October 31, 2006


She came and she went and or a few days there has been some-one else in the flat. We have skipped all over my city and maybe she started to love Poland as much as I do. We went to Krakow where she could see how another city was different to Warsaw, but we got on the train and came home again to my city.

I felt like a tourist and I was, so I bought souvenirs and took hundreds of photos, no longer guilty about getting out my camera. I watched the sunset over the main square and then we ate pierogi until our stomachs ached. We walked the streets of my city and I loved it too, like I did the first time I lived in Warsaw. My breath was snatched away when I stood at the top of the Palace of Culture, vivid blue as a backdrop to all the Warsaw buildings.

I still have have a few days left of my half term holiday. E is back in Paris and as I am not there any more, we don't get a chance to talk everyday. Now that she is on the bus and away, that makes me a bit sad. What makes me happy is that she came and looked, wanted to see my city and so she did.

"Burn the land and boil the sea,
You can't take the sky from me"
(Theme from Firefly)

October 26, 2006

Left or right?

You Are 35% Left Brained, 65% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Pumpkins and parties

There are a lot of pumpkins around at the moment and half of them are being amde from paper plates in our classroom. Only two more days now until half term and I have to say that I just cannot wait. E is coming and I am looking forward to finding Warsaw again. During half term there is also all saints day and all hallows eve, the time for visiting the cemetries and placing candles on graves of our ancestors and family.

Don't freak out, but I might even start Christmas shopping. Only two more wage packets to go until Christmas and I am not the richest person in the world. Traditional Polish gifts for everyone.

October 25, 2006

Food from across the world

Any meeting which involves people from all over the world, beautifully involves food from all over the world. I had to post these two pictures, I loved the idea and taste behind them both. This is a picture of Prashad. It is a mixture of sugar, flour and butter and is given as an offering from God in Hindu temples.

This is a picture of Kim bap, Korean maki. In Korea, you can use pretty much anything in your sushi making, and these ones have egg, crab, radish, mushroom and other things. You can also pit meat in if you wish, which is never done in Japan I am told. Kim bap is one of my favourite things and I like to watch my little Korean children get out their chopsticks and lunchboxes.

October 20, 2006

Show some love

The classroom rings silent once more.2.45 has come and gone each child has been collected one by one. All that is left is the sound of my keyboard and the click of the words making their way onto the page. The weekend has started, but it seems to have started without me.

I have no plans for the weekend, not one. For the first time in a long time I can feel the space ahead and it stings a little. I am still filled with a desire for home and I have no idea what to do with the longing that fills the space between alseep and awake. Images of a Christmas lit York, purple heather flaring across the Dales and sleepy Northallerton, my place. Even as I am typing I am sad, wishing that I was there and not here. Wishing that I could get into my pink car and drive to places that bring me comfort.

Instead I will wander my city, I will photograph her, I will wait for the light to appear through the trees. I will drink cinnamon coffee and spend time with K and N that I love so much. I will shop and go to museums that I have been to before, collect a programme for the Opera and start planning some trips to the Ballet. I can't be with the one I love so I will love the one I am with. Will the grass always be greener? What is wrong with me?

" I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you."
Jack Kerouac

October 19, 2006

Finding the silence

I am back at work today after two days of being stuck in my apartment. It is so nice to be in human company again as being ill when you are away from home and no-one is there to look after you is a nightmare. TFT came and popped round and so did K, so beautiful to see a friendly, concerned face. Being ill just made me yearn from home and even back at school today that feeling has not yet faded.

I was pretty ill and so have not read books, listened to music or watched TV over the last two days. I have only slept and kept still, no moving while my brain sought out the point of my latest source of discomfort. I am just so pleased to be back at work, how often does that happen? There are people around here and there is noise. There are hugs from the children and happy smiles from the parents to see their childs teacher back at school. There are cups of tea in the staffroom and one more day until the weekend.

This afternoon there is still noise and there is still mess and 6 year olds. I am so grateful for that noise today, it makes quiet the thoughts that are spinning around my head like dirty washing on a spin cycle.

