Warsaw is feeling more and more like home. I even find myself saying “I don’t want to go back to Australia.” There are a few reasons for this: the traveller’s perennial delight in no responsibilities; the wonderfull time I had in Gdańsk and a desire for many such times in unfamiliar places; and above all the love building with my grandchildren. How on earth will I be able to leave them?
After school we set up the rug for a picnic: olives, buns, fizzy water, sunflower seeds; and black things (sultanas) for Jaś. The main requirement for a picnic spot is a “lumpy bit”, exactly what uncomprehending grandparents try to avoid. Sometimes we lie back and see if we can spot birds. A game evolves: worms and birds. Maja is adept at inventing games and folding up the rug into a neat rectangle when we move on to the next pleasure.
“This little cockatoo” acquires a new character: Mr Kookaburra Shopkeeper. There’s a lot of buying and selling of toys, and of puddles for thirsty cockatoos in the nest in the hollow tree. This Little Cockatoo goes to preschool and Mummy Cockatoo has to buy a present to take when she picks her up.
Jaś is riveted by J’s stories – about a difficult door at his language school or how electricity works or the development of a tree from seed to mighty pomnik. He also has a very gentle soul. He finds many scenes in “The Jungle Book” movie scary and seeks comfort buried in Mummy’s lap, and he cries because no-one wants the pink cocoa-mug.
We no longer have to pick them up so they can open the door into the apartment area. They climb with ease and Maja has started to swing from hand to hand on the climbing bars. When we collect them from preschool for the last time before the holidays, they are swarmed and swallowed up in a group hug.
I begin the month with the the intention of paying more attention to learning Polish, carrying a notebook to jot down phrases encountered. I can hear more words in the flow of words now. I say to a taxi driver “Ulica Mała, Praga, poproszę” and feel proud. Until he says in English “Which little street? The are lots of little streets in Praga.” At which point I too resort to English and a map. And there it ends.
Walking around the ‘hood
I continue to explore my immediate vicinity, and find an Egyptian temple in Łazienki and the Gestapo headquarters in ul Szucha. I become interested in the history of Kino Moskwa, the glass architecture of Unii Lubielskeij, the protest outside Łazienki and the pleasures of the early morning.
I spent four glorious days in Gdańsk: gargoyles, medieval trade, Solidarity, industrial waterfront, water taxis, museums, Prussian hags, the history of shoes, morning walk in the rain, and the tripartite day.
A great delight was a few days spent with Sue and Viveka, bloggers from England and Sweden. We braved 30°+ together, in the Old Town, ul Freta, a sheesha restaurant and the dilapidation of Praga.
Triumphs – almost
I order a pair of magnifying glasses for the twins, and against all expectations they arrive in my letter box. I recharge my phone online – twice – before I realise I’m being charged twice as much as I would pay at the kiosk downstairs. I organise a haircut, and am mortified when I arrived late because I misunderstood the time: however, despite an unwanted fringe, I get a reasonable style and manage to laugh my way through the usual hairdresser / client repartee. I vote in the Australian elections at the embassy. I have a productive Skype conversation with my superannuation advisor at a time suitable fo both of us. However, the greatest triumph is persuading Maja and Jaś of the dangers of glass: they now willingly wear their shoes, after a graphic account of how, once upon a time when he was little, Jaś almost cut his foot open on a horrible bit of glass, and how Dziadek flew to his rescue and picked him up just before he landed on it.
Pick of my photos
My Potato Point son continues to take stunning photos, this one of the foam that covered rocks and roads in recent flooding. He has a Queensland holiday for a mate’s wedding; stays briefly with his sister; and visits his brother’s bush block.
I’m sorry to miss an event at the Windsong Pavilion, Bermagui: a celebration of the life of Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, Olympic gold medallist and friend of Ravel, featuring words from his diaries about time he spent in Bermagui and performances of his pastoral music.
Summer is galloping to an end, with only a handful of really hot days to its credit, and the sum of my days in Warsaw dwindles.