‘I’ is for Irena and “idziemy!”


It’s way too long since I ventured into my A-Z of Poland, so I’m going to introduce to you another of my cousins.  A lady who loves to dance and always has a warm smile for me, Irena works hard for a living.  She and Arkadiusz (Arek for short) run a market garden in their home town, Bełchatów.  Arek grows many of his own plants and seeds to sell in his shop, which specialises in garden products.  Whenever she can, Irena helps out in the shop, which she loves to do. Usually this is in addition to factory work, or whatever she can find, to help with the family finances.

Irena with Dad in her garden, 2008

Irena with Dad in her garden, which provides plants for the shop

Irena is the daughter of my aunt Lusia, one of Dad’s sisters, and her husband Zbigniew, whom I never met.  When first we got together the photos would come out, many of them tiny squares of black and white, but precious memories, every one.  I would try to piece together the story and remember the names of family members who died long before I had the chance to meet them.

Lusia and Zbigniew

This is one of several photos that were emailed to us when Dad first made contact with his family. It’s a touching story, which many of you know.

Irena and Arek have two lovely children, Robert, a quiet young man, 22 this month, and his vivacious and beautiful younger sister, Weronika. (remember, the ‘w’ sounds like our’v’)

Arek in the foreground, with Irena behind him and Weronika, with golden red hair at the back

Arek in the foreground, with Irena behind him and Weronika, with golden red hair, at the back

IMG_0554I should maybe explain what’s going on here.  Arek likes a bit of fun.  Several years ago the family were in Zakopane for a Silver Wedding celebration.  Lynne, my stepsister, and husband George, had joined us from Canada, and Lynne was practising with a new camcorder.  Her handbag, containing the camcorder, weighed rather a lot, so Arek was “helping” her to pick it up.

If you aren’t familiar with my Polish story, you could have a look at my Personal A-Z page.

Idziemy!  We go!

And so to grammar!  A silly saying that’s often used in our home, “I’ve already told you more than I know myself” completely applies to my knowledge of Polish grammar.  So, let’s start with a simple verb conjugation:

Iść- to go (on foot)

idę  – I go                                                   idziemy  – we go

idziesz  – you go (familiar form)      idziecie  – you go (polite form)

idzie  – he/she/it goes                          idą  – they go

Well, I got the hang of that.  But did you notice the (on foot)?  It transpires that there are numerous ways of saying you are going somewhere in Polish, and there is a separate verb for each of them! Thus ‘to go (by transport)’ uses the verb jechać.  Sometimes I can remember that verb (and it’s irregular conjugation), sometimes not!  Imagine my consternation when I later discovered that if I wanted ‘to go, by plane’ I needed another verb.  And so it goes on ….

I am a very bad student.  I used to love language at school but these days I have neither the patience nor the memory.  I recently discovered another ‘i’- Italki.  It offers the potential to converse in Polish (and many other languages), at any level, and I have been trying to convince myself to enrol.  I return to Poland on 29th April, for a family wedding, and this time I will be staying in a hotel with my husband, who will rely on my immaculate translation.  You’re right- there will be much nodding of heads and smiling.

Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox for inspiring the personal A-Z Challenge, and to lovely Frizz, who prompts me to return to it whenever I see his A-Z (but never often enough).  Do visit these challenges if you can find time.  You will be richly rewarded.



  1. This is wonderful, Jo. I try to catch up with the older members of my family so I can write names on the old pictures – otherwise it ends up with no one knowing who people are in the family album 😀 I absolutely love Weronika’s golden red hair – stunning!

    1. Those photos are 3 years old and she’s a very grown up young lady now, Dianne. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how grown up at the wedding 🙂

  2. I’m sure that you’re a fantastic student. The Polish language is a nightmare to learn and can make anyone feel less than intelligent. The family photos are great. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Julie 🙂 I really will have to make an effort soon. After I’ve been there a week or so I lose the shyness and start being able to contribute more, but by then, I’m usually coming home again.

