A Poznan visit

This week I have been in Poznan. I had to come for a couple of discussions that I have to do for my PhD. The first one was on ethics and the next one will be on ecology. I passed the first one which is good, so let’s hope all goes well for the second!

It’s been nice seeing my colleagues and staying with my lovely Polish family. Kasia is just so nice and always makes me feel so welcome! I’ve been staying with them in their countryside house this week which has been lovely.

The week has been pretty standard, going to the office and then home again. On one of the days I had to go for a work place health check. It wasn’t the best experience to be honest. I had to stand in a room that was so bloody hot, and wait for about 1 and a half hours to be seen. There were no seats because there were far too many people crammed in the waiting room… anyway, my bloody pressure, heart rate and vision are all fine. Good to know I guess!

This weekend has been nice. Yesterday some of Kasia’s friends came over and we all went on a forest walk to collect some mushrooms. It’s the season for them right now and so there are loads of different kinds! One type looks like a coral!! It was gorgeous to be outside in the fresh air, and the weather was bright sunshine and warm. Made me very smiley!! Later on in the day we went to visit some other friends that I knew when I lived in Poland. They had a baby last year and are expecting again in December! It was so nice to meet Staszek the titchy one. He took a shine to me actually, so I was worn out by the end of the visit after all the entertainment. We drank some homemade spirit made from quince and ate cake! A lovely Saturday evening really.

As well as the people based stuff, I’ve also held a small tarantula and a gorgeous gecko!! I don’t think I’ll rush back to holding a tarantula any time soon!!

That’s all for now!!

Xx

2 hangovers in 1 weekend

This week has been lovely. As usual. The weather is still lovely and the birds are still singing.

I was in the office during the week doing PhD work. It’s always lovely to see everyone. And I also had another Turkish lesson. Slowly but surely I will get there!

A nice mid week treat came in the form of home made cookies and shisha. Donata has her own shisha set so we enjoyed an evening on the balcony smoking and drinking kwass. Kwass is a Lithuanian bread drink. It’s weirdly tasty! I love evenings like that, when it’s nice and warm and the sun sets really slowly. We had a lovely chat and just relaxed.

On Friday my friend Beth arrived. She wanted to come and visit Poznan again and have a mini adventure with me! We’ve been enjoying Poznan night life! On Friday and Saturday we went out in the old square. In the normal Amie style, I had lots of tequila and danced my sandals off! I also decided to try and speak as much Polish as I possibly could. Alcohol definitely makes me more confident in languages!

We leave Poznan tomorrow. It’s been so lovely seeing all of my people in this part of the world. But I can’t stay in one place for too long. Time to move again. Next stop is Naples!

Back in Poznań

So this week I have been back in Poznan. I’ve been going to the office every day and getting through lots of work. On Friday I had to do an official presentation for my PhD in front of the faculty council. I think it went okay!

My lovely friend Donata is my host for my stay here. I always get amazing breakfasts and we enjoy a good sing along to chart topping hits!

I met her Spanish speaking friends on Wednesday. We had a mini pizza feast. Her friend Kris had been travelling around Greece and brought back some amazing cheese for everyone to taste. She also brought us some traditional cheese from her village in Spain! Both bloody delicious!

This weekend I’ve been at my amazing Polish family’s house. For those of you who don’t know, when I first moved to Poland (for the year long stint) I lived in the flat of one of my colleagues, Kasia (I had never actually met her before hand!). I got to know her and her family and they are now my Polish family! I even got to see my friends Viola and Łukasz! Viola is pregnant and only a couple of weeks away from the big day! They are a lovely couple. Always laughing and smiling. I can’t wait to meet their little one!

Anyway… This weekend we have been at the house in the countryside enjoying the sunshine and the peace and quiet. It’s amazing. You can hear birds for miles around. My favourite is probably the yellowhammer. The first one I ever heard was in Poland, so now they always remind me of here! Both evenings I’ve heard a cuckoo calling. The first evening I even caught a glimpse, it was perched at the very top of a silver birch tree.

