The camera never lies

I may have mentioned that the cold air and snow is now here to stay in Poland, certainly beyond the 10-day forecast that I check almost every day, yesterday we woke to -16ºc (outside) so the prospect of walking the dogs didn’t fill me with the usual joy! Mind you by the time I’d had two cups of tea (big half litre (pint) cups), donned my hat, coat, jacket, gloves and boots; I felt ready to tackle a good long walk. The temperature had warmed up a couple of degrees as the sun decided to make it to work on time and there was no wind to speak of, so I headed off down the road with three exited dogs running off ahead of me announcing to the entire neighbourhood that they were out and free to run around. I think the village thinks I’m a little strange as dog walking is not a big thing in Poland, especially when the weather is like it is; the fact that I’m normally walking on virgin snow is testament to this.

Unfortunately dogs in Poland are still often kept on chains outside, with the sole purpose of acting as an early warning doorbell system or intruder alarm, as well as a waste disposal unit. There is a national movement to try and change the law, but it is a deep rooted cultural thing and I fear it will take quite some time, probably a generation, before dogs are held in the same regard as they are in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, the dogs are not necessarily treated badly, just differently. I have to think like this otherwise I would have to become an animal rights vigilante and free all the chained dogs in the village, and I don’t think that would go down too well and you would simply end up with marauding packs of dogs 🙂

As so many blogs that I read have observed, the snow and ice bring a new beauty to the countryside and I vowed to myself to bring by camera on my afternoon walk to try and capture some of the sights. I would have brought it this morning, but considering that my watering eyes were freezing on my cheeks I doubt I would have being able to use the camera once I’d taken my gloves off!

Thankfully for my afternoon walk the temperature had reached -8ºc, so I quickly picked up the camera, checking the battery level (24%) and headed out with the dogs once again; a second thinner pair of gloves under my chunky ski gloves, so that I could turn the dial and press the button on the camera.

First of all I had to capture the second bloom that the reeds and grasses are displaying as the ice crystals cling to the bare stems and spent seed heads; much more spectacular first thing in the morning with the fresh frozen dew and rising sunlight, but still a good photo. Next up the dogs, I’m writing a page for them to appear soon, so a few more pictures as they play in the snow will be good for the gallery. Jackie collecting snow on the fur of her back legs much like a bee does pollen, Scooby dipping his head into the snow on the move to catch a bit of snow to eat, Bruder rolling around on his back in the snow with what can only be described as a smile on his face; all great pics for the post. And then as the sun turned a blood red and began its decent over the far horizon a thin grey cloud cut across it splitting the sphere into two blobs reminiscent of the oil separating in a lava lamp; click, click, another couple of memories stored.

Now if you have a car that was built in the last twenty years or so, there is a good chance that it has some kind of warning when you get out of the car forgetting to turn your lights off? It’s especially useful in Poland as you must have your lights on at all times. So why in the age of digital photography and advanced technology in general can’t they do the same for cameras that don’t have the memory card installed because you left it in the card reader after downloading your last set of photos! Why does the camera happily click away despite the fact that it has no recoding medium on-board? Why does the lens whirr and focus when it has nothing to leave an imprint on?

Why don’t I start to check the camera for a memory card every time I take it out with me! 🙂

Lazy winter week

I know that the norm is to have lazy summer days, but we were busy, so as the snow piles up and the temperatures drop, settled in the warm comfort of Gosia parents home in Rzemien; we thought we would have a lazy week. I say lazy as we haven’t done any physical work or completed any practical tasks, other than change the antifreeze on the van. Instead I’ve read blogs, added a few posts and sorted through the thirty thousand plus photos that have accumulated of the years. When I say sorted I mean filtered the duplicates and tried to add some kind of meaningful tags to those that remain to help me sort through them in future. There is still much work to do, but at least my backup has shrunk in size by 30GB and I’ve being reminded of many happy memories as I filtered through the poorly referenced filing system that I have created since the age of digital photography took hold of me.

The dogs have also benefitted from this state of torpor as I have settled into the routine of taking them for a walk before breakfast and then again in the afternoon before darkness sets in, their usual freedom restricted due to the proximity of the road. I remember my sister once telling me that dogs will appreciate you more if they don’t have your constant company or attention, and I have to agree; they live quite happily in the old kitchen with the warmth of the wood burner and the chance to sneak a treat as Gosias mum cooks up the next fantastic meal. When I do appear at the door at the scheduled time I’m greeted as if I’d being away for a year and the ensuing chorus of whimpering and barks leave me no other choice but to take them for a good long walk.

I’m working on a page about the dogs so keep your eyes on the top menu of the blog, I thought they needed more of a permanent place rather than just a passing post, so watch this (that) space.

Gosia, on the other hand, always finds something creative to do with her time and along with crocheting several hats, scarfs and about a third of a 72 panel cot blanket, she has made cakes, biscuits and pizzas. I will try and convince her to let me blog about it one day as I think the odd recipe or crochet lesson would be a welcome addition to my otherwise mundane mumbles; let me know what you think? I’ll need help to convince her.

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A few days off

After successfully completing the second lime render coat and resolving to put on the final finish coat in the spring we decided to take a few days off. Not that that means we can rest much, as we search for soffits for the house, doors for the Piec (cooking range) and mushrooms in the forest.

We managed to find some great cast iron doors for the bread oven at the antiques market in Rzeszow, which is held every second Sunday of the month, along with an upgraded heating system for the stable -photo to follow once installed. Called a koza in Polish, which strangely enough also means goat!

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As for the mushroom hunt, it’s going well. Saturdays haul was four baskets full in about three hours and Mondays result was a further three; all to be dried or pickled, with a few of the poorer specimens destined to be made into a sauce for lunch. I have to admit that my hunting skills are poor in comparison with Gosias mum, who seems to be able to imagine where the mushrooms are as she forges ahead stopping to bend and pick the next target in one fluid motion. The result is a full basket long before anyone else and a feeling of disbelief from her fellow hunters; mind you they are all heading for the same pot at the end of the day so its all good and every now and again you stumble across the mother of all mushrooms and your inadequacy is forgotten as you are congratulated on a good find.

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There is also the added bonus that the dogs get a good walk, which makes them appreciate the reward of some of the bones from our summer lambs that much more.

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Anyhow, back to it tomorrow, back to the land of farmers, hard graft and bathing in a tin bath. We have enjoyed our little holiday and Gosia managed to pick up four seasons of Rumpole of the Bailey on DVD for 25p at the local market; so our evenings will be full for the next few weeks!