Day 55, Radom, March 4th 2012

Tea 55, Green tea, mystery mix, Radom.

Today was Marta’s Mum’s birthday, when we woke up she had already made another spectacular breakfast spread with all things you could think of, cheese, bread, tomato, cucumber, salad.  Loads and loads of stuff, and I was still pretty full from the indulgences on the previous day.  We sat and ate and chatted and watched the TV, which was dominated by the tragic and awful news of the train crash that has happened on the line between Warsaw and Krakow.

After a while of this we decided to head out, Marta, her mum and I, to this park area which is also home to a few galleries and loads of sculptures.  It is around 10km from Radom, and in which direction I am not too sure.  We also took the dog with us, fully intending to take her for a walk around the park too.  We arrived at this little place, which is dotted with buildings, looking a bit like a farm in lots of ways.  Everyone out of the car, including the dog and Marta and I went into the first building, a modern built gallery, to buy some tickets.  Luckily our tickets gave us access to more than one building because this first show was a bit of a disappointment.  The space is pretty interesting but it had been totally rammed with sculptural works by this one guy, which were, basically, terrible.  They looked like they were built in the 60’s, and this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if they had been.  But they were all pretty much brand new, gaudy, Francis Bacon-esque structures of painted driftwood and plaster.  It was a shame, and if there had of been even a TINY bit of critical choice in what was presented it would have been a hundred times better.  But it was just like the guy wanted to show and tell EVERYTHING!  And I know I myself am a minimalist, so usually something is always too much that nothing, but this was just stupid!

Ehem, so… moving on… We went back out into the park, Marta’s Mum had joined us half way through our tour around this first space and then we all walked to the next space, on a little tour with a lady in a brown hat who seemed pretty passionate about lots of the elements.  She explained a few of the things we could see as we walked along, and then we arrived at an old chapel, the all seeing eye staring down at us from on high.  We went inside and found an installation created by a guy and called (in Polish) Harvest.  This was a collection of ceramic figurines, made by the artist, who were, basically, Chavs / Neds / Delinquents whichever phrase you choose.  Then Marta explained to me that in Polish the word for harvest is very similar to that for something like a self destructive society.  The piece was a play on words.  This work had a lot of humour and enjoyment in it’s rather bleak subject matter, on figurine is peeing in a corner under the old alter, one is texting on a mobiule phone, others drinking in little huts and some fighting.

A little while spent in this space we left again, the lady in the hat locking the door with a huge key, had to be almost a foot long, and we continued onto another space.  This one used to be an greenhouse and so is open and full of light.  The work presented here was more interesting modern sculpture, of simply a toilet and a cement mixer.  They had, however, been covered in little squares of mirror, like on a disco-ball.  The toilet span around on its low plinth and the cement mixer was fully working, though only for a short period of time when the lady in the hat switched it on and then off again, suggesting that it may not be the most secure of creations. There were also some photos of the artist’s other creations, including a drain cover, a wheelie bin, and an original Volkwagen Beetle!  The photos were documents of when the artist puts them into real life situations and illuminates them, generally at night.

That space over we went back out into the park and headed for the main house.  This has been kept in its original condition, with its classical furniture, paintings and it’s egg cooker… so is more of a historical document than gallery space.  But it is an interesting little place with some very nice artworks and some intriguing gadgets!

Back in the car, we let the dog out for another, brief walk (she looked a little perplexed to being told to get back in the car after such a brief exit).  We then headed back towards town, Marta’s Mum dropped us off in town and we had a short walk in the sun and then went into a café/restaurant that used to be Marta’s favourite when she was younger.  We ordered a couple of juices (I decided I needed the vitamin C, I think I am getting a cold!), and a pizza to share.  It was a very good one with olives and capers and anchovies.  However it turned out to be a bit of a mistake, because on our return home it turned out Marta’s Mum had been busy in the kitchen yet again and there was another HUGE spread on the table.  Soup, potatoes, chicken, leftover goulash, more salad, and then when that had been gone over by us all there were cakes brought out!  This weekend I have been well and truly stuffed and feel like I won’t eat for a week!

After another few hours spent eating (again), it was time to head back to Warsaw with Marta’s brother.  The Clio’s heating system had been fixed so we didn’t have to drive with condensation all over the windows, but the seatbelts were still useless.  We made it back to Warsaw safely though.  Tomorrow (today) I leave for Krakow, I’m excited to be travelling again, but sad to leave Warsaw as I still think there is so much I haven’t seen!

