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Towersey Morris in Transylvania

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In 2014, Robyn Thorogood of Towersey Morris and Jim Turnbull met on the Taste Transylvania stand at Towersey Festival and the idea of a tour was first hatched. Nothing much happened until Towersey Morris performed in front of the Taste Transylvania stand at the 2016 Festival and were offered traditional hospitality — a shot of palinca, in this case home distilled elderflower brandy. By the time a second round had been consumed, a tour for August 2017 was being enthusiastically planned.

Visits with performances included the heritage town of Sighisoara and villages of Saschiz, Mosna and Viscri.

This enthusiasm was overheard by a member of BURP (Berkhamsted Ukulele Random Players) and not long afterwards they were performing and, of course, were offered traditional hospitality.

Leaving a cold and wet England behind, both groups travelled to Romania on Thursday 10th August. A minor challenge on arrival was the weather — a heat wave with day time temperatures exceeding 35C.

Robyn Thorogood said: "Our Towersey Morris visit to Transylvania realised all our expectations and far more. The lasting memory I will have was the excellent sharing of cultures. Our offering of traditional Cotswold Morris dancing was more than matched by, for example, ancient sheep milking and cheese making in the hills. Also, dinner in the forest hosted by the community and their Mayor and with The Chief of Police our Chef. Other highlights included performances with Romanian traditional Calusari dancers and BURP Ukulele Band. Overall, all this and the hospitality of 'real' food and drink in heritage towns and villages made for a perfect tour''.

Sue Parsons, of BURP added: "I am sure that none of us had anticipated the warmth of the welcome that awaited us in every town and village that we visited and were completely charmed by the care and hard work that had gone in to making each day of our adventure more magical than the one before!"

Bill Moore, Squire of Towersey Morris commented: ''I have not danced in such beautiful places in all my time as a Morris Dancer. The Fortified Church in Viscri has to be the most special, but also in the ruins of the citadel above Saschiz and the open woods above Mosna. The beauty of the whole trip was that it was a mutual sharing and celebration of culture and humanity''.

Jim and Sally Turnbull have lived in Chinnor since 1980 and have invested in the Transylvania Food Company Srl, a social enterprise based in Saschiz producing a range of jams, chutney and cordials. They will again have their Taste Transylvania stand at Towersey Festival from 25th to 28th August and look forward meeting everyone again.

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