I am lying in a field filled with flowers, surrounded by the buzzing of numerous bugs and bees. The fresh air blankets me from the mountains that circle my chosen location and I can smell the fresh grass under me.

I have been lying here a while, soaking it all in, reflecting on things, when two local ramblers stumble on my location – I am not sure who is more surprised. We spend almost 40 minutes chatting in broken English and then they wish me well and leave me to my little slice of Eden.

I lie back down and get back to focusing on my environment. From this position, every leaf, stalk or petal comes in to sharp focus and I have started to identify the different pitch of each species of bee, an orchestra playing their favourite piece just for me, bringing with it: serenity!

Taking time out…

I had a brief gap in a very busy schedule and I could feel my resilience slipping. I knew I needed to get away and get some space to step back and rebalance. Quick call to a friend about where I can go at short notice for 4 days and I find myself with plans to visit Romania to spend some time in the mountains and to watch some bears. Via a quick discussion, he knows that I like a good mix of activity and relaxation and has planned a tailor made trip that fits all the elements I am looking for – time to lie in a field and explore a castle or two (and don’t forget the opportunity to watch bears and drive one of the most famous roads in Europe – the Transfaragasan Highway)

The trip kicks off with a visit to Peles Castle and then 2 nights just outside of Bran – made famous by Bram Stoker and his stories of Dracula. I spend a day exploring the countryside, the village and visiting the infamous castle. The next day, I am driven to another mountain range where the bears can be found and then to Brasov, a walled city with a very large Black church for one night only.

I catch up with my friend for dinner and he tells me about a place in Romania where they don’t use money as a currency – they make their own produce and barter for all the things they need

The last day is spent driving up to Balea lake (the home of the ice hotel in winter) and climbing to one of the highest peaks, before a very scenic drive through the Transfaragasan mountains (featured in Top Gear as Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite road to drive), another castle (rumoured to be the true home of Dracula) and back to Bucharest for the evening before flying home.

What stays with me

  • The majesty of the mountains that offer up a plethora of wildlife from the array of fauna that inhabit the fields (bees, butterflies, birdlife and other beetle species) to the larger animals that you hope you don’t stumble across (bears, wolves, wild boars), some of the freshest air you will ever breathe and a sense of serenity with every step you take.
  • The chance to see bears in their natural environment. We saw three bears while in the hide, one young male (with paws the size of a shovel), his sister and the tiniest bear cub you will ever have the good fortune to see in the wild ( the rangers were leaving food out as its mother had abandoned it and they want it to survive)
  • The humility of the people. Despite not being able to speak a word of English (or in my case Romanian) , the Romanians are welcoming, friendly and eager to help. The majority have very little but this does not stop them from celebrating the simple life. A friend tells me there is a place in Romania where they do not use any money but exchange what they have produced for other items that they need.

Finding Tranquility

During my quiet times, I have practiced mindfulness absorbing very detail of my environment down to the silvery fineness of a bees wings and the silkiness of the fur on their bodies. I have managed to tune in to my environment to such an extent that I can identify the different pitch of the different bee species when they buzz.

During the busier times, I have visited castles from legends and fairy tales, conquered a mountain range and walked round medieval villages was ruled by Russia.

This break has given me the time I needed to rebuild my resilience, reminded me of how blessed I am to be in a position to lead the life I do and allowed me the space to plan for the future.