“When it doesn’t feel right, go left”

 

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There is something about putting one foot in front of the other and simply walking, moving forward or sometimes as I did today, shuffling sideways in shorts through wheat fields.

You think about the breakfast you had and that it finally wasn’t yet another round of English breakfast with sausages, bacon, grilled tomatoes and toast.   You think about the wheat production and the mini wheats that you use to eat as a kid, as you are walking through one wheat field after another.  You contemplate the ways to walk around cow shit.  You think of the paths you are walking and how many others have walked them before you.

Conversation with us on this ‘walking holiday’ usually commences with what we each read during our coffee and breakfast time, our faces pressed into newspapers, Globe and Mail on line, twitter and Facebook.  Often the stories involve Europe, the IMF, USA politics (Donald Trump is amusing us), local weather news and our Canadian dollar in the toilet.  We read all of the events we have been out of touch with:  Droughts, forest fires, the fall of the Chinese stock market, oldest giant panda turning 37 years old and a multitude of other events that have ‘happened’ that we missed the day before.

Somehow we manage to get all of the ‘reality’ aspects from our morning reading out of the way of discussion within the first 20 minutes walking.  Then begins the pure joy of simply walking.

Today we were filled with one path after another.  We walked over 7 miles (11.5 km).  Our bodies loved it, our minds appreciated it and we know that tomorrow is our last day of the walking holiday.  We are choosing the path of left when we are unable to go right.  And as Albert Einstein said, “When it does feel right, go left.  The one who follows the crowd will go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”

The many paths we walked:

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Burn Your Boats

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When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia his army was overwhelmingly outnumbered. Yet he gave the orders to his men to burn the boats. As their only means of retreat went up in flames.  When walking the Cotswolds – Burn Your Boats.  Head down and onward (sometimes through shit) you go!

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The Cotswolds became prosperous in the middle ages from wool production.  Trust me – bleating sheep, stepping around and sometimes in sheep shit and the vast grassy hills IS the Cotswolds.  Of course, I do not discount the beauty of the towns like: Broadway, Chipping Camden to name but two.  Beautiful villages with pretty cottages.

We started this morning walking from Broadway.  So very different to the street we live a block away from in Vancouver.  It’s a quaint village that sells everything from walking gear, postcards, wool sweaters and a good place to stop for a cup ‘o tea!

Three Grants walked up a hill from the village of Broadway to Broadway Tower. Walking with sheep shit sticking to our feet while admiring the AMAZING views.   It was quiet with the natural sounds of sheep bleating, which is quite nice actually.  We loved the horse, of course, as we anticipated feeding an animal or two, we had apples in our back pack.   Here is the trek up:

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IMG_0820 IMG_0821 IMG_0823When you take your daughter on a walk – it turns out she reads books along the way – at least it’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and is reading poignant parts out loud along our walk…..

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What did I enjoy about the walk – these routes that were the Cotswolds way…. lovely walking with your own thoughts (and Lara talking of course!).

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We do not remember days, we remember moments

 

How can I share the first 20 days after we left Vancouver?

I have learned to love and respect and appreciate what brought the first Grant to Poland and now has Five Grants together.

Here’s to moments as a family and how we are taught thoughtfulness, kindness, sharing family and giving love.  We laughed together, ate together, sang together, sailed together, swam together, drank wine together, kayaked together, walked together and I’m grateful for every moment we shared in Poland.

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“He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.” – Lech Walesa

As a 3rd generation Canadian – how do I relate to history that is hundreds of years older than my nationality?

Being here in Poland and merely walking through the forest, we come across bunkers that are remnants of WW2.  We walk through a small village and there is a church that is older than Canada as a nation.  We see relics of barns that were built in the 1700’s by serfs.   Our sailing trip made us marvel at the engineering feats of Prussians that created the canals to connect the lakes in Mazury.

What I marvel about is the resilience of the Polish.  They stand fast with culture and language.

From 1795 until 1918 no truly independent Polish state existed, although strong Polish resistance movements operated.

The Second Polish Republic, established in 1918, existed as an independent state until 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union destroyed it in their invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II.

Here are images from our travels in Mazury…

Wolf's Lair Bunker

Wolf’s Lair Bunker

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A feat of engineering to last: Roads & Bunkers – they don’t make them like they use to anymore?!

