Friday, 7 May 2021

Flashback to a dream: subconsciousness and memory

I went to bed at midnight - no alcohol or cheese consumed, but a 500mg magnesium tablet taken, washed down with a large glass of mineral water. I woke up at quarter to three having had a intriguing dream, which offered a stunning new insight. 

The dream had exactly the same atmosphere (ambience or klimat) as one I had several weeks ago - I was walking down the same street I dreamt of then - there were bars and cafes, yellow, pre-industrial brick, tall trees in leaf. Some roadworks were going on. This was neither Britain, nor was it Poland, but closer in atmosphere to Poland than to Britain. Nothing much happened - no narrative, no people I could recognise. Yet it was instantly familiar. In my dream I realised what was going on: this is a flashback to a dream, a dream qualia memory. And I knew that as I'd had this dream not long ago, I was bound to find it in my diary.

Back to bed, back to sleep - another dream about a NATO conference at a modern four-star hotel in Poland, filling my plate at the breakfast buffet and sharing a table with three RAF Harrier pilots. An entirely normal dream, then. But the earlier one intrigued me, even as I slept.

So when I finally woke, I consulted my dream diary. Before long, I found exactly the dream I dreamt I dreamt. It occurred on Sunday 7 March; a dream of Yugoslavia (a country which I've never visited in my life). I dreamt then that I there was on holiday, got into a fist fight with an old communist, lost my rucksack and had a meal in a café on that same street that I'd go on to dream of again two months later.

Wow! As I read those words, the flashback sensation was instant and powerful. 

What I had felt in my dream last night was analogous to - but not quite the same - as my regular anomalous qualia memory events (exomnesia) in waking life. The sense of feeling something entirely familiar and yet unplaceable. A déjà vu that I can now pick off with precision as being not from this life. Here, the feeling was the same. I'm walking down a street in my dream, aware of the fact that I've walked down this very street before - but in a previous dream.

The benefit of keeping a dream diary becomes clear - you can go back and track down dreams (I've yet to digitise or index them all).

When I read what I'd written on 7 March, it snapped back with a joyous precision and clarity. YES! That was it - that's just how it felt - the qualia of the two dreams matched!

I think there's an inkling of how reincarnation feels. It isn't that you will be feeling like you all the time in a next life. You won't be feeling or thinking like you for 99.9% of the time. As a new biological entity, the new ego will be in charge, with its own demands. But from time to time - and, I believe, increasingly as your consciousness passes from life to life, you will occasion to remember such subjective experiences felt in past existences, the ego stripped away. Pure consciousness. 

Sensitivity to such phenomena is a must - a sensitivity blunted by materialism and scientism. 

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

This time ten years ago:
'Old school' = pre-war

This time 11 years ago:
Britain chooses a coalition government

This time 12 years ago:
Landing over Ursynów

This time 13 years ago:
On being assertive in Poland

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Decimalisation and Determination

I believe that the fate of nations - their rise or their fall - is firmly bound to how determined their people are. Britons most certainly were back in Victorian times - running a global empire - a manufacturing superpower - they were victorious in battle on land and sea. But by the middle of the 20th century, America had taken over; today a tussle is taking place with China likely to wrest that crown for itself.

The strength of a nation is the sum, the product of the determination of its people. How easily they give up, how far they push themselves that extra bit, in their day-to-day lives, at work, at home, in their hobbies and interests - to get what is required of them - rather than just say "sod it, there's easier stuff I could be doing".

Over the decades, life has generally been becoming easier. Fewer things to worry about. No more queuing in the bank to pay your gas and electricity bills. Train tickets available from your phone. Calculators to do the counting. Goods of ever-higher quality available at ever-lower prices. 

In essence, an easy, comfortable life is a good thing. It should be something we aim for - ridding ourselves of things that are unpleasant, uncomfortable or difficult in our lives.

I fear, however, that too much ease, and we get soft; complacent - flabby as a nation (metaphorically and literally). Which would be OK if every country, every person on our planet were moving in the same direction at the pace. But they're not.

A little over half a century ago, on 15 February 1971, Britain went decimal. One hundred new pee to the pound. How easy it suddenly was! Before that, we had to juggle with pennies (12 to the shilling) and shillings (20 to the pound). As well as half-crowns (two shillings and six pence) and guineas (21 shillings). Before 1961 there were also four farthings to the penny, and up to July 1969, there were two halfpennies to the penny.