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Day 54, Radom, March 3rd 2012

Tea 54, Green tea with prickly pear and lemon, including Krupnik, Marta’s Mum’s House, Radom

Today was a beautiful day, glorious sunshine beaming down, with real warmth in it.  The shadows were still cold though, and there was the occasional gust of a chilly wind.  We just walked around Radom today, seeing the old town, which is unfortunately in a bit of a state in places, wooden beams literally stopping many buildings from collapsing.  I am told that the old town is going to be renovated and repaired this year though, so hopefully that will happen because it is already charming, and with a bit of TLC could be very beautiful.

We first wandered through a little park, with a sculpture of Chopin and a funny little castle that is now a public toilet in the middle of it.  Next to it is a bizarre little sight, rather than a play ground for kids they have an exercise ground, with a cross trainer / stepper type thing, a bench and chest press thing, all sorts of stuff, including a table tennis table.  It’s quite nice because the kids still have fun playing around and climbing all ovet the stuff, whilst the adults can probably have a good time too, if they aren’t too shy to exercise in front of the whole town, which is small enough for everyone to probably know everyone… There is also a rather large and unusually sculpture of a guy called Kochanowski, I can’t remember exactly what he is famous for, but I think he was a poet, and has a bit of a sad history concerning his daughter, who was apparently some sort of child prodigy but died very young.  The sculpture is good, but the figure is adopting the most bizarre pose I think I’ve ever seen!

Out of the park and down the high street, looking at the people, the entrance ways and arches to some of the old buildings.  We accidently locked ourselves into one of the little courtyards but were rescued a little while later when a lady wanted to come in at the time we were trying to get out!  More explorations found us a little old building that was once a printers shop.  This old brick building had a thing over the door stating 1818, which I presume to be it’s original building date, and it looks it.  It is in semi ruins now, but is a very interesting building and I hope it gets saved by someone.

In to the old town, we wandered into the grounds of a Benedictine church, a few brown robed monks milling about, the sun shining down on the well kept lawn and shrubs.  More meandering brought us past another church, the original church of the old town, and then into the old town square, a vast, empty space, in need of a bit of life and improvement, which will undoubtedly arrive at some point.  At the moment it is a minimalist’s dream.

We then wandered out of the old town, to the Galeria (shopping centre) which has pretty much singlehandedly brought the blight that the town centre is suffering into being.  Despite this we were on a hunt for a gift for Marta’s Mum, for her birthday, which is on Sunday.  We found what she was after, or had been instructed to get by her sister and brother and then wandered back in the sunshine towards home.

We had intended to pop home and then go out again, but when we got back Marta’s Mum had prepared a huge spread of salad and soup and chicken and her Dad had made a wild boar goulash!  He is a hunter, and despite my reservations to this fact and my preference to veg over meat, the goulash was very good.  Mashed Potatoes with Dill, Carrot and Sauerkraut.  It was a proper feast, and for this reason we did not make it back out into the town, the food was so non-stop that we spent the whole afternoon eating and drinking!  The drinking went a fair way, starting with a local (ish) beer and then wine and then onto the spirits…!  Krupnik is a honey liquor, pretty strong and fragrant, but good.  There was also a vodka that Marta’s Dad had infused with quince.  Basically there was A LOT!  To freshen up a little Marta and I took her dog Etna for a walk around the park, then we came home and watched a film, one of my favourites ‘True Romance’, with Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.


Day 53, Warsaw – Radom, March 2nd 2012

Tea (coffee) 53:  Double Espresso, Charlotte Cafe, Warsaw.

So, today nothing very much happened, I just stayed home for the day, needing to catch up with a load of work for the residency program (www.hellocollective.org) , and also to try and sort stuff out for the weekend.  Tonight I travelled to Radom with my host Marta.  This is where she is from and her family have invited me for the weekend.  This was my first experience of Polish driving, with Marta’s brother taking me, Marta, himself and two of his friends with stuff in a Renault Clio, a bit of a squeeze, but with there being no working seatbelts it probably helped that we were like sardines!  Even more so at 150kph on the motorway!

We arrived around 9 or so, a wonderful spread of salad and bread and cheese waiting for us when we arrived.  Marta’s lovely dog Etna, a chubby, wire-haired Irish Terrier, greeting me warmly as I walked through the door.  We sat, ate, talked about my travels past and future, went through a few photos and headed to bed.

Because of today’s lack of any photographs I am giving you all a photographic treat of a few photos that I’ve not posted yet, a Warsaw recap.