I think it quite essential that I flag this video up, in which Patrick Stewart eloquently explains why the vote to leave the EU must be overturned. Thus my favourite actor sides with me on an issue I care passionately about, more than ever after last week. The sadness in Sir Patrick’s voice echoes my own. We need people like him to convince as many people as possible that this country must alter course from the path it started down last year. As he says, ”It’s only in unity that we can be safe, secure and, I also believe, prosperous.”
After telling him about trying it in Poland, our PA Mitchell came in with a lovely surprise today and made Zapikanka for breakfast. It was delicious: granted, we had to make do with a baguette from Co Op rather than the authentic Polish bread (which was quite specific), but the way Mitch made it, adding tomato puree, mushrooms and other nice tasty stuff, sent me right back to that square in Krakow. In fact I think I have a new favourite breakfast, and will definitely be asking mitch to make it again.
Lyn and I are back from Poland, having got in quite late last night. It was a fantastic trip: Poland is a wonderful, intriguing country; it’s people warm and welcoming. I think taking Lyn’s powerchair was a great idea: it caused no problems, and she revelled in the ability to go wherever she wanted. I really want to take my powerchair too next time, as there were times when being in my manual chair sucked. Nevertheless, I had a great trip. As usual, it only served to deepen my love of travel. I’ll never forget watching the guys jam under the stars in Sokołowsko, or the beauty of Krakow with it’s winding narrow streets and magnificent squares. Of course, being here, back at home now it’s all over, feels rather sad, but we’re already planning our next trip.
We fly home in a few hours. It has been, without a doubt, an outstanding holiday. Poland is a wonderful place: it’s people have been incredibly welcoming; it’s natural beauty, utterly captivating. To have seen the place where our personal assistants – our friends- hail from has been awesome. Wroclaw was great; the festival in Sokołowsko was something I’ll probably always remember; and I think, even after only two days, that I’ve fallen in love with Krakow, with it’s music, architecture and sense of history seeping out of every brick and paving slab. Yet all good things must come to an end, and as lyn and I prepare to head home, we’re already making plans to return Soon, possibly next year. It has been an outstanding trip, and as ever it will be sad to return home, but life must return to normal. We both have things to do back in London, but there will always be our next trip to start planning.
Last night we Sampled traditional Polish street food, Zapiekanka in krakow’s new square. It was a kind of long, open grilled sandwich, topped with whatever one liked. You could choose from all kinds of toppings, and john told me each place in the square had it’s own slightly different way of making it. The thing was, he explained, the delicacy is dying out, losing its place to increasingly ubiquitous American fast food. That struck me as a great, great shame; you hear the same sad story all over the place. As much of a fan as I am of fostering a global community, at the same time I firmly believe each culture must hold on to what makes it unique. This is a fascinating little city, it’s narrow winding streets and medieval squares unlike anywhere I’ve been before. To see that character lost or enveloped, by any small degree, to the growing world norm, would be a great shame.
Sat opposite me as we finally ride in the train to Krakow, is probably the strongest woman I’ll ever meet. We were up and out quite early this morning; it’s surprising how efficient we can be when we need to get a move on. Yet lyn and I are still both fairly sleepy, and in need of a decent cup of coffee.
Lyn still amazes me with her determination and love of life. She says she just gets on with it, and I know what she means. Yet, at the same time, it takes a huge amount of determination just to be who she is. People like lyn put two fingers up to the worlds rules and illustrate the beautiful diversity of humanity.
Thus, on holiday or not, I must say how appalled I am at the way Donald Trump has chosen to pick on trans people. It’s blatantly obvious, of course, that he wants to distract attention from his other problems. That he would do so by victimising a minority like the trans community is, however, beyond contempt. Dress it up as he will, banning transgender people from the American military is an act of pure, blatant discrimination. Trans people should be allowed to contribute to society in whatever way they wish. For the insult to humanity currently claiming to be American president to pick on them in this way, purely for his own petty political gain, only deepens my contempt for him even further.
Yesterday we went for a short drive in the Polish countryside. One of the women organising the festival took us. We just went to her village and back, but it was enough for me to get an idea of how different Poland is to England. For one, there are vast deep forests of a kind rarely seen in Britain. They had a fascinating, ancient feel to them. The houses we passed were beguiling too, like time worn fragments of another era which modern life had yet to touch.
We were supposed to be moving on today. The plan was to get up early and catch the bus. I therefore went to bed at a sensible time, but Lyn and the lads decided to stay out. They came back just after six this morning, me wondering where the smeg they had got to, obviously in no state to go anywhere. We are therefore staying in Sokołowsko another day and moving on tomorrow. It’s such a pretty place with such a fantastic vibe one cannot complain. I might even get to see those intriguing forests again.
This festival is increasingly reminding me of university. It’s a contemporary arts festival, so one senses the same playful exploration I found back on campus. A lot of the work here is higher intellectual, highly postmodern. As well as music and sound based work, there are installations, projections and performance pieces. There was also an odd piece about secrets which I’m not allowed to discuss. Perhaps most illuminating, though, was a discussion we went to on censorship; it has certainly been eye opening to see how much control the state still has here. They were debating a controversy caused by a photo of a woman swearing in front of a government building which government officials now seek to censor. In all, though, it has been wonderful to see an entire village given over to such an event. I hope Sokolovsko serves as an example to other places the world over, for alongside the art and music I have also felt the warmest of welcomes.
I’m afraid I don’t have the time or the battery power to give this the description it deserves, but last night was magical. After all the events are over, everyone convenes in a small woody area outside a fantastic building with a tall spire. There, last night, Lyn did a monumental dj set. She started about midnight and played and played for hours. Watching everyone dancing to her beats was wonderful: she has a knack of knowing which tracks go together. It went on for hours, and she finished just before dawn with What A Wonderful World. And with that she was absolutely spot on.
Sitting in a circle on the cusp of midnight, in the dark of a polish wood, last night Lyn and the guys did some jamming. It was incredible. L was using her iPad, of course, but there were people with all kinds of instruments there, especially drums. The rhythms they produced seemed to weave into my very heart beat; and, looking up, I could see the stars so clearly that it took my breath. The only other time I had seen a sky like that, the stars vivid and sharp, was at Uluru. I found myself wishing that I could join in, to enter into that magical moment with the other players, but I realised that, rather than joining in, it was my job to record the moment on here, for all time, so that something so special is not allowed to slip out of memory.