All week I’ve been delighted by the birds. Walking to work I can’t help having a smile on my face. I hear chiffchaffs, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits, song thrush, chaffinch….. its a chorus just for me. I love it.

Cześć Poznań

As usual I am on the move. Currently sat drinking my second coffee of the day in Poznan airport. Back to Manchester for a couple of days now!

I’ve had a lovely week. I’ve seen all my favourite people from my Poznan life. I saw my beautiful Polish Mum, Kasia. The amazing Czech family with their most gorgeous new addition, tiny Astrid. I saw my office friend Paweł, we mostly bickered. What a fab bunch of people I have!

I’m was staying with Donata this week. She’s was lovely enough to agree to take me in! It’s always a treat staying with her. She cooks up the best food, breakfasts are a special feast! I was welcomed with a white chocolate cake! What more could you ask for?! Last weekend we went on a chilly wander so I could go and spot some red squirrels! The cold air is so much nicer than back home, it’s dry and clear. Manchester is just so rainy!!!

The working week began and that consisted of lots of hours in the office spent listening to Boubou calls. I’m pretty fluent in Boubou now…. I had a couple of meetings about next steps and am feeling very positive!

On Thursday afternoon everyone in the behavioural ecology department met in the common room for beers and to look at videos and photos from past Cameroon trips. It was so nice to have everyone together! Nice bunch of people! I was slightly tipsy after one beer! I went back to Donata’s and we carried on with the drinking vibe and enjoyed a glass of very strong Lithuanian spirit. Dancing happened.

Last night we went for a drink and some shisha. I met some of her friends and enjoyed a chilled Poznan night.

It’s been a short but sweet trip. Loved seeing everyone. Now to get back home and pack for the next adventure.

A northern girl at the Opera

This week has gone quite quickly. Had lots of nice little things happen.

On Monday I had my Polish language exam. It seemed to go okay, although I thought of a couple of silly mistakes I had made. All that grammar is hard to remember! The first lovely thing in my week was enjoying a refreshing drink with my friend Simla after the exam. It was that time of day, just before dusk, when the air goes slightly humid and the light in the sky is a mix of pastel colours. I think that is my favourite time of day. It reminds me of playing outside with my sister when we were little, listening to blackbirds singing and catching fresh water shrimp from the stream. Anyway…

Tuesday is reserved for rock climbing. Me and Pavel set off and had good feelings about routes we would choose and exercises we could do. Half way there Pavel realised he had left his climbing kit at the office so we turned back. During the retrieval of his gear the tram 16 we need to take to get to the climbing centre had a problem and had stopped running… disaster. But oh no.. Pavel decided he would make up for this lost opportunity and hire us city bikes to ride back to the city centre. It was so much fun! I haven’t been on a bike in years and I had forgotten how great it is! We were riding for about 25 minutes and then enjoyed a scoop of ice cream afterwards. Maybe he should leave his rock climbing kit more often!

20170609_074900

Wednesday was exam results day. I got 58/60! So so happy. In English we don’t really use cases and conjugations and so I am so proud of this grade. Polish is a really hard language but everyday I am getting to understand a little bit more which is quite exciting. I need to keep practicing now!

Thursday’s lovely thing was seeing my colleague Michał at the coffee break at work. He has been really busy doing field work and even when he is not in the field he lives in Warsaw and so we don’t get to see him much. We were talking about the work he has been doing and about Cameroon. Sometimes the little things can make a lovely change.

20170609_193540

Friday was another office day and then I went to an amazing Mexican restaurant with Simla. It is on a tiny street off of Old Town and I genuinely forgot I was in Poznan for a while. It is like you are transported to Mexico. There was a lovely atmosphere and colour all over. I love finding these new little places. I must say, I haven’t had a bad meal since being in Poznan. The food is always top notch.

