Thanks to the thermal qualities of the cabin’s stove/radiator we spent the night in what felt like a sauna. Rather than sleeping we had to keep standing outside on the porch in our nightwear in a desperate attempt to cool down. As Rich’s nightwear consisted only of his pants, this may have alarmed the neighbours somewhat. Still, it meant that as we were wide awake we got to see the stunning 6.30am temperature inversion. It also meant that I managed to accidentally knock out one of the panes of glass from the bedroom window. As it stayed in one piece I simply propped it up on the ledge, and hoped that we didn’t get a storm. I also forgot to tell Julia that it had popped out. Me bad.

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As the bed in the bedroom was only three quarters sized I claimed it, and Rich slept on the single day bed in the kitchen/living area. I love him like no other, but I also need to sleep, and being squished up is no fun for either of us. There was another mattress over one of the benches in the corner which would sleep a child, but I’d say that the cabin only really sleeps two comfortably. Any more and you might drive each other nuts. Although I know that whole families including lots of furry things still live happily in cabins of this size. I’m obviously very protective of my space!

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By 8am it was crystal clear and we sat outside with our breakfast cuppa listening to the cowbells from the hills on either side, and the birds twittering from the guttering above. By 10am we’d set off to walk up Vf. Ascutit using the unmarked trails. Unfortunately, being unmarked trails we lost our way and ended up on a logging track instead. Using my female intuition, I guessed that we’d gone wrong at the big ‘Accusul interzis!’ (Access forbidden!) sign, but I could be wrong. Still whilst the track was very rough we managed to get up high and were happy to enough to keep climbing until we’d had enough, and then just backtrack.

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By the time we stopped for a late lunch by a shepherds hut we’d still not seen another soul. Valea Rece makes a perfect base for a walking holiday without the crowds. The village itself has two small shops, accommodation is cheap, and even the sheep are friendly.

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We returned to the cabin along a footpath which runs behind the village and past the church, just in time to miss a passing rain shower. The wind definitely picks up in the valley from mid afternoon, but when the sun is hot the breeze is most welcome. The super booster stove radiator was still warm from the evening before so we decided not to light it again but to use the small wood burning stove for cooking instead. Even this emits enough heat to warm the living area and bathroom, so at least we know that we’d be toasty if we ever stayed here in Winter.

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I love simple food cooked over fire, and tonight’s dinner of chicken in a tomato, onion, pepper and paprika sauce; slow cooked cabbage in butter; boiled potatoes; and a tomato and cucumber salad tasted like haute cuisine.

After dinner, Erika – the daughter of the house introduced herself. She seemed surprised that we were happy trekking under our own steam. It seems that most tourists hire a guide, but we’ve always been pretty self sufficient, and like to walk at a pace that we’re both comfortable with rather than one forced upon us. Sometimes we walk slower than organised groups, sometimes faster, but we always allow plenty of time for stopping to take in the view.

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As Rich noted once we’d sat down on the verandah to watch the sun set, if this were the Alps we’d have seen lots of lights from other chalets shimmering in the distance, and heard much more than bells. It really is a mountain oasis. By 9.40pm it was pitch black, the temperature had dropped and we sat mesmerised watching the moon ‘rise’. Forget pretty things and fancy gadgets, this is the stuff of which our dreams are made.

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