stories

5 photos, 5 stories- Day 5

You might remember this, from Weronika's wedding last year?

Weronika’s wedding last year, Dad centre stage, and a whole host of family!

Already we’re at Day 5!  I need to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  They couldn’t have known how much I’d enjoy it.  I hope you’ll go and say hello and read their stories too.

Do you remember Adam, from yesterday? (the gentleman, sitting reflectively, next to the 3 sisters in my photo)  He is the lynchpin to the whole Polish story.

Whenever we visit Poland, we fly into Kraków and Adam quietly and efficiently sets everything in motion.  He and his family gather us up from the airport, feed us, ferry us around and generally ensure that we have a good time.  I cannot thank them enough for their kindness.

Adam’s mum, my beloved aunt Anna and Dad’s youngest sister, died 5 years ago.  I never met his dad, but Adam could not treat his own father with more respect and affection than he does mine. Nothing is too much trouble. So, when I said that I wanted to see my aunt Lusia and uncle Jakub in Bełchatów this trip and had only one week available, he booked 4 days from his own busy schedule to transport me there and back.  Adam owns a bakery and baker’s machinery business. It has grown to international proportions, in partnership with his good friend Tomek.  We joke that, in the family, Lusia has the best potatoes, but Adam the best bread.  You’d never go hungry!

Adam’s large and comfortable home, in the Kraków’s suburbs, was adapted to accommodate his mum throughout the years of her declining health.  Now the basement has been converted into a starter flat for his oldest daughter, Weronika.  Last May I attended her wedding to Wojtek (he was good at sweeping up broken glass).  In July they are expecting a new little addition to the family, a first grandchild for Adam and Marta.  What a welcome awaits him!

It’s simply impossible to tell this story short, even though I have left out a myriad of characters. Dad’s youngest brother, uncle Jakub, and his wife Czescia live in a fine old suburb of Bełchatów, called Groholice.  Daughter Bożena lives just over the road, and sons Andrzej and Krzysztof have built their own homes in the neighbourhood.  All have families.  Jakub’s son Tomek I seldom see- he travels abroad to work and hasn’t ‘settled down’ yet.

Adam binds together and weaves between all the branches of our family.  Extending the hand of peace, he is welcome in every home.  Basia, Adam’s only sibling, lives to the north of Kraków, in Chorzów, with husband Zygmunt and just one son, Przemek.  In September this year Przemek will marry Magda.  I very much hope to be there.

And so the story goes on….  I hope I haven’t bored you and am grateful for the opportunity this challenge has given me to share.  Perhaps I need another 5?  If you can bare to read more, the background is explained a little more fully in Exploring the Polish connection.  Be warned- it always makes me cry.  It just remains to nominate Lynn at Life after 50 (most of us know a little about that!), another lady who loves to travel.  I only hope that she can find time in her busy life. Time now to say, thank you very much for reading.

Six word Saturday

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 5 photos, 5 stories- Day 4

Sisters Theresa, Irena and Grazyna with cousin Adam

Sisters Theresa, Irena and Grazyna, with cousin Adam

Today I’m having to combine my Six word Saturday with the 5 photos, 5 stories challenge, which takes place on consecutive days.  It just so happens that ‘5 photos, 5 stories- Day 4’ makes six.

Before I continue with my Polish stories, I must thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.

Today it’s the turn of my aunt Otylia’s family.  Lusia, as she is fondly known, is another octogenarian.  The only surviving sister of 4, I’m glad that she can still find so much to smile about.  The photo above includes her 3 daughters, Theresa, Irena and Grażyna.

Theresa still lives at home with her mum, works full-time and helps control their enormous garden.  Her daughter Edyta also lives with them, but is hoping soon to go to university at Wrocław, a couple of hours away.  Sitting on a garden swing seat, I had a long conversation with Edyta (practising for her English oral exam).  Grandma now needs a walking frame, to get around the house and garden she once tended so faithfully.  Aunt Lusia’s potatoes are legendary!

Enter Grażyna and Marek!  For a number of years they have been building a house on half of Lusia’s land, whilst working full-time and living in a high-rise flat in Bełchatów.  It is finally nearing completion, and not before time.  It will be so much easier for them to help Lusia, and Theresa, living here at close quarters.

An occasion with Grażyna and Marek is always one to relish.  A born joker, Marek also loves to sing, often accompanying himself on guitar.  One sunny afternoon, Dad and me arrived at Lusia’s to be met with a lovely surprise.  A family gathering, with Marek firing up the barbecue.

