BIZARRE FABLES, DRACULA AND TRAVELS IN ROMANIA
Updated: Jun 20, 2019
Some of the Bizarre Fables have a distinct atmosphere of Eastern Europe, but why is this so?
While the first stories were written in England before my marriage to Heather, we travelled to Romania in August 1999 to witness the full eclipse of the sun: a fact which also explains, perhaps, why the sun and moon have a cameo role in some of these tales.
It was our honeymoon, and we were blessed and fortunate when it came to seeing the eclipse. We saw the full magnificent spectacle from the shores of Snagov Lake; and afterwards we caught a boat to visit Snagov Monastery where, the resident Orthodox priest insisted, the grave were we shown was the final resting place of Vlad Tepes, the historical Dracula. Vlad is a hero to the Romanians: more like our King Arthur than a vampire; and so we did not think it wise to utter the name of Bram Stoker. But was Vlad actually there, beneath the slab? The priest said so. When archaeologists excavated the grave, some decades ago, they apparently found animal bones and, beneath those, a headless human skeleton which was wrapped in the remains of a golden robe. Romania was a fascinating place to visit: quite different from anything else we had experienced. I thought of the traditional Romanian cottages we had visited when writing Grandma's Soul; and the general landscape and mood of the Romanian countryside also informs that tale, in particular. It is also the landscape of Mother's Garden; and perhaps there is more than a touch of Vlad in the character of our brutal, ranting king. Heather was fascinated by the painted Eye of God, which one sees on so many of the old Romanian churches, and this symbol has appeared, subsequently, in her illustrations. We spent almost two weeks travelling around Romania, and we will never forget some sights - how could anyone forget, for instance, the vision of the Carpathian Mountains at dawn, as we travelled through them in a coach, high above deep valleys of mist?
When had only just been married as Anglicans in England, but we were actually married again in Romania, in an Orthodox Church and with full Orthodox ritual; but that is another story for another day….