Dear Everyone,

Just a little news on a Sunday, with Romanian classical radio in one ear (much better than French, as really lovely music ALL the time, with plenty to discover, composers I've never heard of, and the presenter speaks slowly enough so I can understand, which is very thoughtful of him!).... I just came back from my first service at the Anglican church, which I have to say was a very unreligious experience on the whole! Apart from the service itself of course - the usual Eucharist, which was lovely to be part of again after so long. It was like being transported back to St. Pauls twenty years ago and at one point I felt quite overcome! It was a relief to know my memory was still active and I didn't need the order of service. The hymns were a bit happy clappy, but one or two nice ones, 'Love Divine All Love Excelling' and 'Oh Gracious Love' had me singing gustily! We were a small group - around 20 people and a few kids who went off to Sunday School to learn about Samson and Delilah.

I must admit that my reasons for going were highly spiritually unwholesome - I wanted to have a good sing (I did... and there were consequences!) and do some networking in the hope of eventually getting contacts for a new job.

Well, as usual, things always happen here with reason for me. As I said, I don't look for stuff - stuff happens to me. Behind me sat a lady alone, and half way through the service, she started to cry. I could hear a lot of sniffing and nose blowing going on, so when it came to the Peace, I turned round and gave her a hug... there followed a great sobbing on my shoulder and I wasn't quite sure what to do, to be honest, so I kind of handed her to the man next to her who looked completely out of his depth! After the service, I went and sat next to her, took her hand and didn't say anything (a bit of déjà vu with memories of the first day I met Granny Marion coming to mind). About two minutes past and she started to talk. She didn't tell me why she was crying, but talked about the church, her family, her job - she works at '9 o'clock', the English newspaper for ex-pats in Romania. Conversation continued as it does and I asked if she had any vacancies at the paper, and indeed, they were looking for a proof reader!! Ha! So, I gave her one of the CVs I'd put in my handbag and she'll call me with an interview date. It'd only be part time, paid peanuts, but I could find something else to compliment it. It'd be fun working for a newspaper! I quite fancy the idea!

Off I went in search of the tea urn (it wasn't far as it's a tiny church - there's no hall), and a man who'd been sitting in front of me came over. he said he'd loved to hear me sing the hymns and was I a singer, to which I said no, but I loved to sing and sang in a good choir in Paris - that was enough - he called over a bunch of people and announced that he'd found someone to start a church choir... 'er... no, I sing in a choir, I've conducted choirs, but I'm not sure if I could be a choir mistress!!!' They weren't having any of it. No excuses. Even if I wouldn't be there every week, they wanted it absolutely, so voilà, quoi. They've got no sheet music, no piano (a rotten keyboard with 3 octaves or the organ, which is a very nice one!), and most of them don't even read music! So, choir practices will be Sundays at 16h30 when I'm here, a capella and no music!!!!! HEEEEEEEEELP!!!!!

I met a lovely American lady called Nancy, who lives 30km frm Bucharest but comes as often as she can. She's married to Eugene, a Romanian who refuses to leave his country and uproot to the States so as a result, Nancy has been here for over 20 years. They're a good 70 years old each and quite charming. Sarah, a teacher like me, lived in Paris for 4 years and didn't much care for it. Then she taught in Uzbekhistan and Minsk, and after that, coming to Bucharest was divine she said. She's been here for 11 years and has no intention of leaving. Vlad is the sacrister, rather strange but nice enough and the vicar's hilarious. Looks like the manager from that series 'The Office'! Next week, the visiting vicar is the owner of the bar 'Whispers' down by Cismigiu where my colleagues go to watch the rugby, so that'll be worth hearing! Anyway, bref, rather a busy morning! There was another lady who was very brightly dressed and had a mouth full of gold teeth. I was suitably mesmorised - it was a bit like looking at the Crown Jewels every time she spoke (Romanian only and I didn't understand a word she said). It was a welcome change to meet people who love living here and had warm and affectionate things to say about Romania which has become the country of my heart. They weren't the least bit surprised that I loved being here so much. At last! We had a big exchange of cards, phone numbers and emails, and I wait for my social life to explode!

The kind couple who own the house above and my studio just got back from the Black Sea. i'm very happy to see them. They both look well and sun kissed. I managed quite a chat with Dna Mandica which just goes to show that my Romanian isn't as nul as I feared. It's a question of getting over the terror of making mistakes and looking stupidI just have to be forced to speak!!! How I understand my students in Paris who are too scared to dive in!

All for now.

Til soon and happy Sunday!

Love Sarah