Wednesday, 22 May 2019


I let the hand brake off and set off out of the driveway. 

Suddenly the rear of the car lifted and then bumped back down as if I had run something over. Having no idea what was going on I got out again to check and there sitting in the driveway behind the car was a laptop bag which contained both of our laptops and all of the peripheral bits and pieces. I picked the bag up and pushed it into one last remaining tiny gap in the back, "I'll check it when we get to Mums"
I found out later that both were destroyed, although we did manage to retrieve the most important stuff that we needed from Ali's laptop.

Then we left hoping that this was our one disaster for the trip and that it wasn't a portent of things to come. I said a little prayer to that effect as we passed out of the gateway onto the High Street and turned southwards.

It felt to me like we had been packing for weeks. There were still a few bits and pieces around to be boxed and packed but I really had just wanted to get going.

The top box on the car was full, the back seat of the car was packed with cases and boxes and our German Shepherd Florica had leapt happily into the relative luxury of the only real space remaining in the back of the car behind her dog guard.

The car was an eight year old Suzuki Grand Vitara, bought especially for this trip and for our future life in Romania, and particularly for the winter that was already on its way. We raised the money to buy it by selling both of our cars through WeBuyAnyCar  and pooling the cash to get the best left-hand drive car we could afford.

With Florica barking happily in the back we strapped ourselves in, closed our doors and set off.

We had a journey of about 1400 miles ahead of us, overnighting first at my parents house in Kent before getting the train through the tunnel early the following morning.

We had done the journey across Europe on a few occasions, the last one with a hired van to take the first of our larger possessions over to our house in the lovely little village that was to become our home for good.

The remainder of our larger things had already gone to be stored in my parents garage and the plan was that I would be back within a few  months to collect it all. The truth is though that half of it is still there over 9 years later.

No looking back, no regrets, whatever was to come would come, but it was a chance of a totally fresh new start in life and an opportunity we would never get if we stayed in Britain.

The corporate life had moved on and left us behind, or if the truth is told we had both outgrown it. Neither of us had any regrets about leaving that behind, no longer having to endure the shear nastiness that we had been forced to endure over the previous couple of years. What had once been a great life had become dominated by small minded jumped up little shop boys and evil minded older colleagues who were intent on gaining revenge for some imagined past 'wrongs' they perceived were done to them.
Enough was enough.

After spending about six months as a housewife while I finished off my time with Sainsburys Alison had found a job.

A simple web search for Project Management roles in Romania had come up with a job description that described Ali to a T. We knew from the first moment of reading it that it would be Alis job even before she applied and we both took it as another sign that our future lives were meant to be in Romania. The job was for one of the worlds largest volunteering companies, Global Vision International, and they wanted an experienced Project Manager fluent in both English and Romanian to set up new projects for them in Romania.and that's what we were setting off to do. It seemed like another sign that it was the thing we were meant to do too. The salary was based on Romanian norms, not English (i.e not very much) but it was sufficient to get us started in our new life in the house that Ali already owned and had greatly extended and improved (But it still needed a lot of work)

This later picture of Suzi Q in the driveway gives some idea of how much work was needed.

The night spent at my parents house was a small piece of much needed relaxation before our trip, although our departure in the morning was a little emotional.

After that the journey was pretty uneventful. It is a total of 24 hours driving time, with breaks taken as best as we could sitting in our seats. Thankfully the portion through France was short, into boring Belgium (Sorry, but from the motorways it is boring and when we did try to visit for a short stay, it was closed)

Then a brief sojourn in The Netherlands before the long trek through Germany.

Florica was surprisingly quiet in the back, her normal habit in the car was to bark at anything or anyone who came within 20 feet of us, but she was silent in the back, so quiet that we had to stop a few times to get her out of the car and check that she was OK.

She peed on Belgium, she pooed on Germany, refused anything to eat and drank only a little, all she wanted to do was get back into the car. It was almost as if she was impatient to get the journey over too.

(When we were unloading the car a couple of days later, we found that she had managed to drag the seat belts through a gap at each side of the rear seats and was happily laying there gnawing at them. They cost 350 Euros to replace, so they were pretty expensive dog chews! To add insult to injury we found out later that they weren't considered necessary in Romania so we didn't need to replace them to pass the Romanian equivalent of an MOT after all)

As the journey continued on into Eastern Germany the countryside surrounding the Autobahn became much more attractive and that is the area around which you can start to relax into the journey and just let the kilometres roll by.

Though Austria, skirting Vienna and then on into Hungary.

In those days the motorway ran out not far South of Budapest and the rest of the journey, still about 450 kilometres, would be on single carriageway roads. If you got caught up behind lorries the best thing to was just sit behind them and relax, but you have to keep a wary eye open for the local drivers and their crazy overtaking manoeuvres, which often just look suicidal and they appear to have no qualms about side swiping an unsuspecting motorist out of the way if they need to swerve in to avoid oncoming traffic.

