Time

I once read an article about the concept of time and whilst I don’t have it to hand I seem to remember the premise of the discussion.

The old saying that time fly’s when you are having fun is based around the fact that you lose sense of the reality of time as you are preoccupied with whatever it is that you are doing. On the other hand if you are bored, with little to fill your time, then time drags as you are forever conscious of time as you have little else to think about.

Oddly enough if you reflect upon the past and you have filled that time with interesting and eventful events then your concept of time is lengthened, in that you can rely on the event markers you have to give you a true concept of time past; even to the point that you may think that something happened longer ago than it actually did. Quite the opposite if you don’t have these markers and your life has followed a more humdrum path; as Pink Floyd put it ‘And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you’ and that’s just it, time past goes faster, even if it was slow at the time it happened!

So what’s my point? Well it’s only loosely connected, a tenuous link so to speak; I just haven’t had the time to blog! Not to mention read, comment or like on many of the blogs that I normally follow, not that any of these are mundane, it just the house is taking over 🙂

So don’t be surprised if my format changes a little; it may become more of a diary of events reflected on a weekly basis, which may be as unexciting as ‘the lilac tree is flowering’ or ‘I emptied the toilet again’ who knows? I keep taking the photos; I just don’t get the time to write about it.

After all one of the reasons I started to blog is because I was no good at keeping a diary; the added impetus of sharing my thoughts has so far kept me going, views, follows, comments and likes all play their part in motivating me to continue; the vanity of blogging I guess? So be warned or relieved that from now on I may only be posting once a week and hopefully without rambling on too much 🙂 And apologies if Poland doesn’t pop up in your stats as often, I try to read as and when I can, normally when I’m eating, so comments may be thin on the ground 🙂

‘And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking, racing around to come up behind you again’

Seasonal adjustment

It snowed the day after I arrived back in Poland and it didn’t stop until it had put down at least a foot (30cm), Gosia was traveling down from Holland by coach so understandably I began to worry a bit; but of course this is Poland and it would take more than a foot of the white stuff to stop the wheels turning and Gosia arrived just after 2pm.

Smiles all round and family visits covered the next few days and I settled into my dog walking routine; the deep snow keeping me fit and my boots wet.

Sadly Scooby and Bruder are no longer with us as they both died whilst we were away, foul play is suspected, but cannot be proved. We have consoled ourselves with the fact that at least they had a good eight months whilst we were here before our winter break; certainly for Scooby who was saved from a certain death when we adopted him earlier last year.

It’s hard to go for a walk with Jackie without thinking of them both and they will be remembered for a long while to come.

Of course Jackie is happy we are back and whilst there is snow on the ground she bounces about like a young pup, despite the extra weight and fur she has put on in our absence; clippers and a sausage ban are in order!

As the week went on the snow started to melt, but the temperatures remained low and close to zero making it hard to get motivated and carry out the many mundane tasks that had to be done; my mood was failing to match my normal enthusiasm and even the enticement of vodka as we visited friends failed to truly pick me up and shake me.

But then Monday the 8th of April arrived as a glorious sun filled the room at around six in the morning, a quick look outside showed evidence of a hard frost; the ingredients for the making a crisp and clear day. My usual litre of tea was soon followed by a hearty breakfast of fried eggs and potatoes, before I headed off across fields with Jackie. Thankfully the snow had all but gone, although the melt had left lots of standing water and mud, but thanks to the frost I had a firm surface to walk on and my feet remained dry for the duration.

As the day went on the sun beat down and the temperature began to rise along with my mood, and the shopping trip to town, the MOT on the Niva, the paying of large bills to the electricity company for connection the new house; the clearing of leaves and other debris from the garden; they all passed by without a frown.

I even decided to plant some chillies for propagation on the windowsill; a small token to join the many hundreds of plants that Gosias mum had already started off. And now that we had a road legal vehicle we made plans to head over to Pyrowki in the morning and assess the situation and get cracking on the house:)

So here I am, typing away as the day starts, on my second cup of tea and I’ve just brought Gosia her coffee; the sun isn’t shining but the air is mild and dry and I’m still feeling good; so expect an update on the day and our findings soon.