October 16, 2006

Best laid plans

I had big plans for the weekend. I had plans for taking pictures of the autumn leaves filtering out the sunlight in the park. I had plans for phone calls, cooking and relaxing in my apartment. I wanted to walk my city, gaze up at the buildings, find new places to eat cake and drink coffee. Instead I spent the whole weekend holed up, bored and feeling totally horrible and sick.

Being ill is horrible for many, many reasons. One of the reasons is that you cannot enouy watching TV, reading magazines or going to bed very early, because you feel ill. You don't call people because you just whine about being ill. Yes, there was no fun at all to be had this weekend. I still feel a bit sicky, but I am sure that I will live and I felt too bad about the ankle-biters to stay at home and recover for another day.

Please, will some-one tell me something interesting that they did this weekend? Is there a world that carries on having fun outside my front door while I feel ill?

October 13, 2006


The kids are not at school today and so life is a bit more relaxed. I wnadered to the bus stop this morning and meandered down the street to work. We will finish early which will give me the time to potter downtown, maybe a little coffee, browse some of the stalls and watch the world go by as always.

What is it about days out of routine? Even weekends do not feel like this. There is something special about being on the street at 2.30 in the afternoon on a Friday. It feels like a treat, this chance to get things done, the silence in which to collect my thoughts. The tidy classroom, the quiet whirr of the computer is the only thing that makes a sound.

So, downtown I will go. Back into my city. I need supplies so that I do not have to leave the apartment until Monday morning.

"We're all just waiting to see what changes, if any, will be made,"
Elvis Presley

October 12, 2006

Autumn mist

As the pavements fill with gold leaves, and my brain turns back to a solid mass, I am left almost able to enjoy the Autumn in Warsaw. I have always loved this season. I love it more because my favourite season follows it. The leaves in the ground and little wind pockets everywhere tell me that there is beautiful cold to come.

This morning I put on my new coat, it was cold enough to need a light scarf and my cheeks pinched, just a little. I am itching to get my camera out again and with a weekend calling me ahead that had very little in it, I will make time to get into the parks and capture the blue skies and sunlight filtering through the trees. The city looks great too, the Palace of culture through the autumn mists. Then again, I love that building at any time of year. contraversial, but there you go.

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face."
John Donne

October 11, 2006


There is something that happens most days in the staffroom at school. If you have a birthday, if you are pregnant, if you have come back from an operation, you bring cake. Now, people do not bring in cake for you, you bring it in yourself. You bring it in so that people can celebrate with you. in a school with a hundred staff, that is a lot of celebrating.

The school managemnet give cake on Teachers Day. Some-one brings in cake and flowers on womens day. You get cake at the start and end of the term, and you sometimes get cakes when there is nothing to keep the cakes away except a general yearning for cream and suger in the morning. Now, I am not a sweet toothed person, I would have chips any day of the week over a cream bun, but I love looking at these bright, sugary, frosted, melty, moist things that adorn by staffroom table on what seems to be a daily basis.

I believe that this is a very Polish thing, to bring things in so that others can celebrate with you. I love it, I missed it.

October 10, 2006

Autumn evenings

I am very aware that I keep posting pictures of lights, neon and the evening pavement walks of the commuting masses. This is only because by the time I leave work dusk is ususally floating on its way to covering the city, and I just cannot get enough of those lights. This picture was taken through the window of Batida, a French patisserie, best pain au chocolat in the city...probably the only one come to that.

My evenings are tied up with lying on the sofa and listening to the traffic below. I love the sounds and sights of life going on outside your window while you are safe indoors. This is the same reason that I love the snow. These days some new DVD series have made an appearence and the two that I have been loving are 'Without a Trace' and 'Gilmore girls'. Both very different, but both answering some questions that I have about life and existance in general.

'Lets waste time, chasing cars'
Snow Patrol

October 09, 2006

The open door

When one door closes another one opens, doesn't it? Coming back to Poland was a quick fire, short term thing and here I am in no mans land again. I do not mind, I still can feel the light coming through the darkness, I like how things look in the dark, like Christmas or Bonfire night.

Warsaw is my city, I feel at home here like I never did in Paris, but it was never my destiny to stay. It was not fated for me to settle here, routine would become routine and I would itch to get on more planes, move into new apartments and see more of the world. I love this city, I love this country, and it will not be a mistake to leave here at Christmas. Where am I going to now? The waiting game begins again.

