Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Random thoughts

Posted by Andy Hockley on 14 April, 2008

I’m just back from England, where I attended the annual IATEFL conference in Exeter with Erika and something like 1600 other people. It was a good trip, though I wasn’t feeling at my best, since the cough I had a few weeks ago turns out to have been pneumonia (or at least some similar non-specific lung inflammation, of similar levels of intensity). I am waiting today to have another delightful visit to Csikszereda’s hospital so that I can work out whether or not more treatment is necessary (this possibly will involve spending a few nights in the aforementioned building while I get regular injections of antibiotics and/or monitoring of rampant blood pressure which has risen in accompaniment of the lung thing. So if I don’t post anything here for a while it is likely because I am stuck in hospital and hence offline.

One of the things that I have complained about often in Romania is the fact that people are so incredibly nesh here. If I dare to take Paula out in 20 degree temperatures without a hat, I get older people especially looking at me like I’m inhumane and ought to be arrested. You see people wearing cotton wool in their ears just to keep the draughts out (and also sounds and other such troublesome things). But I think there has to be some kind of happy medium between the approach to temperature in Romania and the approach to temperature in England.

To set the scene we flew into Luton last Sunday in the middle of a raging blizzard. In April. In southern England. No idea what’s going on. Anyway, it only really snowed on that day, but the temperature never really got very warm – most nights there was a heavy frost, and the daytime temps never rose much above 7 degrees. But in the midst of this hardly summery weather people walked around wearing not much more than their underwear. Mostly these people were teenagers, and especially teenage girls, it is true, so one can put some of this masochistic lunacy down to the vagaries of fashion, but it is a fashion which seems remarkably long-lasting. Whenever I go back and find myself wandering round an English town of an evening I usually find myself marvelling at the lack of warm clothing on those out carousing. This year, if anything the phenomenon has either got worse, or prolonged exposure to Romania has made me more sensitive to it. Perhaps I am becoming assmiliated and before long I, too, will be tutting concernedly at parents whose children are not buried in a vast heavily-lined, multi-layered, all-over burqa; wearing large clumps of cotton wool in my ears; and furiously closing every window in the train.

Posted in romania, travel, uk, weather | 4 Comments »

Dubai the by

Posted by Andy Hockley on 23 January, 2008

So in a miracle of rapid reorganisation, my Afghanistan trip has been placed in Dubai. That means that not only do I have a new destination, but so do a bunch of Afghans, Iranians and Kyrgyzstanis. Within 3 days of the bomb going off (and I mean that literally) more or less everything bar a few last minute visa hitches had been put in place for the new venue.

Hence I sit here in the Emirates lounge at Munich airport, bound for the highly peculiar city of Dubai. (I was actually the first person in this lounge so I got the run of the place including the TV remote, meaning I am sitting here sipping a very nice “Schneider Weisse” beer, watching Tunisia vs Senegal on a big screen TV and pootling about on my computer. It’s all very civilised. To begin with I was outnumbered 10-1 by staff, but now others have arrived to disturb my center-of-attention status. None of them have ventured into my zone though, finding themselves uninterested in African football – which is sad for them as it is a cracking match.)

I had been hoping for a spectacular temperature differential between Csikszereda and Dubai so I could flaunt my destination in people’s faces and tell them I’d be on the beach while they shivered in sub -30 icy chills, but in a curious turn of fate, on Monday this week it reached 11 degrees in Szereda (that’s PLUS eleven) while the temp in Dubai was a mere 18 (and even dipped as low as 9 at night). So, my heartless gloating was put on hold. This morning was much better though as we drove through a raging blizzard to get to the airport (much better from a “ha ha I’m going to Dubai” perspective, rather than a safe driving perspective).

Last weekend we went up to the local ski resort, amid the slowly melting snows in the unseasonal thaw. You may not be aware but in your house you have an almost perfect sledge. Slick, glossy, plastic, slightly cambered for minimum friction. Know what it is yet? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s a toilet seat. We found one on the mountain (presumably used by someone else for the same purpose – at least that’s what I’m telling myself), and zipped down the snow in our virtually frictionless way (note to any scientifically minded pedants whose fingers are as we speak hovered over the keyboard angrily composing a response – yes I know it’s not frictionless or even close to being so, but it’s poetic licence. If you’d flown down the side of a mountain on a toilet seat you’d use the same level of hyperbole. Honest). More sedately, I went cross country skiing for the first time in bloody yonks, and remembered how much I like it. In Dubai apparently there is a shopping mall with a ski resort in it (that’s Dubai for you). I wonder if they have any cross-country sections?

