I'm back in Romania, and the snow has arrived. In truth it arrived a while ago, and then went, but has now come back.
So I arrived ready for cold and misery, as reported by Alin my faithful driver.
Naturally, the minute I stepped onto the tarmac in Transylvania, the sun broke through, and has been shining to such an extent that I am now sporting a very healthy sun-tan.
And the hills! EVERYTHING is covered in the most magical pure white carpet. Not the grubby stuff we see in the UK. This is fluffy, virgin powder, full of sparkling lights and rainbows, and, when it hits your face from a branch springing back, is like a hydrating balm for tired, taut skin.
I've spent two days walking the hills with maps and sticks to be pushed it for reference points, with locals giving us names and delineating areas to buy. Yesterday I landed at 10:45, and was walking by noon. We eventually trudged back into Nemsa after the lights came on, but needed no torch to light our way. Deer, foxes, game birds, field mice, birds of prey, rabbits, hares,magpies - all whirled around us, deer coming within 20 or 30 feet, unafraid of our alien bulk. It was an utterly magical day, enlivened by fantastic vistas and and the sharpest air I've breathed for months.
As a result, lunch was about 6pm, and punctuated by a stream of the vendors haggling about areas and prices - this one complaining that they have had a health problem for 30 years so we should pay them more, that one that the geometrical surveyors had done them out of areas, so we should pay them more, or even just we should pay them more. But Alin is very good and ignores all pleas - we agree a price before and that's it. Sometimes he argues with the people and says to them to go away - if they want to come back, that's all right, but we might reduce the price ( we don't, but they don't know that).
So the day ended about midnight with some progress, and it all started again at 9am today. The fields were if anything even more magical, but the haggling afterwards never really changes.
We managed to finish relatively early, so made our way back to Sighisoara for lunch, which was an amazingly early 4:45 pm.
We went to the restaurant famous for its sarmale ( stuffed cabbage leaves) and found it locked.
In the garden area at the side there was clearly a party going on, so we peeked over the fence to see all the staff having a barbecue. Someone spotted Alin, and the cry went up " Alin's here! Alin's here" ( in Romanian of course) and nothing would do but we should join their feast. This is the season that the pigs are killed, and the sausages and other delicacies are made, and a barbeque is put on for the helpers.
The fresh killed pork, roasted on proper charcoal in the open air, was simply mouth-watering. The skin had crisped to perfection, and the baked potatoes, cabbage salads and tomatoes were of a quality and taste that puts every UK supermarket to shame. The home made wine flowed, and the chatter pierced the night as time went on.
Business was forgotten - except the owner of the restaurant told me he was getting rid of the tables and chairs and replacing them shortly.
" What are you going to do with the old ones?"
" Ow, I shall just throw them on the rubbish dump"
" In that case I'll take them ". Alin looked at me with horror.
" Mr. King , what you goin to do wid dem?"
" I don't know."
" Really? You are sure?"
" You are not having too much wine and schnapps?"
"No - I'm fine. It's fine"
" You are sure? " said the owner.
" Absolutely. And I will bring you a bottle of whisky from Scotland when I come back." At which point he spat on his palm, as I did, and the resounding smack sealed the deal.
And the stars sparkled in the black sky, and made it perfect.