These irreverent orange fellows have been coming at Sir G from all directions and at speed!
I swear some rear ends were right off the ground! So many little folk of the insect family have realized it’s cooler and are shuffling now and looking very tired, but the youth have obviously decided to ignore all the signs and are still exuberant daredevils.
I have just had a really speedy 3 days myself, over luxurious asphalt and in the most glorious golden weather. Bluest of blue skies and the most beautiful array of colours in all kinds of trees.
Birch tree confetti and crunchy oak leaves. Very uplifting.
On one morning, as I was exiting Radomsko and checking my map I was invited for morning tea with the Szymankiewicz family. Father Sławek beckoned me in and I had the most lovely time with son Pawel, daughter Irena, Mum Gosia and very articulate, quick-humored friend, Kuba. Another example of the spontaneous, lively generosity that I am being treated to.
Along the way was an extraordinary sight. Stretching noisily for miles in each direction like a gigantic alien silver creature, a double row of coal bearing pipe line snaked it’s way across the countryside. It leads to one of the largest open mines in Poland, Klescow. The cycle path (red asphalt) and the brand new road, are right up to Danish standards and I felt as if they had rolled out the red carpet just for me as the wheels hummed. Judging by the size of the houses and cars in the area, it is clearly a very prosperous place indeed, and I am told there are many material incitements to live there. This was the night I stayed in a lovely hotel, but was kept awake by barking dogs. Somehow this made me unusually grumpy and when the doors started slamming and furniture being dragged across the flag floors at just after midnight, I again went to ask them to be quiet. The manager had already stilled the dogs earlier and the poor waiter looked dreadfully uncomfortable. The furniture removals stopped and the dogs started again…. Not the best night.
Things always look better in the morning and I was able to apologise for my loss of temper!
Navigation has improved, (as well as my ability to pronounce the names of the places I’m looking for… I find myself practicing tricky combinations of tshch and schtch while I ride along!) and I am now staying with Stanislav and small son Peter just outside Czestochowa in the pretty village of Olsztyn. The landscape has changed, from loads of sand to the white of limestone, and there are HILLS! Overlooking the village are the remains of a very romantic white castle and as I wandered around in the hot sun yesterday, a bridal couple were having their photos taken, her veil catching the breeze against the background of copper and olive trees, the wonderful masonry and the sweep of the valley just a perfect picture.
I am about to visit the Madonna of Czestochowa shortly. I have seen so many elaborate and ornate interiors and some amazing icons, few of which have really ‘touched’ me. I wonder what this one will be like? Yesterday in Gidle I was almost kidnapped by a very enthusiastic priest who relieved me of Sir G and motioned us both through corridors and cloisters to see the little icon of Gidle. A massive altar in a chapel to the side houses this special tiny Madonna, which was unearthed by a field worker in the 17th century and has become the icon for farmers I believe.
Visitors genuflect and then continue, walking on their knees behind the altar, touching the feet of Christ as they go. The priest gave me a chocolate Madonna from the church souvenir shop!! Should I bite the head off first or leave it ’til last?
It turns out that Stanislav came across the Alexander technique while he was teaching in America, so I was really pleased to be able to offer him a lesson. He is a deep thinker and talking of release from habit and the distortion of perception brought many things to light. I found myself saying that there could be no conflict with his profound Catholicism, as becoming more in tune with his body could only make him more available for spiritual experience and Service. Another ‘hairs on the arm’ raiser, as his face shone from somewhere way beyond. It saddened me to hear that his long years of intellectual talents are so poorly rewarded here in Poland that he can earn more in manual work.
I am posting some of my photos of these lovely 3 days, hoping they ‘read’ with the content.