Posts Tagged ‘holidays’


Drama can hit you without warning; take for example a massive iceberg floating in the darkness in the path of an “unsinkable ship” on a maiden voyage.

But it can also creep up on you bit by bit. So that when it actually happens you realise that you knew all of the pieces were there … but didn’t see the consequences; a bit like the denouement in all of the Sherlock Holmes stories: so obvious in retrospect.

Our drama was of the latter variety, beginning with a delayed take-off (result of wonderfully courteous behaviour from Lufthansa, giving up our slot to a KLM flight to Amsterdam with umpteen onward connections). Late arrival at Frankfurt with a typical efficient airport transfer to the gate across the tarmac (thus avoiding a fairly stressful, many minutes of stairs, escalators, and corridors and looking for gateway signage) and off – on time – to Bucharest.

Not so our luggage!

On arrival at the Henri Coanda airport we got the expected call from our pick-up driver, but, waiting for a suitcase that didn’t make it, missed the bus. Some hours wait in the arrivals lounge (was there ever such a misnomer?) and several texts later we are on the next minibus. Stressing somewhat at the delay, that our friends are waiting at the hotel, that we still have two and a half (count ‘em, Henry, count ‘em!) hours of travel before we arrive in Brasov.

Two and a half hours which stretches to four and a bit hours as the one and only two lane road is being re-surfaced (a mile at a time) and traffic has to wait. And wait some more.

Eventually we make it. And, relief, the hotel staff are welcoming and friendly. Our friends understanding … and we head out for a welcome meal. And a beer!

The holdall that got through has underwear in it and, arrangements made at the airport reassure us that the suitcase will be delivered to the hotel some time tomorrow. That we need to be at the hotel to sign for it.

It’s reassuring – in a way, but I never find it easy to sleep in a strange room – and it is hot with the kind of heat that takes some getting used to.

So, the order of the day next day must be not to be too far away from the hotel. Our local friend takes us to a stunning fortified church (begun in 1211) at Prejmer. Getting out of the car we are greeted by the sight of an occupied stork’s nest atop a roof of a house in the street. Exotic enough to tell us we are away on an adventure. That, with the breezeless, easy heat and the absolute absence of hedgerows.

Image result for stork nest

The fortress itself  is wonderfully preserved and cared for, the “family rooms” used in times of siege accessible and it is an evocative and spiritual place where we linger for some time.

Image result for prejmer village romania

Then Sorin has the brainwave. On the way back to Brasov we can visit his “garden”. I had heard about this but knew  few details.


Would it be something like our allotment? Surrounded by similar plots in the same way? What would be growing? We were visiting Romania at the peak of the cherry cropping season, and delicious strawberries were also abundant. The beauty of knowing local people is that you can enjoy the real country and its traditions … this might be one of them. We drive, turn off, then turn off again, enter Bod and drive around, off onto a track that leads between houses, down a little used farm track, turn across and unmown hay field, sticking to some preordained path to avoid humps and bumps. Then we are at the garden. A football pitch sized piece of land, fenced (and hedged) off in the middle of a hay field. Sorin’s garden. A wired gate is unlocked, a dog turns up, seeking affection. There is a solid, single storied building in the garden where Sorin “keeps his tools”. There are some flowering plants and rows of fruit trees: pears, apples and cherries, growing from a thick carpet of


meadow grasses and wildflowers that is buzzing with insect life. The sun beams down and I begin to feel relaxed. Open spaces are therapeutic: it is the very nature of being outside. Having spent just a few short hours with Sorin we have a good relationship (thanks to a great extent to his ability to speak my language of course) and here, where he feels comfortable, it is easy to let worries drift away. It is never any good to worry about things you cannot affect; the company and the hotel have our ‘phone numbers, we are near at hand … just let the air, the quiet and the friendliness work their magics.

We get a tour of the garden, eat a few cherries and hear how the land (everything is relative, but this is –literally – dirt cheap) was bought. The land may be somewhat blighted, in former times (during the Communist regimes) took contaminants from a paint factory higher up the river. The pollution is still in the soil and, counter-intuitively worse nearer to the river so that the closer plants are to the banks the less well they grow. And it is difficult – lack of money, networks and tortuous bureaucracies – to complete the building of a house on the land: the ultimate goal.

But, just wandering around the garden, thinking – I could not help it – what I would grow, how I would manage the land (get manure in first is always my instinct) – had a healing effect. And by the time we are climbing into the car again (reminding myself which is the passenger side, of course) I am feeling quite at home.

This “garden away from the house” is not, by any stretch, an allotment. It isn’t rented. There are less than no regulations and an easy going sense of right and not-right. But in many ways it serves a similar purpose: an escape, a place where time has less meaning and a place for simple mindless thinking. Crops of course and plans to make, things to do and to organise.

But a garden in any sense of the word is a restful place – give it a chance and it’ll get to you; even when you don’t expect it.


Post script: Needless to say the luggage duly arrived, we had a fantastic time with friends old and new in Transylvania … and when we returned the weeds were making their annual presence felt on the plot, the boundary dispute is still going on … but the strawberries are tasty and our first new potatoes well worth the growing.

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