Family

‘U’ is for Ula

Ula, 'sparkling' at her sister's wedding

Ula, ‘sparkling’ at her sister’s wedding

My neice Urszula, or Ula as she is always called at home, is the youngest of my cousin Adam’s three children.  From the shy early teen she was in 2007, when first we met, Ula has blossomed into a beautiful and stylish young woman.  Today is her 20th birthday and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish her ‘Happy Birthday’.  Wszystkiego najlepszego na urodziny!

My Personal A-Z of Poland has taken me down many routes and shared many stories.  Dad, along with millions of others, paid the price of a war torn Europe.  His family was scattered far and wide, but for Dad there has been a belated happy ending.  I’d like to share with you today a video that had tears streaming down my face, but which also ends joyfully.

Ann, or Gallivanta is a warm-hearted lady who is proud of her country, New Zealand.  This week I received from her a link for my Jo’s Monday walk.  It’s not strictly a walk but it is a very moving journey and I thought that it deserved a place here, alongside Dad’s story.

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-story-of-seven-hundred-polish-children-1966

I know that it’s the kind of story that Frizz will find empathy with, and won’t mind me sharing it on his Tagged- U.  I’d like to thank so many people for the love that is shared in our blogging world.  I’m feeling quite emotional this morning and I think it’s time to go back to playing with Polish castles.  Thanks also to Julie Dawn Fox for the personal A-Z challenge.

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Six word Saturday

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Weronika and Wojciech- health and happiness!

The bride and groom

The bride and groom

The children helping to pick up the 'lucky' coins

The children helping to pick up the ‘lucky’ coins, thrown outside the church after the wedding

Sweeping up the glasses smashed for good luck

Sweeping up the glasses, smashed for good luck, before the reception

One of 3 tables at the 'wesele' or reception

One of 3 tables at the ‘wesele’ or wedding reception

One of the chandeliers

The chandeliers were beautiful, weren’t they?

I was there!

I was there, too!

The bride and groom with parents

The bride and groom with parents

And with sister, Ula and brother, Lukasz

And with sister, Ula and brother, Lukasz

Dad 'dancing' with his walking stick and cousin Irena

Dad ‘dancing’ with his walking stick, and cousin Irena

The cake!

The cake!

Feeding each other cake

Feeding each other cake

Maybe not the best of photographs, but certainly the best of occasions.  This is just a snippet from the Polish wedding I attended in Krakow last week.  I cannot thank everybody enough for their kindness.  I had a truly wonderful time, and I think you can see, the bride and groom did too. I know you’ll join me in wishing my neice, Weronika, and her husband, Wojtek (a simpler spelling) the very best of health and happiness in their future together.

My feet have barely touched the ground since my return, and my head is still full of Polish words like ‘slub’- the wedding!  Join me on my Monday walk if you’d like a look at some of the Polish landscape.  Meantime, hello again, and don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face to play Six word Saturday.  I’ll be playing ‘catch up’!  See you soon.

 

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A rainy day in York

A rose on Lendal Bridge

A white rose of York on Lendal Bridge

It was a rainy day in York and the River Ouse was swamp brown and near to bursting its banks. Was I downhearted?  Not at all!  I was on my way to a cosy rendezvous with my daughter and her partner, in Betty’s famous tea shop.

I don’t drink tea and the smell of it has been known to make me wrinkle my nose in disgust, but I soon had a small pot of coffee wafting soothing vapours at me.

Cafe a la Betty's!

Coffee a la Betty’s!

Lisa and Leo had been spending a few days in York to celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary and were homeward bound.  Just time for me to catch up with them for a breakfast brunch to send them on their way.  I know that some of you are interested in such things so here’s the evidence.

Complete with Swiss rosti!

Complete with Swiss rosti!

While Lisa was studying the menu I couldn’t help but point the camera in her direction.  “Oh, Mother!”  I can’t help exasperating my offspring.  Or of being very proud of them.

Contemplating food!

Contemplating food!

Remember that “selfie” challenge last week?  The above was almost an entry.  Only fair that Leo (who hates having his photo taken) should appear alongside his lovely wife.  I got the photo shoot out of the way before they settled down to eat.

The happy couple

The happy couple

A close up of the wedding and engagement rings, made by her friend Kay

A close up of the wedding and engagement rings, made by their friend Kay

Refined, resplendent and reserved- that's us!

Refined, resplendent and reserved- that’s us!

We sat and talked about what they’d seen and done for a couple of hours.  Fairfax House got full marks.  The Quilt Museum was pronounced a little expensive unless you were a real enthusiast, but Lisa enjoyed it.  Places they’d eaten and highly recommended included the Hairy Fig and La Vecchia Scuola, whilst the House of the Trembling Madness sounded right up their street!  By this time they agreed that they had just enough space to share one of Betty’s delectable cakes.

