mosaics

Jo’s Monday walk : a Tale of 3 Churches

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For my Polish family, religion is a part of everyday life.  The routine of going to church begins in the cradle, and in adult life is fitted in between shift patterns and housework. For myself, faith has never been a given, but I am awed by the beauty, created by man in celebration of his God.

My last day in Krakow dawned bright and beautiful, and I knew that I would spend it outdoors.  When I outlined my planned walk to my cousin Marta, it was greeted with her usual enthusiasm.  In no time at all I found myself deposited in a car park, facing a church, and surrounded by greenery.  I wasn’t sure exactly where I was, so I was relieved to see, in the far distance, the surreal outline of the Sanktuarium Bożego Miłosierdzia. It was my eventual target, but first I would look inside this church.

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From the exterior, Sanktuarium Świętego Jana Pawła II, looks rather severe and forbidding, but that impression is quite false. The finely sculpted cast bronze doors testify to somewhere very special.  Then, across an enormous font, you catch a glimpse of the altar.

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The octagonally shaped church is dedicated to Pope John Paul II, one of Poland’s most famous and best-loved sons.  He was a very human pope, and a man who filled me with deep respect.  All of Poland mourned his passing, and tributes are to be found to him everywhere.  I was unprepared for the scale and the sensory indulgence of what lay inside.

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I drew closer and closer, affected by the emotions and the glowing colours.  A disturbed Peter and the eloquence of Mary’s love.  The compassion in the touch of a hand.  I have never seen mosaics used to greater effect.

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Observing a stern and sorrowful angel Gabriel, I turned to walk away.  The church was almost deserted at this early hour.  Footsteps echoed in the empty space and a priest came through a doorway and crossed my path.  I did not know the correct form of address.  Father, ‘Tata’ in Polish, seemed too familiar, and before I could think he was gone.  ‘Ojciec’, I should have said.

Out again, in the still and sunny morning, I began my walk.  A path was newly laid and there were signs of ongoing construction, but I had the place almost to myself.  A gentleman sat on a bench, his dog at his heels, and we exchanged greetings and a smile at the balmy morning.  A lady strolled with pushchair.  And I drew nearer to Sanktuarium Bożego Miłosierdzia.

An extravagance of yellow curly-wurlyness caught my eye, and then I stopped, unsure of the way ahead.  Steps led down to what appeared to be a construction site and I wasn’t sure if it was accessible to the public.  What to do, but carry on?  I had no idea how else I could approach the church.  I had been there once before, years ago with my niece Weronika, but we had arrived by car.

Down the steps and over a narrow bridge, the workers looked up from their tea break but made no comment.  A digger or two puttered about, and I’m sure that in the near future there will be a formal path.  Relieved, I followed a gravel path past the stations of the cross.

Sanktuarium Bożego Miłosierdzia, Church of the Divine Mercy, is an extraordinary building.  I walked around it, looking up at the 77 metre high tower, completed in 2002.  I knew that it was possible to ascend, and that the day was perfect to do just that.

On the grass in front of the tower, a party of school children frolicked and ate packed lunches.  Steps led to the main body of the church, where a service appeared to be taking place.  Clad all in white, the youngsters looked angelic.  I permitted myself a discreet shot, then headed for the lift.

Leaving the lift, there were two further flights of concrete steps to take you to the top.  The views encompassed Nowa Huta, the former industrial district, and all of Krakow’s suburbs. My third church, dedicated to Sister Faustina, was visible just below.  I headed back down the stairwell.

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Back down to earth.  I was reluctant to leave.  The atmosphere was so calming.  So peaceful.  In wandering, I discovered John Paul II’s tiny chapel.

The wall celebrating the sponsors of the church complex led easily into the courtyard of Saint Faustina’s.  Born Helena Kowalska in 1905, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska was a visionary.  Her death from TB in 1938 followed numerous mystical experiences.

The monastery of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy dates back to 1889.  It contains a very special painting of Jesus, as seen in a vision by Sister Faustina.  A place of international pilgrimage, it has close links with Pope John Paul II.  The nun was beatified in 1993.  As I approached the church a group of excited youngsters, all in white, spilled down the steps, chattering and smiling.  Proud parents took photos.  Marta later explained to me that the ‘mini pilgrimage’ is a regular feature of the church.