 

I’m going home :)

Now this may seem like a bit of an odd statement given that my country of birth and residence for more than 96 % of my life, so far, has been in the UK; maybe more surprising since I have especially enjoyed my time back in Yorkshire, the county of my birth, after a spell of more than 25 years away; ok I have visited on many occasions, but this last break was more of an extended stay than a holiday.

I have lived in Skipton, although not by my own doing, Leeds; my own choice, Scarborough; for adventure!; the Isle of White and Jersey. The latter, some people may not consider being part of the UK; but they spoke English, most of the time, and they had fish and chip shops!

Jersey played a big part in my life and I was able to scale the ladder from tuber engineer (potato picker), to business owner; more luck than judgment, or maybe  not; it’s a difficult reflection to make out. Non the less I ended up where I am with an optimistic view on life and having more than 30 jobs under my belt, I joke that ‘I’ve never been a milk man’ and if I were ever write a book about it that will be the title; although it’s more likely to be a blog post 🙂

So here I am, on my way home to Poland, and although it’s a cliché, home is where the heart is and I’m overwhelmed with my desire to get back to the next chapter of my life with the woman I love and have loved for the last seven years; I hope she reads this 🙂

Reading this back it sounds a bit soppy, but I’m happy to be driven by my emotion and as an eternal optimist I know it’s the right place be and Gosia is the right person to be with.

I have noticed that a few of my posts have become a little biographical, a trend that many blogs that I follow follow, is this a bad thing? I don’t know. One thing I do know is that the story of the rest of my life is just beginning and I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂

4 days to go…….

Ambitious beavers

I know, it’s another post about the beavers, I’m sorry, but other than telling you about what time I got up, went to bed or carried out the usual bodily functions (although I admit to discussing the latter in the past) very little is happening. The snow seems to keep coming and the temperatures remain low; although Gosia checked in from Holland yesterday to tell me it was –8°c, whilst Poland was experiencing the dizzy heights of -2°c; at least she has her work to keep her warm!

All this free time provides me with the opportunity to explore the area further as I try and add some variation to my treks with my four legged friends and in doing so I keep coming across more evidence of the industrious beavers.

Of course this isn’t the only wildlife on the area and once I leave the beaten track I often come across evidence of deer, foxes; which the dogs love to chase, and on a good day if I’m particularly lucky I will spook a buzzard and watch in awe as it slowly flaps its wings and glides out of range. A very magnificent bird, much bigger than you would expect; I hope to have the happy coincidence of having my camera with me when we meet one day in the future. I should probably add that I also need to have a memory card, a fully charged battery, the correct lens the lens cap removed, the correct setting on the camera and the reaction speed that allows me to get a good shot; not too much to ask:)

It was whilst checking my walks on Google Earth that I noticed a build up of water in one on the drainage ditches that crisscross the flat land outside the village, I walk past the area quite often and had noticed a few felled trees so thought that it was worth a closer look.

Tree felling

DSC06020DSC06016

I counted over two hundred felled trees, the stumps all neatly gnawed to a point as if by a giant pencil sharpener; although the snow does a good job of hiding this fact. On further inspection it was clear that some of this damage may have occurred in the past and the beavers damn long since dismantled, remembering that the Google photo dates back to 2010 this made sense. But some of the damage was clearly recent so there may be a new project in the making, either that or the beavers have won a logging contract for a local wood yard!

Walking further afield than normal I became even more impressed with the beavers ability to take down trees, rather than the normal ten to fifteen year old birch which seem to be the material of choice for damn building, they had moved onto some seriously large lumber.

Don’t worry that’s the last of the beaver tales for now, I will try and come up with something else to blog about; having just read about the discovery of horse meat in beef burgers sold in Tescos, I feel that an opportunity to malign one of my pet hates, supermarkets, should not be missed; watch this space.

And then there were five

I keep mentioning the dogs as I seem to spend so much time with them, at least two hours a day walking them, if not more, especially now I have lots of free time!