This was Lisa's choice

This was Lisa’s choice and it looked delicious!

All too soon it was time to walk them back to their hotel, Elmbank Mount.  Undergoing renovation, it still retains much of its original splendour, and Lisa was very happy that they’d been allocated a four poster bed.  One last smile and a hug and they were on their way.  I wandered disconsolately through the damp York streets, taking a photo or two.

Not a day for sitting by the riverside!

Not a day for sitting by the riverside!

The riverboats huddled together for comfort

The riverboats were going nowhere

Huddled together for comfort and warmth

Huddled together for comfort and warmth

A dank day but the lions remained cheerful

A dank day for the lions, too

I made my way back to the railway station with time to spare.  Feeling distinctly damp, I ventured into “The York Tap”, adjoining the station, and was delighted to find a warm fire.  I stripped off my soggy gloves and settled in for half hour to enjoy my surrounds.

Nothing like a coal fire to dispel the blues!

Nothing like a coal fire to dispel the blues!

And the ceilings provided another colourful touch

And the ceilings provided a wonderful burst of colour.

My gloomy spirits lifting, I stepped out onto the platform to discover that the sun had finally made an appearance.  It was time to head for home.

A Grand Day Out!

Looking out from the Cascade

Looking out from the Cascade

I suspect that whatever your criteria for grand might be, Chatsworth House could fulfil it.  I honeymooned in the Peak District almost 25 years ago, and the memory of its grandeur and the beauty of the surroundings remains with me. The house sits in extensive grounds, with a wooded hill rising up behind it.  I returned, with my daughter Lisa, on a day unbelievably lovely for December.

I noted from Wikipedia that during World War II the house was occupied by 300 schoolgirls, for six years.  The Duke felt that they might be easier on his home than the soldiers who would otherwise be billeted there.  I’m not so sure!  In any event, they grew vegetables in the Kitchen garden to contribute to the war effort, and skated on the Canal Pond when it froze over.

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Bewitched by the dancing fountains

To be bewitched by the dancing fountains

And the suitably disguised Pump house

And the suitably disguised Pump house

Onwards and upwards to the Grotto next, where you can sit in the bandstand, mistress of all you survey.  A lady visitor was obviously much pleased with her surroundings, and I tried, in my halting French, to exchange a few words.

And if you’re very good, you just might try

A cream tea!

A cream tea!

I don’t feel that I’ve really done the gardens justice.  Maybe it’s because I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the house.  The “Narnia” Christmas theme made it very special.  I’ll be writing more about the house and its occupants later this week.

In the meantime, I hope you feel you’ve had a grand day out? (yes, I quite like Wallace and Gromit too)  I’m linking this post to Cheri’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Join me there?

Christmas in “Narnia”

Russet leaves for a russet lady!

Russet leaves for a russet lady!

My first surprise of the day.  Lisa swept towards me- “Mum, I’m here!”  The flowing locks were a dazzling tangerine orange.  “It was just time for a change. I was tired of the red!”  And it suited her.  She looked radiant and happy- a look I love to see.

The venue?  Chatsworth House in the beautiful Peak District.  Every year this glorious home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is themed for Christmas. This year it’s “Narnia”and totally irresistible.  My daughter has been a lifelong fan of the book by C.S. Lewis and the numerous films, so I planned a Christmas treat, for both of us. It’s quite a distance from home and I’ve never been inside the house before.  For Lisa it was about an hour’s drive from Nottingham.  Me- I hopped on the coach!  After the hugs and kisses it was off to see the spectacular grounds.

Sumptuous afternoon tea next, then the best bit!  Come with me to “Narnia”.

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There were dressing-up clothes for children in some areas, and of course, Lisa couldn’t resist!  A Christmas Trail, finding cuddly Aslans and clues along the way, was also meant to keep the children happy.  Guess who else enjoyed it?

Are you ready to be scared yet?  It’s time for the witch!

I was joking- she's much too pretty to be scarey!

I was joking- she’s much too pretty to be scarey!

Note the small Aslan, keeping her company.  Another clue for the Christmas Trail.  But now for the really sad part!

He's still breathing!  It's going to be ok.

He’s still breathing!  It’s going to be ok.

Time for a feast!

Time for a celebratory feast!

All's well that ends well!

All’s well that ends well!

I hope you enjoyed my little trip to Narnia.  It was the best Christmas present I could ever have asked for.  And now, I really must get on with my Christmas preparations.  I haven’t even bought the tree yet!  But I’ve made a list.