In everyday life, this complex system meant having to use a higher order of arithmetic to work things out. A shirt costs 17/6d (17 shillings and six pence). How much change will you get from a pound? A shopkeeper sells 43 items for 11/7d. What was his total revenue from those items? You want to buy a pound of tomatoes at 2/4d, a pound-and-half of potatoes at 11d a pound. How much would you pay the greengrocer?

My mother, who hailed from a land where 100 grosze = 1 złoty, made a career as a comptometer operator, working in pre-decimal times for the accounts departments of various companies, totting up sales receipts with the aid of a comptometer. Like everyone in accounts departments across the UK, she had a book of tables called a 'ready reckoner' to help with calculations, and knew by heart the more common computations. So 24 gross of eggs at 8d a dozen would cost how much?

The result of this clumsy system was that primary schools taught the times tables to 12 (rather than to 10 as on the continent), and even the slowest child knew they needed to grasp this because otherwise they'd get short-changed by unscrupulous confectioners totting up four Black Jacks at a farthing each, a Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar at 3d and a Sherbert Dip-Dab at 5d.

Anyone working in retail had to have good mental arithmetic skills. The rich, who operated in pounds and guineas rather than pennies and shillings, didn't have to worry as much as the poor. If education gave anything to the working classes, it was the ability to juggle in twelves and twenties, quarters and halves.

Then came Decimal Day, and after a few years during which Britons were converting from the old system to the new (six old pence = two and half new pence, eight shillings = 40p, 19/6d = 97½p. The decimal halfpenny disappeared with the end of 1984, simplifying things further. Unlike decimalisation, metrication of weights and measures didn't happen overnight, but the gradual switch from ounces, pounds, stones, hundredweight and tons to grams, kilos and tonnes, made life easier still. There were 16 ounces to the pound, 14 pounds to the stone, eight stone to the hundredweight and 20 hundredweight to the ton.

All gone. Once, you'd have to be able to work out mentally what three and half ounces of ham at 10/6d a pound would cost. Today, it's easy to tell how much 100g of the stuff selling at £10 a kilo. 

One daily challenge facing our brains has gone for good - as a result, a nation that had to be good at mental arithmetic has lost that edge. And with it, I fear, some of the nation's drive and determination to do things that appear difficult.

I'd suggest introducing a currency with 17 dzherzgols to the rolspaarg, and 13 rolspaargs to the krazbount.

This time three years ago:
God, an Englishman, orders his Eden thus:

This time six years ago:
I buy a Nikon Coolpix A

This time seven years ago:
More about the Ladder of Authority

This time eight years ago:
By bike, south of Warsaw

This time ten years ago:
Functionalist architecture in Warsaw

This time 11 years ago:
What's the Polish for 'to bully'?

This time 12 years ago:
Making plans

This time 13 years ago:
The setting sun stirs my soul

This time 11 years ago:
Rain ends the drought

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Intimations of immortality, revisited

I have recollected this moment many times since childhood, though exactly when it was - I can't remember. It is most likely that I might have been four, maybe five years old at the time. In any case my brother had not yet been born - this could have been September, October or early November 1962.

My mother and I are on our way to the shops on the Uxbridge Road in West Ealing, the two of us - no brother in pram or pushchair. We are walking along Grosvenor Road, I'd say some 50 yards further back from where I took this picture. [I took it in 2015, and used a bit of Photoshop to get a 1962 vibe]. This is the corner of Grosvenor Road and Hatfield Road, home until recently, of legendary motorbike shop, Reg. Allen, that sold only British bikes - Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons, Ariels, Royal Enfields.

Suddenly I ask my mother (this dialogue is taking place in Polish, you will understand): 

"Do you know what I want to be?" 

My mother replies: "Happily married, living in a nice house, with a good job?" 

"No," I say. "I want to be dead."

She is shocked by my answer. I can hear her thinking - "My son wants to die! Where did we go wrong?" 

But it certainly wasn't my intention to shock or hurt her. I was merely remembering the state of being dead. I remember lying face down, entirely still; a state of bliss - peaceful rest; fulfilment

My mother's strongly negative reaction stopped me from ever discussing or probing further this anomalous memory with her ever again. But until that moment, the memory had been strong enough to prompt me to want to initiate a discussion about it with my mother.

What had provoked it? I recall seeing earlier a photo in my parents' copy of the Daily Telegraph of man lying dead, in front of a Greyhound bus in America. The image arrested me - I asked my mother what was had happened, and she said that in America - a 'wild country' (dziki kraj), people have guns and often shoot each other. This was the first time I'd seen an image of a dead person - was it my first contact with the concept of death?

