Saturday, February 27, 2010

House move over, time for a post

Ok, well, we have recently finished our big move to another house, a really pretty apartment with what looks like a delightful kitchen. I say looks like, as I haven't had the chance to give it a good trial run yet. I expect that to be this weekend when I have some more free time to trial things. So now I am just going to throw up some diverse things that I have photographed! Let's start all arty in Black and White and finish with some colour explosion.

A Christmas present from Santa Klaus was nice especially in the 200 year celebration of Freddy Chopper Chopin himself. I dunked this outside, if you remember my earlier pics. it was when I made a very poor snowman!
I don't know why I swallowed the rye, I guess I'll die.
I drink to you, Fredward.
This is what happens when you forget to tell an Australian that in January it is Winter in the northern hemisphere!
This is the story of Marty's life now, she is to be always surrounded by food and associated components to food. This is the horrible "Stalking Fork"!
This is where the menace rests and recharges in the sun, as he is certainly cold blooded.
Really it is simply an open and shut case.
Ok, as things are moving to the beautiful brightness of Spring.... ahhh sunshine (stay away snow!) I think we should see what colour can do to the soul.

After living in Guatemala, where I had eggs every night for dinner for a year, I didn't eat eggs for just over 12 months on my return to Australia. Now, I am onto eggs in a big way. I adore them. Eating these free range eggs from Sokolka reminds me of living in Tasmania with two of the world's great people Russ and Mel Timsar. We had the coolest chickens that gave us plenty of oval shaped food.
If you can get your chickens to lay happy eggs that are filled with bright sunshine pulsing yolks, you are certainly a winner in my book.
To me a good runny egg is about as simple as great bread. Even better if you can combine the two!
So for all of you with a backyard, why not throw out a little chicken run, feed them your scraps, cut down your environmental waste and get some free eggs! Also for more info on some great self sufficiency check out http://www.blagger.co.uk/ they have great ideas and, boy oh boy, I can't wait till one day I have a little bit of space of my own!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More of my new found Wintery Paradise

Time for a post, no?
So everyone complains about the weather. Everywhere in the world. If you are talking small talk, then weather is the topic. Whenever I ask my students "What is new?" They always go for the weather as their escape measure. Here in Warsaw, it is no different to England. People hate their climate. That said, when it is -30C, you can understand what they mean. It can limit your movement, even if you have a car. Many cars just get stuck in snow or ice, and especially people with Diesel cars just can't get them started on days that are this cold.

So, on one of these bitterly cold Sundays, I convinced Marty we should tour the neighbourhood I like to call "Land of the frozen dog poo" and Warsavians call "Stary Imielin". She reluctantly agreed as long as I promised to put her toes on my growing belly to warm them when we returned home.

It was -28C according to my best internet source, however, I didn't inform Marty that I already knew this was the temperature, and I pointed out to her that it was sunny, so it must be warmer than it had been during the week. And what a week it had been. A week which had seen some horrifically extreme temperatures, along with dogs stuck to the poles they were sprinkling with pee, grannies cryogenically frozen when they got stuck to their favourite park benches, and small children being confused for traffic cones due to their bright jackets and their parents overprotective and extremely zealous layering policy. A policy that created a creature that could not move via its own steam or free will.

So as our front gate guard laughed at two people out with cameras, while he made another hot cocoa with suspicious vigour, we attacked the world outside.
So many tiny four footed friends walk down our street.
It appears rarely on the footpath.
What on earth is this?
Oh a leaking fence.
Even snowmen look sad behind bars. If there were more of them, I would have thought it was a snowman zoo.
Let the icicles begin!
There will be a few no doubt.
Oh no a bear! Oh sorry a granny.
The weird combo of heating and ice together.
So it is better in black and white
or colour?
Sometimes, when the sun melts the ice, you just get a lucky photo.
Ahhh the simplicity of colours. A snow covered roof and the chimney launch into the sky.
The front of Marty's favourite Pulawska house.
Some random snow trails.
Gotta love the shadow patterns of fences on the snow.
Just looked nice and shiny.
When snow attacks a tree trunk. Could almost be an aerial shot.
As I said..... more icicles.
Simple, wall, snow, sky.
Some run away trails.
So now we test you animal track knowledge. Who/What makes these tracks?
Of course it is Mr Pheasant.
And then we come home to giant snowflakes! Ok they are paper cutouts on our balcony door but they do make lovely shadows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time flies....

Well yes Christmas is a long way behind us now, and well I completely forgot to post some pics from a big event before Christmas.

Last year I missed a very important date. It was Marty's birthday and I was in the air somewhere between Paris and Singapore and hence lost a day and lost her entire birthday. To me that means she is a year younger :) Maybe a tip for all people afraid of aging.

Anyway, this brings me to the point of the present. I can at times be inspired and other times hopelss with presents. This year I decided to buy Marty something she had always wanted and that was to see the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas time. So I bought tickets to the Moscow City Ballet for her and her parents. It was in the city centre in the big omnipresent dominating spire that is the Palace of Culture right slap bang in the middle of town.

It was one of the snowiest days that we had had so far in Winter and was causing mayhem everywhere. Marta's Mum was coming from the East by train and the train was late and the windows in some parts broken and snow was flooding in to melt, refreeze and form a hidden trap of ice in the hallway of the train carriage. I was teaching and trying to battle through snow to get home in time to look half decent, while Marty was already at home hoping everyone could make it.