German road Memerick

German road Mamerki

Memerick bunker WW2

Mamerki bunker WW2

inside WW2 bunker

inside WW2 bunker

Ostrodzie

Ostrodzie

And as for the debate if Vodka was Polish or Russian invention – I am going to have to go with the Polish. The word “vodka” was recorded for the first time in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. Of course this accounts for an afternoon in the sunshine for this man.

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Sailing, sailing – Mazury the land of 2,000 lakes

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Life is meant to be lived… this was once again confirmed by the sailing in Mazury that my lovely Polish daughter organized for us.

The history of the area and lakes is quite amazing when compared to our country, Canada. While Mazury is well known for 2,000 lakes it has been home to Pagans, Old Prussians and Teutonic Knights.  It has been known as the Kingdom of Prussia and a German Empire.  Russia and Germany have tried to conquer the people and the land but Polish people prevailed.  The historical significance during WW2 is evident still today with the long lasting bunkers that were erected by German soldiers and of course Hitler’s infamous “Wolf’s Lair” is here.

Overall a history lesson in the present day of our sailing trip!

We spent our days sailing with Kasia at the helm being directed by Karol. Conversation ranged from favourite Polish meals to the immigration crises affecting Europe and how to sail. We read books in the quiet stillness when there was little wind and played crib and monopoly (unsuccessfully)  What we all shared in common and pure quiet stillness enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of sailing on the lakes.

The Prussians managed to connect the lakes with canals allowed us to sail from Sztynort to dock at night at night in Gizycho and back again through to Sztynort.

We all got off the boat after three days and I’m still a bit wobbly legged today.  Kasia organized a brilliant trip for the family!  (THANK YOU!!)

 

Police pull up... we think because you cannot drink and operate a boat,,, checking this situation...

Police pull up…

Turns out friends, shooting the shit!

shooting the shit

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These are the engineered canals that connect the lakes.

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A woman’s work is never done (Captain Karol) and Kasia at the Helm!

An amazing 3 days of sailing!

 

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Grant + Słotwiński = Family

IMG_0268 “People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Well we certainly seem to connect and enjoy our time in Poland according to Julia Child!  The Grants gather with the Słotwiński family and we become ‘the best people’ together.  It can be said that sharing food and wine creates a bridge across language and culture.

Our first shared meal was at Ryzard and Lucyna’s house – the gathering of people who are connected all because two people fell in love!  It was extremely hot at 36 degrees.  You know Lucyna knows how to cook and Dave knows how to compliment a cook – he had seconds because he loves gravy, meat and potatoes!

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After the meal, we went outside….  found a shade tree and set up for round two – dessert! Ryzard brought out a coat that he bought for his lovely wife over 20 years ago.  It was during Communism and as he worked for the Railroad, he travelled down south in Poland.  He saved an entire month’s of wages to give her this coat that I tried on.  Let me tell you – it was warm – given the daytime temperature had only dropped to a mere 34 degrees – what a coat to try on!

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We enjoyed more food – that’s possible as the Słotwiński family enjoys dessert and Kasia and her Mom, Lucyna made it with love!   Hard to complain about dessert shared on a long summer night.

Sharing a family meal provides an experience that touches all of our senses – sight, touch, taste, smell and listening to warm laughter or good conversation. Family meals help provide a regular, consistent opportunity to create a shared experience that is meaningful and offers a sense of belonging to all.

Here’s to family meals!

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Life’s A Beach

IMG_0217  Welcome to the Baltic Sea Coast!

How do you spend the day when it’s 34 degrees in Torun, Poland? Why you get into the car and head to the beach of course.  Our plan was the Sea Coast on Saturday.  Turns out a lot of Poles had the exact same idea!  Our two hour drive became 3 hours by the time we got there.  Traffic!!!

We ended up in a sea coast village called Rewa (said Reh-va).   There are many places along the Baltic where the locals pack up and often take 2 weeks of their vacation to set up at a local cabin on the beach.  The images are simple because that is what beach holidays for families still are.  Here’s the sunny Saturday afternoon spent on the Baltic sea in Rewa for the 5 Grants….

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Why a Blog you ask?

Why start this blog? Because Facebook isn’t cutting it anymore.  I realize there are only so many pictures that I can post of our travels, food, friends, family and life’s moments before I’m sure people start to ‘unfriend me’.

This Blog means YOU are in control of what you read, when you read and why you read about “We Are The Grants”.  So the next two months is all about 3 Grants going to find 2 Grants to have 5 Grant moments and any combination there of.

Here’s to the 5 Grants as we became that lovely number in June 2013….