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Thursday, 29 May 2008

Thank you again, Estonia (Sponsored by Estonia National Tourism Office - well, not really. They may sue!)

I have just done the washing up in the all-singing, all dancing, free lolly for all children, discount for OAP's, help-yourself-from-the-till, it-all-works washing-up room. And it does all work - lights, heating, hot and cold water, plug in the sink, the lot. I was going to refer at this point to my rant about facilities with certain shortcomings made some weeks ago, but I can't find it. May all negative statements suffer the same fate!

Can this last?

Later....with John

OK, the last Post (ta-daa, ta-daa) was posted on 29th., not 28th.

Hooray for Estonia!

Every campsite that I have checked the details on has internet (and usually WiFi) access. We are now at our first Estonian site and it works! It's free and it's in the discomfort of our own home!

(Posted 28th. May)

Some Practical Details

In our various communications, we have not referred to a number of matters which were either too obvious to mention or not obvious enough. In no particular order therefore I am going to mention them.
• We don’t say in the blog, who is writing the Post. We just say “I” or “We”, taking it that the reader will know from the style or content who has written it. If this is confusing, let us know.
• You may wonder why nothing appears on the blog for days and then a whole load arrives at once or pictures appear without explanations appearing for some while. This is because internet access is not as easy to find, or fit into our schedule, as we hoped. We tend to have a number of draft Posts stored on our computers and upload them as time or opportunity permit. Sometimes this means that they appear out of order. We could date them but there’re could still be confusion about whether the date is the date of starting the Post, completing it or uploading it.
• Our route and progress. I (John) am writing this sitting outdoors in a small campsite beside a fast-flowing river in the Gauja National Park in Latvia on Wednesday 28th. May, next stops the Baltic coast and maybe an Estonian island before going on to Tallinn, Helsinki and The North! From information gleaned on the way, we have decided that is impractical to visit Russia at the moment. Motorhomers (primarily Dutch, it seems) mainly visit in organised groups because of the risks of robbery, being ripped off by the police etc. Also the Russians are still very difficult when it comes to visas, so when we have ended this trip one of our plans is to arrange a stand-alone holiday to Russia. Consequently we are following a route from Poland via the three Baltic countries to Finland. We still expect to reach the North Cape towards the end of June and be in warmer climes in July. We have been told by people who have been to the North to expect snow, ice and fog and for it to be pretty unpleasant. We shall see.
• Half Term. When we set out, we had a tentative intention to make a break in UK about half way (say in October) to make court appearances for debts unpaid through the collapse of our carefully constructed plans, get our missing teeth replaced, see how our children and grandchildren have grown and aged as applicable etc. Presently we think this break may take place in early summer as we have shaken down the van a bit and there are a few jobs which we could have done on it. It would be convenient to have these done by the suppliers in Belgium and we shall be not too far from there then.
• Communications. These have proved to be, shall we say, problematic. When we upgraded our mobile phones a few days before leaving UK, “3”, unknown to me, lost all my mobile phone contact numbers. So, if you were expecting to hear from me and haven’t, that’s why. If you’d like to keep in touch, please send me your mobile phone number by means of a Comment to this blog. Don’t send it to what I may have told you was to be my new phone number as the phone that “3” gave me, after a few days partial functionality, now doesn’t work at all, which is a multiple nuisance as it is the one with the most monthly credit (and which I am paying for!). I am using Ruth’s “new” phone number and she is using her “old” one which is on a Blackberry so can receive emails quicker than we can see them in internet cafes (see last paragraph).
• Whenever we get to a point easily findable on a map by our correspondents, I send a text message to a select few of them containing fulsome information, e.g. “Warsaw, Poland”. If this kind of life-enhancing detail is likely to be of interest, let me know, and I’ll add you to the list.
• Visits. We’d be delighted if some of our nearest and dearest (or, even better, some of our furthest and cheapest) friendsandrelations would like to rendezvous with us at various points as we travel around. Our longest time in one place looks to be a few weeks in Slovenia in July/August/September which is a thought. Later we are going on to the Balkans and Turkey. How about it?
• Part the purpose of this blog was to have a two-way communication. So please, can we have some more of your Comments!

