Pigs, Wood, Neighbours and Sarmale. Autumn in Breb

We’re home, finally. Summer saw us heading to London and staying rather longer than expected. It was wonderful, but it feels good to be back safe in our little village for autumn. This year is colder than last, there is pure, clean snow low on the mountains, a lot of snow, and our first frost and sub zero night came early in October

We came back to be warmly greeted and touched inappropriately by enthusiastic neighbours.

” We welcome you!”

” Multumesc Ileana!”

“You are fat!” called our neighbour as she made inappropriate advances on my larger-than-before thighs. A compliment or affectionate statement, I’d like to think.

All of this, of course, happens in Romanian, a language we continue to pursue.

The village is much the same, a neighbour’s ancient wooden home has a new traditional wood shingle roof. That’s good to see, too many of the old houses are being replaced by new concrete mansions.



Old roof new roof. The same wooden shingles, but one is brand new.

They make the wooden roofing shingles in the village, by hand, it’s amazing to watch them work with such speed and skill to produce thousands of narrow strips of wood exactly as they did centuries ago.

Traditional wooden rofing shingles, Romania, Maramures

In the village they turn tree trunks into these, traditional wooden roofing shingles, all by hand.

Our neighbours have a lovely new pig, he is Happy Pig‘s replacement and smiles and frolicks in much the same way. I  went over and gave him a scratch last night, he grinned appreciatively. Come Christmas we will see and hear him die and be butchered on the grass.  We won’t even have to leave our own kitchen to be witness to his death as his screams will alert us to the inevitable event.

We came back to an empty wood shed so this year, instead of asking Penny, I used my improved Romanian to track some down myself. I’m pretty pleased right now, 5 m³ of lemn de foc ( firewood) has just been delivered thanks to a lovely firewood fairy in a headscarf who appeared on our doorstep yesterday afternoon. Word had got around, she had some to sell and it duly arrived by tractor. James and our landlord toiled with chainsaws and axes to reduce it to stove-friendly size. These people are so willing to help. Do you know what an abundance mentality is? Well that’s what they have, a generous spirit, nobody here will watch us struggle and freeze, these are good people, the best. In return we help them as we can. Tomorrow we will drive our elderly neighbours, Ileana and Petru, to the market. We’ve been promised a dish of Ileana’s home made sarmale in return. That’s a treat not to turn down.

buying fire wood romania breb

Our fire wood delivery.

chopping fire wood romania breb

With chainsaws and axes they cut, split and stacked. As rain began to fall the boys and I dropped our work and rushed outside to pile split logs under protective barn eaves before the icy drops soaked in. I feel rich indeed to have so much wood for the freezing winter ahead.

We love being here. The simplicity of life, the good people, the good food and the connection with this stunning landscape bring us peace and happiness. We’ve never regretted our decision to base ourselves here but now, post Brexit, who knows what will happen? It seems the house project is probably off, it’s been over 12 months since we signed the contract and still there is no progress. But we shall see. It really doesn’t matter, just being here is enough.

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  1. Glad you are happy to be back … and have all the wood chopped nicely (5M3 doesn’t last the whole winter does it ?!) As I don’t have an Iron man at home to chop the wood, we changed our wood-consuming-fireplace for electric heating last year. It’s not the same though -so we decided to invest in a small wood-stove which uses pellets. We’ll see how that goes!

    • It might. I think we had 6 in total last year and we still have a little of that left. But we’re not here all the time. The pellets are supposed to be good, controllable. But we cook on ours!

  2. Kym Fullerton says:

    I love that you are content with just being there regardless of owning in the end or not. What will be will be. Doesn’t stop you enjoying the lifestyle to the fullest. I’ve been waiting so patiently for you to get back and start telling Romanian stories again.


    • More to come around Christmas Kym. The other site is keeping me too busy, but I might just do some photography posts. Would that be of interest? It’s snowing here today, we just drove over the mountain, back to Narnia 🙂

      • Kym Fullerton says:

        Yes photos would be lovely

        Time to update my wallpaper on the computer from the barn photo to some snow shots perhaps

        It’s just such an inspiring place for so many reasons. The hard work of the villages really stands out


  3. How nice to return home, home and to have people welcome you back sincerely! Also, fire wood is a way of life pretty much everywhere else you can go. My daughter and I are in Northern Spain volunteering currently, and the people we are staying with spend such a huge portion of their days, cutting and stacking and talking about fire wood!! 🙂

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