Lost in Oporów and pleased to see a well rounded Priest flowing towards the entrance of a marvellous Church, I negotiated the heavy, ornate gate in time to ask my way… Hooray, he was happy to speak English (after we had run through a few possibilities) and started to explain how to get to Dobzalin.
At this point in the day, after several detours for road construction, navigational extras and a very complicated set of multiple tries to find my way through deep sand, my distance was already a huge 90k and the light was beginning to fade… Putting it mildly I was tired and not at my best to absorb aural direction. (for a musician, I am often embarrassed by my woeful aural memory!)
A little voice came from somewhere “may I put my tent up in the garden perhaps?”
The result was the offer of a room, but would I wait until evening mass was over? Full of gratitude, I was of course happy to wait and joined the service out of curiosity and for the calming delight of simply sitting. It was beautiful inside, with a fabulous representation of the Madonna and Child exquisitely illuminating and illuminated. I wished that I had managed to find the loo earlier though, so it wasn’t an entirely comfortable wait.
Service over, Tom led me past the fenced-in large guard dogs and into a disused small block, saying quite frequently “don’t be afraid” and “the dogs will be out after 8pm and they will not go back in until 7 o’clock tomorrow”…. Well I was fine to stay inside for the night, I thought. Then, “don’t be afraid, a young man lives on the ground floor and you will hear his mother next door” (the musician had died and his widow and son were presumably being housed by the church). I began to wonder whether I should have any reason to feel nervous.
I was shown upstairs to chose from 4 equally derelict rooms, furnished with sofas, odd shoes and leftover jackets etc. As there was little light and we couldn’t see any light bulbs, I settled for my head torch and we parted company after the most wonderful conversation about Beethoven, the inner and the outer journey and the wonder of travel angels, faith and fear….
And then the most loving of hugs.
He confessed that he would be afraid not to know where he would be sleeping each night and so I realized that it was his fear, not mine that he was so kindly protecting me from.
I now really, really needed the loo, to discover that there didn’t appear to be one working indoors and the dogs were already at work, roaming outside…. I did NOT feel up to joining them and was very happy to discover that I had not jettisoned my breakfast bowl, along with other stuff I sent home a week ago… No no no… You have the wrong idea! I was able to flush the loo by filling my bowl with water from the distant bath tap. I am so glad, however that I had experienced several far from luxurious bathroom facilities in Kyrgyzstan last summer, so this although this was a little challenging, I was, shall we say, much relieved!! I also spotted a light bulb in one room, so switched. There was a rather sweet little cat so my next thoughts strayed to fleas etc… so, also very glad of groundsheet, sleeping mat and my own bedding instead of the questionable pile of bedding at one end of the sofa. (Josie Dew and Annie Musto knew a thing or two). Then came that nasty little high pitched whine that made my recently healed legs wince… Ha ha… Not only, but also in that fabulous tardis of a bag? Head net!! Enough to frighten anyone in the dark.
I thought Tom had warned the young man that I would be staying, but he came in unawares and I heard his terrified voice shouting up the unlit stairwell, so I had to trot out with my torch harmlessly pointing at myself, (I’m so glad I wasnt wearing the head net) and sooth his troubled nerves; both of us were trembling and then we were able to laugh as I took his hand and arm in greeting. In the morning, I put my chocolate bar on the landing for him, left shortly after the alsations were back in their pen and after another very long ride, arrived triumphantly in Łodz, where I have been staying with the most wonderful family… I will need another chapter to do their welcome, generosity and Monty Pythonesque sense of humour justice.
Right now I’m in the middle of Warsaw drinking coffee.. Another story!
Thank you all so much for looking in, Jenny.