Snow, aerobics and mixing your drinks!

So the snow has arrived, not for the first time this year, but in a more convincing manner than before. A good 3-4 inches (about 10cm) came down on Sunday evening, running into Monday; backed up with temperatures on the minus side to harden up any snow daft enough to try and melt, so slippery underfoot as well as wheels; especially in the villages that rely on the smaller local councils to put the grit down. Luckily we arrived in Rzemien on Saturday night in preparation for the christening of a good friends baby, so the snow is still pretty in our eyes; had we being stuck in Pstrongowa then I may have a different view. By all accounts the higher ground in Pstrongowa has become impenetrable to all but the well equipped explorer, our neighbours even called us to check that we were alright and offered us shelter, so we are definitely in the right place; here in the warm central heated oasis that is Gosias home:)

Now I’m not particularly religious or hold any strong beliefs, it works for some people and as far as I’m concerned that’s their business, and as long as they don’t try and force their faith down my neck I happy to coexist. So when we had to attend the local Catholic Church for the christening on Sunday I went without protest or comment. However faced with a religion that I do not follow, a language that I barley understand and temperatures in the church probably below zero I was glad of the aerobic exercise that was to be had; stand up, sit down, kneel down, stand up, kneel down, sit down…..I did feel for the baby though, that water must have been cold; holy or not!

As a ‘visitor’ to Poland, a label I’m sure I will keep for a long time to come, I’m often seen as a target for some fun; especially when drinking alcohol is involved. Now as a rule I drink beer, it’s in my genes as a Yorkshire man; although I have to admit I have strayed to the dark side whilst living in the south of England and moved from the traditional ales of the north to the more common continental lagers served down south.

Thankfully the brewing industry in Poland is alive and well, full of tradition and diversity with many different brands to choose from, and Perla has become my favourite tipple; that is unless there is even a remote chance that vodka will be served! One lesson that I have learned is that you should never mix lager with vodka; admittedly it has taken more than one bad experience to learn this lesson, but learnt it most definitely has been. So with the faintest sniff of vodka in the air I resolve myself to hang back on any other drink and step up to the challenge that is inevitably set down by the red blooded male population of Poland; to join in the round.

Vodka can be drunk in a few different ways in Poland, the traditional method only requires one glass and one (sometimes many more) bottle(s) of vodka, no matter how many people are involved; you simply fill the glass for the next person in line (in the circle) after inviting them to drink by toasting their health, as you can imagine this can lead to a very rapid depletion of the bottle and uncontrolled intoxication in double quick time. Thankfully I have avoided this method of drinking all but once and I have very few memories of what happened; other than to say that Eddy became E.T. and I was told to go home!

Luckily christenings are a much more civil affair and vodka is drunk out of your own glass at the pace set by the host as he personally charges the glasses of all the guests, giving you the opportunity to opt out at anytime. Well, that is unless you are sitting next to the host or one of the afore mentioned polish male guests, in which case national pride is at stake and as the only Englishman at the table you have to match them drink for drink; their idea of fun is to then watch you get drunk!! Now I could at this stage tell you what happened at the last christening that I attended three years ago; the same family with their first child, but I couldn’t honestly tell you much about it after the third course of food, in fact I learnt more about what happened that day at this christening as stories were retold and an encore was expected! However on this occasion I’m able to say that I kept a steady head, stuck to the vodka and managed to make our own way home as one of the lasts guests to leave, after saying good night to several stumbling individuals and woke the next day without a hangover, a clear memory and I believe my pride intact; meeting some of the male gusts the next day it seems that I was in a minority J

It’s taken me a while to learn the lesson, but I can honestly say that you should never mix your drinks.