Living in Transylvania, writing, playing, teaching, lazing, thinking
Author: Arabella McIntyre-Brown
I'm a writer from West Sussex is southern England, but after 30 years of urban life in London and Liverpool, I now live in a remote village 1,000 metres up in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. My new book is published in November 2016: "Din Liverpool in Carpati: cum mi-am gasit fericirea în inima Transilvaniei"
Most people don’t bother with winter tyres in the UK and are surprised when they slide on half an inch of snow… Excellent advice, Brian! Today is a good day to stock the car for winter driving… as next week is meant to bring snow.
The first very cold snowy morning appears, not such a shock as was advertised on local TV last evening. I greet the guy next door as we step outside our dwellings and start brushing the snow off my car, he I notice simply brushes off the windscreen and in a flash is into his car, engine started and moving away. Stop I shout as see his car is covered in snow all apart from the windscreen, which is still iced up to appoint where one cant see properly. He winds the side window down and says the screen will clear; I have the heater blower on and is away down the road.
Goodness knows how many other drivers set off like this in a morning so full of ice and snow as they simply think only of being to work on time, forgetting personal safety and that…
And yes, Alex, I’ve already started the next book. It’s set in the same village, but it’s a very different story! Funny, and a bit bonkers, with some proper baddies. I don’t know when it will be published, but keep your fingers crossed!
In my piece in the second issue of OZB (O Zi Buna) magazine, expats (aka migrants) tell me what they love and hate about their chosen home. Food, traffic, music, steps, bureaucracy, architecture, people, people and people… Includes contributions from Shajjad Rizvi (left) and Karam Alsaty.
This is George Cat. He is a ginger guru, and I love to learn from his natural, unaffected wisdom.
He lives with me in a remote mountain village in Transylvania, along with his brother, sister, and mother. As you can see from the photos, George is a live wire, except when he’s dead to the world. He’s sweet-natured (as they all are), ridiculously happy, curious, persistent, optimistic, opportunistic, loving, affectionate, entrepreneurial, funny, and magnificently beautiful.
George teaches me something every day. Here are eleven of his life lessons that we should all remember.
Number 1 – family comes first
George loves his family. With his sister and his brother, he was born to his mama Hobbs here in my study in 2011, and they haven’t been separated since. Family is very important to George, even he does have the occasional spat.
Number 2 – get plenty of exercise
Always make time for physical activity. You can dance by yourself in the snow, you can take a hike in the mountains, you can use a chair for some gym work, or you can race your mum to breakfast…
Number 3 – get plenty of sleep
Slumber in peaceful solitude, or catnap with friends. If you get enough rest you’ll have all the energy you need to life life to the full.
Number 4 – be honest
Never be afraid to say what you really think, even if it’s a controversial opinion.
A year ago today (8th November) I’d asked George what he thought of the new orange incumbent of the White House. Despite sharing hair colour, George told me precisely what he thought of America’s choice.
Number 5 – take no notice of big egos
Don’t be intimidated by flashy loudmouths. You can ignore people who think they’re cock of the walk just because they are snazzy dressers and like the sound of their own voices. More often than not, underneath the fine feathers, they are chicken.
Number 6 – take your work seriously
You must never miss an opportunity to hunt out a tasty deal, and be persistent in persuading people to your way of thinking. Persistence, for an entrepreneur like George, is critical. He doesn’t take offence when his advances are rejected; he just keeps trying. Never say never, says George.
Number 7 – never stop learning
Always take advice from experts. Whether you’re young and on a steep learning curve in life, or whether you’re mature but still eager to advance your development, seek out those who can teach you something worth knowing. Your mum is always a good place to start. Mums know best.
Number 8 – always be kind to children
…especially if they’re lost, lonely and frightened. When hungry youngsters appear at your door and want to share your sofa, your toys and your breakfast, give them a warm welcome, even if it’s difficult. It can hard letting strangers into your life, but offering a friendly paw can bring many rewards.
Number 9 – be curious
Explore new situations, meet new people, investigate potential opportunities. Even if they go wrong, explorations are always worthwhile, even if they’re sometimes scary; at the very least you’ll learn something of value: don’t do that again!
Number 10 – be magnificent
Remember – you are the culmination of evolution. You are the savannah cheetah, the jungle tiger, the mountain lion and the snow leopard. You carry the memories and wisdom of all your kind. Never forget how unique and remarkable you are.
Number 11 – above all, laugh
Be daft. to hell with dignity. Fill your life with happiness and be thoroughly adorable. Life is short so live it with joy.
Which of George’s lessons do you like best? What lessons does your cat or dog teach you? Do tell me in a comment.Send George a message!
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?
Readers 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…
The wait is finally over, here is some VERY exciting news that I’ve been waiting to tell you about for a loooong time. A while ago I was put in touch with Michael Bond’s daughter Karen in the prospect of learning more about Paddington and Michael’s work with Ivor. A call led to her telling me that she had just received a lot of old promo material for Paddington from their copyrighters as they were having a huge clear-out. She explained that there were a few boxes that she thought contained all the puppets from Ivor’s The Herbs series. No sooner had she said this, we’d arranged to meet up and delve into those boxes.
So myself and fellow researcher Joseph Wallace headed into London and below is what we found…
The Herbs puppets – Created by Ivor Wood – Parsley, Sage, Dill, Lady Rosemary, Sir Basil, Tarragon, The Onion…
“I believe Floss The Lost Puppy is extremely practical and it should be the beginning of a series which humanizes stray animals, creating heartfelt stories, educating people to be more compassionate towards nature and fellow creatures sharing their environment.
“Overwhelmingly the book brought back memories of animals in distress. I read it on a stormy dark Sunday morning and after that I immediately went out and started searching for homeless dogs to feed and to soothe. I found 5, managed to help 3 – the ones who didn’t run away from me.”
But Iulia also remarked on the emotional journey that the heroine goes through.
“I loved her journey in that magical rural mountainous place: from being afraid of dogs to absolutely loving them. She became a brave little girl, sacrificing her own comfort and selfishness. I think it is a very important lesson to learn: generosity, friendship and conquering your fear. This story contains a deep challenging lesson, making the narration not only for children, but also for adults.”
A review just in from Julie Whyman in York (UK), who read the book Floss the lost puppy to a group of excitable 5-9 yr olds:
“What a wonderful, engaging romp through Transylvania, via England and Wales: it has made us all want to leave a windy and dismal Yorkshire to jump into waist-high snow in the enchanting environs of Hay. You have a brilliant knack of creating believable characters so deftly and sympathetically that you feel as if they could walk off the page and give you a sneaky hug. We all loved it and can’t wait for the sequel!”
Robbie, aged 6, from Galati, loved my new book Floss the lost puppy. This is part of his review:
“I felt most like Thea when she was scared of Floss at first but then started to love him, this has happened to me lots of times too with stray dogs that turn up at our house. I felt really sad and wanted to cry when Floss had to leave… The book was really nice and made me feel happy. I would like to go to the mountains and build a snowman. I think that children of my age and much older children would like it, girls and boys. I give it 5 stars but would like to give it 25!”
Floss will be published in November 2017 and launched at the Gaudeamus book fair in Bucharest (23-26 November). Watch this space for news of exact day and time.
Come and say hello, get your book signed, and if you’re lucky, win a prize!