Marta's Dad was picking up Mum from the Metro and then coming to our place. With the heavy snow traffic was stupidly slow and so basically they arrived and we left as soon as they dropped off all their bags. We sat in traffic for the next hour or so, and hence we couldn't get a good dinner and had to grab something quickly in the shopping centre across the road from the ballet. I was thinking that something like KFC would make a great juxtaposition to us all being glammed up and off to some highend cultural event like the ballet. But, we found a reasonable restaurant in there that was quick food.
Then off to the men in tights and the fairies, sometimes the same thing no doubt. As it was the ballet we didn't take the SLR camera with us, instead we took Marty's little point and shoot digital. So the quality of photos is not as grandiose as normal. It would have been great just to sit there with a camera and take photos of all the people dressed to the nines for the event. But, as we had to actually find where our seats were and check in our coats first we didn't have time.
Lots of Marble and funny spellings of words I know in English, but aren't quite the same in PolishDon't you love family photos?!
Aren't they just brimming with excitement?
I like the roof detail.

I must say as much as many people from Warsaw complain about the Palace being a horrible place, I quite like it. Especially the decorations, even the hall where we were sitting was quite nice. It was aged yes, but that added to its charm. If only the ballet would live up to this standard..... fact is it didn't. I am not being mean here, nor is it that I am too simple to enjoy the ballet (although this could be part of it). I don't mind seeing people dance I was surprised to admit they were quite nice. The big downside was the lack of a live orchestra. Which is due to the fact the Warsaw/Polish national orchestra was active with the Polish National Ballet a few suburbs away at the National Theatre and of course at Christmas there is no way you could get the Russian national orchestra to Poland! Heaven forbid. So the lack of live music really let it down. I love to hear live music of all types, it sends a shiver down my spine. But listening to a CD of the nutcracker didn't get me going at all.
That said, it was a nice evening and it seemed that Marty and her parents enjoyed the gift. I just wished it had of been a perfect birthday present for her...... maybe next year......

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Wintery bits

Well we all know it has been something called "Winter" here in Poland for sometimes what seems a Millennium. That is because it has! Not really, it hasn't been half as bad as I expected, I really expected it to be a lot colder for a lot longer. The truth of the matter is that it tends to be cold but not super cold. We have had maybe 10 days in total of -30C, or there abouts, but those were really the exception rather than the rule. Most days are in the single digits for minus.

I have good gloves, a nice big scarf (thanks to my sister from about 7 years ago), and a lovely warm jacket. The latter I am thankful for to Marty who made me purchase said item. I also bought some good boots which have helped a little to keep the size 11’s from losing their little slender pink friends. I didn't have to panic and run to the store for thermal underwear, which is what I had expected. So all in all, not so bad.

Anyway, back to the story of the photos below. So I was on the tram morning after morning. I saw some fabulous sunrises over the Vistula with its delicate icebergs floating along at a leisurely Sunday strolling pace. Which came to an abrupt halt one day when the little tram was tinkling along over the Most Gdanski (Gdansk Bridge). I saw that not only my feet had frozen, but almost all of the Vistula with the exception of a small channel maybe 1m across had frozen solid. It was quite a sight. I will remind you here as well that the Vistula here in Warsaw is still a wild river, with minimal intervention from man and certainly no regulation in effect.

So one afternoon on my crossing to “The Dark Side” also known as Praga (Prague) I jumped off at a stop where no one else was silly enough to brave the -30C, and took a few photos. With the extreme cold I didn’t have the camera battery on long, nor did I have the inclination to do too much seeming as I had to take my gloves off to operate the camera. So there aren’t many pics and they aren’t great but they kind of give you an idea of what it was like then, and is mostly now.

As the sun sets again on another wintery day, the temperature tolls for thee, at -30C it certainly wakes all senses, then numbs them, sings them a lullaby and if you don't concentrate you lose your senses along with your fingers, toes, legs, or noses to frostbite.
Now that it is the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lets be inspired and have a combined Summer/Winter Olympic(s) event here, speed skating followed by lightning fast swimming!
So for a wild river there isn't much river to play with, but at least the colours are nice.
The old town followed by the more commercial hub behind it.
Along the Most Gdanski. It is my favourite bridge in Warsaw.
This pic makes me think of a national geopgraphic aerial photo. I had no idea why I was hanging over the rail of a bridge in stupidly cold temperatures. But, to me, the pic was worth it.
Even in Black and White the river looks nice, more silver now than blue/green but nice.
If you could hide the trees it would look like a satellite photo of something hidden in an Iranian bunker or something indescribable.
There is no filter on this, just the sunsetting allowing great light to pop up. I love the little footprints of different birds around the place, snow is great for this. I am thinking of doing a series of foot/paw/beak what ever prints in the snow.
I wasn't sure if it looked better in the blue hue or the contrast of black and white.
You would almost swear you were in the Arctic or Antarctic at the bottom of the picture.
The big pointy thing on the left is the Palace of Culture, which to me totally sounds like a bar/nightclub. There are previous posts of this on the blog (not the nightclub but the palace).

Well the day started to get dark which meant, time to head off to teach. But it was a worthwhile stop off point. I do like that bridge, and now a few weeks later there are no more islands of ice as the river is one big sheet of ice. It appears, at first glance, to be a glacier dividing the town in half. Freaky, but really cool! And no, not just literally.

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