Right, where do I start... there are very many things I'd like to say, and questions I'd like to ask, and so it's difficult to decide what should come first. I hope that you will excuse me if this first blog gets a bit chaotic :)
Of course, I'd like to say hello to my new English teacher - Hi Sophie :) I've read your first post with great interest, and some of it with my jaw dropped - in a positive sense, of course! - where you give etymologies from French, German or Latin. I'm happy to have such a well-read teacher to help me, and I'm sure that blogging with you will 'broaden my horizons'. I myself speak only a little German and French, but even so I often realise how helpful it is to know the origins of a word to be able to use it in the right context.
It is also surprising (again, in a positive way) that you know my country, personally that is. A year spent in Poland must have given you a lot of insight into what Polish people are like? Please do tell me more about your job here, and what impressions you have of Poland - it doesn't necessarily have to be complimentary, you know :)
Then, I'd like to say hello to everyone else who might join in this fun way of learning. Please feel free to comment on anything you like, and ask any questions you like - I am rather a direct person! Farha, thank you for your comment, you were the first to write! Yes, I will try to write a lot about my country, so by the end of the month the name Poland should sound more familiar :-)
Now, a few lines of introduction shouldn't be out of place.
My name is Łukasz - the first letter is an L with a dash, I wonder if it will show correctly when I post it. Anyway, that funny L is pronounced like "w" in English, that's why some of the more ignorant friends of mine spell my name "Woocash" - which looks funny but sounds in English more or less as it should.
I was born in November 1973, so I am 34 and born under Scorpio :)
My family originally lived in Warsaw, the capital, and I was born there. I never really liked that place - huge blocks of flats, huge schools, everything made of concrete, grim and overwhelming. I didn't like my school either - I was a shy kid, with not many friends around. Gosh, now I look back on it I feel happy that that stage of my life is over :)
When I was 16, so somewhere in the middle of my secondary education, my father got a job in the Netherlands and we all moved there - both my parents, my brother (he's 6 years younger than me) and my sister, who at that time inhabited my mother's womb :) Yes, she's about 16 years younger, will turn 18 this December.
Holland was where my adventure with the English language really started. When I went there I could only speak a few basic lines, and then all of a sudden was placed in an "IB" type of college, where all subjects were taught in English (the lesser evil, still, comparing to a Dutch college where I would not be able to understand a word!). I can remember my first class there - a Geography lesson, where the teacher got amazed at me not following some very basic ideas... All I could do was to sit there in all the classes, pretending to understand what was going on, and then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening, going through all the notes and textbooks, looking up word after word after word... Day in, day out. Very strenuous two years these were, but worth it: when I was 18 I passed all the final examinations in English, and with good results too.
At that stage my parents had to move back to Poland, so I decided to go with them: Poland was not part of EU then, and it would have been very difficult, if at all possible, for me to stay and study there, or in the UK. We settled down in Poznan, and I spent 5 years studying marketing and management (not very interesting, it turned out), and then got a job with a British software company - mainly because I could communicate with them, not because I knew much about software.
I worked with them for some 7 years, and these were fine 7 years: I travelled around Poland, making presentations of the program, and I occasionally had a chance to visit UK, as the head office was in Surbiton near London. I then thought I need to "develop" and decided to change my employer in favour of a large IT corporation - a Microsoft partner. A complete mistake - I became a cog in the machine, I hated it and quit it after 6 months. Ever since then, that is for the last two years, I've been doing all sorts of odd freelance jobs, giving myself time to think what I want to do, what I am able to do and what will turn out right in the long term.
Phew, this first post is indeed more chaotic, or rambling, than it should be... and I feel sort of guilty writing about myself all the time! I'd better finish it here and now.
I will just add, to answer your questions Sophie, that I never studied English as such, but I did those two years of secondary school in English; I never did any English exams either (I have been thinking about them, but they are quite expensive, so unless I have a clear purpose for passing one, I don't want to spend the money...). And of course I have friends living in the UK now, but I'll write more next time. Oh, and please do point out every mistake you spot, as long as you have the energy to do so - it is very valuable to me.
OK, it is nearly 3 a.m. now, time to say good-bye!
Talk to you soon,
posted on Monday, 02 June 2008 | comment on this post
What a nice feeling it is to have people from all over the world read my postings and comment on them - thank you! This is very motivating - to be able to communicate across borders and with people from such different cultures. So, my thanks go to all those who gave me their warm welcome and wished me fun here - I'm sure we will all have it!!
Many people asked about my country, so I will try to write more about Poland today.
When I'm thinking about what to write, one thing comes to my mind - that Poland is a country that has changed unbelievably over the last two decades. Remember when I described my childhood in Warsaw? At that time, in the 1980s, Poland was still under communist regime, and what that meant above anything else was that you couldn't buy the most basic products anywhere!