IMG_20170609_205512_721

Now for the day of the Opera…

People that know me will understand that I am not exactly the Opera going type… I don’t have high heels, I don’t have minimalist clothing. So I was slightly stuck with what to wear. So me being me, I put on my most colourful dress, matched with Birkenstocks and bangles and my favourite wicker handbag and off I went. Safe to say, I was under dressed. I met my friends Viola and Łucaś and we went to a great vegetarian restaurant called Słodka and Ostra in my district of Poznan. We had a taster of the different soups and then a great salad. It was brilliant. Then off we went to the theatre. It is so grand inside, a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Gosh I was out of my depth. But I sat in my seat and became mesmerised by the beautiful voices. We saw die zauberflote. Viola had informed me that the Queen of the Night character has one of the most difficult aria’s to perform in any opera. It was so impressive and beautiful. Her voice was incredible, I’m not sure how she got to such high notes. I wasn’t exactly sure on everything that was happening due to it being performed in German and translated in Polish, but it didn’t matter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A night to remember! Next time I will probably opt out of the sandals though…

20170610_163941

Sometimes it’s nice to pick little things that have been lovely in your day. You might think it was just any old day but there are always little things that can make you smile. I’m a big believer in silver linings.

Here is to more silver linings next week.

xx

 

A sister and a bee.

20170528_124723

This week has been very emotional for many of us.

A terrorist attack in my home city of Manchester has taken 22 lives and effected so many in ways I cannot fathom.

I am not a great writer. I can’t write a blog post to explain this. Or in any way make it better. But I can write about how utterly proud I am to be from such an amazing city. I can talk about Mancunian spirit and the way we rally together. I can say that Manchester is a great city filled with inspirational people.

Mancunians…We are kind. We are strong. We are one.

I used to work in the city centre. I would walk through the streets hearing a jumble of different languages and seeing a mash up of different faces. In a line up of people you couldn’t pick out a Mancunian. We are a people of all sorts. We have china town, the curry mile, hipsters in the northern quarter. We have buskers, business people and students. We have sport, music and pubs. We are diverse and weird and amazing. It took me to move abroad to realise this. It is no ordinary city.

This week we have seen Manchester show the rest of the world just how me we care for each other. Strangers coming together in times of crisis and showing such compassion. In times of such horror, this is not our shield. This strength is our weapon. We fight with love. Love for any human being who needs it.

I am so proud of this.

IMG_2138

Now for my usual post…

IMG_20170525_215828_119-1

I had a visitor this week which was nice. My lovely little sister joined me for 4 days of sunshine, ice cream and walks.

Most of our time was spent wandering around parks and chatting. One day we went to a place called KontenerART which is created for the summer season. It is a venue made from shipping containers with a beer garden and small beach. At night there is even space for bands to perform. We didn’t feel like we were trendy enough to stay here but we embraced it and sat for a while!

20170526_163514

One afternoon we went and sat by Warta river. This is the river that runs through Poznan. It’s a nice place to go to escape the centre of the city. We had a lovely view of the Cathedral and just enjoyed the quiet. We played cards. I won 5 of the 6 games…

20170526_155103-1

I mainly enjoyed the hugs. It’s always nice when you are with your favourite person.

Just lovely.

And that’s that.

xx

 

 

 

A geeky week

This week has been a geeky one. I had a numerical ecology course all week which was really useful but intense! We had two professors visit from Switzerland who taught the class the ins and outs of all the statistical tests related to ecology and the related computer code needed for the computer software we use. Yes, that’s right, I can write computer code! The course was from Monday until Saturday and most days seemed like ground hog day. I met some new people which was lovely and got to see a new part of campus too. The geography building. To get to geography required walking from biology, past maths and physics, and through a small forest. This was such a lovely part of my days. The forest is so loud with birds. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were particularly nice because the weather finally became brighter and so the birds were singing with joy. Or at least it seemed that way. Every morning I got to listen to chaffinches, wrens, blackbirds, song thrushes, great tits, willow warblers, yellow hammers and chiffchaffs. On two mornings I even heard a golden oriole! Although I didn’t manage to spot it. The main thing making me smile this week has to be the swifts. They are soaring high in the sky and screeching. I love that sound. A screech doesn’t sound like it would be nice to listen to but it really is. These birds have come all the way from Southern Africa and when I hear them it reminds me how amazing birds are and why I love doing what I do. I urge you to stop next time you hear a swift and just close your eyes and listen for a while. It’s so relaxing.