Chatsworth House is the most delightful setting and I will be posting more about the house and gardens.  If you are anywhere in the vicinity, “Narnia” will be available till 23rd December.  The link will give you directions.  I can absolutely recommend it.

U is for Urszula, Ursulines and “urodziny”

Poland-eagle-150squareEven though I’m a day late, I’m determined to post this today!  I already missed S and T, in spite of having slub. szczesliwy and Sukiennice at the ready, and Theresa, of course!  I can’t be everywhere! (a hard realisation for a lady like me to make)

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St. Ursula, from Wikipedia

In Poland many girls names trace back to a saint, and Urszula is no exception. The photo shown above is actually of an Italian Catholic saint, who was instrumental in the setting up of the Ursulines.  This is a religious order, founded in Brescia in 1535, and now a world wide organisation.

Urszula Maria Ledóchowska was a Polish religious sister who founded the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonising Heart of Jesus.  Doesn’t sound much fun, does it?  Born Julia Maria Ledóchowska on 17.4.65, she entered the novitiate of the Ursulines in Kraków.  She received the name of Ursula at the end of her training, and went on to become Mother Superior.  In Kraków she set up a home for female university students, then travelled abroad with the blessing of the Pope, fighting religious oppression.  She was active in St. Petersburg, Russia, in Finland, Stockholm and in Denmark.  In May 1939 she died in Rome, and was canonised by Pope John Paul II in May 2003.

Her feast day is May 29th, which may well be why my neice, Ula (short for Urszula), born May 28th, takes her name.  You’ve seen Ula before.  She’s the “lady of the cakes” who’s helping to run her Dad’s pieczywo de smakoszy (tasty cake shop) in Kraków.

Sampling the wares?

Here she is with her lovely Mum, Marta, my Dad and more cake (of course!)

Sampling the wares!

Sampling the wares!

There was another Urszula in the family, Dad’s older sister, whom I never met. Over the years I have seen an assortment of photos, but know little of her history, other than that she died early.  Here she is, on her wedding day.

Ursula, with her husband, Ignacy

Ursula, with her husband, Ignacy

And that just leaves us with urodziny- birthdays!  You can imagine how many cards I send to Poland every year, can’t you?

I’m sure Frizz won’t mind that I’m slightly out of sync on his series of A-Z’s. He’s a very forgiving chap, and the letter V which is next up doesn’t exist in Polish. (W is pronounced “v”)  There is no timescale for Julie Dawn Fox’s Personal A-Z Challenge, which I’m sure you’ll agree is just as well.  I’d be very happy if you could check out both, and maybe even join in?

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R is for “rodzina”

Poland-eagle-150squareRodzina is the Polish word for family, and what an important word it is.

For many years “Polish family”, to me, meant just Dad.  My English mother, Nancy, has been dead for 23 years, and, having no brothers and sisters, ours was a small family unit.  Then came the fateful phone call.  I’ve told the story countless times, but it still fills me with wonder.

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Unknown to him, in Poland, awaited an enormous family.  Following the phone call, arrangements were made for us to visit.

From his second marriage, to Laura, Dad already had inherited quite a large English family.  Laura was a lovely lady, but she died on Dad’s 70th birthday, leaving him saddened and lonely.  My presence and that of my stepbrother, Tony, and his family, was not enough to fill the gap.  My stepsister, Lynne, though always in touch, was far distant in Canada.  That phone call changed Dad’s life.  It also made quite a difference in mine.

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

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My cousin Marysia, and neice, Kasia

Ewa in the forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right

Cousins, Ewa, forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right- Dad, centrestage!

If you’ve followed any of my Polish A-Z you’ll know that I have 26 cousins (one for each letter of the alphabet?) so it’s impossible to show them all here.  Off we went to Poland, with camera crew in tow.  Dad was featured on North East Tonight on 15th March 2007.  Watching the webcam still has me sniffling.

After a day or so in beautiful Kraków, with my cousin Adam, we drove north to meet the family.  The cacophony of tooting horns and voices as we drove in through the farmyard gates will stay with me for a very long time.  Then, in good old Polish fashion, jemy i pijemy- we ate and we drank! A drive through the woods helped Dad to familiarise himself with the place he had left behind so long ago.

Lighting candles

Lighting candles

As all Polish visits seem to do, we ended up at the cemetery.  They may celebrate life in fine style, but they never forget to honour loved ones.  And the bigger the family, the more the farewells.  Already I have said goodbyes to my much-loved Aunt Anna, and to uncle Włodek’s wife, Janina.  Cousins Gosia and Dominik were both much too young to die.  But life is seldom gloomy around my Polish family.

