In a couple of days’ time I’ll be off on another trip to Romania. I’m looking for stories relating to shepherding traditions and to families of shepherds who practised transhumance (the movement of livestock between summer and winter pastures) in southern Russia, the Crimea and the Caucasus from the 19th century onwards. As well as that my aim is to visit some mountain folds, talk to Peter Hurley, the prime mover behind the Drumul Lung cultural festival in Maramures, go to a Franco-Romanian seminar on rural development and – with luck and a fair wind – leg it some 200km on foot across the Carpathians in hot pursuit of a flock as it makes its way to the iernat (winter grazing grounds).
It won’t be a completely rustic venture because I want to see for myself how, apparently unhindered by planning controls of any kind, developers are completing the destruction of some of Bucharest’s finest architecture (the few splendid remains of the old city that Ceausescu didn’t manage to bulldoze – not that Romania has a monopoly on ruining beautiful places), and I hope, catch some of the latest productions in Romanian theatre.
You can follow some of my Romanian interests on my website, http://www.mamaliga.co.uk, and if you’ve got iPlayer, listen to my piece on Smalzul, the milk measuring ceremony, for the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent, here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00h05sk/From_Our_Own_Correspondent_Libya_and_Romania/broadcast