And did the motorcycle shop trigger a memory? America, 1950s; riding my motorbike home after a few beers, late October, early frost, ice on the road, a misjudged corner, going too fast, bike slides away from under me, head slams on the asphalt, no helmet - a hospital building, four am, a nurse standing over me, a clipboard - she's thinking: "Mr Martin - you'll not make it through to the morning" and I'm thinking "how insensitive of her to be thinking this" as I hover over my body... I have written about this dream before, here.

A lifetime of anomalous qualia-flashbacks, exomnesia, dreams - authentic dreaming (which is rare in any case, but here where the unities of time, place and action all fit - such as this one) all suggest to me life before life... and life after death. 

This time last year:
Things will never be the same Pt II

This time two years ago:
Up to my waist

This time three years ago:
Luton Airport's never-ending modernisation works

This time six years ago:
Another office move

This time seven years ago:
Workhorse of the Free World's Air Forces over Jeziorki

This time eight years ago:
Looking for The Zone, in and around Jeziorki

This time ten years ago:
I awake to snow, on 4 May

This time 14 years ago:
This is not America. No?

Monday, 3 May 2021

Another public holiday, another glimpse of the S7

With the builders off site, it's a good opportunity to see how work's progressing on the S7 extension. I climb the (now shrinking - see below) man-made mountain to get the best views. Below: this will be Węzeł (junction) Zamienie; I'm looking north towards Warsaw with a wide-angled lens. In the foreground, the access road, behind it what will be the slip road for traffic joining the S7 northbound.

Below: from the same spot, but zooming in to Warsaw's skyline, now dominated by Varso Tower, the EU's highest building, and higher than London's Shard. The S7 climbs and then bends to the left, crossing ulica Baletowa on its way to join the S2 east-west expressway, and the S79 which heads into town, at Węzeł Lotnisko, its lamp-posts visible in the middle distance (click to enlarge).

It's coming down now, my vantage point. Built just over a year ago, this stockpile of soil is to be used for building up ramps and other structures adjacent to the Węzeł Zamienie junction. About seven metres high, it offers superb views over the pancake-flat landscape of southern Warsaw. Where it now stands - on the very border of the city (just to the left of the heap) - there will soon be a roundabout for traffic coming off or joining the S7.

From the peak, looking south. The S7 is visible behind the piles of ballast in the middle distance. On the horizon, the radio mast at Łazy (officially called the Raszyn mast, it was the second-tallest structure on earth - and tallest in Europe - from 1949 when it was built until 1962).

Moving on south, past the village of Zgorzała, which lies just south of Warsaw's borders. It looks like rural Ohio! In the bottom right, a marker for where the acoustic screens separating the expressway's roar from the village will be anchored.

At the southern end of Zgorzała, there's another mountain of soil - though not as high - offering a good view. Looking north towards Zamienie and the Action warehouse. Two bridges can be seen crossing the S7 - the nearer one will carry a footpath and cyclepath; the far one will carry motorised traffic from Jeziorki to Dawidy Bankowe, replacing ul. Dawidowska which will be closed.

Zooming out, below. Behind the trees, Zamienie. My vantage points will soon disappear, and with them the chance to snap some extraordinary views otherwise impossible on these flat plains.

This is Section A of the S7 extension, from Węzeł Lotnisko to Węzeł Lesznowola. Work on Section C is nearly complete and open between Grójec and Tarczyn. Section B, between Lesznowola and Tarczyn, is problematic. Work here stopped in 2019 when it became clear that the contractor was unable to complete it on schedule. A new firm, Intercor, has just won the contract to build Section B, for 510 million złotys, with a deadline of November 2022 to do it by. Without Section B, the S7 extension cannot function. Will Section A be open next June just as a 7km-long stump, from the airport to Węzeł Lesznowola, or will it linger unopened, until Section B is completed - if indeed the new contractor can complete the whole of Section B in just 16 months? 

