had this problem with rescue kittens before). And six cats is a lot of cat.

If you would like Mango and Fig to be yours, and will give them a warm, loving home and lots of affection and care, do please send me an email to abbspepper@gmail.com.

NB They (we all) are in a mountain village in Transylvania, rural Romania, so long distance adoptions will be expensive… (best to adopt locally, really).

Mango, Fig and I hope to hear from you.

More maps to orientate you

These are two of the seven maps I’ve uploaded to the ‘Where we are‘ page, which should give you a better idea of where we are, from Romania’s place in Europe to the coordinates of the village. Now you have no excuse for not finding us…