Better late than never… This chapter really starts way back in my first days in Gdansk and brings us to the last few days in September, covering Gdnask to Łodz and then Łodz and on towards Krakow, such is the impact that they have had on my stay in Poland. (and a big thank you to the Searles, who put us in touch)
In response to an email from their Servas friends who could not be my host, Przemek and Angelika not only offered me accommodation but practically spoon-fed me out of Gdansk!
In several consequetive emails they suggested maps and routes naming every village between Malbork and their home in Lodz, and to stop me dwawdling put “we are waiting for you” at the end of their fantastically unpronounceable list!
IT JUST SO HAPPENS (am I ever going to get used to these clever Angels?) that they had followed the exact route, only in reverse, with their young family and their priority had been safe roads… perfect for my Polish initiation!
Theirs is a very busy household.
Running 3 children, each of whom attend music lessons in addition to school and then in addition to this, English speaking classes, by early evening, they are gearing up (Angela and Przemek have their own English Language School) just as everyone else is winding down for the day. Of course, during the early part of the day, when marvellous breakfast has been consumed and children delivered to school, they are hardly idle: they have already been preparing classes, and as I arrived at the beginning of the Autumn term, there was the added strain of impossible timetable shifts and countless tricky phone calls to field, smoothing ruffled parental feathers with great tact and diplomacy. (I should have liked to biff them all, personally)
Both sets of grandparents take it in turns to meet the boys, Yas and Jhanni, home from school and Julia who is 17 also forms part of this essential team. She is a very talented pianist, so for many hours each day the volume of speech is raised in competition with the sound of her practice! Her current pieces are a wickedly difficult Chopin prelude, the first movement of Beethoven’s Opus 110, would you believe, and a monumental prelude and fugue by Bach… although her teacher seems to change this collection at a whim, seemingly unaware of the confusion this causes.
In spite of all this activity, there is nothing more guaranteed to bring a glow of happiness to Angela’s face when finally (often not before 8.30pm) the whole family is back in the nest and the fun can begin.
This could be lively debate about subjuntive construction, malodourous Americanism, the art of vodka drinking (if you must be alone, you must drink in the company of a mirror) or Genesis, Beatles and ESPECIALLY Monty Python. They can quote whole scenes and the best phrases (eg, buttocks incontinentia) off pat!!
Then into and out of philosophical discussion, literature, history, theology, poetry.
It was so interesting and moving to hear about how the family home was gradually returned from confiscation and occupancy by families placed there in communist times: finally, only quite recently in fact, it has become free for this family….. it was originally built by Angela’s grandfather… and it was an everlasting beaurocratic nightmare to find alternative accommodation that the tenant families would find acceptable.
I have an image of each member of the family in my heart but sadly no photo that does them justice…. we were so hard at it in conversation that it didn’t quite happen! This one was a slightly Pythonesque plate that Przemek had artfully delivered from upside-down in a very bright pink father’s day gift wok-cum-pan… Brilliant I say!
O yes! I got to visit several classes and practice my English, with stories of my trip so far and trying to weave in prepositions and participles and what-not! I have begun to appreciate just how tricky it all is.
The day I left, typically thoughtful, Przemek rode with me out of town to get me onto the right road and telephoned ahead to arrange a one night stay with the Reformed Chuch in Zelów.
There is already far too much to mention and I have only just begun!
Slap bang in the heart of Poland I now have some very special friends who I miss and whom I dearly hope to meet again.
Thank you all so very much for a truly lovely time together. I don’t think for one minute that it would have been the same without you. XX 🙂