Tuesday, May 31, 2011

151/365: The castle ruins in Besiekiery

151/365: The castle ruins in Besiekiery
May 31st

What a sight. I read about these ruins in a guidebook to castles in the Lodz voivodship, and decided to make them the destination for my first 100+ km bike trip. (yes, it hurt, and yes, it was worth it.)

The village of Besiekiery itself is very small- a few houses, a small school, but it dates back to the 13th century. The name suggests that its original settlers were Scandinavian- viking mercenaries in the service of our first dynasty of kings, the Piasts. 'Besiekr' is a nordic word meaning 'man wearing a bear skin'. But in Polish, 'siekiera' means axe, and so there is also a legend about the devil Boruta (who also dipped his claws in the history of the nearby Royal Castle in Łęczyca) striking a deal with a local noble that would allow him to collect the man's soul if first he built him a castle without the use of an axe- without a siekiera. In Polish: Bez siekiery!

What the poor devil didn't know was that one of the labourers was named Siekierka...

Castle ruins in Besiekiery

Ruins in Besiekiery

But that's only a legend. The castle is a little younger than the settlement, having been built around the year 1500. It used to have a large tower which held the main gate and a chapel, an open courtyard and a three storey house in the back. It was modified several times over the years, but has been abandoned since the mid-19th century.

Castle ruins in Besiekiery


Currently, the municipality is gathering funds to revitalise the ruins and make them a safe and welcoming tourist attraction. So far they've strengthened the remainders of the main house and rebuilt the moat. There's a little beach, but swimming isn't a good idea as there is a lot of duckweed and leeches. Yuck!

Oh, another interesting thing about this castle is that it's home to a pair of storks.

King of the castle

They come every year to build their nests on top of the ruins. Storks are very popular in Poland, we consider them to be one of our national symbols.

The castle stork

The stork is a bird that brings luck, and it's very good to have one on your property- they say lightning will not strike where a stork has his nest. And because storks like high places, many landowners will set up a special post or build a platform on top of the barn roof, or in the branches of a dead tree, to encourage storks to make their nest there.

I saw more than one stork on my way to the village. It's the season!

Another stork

First stork!

Stork and haybale

On the map, red is my planned route, blue is the actual path I took. Some of those roads weren't roads at all! Google Maps doesn't know everything ;)

View Łódź - Besiekiery in a larger map

Monday, May 30, 2011

150/365: Tomorrow

150/365: Tomorrow
150/365: Tomorrow, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 30th

Epic bike trip coming up. Too busy to shoot anything more decent, but tomorrow's pictures will be glorious.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

149/365: Games

149/365: Games
149/365: Games, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 29th

Someone was having fun here. Kids in the city are creatures of great invention!


Friday, May 27, 2011

147/365: Strawberry

147/365: Strawberry
147/365: Strawberry, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
Another evening of staying at home. And this will ALSO go into my breakfast shake. Strawberries are in season and cheap as dirt, I always eat massive amounts of them in the summer. And then none for the rest of the year- who wants oversized, tasteless, imported and overpriced fruit?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

146/365: Banana

146/365: Banana
146/365: Banana, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 26th

An evening of being tired and not feeling like going outside to shoot. These bananas will go into my breakfast shake. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

145/365: Red bicycle going to Rogów

145/365: Red bicycle
145/365: Red bicycle, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 25th

I like cycling.

The problem is finding people who want to cycle with me. I'm in that awkward bracket: not hardcore enough for most enthusiasts, too hardcore for my casually biking friends. So, when I plan a trip somewhere, I usually end up going alone.

But this time, the trip wasn't my idea. "Let's go to Rogów," my friend Kasia (in the picture) said. "Let's go to the Life Sciences Arboretum." Only, of course, the minute I said yes, the planning fell to me. And planning is odd when you can't gauge the endurance of your group. Already, there were complaints. "Eight in the morning? Why do we have to leave that early?"

"Because it will be boiling hot by 11 am, and because it's thirty miles, and I can't see you going faster than eight on average."