I think I’ve also mentioned in the past that I am in a minority in the village, not because I’m English; although that does count, but because I take the dogs for a walk. I’m sure I’m still a novelty to some of the villagers who come outside to greet me and ‘chat with the English guy’ as I walk past their property; of course the chat is a simple ‘dzien dobry’ (hello) and possibly a comment on how cold it is ‘zimno’. occasionally I may find myself at the end of a incomprehensible question, but I’m getting good at reading the expression on the persons face and answering with the expected tak or nie (yes or no) with a smile  and as long as I get a smile back I know I have given the right reply.

Unfortunately when I do take the hounds for a walk they insist on sharing their excitement with everybody and there barking and baying  can be heard for miles around, which has started to attract a certain element of free spirited dogs, and by the time I reach the first field I’m joined by one if not two additional pets who have decided to join in the pack as we head off towards the forest.

Not that I mind really, it’s quite entertaining, watching them play and having fun; there is the occasional fall out, but the pecking order seems to have settled down and they all pee in succession to show there place on the ladder, never varying in the order. Of course Jackie remains the boss and ignores them all, only interested in finding pheasants and beating the world speed record for a spaniel following a scent; occasionally she is followed and sometimes joined in the chase once she has flushed a bird from cover, but by enlarge the rest of the clan keep themselves entertained play fighting with each other.

Thankfully I have only one real road to cross, directly outside of the house, and then it’s a short walk to open fields leading into woodland as I go further; with a network of tracks and paths providing me with some variation in scenery and distance as I search for the latest evidence of the battle of the beavers.

In checking the routes I take on Google Earth I surprised myself with the distance I’m covering and a four mile walk is not unusual, sometimes reaching six or seven depending on my mood..and the weather.  It’s almost like having a full time job, if only I could trace the owners of the stray dogs, I could charge them for dog walking 🙂

Walking the dogs

Its a way of life

As we arrived back in Rzemien last week from our two day trip to the house, we were greeted by Gosias parents along with two of their grandchildren (aged 14 and 17); all sitting round the table, armed with knives, shelling walnuts. The task at hand was to come up with 3Kg of shelled walnuts for the cakes that would be made for the New Year celebrations; not a 5 minute task, believe me. And one of the thoughts that went through my head was what an unlikely scene this would be in the UK!

It was satisfying to know that the walnuts had come from our orchard back in Pstrągowa. Even though we had a bad year, we still collected over 50Kg and it was good to see them being put to good use. We also reserve them for making pesto as pine nuts are so expensive and as an experiment this year we made some DiacoNoino (an Italian Liquor). We did consider pickling some, but we have friends who are past masters at this so we left them too it, no doubt we will be making an exchange in the future.

It’s just another example of why I have come to love Poland so much, it’s the way of life.

I may have touched on it before in previous posts, but I think it worth sharing more detail about the collective farming that Gosias family are involved in. Along with Gosias Aunt and Uncle, her parents farm about 2 hectares of land which is jointly owned About half of the land is sown for various types of grain which is either turned to flour and\or used as animal feed with any surplus sold or traded for other crops. A further half hectare is set aside for potatoes and the last half for a variety of vegetables; cabbage, carrots, beetroot, beans, celeriac, root parsley and onions to name but a few.  This provides the bulk of the food for the family until next year.

Now you might think that this is quite lot of work for a small group of retired individuals? Well yes and no, because the key to their success is the way it’s farmed, not only do they recruit the help of the larger family group (English immigrants included) they also get help from the neighbours; especially when the big jobs are undertaken, such as harvesting the grain or potatoes. We took a day off the building this year to help out with the spuds and along with the neighbourhood volunteers we numbered about 15, needless to say the half hectare was cleared by mid afternoon; along with a bottle or two of vodka to celebrate:)

It is this collective and collaborative way of working that makes things possible and of course when it comes to the neighbours picking their potatoes then we all head over to their house; Gosias Uncle just happens to have a tractor which is used by many a household, but then of course they may well have some spare storage space to be able to keep the trailer or grain; it just works out, nobody is counting the pennies, they just get things done and more often than not with a smile on their face.