The joy shone out of the young faces and I longed to take a photo as they milled about.  I watched for a while and then turned to go.  I strolled back through the beautiful grounds and was just in time for one last treat.  On the auditorium steps a group of children were having photos taken with the priest.  I just about caught them before they dashed off.

My walk home was long, but maybe that’s a story for another day.  This concludes my series of posts about my visit to Poland.  I’ve touched on many aspects of Polish life and hopefully shared my joy.  And now, we really have earned that cuppa, haven’t we?

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As always I must say thank you to my many contributors and supporters who make this weekly post such a pleasure for me.  I hope you can find time to read them, and maybe you’d like to join me in a future Jo’s Monday walk.  Details of how to join in can be found by clicking on the logo. Here we go!

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Budapest never looked more lovely than through Debbie’s eyes :

Walking the Danube

Spectacular alpine scenery from our intrepid Elaine this week :

An excellent view of the Glacier des Bossons

‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’- immortal words shared by Drake :

Fly on the wings of love

Jackie posted a reminder of Gay Pride in Toronto :

Toronto Pride Murals

England has some beautiful homes and gardens, doesn’t it?  A lovely share from Lady Lee Manila :

Charlecote Park 

Explore her latest home from home, with Liesbet :

Visit to Northampton, MA

A rousing cheer for Mlissabeth, who joins us this week!  The family came too :

Our Walk through the Gardens

Miriam managed an overnight escape from her family, and that can also be blissful :

Twenty four hours in Marysville

And then a little magic, up in the clouds :

Marysville Magic 

While Biti continued her ramble along the Blue Coast :

Cote Bleue – Calanques Part II

You know I said last week how much I loved the Italian Lakes?  Check this out!  Thanks, Rosemay- it’s beautiful :

Exploring Lenno

And Susan continues her fascinating look at Eastern Europe.  There’s a book too!  More about that later :

Walking Moldova

Becky turns conformist this week, but only for a little while :

Hiking the Ladeiras do Pontal trail

And in case you didn’t know it, Becky has a second blog, featuring her English life :

Fingringhoe Wick

A charming Irish walk next, from Inese, with a little bit of drama :

Anne Valley- Walk through the Fairy Door

Next I have a jaw-dropper from Meg!  Go and see just why I wanted to visit Gdansk :

A ramble round Gdansk main town

Gilly has her very own city wall, and lovely gardens too, in beautiful Devonshire :

Beside the City Wall

Exhausting isn’t it, all this walking?  But I’m so glad you could come along.  Next week I have a totally English walk for you.  See you then!

And if you have any spare time, give a shout to the busy folks at Monday Escapes.

Jo’s Monday walk : Saltburn in Winter

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Some towns work really hard at making the best of what they have.  Saltburn-by-the-Sea, on the North Yorkshire coast, is certainly one of those. The second you step out of the railway station, you are welcomed by a frieze of mosaics, colourfully depicting many of the town’s landmarks.  The towering cliffs of Huntcliff Nab form a constant and beautiful backdrop at the end of the street.

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A saunter through majestic Victorian architecture will bring you down to the Valley Gardens.  A miniature steam train, ‘Prince Charles’, chuffs the length of the valley in the summer months.  Then there’s the beach, promenade and cliff lift, all offering their entertainments.  The pier stretches out to embrace the salt spray of the North Sea.  Parasols a-twirling, return to gaze upon Huntcliff Nab.

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I love the whimsical nod to days gone by in these mosaics.  It’s an easy enough stroll.  Come with me and I’ll show you how it all looks this winter.

Followers of this blog will be no strangers to Saltburn.  We’ve walked here together before.  I hadn’t really intended to take you there today, but my husband was measuring the garden of a lovely old Grade II listed house, in the town.  With a couple of hours to kill, I wasn’t going to waste an opportunity, now was I?

Let’s start with a look at some of the quirky shop fronts.  Browsing here is seldom dull.  See anything you like?

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That’s quite enough of indulgence.  Keep that pie and mash shop in mind for later.  The owner looks very welcoming.  First we need a little bracing air.  It’s not too cold today, evidenced by the numbers on the beach.   The cliff lift stands lonely in silhouette, steps taking us down to the shoreline.

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 No yarn bombing on the pier, as yet, but I’m sure that it will arrive in the summer.  Remember Alice, from last year?

The beach stretches off into the distance.  Children stamp and twirl gleefully on the sand.  Dog walkers are out in abundance.  A couple of opportunists sweep the beach in search of treasure.  Their find, multi-coloured pebbles, unwinking, except where caught in a flowing stream.  A life scored deep within their grooves and whorls.  Strands of seaweed, unfurling briny curls.