Stereotypes

In a few short weeks we have become stereotypes. Evidence:-
1. In a motorhome
2. On a long journey
3. A couple in their 60’s or 70’s
4. Of different (or maybe indifferent) sex
5. Tanned (weather-beaten or beaten by weather)
6. Wearing Crocs™ to, in and from the shower
7. Wearing a warm dressing gown ditto
8. Envying others’ equipment
9. Denigrating others’ equipment (see [4] above)
10. Forgetting where I stored this file

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Hill of Crosses Lithuania






Hello all of you blog watchers - words are to follow plus stuff om Riga.
Please comment. We need your input.
There is a legend about a miracle at this place. A father planted a cross there for his dying daughter and she recovered. This century it has become a symbol of resistance against occupation and especially under the Soviets people planted their crosses here secretly even when it was forbidden. The two small hillocks are covered wiith crosses and loaded with crucifixs. It is a strange place - you can't quite dismiss it for being kitsch - the power of its resistance is too great.

Vilnius






Vilnius is a lovely place. It has many green gardens, lots and lots of fascinating and beautiful and very varied churches, and an interesting old town. The Black Madonna is for R, T, S, and B to see!
There was a Ghetto here - all that remains is the Choral Synagogue. The truth of it is too terrible.
We took the train to Vilnius from Trakai. The last stop before Vilnius is the Paneriai Forest where both Jews and Lithuanians were shot and buried.
However our most chilling experience in Vilnius was the Museum of the Occupation by the Soviets that is inside the actual KGB prison. On the outside it could be a government office in Whitehall. In the basement though . . . torture and murder as a political tool of passionless bureaucracy.
All this was going on 20 years ago at the same time as similar stuff was happening in South Africa. I was unable to stay down there.

Trakai




What a lovely place our camp site was! We were surrounded on three sides by lake and could see the fairy-tale Trakai Castle across the water. Trakai is charming in every way.
We also visited the Knessa of the Karaite people. Some 380 families came to Trakai from the Crimea. They originated in Iraq/Mesopotomia and worship a mixture of Islam and Judaism. They are the people of the Word. Very few survive.

Forests and wildlife and Bialowieza







When we reached Czech Republic we stayed first at Jadran in a dark, boggy forest near a very lovely Spa Town. I began to wonder about wildlife - would there be bears? Would there be wolves? John thought this very funny but the truth is that I really hoped there would be bears and wolves - some remnant left of wild creatures in safe cultivated Europe. All we saw at Jadran were two deer disappearing into the twilight forest. Well I didn't give up my pursuit of bears. We learnt too late, after we had left it that not far from Polonica Zdroj in the forested mountains east in Poland, there are bears!
We decided however to visit Bialowieza Natiional Park on the west Polish border with Belarus. Here we found a lovely forested camp with long drop loos and showers heated by a fire. They have re-introduced Bison here and there are wolves,lynx and boar. We were only able to see these in the safari type park in pens but it is the breeeding season and all the animals keep far from humans.
There were massacres here of Jews. 90 people hung from the trees in front of the Orthodox Church by the Nazis at the entrance to the park office. This was the hunting forest or one of them, of the Czar!

Borki and the Pontoon


We were the only people at Borki - probably since the previous year. The workmen on site were knocking a hole into the wall between the men's and women's showers. Lucky for us because one of them was able to connect us to power as the electric point was corroded. John chose this site because it offers sailing and he hoped . . .
Anyway as we walked to the lake a lorry loaded with a pontoon stopped nearby.
'There you are John.' I said, 'They are making arrangements for you to sail.'
We watched with interest as they unloaded the pontoon. Much better than sailing!
There are a lot of dogs in Poland everybody keeps at least one and they bark to each other every night for hours. We could not hear the wolves at all.

Warsaw




WARSAW

No bears until we got to Warsaw and then there were lots! We have photos of the British bear, the Zambian bear and the Zimbabwe bear.

We had a van problem so went first to the Laika agent and met Piotr, Piotr and Anna, who arranged to fix it if they could.
Our camping site was good and convenient and had a nightingale that sang most nights.

Warsaw has an excellent tram and bus grid – fast, cheap and easy to use. Most buildings are dull post-war Stalinist blocks but the old town has been rebuilt as it used to be before the war and it is now very attractive, and largely pedestrianised. Warsavians bring their families down to enjoy it on weekends and it has a great atmosphere.

