Monthly Archives: October 2013

1 November – All Saints’ Day

1 November is All Saints’ Day, an important Polish holiday that offers Poles the opportunity to remember the departed.


Starting from early morning, cemeteries are visited and candles and flowers placed on graves as the living say prayers for the dead. The nature of the holiday does not dictate that only family members’ graves are decorated; old and forgotten graves and the graves of strangers are also visited. On a national level, the graves of important Poles and military tombs are honoured.


Candles in colourful glass jars that number in the thousands light up cemeteries on All Saints’ Day, and a day that might be otherwise considered a mournful affair is transformed into one of beauty and light. It is also an opportunity for family members to bond and to remember those whom they have lost. Mass is held for those who wish to attend church and pray for the dead.


Halloween is not a big deal in Poland, but All Saints’ Day recalls the ancient aspect of the Halloween tradition that describes how the world of the living and the world of the dead collide. All Saints’ Day is followed by All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), and it’s during the evening between these two days that past generations believed that the deceased would visit the living.


Commerciality alert. All Saints’ Day is like Valentine’s Day, but with added candles. Florists have stocked up and will sell out. Candle and flower sellers have been camped out in the graveyard car parks since Monday. But driving by a graveyard today – especially this evening, is very special.

Polish car park

Polish car park

I didn’t have this pic when I posted the article About Polish Cars – in fact, Andrew just posted it today.


It’s taken in Warsaw in – believe it or not – the 1970s.

The beetle-back cars are FSO Warsawas built from 1951 to 1973.

warszawa_m20 1






In all that time, there were very few re-designs – the first was a modification to the front end, with a slimmed-down grill and a “panoramic” windscreen.



Then came the fairly short-lived model 201 in 1961, which kept the front end but lost the beetle back. Finally, from 1964 to 1973 the model 223/224.





Alongside the saloons, FSO built a pick-up, panel van and estate car.

fso 1957 warszawa-furgon

FSO 1963 Warszawa-pickup




The car also saw some parts used in other models


The FSC Zuk


The UDF Nysa


And the FSR Tarpan

There was even series production of the rail version, used for track inspections in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria.



 Is it just me, or does this remind you of Bangle BMW boot lids?

 The car was killed off by that Polish beauty, the FSO 125. That was supposed to be an improvement!


RIP, old boy, RIP!

PS – inevitably, the Warsawa was based on someone else’s car … in this case, the GAZ-M20 “Pobeda” … which was, shall we say, “inspired by” US models on sale before its production?


Eat your heart out, David Cameron!

Eat your heart out, David Cameron!

John found an easy bread recipe we both like.

We’ve not agreed on the bread question since we left London. There, we’d always buy and freeze the proverbial sliced white and enjoy fresh the “artisan” bread from Tesco. Or occasionally treat ourselves to a loaf from Dunn’s in Crouch End. But since we moved to Poland, we’ve not found bread we like at either end of the scale – or, indeed, in the middle!

John has been getting around this by baking American-style “biscuits”, plain, fruity or cheesy, but for the most part we’ve been buying bread for sandwiches.

At last we’ve found a bread recipe that works for us. It’s simple, straightforward, and although it uses yeast it does not require too much kneading. Not too needy, as you might say!

OK, you might not.

So, the recipe is simple.

500g plain flour

1tsp salt

1 packet of instant yeast (7g)

10.5 fl oz warm water or warm milk

40g butter

Put the flour into your mixing bowl. Put the salt at one side and the yeast at the other. Put the room-temp butter or margarine into the middle and work it all together – think breadcrumbs. Then add the warm liquid and it all turns into dough.

Work the dough for a couple of minutes then dribble a little olive oil onto the surface and cover the bowl (incl dough) with a damp clean cloth and leave somewhere warm for an hour.

Make and drink coffee, do a bit of cleaning, watch some TV, surf … how you spend the hour is up to you.

Still with us? OK. Select your baking tray and sprinkle it with flour. Or get out your non-stick loaf tin.

Turn your dough out onto an oiled surface and give it a good pummelling. Then shape it into your loaf, rolls or whatever and plop it into/onto your baking tin/tray. Cover with your still-slightly damp cloth and leave for another hour.

The second knead is also when you add any cheese or fruit and nuts. Cheese and sun-dried tomatoes is a good one!

Now because you’re going to need a hot oven in an hour or so, this is not a bad time to bake a cake or something. Dundee cake is delicious, but most often we just make variations on Madeira – though if you soak some fruit first for 20 minutes in tea, the resulting fruity cake is superb!

Now, turn your oven on to 220 degrees. When it’s hot, pop your loaf in and give it half an hour. Rolls will take more like 20 minutes. When you think time’s up, tap your loaf and so long as it sound hollow, it’s ready.

Cool, then eat with lots of butter, jam, ham …