Up North

26 September 2014

We're packing out little car again and heading up north today, to the Highlands and Islands.

Trips, for which I need my hiking boots, hunters and a woollen jumper are my favourite kind of vacation.

See you next week, hope you have a cosy weekend!

- Malgosia

Coincidence? I don't think so. {a story of my family house fire}

25 September 2014

As some of you may remember, my family house in Poland was struck by a lightening during summer 2012.  My sister and I were sitting on a sofa in my flat and she got a phone call from a friend saying that our house was on fire...

Let's catch up...

24 September 2014

^^ picture by my sister, Kasia.

I feel like I've neglected this place for far too long now. I missed writing over the summer but decided to write in a journal instead of the Internet.

Anyway, I'm back here now and I'd love to learn more about people who read this blog of mine (I know you're there, page views don't lie, so don't be shy and say hi! << accidental poem).

So with a view of getting to know you all better, here are some insights into my current life.

Bedroom makeover {process and result photos}

23 September 2014

Last week we had a pretty dire bedroom and almost no money to change it. Today we have a pretty bedroom and are short only about £50. The problem with our bedroom is that it is on a ground floor and faces the street. Which means that you can have a conversation with a neighbour with only a thin glass window between yours and her face. As we're renting there's not much we can do about it, but on Friday I've had enough. So in a true "Little Green Notebook" moment we did DIY.

Here's what we bought:

  • supplies for two small bedside shelves in IKEA
  • one photo frame
  • linen fabric for a headboard and foot-board cover (since we can't change the bed I figured I could sew a cover.  I didn't even knew headboard covers were a thing! but there you are. thanks Pinterest.)
  • gold paint in homebase
One revelation I had on Saturday was that golden paint was probably the only thing that had been missing in my life. I was pretty much like Midas the whole weekend. J had to stop me from painting everything gold.

To fill the space above the bed we printed a big photo from our last year's trip to Capri. 

The plan was to clear out all the rubbish from the room, replace it with pretty things and decorate an empty wall above the bed. Here is what it looks like now:

 I painted old candle jars with the gold paint from the inside to create a pot for my earings. I also painted my old set of drawers called FIRA  (from IKEA). The pattern is not perfect but it looks much better than previously. The Paris watercolor - an old find from a car-boot sale (£1.50).  And Tartin Bread just matches the colour scheme. (#winning # stylist #not)

As you can see I also painted my reading light in golden. Couldn't help it. 

So that's it. A simple makeover which didn't cost more than around £50 in total. The most expensive item was the grey fabric but I'm over the moon with how it turned out and the fact that this is no longer in front of my eyes when I wake up in the morning!

Golden hour date {best gelato in Edinburgh}

22 September 2014

On Saturday we spent the entire day cleaning our flat and finishing off a couple of DIY projects. In the evening we decided to go out for a walk. It was golden hour, a perfect time for a stroll in Edinburgh.

We followed our usual route, down the West End and back to our flat. Passing near Affogato - we couldn't resist the last gelato this summer (salted carmel and oreo for me, pear and salted carmel for J). They have an lovely cafe dog who insisted on resting her head and having a nap on my foot. As dogs do.  Now of course I want a dog.

How was your weekend? I'm back to regular posting now and will be finishing our Bali trip this week too.

-  Malgosia

Bali Part 1 // Ubud

21 September 2014

Ubud, the royal town of Bali is also the island's cultural centre, with temples, museums, rice paddies and five star hotels built next to simple yoga centres. I wouldn't call it a town of contrasts though. The ambience is very relaxed, the poverty well hidden in the back alleys as to not to be an eyesore to the eco-friendly, yoga-pants wearing, earth-loving tourists. I'm being a little sarcastic because it seems as though the Eat Pray Love book, by many referred to as "that damn book", resulted in an influx of a very defined demographic to Ubud and probably shaped its current expat-led cafe culture. Places such as "Sacred Scoops" (raw, local, vegan, organic, low-glycemic, gluten free ice cream) seem to grow like mushrooms on every corner, which makes me chuckle a little.

Nonetheless it's a very pleasant, culturally rich place; and for us it was a perfect starting point to explore Bali.

For the first week or so we stayed in a small village around 15 minute drive from Ubud in a cosy hotel among rice paddies. It was just like I imagined Bali before we came here: peaceful, green, lush and simple at the same time. The first thing that hit my nostrils when we arrived was the scent of ever-present incense and rice. The little offerings consisting of a bamboo or banana leaf tray, flowers and something to eat (from rice to Kopiko and mint sweets!), signs of local Hindu religion were scattered everywhere. In front of your room in the morning, on the desk in the hotel reception, in the shuttle to Ubud, on the car dashboard, in shop entrance, on pavements, tucked behind the registration plates of motorbikes. You could always expect a procession or a practice temple dance to break out of nowhere in the middle of the street and halt human and bikes traffic for half an hour. It was one of the aspects which we noticed everywhere in Bali, which makes me think it was genuine and not staged with tourists in mind.

Our time in Ubud was close to perfect in my opinion. We explored the temples, museums, sat in cafes and made friends with baristas. In the evening we went out for dinner, listened to live music, watched the sun go down around 6 PM and were back at home for 9 to sit on the terrace and listen to the frogs singing on the rice fields. Bali is located only 8 degrees south of the Equator, so the days are always 12h long, the sun rises around 6 and sets 12 hours later, dictating the rhythm of life both for locals and for tourists.