It is hard to believe that Warsaw was completely flattened during WW2. First the Jewish Ghetto was razed after the Ghetto uprising – then Warsaw itself after the Warsaw Uprising. We spent hours in the Warsaw Uprising Exhibition and then went on to the Ghetto exhibition. They are very interesting but very sobering. Don’t miss out on either if you visit Warsaw. The emphasis is on the courage and the resistance of both Poles and Jews. It is good not to see people just as victims but nothing reduces the appalling fact of the barbarity of those times. We did feel depressed by what we saw but felt that it isn’t possible to understand Poland and Eastern Europe without knowing their history. Poles themselves have only been able to reclaim their national identity since they became independent of Russia. I have been left with two shocking realisations. The first is the way that Nazi Germany sited all its Death Camps outside Germany, mostly in Poland and Eastern Europe. The second is the 100s of Ghettos created in Polish and East European towns to aid this process – so many people lived there and now there is nothing and no one left. No buildings, no synagogues, no Jews. It feels impossible as one person to have this knowledge and at the same time to say without hesitation how much we enjoyed Krakow, Warsaw and Poland. I don’t know how Poles and Lithuanians survive their history.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Augustow

Our last stop in Poland was in a very lovely part, the town of Augustow which is surrounded and infiltrated by lakes connected by a series of locks which are the resort of pleasure boats and pleasure and leisure seekers. The campsite was still closed (for the winter?, for ever?). In the next door hotel car park were a couple of campervans. We were told that for a fee we could park overnight and use the hotel loo. No water or electricity of course. We stayed and went for a long walk along the very beautiful lake shore in search of pubs and canal locks. We found a pub – not actually very difficult in Poland. (I have a piece of advice for thrifty and thirsty visitors to Poland and it is that beer is much cheaper than coffee! It is a tip which has saved us significant amounts of money.) John has evidence of the paucity of vowels in Poland (and this is it – an adjectival use of the town name, Augustow – “Augustowszczyzny”, a run of 9 consecutive consonants. I’ve looked at my phrase book and although I know how to pronounce the letters I can’t actually do it – my attempt ends in spittle and mental confusion. It’s a bit like the little girl who said she knew how to spell “banana”, but didn’t know when to stop).

For supper we decided to have a ‘braai’ (barbecue) on a beach making first use of our pink bucket – a very upmarket and expensive version of a Zambian Mbaula or charcoal stove. It was cold on the beach but the sausage was delicious and the sunset pearlescent perfection. An inquisitive great swan stormed towards us on a tsunami bow wave. Evidently fatty sausage was not on its preferred menu and it sailed disdainfully away.

What are we doing here?

Ruth, in one of her posts, has questioned why she and I, jointly and severally, are making this trip. Not, I hope, a trip in the sense of an unexpected fall resulting from not looking where you are going. Strangely, but also typically, this is not a question I have explicitly asked myself, despite having planned, in a sense, this journey for a number of years. I suppose it is partly a rounding up of some of the things I have been meaning to do at some point in my life but have never got around to. With the onset of retirement it becomes clear that some of the things you would do, when you have a bit of spare time, when you could afford it, when more important matters have been attended to, etc. will never actually be achieved since you’re too unfit, too hard up, running out of time, etc. In part this journey is a sweeping up of countries that I have always intended to visit but never have done. Semi-consciously, I have been undertaking other experiences in the same way over the last few years, parachute jumping, SCUBA diving, marathon running, the degrees and the rest.
So there are, I think, some similarities between my life history (so far) and this journey (so far). In the first place, and in many others, I did not plan my life. I would and should have done if I had known what it was that I wanted to do. I remember at the age of 20 standing in Durham Market Place saying to a friend I’m sure I could be damn good at something, if only I knew what it was. I never found that vision and, as a result, I don’t think I have been as damn good as I might have been. Learn from this, friends, and especially younger ones, the reasonably intelligent, reasonably hard-working person who has a strategy will be will be more successful – whatever he or she means by that – than the reasonably intelligent, reasonably hard-working person who hasn’t. John Lennon sang that Life was what happened to you when you were busy planning other things. I never was, but it did, all the same. Ruth has written that she is anxious that we may be carrying out our travels superficially, not taking enough time to learn and savour. Again, typically, I am not that anxious, but I think it is true of my life and, possibly, of everyone’s. Looking back I know that there are people I would have liked to have spent more time with or of whom I didn’t ask that question that I had always meant to but would perhaps do it later. And later never came because one of us moved on or died, as is increasingly the case now and will be even more in the future.

Hosting Unwelcome Guests

When we were in Shanghai last year, we attended a number of elaborate banquets. Sumptuous as these were, I can, without undue modesty, say that they were as nothing compared to the feasts that I have provided for the mosquitoes of the lakes around Trakai, in Lithuania.