  3. I am intrigued by the A-Z challenge but haven’t found time to squeeze it in. I’ve enjoyed your posts tho! and I’m going to go read your story that you linked regarding your Polish family as I don’t believe I’ve seen that before. Since I’m up early with a migraine 😦 (that seems to be dissipating a bit….good thing because I have to work today!). love the family photos!

    1. Bless you, Tobyo. I know that you have already read Dad’ s story. Hope you’re now feeling fit to boogie 🙂 I’ll be doing my share of that in Poland.

  4. awesome post – and I am going to come back again later and read the story you linked.

    but wow – how fun.

    First of all, when I read “there are numerous ways of saying you are going somewhere in Polish” – well that just confirms that the Polish in you is responsible for the Restless Jo syndrome you have – the “need to go – restless Jo….” 😉

    thanks for the grammar lesson- and your humor is fun – was laughing with the head nodding part –

    and this was really funny ““I’ve already told you more than I know myself”” bahaha – and that used to be me with my Spanish, like I used to know about 60 words – and half of those were the numbers. I have increased my vocab in that language over the years – and well now — thanks to this post — my Polish vocabulary just increased a bit. how fun!

    also enjoyed the pics – and now I sign off and go (by foot that is….)


    1. It’s hard work, isn’t it? Instead of being on here I should be doing Polish conversation. No good though cos I’ve had a glass or so of red. Only vodka works for Polish 🙂

  5. I agree with Heyjude, you are a great story teller! Thank you for sharing these precious photos 🙂 Irena is lovely!

  6. Dear Jo,
    I just love hearing family stories, and this is a sweet one. We are considering a trip to Poland this summer, and so I am especially interested in learning all about it.

    1. Do you have an itinerary in mind, or still at the thinking stage, Naomi? There is a lot of Poland I would still love to see but I spend most of my time there at family gatherings. Really can’t complain at that, can I? 🙂

      1. A Polish friend of mine is from Gdansk, and she says we MUST go to Krackow. Warsaw would be another possibility, not for its beauty, but for its history.

      2. I would love to visit Gdansk but it’s too far removed from Krakow, which is where I’m headed next month. Warsaw is a fascinating city. You’d love it. 🙂

  7. Lovely story Jo. I don’t imagine Polish to be an easy language to learn. I laughed out loud at your comment to Jude about your husband not likening spicy soup for breakfast. Really how unreasonable 🙂

    1. It was like a four course meal, Sue! And we were going to a wedding to eat ourselves silly later in the day 🙂 But it really was a day to remember.

  8. Thanks for sharing about the Polish family, Jo. They seem like a lively group. I hope your neck doesn’t get a crick in it from all the nodding you’ll be doing on your visit! 🙂

      1. Nope not till May 🙂

        I woke to light snow falling and Mom said I was born in a storm so birthday is already PERFECT no shoveling this!

  9. You are a great story teller Jo. Irena looks lovely (and so young to have such a beautiful adult daughter). They seem to have to work very hard in Poland, but have fun too! I enjoy dipping in and reading about your extended family.
    Jude xx

    1. I’m starting to panic about my lack of Polish again, Jude! Out come the text books. Good job they’re a forgiving lot. More so than my husband who doesn’t appreciate Zurek (spicy soup) for breakfast, which is what we ended up with last time I ordered 🙂
      Thanks a lot for reading.

      1. Do you have a smart phone? There are (so I believe, I don’t have one!) that there are apps that translate menus etc. Or maybe just stick to toast 🙂

      2. No smart phone. No smart anything really- that’s the problem! 😦
        It was like a 4 course meal! Soup, lashings of bread and butter, salad, scrambled eggs and Polish sausage. And we were going to a wedding and more eating! I’m still full thinking about it.

      3. I hope your husband likes zurek at other times of day! It’s soooo good!!! From my experience, Poles get the day started quite heartily – good meats, cheeses, breads, and yogurt. Ah, I so need to get back to Krakow!

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