Hot and Cold

Then day after I published the last blog, the frost arrived, the morning fog appeared and the leaves began to fall, most of which, to the benefit of the ‘in-house’ worms at my top allotment have now been dug into several trenches and covered over with soil.

The cobnut hedge that Sue and I plundered earlier in the month is no more. The Council have chopped it down. On the bright side, his means that the bottom part of my allotment should now benefit from increased sunlight and  produce better vegetables. But, I guess that will depend on the vagaries of the British climate.

I made another trip to Heathrow Airport, though on this occasion it was to drop the Rothwell’s off at the Mercure Hotel in readiness for their flight to Bali. Though they had a little incident with a hotel operative who took it into his head to clean their room while they slept, however, everything else went according to plan and they made it to Bali via a transit through Kuala Lumpur.

They have been having a wonderful time savouring the delights of the far east. They have met monkeys, white water rafted, pulled the tails off lizards, cycled down a volcano, swam under waterfalls, quad biked and enjoyed the food. I think they are having the time of their lives.

Meanwhile, Sue went to see ‘Ben Hur’ and I went on an eleven mile walk with John. Ireland beat the All Blacks and England were victorious of South Africa.

On the 12th Nov Sue and I went on a completely different jaunt of our own. Not to the heat of the east but to the cold of Europe. We checked into the Hilton Stansted, luckily, just in time to watch  three cracking rugby matches on the TV before retiring for an early night.

The following morning saw us catch the 8.45am RyanAir flight to Krakow. Probably, the worst experience of flying Sue has ever experienced. She was sat in the middle of threes seats with me on one side and a Polish girl on the other. The girl was obviously ill. She spent the entire flight with her head buried into her lap hardly moving. The problem was that her illness was most likely of a ghastly, gastric nature and every five minutes or so, Sue was treated to mustard gas attack of foul cabbagy odours. Sitting a seat away was no fun either. Though I felt for Sue, I didn’t offer to swap seats. We survived the two hour flight.

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Our taxi to the hotel was waiting for us as we left the Arrivals Hall and twenty minutes later we were checking into the Rezydent Hotel. Ourf room wasn’t going to be ready for another hour so we took our selves on a walk through the Cloth Hall in the Main Market Square and perused the delightful tourist outlets. Very Polish. Afterwards we visted St. Mary’s Church, a large imposing building full of gold, candles, murals and paintings. A service had just finished and the packed congregation were just leaving as we entered giving us a brief impression of the fervour of Polish Catholicism.

Returning to the hotel we were escorted to our room. A large high ceiling affair that looked out onto the cobbled street two stories below on which the crowd was mingling among the frequent horse-drawn tourist carriages clip-clopping their way around the centrum. I wonder what time of night they stop, and why is their little packets of ear plugs at the side of the bed?  After a refreshing cup of coffee I went to reception to confirm tomorrow mornings excursion to Auschwitz and to book the following days trip to the Salt Mines (I always knew I would eventually end up in one of these!)

We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the location of the Radisson Blu Hotel where we were to meet a bus tomorrow and wandering through the streets of Krakow, visiting more churches and markets. It began to snow. Very Christmassy.

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We ate a very substantial meal at a restaurant near our Hotel. Keen to sample the local food we opted for the Polish Platter. If it hadn’t been for the ridiculous banana sized gherkin and bread starter with cream cheese and humus we might have stood a chance of finishing the shoe sized steak, chicken, pork and lamb slabs of meat accompanied with mince wrapped in cabbage, potato wedges, coleslaw and a ridiculous 10 dumplings. The waiter wished us good luck when he brought our meal and despite our best efforts we were beaten. If it hadn’t been for the underhand nobbling of the starter course I feel confident that the waiter would have been eating his own words.

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It was dark when we left the restaurant, snowflakes were gently swirling down through a myriad of hidden spotlights lighting up the medieval buildings all around us. As a contradiction a full moon could be clearly seen silhouetting the central tower of the Cloth Market. Magical.

We took one last turn around the huge market square before returning to our room to watch BBC 24hr and listen to the clip-clops from outside.

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