May 3rd. Constitution Day, Poland






On our first day in Krakow we saw this fascinating parade celebrating the second oldest constitution in the world made in 1791.
John says that the Poles also made the last cavalry charge in history! That was unfortunately against the Germans in WW2! In spite of, or because of her Constitution, for most of her history Poland has been partitioned and subject to other powers.

Poland has quite a connection with Britain. The contribution made by Polish Airmen in the war is one connection. My school friend Zoa Zsjust’s dad was killed flying for Britain. Churchill, I think, made the cruel decision at the end of the war to not give fleeing Polish officers and soldiers protection and refuge from Russians in Britain. He handed them all over to Stalin who massacred the lot. Does anyone else know this story and is it accurate?

POLAND
I did no European geography at school (or British geography either for that matter). I did history up to the ‘Causes of WW2’. As a result this trip has been hugely educative and confusing for me a fact compounded by the speed with which we appear to have crossed Europe – France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic and now Poland. 1737 Kilometres or 1083 miles in 3 weeks.

We parked at the wonderful Smok Camp just outside Krakow but accessible very quickly by bus and tram.
On our last day we walked up the hills behind Smok where we wandered in beautiful forests. After some time we became unsure of our direction home. Suddenly fearful, we heard the cries and smells of beasts through the trees. We had found the donkey enclosure at the Zoological Gardens!

On our walk we passed through a mix of new well-do-do houses on the edge of a farming area. Gardens are fenced and people keep mongrel type dogs that bark a lot. The people do not smile and aren’t apparently friendly. They appear to avoid looking at you – or as John pointed out, at each other, but it is impossible to generalise and one family greeted us on our walk – even the 4 year old child chanted ‘how are you!’ in English!

I was surprised to see that Poland is strip farmed! This is an inheritance procedure that has made peasant farmers poorer and poorer with every generation. On several occasions we saw horses used for ploughing and we saw many very ancient and battered tractors. We bought local produce in small town markets. The only meat is pork – often sold in lumps. We were offered a whole pigs liver - not a slice or two.

Polish roads are a challenge. We drove down lengthwise ruts made by lorries. Our van was just wide enough to cope. On single carriageways you are expected to drive on the hard shoulder so faster vehicles can overtake you. This is okay until you see two vehicles travelling towards you engaged in the same manoeuvre and ahead of you the hard shoulder vanishes in an underpass or is blocked by a tractor or a breakdown!

We drove through beautiful forests everywhere. At many forest turnoffs we saw attractive young women – modern naiads or sylphs lying in wait for lorry drivers. Anna told me they are usually from Ukraine, Romania or Russia. It must be a very dangerous way to work. It is a shock to see the trade in women so blatantly displayed. Some roadside billboards also display blatant sexual images of women in roadside ‘hotspots’. Rural poverty is a serious problem in Poland too.

Krakow with Friends




Friends brought us post and essential supplies like a battery for my computer and my new spectacles. Very kind and very much appreciated! Thank you!
We also had a couple of excellent evenings eating Polish and Ukrainian food and drinking beer by the gallon from glass chimneys!

Poland and Churches





Poland is dominated by churches and the last Pope.
We visited Wambierzyce Basilica. It is big and a place of pilgrimage but hard to get to as the roads are very poor indeed. The basilica is labyrinthine and in poor repair. There are some seventy-four Calvary chapels on the hills around it and an archway (one of two or three) but this one has a Hebrew inscription.
We stopped at the Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, also a place of pilgrimage with a huge and ugly stage stuck on the church and suspended over the hillside. Jasna Gora is famous for its Black Madonna – a 9th century icon who was crowned the Queen of Poland for saving them from the Swedes. She is unveiled each day at mass and John and I attended to see her.
Outside we were accosted by beggars. Czestochowa is a rundown scruffy place with very expensive coffee.
Poland also has very interesting wooden churches.
The cemeteries would break the heart of any Anglican vicar. They are permanently aglow with a profusion of heaps of brilliant pink and orange plastic flowers. Huge sums of money must be spent on tombstones and candles. My snap does not do them justice. Out of interest I have included the snaps of the notice boards of things for sale outside a church – wish I could read what they sell!.

Footnote - Reasons?



