When we look back, 2014 was a busy year for us with an unusual amount of travel in and out of Poland. Since we bought the house in 2010, we have realised that the garden and work needed to maintain the ‘grounds’ has kept us occupied most weekends and we have stayed at home, rather than made the effort to see new places. Comfort can be a disadvantage and adventure only begins once you leave your front door.
First trip of the year was Thailand with some friends. A once in a lifetime trip without the children – adults only so that we could spend some serious time hiking in the jungle etc. The almost 3 weeks was packed with travel from one place to another. A stunning country and culture and spending NYE in Chiang Mai was breathtaking. Some highlights:
King Prawns cooked on the side of the street in Bangkok. Delicious…
Tuk Tuk – the quickest and most thrilling way to travel around Bangkok. Not the most healthy though!
Releasing Chinese Lanterns into the sky in Chiang Mai on NYE. Thousands filled the air above the city – an amazing and unique sight.
Prepared for our 3-day hike in the jungles above Chiang Mai. Giant spiders, waterfalls, snakes and endless jungle vistas – we saw them all.
Early morning village wildlife in the jungle.
Our jungle cook smoking Banana Tobacco – readily available here. The ‘Rat Stew’ he prepared was not as popular as he thought it would be…
Beautiful sandy beaches, beach barbecues, coral reef snorkelling, fresh seafood and hikes in the hills – a mix of everything on Kao Tao.
These are a selection of many photos taken. We took cookery classes, hired mopeds in the mountains, hiked in the jungle and spent a few days snorkelling watching colourful parrot fish, small octopus and and long, strange pipefish. A truly remarkable place with friendly people, unfortunately scarred by the tragic events last year on the party beaches of Kao Tao. We stayed away from the half-moon parties and kept to the quieter parts of the island. The heat was wonderful and a perfect way to break up the Polish winter.
A few months later in April, we drove to the south of France to meet my family for a few weeks at the house. A time for construction and teamwork in the rain, rather than relaxation and warmth! We did get a few days sunshine – this is one of my favourite photos, Lucy sunbathing in the south of France in her wellies!
Other than this, it was all hands to work building walls…
A long term project to say the least! But spending time down there in the quiet French countryside is always fun. The fresh baguettes, local wine and variety of cheeses an added benefit…
In the summer, we headed to England for two weeks which was well documented here. More quality time with the kids hiking in the Yorkshire hills. The weather was perfect and the crisp air of the British countryside is hard to beat. An ideal opportunity for the kids to speak English to everyone around them – it’s surprising how much they can when they choose to!
And of course a few weekends away in Poland – the first to the Beskidy Hills to spend a couple of days walking. The old fashion method of harvesting can still be seen here with the hay forked onto wooden spindles and left to dry. None of the huge bailing machines to be seen. The fields aren’t big enough to justify the expense and the farmers just don’t have the money. All done by the family, by hand.
“The path is here somewhere, I know it!”
The second was our weekend to Babia Góra National Park with a group of friends. More hiking in the hills with an overnight stop in a shelter on the mountainside. An evening of singing with a guitar and playing board games with the kids. Very enjoyable even though we didn’t make it to the summit. Just as well as those that did told us that it was zero visibility and snow everywhere, even in September.
The aim is to keep the boys interested in seeing new places and spending time with good friends. Sitting at home, the computer or the telly beckons and the kids zombie out for more than a few hours. Not good for them and they are learning zilch. I’m not sure 2015 will have the same variety, but I think it will be as interesting as there are several places in Poland on the must-see list. Some we have visited sometime ago and would like to revisit, Białowieża National Park for instance.
I also need more excuses to get my camera out and shoot something new which is getting harder the more places we visit. My wife knows Poland so it is her challenge for this year. I hear a few days around Pilsko in the Beskidy Hills plus a a week around the Tatras is already being planned…