This time last year:

This time two years ago:

This time three years ago:
New roads and rails

This time four years ago:
The Gold Train shoot - lessons learned

This time five years ago:
The Network vs The Hierarchy in politics

This time six years ago:
45 years under one roof

This time seven years ago:
Digbeth, Birmingham 5

This time eight years ago:
Still months away from the opening of the S2/S79 

This time nine years ago: 
Looking at progress along the S79  

This time ten years ago:
Snow on 3 May

This time 11 years ago:
Two Polands

This time 12 years ago:
A delightful weekend in the country

This time 13 years ago:
The dismantling of the Rampa

This time 14 years ago:
Flag day

Friday, 30 April 2021

Identified - photographs from long ago

This has long been one of my favourite black and white photographs; I took it in the early 1980s, but could not place exactly where it was - somewhere in the East Midlands, most probably Nottinghamshire. A colliery village; the backs of two rows of terraced houses taken from a railway embankment. In the distance, the village school is lit up; in the middle, a girl stands to attention, waving at the camera.

I know it was taken in December, but I can't remember whether it was 1983 or 1984. But I'm more interested in knowing where it was taken. I uploaded it to my Twitter feed, and six days later, after it had done the rounds of the social media - local history groups from Nottinghamshire - I had the answer, thanks to Ray Blockley and Lang Rabbie, corroborated by people who'd lived there.

It's Warsop Vale - and here it is, on a 25-inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map from 1918, side by side with a contemporary satellite photograph. The red X marks where I was standing, the arrow pointing in the direction of the lens. All the houses and the school have been demolished; new houses now line Hewett St and King St. More has changed in the 37 years since the photo was taken than in the 66 years between this map being drawn up and 1983. Incidentally, this map is on the National Library of Scotland's website, which holds the repository for all UK Ordnance Survey maps.

Below: here's a photograph that I can pinpoint the 'where and when' with great accuracy. Taken on the morning of 13 December 1984, it's a lovely snapshot of a recently bygone era - a monocled gents reading the Times on the way to the office - and a Sloane Ranger, too. I can only surmise that the picture was taken east of Holland Park or Notting Hill Gate, where such folk live (too posh for Shepherd's Bush, the first station underground on the Central Line, my daily commute at the time from Perivale to Tottenham Court Road. How did I get the date? I googled 'Thatcher favours some ads on the BBC' - the headline top right on the newspaper. This is a No Smoking carriage; smoking was banned across the whole of London Transport five days after the King's Cross fire on 18 November 1987 that killed 31 people. Shortly after I gave up the Tube and started commuting by bicycle (in summer) or bicycle and mainline train (Ealing Broadway to Paddington) in the winter.

Here's an older one - taken by my father Bohdan Dembinski when we were living in South Wales, when he was engaged on the design of the foundations of the Llanwern Steel Works. We lived a short drive away in a village called Malpas, north of Newport. My father had the use of a company Land Rover; this photo was taken on Pillmawr Road, between Malpas and Llanwern. Below: the view looking down towards the valley of the river Usk. Note the white dovecote in the middle distance...

Here's the same road today, courtesy of Google Maps Street View. A much wider-angle lens than the 43mm Finettar lens on my father's Finetta IVD camera, but the dovecot is clearly there. Out of shot, to the left of both photos, one can look across to the town of Newport and its famous transporter bridge, a view that stayed in my memory very clearly.

Another old photograph taken by my father - this is Catte St, Oxford, below, and the 'Bridge of Sighs', linking two buildings of Hertford College. Taken no earlier than the summer of 1954. Before my time.

I posted this photo on Twitter two weeks ago; it was retweeted by Hertford College along with a contemporary black-and-white photo of the same scene. Main difference (apart from the cars) - double yellow lines and cleaner stonework - the soot has been sandblasted off in the intervening decades.

Finally, I marked the death earlier this month of Shirley Williams, former Labour Home Secretary and before that education minister. I took the photo below at the Hyde Park rally supporting Poland's Solidarity movement the week after Martial Law was imposed in December 1981.

Hated by Labour's left for breaking away from the party as one of the so-called 'Gang of Four' to form the Social Democratic Party (which later merged with the Liberals to form today's LibDems), she was a friend of Poland and a staunch European.

This time last year:

This time two years ago:
April's end, summer's beginning

This time three years ago:
Best April ever?

This time four years ago:
The search for the Gold Train: Day Two

This time five years ago:
Semi-automatic (short story)

This time nine years ago:
So good to be back in Warsaw

This time ten years ago:
At the President's

This time 12 years ago:
Summer's here, and the time is right...

This time 14 years ago:
Why I'm staying in Warsaw

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Analysis of a Nightmare

Today is the 119th day of keeping a nightly dream diary, and for only the second time since the beginning of the year I have had a terrifying nightmare. This one was far more powerful than the one on 23 January; I woke up quite literally shivering with fright for several minutes - the physiological effect of the dream took me over and shook me to the core.

And lo! did I dream...