20170511_072722-1

Anyway…

I finally got to see Cameroon Kasia this week. I haven’t seen her in so long and it was just so lovely to catch up. We always end up laughing about Cameroonian tales. We enjoyed an amazing honey beer in the sunshine and kiełbasa (Polish sausage) cooked on a proper fire. There was a party on campus so it was nice to just relax after a hard day of statistics.

After my course finished on Saturday my weekend finally began. I invited Simla and Donata over for Eurovision. Donate made traditional Lithuania cold beetroot soup. Simla made a traditional Turkish buffet of kisir (tomato and bulgar wheat), kofte (amazing meatballs), pilav (yummy rice) and Patates Püresi (a kind of mashed potato). It was all delicious. Unfortunately because I’ve been so busy this week I had no time to make my pudding. So instead I made proper British builders brews with rich teas for dunking! In between the starter and main course Simla prepared Turkish coffee for us. When you finish the coffee there is sediment left at the bottom of the cup. We placed a saucer on top of the cup and flipped it upside down and let the coffee drip down onto the saucer. When the mug is cool you can remove it and then read your fortune! Simla did this part for us. It was so interesting! I love things like that, it makes you look for the positives in things I think.

20170513_202212-1

A geeky but enjoyable week.

I am feeling very inspired.

xx

 

Visitor number 4

This is just a quick blog entry. I haven’t managed to write for a while as I went on a lovely little adventure. More on that in the next couple of blog entries.

Anyway…

I had another lovely visitor recently, in the shape of my friend Beth! My first friend visitor and it was so nice. Even if the weather wasn’t…

Beth arrived on the Saturday evening and we got back to my flat and just chatted and laughed. Sunday we wandered into the Old Town so we could have a coffee and Beth could see the Poznan goats. It was my fourth time seeing them. I’m dreading how many more times I will have to endure the bloody goats above the clock… If you could see it you would understand why. It’s not exactly the northern lights or the statue of liberty… There was a new highlight this time though. Real goats! I guess it’s the new attraction. The rest of the day we mooched around the city and I pointed out various historical facts along the way. We found a lovely little cafe called Lavenda which does amazing food. I’m starting to have a good list of delicious places to eat. I’m spoilt for choice! I must point out, since living in Poland I haven’t had one bad meal. The food is always amazing. I’m going to hunt out Polish restaurants when I’m in the UK to get my fix.

IMG_20170423_144345_519-1

 

The next day we walked around Cytadela park and Beth insisted on seeing the goats again. I sat away from the spectacle in protest. She loved it. We had pierogi for lunch from an amazing little place specialises in these delicious dumplings. We could watch the ladies making them at the front of the shop and there were so many flavours to choose from. My favourite was pumpkin and cinnamon! We managed to try the much talked about Kolorowa ice cream too. On a sunny day the queues are ridiculous and I’ve always wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I know. It was so tasty! I had a banana and biscuit scoop and a blueberry and mascarpone. Even the cone was tasty! I left Beth to go to my Polish lesson and then Donata joined us after for tea. We had an Italian at Ristoro Viva Pomodori. I’ve wanted to try this place ever since passing it on the tram back in October. It didn’t disappoint.

20170424_154719

Tuesday was a very early start for me. I was assisting Paweł in his bioacoustics field class today. It was a great morning. Although my extremely limited Polish meant I wasn’t exactly helpful. But I did smile a lot. Smiling always helps right? When the students were off recording Paweł and I went for a good old birding session. It was amazing. I saw white stork, grasshopper warbler and my very first wryneck! They were beautiful. Stonechats and whinchats were flitting about and lots of corn buntings too. The chorus of birds was really exciting. At lunch time I managed to get back to Beth and we went back to Lavenda. We walked around some more and then enjoyed tea before Beth had to head back.