Let me describe the house.  2 stories, with a staircase but nothing upstairs.  A roaring wood burning fire in the lounge.  Bare cement floor, and a sea of trestle table and chairs.  Small fitted kitchen (in full swing as Grażyna and Theresa prepared salads- Irena arrived later with hers, straight from a busy day at work).  The most popular room in the house?  The downstairs shower/loo, with a curtain pulled across the doorway.  Singing on the loo is advisable. Doors are the next job.  And did we have fun?  Didn’t we just!  Aunt Lusia on one side of me, Dad on the other, both in their element, surrounded by smiling faces.

So many stories still to tell but well aware that I have exceeded my ‘six words’ for today, I’ll have to ask you to come back tomorrow.  I’ll just tell you that lovely Irena lives on the other side of Bełchatów.  She and husband Arek have a large home/market garden and a small shop in the open market, selling seeds and ‘all things garden’. (and she has a day job in a sweet factory too) Busy?  Non-stop!

Hard to believe that Debbie from Travel with Intent hasn’t been nominated for the 5 photos, 5 stories challenge yet. Lucky me!  It is my privilege to present her.  Please do say hello before you drop in on Cate with your six words (or 500 +, as in this case).  But most of all, thanks for reading and have a happy weekend!

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5 photos, 5 stories- Day 3

Little Nadia- with the shoes her Mum has made

Little Nadia plays with shoes her Mum, Ania, has made for her, while Marta stands guard

Yesterday on Day 2 of my 5 photos, 5 stories challenge I talked about Nadia’s sister, Kinga, and their hard working family.  So far I have focused on the children, a constant source of joy in the lives of my Polish family.  Tragedy and untimely death have their place in the story too, but my stories are more about celebrating life.

I should pause here to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.  As the name suggests, I will be posting 5 photos, accompanied by 5 stories, on 5 consecutive days.

Dad was 1 of 9 children born to Bolesław and Marianna.  Of those 9, there are 2 aunts and 1 uncle that I was never privileged to meet, and a much loved aunt who died 3 years ago.  The land from the original homestead has been divided up between the survivors and their offspring.  My Polish family are lucky to own their own homes, but it comes at the cost of back breaking work. The family all pull together, pooling their skills.  No-one is too old, or too young, to help in whatever way they can. (ok- we’ll excuse Nadia for now, and Kinga is happiest playing on the sand hill outside their ‘soon to be’ home)

In some cases it takes years to finally achieve the dream.  My cousin Ewa and husband Henryk have for many years been trying to build a house on their plot, very close to her sister Jadwiga. Health problems and lack of income have made it hard for them.  At last, with their children all grown up and married, the end is in sight.  They live in an apartment in Katowice, about an hour away. While Ewa works in a hardware store in Bełchatów, Henryk, no longer young, shovels and plasters with whatever labour he can find.  Walking around the shell of their home I felt in need of a hard hat, and a good imagination to see the lovely dwelling that it will become.  Over the fence, Ewa’s brother Piotrek, some 16 years younger, smiles and waves from his fine house.  A carpenter by trade, his wooden floors and staircases gleam beautifully.

The family I have been following these past 3 days are all descendants of my Dad’s brother Zygmunt.  He and Leokadia had 10 children and some of them I know better than others. Zygmunt himself is the uncle I never met.  He died just months before Dad was reunited with the family.  Though he doesn’t seem to have had a very happy life, I can’t help but feel that somewhere he is looking down on all this and smiling.  Leokadia (Lodzia to us), into her 80s, still lives on and looks after the farm with sons Bolek (short for Bolesław) and Jozef.  Daughter Marysia has a beautiful self build, also at Zawady, the family’s home village, and runs a little boutique.

Tomorrow we step across to another branch of the family.  I’ll be taking you to a barbecue at a home that has been a long term building project, but is nearing completion.  I can promise you fun when Marek is around!  My personal A-Z of Poland is the back drop to my 5 stories.  Time now for a nomination!  I was first drawn to Lucile at Bridging Lacunas by her visually stunning header.  Since then I have discovered that her posts are thought provoking as well as fun, and some day I hope to get involved in Photo101 Rehab too.  I don’t know if she can find time for this challenge but I do hope so.  See you tomorrow?

 

5 photos, 5 stories- Day 2

Meet Kinga!

Meet Kinga!

Yesterday was Day 1 of my 5 photos, 5 stories challenge and you met some of Kinga’s bears. Today I’m introducing Kinga herself- a shy 5 year old, with all the exuberance a child can bring to a willing playmate.