In the woods above Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, at night, something evil is about. A man is decapitated by a laser-sharp blade of icy air. All around the woodland, an atmosphere of dread pervades. UFOs and aliens - or ghosts? Certainly the threat is supernatural; it is not of our material world. There feels to be no respite from this threat, no escape from its power... The scene shifts to a darkened theatre or music hall in nearby High Wycombe. A séance is under way. A medium steps off the stage and into the aisle between the rows of seats, packed with a terrified audience, dumbstruck with fear. The medium, who appears to be walking several inches above the floor, is summoning the spirit of the dead man. Ghostly moaning sounds, inescapable and inexplicable, fill the theatre, echoing ever louder. A name is conjured up - the victim was the son of Noël Coward. I can feel something filling my mouth, rising from my throat, something in texture like tapioca, but tasteless - I know that I will vomit, but I want to direct this stream of vomit at the medium in his shabby dinner suit and bow tie. I advance towards him, he backs away...

I wake up with a state of fear that I cannot recall ever having experienced in waking life. It is five to two. The most profound terror. In my dream, I had come face to face with the emanation of purest evil. The shivering took several minutes to subside (it was not a cold night, I was wearing warm pyjamas, yet I felt that the room was far colder than it really was. The first thing I did was to note down the dream in as much detail as possible, have a wee, drink some mineral water, and go back to sleep. Which I did. 

At quarter to six I woke again, more dreams, but completely normal ones - although I did witness a passenger plane crashing shortly after lifting off from a runway on a Scottish airport, as well as a crash involving a classic 1950s American car, and being cut up by a Porsche while riding a bicycle. And a chef getting angry at someone throwing out a quantity of apricot yogurt. But no more horrors.

So what was going on with the nightmare? How did it come about? What was its genesis?

Well, two things I can place. One is the Noël Coward reference. Two days ago, I was singing to myself the Ian Dury song There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards. It was the verse about Einstein that was going round in my head while I was out walking in the fields across ul. Karczunkowska…

Einstein can't be classed as witless
He claimed atoms were the littlest
When you did a bit of splitting'emness
Frightened everybody shitless

So there we are - from Einstein and the atom to everybody frightened shitless. One element of the nightmare decoded, one root extracted.

On with the song. (If you're familiar with it, enjoy - if not, enjoy!)

And the very first words of the song? "Noël Coward"... (Incidentally, Ian Dury had Mr Coward as the writer of the drama The Gay Divorce - actually it wasn't a drama, it was a musical, and written by Cole Porter, not Noël Coward!)

More significantly to my nightmare, Ian Dury's secondary education was at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. I did not know that. High Wycombe, incidentally doesn't have, nor never had, a theatre or music hall.

The second element that I can identify was source of the sharp blade of icy air that decapitated a man. Earlier this week I was reading about an experimental German WW2 anti-aircraft weapon, the Windkanone, a giant tornado vortex generator. It comprised a large barrel, bent upwards at one end, through which an explosive jet of compressed air was ejected upwards by the ignition of a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The aim was to knock down low-flying aircraft. One prototype was tested - it didn't work. So a 'kind-of' fit.

Perhaps this concept entered my subconscious state and emerged in the nightmare? But these 'unconsummated memories', as I call them - thoughts mulled around by the consciousness yet not properly processed - should not of their own trigger nightmares.

More interestingly in retrospect is the question of why such dreams should emerge and what factors lie behind them. After four months of nightly dream recording, I am becoming convinced that the processes are mostly stochastic in nature - caused by random variables that cannot be predicted or replicated.

Cheese is said to promote vivid dreaming (or at least making them more memorable). Yesterday evening I shaved some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese into my salad, no more than about 20g of the stuff. I took a 500mg magnesium tablet as I do every night, mainly to stave off nocturnal leg cramps which have been affecting me over the past ten years or so, but also to promote better dreams. But then my dreams are of varying intensity, despite a regular magnesium intake. There is no pattern emerging - nothing to which I can attach a causal link, no clue as how to create repeatable dream experiences. 

One thing that is clear after four months of nightly record-keeping is that the dream from the first sleep cycle (around 23:00 to 01:30) is the least memorable of the night, the hardest to recall, whilst the dream from the third sleep cycle (around 03:30 to 05:30) is the most vivid and interesting, and the fourth sleep cycle before finally getting out of bed tends to yield messy, jumbled though memorable dreams, plotless episodes.

