Kurki – chanterelle mushrooms

Kurka (plural – kurki) is the common name given in Poland to the Pieprznik Jadalny, or in English (etc) the Chanterelle mushroom. You won’t see Pieprznik Jadalny used in any restaurant to describe them but this time of year you will see a whole lot of kurki – unfortunately!

That last word will have 99.97% of Polish readers thinking I’ve made a mistake and that the unfortunately! back there should have been a thank goodness! but no, no mistake, I’m coming out as a kurki hater!

Not much substance, not much flavour, adds very little to any dish it is included in (which seems to be without limit) and impossible for anyone to clean properly.

Never in my life have I met such an over-rated waste of time mushroom that gets shoved in your face every year for what seems like months on end! We ate at Mielżyński’s last evening and it was damned hard to find any dish that hadn’t been ruined by the addition of these grit infested fungi. Click the link. It says “we now recommend chanterelle”. Shove em up your arse!

One hopeful sign is that the dish I chose, the only one without the pox, was very quickly crossed off because they ran out of it. I may not be alone.

Here’s a treat for you if you’re not really sure which mushroom I’m on about. A fine example of why mushroom pickers should not be allowed access to video cameras or editing software, or music.

Less is more is my motto with mushroom picking vids!


End of school – year 4

Hard to believe Zosia will be in 5th class come September, the penultimate class in this school after which she moves on to a Gymnasium followed by a Lyceum and then perhaps college.

She has done well this year, as she has in previous years, and we’ve come home from today’s ceremony clutching various certificates.


The main year end report has the “red stripe of glory” because her overall score was something like 5.3 out of 6. She got sixes for English, Music and History. She got a four (worst score) for Maths and she got various shades of five for Polish, Plastyka (kind of handicraft thing), Nature (kind of geography thing), IT, Spanish, Technical (kind of science thing) and Physical Education.

She also got mentions in dispatches (szczególne osiągnięcia) for 3rd place in a Polish National English competition, 1st place in an International English competition and obtaining the Cambridge English “Flyers” certificate with 14 out of 15 score. The last one is normally done two years later. She was also placed 3rd, 7th and 9th in three other English tests. I expect she was getting bored by this point!

I should say that I am not formally teaching her any English at all. I just talk to her, like I’ve always done. I check her homework sometimes and answer the odd question but the rest is just down to her own work. Which explains why the one missing point in the Cambridge test was for “reading & writing”. She got top marks for speaking and listening.

On softer skills, behavior, engagement and so forth she also gets a lot of praise from the teachers and generally seems to be a happy and popular girl at school.

We’re obviously very proud. Well done, peanut!

And now – we lose her for a month as she goes for the second year running to stay with friends of ours in their home on Sicily today and returns on the 28th July just in time for us to drive her back to Italy (Romagna) for our own family holiday.

My Terrorist Toothpaste

I have previously complained about the rough treatment my Zippo lighters used to get at airport security. That is behind me. They eventually beat the Zippo out of me and now I use those cheap plastic disposables, which security have no issue with. I can still make fire on a plane but not the dreaded Zippo-Fire!

I’m now confused about toiletries. My clear, but obviously wrong, understanding was that anything smaller than 100ml (or is it 100g?) was not a problem and anything bigger was verboten.

I therefore sourced toothpaste, shaving cream and so forth in small packages, which I take when flying. So why is it then that I still have to take these out and display them in a plastic bag? A plastic bag I might add that no security person has ever paid attention to.

I fail to see how security is enhanced by me and millions of others having to muck around in this way. What perceived danger is being averted by me fishing around in my bag, buggering up some careful packing and putting my tiny toilet essentials into a plastic bag?

If anyone can shed a light on this I’d be grateful.

Sun Day

It’s a glorious day here at Strangely Park. After a week of distinctly meh weather and plenty of rain it’s great to see blue skies and sunshine, which according to the weather app will be here all week with temperatures above 20C and rising to 29C on Friday!