I may have mentioned our neighbour in Pstrągowa has helped out all year by shipping water back and forth to our building site, so when it came to picking his spuds we were on hand, ready and waiting with our baskets along with several other friends, and the job was completed in no time at all with the aid of several cans of beer (it was a hot day!)

Now it may be that all of this camaraderie is a result of communism, after all Poland has only been free since the early 1989, is it just a kick back from what the Kremlin advocated to its people? I doubt it, no I think it’s a result of a poor country making the best of what they have, working hard together to make sure they all had food in there stomachs and at the same time turning their backs on a regime they had no time for. And as I talk to older members of my own family it is not that far away from how things used to be in the UK back in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. A better time perhaps?

Of course as the first communist free generation starts to come through, flush with the money earned across Europe and the western ethos of spend, spend, borrow and spend fresh on their lips, it’s easy to see how a country can change in a very short period of time,  But as an optimist with the fresh picture of a 17 year old shelling walnuts with his gran so she can make a cake for the family, I’m hopeful that some of the old ways will stay and stop Poland becoming yet another victim of consumerism.

Gosia’s father once said that when they were living under communism they had loads of money but nothing to spend it on, now as a free country, he can buy whatever he wants, but has no money 🙂

That was the week that was

I have now settled at my winter weight of around 85Kg, helped by generous portions of delicious food and copious amounts of alcohol; well maybe not copious; but more than enough! I no longer need to wear a belt when wearing several pairs of trousers (not all at once) and when I do it looks like the next option is a new belt or a hole punch:)

Mind, it doesn’t surprise me as the only exercise I’ve had lately is walking the dogs down to the forest to keep an eye of the latest beaver activity.  The beavers are having a great battle with the locals, after there first dam was broken up they decided to fell a tree across the track; I have an image of the beaver resistance fighters ready to take the last chunk out of the tree as the vehicle approaches 🙂 This happened about 10 days ago and I’ve followed the progress, as the farmer has moved the tree and cut it into manageable lengths; no doubt to pick up and use as firewood in the future; the beavers had an other idea and dragged the new, handy sized, pieces to use on the rebuilding of the dam; stripping the bark for food in the process.

We did manage a couple of days back at the ranch, checking everything was ok and clearing a patch of land of brambles; warm work even with the temperature close to zero. But yet again as the night time temperature inched towards -8°c it became uncomfortable to stay for two long and we retreated back to heating central.

And if you happen to be wondering how the humanure pile is handling the cold weather; well it seems to be ok, despite not making any deposits for quite a while the pile has reduced in size, with a noticeable indent in the middle, so I’m confidant that the little microbes are still working hard to break down those nasty pathogens; either that or rats have moved in and are eating their way through it!

One of our biggest problems is water whilst we wait for the new borehole pump to be fitted. Our 1000 Litre tanks that capture water from various roofs are either frozen solid or empty to prevent them from freezing solid. We did have a contingency plan of four 25 litre containers, but these soon froze solid, even in the stable, and it amazes me how long it takes for them to thaw out, even when we have the wood burner going. I can now understand how the old ice houses used to work with a big block of ice, it’s a very slow melt.

We do have the old well, but this has all but dried up in the worst drought since records began and we are lucky to get a couple of litres in the bucket as a time, good for a brew, not for a bath!

So back to the cake capital of Poland (Rzemien) more food, more drink, more visiting friends back for the season after working away across Europe; all of us calendar watching for the return to work, some on a tighter schedule than others.

It’s an easy life whilst you have some money saved, but we have started to consider looking for work as the cold prevents us from doing much on the house; it would be a better way to spend our time, rather than watching money trickle away as we laze about. Holland looks good at this time of year, lots of plants need propagating and potting  for the garden centres back in the UK.

But that’s enough talk about having to work for a living, we’ve much more important jobs to do, like baking a beetroot chocolate cake, recipe to follow 🙂