Monthly Archives: August 2013

A quick baking lesson

We’ve already told you about John’s biscuits. Well, he aso makes soda bread – the same basic recipe each time, but with different flavourings. Yesterday it was fried onions, today it’s cheddar and sun-dried tomatoes.

Whatever you do, DO NOT try this with Polish “cheddar” as it’s like chewing rubber. Thankfully, our local Tesco gets Cathedral City Mature (we suspect we buy all of it!)

So here you go –

Irish soda bread


Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.
  2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
  5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

I knew the weather was changing

I knew the weather was changing

It has been hot and dry for a while, now.

Our spring dried three days ago, so we’re now bringing water down from the forest.

Today, you could see there was a sort of fuzziness to the hills in the distance. That always means we’re in for a damp patch. Just a short while ago I was in the garden with the dogs and the thunder started from the mountains. Rumble, rumble. All the dogs in the valley started to bark. I could feel the temperature dropping as I sat there, every breath of breeze colder than the last.

The first drops of rain meant it was time to get myself and the dogs back indoors.

So here we are, home and dry. I hope, but don’t expect, there will be enough rain to re-start the spring.

Council Tax

You remember the Council Tax riots we had under Thatcher? Poles do it differently.

Nowy Sącz has about 85,000 inhabitants. The council is revising the way it charges for rubbish collection so it sent every home a form which the residents were asked to complete and return – the key question was how many people live at this address.

The completed forms were analysed, heads were scratched – somehow the population of Nowy Sącz had fallen to 35,000!




So, like I said, we went up to Kraków yesterday with Maciek and Sabina.

The day started early – we met them at Maciek’s workshop a little after seven – and bright … it quickly got warmer.

We did some stuff in Limanowa then moved on to Kraków, where we stayed until a bit after 4pm, when we headed home. Going via Limanowa meant taking the ridgeback road – actually, it’s Route 28 and we follow it from Nowy Sącz all the way to Mszana Dolna, then head for the S7/E77 up to Kraków. The road climbs up from Nowy Sącz, with two bits of not-quite hairpins to take you up onto the top of the ridge, then mile after miles of gob-smacking views.

Maciek wanted to pop in to see a buddy at his place on Lake Czchowskie so we drove home “the other way” – that’s the newly improved A4/E40 then south on Route 75. That road tootles through some nice countryside – less wild and fewer vistas than the ridgeback, but a nice change.


Lake Czchowskie

Incidentally, the S7/E77 and A4/E40 have dot matrix displays of air and road surface temperatures – this afternoon they were consistently reading air temp about 38 degrees and road surface over 50!

We’ve mentioned elsewhere on here the rebuilt castle at Wytrzyszczka – it scores a prize as one of John’s favourite bits of Polish … Zamek Tropsztyn at Wytrzyszczka. We’ll come back to that, because we actually want to tell you about the little village just to the north.

That also takes us back to the heading for this post – how would YOU say Czchów?

In fact, it’s sort of “choof” … which could be a posh chuff, no?

We’re not going to give you a long history. Czchów is on the Dunajec River and from C14 to C17 the town was an important stop on the trade route along the valley (and on the river) with defensive walls, a castle and a customs house. By 1545 it even had its own waterworks and sewage system.

It wasn’t to last, though, and from the middle of C17 new trade routes, flooding and the devastation caused by the Swedish invasion of Poland took their toll – in 1662 the population of the town fell to 500 and, after a particularly bad flood in 1690, only 36 houses remained. In time, the castle was turned into a prison.

The ruins of Czchów Castle – built some time before 1356, but only the tower remained by C17.






Czchów_Castle path



view 2


Czchów found itself a part if Austria after the Partitions (1772), and it remained there until 1918. In 1928, the status of Czchów was reduced to a village. It was upgraded to a town again in 2000.

In and around the village are a number of things to see.

The parish church – Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary – dates back to 1346, when the town’s importance was growing.





St Ann’s Church, by the graveyard – you see the curved end of the roof from the road





The rynek and the houses in and around the town









Oh – and even today – a ferry


Czchów Castle is on the right side of the road, on the hill. A little further down the road, on the left side, is Tropsztyn Castle.




Built in C13, the castle was already a ruin by 1608.

The castle was rebuilt in 1993 (with a helipad) and is now open to the public in July and August.




Border zone, customs posts, trade routes – the area along the Dunajec is full of (the remains of) castles. There’s little left of many – noting above ground to show there ever WAS a castle on the hill which is now Monkey Island – but a tRożnów you can see what’s left of both the C14 upper castle and the never-competed C16 lower castle, as well as the dam and pleasant little town.







Nowy Rożnów


We knew you’d ask – it’s a tomb for the Eben and Mohring families, from 1780



The word for “castle”, incidentally, is ZAMEK

While you’re there, visit the Ciężkowice-Rożnów Landscape Park.









And ask yourself … why would these guys move from London to Poland?









Summer came

It’s not so long ago that we asked where summer had gotten to – it was, and intermittently continued to be, cold and damp, with our view often blanked out by cold, drippy mists.

Well, that sure changed and we’re in the middle of a heat wave.

People are swimming in the river, skirts are noticeably shorter and/or floatier and shirts are coming off. Business as McDs and KFC is dow, as takings shoot up at the ice cream cafes.

Plus, with all the wetness, the hills are green, the garden really getting into its stride. Nowy Sacz has a lot lof trees, and they’re really looking good.

The dogs and cats are all getting on. Rajmund has bought some gadgets so he’s happy too!

And we’re off to Krakow in the morning, with Maciek and Sabina.