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It’s time to turn and head back beside the crumbling cliffs.  Filigree patterns beneath the pier, and above, a bench to read on or simply watch the ebb and flow of tide.

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There’s a lovely corner cafe, beside Cat Nab, just before you reach the brig.   You can watch the stream gushing into Valley Gardens from the outdoor terrace.  It’s a little muddy through there today.  So much rain in recent times!  It’s a steep pull back up to the cliff top, where you’ll be welcomed by the Victorian wicker family.  Some kind soul has knit them poppy buttonholes.

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That’s it for another week!  Pie and mash, or did you indulge at the corner cafe?  Time to put the kettle on now, and join my walking friends.

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Huge thanks, as always, to my contributors, and to those of you who simply like to keep me company.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.

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Anabel goes in search of sunshine this week :

Bermuda : Somerset to the Dockyard

Geoff’s in Dulwich, looking at the definition of village :

Village Life

Amy’s found the most beautiful restaurant!

Monday Walk : Ybor City

Funny how some names always conjure up a song.  Any Steely Dan fans out there?

Day 1- Guadalajara

Good to welcome somebody new to the walks, so please head for Scotland and say ‘hi’ to Smidge :

Winter in the Botanics

Jude’s left her plants, temporarily, for a bit of a tongue twister this week :

Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury : a look at stone buildings

Among many other talents, Nicole is an accomplished hiker.  Just take a look!

Best Hikes in Tucson : Bear Canyon’s hike to Seven Falls

Drake is in romantic mood.  Who wouldn’t be, in Venice?

L’atmosphere noire

A head for heights and a sense of humour are what you’ll need on Esther’s walk :

Walk on a Tightrope

Or, if you’re still feeling romantic?

Walk of Love

What might you expect to see in Panama?  Jaspa’s your man!

The Real San Blas Islands

I learnt a little more Welsh today, with Student in Snowdonia.  ‘Yr Aran’ – The Peak :

The Peak

I like the idea of tapestries on my walls.  Maybe I should try life in a castle :

Bunratty Castle- Home of an Irish King

A great selection, aren’t they?  I had intended to close my walks for 2 weeks, but my lovely husband pointed out that we don’t leave for the Algarve until next Monday afternoon.  Plenty of time for another, he said!  It’s not the walking that’s hard.  It’s keeping up with the responses.  We’ll see! Have a wonderful week, meantime.

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Surprised at Skinningrove

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Skinningrove used to be a bit of an ugly duckling.  Situated on the north east coast of England, midway between picturesque Staithes and Saltburn-by-the Sea, it has fierce competition in the beauty stakes.  You have to turn off the coast road to go looking for it, and many would not trouble.  The village is trying to attract it’s share of revenue from tourism and, with the help of a leaflet entitled ‘Skinningrove Valley Trail’, that’s where we’ll be walking today.

Our start point is by the jetty, built in the 1880s to serve the ironworks which is the reason for the village’s existence.  My leaflet describes it as looking forlorn, but funding has been acquired to renovate the jetty.  The process was just beginning at the time of my walk.

A straggle of houses and fishing boats decorate the shoreline.  A fisherman nods ‘good morning’ and carries on painting his tired looking boat, soon to have a new lease of life.  Crossing Skinningrove Beck into the village we come swiftly upon the tribute to the Homing Pigeon Society, which reminds us that using pigeons to carry messages dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Locally the birds are known for their heroic activities in World War II.

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Across the beck from Stone Row you can see man-made caves, which were carved out to shelter hospital patients when bombing raids took place during the war.  And then the first of my ‘surprises’.  On the bridge, a mosaic which illustrates the story of the village.

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A few 'tangoing' poppies, a bench and the tip of an anchor

A few ‘tango-ing’ poppies, a bench and the tip of a rusting anchor

And looking back, the man-made caves

And looking back, the man-made caves

The Square is a designated Conservation Area.  Former Timm’s Coffee House stands importantly on the corner, now converted to a guest house, ‘Moonfleet’, rather sadly.  Part of the building is Grade II listed, having started life in 1704 as Skinningrove Hall. In the 19th century it was developed as a hotel by the Maynard family, who named it Timm’s Coffee House after the coffee houses that were then popular in London.

With an 'unusual' bench, for Jude?

