the end of 2012

The last two months of 2012 weren’t particularly exciting. In the second half of November, I went to Poland to spend my birthday with my parents. We went for dinner to a restaurant which took part in Kuchenne Rewolucje reality show, which is the Polish version Britain’s Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and America’s Kitchen Nightmares. The restaurant is close to my home town and there was a lot of buzz around it in local newspapers, so I wanted to see what it was all about. The food was delicious and we were already full after starters! I really recommend it. It’s name’s Karczma Lesniczanka and it’s an inn, so you can stay there overnight if you’re not from the neighbourhood.


For the whole December I was in the Christmasy mood, because of decorations in my cafe where I worked, the music playing on and customers being friendly and kind. I didn’t even mind that I would have to stay in London during holidays, because the shop was closed only for Christmas Day. Only one person from the staff could take a few days off and it wasn’t me (later that person who got time off got sick while on holiday and delayed her return plus one more team member got sick as well and it made the rest of the team lives miserable during the Christmas season which made me start thinking about quitting that job).

My sister and friends went to Poland for Christmas, so in the second half of December I moved to my friends’ apartment to house-sit and look after my sister’s cats. I spent Christmas Eve with my housemates where I rent my room. We had a little piece of Polish Christmas on our table and it was delicious, but the rest of my time this was my asylum. Don’t feel sorry for me, because I really enjoyed this quiet time after busy days at work. Is there anything more relaxing than having a cat sleeping next to you on your big desk?


At the end of December, my sister came back and we spent the New Year’s Eve at our friends’ in Farnborough, near London. I had an amazing time. After late dinner we set up a bonfire and at midnight we watched something like Chinese lamps flying up in the air in the distance.

On the next day I had to be back at work. With a small hangover, big staff shortage with so many customers (it was mental! never seen that shop so busy since I had started working there) and my manager panicking and really not helping with his behaviour, somehow I managed to survive that day, but then I decided to change my job. When my sister had told me that they may need more staff in her shop during the next big exhibition at the Royal Academy, I was hesitating, because I felt comfortable at PAUL. But after that New Year’s Day, I was ready to go.

The RA shop job was only weekend gigs till April and I was hoping that I would be able to work at PAUL during week days (I did like working there and the people after all) and have weekends off. My manager didn’t agree for this kind of deal with me, so I decided to take a risk, leave PAUL, start working just at weekends and find something part-time in the meantime. At the end of January, I started working for the RA and at the beginning of February, I left my cafe.

And that’s how I finally reached 2013 in my blog updates and new chapters of my journey. Time to open champagne! 😀


MONDAY, 21st November

“Sto lat! Sto lat! Niech żyje, żyje nam!…” This is what I heard waking up on my birthday in New Zealand. D&De came into my bedroom singing Polish “Happy Birthday” and holding a birthday card and beautiful roses from D’s garden. After wishing me all the best, De. went to work and D. brought me breakfast to bed. It was really unexpected.

The weather wasn’t any better outside than I usually have on my birthday in Poland. It was cold, rainy and of course windy. But it got rapidly better early afternoon and for the rest of the day it was hot and sunny. Crazy weather.

For lunch D. took me to the centre of Porirua town, which was like a big shopping centre, but there was also Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture. We had lunch there first and then went to see the exhibitions.

I couldn’t take photos in the rest of the rooms, but my favourite exhibition was with Grahame Sydney‘s landscape paintings.

After the visit at the Museum we went shopping. I was trying to get used to seeing a Christmas tree and beautful sun outside.

Then we went back home and I made ‘pierogi ruskie’ – potato-cheese pierogi, but because I couldn’t find ricotta cheese with Polish white cheese consistency, I used feta and it worked really well! For dessert, I made chocolate cake. When De. came back from work, while waiting for dinner to be ready, he played me some vinyls he had bought from a music store which was getting rid of all the older records and they were selling them very cheap. One of the songs he played for me was Dr. Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother”. I remembered then Luke’s singing to me and his suggestion to look for songs with my name. I’ve found Eurythmics; “Sylvia” so far. Anyone else knows a song with my name? Are there any songs with your name?

I spent a great evening with my friends. That was all I had wished for and I got even more. And I made so many pierogis that we were eating them for the next two days.

Fly My Pretties – my own birthday present

I started celebrating my birthday on Saturday, even though it was on Monday. I had bought a ticket for the Fly My Pretties IV show before I came to New Zealand. The ticket was pretty expensive, $91.50, but I could have never hoped that they would play when I’m in New Zealand, so as soon as they announced their tour dates and I saw their Wellington concert was close to my birthday, I thought it would be a nice present for myself.

SATURDAY, 19th November

The concert was in the evening and I didn’t want to go wearing one of my t-shirts. After breakfast I went to look for something nicer to wear that evening. There were many second hand shops near Cuba Street and even The Fringe Bar was open for vintage clothes market. I bought a black shirt for $4 and a pretty dress for $20. I wore the shirt, because my burnt in Kaikoura shoulders weren’t ready for the dress yet.

Doors were open at 7 pm and the show was to start at 8 pm. They were late about 20 min. I had heard that Jemaine from FOTC was in Wellington and I was wondering if he would came to the show. Just in case, I was looking around before the show and during the intermission and to my surprise, I saw Bret instead! I knew he had been in the US for The Muppets premiere a few days before and I was happy to see him already back in New Zealand.

The concert was amazing. I was sitting in the third row. We couldn’t take any photos, but there is a great set in FMP’s facebook album, so take a look.

Every new project by Fly My Pretties is something to look forward to, because it’s a great collaboration of different New Zealand musicians with various musical background and the result is always unique. The shows are recorded and a few months later there’s a new album & DVD released. Now you can understand why I was so excited to be part of their history and at the show, after first two songs I finally realised that I was watching FMP live!

Part One was a set of 16 new songs which will be on their new album released in February next year. I had my favourites, mostly more peaceful ones like “Apple Heart” by L.A. Mitchell, “Three Feathers” by Amiria Grenell or “I Am Gone” by Flip Grater. But the most important song for me was Barnaby Weir’s “Journeys End”. I took it very personal. I had been away from home for four months, had spent three months travelling around New Zealand, just got back from the South Island and was wondering what next and when Barnaby introduced his song, I thought he was talking to and about me. I got the answer.

During Part Two they played songs from their previous albums. It’ll be always my dream to hear “Champion” or “Quiet Girl” live and it didn’t happen at that concert, but I was almost equally glad to hear “Old Friend” or “Lucky”. It was also really nice that they sang “All The Goodness” which was co-written by Bret McKenzie and since he was in the audience, I was wondering how he felt hearing it.

The concert finished at about midnight and I rushed to San Francisco Bath House, because Flying Nun had their 30th Anniversary Tribute Show and some bands played tribute songs. The Phoenix Foundation was one of them and I was wondering what songs they had chosen, but unfortunately by the time I got there, they had already finished playing. It was a short set of four songs and an enchore. But the band members were still around in the bar, so I got to talk to some of them and said goodbye. Luke, before he left, sang me a few lines of Pulp’s “Sylvia”.

I didn’t know that song, and he made me feel special. And he didn’t know that I was celebrating my birthday, so even it was so random, I took it as another birthday gift. Then I got long hugs from Richie and Tom, finished listening to Glass Vaults and went back to the backpackers. Satisfied.