People would queue for hours just to get a bit of meat or other food (imagine - in an agricultural country there was a contant shortage of food products), and things like e.g. chocolate or sweets were so scarce we would get it once a year maybe - at Christmas, most likely. There were other problems, of course - people couldn't travel freely abroad, or discuss politics or recent history without being afraid of some form of oppression, but to a kid these weren't really important; what mattered was that we were living in this Godforsaken place, with "normal" life going on somewhere else - in western movies shown on TV. So when we moved to Holland, it was a lot more than a change of address - it was a civilisation jump. (To give you a funny example - during my first week in Holland, every time I went out, I wore a suit - I felt I just couldn't wear casual clothes if I was to meet people from this better world! Stupid, but it shows what a change it was for us.)
And then it all changed. Social unrest, expressed most forcefully as the "Solidarity" movement, led in the end to a free election, and the democratically elected government opened up the borders and introduced market economy. That was around 1989. And as if by waving a magic wand, shops became full of goods, and people started earning real money with which they could buy real things.
Enough for pathos :) Poland today is a member of European Union, and a chance visitor from abroad probably wouldn't be able to spot many differences between Poland and other European countries, as far as the standard of living is concerned. Merce, did you have similar experiences when Spain joined the EU? Analysts often draw parallels between Spain and Poland in this respect. I have never been to Spain so I couldn't say (I'd love to come one day, though - Spanish culture has a lot of appeal to us here, and the Spanish always appear very open - people who do what they want and say what they think... Pedro Almodovar's films are very popular here too).
What else could be said about today's Poland? Most people work very hard these days (I am the exception that proves the rule ;), setting up their own businesses, taking advantage of Poland's place in the "New Europe". However, many people are too preoccupied with the financial aspects of their lives, in my opinion - what car they drive, what house they live in, which restaurants and clubs they can afford to go to. This is only natural, I guess, after decades on economic deprivation... Still, I look up to the British way of living, where everyone seems to have a passion of their own, be it gardening, evening salsa classes or watercolour painting at weekends. Or is it an illusion?
Marianna, I liked your story, I think it goes in line with what I've just said about Polish people being preoccupied with their standard of living... I have been to Slovakia once myself, to a place called Mala Fatra - a beautiful mountain range!
(I love mountains!) I like the way our languages are similar, so that it is possible for me to get a good idea what Slovak people are talking about (sometimes with amusing mistakes being made), without ever learning the language.
And yes, the "name-day" celebrations in Poland are also very popular - more popular than birthdays, especially in the case of older people, possibly because they prefer not to remember how old they are... Here as well 18 October is Lukasz's name day, but I celebrate it on 10 September, because it is the day of Łukasz and Mikołaj (Nicolas), and these are my two names.
Kuldeep, when I read your post I thought you are my soul mate - I share the same concerns about nature being destroyed, and mankind acting as if he owned the planet. This adds to my uncertainty as to which career to pursue, as in most jobs the stress is on producing more, selling more, consuming more, with little thought spared on where it leads us.
Working for the software company, I met many people from India, as all of the programming was done in Baroda, and when there were technical issues, somebody from India would visit us. I remember one day, sitting in our office in Poznan with Alok, a nice guy from India helping us sort out some problem, when he virtually started screaming, and then ran out of the office - he saw snow for the first time in his life :)
Antonio, please tell me how you've become to have friends from Poland - even though our countries are not very far apart, there doesn't seem to be much communication or exchange between them. Sadly, I think, because I've seen many pictures from Romania and it looks very nice to me (maybe because it is so mountainous!).
Leila, it's nice to hear that once you start blogging, you keep coming back, I hope the same will be the case for me. I only started reading this blog in 2008, but will look at the archives to see some of your posts!
Mirjana, it took me a while to figure out who you are referring to by "Ivan Pavao", as in Polish we spell it Jan Pawel, so it's not instantly recognizable... Is he the most famous Pole, do you think? I imagine he can well be, and he is worshipped
here as a saint almost (in fact, the process of making him a saint is underway already, I think), but he might be perceived as a controversial figure perhaps, as not all people share the same values and ideas...
Mahjabeen, we both have difficult names I think :) How do you pronounce yours? I'm not a big sports fan when it comes to watching it (on the other hand, I love to do some sports myself), but for a number of years we had a Malysz-mania (Adam Malysz is a ski jumper, who won a number of competitions), and now we seem to develop Kubica-mania (Robert Kubica being a Formula One driver, ranking high these days).
I'm also waving a hello to James, KR, Elly and Ernesto, and hope you'll drop in again! And I'm signing off, as it's 3.30 a.m. now...