Posted in travel, weather | 4 Comments »

Transylvaniara

Posted by Andy Hockley on 5 January, 2008

When one arrives at Luton airport to take the plane to Cluj, there is no mention of the city to which the plane flies – the departure boards and the check in lines all read “Transylvania” – I am struggling to think of any other place one could fly to in which the city is not mentioned. Malta is one, but then Malta is a small island which is (to all intents and purposes) one city with lots of bits. Transylvania is very large, and, well, you could be landing anywhere from Oradea to Brasov, two cities that must be getting on for 500 kms apart.

Anyway, it turned out to be a very good thing that we were flying back to Transylvania on Thursday, since, if we’d tried to fly to Bucharest we’d have been up shit creek without a paddle, as it appears the entire south of Romania was blanketed in a blizzard of epic proportions that day, and both of Bucharest’s airports were shut for hours (and hours) . So, hurrah for Transylvania, in which the roads were clear, the sky was blue (though it was – and still is- colder than a witch’s tit) and the parking was miraculously free at the airport (and the car started first time despite sitting outside in sub -10 degree temperatures for a week).

The upshot of this is that I am now back home and will resume blogging in a 2008 stylee very shortly.

Posted in transylvania, weather | 1 Comment »

Viva Zapada

Posted by Andy Hockley on 21 October, 2007

It is snowing. It has been snowing since before we woke up. So far today (October 21st, let us not forget) we’ve had more snow in Csikszereda than we did in the entirety of last winter. I’m never really keen on heavy snowfall before the leaves have all fallen off the trees.

I have the strong sense that this winter is going to be a brutal one. If El Nino meant an easy, mild, and snow free winter, I suspect his sister will herald a hard, cold, and precipitous one. Balls.

Posted in weather | 1 Comment »

The Good Life

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 July, 2007

There are days when it is very good to live in Csikszereda. That’s not to say there are days when it’s bad to live in Csikszereda, it’s just that most of the time one doesn’t look around and say to oneself “Csikszereda is the most exciting place in the world/Romania in which to reside”. As I’ve said before it has many things to recommend it, and other things that may make one think twice about choosing, voluntarily, to move here.

One of the latter points is usually the temperature. It is well known within Romania that this is the coldest place in the country, and when the mercury drops to -35 in the winter, it can cause you to question your judgement, sanity, and appendages. Currently though, this negative is most decidedly a positive. Romania (and other countries in the region) are still gripped by an oppressive heatwave which has sent temperature soaring towards 40 degrees. In the shade. That’s pretty seriously hot. Here today it got up, I think, to around 33. That’s still pretty hot, and out in the sun was fairly oppressive. But, it’s better than everywhere else in Romania. A couple of weeks ago i did a teacher training workshop here in the town, for which people came from various different destinations, mostly within Transylvania. One woman came all the way from Galati, and was so happy to be in the relative cool of the mountains. OK we don’t have the Rolling Stones playing here, but we do have Boban Markovic playing just down the road this week (and to be entirely honest I’m actually more interested in going to a concert of the latter rather than the former).

So this evening as I survey the temperatures afflicting the rest of the country, I can sit here sipping my ice cold Bere Ciuc, and truthfully say “This is the best place to live in Romania”. Long may the heatwave last.

Posted in csikszereda, weather | 1 Comment »

From Székelyföld to Sheffield

Posted by Andy Hockley on 27 June, 2007

At opposite ends of Europe dramatically different weather conditions. Romania sweltered yesterday in +40° temperatures (not here as such, but it did get well above 30), with the news showing that in the sun in Bucharest it was over 60°; with news reporters, from all stations it seems, frying eggs on parked cars (can’t somebody find a new and creative way to illustrate the concept of really really fucking hot?); and with (again on all stations) high heeled shoes sinking into pavements.

Meanwhile back in the UK, it’s really raining. And I don’t mean it’s just raining in the traditional daily English sense, I mean raining in the apocalyptic noah’s ark sense (I may have mixed my biblical references there, but who really knows).

