A Life in the Slow Lane

The Hills Are Alive

I got so carried away last night musing on rural idylls that I forgot to mention our new campsite. It is a beautiful little site run by a Dutch couple and situated next to the river Moldova, from which both the current country of Moldova and the ancient kingdom of Moldavia derive their name. The site is called Camping Vuurplaats (47.535893, 25.416248) and has full facilities, albeit with fairly slow wifi. At the moment it is very full because a Dutch camping club has 14 vans on site. Some Dutch people seem to like travelling mob handed. Regular readers will recollect that we could not get onto a camping stop in Vergina, in Northern Greece, because the owner was expecting a group of 22 Dutch campers and again in Bucharest everyone was crammed on because of a separate group of 14 Dutchmen and women!

Today Sarah, the dogs and I decided to do a Julie Andrews and go prancing about in the Alpine meadows. The village of Fundu Modevei, in which the campsite is located, sits in a valley with beautiful mountains all around. I had enquired at reception and been told there was a pleasant walk up to the high meadows so that is what we decided to do.

The hills are alive to the sound of muuuuuuusic

The weather has been switching between long periods of sunshine interspersed with torrential thunderstorms and so leaving nothing to chance we packed all of our wet weather gear.

The villages in Romania tend to be good examples of ribbon development. They stretch, sometimes for miles, along the road, but only one or two properties deep. As a result we got a long walk through the lovely village before we had to exert ourselves in the hills. The village was pretty much as I described rural Romania yesterday, but today we saw it in close up. Most gardens are devoted entirely to vegetables and fruit. There is very little space given to flowers and shrubs. Nearly every house has a small elaborate structure with two large metal wheels on the outside. Sarah and I speculated as to what these were, but we got it wrong. On our return to the site it was explained that these were wells. Very elaborate wells is all I can say.


One of the less elaborate wells

Each village seems to have a different method for drying their hay. Yesterday we saw small pyramids of hay and also small stacks which resembled a tent with an air gap through the middle. In our village the method is a fence like structure over which the hay is draped to dry out. The walk through the village was almost like being a character from a Thomas Hardy novel were it not for the electricity and telephone cables.

Hay drying


Our climb into the hills was less relaxing. The route was very steep and, probably because I was carrying all our waterproofs in the rucksack, it was hot. We made good progress through the forest and eventually emerged into beautiful meadows. Presumably because of the altitude the meadows had not yet been cut. They were pastures the like of which we never see in Britain any more because of pesticides and herbicides. Grass was only a small part of the meadow. Much more was made up of a wonderful mixture of wild flowers. We’d moved from “Far from the Madding Crowd” to “Heidi”!

Sarah and Mabel

Fundu Moldovei

After Sarah and I had finished dancing and singing “the hills are alive” we all sat down in the grass and flowers and admired the fantastic view over the village far below and the surrounding mountains. As we sat and then lay in the grass we were surrounded by a huge diversity of insects and butterflies. In fact one innocuous looking small black insect seemed to not like our presence as both Sarah and I got stung in quick succession.

Fundu Moldovei

When we had had our fill of rural bliss we walked back down to the campsite. We hadn’t been back at Basil for more than five minutes when a storm blew up from nowhere engulfing us, now sitting safely inside, in strong winds, torrential rain and thunder. It lasted for 10 minutes or so and for the rest of the day sunshine has held sway. I knew there was a good reason for packing those waterproofs!


How to hunt when the grass is long and wet!

A new house. Notice the hand cut hay and “fences” for drying