See you tomorrow!
posted on Tuesday, 03 June 2008 | comment on this post
Dear Sophie and all my dear readers :)
Today (tonight - it's already almost 3 a.m.) I'll need to be more concise and to the point. My last two days were very busy, as I had a visit from a good friend of mine, who is now living in London. We worked together in one company in the past, then two years ago he went to London to try his luck, and got a job as a waiter in a nice restaurant. It is always very interesting for me to listen to his stories (this time he said he is so tired of London and that blessed English weather that he decided to move again - this time, to Dubai, where apparently life is more attractive ;)
Anyway, I hope to have more time to myself over the next couple of days (by the way, I have a question on this "couple of" phrase: I never know whether it means "two" or "a few"? Apparently it can mean both depending on a situation, but if someone says "there's a couple of people outside" how do you know if it means two people or a number of people?), so I should be able to write more, and then hopefully answer all the comments and questions... While today I'll just try to refer to Sophie's comments and remarks.
To start with, I really appreciate the work you've done on my texts - 21 points that called for correction, this must have taken you quite a while! Your comments have been very useful to me, as they direct my attention to the problematic areas in my writing - and to be honest, some of them I was completely unaware of! One such area is "word order", which is generally difficult in English for a Polish speaker, because in Polish no particular order has to be observed, generally speaking (so you can say "I play tennis or Mondays" or "Tennis I play on Mondays" or "I play on Mondays tennis" and they are all correct sentences in Polish - you start with the information you want to stress), whereas in English... well... :)
But I think the other problem is the difference between written and spoken language - writing this blog I feel as if I was talking to you, but this is nonetheless written communication, so words like frequency adverbs always have to go before the verb, I guess... OK, will try to improve!
Now, let's have a look at some of my mistkaes in detail (I will use your numbering):
3. Yes, I realise the standard way of saying this is "My teacher was amazed", I just thought I could use 'get' to enliven the statement, just like you use "get" in "get angry".
5. the EU - very useful comment, I never realised it is a similar kind of name to "the UK" or "the US", which are so intuitive that I would never use either of these without the definite article. Funnily I said "the EU" a few times as well :)
6. a fine 7 years? Interesting case, I would have thought that 7 years is a plural expression whoch mustn't be used with an "a", but I understand that the article refers to a period as a whole? I'll search for more examples of this.
7. the UK!!! So, contrary to what I've written above, you can know someting by heart, and still misuse it...
8. I'm not sure I see the difference between the two ways of putting it, to be honest?
20. ...is already underway...
Ok, I do hope I got them correct this time.
I apologise to all those who wrote to me and asked me questions, for not being able to reply at this moment - I will do my best to answer asap.
Till next time,
posted on Thursday, 05 June 2008 | comment on this post
Another short visit...
Hello friends! It good to see that many people keep coming back to this site every day - I already feel like I know many of you! It's also nice to see people posting comments for the first time... I myself feel I'm getting addicted to this blog (even though I have never done any blogging before), thinking about what I'm going to write all throughout the day.
Today's post will again have to be rather short, out of necessity: I've just got back home (it's 1 a.m. here), and tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. I have an appointment with the dentist. I shied away from going to the dentist for seven years, but when I finally forced myself to go (some 4 months ago), it turned out that it's not so scary at all; however, since then I've had to make regular visits every week, and tomorrow's appointment is a part of that routine. Hope it'll go smoothly...
Many of you asked me about the weather in Poland. We are now into the last month of calendar spring, and there can be no complaining about the spring this year: it's been very warm and sunny, with temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. The last seven days were particularly beautiful - temperatures around 26-27 and not a single cloud in the sky. To me, this part of the year is the most exciting: everything grows so fast like it's gone mad, birds come back for the summer, and the weather is usually pleasantly warm but not too hot: just perfect for any outdoor activity, like cycling, rollerskating, and so on.
Other seasons in Poland can be nice, but they not always are. Everybody wants the summer to be hot and sunny, which would allow one to spend the summer holiday - main holiday of the year - at the seaside. And if we are lucky, we get two sunny months with temperatures around 30 degrees. Last summer, we had a couple of days with about 40 degrees! That was unusual, and possibly a result of the global warming as well...
Autumns can be pleasant and colourful, with trees turning from green to yellow to red - what we call "golden Polish autumn" - but once all the leaves have fallen and the weather gets chilly and damp, we're into 2 or even 3 months of depressing grey late autumn/early winter. Most people hate that time of the year!
Winters used to be really cold and snowy, with temperatures normally below zero, but often reaching minus 20 or even 30, recently however we've had some winters with almost no snow at all! Must be to do with the global warming again.
Wow, Sophie posted her blog while I'm writing this, and she has replied to all her comments... I will soon do the same, I hope! Good she hasn't given me any homework, I can go to bed now :)
I am a night owl much more than a morning person, as you must have realised by now, but I'll need to get some sleep anyway... I'll be back soon, though!
posted on Friday, 06 June 2008 | comment on this post
The weekend has begun!
this is going to be another rather brief entry from me, as I had less than 4 hours of sleep last night, and feel dizzy with tiredness! If I sound incoherent, you'll know why.
As Sophie hasn't posted anything today yet, and my day wasn't too exciting at all, I will try to reply to your comments - at least some of them, anyway.
