Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Message

Nadzieję, że Się spodoba polskiej Wigilii!

Zdrowych i radośnych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia oraz szczęśliwego Nowego Roku, wszystkiego najlepszego życza, Rachel XXX

View photos of the fantastic North East Polish children's Christmas party here:

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Where to take the kids at Christmas?

Kids Don’t Whine- It’s Christmas Time!
Czas na Święta! Dzieci nie marudzą

Wrapping paper ripped, ribbon in their hair, glitter glue on their clothes- it’s time to get the kids out the house for some festive fun! 2B Magazine’s Rachel Clements brings you her top six North East festive time highlights.

Papier do pakowania prezentów podarty, tasiemki zaplątane we włosach, a klej z brokatem na ciuchach – czas wreszcie zabrać dzieci z domu i podarować im odrobinę świątecznego szaleństwa! Rachel Clements wybrała dla czytelników 2B sześć, jej zdaniem najlepszych, gwiazdkowych atrakcji w północno-wschodniej Anglii.

Fenwick’s Window Display
Wystawa sklepowa w Fenwick’s

Queuing down Northumberland street to peek in the 30ft long shop front window display during the festive period is somewhat of a local pastime popular in the North East since 1971. Fenwick’s hires a German company each year to make the window display which usually features puppets, loud music and festive theme. Themes have included a depiction of Dicken’s Oliver Twist (2008), the nativity scene (2009) and this year’s ‘Santa preparing his reindeer for their big night’.
When? Mid Nov- Early Jan
Where? Fenwick’s Department Store, Northumberland Street
Price? *Free!*

Alnwick Garden Santa’s Winter Wonderland
Zimowy cudny świat św. Mikołaja w ogrodzie Alnwick

A Christmas market under the canopy of the beautiful Alnwick Garden Treehouse, with mulled wine and festive treats for the adults and lantern making workshops for the children. Children can also visit Santa hard at work in his toy workshop and receive a small gift from the man himself!
When? 11am-3pm Fri- Sun
Where? Alnwick Garden
Price? £3 for adults and £5 for children (including a visit to see Santa) - booking essential.

North East Pantomimes
Świąteczne przedstawienia

If you haven’t experienced your first British Christmas Pantomime (Panto) don’t delay. These festive theatre treats are usually about two hours in length and the local theatres sign up minor celebrities to dress in bright costumes, sing classic pantomime songs and recycle the same catchphrases and jokes. Such events require audience participation so do not sit on the end of the seating row unless you want to appear on stage yourself. This year you can see:
Puss in Boots, The Customs House, South Shields, 1st Dec – 18th Jan, tickets start at £7
Jack and the Beanstalk, The Journal Tyne Theatre, 10th Dec- 7th Jan, tickets start at £10
Robin Hood, The Theatre Royal, 30th Nov- 15th Jan, tickets start at £10
Or, see the ‘Metro Gnome’ Pantomime when shopping at the Metro Centre at various times throughout the day for *free*!

New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival
Sylwestrowy zimowy karnawał

Dress the little ones up in festive costumes (or just warm clothes) and take them down to Grey’s Monument on New Year’s Eve for the annual Newcastle winter procession. This year the Ice Queen will lead the parade which will include musicians, drummers, dancers and character actors as monkeys, pigs and skeletons. The parade will conclude at the Civic Centre finishing in a celebratory firework display.
When and Where?
New Year’s Eve (Dec 31st)
2.30pm -music and carnival around Grey’s Monument
5.15pm -parade toward Newcastle Civic Centre
6.00pm - Firework display
Price? *Free!*

Times Square Ice Rink
Lodowisko na Times Square

Well it’s not exactly Times Square in New York, but the so-called Times Square opposite The Centre for Life in Newcastle city centre does have a temporary ice rink for all that festive falling over! You can look for offers and promotions, including details about ice rink Christmas parties by visiting the website:
When? 15th Nov 2010- 27th Feb 2011
Where? Times Square, Science Centre
Price? £7.95 adult ticket, £5.95 child ticket

Public Carol Service and Switching on of Christmas Lights
Kolędy i świąteczne światełka na ulicach naszych miast

An excellent way to get into the Christmas spirit is to stand outside in the cold watching minor celebrities switch on street lights. Newcastle Civic Centre light switch-on is usually accompanied by a good old fashioned Christmas carol service, free to all. Do not despair, light switching on ceremonies (which are attended by large crowds of eager locals) take place in most cities and towns across the North East, so check your local newspapers for details. The temperature will no doubt be chilly but the atmosphere is guaranteed to be festive!
When? Mid Nov onwards
Where? Various towns and cities
Price? *Free!*