October 08, 2006

Annes favourite things to do in Warsaw

Half term is in three weeks and I have at least one, hopefully two visitors. In trying to think about where to take them, I always return to my favourite places, the ones that I love to go to when I feel like being a tourist myself. Where to go here is not as obvious as somewhere like Paris (Mona Lisa, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower), so here are the places I will be frequenting, the ones that I want to show my visitors.

1) Lazienki park
I tend to totally forget that I am in the city here and really can imagine that I am in a forest. Until I some across the Palace that is, which is stunning at every time of year.
2) The old town
It is easy to forget that all of this is not 300 years old, it was rebuilt according to the original plans by the communists at great cost.
3) The Russian market
Over the river this place gives a sense of Poland dragging itself out of communism. It is the epitome of free trade and you get everything from fur to hand grenades. Sadly, it is on its way out as the government crackdown on the illicit side of Warsaw life.
4) The walk of rememberance
This is lots of little memorials where the Jewish uprising took place during the war.There is a melancholy here as with many other places in the city, but standing on the spots where these things happened puts things into perspective.
This is a restaurant on a street of the same name. Great food, best surowki in town and everyone I take cannot believe how cheap it is.
6) Wielki Teatr
The Warsaw Opera and ballet are among the best in the world, the stage here is officially the biggest and the productions are amazingly grand scale. The tickets are so affordable that it is an absolute must do for everyone.
7) Ciasto
Poland does cakes in its own style, just like the rest of Europe and I must say that my total fave is Makowiec, poppy seed roll. It is not very sweet, but when you get the good ones, they are fabulous.
8 ) The Palace of Science and Culture.
This is the biggest buidling in Warsaw, probably Poland and the Poles have a love/hate relationship with it. I always loved it, it would signal home when I saw it from the plane. You have to get tickets to go up to the top, the view is outstanding.
9) Shopping
My current obsession is with the following, amber, leather gloves and Boleslawiec. I love the traditional Polish pottery and I can't get enough baltic amber. Poland is still so cheap that you get great buys here.
10) Green coffee
These days it has become a vistim of its own success, it is always packed. They still do the best muffins in town and the location, round the corner from my flat, makes it still a frequent choice. It is the coolest place to watch the people go past with the Palace of Culture in the background.

Anyone else been to Poland? Any other faves to add?

October 05, 2006

Closing in on the neon

The nights are drawing closer and I have to prepare myself for a cold and dark Warsaw autumn. There is no light in the mornings when I wake up and I don't see the sun until I am at the bus stop. Soon, it will be dark on the bus ride and starting to get dark when I leave school in the afternoons. In this way, Poland is just as it ever was. I remember these autumn terms, how we used to eat cakes and drink cinnamon coffee while holed up in some fabulous tearoom or coffee shop.

I took this photo during heavy rain while I stood on my balcony. I love the neon, it makes me think of New York and Warsaw when she is lit up can be quite special. There is a blue sign that pokes it's hazy light through my bedroom window and I can see it behind my eyelids as I drift off to sleep. The photo looks how I feel today, blurry. Not enough sleep again. My body is still convinced I am going to make it get on a plane or move to another country and just will not relax, despite my best efforts.

October 02, 2006

Tram lines

I never had to contend with the Metro issue in Poland. The metro here only has one line and it never went past anywhere that I lived and so was redundant in my mind. My transport of choice in Warsaw was always the tram. When I left, I knew that I would miss these trains and have loved using them again.

Even though I am carrying my camera everywhere in Warsaw I am shy about using it on trams or in crowded places. I don't like to mark myself out as a stranger in this way. Yesterday I hopped on the number 35 tram to go to Arkadia to buy my new winter coat. It was before 10 am and the tram was very quiet. The sun was low in the sky and bursting through the buildings. I was so pleased to have the chance to get my camera out and feel comfortable at the same time. I was even so cheeky as to snap the backs of peoples heads when I saw the sun streaming through the tram car.

I don't know why I feel funny about taking pictures, I just do. Having this chance the second time round to record the autumn moments that were only in my head until now is priceless. I wish I had my camera years ago.