The Commonwealth


The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th- and 17th-century Europe, with some 390,000 square miles (1,000,000 km2) and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century.


The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania 1620, with modern borders superimposed

Born 1369, when Lithuania’s Grand Duke Jogaila married Queen regnant* Jadwiga of Poland. Ended with the Third Partition in 1795, Poland and Lithuania would not appear on maps again until 1918.



*    Queen regnant = queen is reigning monarch rather than being “just” the king’s wife. QEII is a queen regnant.

Bear news

Short video of the 2-3 year old bear – seen here at the school in Gołkowice Górne, but also spotted in Stary Sącz.

Stary is “old” as Nowy is “new. Gołkowice Górne is about 15km south-west of Nowy Sącz, Stary Sącz a bit closer.

Niedzica Castle

Kamila, a friend of ours posted this picture in Facebook. I wanted to share it with you.


The castle is on Lake Czorstyn, a reservoir just a little ways from the Dunajec Gorge, on the road to Zakopane. At the lake there are the ruins of another castle, watersports and a water taxi and the dam, which offers tours for anyone interested.

More info here :

For anyone driving to Zakopane, or indeed from Zak, a stop at the lake plus a ride down the river on the rafts would be a nice way to spend some time!


Poland, 1922 – 1946

A grim day, with the clouds at ground level and even a bit of damp snowfall led to some Wikipedia surfing. You know … one thing sparks your interest and next thing it’s a couple of hours later and you know all sorts of stuff you don’t need!

This time, prompted by an article on Polish Forums, I was reading about Kresy Wschodnie, aka Poland’s Eastern Borderlands. Anyone knowing their Polish history knows that Poland was carved up between Russia, Prussia and Austria in the late 1790s and did not regain independence until 1918 (when she was promptly invaded by the Soviets, who were defeated at the Battle of Warsaw). You’ll also know that the post WW1 borders were far to the east of their present positions – but do you know HOW far east?

I found this map. It shows a grey area – the Kresy, lost to the Soviets after WW2 – and a pink area – formerly German and alllotted to Poland after WW2.

Lwow (L’viv) and Wilno (Vilnius) appear in what WAS Poland, as do the German cities of Wrocław (formerly Breslau) and Gdansk (formerly Danzig) in what WAS Germany.


One thing that does not appear is Königsberg. The former capital of Prussia and later of East Prussia, became a Soviet posession after WW2 and was renamed Kaliningrad – the surrounding area being Kaliningrad Oblast and still today a part of Russia, though separated from it. The Oblast borders Poland to the west and Lithuania to the east.

Incidentally, though just lines on a map these lines affected millions of people – not just waking up in a different country but actually being forced to move to the country which fit there ethnicity – ethnic Poles forcibly moved from Ukraine to Poland, ethnic Germans moved from Poland to Germany, ethic Ukrainians (including the local Lemko, post WW1 and later) forced to move east. In it’s day, Lwow was a very important Polish city, and western Ukraine still has a significant ethnic Polish minority, despite Soviet efforts to clear ’em out.

What makes all this a bit scary is the suggestion in Poland that if Russia continues its present course Poland should offer all the people of Kresy  her protection and citizenship, expanding Poland,  NATO and the EU right up to Russia’s doorstep.

Now, what is it they say about “living in interesting times”?

Doggy Hair-dos

Doggy Hair-dos

So, April and our thoughts turn to ….. getting the dogs’ coats trimmed.

The local doggy salon is part of our vet’s practice, so down they went.

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Jurek’s breed basically looks like a miniature Old English Sheepdog. He’s what’s known as a “chocolate PON” – he has some brown hair and a brown nose, in other words – but he’s mostly white. Here he is – Jurek, the Powder Puff Boy, the day after he was trimmed and bathed.

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TeaPot was a mess. Her hair gets like a poodle’s coat when it gets long and she loses the Schnauzer look. That all changes when she’s clipped. Here she is

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Spring countdown

Well, the magnificent magnolia looks about to burst into bloom. I can see the buds swelling and in just a few days we ought to have a wonderful display.

We’ve also (believe it or not) been gardening. First John got carried away and ordered seed trays, propagators and flower seeds from Amazon (free delivery to Poland if you spend over £25). Then, after realising he had more trays than seeds, a joint trip to the garden centre brought us two hanging baskets and a load of flower plants, more flower seeds and some tomato seeds.

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The house faces south, so the log walls and rock foundations retain heat, so we ought to be OK with the tomatoes. Time will tell, I guess.

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So far, strategic use of sticky tape has kept the cats out of the propagators – Jasper has tried to sit on one though, and those things aren’t made like they used to be!

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First time gardening in 30 years – just goes to show what a series of first floor and higher flats in London did for my green fingers!

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Pics to follow, when we have more colour to show you. Meantime, our days have been bright, sunny and dry … but storms are forecast for tonight!

How’s your winter going?


With the news continuously reporting on storms in the US and UK, which seems to be liable to sink beneath the waves at any moment, we have a very gentle winter to report, here.

2013 we had two feet of snow … not the same two feet, clearly, but from Xmas Eve until 6 April there was two feet of snow outside. It would melt a bit, then be topped up, for months. We have pictures!

This year we have had only about four noticeable snow falls, and two of them were last week – when the temperature dropped overnight and we had about 10cm of snow, which promptly all melted next day when the warm sun rose in a clear blue sky. Twice! Even the north facing slopes, opposite us, are clear.

I was outside with the dogs, wearing a sweater, for well over an hour. Lovely and warm, until the sun went behind the hills.

What will the weather be like when YOU come to Poland? Who knows, my friend, who knows!