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….

Shot across the bows

We’ve been warned! Yesterday we had our first taste of snow – wet and transient at village level, it left a dusting of powder on the higher forest slopes.

Magura, autumn colours, first snow, Transylvania

The first dusting of snow yesterday, above the first turning leaves

This morning, there was a proper covering of white ice on the mountain ridge and its rocky sides – hidden by cloud yesterday – but by the afternoon a warm sun had melted most of the snow. Bucegi was better covered, but still, not quite winter. But it’s coming!

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…

 

 

 

Turning leaves, early frosts

In October 2011 we were sitting in the main square in Sighisoara’s ancient citadel, when we noticed the chestnut tree over our heads. The long drought over summer and a short burst of snow had confused the tree, and amongst the swelling chestnuts and the shrivelled leaves were fresh green leaves and white flowers. The poor tree didn’t know if it was coming or going. Lots more photos of autumn colour in the new gallery

Sibiu, Oct 2011 (in drought)with Sue and Niall

Confused chestnut, Sibiu, Oct 2011 (in drought) 

Two more photo galleries

For those of you who love Magura already, or who are looking for a great village to visit on your next Transylvanian trip, I’ve posted two more photo galleries of images in winter and spring.

Spring fever

Winter in Magura

Do go and have a look! I’ll put up some more photos soon…

 

Spring weather switchback

 

After a week of solid rain and several weeks of wet, cold weather that has kept the peonies (bujor) in their buds and kept the daffodils out in bloom, we had a glorious weekend of warm, sunny, balmy late Spring gloriousness.

Perfect for a picnic on Sunday…

But this morning, after a beautiful start, the storm has closed in. Thunder is circling the house, the cats are hiding under the sofa, sheep are huddled by the barn door, and chickens have retreated to their shed. But it’s still warm, so the growing seedlings in my veg patch and the newly planted trees around the garden are lapping it all up and putting on new growth like it was going out of fashion.

Typing in gloves

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

megreenhouse

Spring board

Mother Nature gets her colour palette out… After the warmest February on record, winter came back for another go in April, and again at the start of May, just to tease us. But the cats and I are relishing the splashes of colour amongst the lush green everywhere, even topped by a sprinkling of snow. My favourite time of year.

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!

Lost puppy finds a happy ending

 

You may have seen the story – a few posts back – about a lost puppy who turned up at my gate, starving and abandoned, on 5th November.

I tried to ignore him, but he wouldn’t go away even if I yelled at him to shove off. After a few days, he was obviously starving, and determined to stay around. So I fed him outside the gate, and he ate enormously, pathetically grateful, crawling to my feet, rolling over, showing his belly in submission, desperate for acceptance.

I surrendered. It had started snowing; he was shoulder deep in frozen flakes, weighed down by frozen balls of snow on his face and legs, and I couldn’t cope with the thought of falling over his starved and frozen body. I decided to…. Read the rest of the story