I got bemused looks when I told people I was going to Poland.
“No, on holiday.”
“Oh.” (Bemused look).
See what I mean?
But the unease I felt at this reaction evaporated on arrival. I loved Poland. OK, so the weather helped. All warm, spring sun and clear, blue skies lighting up what might otherwise have been gloomy forests.
Wood anemones helped to brighten them up too.
There were also buildings on a frankly ridiculous and huge scale: in Malbork
and Kwidzyn. The cathedral here had a seriously good museum – though I might suggest renaming the Latrine Tower (left) to something a little less … prosaic.
Wildlife seemed less shy than I’m used to. White storks were in every village; on almost every farm.
They are thought to bring good luck;
and encouraged to nest on artificial nesting platforms – traditionally old wagon wheels.
Swallows were bolder than at The Priory,
and I creeped up to them
far closer than in England.
Fieldfares, which I’ve rarely seen before, were two a penny
as were house sparrows (which I have never seen at The Priory. Not once).
We have marsh frogs in the UK too. They were introduced in 1935 and are now present in SE England. Apparently. I’d never seen one.
I struggled to identify these handsome (if shameless) insects – fire beetles perhaps? (Many thanks to Amelia at A French Garden who has identified them as firebugs, Pyrrhocoris apterus).
From a distance, many of the trees seemed to be cloud pruned; only close up did the shapes reveal themselves as mistletoe. It is far more widespread here than in Sussex.
Travelling with my brother, I stayed for a couple of nights south of Gdansk and
east of the Vistula; near the town of Kwidzyn. Being an eager and voracious eater of gherkins, I had come across the name before.
(This old pickle jar now holds pellet food for The Priory carp).
We stayed at the charming Bialy Dwor – a comfortable former manor house
where I ate the best haunch of venison imaginable. But sadly not a whole one. My starter of smoked goose with a wild strawberry dressing had my brother snoring into his soup, as I droned on and on about how perfect it was. (Despite an expectation of indeterminate brown stews, dumplings and no vegetables, our food in Poland was excellent).
I’ve visited most countries in Europe but rarely as far east as this
where, to my eye, the architecture hints more at Russia than Poland or Germany (this whole region was German West Prussia until the end of the Second World War).
After a couple of days, we drove back to Gdansk; an elegant old Hanseatic city, (formerly Danzig)
gluttony gastronomy and a continuing scientific (and very rigorous) investigation into Polish vodkas. (Curiously, I can’t quite recall the results). After that, it was time to bid Poland, “pożegnanie” and board our train to Berlin.
Might just send you a postcard from there too.