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Pre-holiday busyness [Sep. 24th, 2006|08:21 pm]
Busy trying to finish all the tasks which must be completed before we go on holiday: work, washing and finding things and packing them, writing this and other diary matter, and so on. In addition, last week our friend David came for a few days visit. It's always good to see David, but the timing of this visit was caused by family crises, rather than because it suited any of us: at another time we'd have been freer to enjoy David's company, rather than scurrying off to work.

In one way, though, the timing was perfect: David spent most of August in (or on the way to and from) Romania, at a dig in Constanta (on the Danube delta). It was great to be able to ask him practical questions about climate and currency and roads, but even better simply to talk to someone who was as enthusiastic as we are about our trip to Romania, keen to trace our route on the map (his map, which has already proved very useful) and wistful about visiting the area where we will be touring, and which he drove through at speed.

Whereas the commoner reaction is to ask what made us decide to go to Romania (in various degrees of incredulity). What I answer depends on who I'm talking to:
  • Ever since I first saw pictures (not very good pictures, in a book I was leafing through at the Rudolf Steiner Press in Museum Street, long ago - but that's another story) of the painted monasteries, I've wanted to see them.

  • The countryside also looks very beautiful. "The land beyond the forest", how could that not be worth a visit?

  • It's a linguistic anomaly: a Romance language, way east of all the others. Or, if you prefer, it's the rim of the Roman empire (Tomis, where Ovid was exiled, is Constanta where David was digging), just as we are here, in the lee of the Wall. I love these borderlands, of the Empire and yet not of it.

  • The family tradition is that my maternal great-grandmother (my mother's mother's mother) came from Romania. Don't build too much on this: that is all I know, and I can't document it (whereas I have a copy of the naturalisation papers of my mother's father's father). I'm not setting out to explore or rediscover any kind of roots, but I like precisely that vague degree of connection.