Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Running 2015. Building 2015. Owning 2015.

I haven't written anything on here for a really long time. Life has been busy, very very busy. Work has been crazy, we moved, we lost both our Grandmothers, my dad has been very, very unwell, and when I've not been busy, I've been playing BLOODY Candy Crush.

So...there's that. However, I've decided to abandon the Good Ship King at level 758, I've uninstalled it from my phone and tablet, and blocked it from my Facebook. Instead of playing, I am going to Get Shit Done this year. It's working already. The pile of stuff stacked in the window of our bedroom has been depleted since I've been sorting through it and decluttering the last couple of days.

I've also caught up with a couple of distant friends on the phone, and today I am going to an exhibition (Horst, V&A) and for burgers with my close friends. At the beginning of each year, I am usually resolving to do more, see more, enjoy London, but by the end of the year I am in full-on hibernation mode and it takes all my might just to go to the local shops. Time to amp it up again - Laurel and I are making a list of all the things we want to do in London (and out) this year, and making it happen (starting today). This will be the year we actually make it to Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, instead of just talking about it.

In 2015, I also turn 30. I am celebrating this by going to Poland. I'm calling it a pilgrimage since my beautiful Polish Nan passed away in July, while we were on honeymoon. We are going to Poznan and Warsaw, I've already identified some Airbnbs for us to stay in, we just need to get it booked in. I am looking forward to seeing the land that spawned my terrific Grandparents. See also: Pierogi.

I've also been running again. I have briefly dabbled in running before, to little effect, I half ran a 10k in 2011 but that was a half-arsed effort. This December, I completed a 10k, and I ran the whole way. It wasn't fast running, but it was most definitely running. I have also pledged to run 1000 miles in 2015 (#1000miles2015), and, in a moment of madness, I signed up to the Hampton Court Half Marathon in March so am currently training for that.

On a selfish note, this helps me firm up and get fit, in time for my March birthday so I can feel good as I come-of-age. On a less selfish (I hope) note, I am also doing the half marathon as part of my fundraising effort for ActionAid, because in May, I AM GOING TO MOZAMBIQUE!

I am going as part of a team of 20 colleagues from my company, and we are aiming to raise in excess of £30,000 collectively to build a library in Ngongonhane, an area where there is no library, and because of the expensive travel to reach one, many children end up dropping out of school. Can you imagine being a situation where you have to leave compulsory education because you don't have access to books?! Being a privileged Westerner, I can't, which is why I am taking part in this project. We are going to be donning steel-capped boots, digging foundations, bricklaying and doing metalwork over 5 days in the area. We, with some help from our company have paid for our own flights and accomodation, so every penny donated to ActionAid will go to this project, not to fund us having a "jolly". You can sponsor me here. Or if you like, you can sponsor me here. Or here. I think you get what I am trying to say.

After all this action, we also want to get round to settling down. We already decided to put off trying to start a family for a little longer, so that I can achieve the above, and so we can sort out our living situation. Currently we are living in my Grandparents' house, while probate happens and its future can be decided. If its future, once decided is that it's not worth very much, perhaps we can buy it. It's massively outdated, but certainly livable in for now and has huge potential. My grandparents bought it in 1963 and my mum grew up here, so the thought of being able to buy it and have our own family here is very exciting indeed.

Monday, 31 December 2012

A Polish Christmas

My mother's parents were both Polish, they escaped during the Second World War via Sweden where my Uncle was born, Scotland where my mum was born and then had six months living in Argentina before finally settling in London. For fear of being arrested, they never went back to their homeland. Nan worked as a bookkeeper on Fleet Street and Granddad worked for British Rail, they got a decent sized house in Southh West London, which my Grandmother at 91 still lives in (Granddad died in August 1991).

Like many Europeans, for Poles, the Christmas celebration was on Christmas Eve, so every year we'd drive up to my Nan's from Kent. With my cousins and aunts and uncles, she'd do a full Polish Christmas dinner for us, complete with herring, breaded fish, potatoes and bigos, and poppyseed cake for dessert (eurrgh!). After that, we'd open our presents from that side of the family then head home, before celebrating a British style Christmas at home on the 25th.

As the years went on, the dinner stopped, as cooking for 12 people was all too much and we'd go for coffee and cake instead, but now, Nan isn't really able to do much as the host, and the tradition has stopped altogether, and my Uncle's family prefers to take holidays in the UAE at Christmas, so Nan comes to us, along with my Dad's mum, all the way from the Black Country.

This year Nanny Kiki (so-called as that's what she called me when I was a baby) had a heart attack the weekend before Christmas and spent the 9 days in the run-up to Christmas in hospital. Her hearing is dreadful and her memory worse, but she loves to talk and is always cheerful. She had us very much on edge all over Christmas though with sudden gasps and grunts, and I felt I shouted "ARE YOU OK?" more than I said anything else! What I love about my Nan is her relentless cheeriness, even though it's repetitive, her most used words are "unbelievable", "lucky", "amazing".

Nan probably won't be in her own home much longer. The vast amount of medication she was given is too much for her to remember to take properly, the stairs in the house are steep and it's all becoming a bit of a worry. For years my mum has been doing the Christmas shopping for her, as it's difficult to get to the shops, find the gifts we want and carry them all home. This year my mum bought me on her behalf the stunning Rose Petal Jam Polish cookbook by Beata Zatorska and Simon Target which I thought was a particularly thoughtful given the circumstances.

My Nan may be with us for many years to come, or this heart attack may be signalling that her rich life is coming to an end, and even though she didn't choose this book for me herself, I can remember her by it.

2 days after Christmas, Nanny P went home from our house, and on the very next day, she fell over and broke her ankle. If it doesn't rain it pours (all this follows my Dad's back injury which he is still recovering from)! She is 96, and is very, very immobile anyway, so it's unlikely that she will recover well and will probably need to go into a home too. I am glad we go to spend Christmas with them both at home this year, and in subsequent years we can make the best of whatever the situation is.

I grabbed a handful of old photos from Nan's house yesterday. Unfortunately I don't know who's who in most of them. With my grandparents escape to the UK, I never knew my other older relatives or their friends. That's them at the back, top left.