I have been trying to discover what I am doing in this motorcaravan and why I am making this journey. It seemed like a good idea to me for metaphysical and spiritual reasons as well as for sightseeing and pleasure. John hasn’t yet explained satisfactorily – or can’t or won’t explain what the purpose of the trip is for him. Perhaps no particular reason is needed. In any case I am not explaining myself very well or explaining things to myself in any comprehensible way.

The predominant lesson of the trip so far is that I know so little, remember so little, and learn so little. It is an inversion of what we think we go on travels to achieve. We think we will learn something from what we see on the journey. We see sights. We sightsee and in so doing we learn about beauty and history and difference and we believe our lives enriched by these experiences. I am not knocking that idea. I expect it is true enough and it is happening to us on this trip regardless. Somehow, however, doubts about the value of the ‘sight-seeing’ experience keep nagging at me. At the end of each viewing day, what have I actually learnt. Our visits to places are so short and superficial. What I hope I gain is a degree of humility. These are strangely, not entirely negative feelings but give me instead a sense of freedom.

We have been travelling 39 days, visited 7 cities, stayed in 18 campsites, spoken with many people mostly just to buy or pay for services, had few meaningful conversations with people other than with each other or on the phone to family, but in spite of our Blog and our photos, nothing can be held on to and remembered indefinitely – or even briefly. It all goes, it all blurs. Isn’t it just like life! We keep moving on. It is an argument for staying in one place all one’s life where continuity strengthens the illusion of meaningfulness that is questioned by the nomadic life.

Auschwitz



On May 1st on our way to Krakow to meet friends. We queued alongside the railway in traffic for what seemed ages. When we eventually reached the roundabout before the Museum we were turned away by police. We hung around miserably for a bit then put off our visit till after Krakow. In fact it was the annual ‘Day of the Living’ march from Auschwitz to Birkenau – we should have known. It was strange how I deflected my fear of the Auschwitz visit into anger at the traffic and the police and the town of Osweicim.

We returned to Oswiecim on the 7th May with dread having learnt something of the story of Jews in Krakow – formerly about 30% of the population. It was sunny, we parked easily, close to the Museum. As we drove up I had seen what seemed like fairly ordinary though old-fashioned prison buildings. I was shocked to realise that this was Auschwitz – superficially like school boarding hostels from my youth!

It was a strange experience. I would recommend to any one who has a connection with Jewish history that they visit in winter in the school holidays. The place was packed with young people in trendy gear with mobile phones that were on and rang cheerfully. Young students need to know this history but perhaps don’t yet all have the experience to really grasp its horror and respect other visitors. One attractive and extremely silly young woman pressed her camera into her boyfriend’s hand and skipped in front of the execution wall where many, so many people were shot in order that he could ‘shoot’ her among the votive offerings and flowers.

The place is supposed to be silent but there are so many guides talking to so many groups that it isn’t. Even with the watchtowers and the fences there was a weird disjunction between the human scale and proportion of the buildings and the use to which they were put that made it hard to believe it was the place of which I had read. The ‘Arbeit macht frei’ archway seems too small for the horror it bears. It is only when one gets into the exhibitions inside the buildings and sees how they were used that the monstrosity of it all begins to weigh on you and it does heavily. We were there for hours and came out exhausted and starving. Strange to sit and eat hot dogs in the sun outside Auschwitz with such relish – glad its now and we’re alive. It feels important to make the pilgrimage to Auschwitz. It’s a necessary act of hope that such organised genocide may not happen again in quite this way. Genocide has happened again – and again since - but this methodical planning chills especially.

We drove the 3 kilometres to Birkenau. It is impossible to take in the scale of the atrocity of this place. It is a relief that it doesn’t remain as physically intact as Auschwitz does. The vastness of it meant we weren’t intruded on by other visitors and we could privately and quietly think our own thoughts. I was able to light my memorial light and leave it burning on the track together with a stone I brought from the pathway in the Jewish cemetery at Prague.

The time spent in Krakow, the Auschwitz Museum itself, gave me more understanding of and sympathy for Poland and the Polish. I had not realised how many Poles were systematically experimented on and murdered at Auschwitz before it was used for Jews, Roma, and others. Even the young thoughtless students made me realise how life went on around Auschwitz among a conquered people. It is just not possible to understand how the extermination camps could have happened.
I am glad we visited.

