Monday, December 31, 2007

For Cold Lang Syne

Poor Audrey has been laid down with a cold the last couple of days. Amy also had one for a while and even I contracted a near-deadly 'man cold' for 24 hours or so. We're pretty much over our bugs now, but little Audrey has spent the last day coughing and sneezing. It's meant we've had to curtail our trip to Sarah's this evening for her New Years Eve party which is a real shame, but hopefully it'll mean Audrey will wake up in 2008 feeling a bit better.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Lovely Christmas at Pene and Mike's

Audrey woke up early on Christmas morning with eager anticipation of the day ahead (ok, I'm stretching the truth a bit, being as she's only 4 months old).

Anyway, after pancakes for breakfast, we all sat round the tree and encouraged Audrey to 'open' her presents. Santa had been pretty generous to her, so we spent the morning playing with her new toys - although we did wonder whether she got more enjoyment out of the wrapping paper and ribbon(!?) - we liked the toys though!

We then caught a tram down to our friends Pene and Mike from the New Zealand Embassy. They had cooked a huge lunch for us and their family. Audrey enjoyed spending time with Oliver, Pene's grandson who is just a little younger than her. Similarly we enjoyed catching up and swapping stories with David and Alex (Oliver's parents).

Pene and Mike put on a fantastic meal with all the trimmings (including the turkey which they cooked on the barbecue) and I managed to have two servings of pretty much everything on offer.
One of Pene's sons, Tim had arrived the day before from New Zealand (minus his two bags which had been lost in transit) and did remarkably well to stay conscious until nearly 7pm.

At the end of the evening we pushed Audrey back home in her pram, all of us full of Christmas cheer and with very full tums!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Rather than send one of those impersonal e-mails around wishing everyone a Merry Christmas - I thought I'd do it by blog! Here's a picture of Audrey (4 months old today) - no doubt this picture will be used in evidence when she finally learns the number of Child Protection Services.

As a special 'Christmas Present' to you all - here's a link to some more pictures of our beautiful daughter. Happy Christmas one and all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Audrey goes to visit Maria

This is Maria Romanowska, who was our midwife when Audrey was born back in August. We all went to visit her today to thank her once again for all the help and advice she gave us when Audrey arrived. It was great to catch up with Maria, and she was really pleased to see how much Audrey had grown over the last four months. We really have a debt of gratitude to her. She is an amazing woman.

In the evening Audrey went to a Christmas party at our friend Patrick's place, but she was unfortunately still too little to be able to consume the yummy mince pies and mulled wine he had made (so her mum and dad kindly helped her out).

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Chriiiiiiist-maaaaaaaaaaas!

Last night was the Bokano Christmas party - (the English language school where I occasionally 'work'). I met a really tall Polish guy there who asked me whether I came from London. When I told him I was from Wolverhampton his face lit up and he gleefully said 'Slaaade!'

It turned out he was a big fan of the Wolverhampton super-group Slade when they were at their pomp in the 1970s. He knew loads of their hits, 'Cum on Feel the Noize', 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' as well as the iconic (and appropriate for the event) 'Merry Xmas Everybody' - probably the best Christmas song in the World Ever. We chatted for a while, but strangely not many other teachers were able/willing(?) to join in our conversation.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Trevor's Christmas Quiz

I've put together the attached Christmas Quiz, to allow people to while away the hours between re-runs of Only Fools and Horses, Mary Poppins and The Great Escape.

The quiz is fairly self explanitory, and I'll post up answers in the New Year.

You should be able to print a copy of the quiz from the picture below, or if you can't see the picture, by clicking here

Unfortunately the file sharing software I've used requires 'flash' so if you can't access the quiz by the two means I've suggested, but desperately want to play then send me an e-mail and I'll e-mail you a copy.

If you're in the Grace family then strictly no peeking!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When Amy met Lech

It's not every day you get to meet the President. Amy was present at a state visit yesterday, representing Australia and Lech Kaczynski was pressing the flesh with his country's Ambassadors and their juniors. I'm sure if Audrey had been there she'd have got a kiss!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tallest and Thinnest

After encountering the biggest bran flake in the World on Thursday, we experienced more 'Warsaw records' when we spent Saturday visiting the tallest Christmas tree in Europe (in Warsaw's 'old' town square) and one of the thinnest houses in the World (in ul. Brzozowa - seen marked in red). The house in question is only the width of the front door. It was pretty nippy though and temperatures have fallen below freezing during the last few days.
We also went along to an art fayre at Warsaw University where students try to flog their (excellent) work, albeit at inflated prices.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Santa (s)Nowhere in Sight!