And because I only know half of the way there. But, I didn't tell them that.

I plotted a route, strapped my new Android phone to the handlebars for GPS assistance, and hoped for the best.

We got lost, of course. Pro tip: when the opening of a trail is guarded by a headless Jesus statue, don't follow it. It's a very, very bad trail.

The next trip I'm planning will be lonesome. Apparently no one wants to bike sixty miles to see the ruins of a gothic castle.

Things we saw along the way were a WWI cemetery hidden in the forest in Wiączyń: 


...a village called Moscow:


Apparently the local lord took part in Napoleon's failed Moscow Campaign, and when he returned, he named the village Moskwa.

We crossed a terrible slippery log bridge over a swamp:


...then cycled through the Windows XP background...

Cycling through a Windows background

...until finally, Rogów!

Rogów at last!

...with beautiful Azaleas:


...a pond full of lilypads, frogs, and fishies:

The pond world


A school of fishies

The woodcut typography used in the arboretum signposts is worth a mention. Look at the 'transparency'!

Fab wooden typography

It was a good day. Here's the map. Orange trail is what I had planned, blue is our actual route.

View Wycieczka do Rogowa in a larger map

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

144/365: Strawberry Milkshake

144/365: Strawberry Milkshake

May 24th

Two handfuls of strawberries, a banana, a cup of kefir, two ice cubes. Blend. Drink. Know that life has meaning.

Monday, May 23, 2011

143/365: Garlic abundant in Warsaw

143/365: Garlic abundant in Warsaw
May 23rd

"There is garlic flowering at the Grzybowski square!" my friend told me, excitedly, after coming back from a Jewish Dance Workshop. The square is in the old Ghetto area and there was a festival- I missed it, I was at a different folk fest across town.

But at least I could go take photos of the garlic.


All Saints Church

Sunday, May 22, 2011

142/365: Carving workshop

142/365: Carving workshop
142/365: Carving workshop, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 22nd

A year ago, on Palm Sunday (photoset here), I met mr Staśkiewicz, a folk artist. He promised to make me a hurdy-gurdy.

A year is a long time to wait, but I caught him at a folk picnic in the park- what luck that I was in Warsaw that weekend. He promised he'd get to my dream drehleier as soon as possible. But he's so busy with workshops and fests...carving saints and birds...repairing basolias and surdinkas and countless other folk instruments I've never even heard of.

But I won't stop whining about my hurdy-gurdy until I'm turning the crank.

Carving workshops in the park

Na Obartek

Dancers from the hills

Dancers from the hills

A game with the blacksmith

The Blacksmith

Andrzej Staśkiewicz of the Kurpie region playing the basolia (basetla)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

141/365: Sigismund

141/365: Sigismund
141/365: Sigismund, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 21st

In Warsaw for the weekend. Hello, King Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, monarch of the united Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1587 to 1632, and King of Sweden from 1592 until 1599! You're looking mighty majestic up on your column today.
He's got a nice view on the upcoming Euro 2012 stadium, too:

The basket is coming along nicely

Friday, May 20, 2011

140/365: Deconstruction

140/365: Deconstruction
140/365: Deconstruction, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 20th

The EC-1 power plant, getting a makeover to become a culture and media centre. We're anxiously awaiting the results of this project.

Old Electric Plant

Thursday, May 19, 2011

139/365: Light up Lodz

139/365: Light up Lodz
139/365: Light up Lodz, originally uploaded by Magic Madzik.
May 19th

A small happening by a street art group. "Our city is full of dark places," they said. "Let's light one of them up." They are trying to draw attention to good locations in Lodz which are not being used to their full potential. The space where they asked people to bring their lamps is a pretty decent stretch where trees grow, and there could be benches and grass, except now all that's there is dirt, dog poop and drunks peeing on the walls. So instead of a little park, a place to breathe and rest, we have a dirty, disgusting area which everyone avoids.

With the lamps, just for one evening, it became a magical place.

Light up Lodz

Light up Lodz

Light up Lodz

Light up Lodz

Light up Lodz

Light up Lodz
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