Balcony dwellers were in for a treat this morning when Hemingway gathered his car club for a day out. Aside from Hemingway’s Rolls we saw a Ferrari, E-Type Jag, Triumph Stag and a modern sports car I didn’t quite catch, either a Jag or an Aston.

Sir Charles and Lord Thomas of Strangely are making the most of it.

Caught up with Hemingway briefly last week at the Annual General Meeting of the residents council. The meeting was not quite as painful as previously although the matter of some people taking some other people to court for something was still mentioned at least three times. Darth Muller and his sidekick lawyer were suspiciously quiet. I suspect a plot. The meeting was pretty much wrapped up within a couple of hours except for having to hang around and do a notarized signature for the transfer of a small piece of land to the council for the purposes of getting us a connection to the new sewage super highway they are building and that is making the drive along Marymoncka a bit of a mess recently.

Seems things in 1D, Hemingway’s building the corner of which can bee seen in the photo below, are not great. Rapster’s dogs and lifestyle being the issue. Because they are “artists” they come home at about 03:30 most nights and the dogs are so excited they bark their nuts off. This awakes Gigolo who, because he’s moving to Berlin and doesn’t care any more, gets up and starts thumping the ceiling and shouting abuse up the stairwell at them. All this wakes Hemingway who then finds it impossible to get back to sleep. Not sure what Chemicals think of all this, nor the so far mysterious person above them.

Making matters worse is that the Rapsters are planing on buying the place so looks like they are here to stay. Parkside life is not as rosy as the view, it seems.

Bad news on the political front. Florence Nightingale has been voted out of her position on the council because others, Unknowns, are jealous of her pittance of a salary. A paper was put round and we are one of the few who voted for her to keep the job. Even people who were saying it’s ridiculous we’re abstaining, such is the fear of the dark side. The power of administration now lies in the hands of people we don’t know so we’ll have to wait and see what idiotic tricks they get up to. One of them did show his intent at the meeting though with a significant complaint about the dog owners. Dogs should be on leads while on the estate and owners should clear up after them. He was, apparently, confronted by a loose “wolf” in his stairwell the other day!

Next morning, Dogmara’s husband is letting the pooch crap on the grass without a lead. The thought of that dog being on a leash is laughable.

Where is Dogmara anyway? Strangely absent for ages as has been General Patton whose all terrain special ops vehicle has been parked in the same place without moving for weeks now.

The financial report told us that we spent fifty thousand more than we earned last year so we all have to chip in to make up the difference in accordance with how much space we have. A bit annoying and involves us paying about $400 we weren’t expecting. Whoever lives in 2A apartment 2 deserves a good kicking as they owe a ton of money in overdue monthly payments. Not as much as we are spending on stupid court cases though!

All in all, business as usual at Strangely Park.



The Little Sign That Wouldn’t Give Up

Batman’s dad: And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Once upon a time in a land far far away there lived a lonely road planner called Geppettski. Despite being unable to have children of his own, his biggest dream remained to have a son and to bring him up to respect the laws of the road in a land that was, sadly, mostly lawless.

“My son shall be a shining example to all road users!” he would tell anyone who was interested, before going back to his drawings.

One day, Geppettski was bent over his desk struggling with a new junction that had appeared after the construction of a large and magnificent bridge in the North near Winterfell. Two roads met where a giant Makro had been built many years ago. Kolumbijska had been running past Makro for a while but Zgrupowania AK “Kampinos” had been extended to meet up with Farysa and now created a T junction between Makro and the tram lines. It wasn’t an important T junction as the traffic was light here but Geppettski wanted it to be perfect, as he always did. He was worried that the few residents of Strangely Park that might use this road, to head for example to the metro station, would be met with traffic coming in the other direction that was not exactly sure if this was a one or two lane road and therefore might not be quite far enough over to avoid a collision.