Marianna, I've noticed that you are a devoted blogger :) Yes, I read some
of the past blogs before I started mine, and I noticed that the teachers here have very different styles sometimes. I agree that it is very useful to read older blogs, because one picks up new words from each of them, or even more importantly - some useful phrases or sayings that add colour to the language. And the reason I can type very fast is I used to work in IT and spend most of my time at the computer...
I just looked at the map to see where Bojnice is and indeed you live within a very short distance of the Fatra mountains... lucky you!
Mahjabeen – I normally tell people that I live in Poznan, which is probably fifth or sixth largest city in Poland – but actually this is not true: I live 20 km away from the town, in a small village called Konarzewo, in a country house. But I go to Poznan on most days, so I feel like a Poznanian :)
As to holiday destinations, most people go either to the seaside (in summer), which is the northern border of Poland, or to the mountains (in summer or winter), which are in the south. As Poland is probably something like 800 km wide, neither trip takes more than a day! There is also a very nice part of Poland in the north-east, called Mazury – „a country of 1000 lakes”. I love it, as it is still relatively wild with beautiful lakes and forests, unfortunately it is rather far from where I live.
Ana Paula, thanks for your words of consolation, my appointment was postponed till next week, though, as there was a power failure at the dentist’s! Picture me, getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning (which to me is like midnight!), swearing and cursing but doing my best to get to Poznan on time – only to find out there is a power failure and I all I can do is go back home...
„To hit the sack”, interesting expression, didn’t know that one! Yes, I too need at least 8 hours of sleep, I normally go to bed about 2 a.m. and get up around 10 in the morning, it’s just that this blog has upset my routine a little ;-)
Cristina, I may sound daft but is Bs As an abbreviation for Buenos Aires? And I’m curious when you say „freezing winters”, does that mean literally freezing, with temperatures below zero? I think with the English metaphorical use of adjectives like „freezing” or „boiling”, an English person might just as well say it’s freezing when it is plus 10 degrees...
... oops, it’s getting late, and I’m so tired I’m starting to see double... I’ll have to finish replying to comments tomorrow. Meanwhile, I hope that you will all have a chance to do something nice and relaxing at the weekend; I am myself planning to go cycling, weather permitting. If I manage to shoot some photos, I’ll post them here as well!
posted on Saturday, 07 June 2008 | comment on this post
...and ended too soon!
These were very nice two days, with fantastic weather.
I managed to shoot some pictures of my place, and of my cycling trip, so I'll try to post them here now, so as to make this blog more colourful. Let's see if this is going to work!
OK, seems like I've managed to insert the first pic - there'll be more coming up!
Now, have a look at the view as seen from the back door - there's our back garden, but at a distance you will see the church surrounded by trees - that's the centre of my village. Our house is located on a small hill, so we get a really nice view of the whole area.
Have a look at my dog as well. We found it, a small puppy, under our car a couple of years ago - and we kept it. Now we can't imagine life without him! He's called Pirat - in Polish the meaning is the same as in English (a sea bandit with a steel hook for his hand... ;-)
Now, let me tell you about what I was doing over the weekend. I spent the Saturday in the way I enjoy most - cycling through the countryside. I took my bike into the car, drove some 50 km away (I know almost every path in my direct neighbourhood, so it is no longer fun to cycle too close to my house), then parked at a random location and cycled on... Funnily, just where I parked my car, there was a sign directing to ruins of an ancient church - dating back to XIII century. I found them, and so here comes another pic :)
I realise that this is not exactly 'ancient' in the English meaning of the word, as it doesn't go back to pre-Christianity, but from the perspective of Polish history, it is quite old. Poland as a state originated somewhere around X century AD (the year 966 AD is often quoted, when Mieszko I - the ruler of a major tribe - accepted Christianity and started uniting other neighbouring tribes under his rule, thus creating a territory later to be known as Poland).
Alright, just one last photo, so as not to make the blog too byte-heavy. I want to show you the kind of road I love so much to cycle on - winding through the hills, fields and forests, going from one small village to another, but with scarcely any traffic on it.
And now, as it is already 3 a.m., my bedtime, I'll have to say good-bye.
This week I'll take my camera to Poznan and try to photograph some scenes there. Till then, cheerio!
posted on Monday, 09 June 2008 | comment on this post
Blog No. 6
Gee, the most difficult part of writing this blog is thinking up the title for each entry!
How are you all anyway?
It is 1.45 a.m. in Poland now, so high time to start blogging!
I’ve just finished reading today’s post from Sophie about her weekend. It’s good that the Brits get a sunny weekend once in a while, too :-)
So, Sophie, you say that you had to move – do you mean move to a different location, or are you still living in Portsmouth? Anyway, it’s good that you can get online now, because I already started worrying if there was something wrong...