IMG_20170425_172614_294

We had such a lovely few days. It’s so nice to have a mix up of the normal routine. And when laughing is involved it’s always good. It’s the best medicine after all.

Next stop… Lithuania.

xx

Easter (Wielkanoc, Velykos, Velikonoce, les Pâques).

An English, Polish, Lithuanian, Czech and French whirlwind occurred this weekend. Some amazing memories made and new traditions learned.

This Easter has been one of my best yet.

I have eaten so much food and seen so many friends. I think that this has really helped with the slight homesick feeling I have had this week. I think Easter is such a lovely family time and to be away from everyone has felt especially hard recently. But… I have a lovely international family here in Poznan and they have all made it very special.

IMG_20170415_150708_165

Poznan goes into shut down over Easter. Most places are closed and there are hardly any people around. I guess that a lot of people visit families in the countryside. On Saturday me and Donata went to have some Sushi for a nice start to the Easter weekend. I suppose it wasn’t exactly traditional but it was different and extremely tasty! I noticed that a lot of people were carrying these small wooden baskets filled with food. I later found out that they take this to church to get it blessed and then they have big feasts. That’s cute tradition number 1. More traditions to come… Anyway…The afternoon was spent collecting various items we needed for the Sunday Easter feast. This included a food processor, plates, nutritional yeast, leeks, onion skins, string, tights and feta cheese. A random list I know… The only thing we couldn’t find was the nutritional yeast, I am not sure if it even exists in Poland! We got back to Donata’s flat and made an amazing vegan curry for tea. It was loaded with turmeric, potatoes, chickpeas and quinoa and was lovely and cosy for such a rainy, cold day! After a lovely refuel, we started on the food preparation. We made vegan brownies using sweet potatoes, vegan fudge and a healthy banoffee pie using dates and yoghurt. We also painted eggs!

20170416_120554.jpg

 

Now, I have to talk about traditions as I am very new to such specific Easter events. All I remember from childhood is running around the house trying to find a few chocolate eggs hidden by Mum and Dad. I never believed in the Easter Bunny really, but gosh did i get excited when I found a creme egg under a pile of folded towels, or inside an empty mug. Eastern Europe embraces it a lot better. They paint eggs, roll eggs, smash eggs, eat eggs. They also soak and hit girls.. but more on that later. Painting eggs was so fun. Donata taught me the Lithuanian method. Firstly you have to go outside and collect various leaves. This is important. Then you boil some eggs until they are hard boiled. Once cooked, you arrange the collected leaves on the shells. Carefully, you enclose the egg and leaf combination in some sheer tights. You have to pull the tights really tightly so the leaves are firmly pressed against the shell. You should be able to see through the tights and through to the leaves. Tie this bundle tightly and repeat. Once all the eggs are wrapped you then place them in a pot of water and lots and lots of onion skins. And I mean lots. You then boil this magical potion for 10 minutes and leave the eggs in the mixture until cooled. Unwrap the bundles and you are left with beautiful works of art! Amazing! Next year we are going to try turmeric dye, red cabbage and possibly red onion…

 

 

Sunday morning was spent finishing the food preparation for when Simla arrived. We made a vegan quiche using tofu and stuffed some boiled eggs with beetroot and feta or guacamole. Delish! Simla arrived and we finally got to enjoy our different dishes. It was all so tasty. We had an egg smashing competition using the dyed eggs. This involved knocking your chosen egg against the different opponents eggs. Whoever’s egg didn’t smash had good luck for the year. Simla won! Me and Donata, as the losers, had to divide our eggs into three parts so we could each eat a section. Apparently this is good luck too… After lots of food and when there was a break in the clouds we went for a walk in the forest to enjoy some sunshine. There were lots of woodpeckers and the bird song was beautiful to listen to. It was such a lovely day! I arrived back to my flat and was greeted with a little letter off my Mum. That was my favourite Easter treat!

