I don’t say this often, but thank goodness for Dervla. We’d decided to follow marked tractor trail no. 15 from Jina, and if we hadn’t pre-programmed the head of the trail there’s no way we’d have found it otherwise. Jina was a warren of rough roads and tracks, and the trail itself sporadically marked. Fortunately it was a ridge walk so it was nigh impossible to get lost, and we came across plenty of farmers who’d have no doubt set us right if we had.

The trouble with early starts though is that we usually ended up hitting ‘rush hour’ in each of the villages along the way. This would mean Lulu having to avoid various obstacles,  from herds of cows to old people, cars stopped for a chat with a pedestrian in the middle of the road, or workers repairing a telegraph pole by precariously suspending the wires just a few feet above passing cars.

We seemed to attract a lot of attention from the villagers today. But then I suppose we do look a little unusual, what with my purple walking boots and Rich’s ABI. Fortunately he’d not worn his canary yellow Norwich City t-shirt. A shepherd stood and watched us climb gently away from Lulu, and we returned lots of smiles and waves from passing tractors and small trucks. By 9.30am everyone was hard at work in the fields, piling the hay into huge piles, or collecting berries in the woods.

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Thanks to the use of few if any pesticides, there’s an abundance of wild flowers, grass hoppers, butterflies and bees. The grass hoppers in particular enjoyed jumping out at us and eliciting little yelps of suprise. I ignored the fact that we could also hear snakes hissing in the grass. So too did the group of trekkers that we came across mid morning. They were a lovely German family who’d been backpacking from Saliste over 3 days using the unpaved road from Crint, and camping by the side of it. We’re brave, but I don’t think we’re brave enough to camp where there are wolves and bears, and not many people around to rescue us! It gave Rich the opportunity to converse in German, making me feel quite pathetic about what feels often like a rudimentary grasp of English. Being deaf is not an obstacle to learning to speak several languages it seems. Rich is a man of many talents. And yes I probably don’t tell him that often enough.

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We walked on for another hour before stopping for a snack and more suncream at Vf. Guga Mare. Here’s a big shout out for Green People’s factor 25! Highly recommended if you have sensitive skin, want to help save the planet from nasty chemicals, but still like nice smelling tings. It’s the best sunscreen I’ve ever come across, and I’ve tried quite a few. After slip, slap, slopping we turned around, marveling as we always do at how different a linear route can seem when you’re walking in the opposite direction. It really was a fantastic route, especially given the glorious weather. The bedrock in this area is a type of schist and it glistens like silver in the sun.

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Unsurprisingly the return journey was as eventful as all of our car journeys have been in Romania. I had to pull over 3 times to let speed freaks pass, but managed to enjoy the drive, despite Rich screaming “slow down!” or “look out!” a few times. I tend to do the same to him mind. Except that he can’t really hear me. Lulu is lovely bless her, but at 1.2 litres she’s designed for zipping in and out of city traffic, not this.

We got back to the cottage just after 3pm, in time to make use of the washing machine one last time before we headed off into the wilds on Sunday. Rich had done the usual and only bought 4 pairs of pants, and I didn’t fancy him doing the turning them inside out thing, because that’s just rank. We manage very well without such luxuries when we travel, but it is nice when we do have access to them. Stops us getting quite so smelly.

‘Cock head’ seems to have gotten his body clock very confused and started crowing at 5.15pm, or maybe he was just saying hello to the sheep being herded through the village. Still he woke me from my nap in plenty of time to cook a tasty dinner of fried garlic potatoes; tomato and water melon salad (try it – tastes goooood!); sheep’s cheese, onion and olive salad; and pork escalopes. Can you tell that we enjoy cooking and eating? It’s always a delight to have access to new ingredients, and we both enjoy trying new foods and making delicious meals even when it seems like the cupboard and fridge are bare.

By 9.15pm we were back in the cubby hole making the most of the warm weather to read, write and dream about having our own flower lined courtyard, complete with lots of cobbles and cats. Like Rich said, we’re in our element when we travel, and seem to thrive on overcoming challenges. If someone were to ask me how to improve their confidence and broaden their mind, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that they travel, and walk in the mountains. For me, walking is a form of meditation, and allows me to literally see the wood from the trees.

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