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Sunday, 27 September 2015

352: Wrocław (as it is spelt) or Vrotswav ( as it is pronounced) - Part II

At Wrocław Kopernicus airport with about 4 hours to wait for my Ryanair flight back to Warsaw. A  silly boy for getting here so early but I wan't sure about tram/bus connections. Better safe than sorry and anyway I'm in the Business Lounge knocking back a G&T. Relax. Then perhaps another one. Relax some more.
Here then is the second, and final, chapter about my short stay in the lovely city of Wrocław.

One last picture from Friday evening. This is of the opera house. The voyeur within me was able to see the dancers through the top floor windows practising their repertoire and flinging a leg way up above their head. How do they do that?

On Saturday I wanted to visit three of the most well-known sights. Here are pictures of them together with a write-up as stolen from "Wrocław in your pocket".

"The anonymous pedestrians" 14 lifelike bronze statues are a memorial to the introduction of martial law on December 13th 1981 and the hordes of people who disappeared (went underground) in the middle of the night, courtesy of the miliitia.
Next, a haunting memorial to the infamous Katyn massacre:

These are the fountains at the Centennial hall. Unveiled in June 2009 in honour of the 20th anniversary of the first free elections in post-war Poland. They can project water up to 40 metres high through 300 different nozzles while music orchestrates the show through the park's speakers. In theory every hour on the hour and I made an effort to get there for midday when an 18 minute classical extravaganza had been promised. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Back to the hotel for a quick run around the adjacent park and then a sauna and jaccuzi to unwind after the day's exertions. It's lucky for everyone that I don't have a selfie stick!
Dinner in the hotel was a leisurely affair while they ignored me and concentrated on the 70 wedding guests in the next room. No problem - I wasn't in a rush (for a change).

Finally, a peek at 2 of the city's gnomes. Allegedly there are 300 of them dotted about. Here is a link to find out more about them - should you so wish!

To sum up, I enjoyed my visit tremendously. Must come back another time. Do widzenia Wrocław.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

351: Wrocław (as it is spelt) or Vrotswav ( as it is pronounced) - Part I

I'm in the middle of another mini-adventure. My Friday evening and Sunday morning students had both cancelled (perhaps I'm losing my  touch!) so I decided, on the spur of the moment, to visit Wrocław in Silesia in South West Poland. Here are a few of the photos I took to commemorate the visit, together with  some words plagiarized from the "Wrocław in your pocket" guide to the city.

I set off bright and early from my flat in Młociny so that I could be sure of catching the 8.15 Pendolino (Inter-City Premium) from Warsaw Centralnaya. The journey took 3 hours and 43 minutes and it was pleasant to watch the countryside whizzing by - or perhaps the train was whizzing by and the countryside not moving at all. The train pulled in exactly on schedule at 11.56 and, joy of joys, there was a McDonalds in the station for a spot of lunch. 

The hotel I had picked was the 5* Platinum Palace, all very different from my hotel in Antalya a month or so ago. I arrived a little bit early so was forced to drink a quick beer while they prepared the room for me. Then it was off into town for some exploring. I had a quick wander around the old town and stopped to sit and listen to an outdoor concert by some kind of "oompah" band. All very pleasant. If they hadn't been singing in Polish I might have thought I was somewhere in Bavaria.

Part II tomorrow - I can hear dinner calling.......

tryb dzienny 2010 from Wroclawska Fontanna on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

350: I've got my head in the clouds

For my students learning English, let me explain the title. To have your head in the clouds means to be out of touch with reality, or daydreaming. I feel like that sometimes. I'm sure we all do. (Don't we?)
This morning I want to briefly extol the virtues of cloud computing, show you two pictures of clouds that took my fancy and attach a video clip of the Rolling Stones singing "Get off of my cloud". It is from 1967 and the pedants among you will realize it should be "get off my cloud" rather than "get off of". Artistic licence.
Cloud computing - a "fairly" recent technology that allows your work and files to be located "somewhere out there". Dropbox is a fine example, as is Microsoft's OneDrive. The great advantage of storing your files "in the cloud" is that you can access them wherever you are and on whichever device you have with you - laptop, tablet or mobile. The memory stick has almost gone the way of floppy discs, VHS or Beta-Max video. Not always easy keeping up with the latest technology but worth doing. Sometimes I wonder how I ever managed before "the cloud".
Here are two pictures of clouds. The first one was taken from the balcony of my flat this morning just as dawn was breaking. I know the old adage goes "....., red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning" but it was beautiful anyway. The second was through the window of my Ryanair flight back to Warsaw last Saturday. Like flying over cotton wool.
There seems to be a dearth of students at the moment. If anybody knows anybody who wants to learn English - either face-to-face or over Skype - then please point them my way. TIA (SMS/text speak for thanks in advance)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

349: The Warsaw Business Run

Having taken part, as a runner, in two runs this year - one in Warsaw and one in Ramsey - I felt it was time for me to put something back into the community so I volunteered to help out (despite the warnings of my old troop sergeant a million years ago never to volunteer for anything).
I was given a bit of a tricky job. It was a relay race with teams of five people each running 3.84 km. I was at the handover point funnelling people who had finished their leg of the race towards the finish area. In theory an easy job and at the beginning so it proved: everybody that had been round once had a /1 on the end of their race number. They handed over their baton to the next person in their team (who wasn't always where they were expected to be so there was a bit of milling around). My job was to keep a path clear for the fresh runners as they went whizzing by. It was OK in the beginning: /1 to the right (they looked knackered and had no baton) and /2 to the left (looking fresh and baton in hand) and don't get caught in their slipstream. After a couple of laps with some faster teams overtaking the slower ones it was no longer possible just to tell by the number on the shirt. For instance /3 and /4 runners were coming in to finish as /2 and /3 runners were just starting out. And on the last lap it was no longer possible to filter to the left those who had a baton in their hand as /5 people could be either finishing and keeping their baton until the end or perhaps just starting. Still, I think I made a reasonable fist of it. I was standing, as a mobile funneller, for just over 2 hours so was ready to hand in my badge at the end and go for a sit down and make a start on my free rat pack.
There were thousands of people taking part, and hundreds of volunteers - as you will see from one of the photos. In conclusion, the event went well and the organisers are to be commended. I turned up at 7 a.m. as requested and, after registering, was dismissed until 9 so sloped off for a second breakfast at the first McD I found open that early on a Sunday morning. Walking around central Warsaw so early in the morning I was quite surprised by the number of people on the street. Here are a couple of photos. From the number of people wearing "media" badges and "getting in the way" I would guess the race will be on Polish TV and in all the local and national papers.
This building is the subject of much debate in Warsaw. It was a gift from the people of Russia back in Communist days.
Many people want to demolish it. Many want to leave it standing as a poignant reminder. Much like the monument to the first Duke of Sutherland on the top of the hill behind Golspie. 

A tented city. For a moment I thought I was back in Umm Qasr - but that's another story for another time.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

348: Living the life of Reilly...

Sorry there's been no blog for a while. I've had my webmaster hat on. It comes down over my eyes so that I can't see anything else that is going on....

What everybody thinks I do....

....sit around eating ice cream all day and living the life of Reilly.
What I actually do....
.. help young ladies (and men) improve their English skills
And sometimes this...
I'm in the process of re-skilling. 
...Meet WebmasterDes (watch this space)
And sometimes translations....
.. can't admit to all those languages of course but in many instances “I know a man (or woman) who can"