Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Blacktop for Nawlocka

Earlier this week there's been a significant amount of heavy plant moving up and down ul. Trombity; graders, rollers, aggregate trucks. I need to know what's happening. So this evening my wife and I set off down the road and turn left into ul. Nawlocka (pron. 'Nuv-WOTS-kuh') to discover that it's getting a proper surface. (The asphalt has yet to be laid).

I remember the day the asphalt was laid on ul. Gajdy, the street where we rented a house when we first moved to Poland. It was like the Allied army coming to liberate us from the mud, potholes, bumps, rocks and dust of an unmade road. But there's a downside too - soon ul. Gajdy needed speedbumps to slow down the short-cutting rat-runners. We checked the far end of Nawlocka; no sign of any new road surface yet - it's still a muddy track. As long as this new surface is nothing more than a spur off ul. Trombity giving local residents easier access to their houses - OK. But should asphalt get laid all the way to ul. Karczunkowska, this will become a rat-run. Tarmacking over dirt-track is a step towards encroaching suburbanisation; it has its pluses and its minuses.

Updated June 2008: No asphalt, only paving blocks, and only half way up Nawłocka. Traffic growing nevertheless.

There's nothing to do but record for posterity (compare with picture from April 2007)

We then discover than ul. Dumki, coming off Trombity across the road from Nawlocka, has also been hardened and awaits asphalt. We walk to the end of the hardened surface; thankfully it does not go right to the end of Dumki, where it joins Kórnicka. Again, it's just a spur for the benefit of local householders. The photo (below) shows where the asphalt will end and where the dirt track begins. To quote Betjeman again, "grass triumphs, and I must say, I'm rather glad'.

The greatest show in Jeziorki

The most popular traditional pastime in Jeziorki is pigeon flying. This is not long-distance racing with homing pigeons, rather getting the birds in the air, circling around and around. Visually, this looks best against a blue sky, the white birds seem to appear then disappear as they wheel round. In the photograph (left), we see a local resident atop a stepladder by his pigeon loft (bottom left of pic). He's waving a long stick topped with a blue flag. He's whistling while doing this.

The birds respond by wheeling ever higher, then swooping down at speed, soaring back up, climbing all the while, then, after several minutes of intense flying, they eventually make ever-smaller, lower circles, finally returning home to their loft.

(Right) The birds at the climax of their flight; their wings are beating rapidly, they pick up speed in their dives. The clouds have passed, the evening sunshine is strong, the birds look as if they are enjoying the experience of communal exercise. A close-up examination shows that they have been tagged with pale green bands on their right legs.

The sight of large flocks of white pigeons wheeling around the skies is characteristic of Jeziorki; there are several lofts on ul. Trombity, Karczunkowska and Sarabandy. Below: The birds are returning after a brief evening flight; their loft is to the right of the picture.

The Road beckons

I have often remarked on the similarity between the landscapes of Poland and those of the USA. Here we are (above), just south of Warsaw, between Konstancin and Piaseczno, near a little place called Siedliska. The landscape is so American I have to get out and take a shot. Later on, Eddie takes over as The Photographer while I focus on being The Driver. A storm is brewing, heavy raindrops will fall. We drive around Piaseczno (below), Nowa Wies and Zgorzala, arriving home in Jeziorki amid a full-blown thunderstorm.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Full rainbow over Jeziorki

After this evening's storm, the sun re-emerged low in the sky to create this wonderful rainbow.

(Left) Zoom shot of the rainbow's end. The photo is unaltered digitally; it really looked this spectacular. For chasers of pots of gold, it seems the rainbow ends on ul. Sarabandy, just in front of the primary school.

I am reminded of the childhood mnemonic 'Richard Of York Gave Battles In Vain' = (infra) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, (ultra) Violet.

Monday, 25 June 2007

As high as a so-and-so's eye

A loose fence panel allowed me to peek out of our garden at low level to shoot this picture of the neighbouring oatfield (above). Compare how quickly it's grown since it was planted on 1 April.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

A ride in the country

It's easy to cycle into the deep countryside from Jeziorki; a network of minor roads and paths takes you south into areas untouched by suburbia. New atmospheres can be felt, entirely rural, landscapes that could almost past muster as late 19th century. Today, Eddie and I cycled some 20 miles (30 km) from home to a place called Czachówek, a village once famous for its four railway stations, where two main lines cross. Today, only two remain, on the north-south line from Warsaw to Radom. Passenger services on the east-west line ceased some years ago.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Little boxes, Mysiadlo

Flying into Okecie from London today, I snapped from the air the shot above of creeping housing development at Mysiadlo, just south of Jeziorki. The pic puts me in mind of the 1963 song 'Little Boxes' by Malvina Reynolds. Serried ranks of newly-built terraced houses; this is what West London suburbs like Greenford would have looked like in the 1930s. Except that car ownership in 1930s Greenford was not 1.5 per house.

The view is bisected by the railway line; beyond the tracks lies a patchwork of arable fields. How long will they be able to stave of pressure for development land?

[Update, 2010: much of the land beyond the tracks is now indeed filled with new housing.]

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Practice makes perfect

Our daughter Monika made her first appearance on stage last night (above right), playing bass guitar in her school band. Since she got the bass last September, she's been practicing hard, at home and each week at school. I'm put in mind of the words of business mentor Dr Mike Kearsley: "Amateurs practice till they get it nearly right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong." The band did not play a single duff note in the short two-song set.

