Romania: passions and pet peeves

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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.

11 lessons I learned from my cat

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.

IMG_4048_2Number 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.

 

IMG_5093Number 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

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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

Hobbs and George's climbing lessonAlways 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

George meets Mango & Fig

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!

IMG_1002 george on pylon

 

The fish thieves

Two cats trying to steal fish
George and Buster, cat burglars

Cats = opportunists. We know this. I try to discourage my small clan to desist, but when there’s fresh fish, freshly cooked and sitting on the counter top, all law-abiding morals go out of the feline window. George and Buster are determined to help themselves to the kitten’s supper as it cools…

Transylvanian kittens need a home

Two kittens meet adult cat
Two tiny kittens meet big ginger George Cat. Some soft hissing and growling from George, but kits are fascinated by their new uncle

Can you give the two little kits a loving home? They’ve been with me for three weeks, and are now tame (they were feral when we rescued them) and promise to be beautiful, healthy, affectionate and playful cats. Mango (girl) and Fig (boy) are very different characters, but both sweet and both have Ferrari motor purrs.

I will take them to the vet for a complete check-up and neutering, so you’ll have no costs apart from transport and future care – if you’ll take them both.

I live near Brasov so can bring the cats to you if you’re local, or meet you somewhere convenient if not.

If you’d like to give them a happy future with you, please drop me an email – abbspepper@gmail.com

I live in a fairytale

My family came to Magura this month, for their first visit. My brother Charles couldn’t get over the beauty of the place and told everyone it was like being in a fairytale. He’s right, and I am grateful for that every day.

Not only it is very beautiful here – the landscape, the weather, everything – but life in rural Transylvania offers up constant treats. Here’s my neighbour Roxana with her two daughters, another neighbour, Georgi, and her schoolfriend. They were in traditional dress, on their way to a wedding in the village, where they were going to sing for the bride. They took the time, however, to give us a preview. How much more charming could you get?

Roxana & girls singing

{Thanks to Charles for the images – the light looks a bit weird because the sun was so bright the camera couldn’t quite cope with the contrast]

Cooling, calming storm

Yesterday we had a bit of a thunderstorm. Lots of amazing hail, with stones the size of hazelnuts cracking and clattering on the roof, the windows and doors, bouncing or pinging off surfaces after landing at speed. Then the hail stopped and the rain lessened, and we had some time of distant thunder and lightning, while the animals and birds and insects kept going, and the rain fell on millions of leaves. For friends in hot, humid Bucharest and other cities, it’s a few moments of cool country weather to calm the overheated mind. Aaaaahhhhhh….

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A month ago… on 20th April…

The thunderstorm today brought the temperature down, sure enough. But it’s Spring, and it rains. that’s fine.

But it was also Spring exactly a month ago, on 20th April. And this is what my garden looked like then. April. Late.