Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Fat Thursday!

What an enlightened country we live in! The Poles have an excellent festival which celebrates gluttony! Today is Tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday) which is held on the last Thursday before lent (which is traditionally a time of fasting).

On this day Poles eat their weight in Pączki (roughly pronounced ponchkee). These are deep fried doughs similar (but nicer) than doughnuts.
Since we've been in Poland we've been big fans of the pączek, so this lunchtime me and Amy tucked into a couple of them - we felt it only right to honour the local traditions and do our bit.

On the way home from the Embassy I went via ulica Chimielna 13, the best pączek bakery in town. I reckon there were at least 300 hungry souls in the queue waiting to celebrate.

The queue outside the bakery stretched a long way down the street

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's all happening at the zoo

Audrey saw giraffes yesterday...they're not a common sight in Warsaw.

Amy had a day off (Australia Day) so the three of us headed over to the other side of the river to Warsaw Zoo. We can get a direct tram door-to-door which takes about 30 minutes. Admission is a bargain at 6zl (about 1 pound/2.50AUD)

The zoo is celebrating it's 80th anniversary this year and I have read that prior to 1939, it had been the largest zoo in Europe. The zoo was badly damaged during WWII during which period most of the animals in captivity either escaped, were killed or got eaten!

It was a chilly day, but the sky was fine and clear and we really enjoyed showing Audrey her first sight of the animals. She loved the giraffe enclosure and we had lunch in the new elephant house and watched Audrey intently watching a baby elephant having his lunch - I wonder what she made of it!

At one point Audrey also seemed to get a thrill out of watching the crows in the trees(!) which made us question the point of trip a little bit ;)

Nevertheless being Australia Day it was only fitting that we finished the day peering at the wallabies - who looked less than happy with the snow in their enclosure - no doubt they were dreaming of summer!




Friday, January 25, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Art and the Park

On Saturday we pushed Audrey's pram down to nearby Krolikarnia a gallery near to our apartment, where there were a couple of exhibitions - one of paintings and another of lithographs.

We enjoyed the pictures although Audrey fell asleep in Amy's arms after about 2 seconds preferring the art of 'Diddy the Dinosaur' to that of the Polish artists on view.



Diddy the Dinosaur

Sunday was spent taking a trip to Pole Mokotowskie park. The park is near the centre of Warsaw, and has been amongst other things an airfield and a horse racing track. Now though it's a lovely public park with a couple of lakes, a big playground, and bars and cafes in its grounds.

We visited pub Lolek - a pub that celebrates the finding of an ice age mammoth bone near the spot. Audrey met the pub cat and enjoyed looking wonderingly at the throngs of families with children and/or dogs who joined us there. Meanwhile we enjoyed a couple of glasses of piwo grzane (hot beer with cloves and cinnamon and sweetened with honey - yum!) the perfect accompaniment to a chilly day in January.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sarah's Leaving Do (Part 2)

Catherine and Douglas threw a further leaving do for our friend Sarah last night. An evening of beautiful food and drink. Audrey managed to stay awake for the whole evening(!) which meant she was absolutely shattered today, but still was great fun at mums-and-tots this morning.

We'll be sad to see Sarah leave Warsaw, she's been a lovely person to have around.

Separated at Birth?

I can't claim credit for this - but it did make me laugh...Princess Fiona of Shrek 1,2 and 3 fame and bit-part actor Princess Beatrice. Uncanny!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eye-Spy

I saw this poster the other day - I wasn't sure if it was an advert or an instruction?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sarah's Leaving Do

Our friend Sarah sadly leaves Warsaw on Friday (she's driving back to the UK!) and so on Saturday evening Patrick organised a leaving meal for her. It was a really nice evening (as usual) and (as usual) Patrick excelled both as a host and a chef!
Unfortunately poor Audrey had been given a batch of injections the day before, so wasn't her usual smiley-self. Combined with her natural nosey-ness/excitement at seeing Sarah, she was awake for a long stretch, and was a tadge grizzly as a result.
Since Jon and Emma leaving, Audrey's favourite band The Mabel Rankin Beat Quartet had not performed any live sets, but after our meal Douglas (half of the band) played a few numbers and Audrey was (as usual) agog with joy. She finally conked out just as we dashed to catch the last metro home.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Million Pound Place in the Sun

We have a short time each evening between Audrey going to sleep and both of us flaking out entirely where we can watch an hours uninterrupted TV.