I should pause here to thank Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka for nominating me for this challenge.  I know you’ll enjoy their company and the stories they have to share.  As the name suggests, I will be posting 5 photos, accompanied by 5 stories, on 5 consecutive days.

What does it say about this family when Hubert (Kinga’s dad), who works full time and also is building a home for his family, has taken the time to make this playhouse/slide before their house is even complete?  Well- they like fresh air, that’s for certain, and are planning to make the most of a Polish summer.  The single storey, but spacious, home now has a bathroom fitted, and the family will move in soon to make that final push to completion.

Dad’s father, Bołeslaw Szustakiewicz, owned a good-sized parcel of land, which he farmed with the help of his sons and daughters.  It was one of Dad’s jobs, as a boy, to take the cows to a stream, before they settled for the night. After his father died, the land was divided between the surviving children.  Dad, torn from his home during the war, was no longer a part of the inheritance.  Returning to his homeland some 64 years later, it is wonderful to see how that land has been used.  My Polish family have introduced me to a new way of living.

My cousin Jadwiga is Bołeslaw’s granddaughter.  She inherited a sizeable plot, on which she and Andrzej built their own home, and a lovely garden.  Daughter Ania (Kinga’s mum) has lived, with her family, in an extension of her parents home while Hubert has been building, in the grounds. It’s now their turn to reap the benefits of all that hard work.  As well as raising a family, in her spare time Ania designs and makes children’s shoes.  Tomorrow we might look at some, and I’ll tell you more about the land and its new owners.

Now it’s time to nominate!  I’m offering this to Viv in France, not with any conviction that she will take up the challenge, but Viv does post her brilliant poems very regularly and I’d love you to read them.  The back story to this post is My personal A- Z of Poland.  Hopefully see you tomorrow?

 

 

 

5 photos, 5 stories

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Time to get started on those stories!  I have nominations from Minerva, Nin, Elaine and Viveka, so what am I waiting for?  First I’d better tell anyone out there who hasn’t seen this challenge (and there can’t be many of you left!) how it works.  Post a photo, tell a story/poem/joke- whatever your style is- on 5 consecutive days and pass on the nomination.  Simple, right?

So why have I been stalling?  Well, the stories that I want to tell are of a personal nature.  Not like my usual gung-ho walking style.  And I’ve become so used to telling my stories with photos that I’ve become a little afraid of the naked page.  But there are Polish snippets just aching to be told. So, will you indulge me?

The bears you see in the photo above belong to a little girl called Kinga.  At 5 years old she is big sister to a bouncy little bundle called Nadia (who you may remember from this post).  The two of them are granddaughters to my cousin, Jadwiga.  During my recent stay in Bełchatów, in Central Poland, I slept in their playroom.  What a time I could have had, playing all night with the bears and dolls!  But instead I slept soundly, in a haven away from the Polish chatter.  Try as I might to understand the ebb and flow of conversation at the family dining table, invariably it eluded me. The bears were undemanding company.

Like many Polish families, Jadwiga’s children went abroad, seeking better opportunities.  Ania and Hubert both worked in England for a time, and speak our language well.  Theirs was the first Polish wedding I ever attended, and the dancing and warmth of the occasion sparkles still in my memory.  When Hubert found a decent job, in the local power station, it was time to come home and start a family.  Jadwiga considers herself blessed by their presence, because her younger child Krzysztof and his wife Marzena have elected to stay in the UK. Gifted with computers, her son can provide a good lifestyle for his family in Reading.  But it means that Jadwiga has yet to meet her beautiful new grandchild, Maja. (yes, all girls , so far)  Soon there’ll be someone else sleeping in that playroom, but only for the briefest of visits.  And when she and her parents return to England, she’ll be taking another little piece of Jadwiga’s heart with her.

Rarely did I look at my cousin and not see a smile upon her face.  She starts work, driving a school bus, at 6 in the morning till 8, and then again in the afternoon.  Coming home, she can’t wait to sweep Nadia out of her playpen and dance with her around the house.  A myriad tasks are done with the baby on a hip- either hers or Ania’s.  The house has been extended to accommodate the young family, but for the past 2 years Hubert has been building them a beautiful new home, within the family grounds.  But that’s part of tomorrow’s story.

The background to my 5 stories can be found in My personal A-Z of Poland, though looking at it, I see it needs some revision.  I hope that you will enjoy this new little venture with me.  Today I would like to nominate Gemma at Dear Bliary to take up the challenge.  I fear that she might be too busy to do so, but I know that she would add her own uniquely wonderful style to it.  Please do visit the lovely ladies who nominated me.  They each have a lovely tale to tell.