Your sunny seaside weekend reminded me of a book I started reading recently – Brighton Rock by G. Greene; so far, I only got to page 20 or so, because the language is far from simple, and I hate it when I come across words that I’ve no idea what they mean, or even how they are pronounced – I try to check every single one and it takes time... But the feeling of a bright esplanade with people in deckchairs enjoying their free time was quite similar!
Your photographs and your descriptions also stirred some memories – I was reminded of those few times when I had a day to myself while in the UK, and travelled around a bit (very small indeed) – the furthest I got to was Windsor castle, and I also spent a sunny (!) Sunday once at Hampton Court. Somehow those little attractions – like a brass band playing live in a park – seem typically British to me, in the way they are more ‘refined’ than anything we might enjoy in Poznan...
The thatched cottages, on the other hand, looked just like houses in Loosdrecht – the Dutch village where I lived for two years... So, a bit of travelling back in time, owing to your photos :)
I had to look at my atlas to see exactly where Isle of Wight is, and all the places you mentioned. Looking at the map I realised I have a friend living not far from your town – in a village called Lymington. She is a woman from Poznan who moved there last year, to join her son. She showed me photographs of the neighbouring area once, I think it is called New Forest – looked really nice in the pics.
Now, let me ask a linguistic question, if I may.
Today I was reading something in English and it struck me as odd that you say ‘part (of something)’ without an article. So you say: „For part of the day...” and not „For a part of the day...”. The reason this seems odd is that ‘part’ is a singular countable noun, and such nouns (as far as I remember some old rule) should not be used on their own, without an article, possessive pronoun etc. I think ‘half’ is used similarly – again a countable noun in its singular form, but one would say „I spent half of the day” and not „... a half...”. If you can see my point, then maybe you could help me with this...
The other thing is, you use adjectives „twee” and „chocolate-box” to describe the place you visited in a rather positive way. I had to look up those two (before I got to your explanations at the end of the blog!), and my dictionary said they both sounded rather negative, or derogatory. Could you comment on the fact that many adjectives in English seems to have either a positive or a negative idea behind them (which is often very hard to get to grips with for a foreigner!), and would you agree with my dictionary – or do you think this is more of a subjective matter?
Right, I’ll have to go now (3 a.m. again!!) but hope to return soon, and finally reply to some of the comments! :)
posted on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 | comment on this post
On my family, and Christie's mysteries...
Today I will try to answer some of your questions.
Farha, you asked about my family. My immediate family – my parents and my sister – all live in the same house as I do, except for my brother, who’d got a job in Warsaw and had to move to live there.
Let me tell you a little about them. My mother is the oldest member of my family – she’s 60. Her name is Barbara; she is a doctor, specializing in psychiatry, and she’s really keen on her job. Despite her age she is still working more than any one of us, having a number of (part-time) jobs in a number of hospitals and clinics in Poznan. I think she has the idea that she would grow old much faster if she didn’t keep herself busy! But whenever she has some free time, she will either read, or go for a walk with Pirat. Main characteristics: hates cooking, and must have everything tidy and neat in the house. Not an easy person to have for a wife, you will think, and you will probably be right :) Fortunately, my father is a lot more relaxed about things.
My father’s name is Marian (this sounds, I think, like a female name in English, but in Polish it’s a man’s name), and he’s 2 years younger than my mother. He got his degree in Economics and worked for many years as a foreign trade specialist, then had his own company which imported animal food into Poland: this was quite successful for a number of years, which allowed my parents to build the house we live in now. But then things changed, and large international corporations entered the Polish market, and there was no longer any room for such a small player. Now he works from home helping some other companies trade rapeseed oil used for biofuels, or something of that kind – I’m not too well informed...
My sister, Helena, is 17 at the moment, and is going to turn 18 this December. This is going to be a big event for her, as the age of 18 is, according to the Polish law, the threshold of maturity – once you turn 18, you can buy alcohol, apply for a driving licence, get your ID card, even get married!
Oops, I skipped my brother. He’s 28, living in the capital city of Warsaw, and he’s focused on his export manager’s career, thus following in my father’s footsteps, so to speak. But he’s even more devoted as an entrepreneur, always coming to me with some new ideas for a business (his latest one: let’s open a Sushi bar in Poznan! :) His name’s Andrzej (Andrew in English).
So this is my family, and I’m really happy that we all get on really well with one another, and that we’ve never had any major problems amongst ourselves.
I will also try to take some photographs of my family soon so that you can see them as well!
Well, I got carried away as usual.
As for other questions, ‘gee’ is I think an exclamation showing surprise or other emotions, I remember the kids at my IB school used it quite often, I think mostly to avoid using ‘bad’ words. Probably better to use it in speech than in writing!