Last night I was lucky enough to catch 'A Place in the Sun' on Channel 4. For people unfamiliar with the concept, basically people (mostly British ex-pats) wander round properties throughout Europe before deciding that none of them really fits the bill. The people then head back to Blighty (having taken Channel 4 for a free holiday). Usually the properties on offer are villas, farmhouses or apartments, in varying stages of repair, but last night was different as it was a 'special'.

The show was re-named as such to 'A Million Pound Place in the Sun'. It featured 22 year old WAG Charlotte Mears - fiancee to Jermain Defoe (a fair to middling Premiership football player who occasionally plays for Spurs). Accompanied by the shows host - the buxom Amanda Lamb, Charlotte and her mum toured four or five houses around Mallorca in search of a million pound holiday home for her and Jermain. (They already had a home worth 3 million pounds in the UK). Jermain stayed at home, but was regularly contacted by phone.

Charlotte's blonde-dumbness was the real highlight. At one point she asked Amanda why the wallpaper in one room was so shiny - only for Amanda to reply 'Because it's marble'. During a heart-felt phone conversation to Jermain (hello babe) she told him that she found buying a holiday home for a million pounds different to buying shoes or a handbag. It did seem to take her three viewings before she came to this realisation though.

Eventually Charlotte settled on a property 'The White House', on the market at nearly 2 million pounds (Jermain'll love it), but was unfortunately thwarted when their offer of two hundred grand less than the asking price (cheapskates) was refused by the vendors. Amanda summed up the programme by informing us that both Jermain and Charlotte will continue to 'negotiate with the vendor over the next few weeks'.

Then came the show's sucker punch...as the credits rolled the voice-over chap informed us that 'Since the filming of the programme Charlotte and Jermain have split up' and then added with perfect comic timing 'oh dear'. I must admit I laughed out loud...I'm no financial expert, but I think the days of poor Charlotte looking for 2 million pounds holiday homes may be over.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Audrey's Citizenship Ceremony



Audrey received her Australian Citizenship Certificate yesterday in a small ceremony organised by the Australian Embassy. It was a really nice ceremony conducted by Dianne Cornell presided over by Ian Forsyth (the Australian Ambassador to Poland). As well as Audrey, another little girl Amber, who is granddaughter of one of the ladies at Austrade received her certificate.

Fortunately due to her Australian lineage, Audrey didn't have to repeat the pledges nor complete the citizenship test, as I think she may have struggled with both (as would her dad). She had a lovely time though and enjoyed all the attention she received.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Christmas Quiz answers

Here are the answers to the Christmas Quiz, which I posted on this site in December.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Poland only Fifth!

I was shocked to read a recent article on Forbes.com that Poland ranked only 5th in a league table of the most dangerous drivers in Europe. Top of the ladder came Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Having seen some of the crazy drivers tearing around Warsaw I can't even imagine what life must be like on the roads of the three Baltic states that 'beat' Poland. I'm sure Polish drivers will be racing (Robert Kubitza-like) to catch up!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Nappy New Year!

Because of our bugs, New Years Eve was a bit of damp squib from a party perspective - we were in bed by 9.30pm.

I guess it'll be the same for the forseeable future - probably until we end up having to serve as a taxi service running Audrey to and from her parties.

Still we were 'entertained' by the party going on two storeys above us which kept going until about 3.30am. Although it was really loud and was combined with the celebratory rage of fireworks outside, I never really got annoyed as the choice of music left such a lot to be desired.

Being woken up by the Macarana followed by La Bamba was somehow more amusing than having to listen to some drum and bass number. Fortunately Audrey stayed pretty much undisturbed regardless of the music on offer.

On the 1st January I went to get some things from Galleria Mokotow (our local shopping centre) and was totally amazed by the lack of New Year sales. In the UK and Australia people go crazy for sales - sleeping outside of department stores and then commando rolling under the security grilles when the shops open, in order to buy (or just fight over?) the bargains on offer.

Poland seems to have a whole different attitude to New Year sales - pretty much business as usual. I spotted wads of Christmas cards still being sold at full price and lines of chocolate moulded Santas being sold at 10% off - Guys, they're not exactly going to fly out the door in January are they? I'm sure if I'd looked hard enough I'd have still been able to still buy a fresh Christmas tree at full price - perhaps to replace ours which started to droop sometime around Boxing Day.