I'd promised Audrey that I'd take her to see Father Christmas today. He was due to appear at our mums and tots group and as a result all week she's been nice (rather than naughty) in preparedness.

Unfortunately we arrived at Hula Kula (the kids play-area where he was planning his appearance) about an hour late this morning and Santa had already disappeared (to go off and make more toys for the children). At least that's what I told Audrey. Apparently the chap in the suit got too hot and only donned the red jacket and white beard for a short while. I was told that while he was handing out presents most of the kids in the place cried through a combination of fear and excitement.

I'm not sure at only 16 weeks old, whether Audrey would really have been any more composed either. She did get a chance to 'swim' in a ball-pool though which she enjoyed (despite looking terrified in the picture). Apparently though it's a gruesome sight when ball pools are emptied - one can only imagine what horrors lurk beneath!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Giant Bran Flake Sighted in Warsaw

After all the talk of GM crops in the news I found a gargantuan bran flake in my bowl this morning. The mega-flake is seen pictured with a normal flake (right) and is at least 8 times normal size. Are evil forces at work? or perhaps it was just that the chap in charge of the machine was on his tea-break??

who needs three shredded wheat?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas comes to the Hickman's

On Sunday afternoon we took an outing to buy our Christmas tree (Polish:choinka). It was rather an adventurous trip to a garden centre up the road travelling on the 709 bus together with Audrey in her pram and a few dozen Poles. The air onboard the bus was heavy with a myriad of cold and flu viruses.

The 'Obi' store we went to was similarly busy, as people scrambled to buy plastic angels and red flock coated Father Christmas figurines direct from China.

I was pleased in a way, as up until this point I had been rather disappointed by the Polish attitude to Christmas. I've noticed that (unlike the UK) they didn't fill their shops with tinsel on the 1st November and it was possible to look around almost all of the stores in Warsaw without your ears being affronted by Paul McCartney on the in-store sound system chirpily hoping you were having a 'won-der-ful Christ-mas-time'. It was almost as though the Poles regard Christmas as if it were some kind of religious festival.

We struggled back home, complete with tree, potted poinsettia, pram and baby.

Our apartment now has the look of a winter wonderland. We've got some nice dec's including some real Polish ones bought for us last year by our Polish teacher Ewa. It's probably the last time for a few years we are able to have decorations on the bottom few branches of the tree.

I did record an early casualty - a red bauble which smashed somewhere down the back of the sofa, shards of which Audrey will probably find when she starts to crawl in a few months time - perhaps I should have invested in bounce-resistant plastic baubles from Obi.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy St. Nicolaus day!

On 6th December Poland celebrates St.Nicolaus day. It is the day that St.Nicolaus a.k.a Santa Claus visits children and leaves them a small gift (or hands out punishments!). The gift tends to be left in a shoe. From what I've read the tradition appears to be slightly different in various regions of Poland. In some areas it appears to be the main day for presents, but most households across Poland will also get a second visit on Christmas eve from Angels (who tend to be a bit more generous with their gifts!)

One thing I have noticed though is that Poles do not have their own version of Christmas crackers. I think it's a great shame as much of my material comes from the jokes contained within them! In their absence here's a few of my favourites to make up for it...

Q. Where do Santa's little helpers go to relax?
A. The Elf Farm

Q. What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?
A. It's Christmas, Eve

Q. What did Santa say to Mrs. Claus when he looked out the window?
A. Looks like "rain", "Dear"!

Q. How does Rudolph know when Christmas is coming?
A. He looks at his calen-"deer"!

Q. How long does it take to burn a candle down?
A. About a wick (it helps if you’ve got a Black Country accent with this one)

Q. What do angry mice send to each other at Christmas?
A. Cross mouse cards !

Q. How do you describe a rich elf?
A. Welfy

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ul Czerniowiecka goes to Hollywood

There is a cafe/restaurant on the ground floor of our apartment, and from time to time they film (what we presume to be) a Polish soap-opera there. Every month or so, 2 or 3 large film trucks show up and erect lights and sound equipment both inside and out. We haven't managed to catch the programme on TVP yet as we don't watch a lot of Polish TV, but we do keep looking out for it. I've also tried to take a couple of (funny) walks past camera in the hope that me and Audrey could appear at the back of a shot.

On a completely different subject Audrey has started to 'chat' to us during the last few days. Obviously it's only a few gurgled coos and clucks at the moment, but it's lovely to hear and she always looks pretty pleased with herself as well. She's also developed a real fascination for her fingers and can spend ages looking at (and then eating) her fingers on both hands.