Passing through the villages as you approach the Romanian border you used to be greeted by an amazingly beautiful sight, the residents of all of the villages had brightly coloured stalls out at the side of the road selling whatever fruit and vegetables they had grown. Everything looked so fresh and clean and the colours were amazing, so much nicer than a supermarket display and I know it all tasted much better too.

We arrived at the border at Nadlac, thankfully there was only a short queue of traffic before we finally crossed over into Romania. Unusually the Hungarian and Romanian border guards were standing together. They were easily distinguishable. The Hungarian guard was young, his uniform well fitting and well pressed and he had an easy smile as he checked each passport and briefly surveyed the interior of the vehicles passing through. The Romanian border guard on the other hand was older, looked tired, or maybe hungover, his uniform hung loosely from him looking as if it hadn't seen an iron for weeks and he just looked bored with the whole repetitive procedure.

When it was our turn I pulled up alongside these two and the Hungarian immediately said "Hello".

(It has never ceased to amaze me that we Brits are apparently immediately recognizable, and our car had a French number plate too)

I handed 3 passports out through the open window to the Hungarian. He looked them all over and then handed them to the Romanian who looked at mine, then Ali's and then he looked at Floricas.

"Whats this?" he exclaimed waving Floricas rabies passport around in the air as he spoke.

The Hungarian border guard explained what it was quietly and patiently whilst pointing at the still quiet Florica in the back and then the Romanian almost threw all three back through the window whilst saying loudly,

"As if we haven't got enough dogs in Romania!", then with an expansive sweep of his arms in the general direction of travel he shouted "Good luck!" and we passed on our way.

Finally, we were in Romania, still about 250 slow kilometres to go before we reached our new home, but the journey had been relatively easy and we were just glad that it was nearly over. 

It took about another 3 hours before we arrived in the village, thanks to all of the freight vehicle on the road and when we drove into the village we got our first surprise, The main road, which had always just been a dirt track had been covered with tarmac.

Another 100 metres and we were outside our house with a couple of interested locals staring at this strange car and its' even stranger occupants. Even though they seemed to half recognize Ali, not quite being able to place where from though. She had been away for about three years.

Ali climbed out of the car and opened the gates to be welcomed by our Romanian dog, Joli, who had been cared for by neighbours.

(Her story can be found in my very first Blog from 2012)

I drove the car in and Ali closed the gates. Joli was dancing all around Ali, and all around the car, so happy to see us. I climbed out of the car, stiff from the journey but pleased to be able to straighten up again. Joli was still dancing and, at last, Florica was yapping excitedly in the back of the car.

We had no idea about how the two dogs would react to each other but there was no other way to find out than just to open the back door. Florica immediately leapt out and she and Joli just ran off chasing each other around the large garden, Joli easily taking the lead in the gallop with Florica trying very hard to keep up or cut her off at the corners, tails wagging furiously as they very quickly got to know each other. From that moment on they were the best of friends.

So here we were starting our new life. October 2009 with a very cold Romanian winter fast approaching and no idea how we were going to keep warm, but we were here at last and it really did feel like home.


Tuesday, 14 May 2019


After two years of inexcusable absence from Blogging it's about time to start again.

I have it in mind to compose a series of roughly chronological anecdotes taking our story right back to the very beginning of our exodus to Romania, all under the general title of...…..

……………………..ROMANIA????? WHY ROMANIA??????

II hope the answer to that question will become clearer but it is the question we are most often asked when a Romanian discovers that we have moved here permanently.

A large number of Romanians seem to simply want to leave this beautiful country which has so much to offer, but they can't see it. All they see is a 'better' life abroad in countries like France, Germany, Italy. Spain, the USA and of course the UK...…..until recently that is. Emigration to those countries has been in such high numbers that as a result Romanias' population has reduced over the years we have been here.

My standard answer used to be "Because life here is so real" (that will hopefully become clearer in later ramblings). Or another answer I have used is "Well someone had to try and balance out the numbers of you lot going to Britain!!!. 

At least now I have a new answer....…………...….....BRITAIN????? WHY BRITAIN??????

{I am, of course, hinting here at the national embarrassment of the debacle of Brexit and when I first tried to compose this introductory page it became a rant about my true feelings about this shameful waste of time that the UK has put itself through and it will take many many years for Britain to recover from the total loss of respect that is the result. Britain has become a laughing stock around the world...…………………………………………………….. After a calming beer and a cigarette though I threw my soap box onto the pile for firewood and decided to leave well alone...…...for now}

Alison has had Permanent Residency of Romania for a number of years and now I have that honour too. The natural next step is Citizenship which we both greatly desire, but I have to learn a lot more of the Romanian language, learn all about its' rich history and also every one of the eleven verses of the National Anthem! 

