Warning – this a boyband post

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Today I was 26 going on 12. A few days ago while trawling the interweb for things to do in NYC I came across a Backstreet Boys concert happening in Cantral Park. And while current me cringed, 12 year old me’s heart lept moon-high. The decision was made.

This morning I woke up at 4.30, pressed snooze 3 times and almost contemplated not going. Then I got ready in ten minutes, jumped on my bike (Emily) and realised there is actually an incline when going from 110th St towards 64th for a while. I got there and stood in the general queue until I heard another woman say, “who is here alone?”. So I said that I am – and she smiled and told me to come with her – she had VIP tickets. This wonderful woman’s name is Tatiana – and this is what is so amazing about New York. You leave home thinking you are going somewhere on your own — and then you meet really cool people who are also here alone.

I am not even going to lie, no matter who judges me – the concert was so much fun. The crowd had a great energy and even though my voice is so awful, I sang all my favoutite tweenie hits to my heart’s content. The BSB sounded great and they had an actual band with them – which gave the pop music a bit of a rawer sound. They did all the dance moves we swooned over when we were 12 – even though these guys must all be pushing (or well over) 40.

In the end, there isn’t a price you can put on nostalgic memories.

Goodbye Poland

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Another day, another airport. My three days in Poland have gone very quickly and I have had a great time here. My cousins are grown up now so it is a lot more fun to hang out than a few years ago. This morning our plans to travel to Warsaw by car were thrown out of the window as it had started snowing during the night so we had a rather hairaising trip to the train station and we caught the train to Warsaw with only 3 minutes to spare. I was actually quite happy about this change because I love traveling by train and staring out the window for hours.

As a little goodbye note I wanted to share a collection of landscape photos I took this week. A lot has changed about Poland since we left, but some things have stayed the same and the scenes of my childhood remain.

I love how spooky the landscapes look in winter, with the bare trees, empty fields, and old ramshackle buildings. All these photos have been edited using Pixlromatic on my iPad since I have not taken my slow and heavy laptop on the trip (the iPad is the only way to travel).

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Down memory lane

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This morning I got sent to the shops in -10 degrees to buy a few things for my grandmother, who hasn’t been feeling well. When I got back to her house (digits barely intact) she asked if I wanted to look at the her old photos. Of course I said yes, so she sent me to fetch the old chocolate box and white handbag where she keeps all of her old photos.

I’ve looked at these before but I never noticed the little love note photos before, that my gran and grandpa had sent each other before they were married. I love the digital photography age but tragically things like this have been lost along the way – the fact that photos were so expensive and there was no SMS, email or Facebook made notes like these extra special.

I also really enjoyed seeing some of my grans’s more stylish outfits. In some of the photos, if you look close enough, you can see her with the white handbag that the photos are now kept in.

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What does childhood taste like? Ice cream of course…

I don’t have any old photos of me with the ice cream so the newspaper will have to do.

In less than a week’s time I will be visiting Poland for the first time since December 2004. I have been thinking a lot about my childhood there and the relationship I have with Poland and I thought I’d share an old piece that I wrote a few years ago during one of my less successful blog attempts…

“The other day I was watching television and something made me think back on the ice cream we used to buy in Poland as kids. It was called Calypso and  it had the face of a young African boy – similar to those offensive 1930s/40s colonial cartoons – printed on the silver wrapper. The ice cream resembled a block of butter – a single rectangular block of ice cream wrapped in foil. No stick. No cup.

This is the new version of the ice cream - still with the rather offensive (in my opinion) illustrations. Courtesy of http://www.lodmor.com.pl

I think there were three or four flavours – chocolate, vanilla, vanilla-choc and vanilla-with-strange-jelly-bits. I remember an occasion where by sheer bad luck I ended up with one of those – I stood outside the local store where I had bought my ice cream and to my horror I discovered bright bits of green, yellow and red blemishing the vanilla. For a six or seven year old true disappointments in life are for the most part limited to exactly such disasters; however even as an adult you still feels that same dismay when you realize that you picked up the wrong flavour of chocolate or chips ten minutes after you’ve left the shop.

A quick google search has revealed Calypsos are still around, but from what I have heard they are nothing but poorly executed imitations which offer only a false hope of being able to tap into one’s childhood. The wrapper has been updated and they have a whole lot of new flavours – the jelly monster is amazingly still available.

Childhood memories are precious, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera writes the following: “Not long ago, I caught myself experiencing a most incredible sensation. Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood. I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler’s concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?”

A part of me really wishes I could have one more opportunity to taste an old-school Calypso with its smooth and rich creaminess, but another part of me realises that my memory has created a taste which cannot be reproduced in life, and would probably disappoint. I remember the first time I watched Scooby Doo after a gap of about 6 years – I could not believe that this rubbish had been one of my favourite shows to watch. This of course is not true for everything but there are some memories I think I should leave high up in the cabinet, behind protective glass, rather than risk taking them down to see all the dust and cracks.”

This is my granny who I will be visiting next week. I'm sure she will try to feed me lots and lots of Polish food.
Smurf shirt - check!
I’m sure my mom will want to kill me for putting this up – 80s hair and sunglasses – check!

The photos are all from old slides that my mom converted to digital a few years ago. I used to love looking at slides on the slide machine. It always felt so special and exciting.