My mother-in-law’s house sits at the top of a large plot of land in Southern Poland, majestically positioned to survey the vast garden and surrounding forest. She purchased the land 10 years ago despite the warnings from friends and family who all said she was mad but now they invariably comment on her perseverance and vision and how lucky she is to live in such a beautiful place. The house was built 6 years ago on one level to her own design. The outside painted stucco white with large windows all around to provide a feeling of space and light. The windows offer a wonderful view of greenery from the surrounding fields, garden and forest no matter which side of the house you are enabling you to watch the ever varying expressions on the trees as the sun shines across them.
The garden retains a few of the magnificent trees that once made up every square metre of the land. The grass is a luscious green and a small pond sits in one corner where goldfish and frogs swim freely from the threat of herons, the fish even allowing you to get so close to them that they tickle your finger tips. Her dogs Alpha and Beta, German Alsatians, on guard at all times to bark at any passing strangers but both of whom roll over and wag their tales as soon as you smile at them.
The terrace overlooking the garden and forest provides an extension to the house, with a small covered area so you can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air regardless of the season.
A 500 metre walk from the house through the forest brings you to a fresh water lake which is about 5 kilometres in circumference, lucidly clear and clean, the water temperature often rises above 20 degrees during the summer months when it is perfect for swimming.
The surrounding forest is made up of oak, yew, walnut and conifer trees. Foxes, boar, hares and deer roam wild. The birds a bright mixture of cuckoo, woodpecker, jays, and finches fill the air with their songs. In autumn bushes contain a plethora of wild berries, which we pick and make into fresh fruit cocktails, jams and cakes, ideal for lazy Sunday mornings.
Likewise mushrooms are in abundance which we gather for soups, omelettes and for drying and marinating to add to casseroles and other food dishes. So delicious and tasting just that much better when you have picked them yourself.
My wife and I often escape from our home in Warsaw to visit this beautiful area, we sit with a picnic, drying off from a swim in the lake, listening to the sounds of the water and songs of the birds. Late at night we sit on the terrace and look up at the stars, which here have a beauty that people living in cities can only dream of. Never before have I felt so at home except possibly in Sweden but my wife was not there and her presence adds to the beauty. This could be paradise, not at all the impression I had of Poland before coming here.
The only downsides the bugs the sizes of bats, bats the sizes of crows and in the summer mosquitoes that have no respect for human pain and then there is the occasional thunderstorm which during June seem to happen a bit more occasionally than occasional. In fact they seem to happen every second evening! As soon as one strike of lightening is seen anywhere within a 30 kilometre radius the generators are shut down in the village, rendering us with no electricity and bizarrely enough no water. That means no water for washing your hands, no hot tea and no water for flushing the loo. So if you happen to be on the loo doing an ‘ooh ooh’ as my wife calls it, when there is a power cut then you are really in the shit.