Here, for example, pictured yesterday, is a place in which I have spent many happy hours (and, let’s face it, a fair few miserable ones too):

For those unfamiliar with this most beautiful of locations (not that there should be that many people that applies to, since being unfamiliar with this place is a bit like being unfamiliar with the Taj Mahal), this is not some expensive water polo arena, but in fact, a football stadium. Or THE football stadium to be strictly accurate.

(I believe “Time to bring on the subs” is the humorous caption you need here)

Posted in romania, uk, weather | 2 Comments »

Wednesday weak

Posted by Andy Hockley on 16 May, 2007

I have nothing much to post, except to pass on this great link to a piece about searching for painted eggs among the Ukrainian community of Romanian Bucovina. And to report on the frozen saints (as mentioned a couple of days ago), who must have been on holiday this year. It turned out to be the hottest three or four days of the year so far – reaching 30 degrees at times, which for Csikszereda is August temperatures, not May. We’re all doomed I tell you.

Posted in links, weather | Leave a Comment »

Wednesday weak

Posted by Andy Hockley on 16 May, 2007

I have nothing much to post, except to pass on this great link to a piece about searching for painted eggs among the Ukrainian community of Romanian Bucovina. And to report on the frozen saints (as mentioned a couple of days ago), who must have been on holiday this year. It turned out to be the hottest three or four days of the year so far – reaching 30 degrees at times, which for Csikszereda is August temperatures, not May. We’re all doomed I tell you.

Posted in links, weather | Leave a Comment »

Frozen Saints

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 May, 2007

It was cold yesterday, much colder than it has been for ages. I went out for a bike ride in the afternoon, and actually needed to work harder just to stave off the chill. Then Erika mentioned that she thought that it was one of the frozen saints’ fault.

The frozen saints “Fagyos szentek” are Pongrác, Szervác, and Bonifác (and possibly Orban). I’m still trying to work out what those names translate as in English, without much success, but since they’re Saints, they must have equivalents – Bonifác is, I believe, “Boniface” and Orban “Urban” but I have never heard of anyone actually called these names, so probably Pongrác and Szervác are even more obscure.

Their relevance to the weather is that in May there are 3 or 4 days which are (according to folk wisdom) always cold – and in fact it is advised that you don’t put your crops/plants that could be damaged by frost out until after the last of them has been and gone. These days are the saints days of Pongrác, Szervác, Bonifác, and Orban. But having done a bit of checking it seems like the first three are actually May 12th, 13th and 14th (ie not yesterday but this weekend). More details (in Hungarian). Orban is on the 25th.

So now you know. If tomorrow is cold it’s the fault of that bloody St. Pongrác. Who, having done a bit more googling, seems like he might actually be St. Pancras. One of those saints (perhaps the only one) who is more commonly known as the name of a railway station. In fact, until that moment I hadn’t stopped to consider that there was someone around once who was called Pancras. Amazing what appears when you start aimlessly looking stuff up.

Posted in traditions, weather | 2 Comments »

Frozen Saints

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 May, 2007

It was cold yesterday, much colder than it has been for ages. I went out for a bike ride in the afternoon, and actually needed to work harder just to stave off the chill. Then Erika mentioned that she thought that it was one of the frozen saints’ fault.

The frozen saints “Fagyos szentek” are Pongrác, Szervác, and Bonifác (and possibly Orban). I’m still trying to work out what those names translate as in English, without much success, but since they’re Saints, they must have equivalents – Bonifác is, I believe, “Boniface” and Orban “Urban” but I have never heard of anyone actually called these names, so probably Pongrác and Szervác are even more obscure.

Their relevance to the weather is that in May there are 3 or 4 days which are (according to folk wisdom) always cold – and in fact it is advised that you don’t put your crops/plants that could be damaged by frost out until after the last of them has been and gone. These days are the saints days of Pongrác, Szervác, Bonifác, and Orban. But having done a bit of checking it seems like the first three are actually May 12th, 13th and 14th (ie not yesterday but this weekend). More details (in Hungarian). Orban is on the 25th.

So now you know. If tomorrow is cold it’s the fault of that bloody St. Pongrác. Who, having done a bit more googling, seems like he might actually be St. Pancras. One of those saints (perhaps the only one) who is more commonly known as the name of a railway station. In fact, until that moment I hadn’t stopped to consider that there was someone around once who was called Pancras. Amazing what appears when you start aimlessly looking stuff up.

Posted in traditions, weather | 2 Comments »