An ‘unusual’ enough bench, for Jude?

Another of my ‘surprises’ coming up next.  I spent many a happy minute exclaiming over the mosaics on the side of Riverside Building. It began life as a school in 1884 and remained so till the late 1990s.  Since then it has become a base for community projects and activities, and is run by a group of volunteers.  I pop back for a cuppa and a gossip with the locals at the end of my walk, but for now let’s just enjoy the mosaics.

This one looks at the floods of 2000

This one illustrates the major floods of 2000

Click on any photo to open the gallery

The building is no work of art, but the efforts of Glynis Johnson and the school children who were involved are delightful.  There are two themes- the floods and the Story of the Merman. Allegedly a ‘sea-man’ was once caught by the local fisherfolk.  He lived on raw fish for a number of days but then managed to escape.  Sometimes, when the sea is calm, a hideous groaning can be heard and the fishermen are afraid to go to sea!

The Story of the Merman

The Story of the Merman

Skinningrove was a mining village, though the evidence is harder to find these days.  The rust red water in the beck vividly testifies to the presence of iron, and the remains of an entrance to the mine can still be seen.  I had intended to visit the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum but was not convinced that I wanted to go underground.  During the war the mine was regularly used for shelter, and a school log book entry for 9th September, 1915 reads “Owing to Zeppelin raid and the children having been in the mines a good part of last night, we have been obliged to close school today”.

I later discovered that the guided tour takes an hour and a half.  At Christmas, Santa delivers his sack of toys along the miner’s track, without any necessity to go below ground.  Maybe I’ll come back then!

One more ‘surprise’ in store.  A mural on Doorstep Green portrays ‘Evolution of Life in the Sea’. It was created by Philippa Threlfall, using materials from Skinningrove beach, and with the help of children from the former Rosecroft School.

Again, click on a photo to see it in detail

The Valley Trail climbs out of the village and across the A174 (a busy road), following the beck into Whitecliff Wood.  Curiosity impelled me to take a look, but you could simply retrace your steps.  Over the road I pass by an animal sanctuary, where the animals appear quite content.  The adjoining house has lupins by the fence and I pause, remembering my mother, who always had roses and lupins in her garden.  The trail soon peters out as the beck flows through a culvert under the railway embankment.

Back in Skinningrove, I find the friendly ‘staff’ in Riverside Building in a lull between customers.  I consume the cheapest toasted teacake and mug of coffee I’ve ever had, while they tell me about life in the village.  Everything is done on a voluntary basis and they pool their expertise. Apparently a little gift shop is set to open up soon.  If you pass that way, drop in and say ‘hi’, and you can pick up a leaflet on this trail.  Here they are, on Facebook.

Heading for home now, but not before I take a look at ‘Repus’- the fishing coble which serves as a memorial to those lost at sea.

The last bench reminds me that this is the midway point along the Cleveland Way, a 110 mile walk between Helmsley and Filey.  Now there’s a challenge!  If you prefer something a little easier, why not drop in on Jude for her Bench challenge?

I’m a little further down the coast today, walking on the cliff tops at Whitby, so I may be late in answering your comments.  I suspect you’ll have plenty to keep you busy in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

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Once again I’d like to say a huge thank you to those who have contributed to making my Jo’s Monday walk a success.  If you’d like to join in, click on the logo for details.  Time to put the kettle on and settle back for a read.  I think I need some toast, too.

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A busy spot, the Gare de L’Est!  Please take your time and watch the video.  Thanks, Drake!

East- entrance to Paris

Hope you had good Canada and Independence Days, all those who celebrate it!

Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Inspirational shots from Amy!  She’s on holiday this week.  Treats in store!

The Antelope Canyon

A lighthouse, and some stunning thrift?  Cornwall, of course!  Many thanks, Jude :

Pendeen Watch

Wild thyme and Lady’s Bedstraw, from Tish, but not very much sleep, unfortunately!

Return to Windmill Hill: Of Grasshopper stalking, Lady’s Bedstraw and other random discoveries 

Meanwhile Pauline is up at the crack of dawn to capture the sunlight on the water :

Early morning walk along the beach

And Ruth has gone to the other extreme.  Both extremely beautiful!

A walk in the moonlight

Thank you for finding time to read these wonderful contributions.  I hope I haven’t ‘wittered on’ too long.  Maybe something shorter next week? (though this trail is only a mile and a half long) Grab some sun, if you can, and I’ll see you then.