Tłumaczyła Joanna Lompart-Chlaściak in 2B magazine
This article appeared in the December issue of 2B magazine. To read the article in full with the full Polish translation please visit:

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

My Favourite Polish Films

Since having my son I’ve sadly had less time to enjoy Polish film, but a couple of years ago I was a real addict. When I was studying Polish at the University of Glasgow I used to borrow Polish films from the language library on a weekly basis. A lovely Polish dad I met a few weeks ago reminded me how great Polish cinema can be, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you a few of my Polish film favourites.
Enjoy a Krzysztof Kieślowski month by working your way through his amazing repertoire of film; most notably, No End (Bez końca, 1984), The Decalogue (Dekalog, 1988), The Double Life of Véronique (La Double vie de Véronique / Podwójne życie Weroniki, 1991) and The Three Colours Trilogy which includes, Three Colours: Blue (Trois couleurs: Bleu / Trzy kolory: Niebieski, 1993), Three Colours: White (Trois couleurs: Blanc / Trzy kolory: Biały, 1994), and Three Colours: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge / Trzy kolory: Czerwony,1994).

The Double Life of Véronique is my favourite Kieślowski film. It follows the life of Weronika, a young woman living in Poland against the parallel life of her doppelganger Véronique, who lives in France. Both parts are played by the superb actress Irène Jacob. The film has often been translated as a metaphor for the experiences of Poland during World War II compared to that of France. This is not a great film for anyone with an aversion to fantasy, but the original film score by Zbigniew Preisner resonates through the piece masterfully.

If seriously challenging historical or political film is more your style try the film of Andrzej Wajda. Examining the lives of communist workers and the Solidarity labour union movement are the films Man of Marble (Człowiek z marmuru, 1977) and Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza,1981). My favourite Wajda film is his 2007 film Katyń which details the wartime atrocity of The Katyń Massacre (zbrodnia katyńska - the 'Katyń crime'), whereby Polish prisoners of war (both officers and citizens) were ordered to be executed by the Soviet authorities in 1940. The film uses documentary footage from the period and exerts of newspaper articles to highlight the propaganda prevalent in the Soviet and German press at the time.

I also like Roman Polański’s first feature-length film Knife in the Water (Nóż w wodzie, 1962) which was his first major commercial success in the West. Despite being a very eerie thriller it still makes me want to visit the Mazury Lakes, Northern Poland. I enjoyed Sylwester Chęciński’s Our Folks (Sami Swoi, 1967) but my favourite Polish comedy is Killer (Kiler, 1996) by Juliusz Machulski. In terms of directing style I like the patience and attention to detail of Krzystof Krauze, particularly his film My Nikifor (Mój Nikifor, 2004).

In preparation for Agnieszka Holland’s visit to the University of Glasgow in 2007 I made my way through her entire film catalogue. Some of her films I found really sensitive and touching, A Woman Alone (Kobieta samotna, 1981) and an Angry Harvest (Bittere Ernte, 1985) for example, but some were not so gripping, The Healer (2004) for example. Nevertheless I was really inspired by Agnieszka Holland; she captivated her student audience when she told us about getting into the film industry. She spoke with great honesty and pride about her work. Although the temptation is to criticise Holland for moving away from her country and her independent filmmaking traditions, she has succeeded relatively well as a Hollywood blockbuster director, and this is great achievement in an industry ashamedly dominated by men, moreover, the very fact she took time to visit our Polish language class, shows she still holds her language and country true.

As for my favourite Polish film of all time, this, without a doubt is The Passenger (Pasażerka, 1963) directed by Andrzej Munk and Witold Lesiewicz. It was sadly to be Andrzej Munk’s last production as he died suddenly toward the end of filming. The narrative is patchy as a consequence, as sections were left unfinished to reflect the loss of the director. The film draws on the recollections of a German woman as she comes face to face with a woman she last met in Auschwitz. An amazing performance is given by actress Anna Ciepielewska and hence, według mnie, ten film trzeba zobaczyć!

For more resources on Polish cinema visit the archive at the film journal Kinoeye:

For a general overview on Polish film follow this link:

To purchase any of the films mentioned in this blog try the website (it's the Polish version of Amazon).

**Lastly, I’ve found a North East England connection to Polish cinema! Cul-de-sac, the 1966 thriller directed by Roman Polanski was shot on location in Northumberland, on Lindisfarne (the Holy Island). The National Trust runs tours of the very castle featured in the film.