The confusion about whether this was a one or two carriageway road was only partly Geppettski’s fault. The construction fairies had, we have to assume, built what the design fairies had drawn when designing the magnificent bridge and for reasons known only to them (and of course to the Great Designer in the Sky) they had made this particular stretch of road about 87% as wide as a two lane road should be. There was enough space for two vehicles to pass but it did feel a little “tight” at times. Geppettski’s job was to work out how to plan road signs, markings, hedgehog crossings and so forth and Geppettski was, as everyone knew all too well, a stickler for the rules.

“If, gentlemen, I may remind you of rule 18c section 1.03; it is essential to make sure that drivers know which side of the road they should be using. I appreciate that we have a few white lines but in my professional opinion, given the shortness of width, these are not enough!” he said. “We need a sign and this is my last word on the matter!”. No amount of helpful advice would persuade him otherwise, even though most impartial observers knew the sign was only going to make matters worse.

Of course, none of his doubters knew that Geppettski had been visited a few weeks earlier by Senility, the baby fairy, nor that his stubborn refusal to design dotted lines was actually driven by his lifelong desire to have a son. “Geppettski!”, Senility had said, “Geppettski!”, “Your time is close, Geppettski. To you a son will be born, designed by your own hand at a difficult T junction.”. With that she was gone but it was enough, Geppettski knew what he had to do.

Geppettski set to work designing the most beautiful sign he could, for he had a feeling this was what Senility had been talking about. The sign was small but stout, with a strong legs of tubular steel that carried on up to form the backbone and support a large blue face with happy arrow like features. With the addition of a bright yellow onesie the design was finished and Geppettski sent it off to the contractor.

His co-workers would later say at the inquest that in that period of waiting for his new sign to be installed, Geppettski was as happy and excited as they had ever seen him. In fact, they went as far as to suggest that it was this very excitement that had distracted him sufficiently enough that he forgot to do his usual double-check that nobody was driving through the red lights on that fateful day, which led to his tragic and untimely demise under the wheels of Skoda Superb.

Ironically, it was on the day of Geppettski’s funeral that the little sign was installed. Unaware that he was already an orphan he stood proudly, brand new and shining, waiting for his father to come along. But nobody came and then only two days later he was flattened by a Makro delivery truck taking a short-cut. Ripped from his socket he lay on the ground, face and legs bent, his onesie the worse for wear but he got back up. Every time he was flattened, he got back up like a fighter who doesn’t know when he’s beat. He knew he was special, despite being very badly positioned, despite being a stupid idea in the first place. Somehow, he knew his father had put him here for a reason and he knew that reason was to be a shining example to all road users, even Makro delivery truck drivers!

He’s been down about ten times already and, as you can see, he’s down again but he’ll be back!




iPad Air


For geeky or Mac readers. I’ve got myself an iPad Air so feel free to ask any questions assuming you haven’t already owned one yourself since it was released a while ago.

It’s the wi-fi and cellular version, black, 32GB. The old iPad 2 is still going strong and is now Zosia’s best friend and so is sporting a new pinky flowery wallpaper!

Intention is that this is not only an upgrade on what has been an incredibly useful personal tool but also a step in the direction of BYOD for work use. ActiveSync has been installed today and so work mail and calendar are to hand and fully synchronized. I will now start playing with how to deal with Microsoft attachments, making more use of Drop Box and deciding whether I need a proper keyboard or not.

Initial impressions are very good. It just takes all the good things about the iPad 2 and makes them even better. Noticeably smaller and lighter but with same screen size. Better resolution screen, retina thing. Faster thanks to the better A7 processor and with the SIM card I can now use it everywhere there is a cellular signal not just where there is wi-fi without the need to bugger around tethering it to my phone.

I think this will do me quite happily until the next very significantly different model comes along, which I’m hoping (expecting) to be no earlier than in 3 years time.

I’m sure there are people who will tell me there are better tablets out there but I know my way around an iPad and the old one was faultless over the last 3 years or so despite not being treated with any particular care. Very handy as a tray for transporting cups of tea from the kitchen to the balcony, for example.

Anyway. If there’s anything interesting to report, I will.