Monday and more food…Mathieu decided to cook a French extravaganza for me and Donata. It was so so tasty! We had blinis, a chicken and pepper stew, rum cake and chocolate mousse. All delicious! We were then invited to Pavel and Marketa’s flat for more Easter food and a film! Here is where the other traditions can be explained… Upon arrival to their flat, Pavel and Hynek (their son) came up to me and Donata and lightly hit us with sticks and sang a song. This is a Czech tradition where boys go around hitting the girls they like… I was informed that because they did this to us after midday I could throw water on them but I refrained! A similar tradition known as Smingus dingus is known here in Poland. Instead of hitting girls though they throw water on them. Apparently boys just walk around with buckets of water waiting for a girl they like the look of. I can inform you that the only water that landed on me was rain… No dinguses managed to get me! Marketa offered us some traditional Czech Easter bread. It is sweet and contains currants and was so lovely. It was a nice relaxing afternoon!

Now I am sat digesting and I am happy that I have experienced such nice new things. Although I am glad I don’t have to eat any boiled eggs for a while now….

I hope you all had a lovely Easter wherever you are!

 

xx

Zielony Polska

Hello hello hello!

This week has been lovely. Mainly because all the trees and hedges are starting to transform into all their green glory. I think I possibly get too excited by this. I’ll be walking along and chatting with someone and all of a sudden I’ll have an outburst of joy because I’ve noticed a new shade of the happy colour! I love it!

Anyway… This week was filled with the usual stuff. Days in the office, polish lessons and rock climbing. Polish lessons are getting so so tough now. Why are there so many cases? Why do declinations exist? Why are things masculine or feminine or neutral? Just why? I’m so determined to get to a good level so hopefully soon my brain will just switch and I’ll understand things more easily. I enjoy it though, it’s a challenge! Rock climbing was also amazing this week. We tried lots of different routes and I got to try my new climbing shoes out.

This week was far from just the normal routine though. After Polish class on Wednesday me and Donata went to go for our usual brew, but we were joined by our new Turkish friend Simla! And….our new Indian friend Anusha invited us to go to the restaurant where she works to have some proper indian tea. Now I have a group of friends! How exciting! The tea was amazing. It is made with tea powder, cardamon, ginger, cinnamon and lots of milk. It was delicious. We also got some free garlic naan bread which was very tasty. I have friends from all around the world. It’s amazing!

We’ve had a visitor from Prague this week. Michał joined us all for department drinks on Friday. I think it is really nice to meet people outside of work and in a different setting, it’s always good to laugh! And to drink ale…

20170408_142929

20170408_145710

 

My favourite part of this week was yesterday. I was invited to a cooking competition Donata and her colleagues had established one drunken night. I didn’t compete, I was a judge! We arrived at Rafał and Kasia’s flat and were greeted by amazing smells. The starter was Zurek, a traditional Polish soup made with sour dough, white sausage and boiled egg. Sounds odd but it was so tasty! Main course was mashed potato, carrots and a pork kotlet. Again, amazing… It was accompanied by a sort of cucumber salad made with thinly sliced cucumbers mixed with sour cream. The pudding was Donata’s course. An amazing strawberry cheesecake. This was all washed down with a lovely pear compote drink and some home made wine. It was a blummin’ lovely afternoon. In the evening there was an event on at Cytadela park. Misterium Męki Pańskiej is the re-enaction of the crucifixion and is apparently the biggest play of it’s kind in the whole of Europe. For this reason we thought we should probably check it out. We arrived as it was going dark and stood through a few very long speeches (in Polish) before the show began. Unfortunately we did not stay for very long. We couldn’t understand anything and it was just a bit random for me. Maybe if I was religious I would have appreciated it more. But at least we tried.

image1-1

Inspired by the amazing culinary skills yesterday, this morning I woke up bright and early and made some banana and courgette bread. Very excited for breakfasts this week now! The rest of my weekend will be spent listening to motown, drinking green tea, trying to practice Polish and possibly watching a film with Donata and Mathieu. Not bad eh?