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A Thoughtful Day in Warsaw after two Weeks of Glorious Music

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'The Ghosts of Warsaw' Isaac Bashevis Singer Jewish Festival, Próżna Street, Warsaw – 1 SEPTEMBER 2009

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A wonderful two weeks of concerts featuring the music of mainly of Chopin and Mendelssohn has just concluded in Warsaw. It was the 5th Chopin i jego Europa (Chopin and his Europe) Festival - an annual event and a sign of how the capital has at lastbegun to attract some of the finest musicians on the planet. Now all the city needs is a proper modern concert hall and a more productive attitude and responsible financial support for the many fine and neglected home-grown Polish rather than foreign musicians. In the festival I listened to the fine pianism of Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, Emanuel Ax, Alexander Melnikov, Nikolai Lugansky, Janusz Olejniczak, and the Japanese prodigy Aimi Kobayashi. The fortepiano virtuoso Andreas Staier and the tenor Christoph Pregardien gave a sublime and unforgettable performance of Schubert's Winterreise. T…

Lithuania Pictured

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Nikon F2 35 mm f 1:1.4







'Bathed in Amber, the substance of the sun'
Sunset at Palanga on the Baltic coast of Lithuania




Rustic House in favourite Lithuanian yellow near the village of Marcinkonys




Trakai Castle near Vilnius




Country House of Uzutrakis built by the Polish Count Jozef Tyszkiewicz at Trakai



















Vilnius from Gemidinas Castle























Millenium Celebrations in Vilnius Lithuania July 2009



I have always wanted to complete my picture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and recently spent two weeks touring Lithuania.
The weather has been pretty frightful in Warsaw this summer - storms nearly every afternoon and evening.


Lithuania was much better. As those who read this blog will know I have recently returned from two weeks touring Lithuania by car. It is a great shame that the tourist industry in this fascinating country is not sufficiently promoted to assist growth in the economy. The country beyond Vilnius seemed unaccountably deserted.


I spent a week at the Baltic …

Adventures in England Complete

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Fountains Abbey North Yorkshire



Water Garden and Temple of Piety Studley Royal Landscape Garden North Yorkshire





The Royal Geographical Society Fellows Lecture on Polish landscapes and associated ecological issues delivered on May 18th. went particularly well with an audience of around 750 at the headquarters in Kensington Gore, London. It was a particularly busy day at the Society with various dinners and meetings which rather distracted specialist attention from my lecture - thank goodness. The Polish gorale wedding music was particularly successful, as were the musical elements from the great Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff playing Chopin mazurkas and the extract from Andrzej Wajda's wonderful nostalgic film Pan Tadeusz which concluded the lecture. The listeners seemed particularly surprised at the beauty of the Polish countryside despite so much of it being flat. As usual at these events a surprisingly small number of copies of A Country in the Moon were sold - about 20 I thin…

Two Polish Country Houses near Warsaw

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The weather has been so wonderful in Warsaw over the last three weeks - clear, coolish and gloriously sunny. Perhaps climate change is going to emerge as a positive development in Poland! Late April and early May are wonderful months in the country as spring literally explodes across the landscape and the trees come into leaf. Warsaw is utterly transformed from the foolish accepted view of it as a miserable city, cold and mired in slush.

I have made a definite decision to use the old Royce more this spring and summer so on Sunday (April 26) Zosia and I packed a pic-nic, collected some friends and headed for a house I knew of but had never visited. This charming baroque country house is called Otwock Wielki and is situated about 25kms south of the city off the road to Pulawy. It is built on an island on a loop of the Vistula river. The house is surrounded by a superb park with the usual Polish practice of closely planted limes and a small area of English lawn with a fine fountain of tw…