Family

5 photos, 5 stories- Day 3

Little Nadia- with the shoes her Mum has made

Little Nadia plays with shoes her Mum, Ania, has made for her, while Marta stands guard

Yesterday on Day 2 of my 5 photos, 5 stories challenge I talked about Nadia’s sister, Kinga, and their hard working family.  So far I have focused on the children, a constant source of joy in the lives of my Polish family.  Tragedy and untimely death have their place in the story too, but my stories are more about celebrating life.

I should pause here to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.  As the name suggests, I will be posting 5 photos, accompanied by 5 stories, on 5 consecutive days.

Dad was 1 of 9 children born to Bolesław and Marianna.  Of those 9, there are 2 aunts and 1 uncle that I was never privileged to meet, and a much loved aunt who died 3 years ago.  The land from the original homestead has been divided up between the survivors and their offspring.  My Polish family are lucky to own their own homes, but it comes at the cost of back breaking work. The family all pull together, pooling their skills.  No-one is too old, or too young, to help in whatever way they can. (ok- we’ll excuse Nadia for now, and Kinga is happiest playing on the sand hill outside their ‘soon to be’ home)

In some cases it takes years to finally achieve the dream.  My cousin Ewa and husband Henryk have for many years been trying to build a house on their plot, very close to her sister Jadwiga. Health problems and lack of income have made it hard for them.  At last, with their children all grown up and married, the end is in sight.  They live in an apartment in Katowice, about an hour away. While Ewa works in a hardware store in Bełchatów, Henryk, no longer young, shovels and plasters with whatever labour he can find.  Walking around the shell of their home I felt in need of a hard hat, and a good imagination to see the lovely dwelling that it will become.  Over the fence, Ewa’s brother Piotrek, some 16 years younger, smiles and waves from his fine house.  A carpenter by trade, his wooden floors and staircases gleam beautifully.

The family I have been following these past 3 days are all descendants of my Dad’s brother Zygmunt.  He and Leokadia had 10 children and some of them I know better than others. Zygmunt himself is the uncle I never met.  He died just months before Dad was reunited with the family.  Though he doesn’t seem to have had a very happy life, I can’t help but feel that somewhere he is looking down on all this and smiling.  Leokadia (Lodzia to us), into her 80s, still lives on and looks after the farm with sons Bolek (short for Bolesław) and Jozef.  Daughter Marysia has a beautiful self build, also at Zawady, the family’s home village, and runs a little boutique.

Tomorrow we step across to another branch of the family.  I’ll be taking you to a barbecue at a home that has been a long term building project, but is nearing completion.  I can promise you fun when Marek is around!  My personal A-Z of Poland is the back drop to my 5 stories.  Time now for a nomination!  I was first drawn to Lucile at Bridging Lacunas by her visually stunning header.  Since then I have discovered that her posts are thought provoking as well as fun, and some day I hope to get involved in Photo101 Rehab too.  I don’t know if she can find time for this challenge but I do hope so.  See you tomorrow?

 

5 photos, 5 stories- Day 2

Meet Kinga!

Meet Kinga!

Yesterday was Day 1 of my 5 photos, 5 stories challenge and you met some of Kinga’s bears. Today I’m introducing Kinga herself- a shy 5 year old, with all the exuberance a child can bring to a willing playmate.

I should pause here to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.  As the name suggests, I will be posting 5 photos, accompanied by 5 stories, on 5 consecutive days.

What does it say about this family when Hubert (Kinga’s dad), who works full time and also is building a home for his family, has taken the time to make this playhouse/slide before their house is even complete?  Well- they like fresh air, that’s for certain, and are planning to make the most of a Polish summer.  The single storey, but spacious, home now has a bathroom fitted, and the family will move in soon to make that final push to completion.

Dad’s father, Bołeslaw Szustakiewicz, owned a good-sized parcel of land, which he farmed with the help of his sons and daughters.  It was one of Dad’s jobs, as a boy, to take the cows to a stream, before they settled for the night. After his father died, the land was divided between the surviving children.  Dad, torn from his home during the war, was no longer a part of the inheritance.  Returning to his homeland some 64 years later, it is wonderful to see how that land has been used.  My Polish family have introduced me to a new way of living.

