HOME!!!!

So, I’m back in Canberra, and the sun is shining (strongly), all the birds I’ve known since they were babies have reappeared on the front and back decks and have been looking at me desperately for food (it’s baby season in the Southern Hemisphere, and they had to eat CHEESE until I could get them some raw mince), and two paperback copies of The Landowner’s Secret were waiting for me on my front doorstep!

It was a fantastic decision to end the overseas trip in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital – and where I’d been only a few weeks ago – because it’s such a friendly city, full of great food, lots of culture, and some great cats!

Sonya Heaney Author Tbilisi Georgia Black Cat Saturday 5th October 2019

I made friends with this half-grown black kitten. I wanted to adopt him! This is me with him on our front balcony in Tbilisi two afternoons ago. Also: check out the steep streets in the old town!

The trip home was partially great, but largely full of the kind of people I want to – and probably will – base nasty characters on in the future. It’s so disheartening when you do nothing wrong, but people just choose to be horrid to you anyway. I came home shaking mad, but a glass of wine or three will fix that!

I’ll say this, though: major kudos to the African guy at security in Doha, Qatar, who was so wonderfully blasé about the whole thing! (88% of the city’s residents are expats.) He made the trip home for me. Also, the Qatar Airways staff are always great.

I have major, MAJOR work to do. One book to finish edits on by the end of October, and two more I want to have finished by the end of December. I planned to start tomorrow, but I’ve already done some work – in my jetlagged state!

What to do…?

After visiting the enormous, almost abandoned citadel at Rupea earlier today (picture below), we arrived in Brașov this afternoon. It’s a beautiful place, but when we arrived at our rental apartment in the historic centre there was a little black cat behind a nailed-closed wooden shutter on the floor below us, reaching out to us with both paws.

We didn’t think much of it, but every time we came past the cat was still there. And then when the sun set, and the mail still wasn’t collected from that doorstep, and no lights came on there, I went back down to investigate.

From what my rudimentary Romanian reading skills told me, the letters were all “final notice” electricty-type bills, and the last two were dated the 10th of September (it’s the 17th here).

The cat is trapped, and is STARVING, and even more desperate for water. It can’t meow anymore. We took some sliced ham and a bottle of water down and got as much to it as we could (which wasn’t much through the shutters).

Two young Romanian men in a car stopped and came to help, but nobody here speaks English, and even though my family is Ukrainian, the two countries (they’re neighbours) only have about two words in common in their languages.

I let one of the guys into the courtyard and he knocked on the apartment’s door and talked to the neighbours and tucked a note into the door, and the other mentioned calling the police – because what if the cat’s owner is hurt or dead in there? However, when she heard the word “police”, the maniac neighbour lady came out and yelled at all of us and shooed the men away.

I guess I’ll try and feed the cat for the next few days, and then get our apartment’s owner to help when we leave? If the cat’s owner has been missing over a week…?? I can’t just leave it…

Maybe we’re overreacting. Anyway, here are some pictures:

The ENORMOUS, tourist-free citadel in Rupea:

Brașov’s old town, complete with a Hollywood-style sign on the hill above:

There are stray cats everywhere. They’re gorgeous, and most people in restaurants etc. feed them:

Heading Overseas

A7-CJB_A319-133LR_Qatar_Airways_(5561141766)A7-CJB A319-133LR of Qatar Airways at Zurich on January 27, 2011.

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In a spot of impeccable timing, my publisher scheduled my book’s release for a few days after I’m due to fly to Europe. I’m leaving the country on Saturday, and will be in Romania and then Georgia for the coming weeks (I’m home in early October).

I have some posts scheduled for while I’m away, but because finishing another book completely zapped all the energy (and time!) out of me, I don’t have as many as I would have liked.

I haven’t had the chance to read up on anything in either country I’ll be in – I guess that will happen on the long, long, LONG journey over!

On this day…

eyam_church_derbyshire_1890 england victorian britain

The church in Eyam, circa 1890.

Tomorrow the village of Eyam in Derbyshire, England recognises “Plague Sunday”.

The day remembers the decision of the village’s reverend and his wife – in 1665 – to convince the plague-stricken residents to barricade themselves in so that the disease wouldn’t spread to other villages in the area.

Hundreds of people died, but other communities survived.

Below is a picture from last year, when we visited the old well on a hilltop outside the village, which is where others would come to leave the people of Eyam food.

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Rome: City and Empire

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We visited the Rome exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday afternoon (a tip: go late in the day and you won’t have to wait in a queue for an hour – but there’ll be some fingerprints on all the glass cabinets!).

Here are a few more shots:

The entrance (with me!).

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The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!

augustus vladimir putin rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra sonya heaney 20th january 2019

And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.

kerch crimea ukraine rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra

The Week: 31st December 2018 – 6th January 2019

Sunset on Friday – the hottest day this week.

Happy New Year. But – just as important – Merry Christmas again!

Making varenyky yesterday afternoon. We made ninety-five in the end (not all in this picture).

Today is Ukrainian Christmas Eve, which is The Big Day for Christmas in Eastern Slavic cultures. This evening is the time for kutyaborschtveranyky, and more presents.

Our resident baby magpie is having trouble with the heat

This time of year is always so hectic for me. Apart from anything else, it has been Really Hot in Canberra for weeks, with a “cold” day being about 35 Celsius. We’re constantly sweaty – and getting some absolutely massive spiders in the house!

Wish List for 2019

Book Feature: Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul

End-of-Year Escape

End-of-Year Escape

What happened to me after Christmas?

We left the Canberra heatwave two days after the holiday, and spent several days on the New South Wales South Coast (the *northern* part of the coast). However, we weren’t staying near the beach, but up here, high up in the escarpment, on an incredible property with acres of rainforest, wallabies, birds galore – all for us.

It was an isolated, amazing place to unwind at the end of the year.

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100 Years at Australian Parliament, Canberra.

The hundreds of thousands of poppies to mark one-hundred years of the end of the First World War have gone from other sites in Canberra (Australia’s capital city), but the 270 000 handmade poppies at Australian Parliament were still here until the end of the weekend.

I drove past last week, but on Saturday we actually stopped and took some pictures.

As part of the British Empire, Australia committed to the war in mid-1914 – before Britain even declared it. Most of our contributions are hidden; because we were part of the Empire, our troops are often recorded as “British” (as were New Zealand, Canadian etc. contributions to the war effort).

I’m glad we’ve done some beautiful things to commemorate the event.