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December 30, 2007



Beautiful photographs. Thank you. How could anyone stay in bed with that to see around them?
Very best wishes for success and happiness in 2008.


Happy New Year !!!!


Great photos, I love that blue winter twilight as well. Love it when a full moon lights up the snow as well. Happy New Year to you all!


"Cold frost and sunshine:day of wonder!...
The snow below the bluish skies,
Like a majestic carpet lies,
And in the light of day it shimmers. The woods are dusky.
Through the frost
The greenish fir-trees are exposed, And under ice, a river glitters."


I love the photos, I wish I could jump into them!

laying in bed all day watching DVDs? omg..what a waste :(

Id trade places with them in a heartbeat...they can keep their DVDs though!

Cezar Palaghita

Hi Julian

My name is Cezar and I have been silently monitoring your website for some time now. I’ve discovered it accidentally three years ago when trying to find if there were any riding centres in Romania. At the time, I was working for ATP International in Great Yarmouth (recently relocated to Lowestoft) as an Admin Assistant. One of my work colleagues who was passionate about riding wanted to know if my country offers any facilities in the way of riding. That is how I discovered you and how very impressed I was when finding out about your origins. An Englishman living in the Romanian countryside? How very unusual. I mean how did you manage to learn the language and to adapt to the slow pace of the Romanian way of doing things, to integrate with the community? Countryside people have become in the last two decades very observant Christians and celebrate a decent number of religious holidays. We were observant Christians before …but we did not seem to have as many holidays as there are today. I take my hat off to you!
You are no doubt an inveterate equestrian and the number of horses you own amazes me. They all look in excellent shape. Thank you for these beautiful photos. There's something about the Romanian countryside during winter holidays. It revives in my head childhood memories...i can almost feel the smell of home made cakes and baked apples in the oven and the sound of bells worn by the belsugari si uratori.
I wish you and your family a Happy New Year – La Multi Ani si Multa Sanatate si Putere de Munca!


Sue: Thank you for your good wishes. The two bedbound ones appeared five minutes before I was due to take them to the station with smiles on their faces.

Barngoddess: Odd that you should think of jumping into the photos. We just had a guest who ran out of the sauna in her bathing costume and jumped into the snow outside.

Callie: It's great with snow and a full moon. One could read outside, it's so bright.

Stephanie: Thank you for a nice and evocative poem.

Cezar: It's great to hear from you. Where in Romania do you come from? It's an interesting life here, the only foreigner for 50 miles, I suppose that no expat community makes it harder not to integrate. There are many good people living in the countryside, and it is a pleasure to be here. Is your colleague still looking for a place to ride? There are many Christian holidays now, 26 days a year last time I counted. We have a new monastery in our village, as well as a church.


Looking at your 'ranch' now and remembering the way it was over 7 years ago, I can not help see the similarities between an unspoilt Romania and the Romania now, a member of EU community. I remember your 'ranch' as an old Romanian house with a nice warm feeling, jokes and...a cheeky smile whilst trying desperately to cook chicken legs. I remember a kitchen full of flies and a guy who use to steal metal signs abandoned alongside railway tracks.
It is somehow disappointing to see where your spiritual journey has led to. I can detect some sort of colonial behaviour and a feeling of superiority displayed in your comments and blog entries.
I live in England now, very near London. I experience prejudice, narrow mindedness, bureaucracy, long waiting time to see a doctor or a dentist. I hear about MRSA, HMRC loosing discs with personal data of 25 million people, corrupt politicians,bogus universities and Iraq war. Do you see where am I hinting at? Probably not.
God bless you. I pray that you see past your vanity and cockiness.


Mercedes, don't worry, this is still a friendly place with happy people and a lot of jokes. I haven't stopped collecting signs and other artefacts either. I have had to deal with the flies (starting with those sticky brown strips that become fly-encrusted, reminding me of garibaldi biscuits) because visitors don't like flies on their food.

You need to remember that the Romania of seven years ago was run by a greedy ex-communist oligarchs called Ion Iliescu and Adrian Nastase, henchmen of Ceausescu. One had to bribe at the hospital, bribe at the inland revenue office, bribe at the customs, bribe the ministry of tourism to obtain papers to which one was entitled. I was followed and photographed by the secret police, and one of my staff was interrogated. My phone was tapped. Whilst the modern Romania is hardly clean from corruption, joining NATO and the EU has helped increase transparency.

Personally, there are many things about so-called "progress" that alarm me. The materialistic attitude and credit explosion. Urban sprawl. Growing inequality. (Does this sound like Britain too?) Growing dependence on Russian gas. A government that is prejudiced against peasant farmers, and is legislating to ban horse carts from the roads.

Remember that "colonial" foreigners opposed Ceausescu's plans to destroy the villages, who opposed the ridiculous state-sponsored "Dracula Park", who are leaders in preserving Romanian heritage such as the Saxon villages, the Sibiu-Agnita steam train, manor houses in Covasna, and so on. If you want to attack foreigners, aim at the people who flood Romania with adverting for bank loans, food filled with preservatives and milk powder for nursing mother. (Remember Nestle in Africa? They're doing the same in Romania now.)

What is important is for Romanians to become politically active in their own country, standing up for what is good and right. Opposing bad laws, helping frame good laws. I'll be blunt, if you don't like the way that Romania is moving, come back here and enter politics, campaign for what is right. People will listen, if one of their own nation articulates what many think but cannot express or have not the courage to express publicly.

Mercedes, I am siding with traditional Romania, showing it to curious guests, employing people, buying produce from peasant farmers, doing my own bit of political lobbying against bad laws. We're on the same side.

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