And so I dream on; going to bed at night is like going into a cinema without having the slightest idea of what will be shown - a horror film once every few months, maybe - certainly confused comedies being the most frequent genre.

Dream logging is a fascinating hobby; it takes no more than about 15-20 minutes a night, but over time I hope this will shed useful insights into how the mind works when we sleep.

This time three years ago:
Diverse bird life returns to Jeziorki

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Moon and bloom

The image below is a photo-montage - two photographs taken two seconds apart, one with the blossoms in focus and a blurred moon, the other with the moon in focus and the blossoms a blur. The sharp image of the moon was dropped into place over the fuzzy one, and there it is.

It's only later when I sat down by the computer looking at the resulting image that I realised just how rare this occasion was, and how easily I could have missed it. The two photos were taken about ten minutes after sunset, but an hour after moonrise. The moon had risen far enough above the horizon to be visible between the branches of the tree, but there was still enough light to capture the blossom. A day later, moonrise would have been an hour and half later, so there'd not be enough light for the foreground, and the moon would already be waning (ever so slightly).

So maybe next month? Full moon in May falls on the 26th. Way too late for any remaining blossom. 

So maybe next year? Full moon in Warsaw, April 2022, falls on the 16th. Too early for blossoms if it's cold like this year, but looking back over my blog, I can see that there have indeed been two years where trees have been in blossom as early as the 16th. More usually, however, it's a week later.

So maybe 2023? Even worse. Full moon is on 6 April 2023. No chance for blossom this early. There may be some still around on 5 May, but only in the event of a cold, late, spring.

So maybe 2024? Much better. Full moon is on 24 April. Assuming no late frost or any other malignant phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, and nothing adverse happening to the observer (me) in the meantime, I'm hoping that in three years' time I can catch a view such as this.

Magic(k)al moments are rarer than you think. Proof that one should be prepared, be aware.

This time three years ago:

This time five years ago:
Brexit: head vs heart, migration vs economy

This time six years ago:
Golf course update

This time nine years ago:
The Shard changes London's skyline

This time ten years ago:
In praise of Warsaw's trams

This time 11 years ago:
Plans for the railway line to Radom
[11 years on, it's STILL not complete]

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Long wait for the apple blossom

It's that magical time of year when the fruit-growing districts south of Warsaw are about to explode into blossom. But because of the cold and wet April, it's a long wait. I went for a long walk around the orchards to see where we stand. Below: of the thousands of apple trees I walked past, this one tree was nearest to bloom - the blossom is still tightly furled. I saw no other apple tree anywhere near this state of advancement. Will the trees be in flower next weekend? It's a public holiday, so that would be good. More likely, the weekend of 8-9 May will see the best of the blossom. I missed it last year because of the strict lockdown, and the year before, I was in London at the time.

The mirabelle plums are in flower; the first fruit-bearing trees to do so. No sign of blossom on the cherry orchard across the way, nor on any of my plum trees.

Carpeted with flowers - six/seven white petals and yellow stamens with a green centre. Zawilec gajowy - wood anemone (thanks Wilk Bury!) This is the wood directly adjacent to my działka.

Below: a stork between the apple trees. Leave starting to appear - no blossom.

Below: the road from Grobice to Jakubowizna - sandy. The word is that the local authorities wanted to have this road asphalted from end to end, but that would mean widening it to conform with road-building standards. Some landowners blocked this plan, because they'd rather put up with the discomfort of a muddy, rutty track than give up a few square metres of their land. 

Back to my działka for lunch; here's the view (below) looking south towards the road, the new gravel drive to the eastern edge of the plot. Much landscaping work awaits!

Looking north towards the back of the garden. You can see the fence in its new position clearly (the electricity pylon was on the other side beforehand). And the gravel drive triangle, enabling easier manoeuvring of vehicles.

Left: a cold northwesterly wind hurried fingers of rain-cloud across the landscape; Jakubowizna avoided a soaking. Looking west to the end of my road across the tracks. Top temperature, just 10C, three degrees cooler than the average daily high for April. Despite the chill, the sun popped out from time to time, bringing cheer. Day's walking total: 13,400 paces. Frequent snap-stops so only 23 minutes of that counted as moderate- to high-intensity exercise.

This time two years ago:

This time eight years ago:
Kestrel on the roof

This time nine years ago:
Definitely worse in Britain

This time 10 years ago:
Miracle on the Vistula

This time 11 years ago:

This time 12 years ago:|
A new dimension to plane-spotting

This time 13 years ago:
One swallow does not a summer make