Now, on reading in English. I have to say I’ve got an author whose books I enjoy far more than any other written English texts – when it comes to vocabulary, style, and humour. I will not be original, I’m sure, but I’m talking about Agatha Christie. I like detective stories, but it’s not the plot that matters most; I thoroughly enjoy the wit with which she describes people and places, and the lightness of her tone (I hate moralizing books!). So if you don’t mind a slightly old-fashioned language, try her novels. I’ve tried many other books in English (some, obviously, more informative, more humorous, and often having more ingenious story to tell) but to me none of them matched Christie’s style – easy but fun.
OK, time to go. To be continued :-)
posted on Thursday, 12 June 2008 | comment on this post
some family photos... and a football nightmare!
thank you everyone for your friendly comments, and your very kind words about my family. I took some photographs today of my mum and dad so that you can see them (my sister didn’t want to be photographed – I think she’s too shy... maybe next time I’ll manage to include her as well). We stayed indoors today as the weather turned cold and rainy, and many of the photos didn’t come out too well, but I think two of them are clear enough to see, so I will copy them below.
Now, the main news in Poland for the last 24 hours has been the football game we played with Austria yesterday (as part of Euro 2008 Cup). Poland qualified for this competition for the first time in history (we don’t have a very strong national team...), so everyone was very excited about it. We are in one group with Germany, Austria and Croatia. The first game was played against Germany on Sunday, and we lost 0:2, so yesterday’s match was really important: had we won, we would have reasonable chances of going further; had we lost, we would have practically no chances left. I went to the city yesterday evening to watch it with crowds of other fans (I’m not a big football fan myself, but on such occasions everyone is, I guess). There were TV screens in every pub and every restaurant, with the biggest screen built in one of the central squares of Poznan, and I went there (I regretted not taking my camera with me). The game was really exciting: for the first 30 minutes, Poland played really badly, and there were countless chances for the Austrians to score – but they didn’t (we have a fantastic goalkeeper, Artur Boruc – if it wasn’t for him we would have lost the game badly). Then, all of a sudden, we made one quick counterattack – and we scored a goal! After that, we started to play a lot better, as if this one goal had given us a lot of self-confidence. Everyone watched the game with rising spirits until the regular 90 minutes ended. Then the referee ordered 3 minutes extra time („stoppage time” they call it), and... an almost impossible thing happened: after a minor foul commited by one of the Polish guys in the penalty area, the referee stunned everyone by ruling a penalty shot, which gave Austria a goal in the very last minute...
Well, you can imagine the shock and the sadness of everyone over here. Being so close to winning, and then ending with a draw (which is no good for anyone, really) in this most unbelievable fashion is quite upsetting – so upsetting for many Polish fans, in fact, that the referee – Mr. Howard Webb from the UK – apparently had to be given a police escort, just in case...
Ok, 3 a.m. it is here, what a surprising regularity... take care, you all, I’ll write more soon.
posted on Saturday, 14 June 2008 | comment on this post
a lazy Saturday...
What am I doing here at this time of the day... 1.45 p.m.?
Well, actually I've just finished my breakfast, and thought it would be a nice change if I wrote something when there's light outside - and not dawn which I often witness when I finish blogging!
Sophie, thanks for all the comments on my posts, and all the poetic expressions you teach us! This blog-writing method of learning is actually quite effective: whenever I want to reply to something you wrote, I normally read your text for a number of times, so by the time I've done that, all the new phrases are firmly fixed in my memory!
As you seem reluctant to depress me further by pointing out more errors to me (just kidding :), I have another question - but you don't have to answer it straight away, you may want to wait towards the end of the month. So, the question is, what should I be doing to sound more natural – if not more correct – in English? I know the general long-term answer: „immerse” in the language more, by talking to English people, reading books, watching films etc. I try to do that, of course, but maybe you can point out something more specific – and I don’t mean a single error here or there, but things like vocabulary, structure, style... Please write anything that you’ve noticed, even if it is very subjective.
I’ll have to go now, as our lawns want mowing (or more likely, it is my mum’s imagination – I mowed them last week only! ;)
posted on Saturday, 14 June 2008 | comment on this post
a few more photos
...and a few more replies to your comments :)
To Paco: it's good you mentioned Harry Potter, these stories are as popular in Poland as everywhere else, but I've never come across one in English. I've often wondered what kind of reading they make in English, so if you reckon the language is nice then I'll try and get a copy!
For Habooba, and especially Amjad, I'm posting the following two photos: one of Pirat saying hallo to you :)
...and one of our cats, basking in the afternoon sun. Can Amjad count how many there are? He might be surprised to hear that we've got more than twice as many in total! Actually, this has become a serious problem for us: when we first started living here, we welcomed the first two cats very warmly (remember we originally come from Warsaw, a big city, and had never had any experience of country life, so for a long time we didn't realise that cats can be more of a nuisance than anything else); the cats however multiplied very vey quickly, and though at first we managed to give the new-born kittens away, to friends and whoever else wanted a pet, it soon proved impossible to get rid of all those new generations. No birth control medicine was really successful in their case, so in the end we started to sterilize them one by one, but this is expensive and time consuming. We sometimes doubt if we are going to win this war in the end... Does anyone else have a similar problem?
