Another month has galloped past. I have now been in Warsaw for the longest stretch ever, and at last I’ve experienced hankerings for home. We’ve had a fair amount of summer, interspersed with too many cool days, at least for the liking of locals.
The month has been very differently shaped from the previous four months. Maja and Jaś are on holidays so we’ve spent a lot of whole days with them as my daughter takes on a few more teaching sessions. The only problem, apart from grandparental fatigue, is food. Maja is picky, to say the least, and any food that mingles ingredients she regards as “dirty” and refuses to touch. Banana chips are currently the food of choice. This doesn’t stop her running round and round and round and round the playground, hanging upside down and sliding down poles, which Jaś does too “like a fireman”.
We visit the zoo, and lunch between elephants and rhinos. Maja spends ages waiting for an alligator to move, even to blink an eye. Jaś eyeballs a slithering python, until it turns away from the glass. They don’t think birds should be in cages and work out a plan to release them. Two sea horses float by, tails curled together, and they still express pity a month later for the “poor lonely seahorse” who sits mournfully on a plastic fitting in the aquarium tank by itself. When we finally detach them from the little cars for hire, we catch the metro and Maja is very thoughtful when she finds out we are travelling under the river.
The game of “Little cockatoo” is a survivor: we’ve played Little Cockatoo and dingo friends, Little Cockatoo and the sudmarine, and Little Cockatoo’s picnic. I suspect it’s a ploy to lay claim to undivided attention. Another intriguing game develops: it’s called “Fearsome avocados” and J creates some illustrations to immortalise it.
When we arrive now in the morning they open the door to greet us, sometimes on all fours making the stairwell echoes riot with their barking; sometimes in a cascade of nakedness. One day they stood at the door grinning until one of them said “Let’s get bare.”
One of the nearby playgrounds has a fire engine, which provides plenty of scope for games. “Hello, hello. The park (or the forest or the ocean or the swings) are on fire.” Then siren imitations – eeor … eeor … eeor – as we rush to put the fire out. Sometimes a cat’s up a tree. There’s also an old-fashioned car that becomes a taxi or a safari vehicle.
When R stops work and the weather heats up we seek water. They go on the bikes and this old dodderer catches public transport. One day we go to the nature reserve at Jeziorko Czerniakowskie where they frolic in the water with a large white swan and I can’t go in because I didn’t bring my swimmers.
Broken glass is everywhere. They are reluctant to wear their shoes until I told a graphic story about Jaś nearly treading on a bottle-base when he was tiny and Grandpa J flying like superman to pick him up just in time. Now they willingly put their shoes on, but they’ve also become glass spotters and collectors, picking up every shard they see and depositing it in the bin.
We’ve been to a few movies – a Chinese animation called The seven dwarves and snow queen and Kungfu Panda 3 where we were the only ones in the theatre. Jaś vividly recalls a very incidental squeal (squirrel) and burrows into Mummy or Grandpa J in the scary bits.
They’re playing much more with other children now. They colonize the slippery dip with Janek and Michał one day, playing an ongoing game for a good hour. Jaś keeps going over to their babcias giving a running commentary on the action. One day he lends his bike and helmet to another little boy. They both close ranks against stranger children and won’t let them on the whirligig or around their castles.
They decide that Little Pancake is a good name for a dog, and suggest that Uncle H changes Cruz’s name.
Twice I set off the blipper at the local supermarket. The first time I’m pursued along the street and hauled back. When I say “Alright, what’ve I done?” my captor shudders at the thought of dealing with a foreigner and releases me. The second time security is busy helping an old lady so I scurry off. At the zoo, I astonish everyone by carrying Maja on my shoulders for at least 500 metres. I manage a second haircut, krótki as requested, and a lipwax. I even track down a bootmaker who can repair my beloved Keens sandals, when his stitcher returns from holidays.
My tourist activities have been squeezed in between time with the twins, and have been very local. The most memorable? The sculpture garden at Królikarnia; the Faras gallery at the National Museum; rambling the rural delights of Powsin; an exhibition of photos of the reconstruction of Warsaw; klezmer, guitar and Chopin music. Early morning walks always deliver unexpected delights. I take part in some events commemorating the Warsaw Uprising.
Best photos of the month
Am I getting better photos, or just less picky? Five this month.
28° in the middle of winter and a run of very cold days. I have conversations with three close friends, one of whom is celebrating her 70th birthday.
Otherwise, an election that delivered, by a thread, a conservative government and disappointment in yet another Rhodes scholar (and multi-millionaire) PM who has already lost gravitas and respect. An appalling exposé (again) of criminal treatment by the police of an Aboriginal teenager in custody. The re-emergence of Pauline Hanson, now a senator, who wants a royal commission into Islam. My poor country.