Winter in Transylvania

Why is it so much colder in this part of Transylvania?
Good question! A Romanian friend of mine came up with this explanation! "The region Paul chose to live in is the coldest area of Romania. The so called North Pole or Cold Pole of the country is only 26 miles south from him.

Winter sunset

Paul's village is where I've placed the green place mark.
The Cold Pole is represented by the blue pin (3).
The (1) and (2) yellow and red pins are another two places where usually the temp drops more than normal.

The reason for lower temps is that the circled area is in a corner of a depression in the mountains, surrounded by a chain of over 2000 m mountains to the South and East (green line), so the westerly winds (predominant winds in Europe - red arrows) are deflected upwards and build up a high pressure in the area - that's why there are almost no winds in the area.

Walking in the Carpathian mountains

Early yesterday morning these were the lowest temperatures recorded this winter in Romania:-
* -31C at the blue pin
* -26C at the yellow pin
* -25 at the red pin (60 miles North from the village)
* -24 where it says Brasov *
whereas in the rest of Romania the temperature was around -10C."

Why are winters so cold here?

Bringing logs down from the mountain
Bringing logs down from the mountains in Transylvania is no easy affair if you don't own a tractor. Even with a tractor some areas of the forest are totally inaccessible by vehicles, so oxen or horses have to be deployed.

Extracting log from forest with oxen

Temperatures were well below freezing but work has to go on. Some of the tracks in the forest are incredibly steep, so a great deal of strength is required from these animals to drag the timber. Once onto the road it was much easier with a sheet of ice to slide the logs along.

Wood Delivery
Late last evening the wood was delivered after we loaded the horse and cart at Istvan's house. These two horses were so well behaved and the young lad that handled them managed to work them with such fine control.

Wood delivery

In the video clip below, he had slightly over run the gates to the house, so he put the horses into reverse before swinging them round into the drive.

After the cart was loaded we followed in my Land Rover just in case any pieces of wood fell out. On arrival I opened the gates to my garden so the horses could enter.

Wood delivery

Once inside the garden I unloaded the cart with the help of my friends and piled it close to the guest house, ready for my neighbour to cut with his portable circular saw this morning.

Wood delivery

My neighbour made quick work of cutting the wood with this fine contraption!

Elemer with his portable circular saw

Elemer with his portable circular saw

Once finished my neigbour disconnected the prop shaft to the saw, raised the rig and then drove off to the next customer. All of my wood was cut in less than twenty minutes.

The Winter Freeze!
Winter has truly set in and has come as a bit of a surprise to me. When living in the UK, there would be cold snaps maybe with snow, but you can always guarantee within a few days things would warm up and then the slush would take over. Here in Ojdula we have been averaging temperatures as low as -15 to -20 centigrade  every night. This is ongoing and it really changes the way you live from day to day.

Boys on horse drawn sled

Boys on horse drawn sled

When starting the Land Rover in the morning I have to scrape the inside of the windows as much as the outside. A period of at least 5 minutes warm up is essential and running the engine at full revs when this cold really isn't a good idea. I have 50% antifreeze to 50% water too, just to make sure the pipes remain intact. I have already had to change one of my two batteries too. If a battery is close to the end of its life, then these low temperatures will kill it for sure.

Paul in snow covered Defender

Winter driving in the Vrancea

As mentioned in previous posts, a lot of the work and preparation during the fairer weather seasons is geared toward the harshest of seasons, the winter. Only now am I grasping this concept of good winter preparation, because it really could be a matter of life and death. When I first came to live in Ozsdola I thought it would simply be a case of calling the gas company to get connected and the same with water. Oh, how wrong I was! No gas supply in the village and no mains water. Everyone uses wood here, and the earlier in the year you buy your wood the cheaper it is. First I need to contact the supplier, then the wood is supplied to me on a weight basis. Once the price and amount has been agreed, I then arrange a horse and cart with one of the villagers to deliver it for me. The wood is usually supplied in one metre lengths, which then requires reducing in size before use in the wood burner or stove. This is done by a neighbour who comes to my place with a portable circular saw. This reliance on each other in the village could be a subject matter for a whole new post, but suffice it to say, I think this one factor alone promotes a very healthy, socially orientated and respectful community, that could teach us a lot in the west. Here where living conditions are often tough, are dealt with by promoting a mutually cooperative spirit to get through life together. In a way I find that people here take life much more seriously as the consequences for not doing so could be ultimate and harsh.

Zsolt cutting wood
Here is my neighbour Zsolt Vitalyos cutting wood

Zsolt in wood shed

Quality of wood is also a factor to consider when buying. The harder the wood the slower it burns. Then you have to decide how thick the pieces of wood need to be. For faster burning especially when cooking smaller pieces are better. For overnight burning to keep the cold out of the house, thicker and bigger is better.

Paul with wood burner

Paul with wood burner

Earlier this year I had to make a decision as to how my heating was to be delivered to my house. Central heating or traditional stoves? I have the use of both at the moment. The place where I am staying at the moment because my house has no water has a traditional wood burner with hot plate for cooking. The burner is surrounded with bricks and then thick tiles which retain the heat overnight. I find this system very efficient. The downside is that they tend to take up a lot of space and you need one in each room. So I have opted for a wood burning stove which is located in my garage which has a system of water pipes surrounding it. This water after being heated is then pumped around the house to radiators. It also heats the water to a water tank in the bathroom for the shower. This tank can also be heated with electricity, so no need to light a fire in the summer. The common name for this is a 'hybrid system'. The heating system is closed and combined water with antifreeze. I still do not have a water supply, so will have to consider a bore hole very soon! This is a pity as I have my new kitchen floor down, so if I had water i could move in permanently.