Marianna, thanks for all the posts - yes, ever since I went to Slovakian mountains I've wanted to come back so I hope to do that one day, maybe for cycling as well as trekking. I wonder if the hotel in Ruzomberok where we stayed is still open...
Cristina, thanks for all your nice words! As you can see I still haven't managed to make a tour of Poznan with a camera in my hand, but I'll come to that, I promise :-)
Anita, congratulations on your daughter's achievements, it is a big thing to study a difficult subject in a foreign language away from home! As for living with a psychologist/psychiatrist under the same roof, well... you can get used to anything, I suppose ;-)
I've just realised that one of my cousins in Poznan - a girl called Tosia - got her psychologist's degree this year, and to celebrate it, all the family (myself included) is invited to a dinner tomorrow at 3... Await some new pictures :-)
OK, 3 a.m.is about to strike, so to finish off, let me post one more picture of myself - sitting on our terrace and looking at the lawns I mowed today... Bye!
posted on Sunday, 15 June 2008 | comment on this post
a quick update
Dear friends, hi again after a long-ish break.
Let me update you on what I’ve been up to since I last wrote, and, if time permits, also reply to some of your comments, for which I am very, very grateful as they keep this blog alive!
As previously mentioned, there was a family celebration on Sunday. One of my cousins got her university degree (in psychology), and she celebrated it by inviting the whole family to a restaurant for dinner. Our family in Poznan is quite a big one, as my mother has 3 sisters and 2 brothers, each of them married and with children, so this close family consists of approximately 30 people. When we all gather for a meal, it is a noisy crowd! But we enjoy such get-togethers immensely. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera along, so I won’t be able to show you any photographs, unless I can copy some from one of my cousins.
What was the ‘party’ like? We spent over 3 hours, sitting at a large U-shaped table, being served various courses, talking to people sitting nearby, later changing our seats so as to talk to other members of the family... It may sound boring, spending so much time at a table, but actually time passed almost unnoticed while chatting to people one sees only a few times a year.
Monday was marked by the football game, where we played Croatia, hoping against hope that we would win and at the same time Austria would win against Germany – a very unlikely scenario, but the only one qualifying us for the quarter-finals. Well, forget it: we lost, Austria lost, and according to some statistics I read in today’s papers, Poland is the worst team of Euro 2008. Condolences to all football fans in my country.
Now a few lines in reference to Sophie’s blogs. I really enjoyed the description of your weekend trip and your graceful presentation of Midsummer Night’s Dream’s plot. I had to read it through a number of times, though, in order to really follow it, so I won’t even try to guess how many times I’d have to read the original to make any sense of it. I recently borrowed a DVD of Hamlet (starring Mel Gibson) from my local British Council library, hoping that this would be a smooth start to appreciating Shakespeare. It wasn’t! I couldn’t make much sense of all that „thou shalt” language, a lot of it not even showing in any dictionary! I wonder if an average Englishman understands that speech :)
Oops, it’s 3.30, and the dawn is breaking... time to go, I’m afraid. See you tomorrow, I hope!
posted on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 | comment on this post
on how I've become a builder...
Hello my friends from all round the world :-)
I am sorry for another disrupion to the regularity of my blogging... and as I can’t lay the blame on the lack of time, health indisposition or broken internet connection, I’ll have to admit I’m not good with routine jobs at all...
But tonight I’m ready to blog. A mug of cappuccino in one hand, a Chopin cd on my player, and it’s only 0:45, so the environment is perfect for ‘putting a pen to paper’.
Let me first tell you what I’ve been up to for the last few days. On Sunday, we had another family gathering: it was my aunt’s name-day celebration, and she is sort of special to me, being my god-mother. My sister and myself went to it (both my parents making excuses why they cannot go – they are probably the least social of the whole family!). The party started at 5 p.m. and I observed that my family follow a funny custom which, as someone has recently pointed out to me, is typical of Poznanians (as opposed to the rest of Poland): that at an afternoon/evening party, sweets are served first, and only then, after a short break, the main (‘concrete’, as we call them) dishes. So we were first given a chocolate cake, a coconut cake, and a strawberry cake, and then after an hour or so the salads arrived, a ‘leczo’ (tomatoes stewed with bell peppers and spices – a Hungarian dish, I believe) and other hot dishes. Isn’t it funny to serve courses this way? I’d much rather have them the other way round...