Enough of a re-introduction, better get on with it.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017


We now have five dogs.
Our original three girls:

Joli a Romanian mongrel who was abandoned on our property as a puppy, she is now 7 years old and everybody's strict Auntie.
Plus the two litter sisters, German Shepherds called Florica and Natasha. They are about 2 1/2 years old now but they both still think and act and bounce and jump like 3 month old puppies and can at times tease their auntie to distraction.
Then there are the two boys:
Younger days when they got along

Beni, now one year old. A Romanian terrier-like bouncy mongrel who grew to be a little bit bigger than we thought he would and who is unfortunately now getting a  bit too big for his boots.

Jeri, about 9 months old now, he is a Romanian Shepherd Dog, (Ciobanesc Mioritic He is a big, massive-pawed ball of white and grey fluff, full of fun and love.
We got Beni to try and give the two German Shepherds a younger play pal tin an attempt to give Auntie Joli a little peace and quiet.
Jeri wasn't planned, he just arrived.
I will tell their full stories over the next few Blogs, but our aim is to try and find good homes for them both individually.
Although they loved each other and were inseparable as puppies, they have decided that they can't get along and need to be kept separated.
Their dispute with each other is affecting the girls to the point where they are very guarded with both, so, much as we are really going to miss them, they need to move on to be with new people who can give them all of the love, time and devotion that they both deserve.
They get on wonderfully with people, and it seems with other dogs, but only when they are outside of the 'pack' environment that we seem to have created at home.

Read on.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


A short video made for us by a great friend all about Volunteer Romania's fantastic work with under-privileged children/ 
It says it all without need for further words

Friday, 25 October 2013


Horses and carts are a common sight in the village we live in, just as they still are all over Romania.
The horses are hard working.
They take families and workers to the fields, then plough or draw other farming equipment while they are there, and then they bring whatever has been harvested home again.
These ones though are special and These are just some quick snaps that we took of them yesterday evening.
they belong to a friend of ours, who bred these horses, just as he has done all of his horses through his lifetime. he carried on where his father left off and these two are his fifth generation.
They are so perfectly matched. Unlike many other pairs of horses that you see.
When these two trot down the road, only one horse can be heard, they are so perfectly in unison.
Here they are happy, it is the end of their working day and they are bringing their winter feed home.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Although every minute of the time I get to spend with the children at the children's home is a real pleasure, there are the odd moments, just like this one, which are so special, and which remind me why we are really here in Romania with Volunteer Romania


Sunday, 28 April 2013


Our weather has changed.
After a long long winter, and a hardly existent Spring, summer has arrived, with a bang.
Sunshine all day long and temperatures up to 30 deg C.
The weather forecast told us it was coming so we planned for it.
At last we could get out into the garden and plant all of those oh so essential crops for this year.
At last we could get outside and do some of the essential maintenance work that need to be done and start to build our greenhouse and the chicken run we have decided that we need.
In Romania though, nothing ever seems to go to plan,, so we should have known better.
On the first day of the sunshine our hot water heater decided to go wrong and started delivering steam through the taps instead of hot water. A little investigation and a little common sense told us that it was the thermostat, which is a relatively easy job to replace, and we did so. Whilst doing it though we discovered that about 6 of the joints in the hot water pipework were leaking badly, apparently having been melted by the overheated water passing through them!
They are still dripping away, soaking our basement floor, for reasons that will become apparent if you read on.
That evening we discovered that our website had gone down down. It didn't only go down, it disappeared completely. It transpired that our Hosts servers had crashed, and by the time we discovered it (because they couldn't be bothered to inform us of the problem) it had already been down for 6 days.
This is an important time of the year for Volunteer Romania as it is just about the busiest time for bookings onto the programme, so having the site down for so long was no joke.
A large number of irate e-mails later and an apparent lack of willingness by HostSo to treat the problem as an urgent one, we decided that we had to change our Host provider. Not quite as simple as it sounds because as our old Hosts' servers were constantly down we couldn't just copy the site over to a new Host and re-launch it, it had to be completely re-built, from scratch!
Now, I am no computer genius, and neither is my other half, but she had already built the first site and she set about doing it again. if you have ever tried this you will know that it requires a knowledge of 'coding' which to the uninitiated viewer looks like complete gobbledegook. It's coming along though, and we would love people to take a look and let us know what they think of the new site Volunteer Romania. We have now received a very generous offer of help from someone who is far more expert than we are, so Ali is busy putting all of the information that he needs together so that he can take over and allow us to get on with the rest of the jobs.
Then, to cap it all, on our first day in the garden, I fell over, stupidly. trouble is I fell right on to a pile of metal that we had moved, badly cut my hands and ended up with a cut on my leg and on my stomach. The cuts in my hands are so bad that I have been unable to wield any tools to get on with things, so I, just like Ali, am stuck back here on the laptop all day long, just doing whatever I can to help move things forward.
John, our friend and co-worker who lives with us has done a stirling job keeping everything going in the garden and cutting the grass that was just getting longer and longer and without his efforts we really would be in a mess right now.
We will perservere though. The information for the website will take a couple of days to complete and my hands are healing, so soon we really will be able to get on with things properly and achieve some of those goals that we have given ourselves for this year.
Keep an eye out, hopefully it will be interesting.