The Golem




Many European cities have resurrected their Jewish quarters or Ghettos. It is uncomfortable to visit them – their inhabitants all disappeared and murdered so recently. Every city owes so much of its cultural life to Jewish artists, writers, thinkers and creators. They are integral to city life so the absence of Jews feels very painful to me. Prague has a moving Holocaust Memorial that is part of the beautiful and crowded old Jewish Cemetery. Nearby is the Old New Synagogue where according to legend, Rabbi Low created the Golem to protect Jews during a pogram. The Golem is a giant clay figure brought to life by a holy and magic word imprinted on its forehead. It still is hidden in the attic. I was delighted to see its home – if only it had had more power to protect this century!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

PRAGUE AND FUN ISLAND


FUN ISLAND
We found a great camping site in the middle of the Vltava River an easy tram ride to the centre of Prague. It was a river sports centre and the island was rather run down and shabby but we liked it. John cycled round Prague but we had a day of heavy rain when we were vanbound and John suffered cabin fever.
Prague is a great city but we couldn’t afford coffee - £10 for 2 cups!
We found a good bookshop for maps – the Kiwi and a good internet café – the Globe!
Prague is a lovely city though but too many tourists even this early in the year.

TESCOLAND


If travelling in a Mobilhome it is practical to stop at supermarkets so that you can park easily.
By choice we would rather shop in small local outlets and markets. We haven’t found very many of these. Europe seems, even more than Britain, to have become Tescoland. I find this very depressing – frightening even when the news is about future worldwide shortages of food – even mentioned on the Voice of Russia as a problem created by western consumerism! Are we all going to rely on Tesco for rations and we all have to be Tesco card holders? Perhaps we all already are!
Of course it was a relief to park easily – small shops don’t accommodate livingvans but it was a shock as it seemed that Germany most of all had been ‘taken over’. These two pictures though were taken outside Prague. The scale of the Tesco was mind-boggling and as you can see there were no hordes of shoppers.
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Going Two Ways at Once

In an earlier Post, we mentioned that Ruth and I had planned to follow routes around Europe which were subtly different, mine a simple, efficacious and economical circle and hers a time- and money-wasting figure-of-eight or perhaps a symbol of infinity, a sign that her journey would never end and never be complete. Whichever, we agreed on the figure-of-eight, a route which would see us travelling in opposite directions towards the same destination or maybe in the same direction towards opposite destinations. What is it the Chinese say about two people sleeping in the same bed, but they have different dreams? I was reminded of this contrariety when I tasted the Mazedonischer (FYR Macedonia) Rotwein we bought yesterday in a German discounter in Rűdesheim for under £1 a litre. As the populations of Eastern Europe, released at last from the Communist yoke (where did I read that?) are moving, as we and they hope, to a more prosperous and liberal future, we, Ruth and I, retired and freed from the habitual expectation of receiving ample pay for the work we have done, instead cease work, have our incomes slashed and travel to Eastern Europe in sharply reduced financial circumstances to visit countries heading in the opposite direction to ourselves. As they learn to live as we used to, we are learning to live as they used to. Who is learning what from whom? (The wine, optimistically, misleadingly, mischievously or ironically subtitled “Lieblich” = “Lovely”, was shit.)

ON REFLECTION

I have a new computer.
It is a laptop.
It has a flat glass screen.
It reflects my face.
I have a new computer and an old face.
Can it really be my computer?

NEW SPECS AND AN OLD QS



SPECS AND QUANTITY SURVEYOR
I left my specs in a hire car in France on 7.04.08. They did need replacing but it was inconvenient at this stage of our journey to find an optician. Thanks to friend John S’s recommendation, we found a good optician in Brussels. Coincidentally the optician’s business was in a building that John worked on in 1976 as the QS. Here is John 32 years later outside it and it is still standing in spite of sandy foundations!
Thank you Graham and Jill for bringing my specs to me in Krakow and to Anita for the battery that makes this computer and blog possible!

FRIENDS IN BRUSSELS




FRIENDS
Our first stop after leaving England was Brussels. John wanted to see old friends from 30 years ago when he worked there. It was a good way to start as we were looked after like royalty so immediately felt welcome in Europe. We spent time with John, Jean and Ghislaine, Jeannette and Faruk, Robert and Maria. Thank you all for your hospitality. Apologies for the quality of the photos and the missing ones!

DOMESTICITY




DOMESTICITY IN LAIKA
What a life we have!
Here you see John serenading the washing, appreciating the light fitting and fixing Laika. John has taken no pictures showing me doing any work whatsoever but then there are no pictures of me lounging about in comfort either!