My other recent activities included reading – I devoured another Christie novel, ‘The mystery of the blue train’, over 200 pages in less than three days, and almost without the help of a dictionary... This gave me confidence in my reading abilities, so on my visit to the British library I decided to take something else than Christie, but of course I had no idea what to choose, so I took ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Stevenson and ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen – just because these two titles sounded familiar... How do you choose what to read? Marianna, I took note of your reference to Stephen Keeler’s reading list, but unfortunately I couldn’t find his January 07 blog. I often come across a mention of a book that sounds interesting, in a newspaper or otherwise, but then I can never remember the title or the author when I’m in the library... Same goes for buying music CDs, by the way :-)
Anyway, I started reading the Jekyll/Hyde story, and the language is very different... I have no idea how it comes about that I take a Christie book, and on any given page it is difficult to find a single word that would be ambiguous to me, whereas in Stevenson’s book I can find one in almost every sentence... It’s surprising, given that both write in English. Or maybe it is that each writer has a specific vocabulary, and I’ve mastered that of Christie, having read so many of her books?
Now, onto something most recent – today I’ve become a builder :-) Let me explain, as this is something that will probably keep me busy for the next month or so.
There’s this shed, or carport, or whatever you could call it, in front of our house – a structure with a roof that was originally intended by my parents as a place to park the cars. Then, some years ago, I was running a window replacement shop which I soon closed, and was left with a number of demonstration PVC windows that my father eventually used to build some funny-looking walls, to enclose one part of this shed. This is what it looks like from the outside:
Inside there’s a mess of old things, like spare tyres or old furniture, as this space hasn’t been used for any specific purpose so far. However, I recently got an idea that it should be relatively easy to turn this into a full-fledged living or office space (well, almost!), with only little investment but a lot of hard work! I convinced my parents to participate, and I am now looking forward to a lot of constructive (literally!) work.
I set about this job by removing paving bricks (stones?), so that I could put a layer of thermal insulation underneath, and also level the surface so that later it can be tiled properly.
Carrying out those bricks is hard, but there is one entertaining aspect to it: putting them down onto a pile in a way that would minimise the area occupied is like playing a computer game (as they have different sizes). Have a look for yourself!
Ok, guess what time it is? Yes, 3 a.m.
Talk to you soon!
posted on Tuesday, 24 June 2008 | comment on this post
a bonfire night!
for the sake of regularity let's have a short story of what I did today.
In fact, I wouldn't have much to tell, except to relate some progress on my shed development (almost all the 'cobblestones' are now removed), if it wasn't for my sister, and the idea she came up with in the evening: let's have a bonfire!
I was sceptical at first, because the evening was chilly, but then I discovered some sausages in the fridge, remembered that I had a number of beer cans left over, and that the fire might be a good way to get rid of some old wooden bits I removed from the shed... and I joined in!
We gathered at the bottom end of our garden (it is a slope), where the grass never grows properly, and my father helped start the fire. Have a look:
What's the best thing about having a bonfire? Holiday aura, and the sausages everyone grills using long sticks! I had my share, of course
You'll be able to catch a glimpse of my sister this time
... and of Pirat, who was at first very excited that something was in the air, but then was very scared of the fire so I had to fiddle with him a bit
That's all for tonight, take care...
posted on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 | comment on this post
From BBC Learning English
Just a quick message to say thank you to Lukasz for being our blogger in June, for telling everyone so much about himself and his family (I am sure I am not alone in feeling that I know them all personally!) and of course for the pictures. Looks like your bonfire night was quite spectacular Lukasz!
From tomorrow, please welcome Rosalba who is from Italy but lives in Aotearoa. 'Where is that?' I hear some of you asking. Well, you will have to come back to the blog from tomorrow onwards to find out!
BBC Learning English team
posted on Monday, 30 June 2008 | comment on this post
Here we are!!
Hi everybody, my name is Rosalba but you can call me Rosi, it is much easier...especially for the Anglo-Saxon world.
I'm Italian but I live in New Zealand at the moment. I've been living here for a while and I think the Kiwi land is just amazing. I was thinking to tell you something about this little part of the world in my blog and I would really happy if you ask me any questions, I'll try to answer to everyone, I promise!! Let me know if you rather want to speak about something else, I like suggestions and advices but I think New Zealand is not a very known country and it would be nice discover new places and traditions.
Let me tell you what Aotearoa means.......it is a Maori word but I will have the time to explain everything I know about this people! Anyway Aotearoa means "The land of the long white cloud". I'm sure you are wondering why this name....you will discover it later on!
Well, I guess I should tell you something more about myself before starting seriously this blog...
I am thirty-year-old, married with an incredible Italian man, Ivano and I am a food technologist. You probably are wondering why we decided to come so far away. Uhmm, there are many reasons actually. First of all, we would like to reach a very good knowledge of English language. In fact I think that understanding, writing and speaking a good English will help us to learn more about what's going on in the World. I mean that many scientific reviews, financial articles and even speeches held by Prime Ministers, Presidents and so on are international, to put it better... in English.
Well, I reckon it's enough as introduction of myself for now. I really hope I will have the time to write every day so that we will know each other better and I look forward to "meet" my teacher!!!
The day is just starting here and in Europe a the night is coming....timing is strange, don't you think so?
posted on Monday, 30 June 2008 | comment on this post