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After one week it was time to head north to see the countryside and the elusive real Bali, so sought after by many visitors. I felt so comfortable in Ubud I didn't want to leave. But being too comfortable usually means it's time to move on. And on we went, to the other side of Bali to Munduk.

 More on that soon....

Here is a little taster of who we encountered:

My ideal country {5 favourite things about Scotland & Poland}

20 September 2014

GB// This post is written as a part of the Pole's Club Abroad (a club for Polish female bloggers who live abroad and write a series of blog posts on the same theme each month)

PL // Ten post jest częścią serii wrześniowych postów Klubu Polki na Obczyźnie

GB// This month's theme is "My ideal country" - i.e. 5 things I miss about Poland and 5 things I love about the country I currently live in. This will be my ode to Poland and Scotland - two countries which I've grown to love over the years, which I am happy to call home.


1. Sense of humour

This is a no-brainer. I simply love  the Scotts' sense of humour, their down to earth no-nonsense approach and ability to laugh at themselves. Not a day passes in hospital without somebody saying something so funny that the whole room dissolves in laughter. Interactions and simple every day conversations between Scotts I work with are also full of witty comments, sentences worded in a cheeky way, and friendly sarcasm towards each other. I love it and I will dearly miss it if one day we leave Scotland. The fact that there was a comedy special about the last week's referendum just goes to show how good Scotts are at doing comedy. 

Here is a little taster from one of my favourites: Kevin Bridges

2. Scenery

I chose to come to Scotland inspired by reading Wuthering Heights and Harry Potter and thanks to my English lessons where we would read about how Scotland was such a romantic country, with rolling hills overgrowing with heather. My dreams weren't far off. Scotland is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. There are the hills, the lochs, old castles, munros just waiting to be climbed, small islands to be explored. It's green, foggy, peaceful and beautiful here. Come visit to see for yourself. 

3. NHS

This is an obvious one. My admiration for the NHS probably stems from the fact that I spent my last 4.5 years living in NHS hospitals (as a medical students for those of you who are here for the first time, hi!). The Scottish healthcare system obviously has its imperfections but the culture of the NHS is unique and one that I have not witnessed in any other country. Everyone works as a team, with a sole aim of providing the best level of patient care, often in imperfect circumstances. Of course the funding is a problem, as in any other country with a state-funded healthcare system. But smiles, kindness, sense of humour and a strive for clinical excellence that I witness in NHS hospitals every day are truly unique to Scotland (in my belief). One of the good examples is the most recent campaign by a young doctor suffering from an aggressive sarcoma, who started an initiative called #hellomynameis - to make sure that everyone who's involved in your care form the moment you enter the hospital to your consultant introduces themselves by first name. To make a human connection, to make you feel like a person, not just another patient to deal with in an efficient manner. I think it's brilliant and I love and believe in the NHS. 

4. Administration

Want to pay your taxes online? Find out when the public holidays are? Start a new business? Order a new driving license? Done. Scottish administration makes it a breeze thanks to an excellent state administration, which is mostly online. 

5. Ceilidh

Now, this is a topic I can't write a lot about (because I'm still a novice!) apart from the fact that going to a Ceilidh is one of the best things you can do if you visit Scotland. Remember that scene from the Titanic where they're dancing on the lower deck? It's that much fun, only better. Scotts learn it from primary school and the band always explains the steps before each dance so that the newcomers know roughly what to do. Scottish weddings often have ceilidh dancing during the reception. One of my most vivid memories from my Fresher's week (back in 2007!) is dancing during a Ceilidh in McEwan Hall with a seasoned Scottish dancer in a kilt. Best fun ever.


Here are the top 5 favourites about my motherland.

1. Family

When I was 11 years old I decided to join girl guides. I couldn't wait for the summer to arrive so we could go camping, pitch our tents, have a bonfire each night and sing songs. What I didn't anticipate was just how much I would miss my siblings and parents. I wasn't ready to go on holiday on my own. In the end I had a good time on the camp, but still often I felt out of place, and wished I stayed home. This is pretty much how I feel living here in Scotland. I love it, but I know I'm missing something I left in Poland.

2. Weather

Poland does seasons so well. Summers can be as hot as 30 degrees, sunshine pouring generously through the windows and blushing strawberries in the garden. Winters are cold and snowy, with occasional crisp day of sunshine. And my favourite - Autumn. Golden Autumn as we call it. Leaves turning colours, sunny but cold mornings and evenings with beautiful pink sunsets.

3. Food

It's true; I haven't met a person yet who didn't like pierogi - i.e. dumplings. Polish cuisine is not perhaps well known, or famous, but let me tell you our grandmothers are one of the best cooks in the world (in my opinion anyway). Dumplings, beetroot soup, real sour-dough bread, sausages, roast dinners, duck, mushroom and beef stews - d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. 

The thing I miss the most are seasonal fruit and vegetables. When strawberries are in season, you can buy a 2kg basket for about £1-2. When blueberries are ready to be picked, people are standing on markets, street corners, by the small roads in the countryside, selling jars of fresh blueberries - perfect for a crumble or a cheesecake. Autumn has always been a preserving season in our house. From pickling cucumbers, wild mushrooms to sun dried tomatoes and cooking marmalades - we were always helping out in the kitchen. 

4. Language

Polish language is one of the most difficult ones in the world, but it's also incredibly rich and beautiful. Reading in Polish is such a pleasure. Especially poetry. Here is one of my beloved poems by a Polish Nobel Price winner, Wislawa Szymborska

Noting Twice

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is that a flower of a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to say
Today is always gone tomorrow

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

5. Feeling home

Because even the air smells differently in Poland. It's my home.