My cousin Jadwiga is Bołeslaw’s granddaughter.  She inherited a sizeable plot, on which she and Andrzej built their own home, and a lovely garden.  Daughter Ania (Kinga’s mum) has lived, with her family, in an extension of her parents home while Hubert has been building, in the grounds. It’s now their turn to reap the benefits of all that hard work.  As well as raising a family, in her spare time Ania designs and makes children’s shoes.  Tomorrow we might look at some, and I’ll tell you more about the land and its new owners.

Now it’s time to nominate!  I’m offering this to Viv in France, not with any conviction that she will take up the challenge, but Viv does post her brilliant poems very regularly and I’d love you to read them.  The back story to this post is My personal A- Z of Poland.  Hopefully see you tomorrow?

 

 

 

5 photos, 5 stories

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Time to get started on those stories!  I have nominations from Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka, so what am I waiting for?  First I’d better tell anyone out there who hasn’t seen this challenge (and there can’t be many of you left!) how it works.  Post a photo, tell a story/poem/joke- whatever your style is- on 5 consecutive days and pass on the nomination.  Simple, right?

So why have I been stalling?  Well, the stories that I want to tell are of a personal nature.  Not like my usual gung-ho walking style.  And I’ve become so used to telling my stories with photos that I’ve become a little afraid of the naked page.  But there are Polish snippets just aching to be told. So, will you indulge me?

The bears you see in the photo above belong to a little girl called Kinga.  At 5 years old she is big sister to a bouncy little bundle called Nadia (who you may remember from this post).  The two of them are granddaughters to my cousin, Jadwiga.  During my recent stay in Bełchatów, in Central Poland, I slept in their playroom.  What a time I could have had, playing all night with the bears and dolls!  But instead I slept soundly, in a haven away from the Polish chatter.  Try as I might to understand the ebb and flow of conversation at the family dining table, invariably it eluded me. The bears were undemanding company.

Like many Polish families, Jadwiga’s children went abroad, seeking better opportunities.  Ania and Hubert both worked in England for a time, and speak our language well.  Theirs was the first Polish wedding I ever attended, and the dancing and warmth of the occasion sparkles still in my memory.  When Hubert found a decent job, in the local power station, it was time to come home and start a family.  Jadwiga considers herself blessed by their presence, because her younger child Krzysztof and his wife Marzena have elected to stay in the UK. Gifted with computers, her son can provide a good lifestyle for his family in Reading.  But it means that Jadwiga has yet to meet her beautiful new grandchild, Maja. (yes, all girls , so far)  Soon there’ll be someone else sleeping in that playroom, but only for the briefest of visits.  And when she and her parents return to England, she’ll be taking another little piece of Jadwiga’s heart with her.

Rarely did I look at my cousin and not see a smile upon her face.  She starts work, driving a school bus, at 6 in the morning till 8, and then again in the afternoon.  Coming home, she can’t wait to sweep Nadia out of her playpen and dance with her around the house.  A myriad tasks are done with the baby on a hip- either hers or Ania’s.  The house has been extended to accommodate the young family, but for the past 2 years Hubert has been building them a beautiful new home, within the family grounds.  But that’s part of tomorrow’s story.

The background to my 5 stories can be found in My personal A-Z of Poland, though looking at it, I see it needs some revision.  I hope that you will enjoy this new little venture with me.  Today I would like to nominate Gemma at Dear Bliary to take up the challenge.  I fear that she might be too busy to do so, but I know that she would add her own uniquely wonderful style to it.  Please do visit the lovely ladies who nominated me.  They each have a lovely tale to tell.

 

Six word Saturday

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Didn’t we have a lovely time…

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The White Rabbit Teahouse, in Nottingham, was just one of the many places I visited with my daughter last weekend.  We did, indeed, have a lovely time…  Click on the gallery to see it in detail.

Hope you have a nice weekend planned.  Don’t forget to share it on Six word Saturday.  Cate at Show My Face will show you how it’s done.

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Six word Saturday

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Remember the lady with orange hair?

And her husband

And her husband

Yes, that IS an octopus fascinator and she calls him Ishmael.  I will be in Loughborough at a coffee morning for the Macmillan Nurses when you’re reading this.  Leo’s Dad died of cancer last year and his Mum is bravely hosting at her home.  I foresee a little fun in my weekend, though I won’t be wearing an octopus any time soon.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to respond to any comments today but I hope you’ll all still be playing Six word Saturday.  Cate at Show My Face hopes so too.  I’m scheduling this post because I’m away all weekend.  Catch up with you next week!  Take care!

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‘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.