In a roundup of existential wins and losses – we’ve been to Poland for a long weekend; one kid has graduated from primary school; the baby has learned to roll over; I had a properly horrible run-in with a Child Protection Officer at a church camp which ended in tears, a swift exit and a recalibration of, well, EVERYTHING; I organised our Square’s annual kid’s party and got broken by the administrative emails surrounding wording of insurance policies and repeated questions about exactly who was paying for the face painter (Marsh & Parsons – it is still Marsh & Parsons whether you ask me once or four times) and vowed never to do it again; I bought a Ganni balloon-sleeved dress from the Selfridges sale and wore it to the kid’s party which prompted one lady attendee to say she thought I was remarkable to have “so many kids AND have time for fancy dress!”; the buying and selling of two houses in New Zealand went through on the same day last week which means we have somewhere lovely to go home to (should we ever summon up the courage); and one son finally acquiesced to having his long trucker hair cut into a shorter trucker hair cut (see below for the former):
Quite high and exciting times indeed.
The trip to Poland was for Mark’s most long-time and faithful tiler’s daughter’s wedding. It was in a village called Lipnica Murowana, about an hour out of Krakow. Who knew that it would look all so much like New Zealand, all lazy green and grassy hills and forests and sunny blue skies, but with 1000 year old churches and men brandishing huge instruments and wearing traditional leather’n’floral embroidered outfits? The village itself was very clean and unfussy and Alpine-ish, with incredibly steeped roofs for all the snow that gets dumped for five months of the year, but two weekends ago it was hot. I wore a DVF silk jumpsuit which Mark was worried about looking a bit un-Catholic Churchy but was actually fun and entirely appropriate, mostly because a) no one looks at me anymore because I am old and b) it allowed me to get my bosoms out for Remi without too much conspicuous yanking of the long, withered, much-abused appendages.
Here is a photo of me and the father of the bride and Mark, who looks a bit like he’s had too many Polish potato pancakes. Its just the angle, man. He is in a gorgeous bespoke suit, however, straight from the Iraqi tailor. That’s a pink tie, no less:
Those are Polish pancakes with mushrooms and a garlic cream that we ate the first night we got to the village, after a starter of garlic soup. The whole main meal cost about £4. Even I could not finish it:
The wedding was a very vodka-fuelled affair which began at 3pm and ended at 3am. That’s a thing, apparently. The Catholic service was beautiful (even if entirely in Polish which was a little tricky to follow – especially the songs with the words displayed on a electronic ticker tape screen that looked like this: “Młoda temu winna, młoda temp winna pocałować go powinna”) and held in a glorious church.
Swiftly, after the service came the breaking of the glasses and the throwing of the gold coins and the presentation of the loaf and salt and then the bride and groom and the 180 Polish guests and us three (Remi was in attendance but the other five were farmed out by the best three families ever) went to the wedding reception really to do three things: to eat, to drink, and to dance in a kind of cyclical, insistent, excellent kind of way. The reception followed a pattern – over the course of the evening, four main meals were served with constant unveiling of elegant snacks made with local meats and cheeses and wine and salads and staters and jellies and desserts and then shots of vodka, followed by frenzied dancing with partners. Not your usual groups of women dancing around their handbags at each other while men boredly watched from the sidelines – no. This was a proper ballroom dancing kind of scenario, with flared frocks and graceful spins and everyone knowing that to do. We could only watch, amazed – thinking that not only did everyone the room speak about four more languages than we did, but that everyone – old and young – could also dance properly. Respect.
Remi and I crept off to bed at 10pm but Mark got involved in some Polish musical chairs game or something and didn’t get back into the room until 3:30am. The vodka fumes entered the bedroom before he did. I said “DON’T SNORE” and he said “I WON’T” and he flopped onto the bed and snored like a bloody rumbling bloody train for the next three hours while I kept trying to poke him into silence and when that didn’t work, I maliciously videotaped him and repeatedly told him I hated him. He woke with a throat that he said felt ripped to shreds and I said “THAT’S BECAUSE YOU GROWLED AND SNARLED AND TRUMPETED LIKE A LOWLY TOAD ALL NIGHT” and I showed him the video and he groaned and said he needed some paracetamol. We ended up getting a very twisty ride for an hour in the back of a cab all the way to Krakow and he kept thinking he was going to hurl everywhere and I thought that was marvellous divine justice.
Here are some photos of Krakow, taken with my very clear head:
When we were ready to leave our airbnb from the centre of Krakow to the airport, the Uber driver refused to take us because we didn’t have a baby car seat, and he told us that no one would be able to take us at all – there were no exemptions for taxis of any kind. We didn’t know how we would get to the airport but just then a man drove up near us, got out of the car, saw we needed help, heard our sorry tale and even though he was on his way to work, he decided to drive us to the airport himself because he had a babyseat in his car. That was a half hour drive each way. HOW GREAT ARE THE POLES?
Here is the baby being weaned. There is nothing messier:
Casper, his teacher of two years and his little mate on their Graduation from Primary School Day:
Otis photographed beautifully by another school friend’s mum on the reception class Sports Day:
He just told me, apropos of nothing, that when he eats Start Again Food he gets very sick and vomits. I wasn’t sure what Start Again Food was, but after some interrogation, it seems that he means leftovers. Everyone’s a critic, baby.