Sunday, 17 June 2007


An early childhood memory was receiving my first set of Lego blocks. The vivid colours stuck in my mind; the red roof tiles, the white, red, yellow and blue bricks. It came to mind today, having scrambled up a heap of gravel on a building site near Zamienie, and looking east towards Zgorzala. This is just outside the Warsaw city limits; within a few years this will all be built up with warehouses, houses and flats. Until then, I rejoice in the childhood associations.

Sun and zenith rising

Ever nearer we approach the summer solstice. Each morning, I have been waking at around 04:00 am, observing the sunrise, then returning to bed for a few more hours' sleep. The sun rises over two large houses on ul. Sarabandy (above); these are north-east from our house. In midwinter, it rises to the south of the print works on ul. Karczunkowska. This illustration shows (pretty accurately, as we are 52 degrees north), by just how much sunrises and sunsets vary from summer to winter solstice at our longitude. Which, for UK readers, is as far north as Ipswich and Banbury.
The other end of the day: Another Sunday sunset, this one taken looking towards the railway tracks down ul. Baletowa where it joins ul. Kórnicka. The time - a little before 21:00

Thursday, 14 June 2007

The year nears its zenith...

We're a week from the summer solstice. The difference between day-length is minimal around solstice-time and greatest at equinox. Today at our longitude, a week before solstice, the day's length is less than two minutes shorter than the longest day. At equinox, however, each day gains (spring) or loses (autumn) four minutes. According to the astronomical tables, sunrise today was at 04:12, sunset at 21:00. [Supplementary: The above trees were all cut down on 26-27 August 2007]

This morning I woke at 03:45 to capture the pre-dawn light. The fields behind our house were wreathed in a low-lying mist. Above: A bit of the old Birnam Wood to Dunsinane, looking out towards ul. Sarabandy, half an hour before sunrise. Below, left our garden a few minutes after sunrise and below right, an hour before sunset.

Monday, 11 June 2007

South Warsaw sunsets

Sunday's sunset (above) looking down Ursynów's main drag, al. KEN. All that's missing is wall-to-wall neon on the shops, restaurants and bars that line each side of the road.

Monday's sunset (below) glints off the side of this EasyJet Boeing 737 coming into land at Okecie.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Storm clouds rising

After a fine start this morning, the sky slowly filled with clouds, until from 3:00 pm this afternoon, we had an hour-long session of thunder and lightning followed by intensive rain. Many local people walking or cycling were caught out, without rainwear, and were utterly soaked. The photo above was taken from the attic looking out over the apex of our garden and across the fields.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Twilight walk between storms

The heavens opened today at around 5:00 pm, rain fell for over two hours. At the end of it the sun popped out between the clouds and created a beautiful atmosphere full of birdsong and the scent of rain on flowers. The garden (above), which had just been mown and weeded today, looked exceptional.

Time for another expedition to catch the splendidly magickal light as the world turns from day into darkness. A journey up the end of the road, along the tracks and back down ul. Nawlocka proved a worthwhile endeavour for the soul.

Looking across towards the south-west, the dusk sky was bruising, rain imminent (below). No sooner had I turned into ul. Trombity did the rain return, bringing relief on a hot and sweaty day. My baseball cap was pressed into use as a camera cover (these things do not like water!)

Giant dandelion clocks

By the tracks at the end of ul. Trombity we come across some giant dandelion clocks. We've noticed these before - always growing by the side of railway lines, never elsewhere. Eddie thinks that the dandelions may have become genetically-modified in some way by electromagnetic forces from the pantograph cables. But then we never see these huge dandelion clocks growing besides railway lines in the UK. Or indeed anywhere in the UK.

Anyone know about these plants? Below: Eddie about to blow the seeds.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Poppy profusion as June turns sunny

Back from four days in the UK to 30 degree heat and blue skies. Today is Corpus Christi, I'm home too late to catch any processions. The church at Lady is still decorated when I get there. Across the tracks from ul. Trombity I catch a stunning field of poppies. Worth a few shots.

An article in the Daily Mail suggests that poppies are making a comeback in the UK thanks to organic farming. A positive move.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Poppy fields

I mentioned a week ago the relative absense of poppies from the fields of Jeziorki. A little bit south and they're in abundance, as they are north of Jeziorki. Maybe the soil's not right. Above is a fallow field south of ul. Karczunkowska, to the east of the aggregate ramp. A fair number of poppies is evident, but more is to come...

The weather continued damp and dull all weekend.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Wet start to June

The past few days have been wet; mushrooms have appeared on our lawn, tomorrow not likely to see much sunshine. So far, fears of a long hot summer have been put on hold. Puddles span the width of ul. Trombity and I return from my walk with my trousers wet up to the knee.

Night moves

I caught a late train back to W-wa Jeziorki, arriving at the station more than half an hour after sunset. With ISO sensitivity set at 3200, I took this snap (above) of the Karczunkowska end of ul. Nawlocka. A fifth of a second, wide open, hand-held.

Incidentally, the end of May saw in the new Warsaw night bus numbers and timetables (the biggest shake-up in nocturnal transport in over 40 years). Gone is the old 606 night bus running down to Jeziorki; it is replaced by the new N83. Four buses run each night from the centre of town through to PKP W-wa Jeziorki then back into Warsaw. Below - the bus stops serving ul. Trombity, picture taken in late-April; note the '606' number in white on black. [All the old night bus numbers started with a '6', new ones with an 'N']. There's something magical about these buses running at the dead of night.