Whose history is it?

A few months ago I had a heated discussion via instant messenger with a friend about Johannesburg. One thing he said that really annoyed me was something along the lines of Joburg not being old enough to be historically worthy. Unfortunately I had one of those moments when my really clever response came hours after the conversation.

History and historical worthiness is not about time or size, it is about significance – and that significance depends on who you talk to. Luckily in today’s technologically abundant world it is easier for people to document their history – they don’t have to wait for a historian or politician to decide it is worthy.

While I was in Poland my aunt and uncle really wanted me to go and photograph some of the old buildings and traditional wooden houses that are still standing (but barely) in their city Pabianice. Most of them are being demolished, or in the final stages of decay – in spite of the fact that many people still live in them.

I had never really thought about Pabianice in historical terms – of course every city has a history in a linear passing-of-time kind of way, but when a country has cities like Krakow or Gdansk, it becomes easy to overlook the histories of smaller, less beautiful, less poetic cities.

It reminded me of an important lesson for photographers – and even writers – not to accept the face value and not to make assumptions about what it is significant or important.

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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Best winter breakfast

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This morning I woke up to a wonderful surprise – my favorite pancakes for breakfast. The best thing about these is that I can’t have them in South Africa because the cheese we use for the filling is not available in South Africa. It is similar in consistency to Ricotta but it is much more sour. A similar effect can be achieved if you squeeze lots and lots of lemon juice into it but this is a labour intensive process.

Aside from the cheese the recipe is simple:

Pancakes (crepes):
2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of sugar

Filling:
Polish cheese (twaróg) or Ricotta with lots of lemon juice
Sugar
A bit of cream
One egg yolk

You mix all the pancake ingredients and fry them as you normally would. You also mix the filling and when the plain pancakes are ready you spread the filling on them, fold them or roll them and then put them back on the pan for a few minutes to warm up the filling. Then enjoy.

Then – if you are not burning calories trying to stay alive in the cold – go for a run..

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