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Nephew Lukasz with his sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek (front)

Her brother, Łukasz, and sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery, like Wawel Cathedral

Like these fountains in Krakow

These fountains at Pałac Sztuki in Kraków

And a chess piece or two.

A chess piece or two

And cake!

And cake!

Dad has always been kind, caring and the very definition of a gentleman, whatever life has brought his way.  You can read more of his story here.  I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing tales of my rodzina Polska.  Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox, who started me off on this Personal A-Z series, and to my good friend at Frizztext for welcoming me to his A-Z.  Please click on the links or the logos to see more.

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N is for “Nie rozumiem”

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I’m having great fun trying to keep pace with both of my A-Z challenges, at Frizz’s weekly pace!  On Tuesdays the new letter comes out, so yet again I find myself leaping from Portugal to Poland.  It’s quite a stretch!

Can you guess what “nie rozumiem” means?  “I don’t understand”.

It’s probably the expression I have used the most in my visits to Poland.  Despite the best of intentions I struggle to get my ear attuned to Polish, and you can’t really say “please will you write it down so I can understand”.  It doesn’t seem polite somehow, and rather impedes the flow of conversation!

The mine at Belchatow

Another thing I’m not great at understanding is feats of engineering, but even I could see the type of industry that was going on when the family took me to inspect the nearby mine at Bełchatów.  This is Europe’s largest coal-fuelled thermal power station.  There are huge viewing platforms from which you can observe most of the process.  It’s the chief employer in the area and many of my family have worked there.  The technology looks impressive.

Seldom have I been photographed at an opencast mine

Seldom have I been photographed at an opencast mine

It's a monster!

It’s a monster!

Imagine having a lovely home like this right next door!

Imagine having a lovely home like this right next door!

I rather like the Polish style of fencing (but not the view!)

I rather like the Polish style of fencing (but not the view!)

We drove all around the enormous site to a lakeside location with sports facilities, and, you’ve guessed it, a cracking view of the power station!  Apparently it’s very popular in Summer.  Bełchatów is far from the seaside.

Lakeside chalets

Lakeside chalets

The view!

The view across the lake

But the family were happy and smiling!

But the family were happy and smiling!

Left to right they are- Uncle Jakub, cousins Adam and Bożena,  Kuba in the background (Bożena’s younger son), cousin Marta, who is also married to Adam, and Czesława, Jakub’s wife.  I hope you are paying close attention.  There may be a test!

It was a warm day and afterwards Adam took us all for icecream.  There was one more treat in store.  Back at Jakub’s, Czescia cooked “ziemniaki z smażony tłuszcz”- potatoes with fried pork scratchings.  It was explained that the dish was very popular in the days when people had nothing in Poland.  Potatoes were an important staple and I have tasted some of the best potatoes ever, homegrown from Aunt Lusia’s garden.  I have to say that today’s dish was not much to my taste, but Dad and the family made short work of it.

Enjoying "old style" Polish cuisine

Enjoying “old style” Polish cuisine

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little venture into Polish culture today.  I have to thank Julie Dawn Fox for starting the Personal A-Z Challenge, a long time ago, and Frizz at Flickr Comments for helping me to catch up.  The links and logos give more information.

I can breathe a sigh of relief now because I have already posted the letter “O” for both Poland and Portugal.  You can read them from my A-Z pages.

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Thursday : Lingering look at Windows- week 34

The view out across the lake

Looking out across the lake, with the Transporter Bridge in the background.

Maybe you remember that I was at Saltholme nature reserve last weekend with some of my Polish family?  The RSPB website describes Saltholme as “big skies, fantastic wildlife and a friendly welcome in the heart of Teesside”.  We certainly had a good time with our Mad Hatter’s tea party.

The landscape is highly industrial with chemical works and Power Station on its doorstep, but the wetlands are a prime site for migrating birds.  At low tide you can also enjoy seals basking on the riverbanks of the estuary.  The state of the art visitor centre and wildlife reserve has breathed new life into a less than desirable area.

I was having so much fun with the family, I missed week 33 of Dawn’s challenge, but I’m back to play this week.  Check out the other entries at Lingering Visions.  I bet you’ve seen some windows you’d like to share?

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-bannerFamily fun in all its guises!

Fun is guaranteed when my Polish family from Norfolk come to visit.  The above shots were taken at Saltholme, a local birdwatching nature reserve.  Click on any photo to follow the story line.

In Durham, we took the Castle tour (Rafal is considering Durham University, based in the Castle, as one of his options).  I was delighted to find that it was the first day of the flower festival in the Cathedral, but it was, of course, busy.

More fun is anticipated today.

What have you been doing with your week?  Share it in Six word Saturday.  The links or the header will take you there.  Hope you have a happy weekend!

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