23May2016

Kórnik Castle was always out of our way: too far, not the right direction, not enough time. This weekend we took the time to catch up and visit this place.


The castle on the lake shore, known since the XIV century, is an undisputed ornament of the small town of Kórnik. The first gothic castle was built here on a fortified island in the XV century. One hundred years later, the Górkowie family built a brick-built residence and, as with almost every other castle, each new owner altered it according to the prevailing style and their own personal preferences. The current look is the creation of the Działyński family. Tytus Działyński and Jan Kanty Działyński remodelled the castle with the intention of displaying works of art and national memorabilia. Their relative, earl Władysław Zamojski, enriched the collection with his own ethnographic repertory from Australia, Polynesia and Madagascar. He left as his legacy the whole estate to the Polish nation. Since 1954 the castle and library has belonged to the Polish Academy of Sciences.


The front of the castle didn't make a huge impression on us. Maybe the neo-Gothic bridge across the moat bestowed upon it a bit of airiness and charm. Only a walk around the castle changed our mind. The round tower with asymmetric windows and the deck and porch from the direction of the park made a much better impression. You can go inside the castle. We "danced" on a beautiful wooden floor wearing huge felt slippers. A long time has passed since I last visited a museum with such old-school shoes. My children put them on for the first time and they had great fun sliding on the floor as if they were on ice. All the children accompanying us in our tour group did the same, and the stoic calmness of the museum staff impressed me.

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We learnt about Arkady Fiedler Museum in Puszczykowo thanks to the kindness and recommendation of an employee of the museum in Kórnik Castle.


Most of us know that Arkady Fiedler was a leading voyager and writer. We read the book "Squadron 303" at school and due to other Polish travellers, we can encounter many unusual tales from his expeditions. We had no idea about the enormity of his numerous journeys and research trips. During the 90 years of his life he made 30 expeditions, and as we found out in the museum, he used to scrupulously prepare for them, having at his disposal not the ubiquitous and omniscient Internet, but maps, atlases and books about the lands he was going to.


His works add up to 32 books translated into 23 languages and over 10 millions editions. His books captivate us with their simplicity and equally with their picturesque nature, and they bring people from different parts of the world together. They show how sensitive to the beauty of the world was their author. Those who have read them do not need to be reminded of books like "Canada fragrant with resin", or "The fish sing in Ukajala". Those who haven't read his books, I recommend them as a window on the world of tolerance and respect for different cultures and customs.


The museum was established in 1974 by Arkady Fiedler and his sons Marek and Arkady Radosław in the old family home near Poznań. Thanks to Feliks Skrzypczak, the house has regained its old glow, and the exhibition was put together under the watchful eye of Zygmunt Konarski. In the course of time, younger generations of the family have become involved in the activity of the museum. Due to this, the value of museum, not only in the material sense, is steadily rising.

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I went to Radziejowice with my husband who was taking part in the Chełmoński Run. Since a 10 km run takes a while and I was there with our children, we had to pass the time somehow while waiting for Dad. It turned out that the park-palace complex in Radziejowice is very well suited for that. We found a Greek revivalist Palace, neo-Gothic Castle, Larch Manor House, Swiss House, an old forge and a huge park with numerous ponds.


The name Radziejowice originates from the name of its first owner – the Radziejowski family, which settled there in the 15th century, building the oldest family residence. The grounds, together with all its buildings, have changed hands many times over the course of time. The families of Prażmowski, Ossoliński and Krasiński used to live here. In the 17th century the palace was visited by the baronage, priesthood and kings Zygmunt III Waza, Władysław IV and Jan III Sobieski. The ambition of the Krasińskis – especially the primate Michał, the last of the Krasinskis – was the creation of an intellectual and cultural Warsaw venue in Radziejowice. Among others, the socialites who frequented the place were: Narcyza Żchowska, Wojciech and Juliusz Kossak, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Józeł Chełmoński. In 1928 the first movie adaptation of Adam Mickiewicz's "Pan Tadeusz" was shot in Radziejowice.


The main attraction of the palace's museum is Poland's largest exhibition of Józef Chełmoński paintings and a collection of the great painter's remembrances. Even though he did not live in Radziejowice but in nearby Kulkówka, he used to be a frequent visitor here.


The current appearance of the palace does not resemble the old baroque residence of the Radziejowski family. Rebuilt at the end of the 18th century and completed at the beginning of the 19th century, it acquired a Greek revivalist character. Museum halls, galleries and visitor apartments can all be found here. The oldest part of the complex constitutes a castle rebuilt from ruins back in the 19th century, consisting of a kitchen and 2 historical apartments.

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Do you know which ideas for dinner I like the most? It's not really complicated: I don't figure things out, don't prepare, don't cook, don't clear the table and everybody is full up and happy. If like me you are sometimes loath to cook dinner, you don't have any idea for a meeting with friends and maybe you are looking for a place for dinner or a power lunch, I recommend a Japanese restaurant called Banihana on Twarda Street 4 in Warsaw. Here excellent food is combined with imaginative preparation of the dishes, and the extraordinary atmosphere is accompanied by creative, open people in one consistent succulent whole. In my opinion, it was joyful, loud and very tasty.


The restaurant was created by amazing people whose ideas still exist in many Benihana restaurants all over the world. Just after the war, Yunosuke Aoki, a descendant of a samurai, decided to start a coffee shop with his wife, Katsu. Wanting to offer something different from other coffee shops in the area, Yunosuke Aoki rode his bike over 20 miles to purchase real sugar for coffee. His son Hiroaki (or Rocky, as he would become known) used the idea to create something unique. Rocky moved to the U.S. to pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant. He started by selling ice cream on the streets of Harlem. At night he studied restaurant management. He went over well and was known on the streets of the areas where work wasn't the most popular activity. The people could rely on his friendliness, smile, energy and the colorful Japanese cocktail umbrellas he added to the treats. These are small details, but isn't it always the little things that stick in our mind? It is hard to believe he managed to save up the money to open his first teppanyaki restaurant in New York in 1964. Like his father's coffee shop, it was named Benihana. He opened more restaurants within the next few years. Now there are 130 restaurants Benihana all over the world.

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08Jan2016

January 1st is the shortest day of the Year because the morning starts around noon. That is, unless we spent New Year's Eve taking care of our liver and head, and after drinking a New-Year toast went directly to bed. For the majority of us it is a lazy, sleepy day aimed more at taking a nap or reading a book under a blanket than at any physical activity.

 

It is worse if at 7:30 in the house two little, well-rested human beings are running around. We have to get up, wake ourselves up with a bucket of black coffee and prepare an honest breakfast. Later on we put some cartoons on the TV and lethargically pretend that we do not exist. Unfortunately, the amount of unused energy in the body of a young person is usually inversely proportional to the tolerance level of "tired" parents.

 

My children were able to remain inactive only until after dinner time. As skating and swimming could not be taken into account for obvious reasons, we decided to take a walk. As a matter of fact I decided, because the man of the house adamantly refused to go anywhere.

 

I reminded myself that since the autumn it has been possible to see the King's Garden of Light in Wilanów Park, so we went for a frosty evening walk to Wilanów.

 

It was beautiful. Thousands of colorful lights create a mysterious garden where you feel like you are in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the courtyard you can take a picture in the royal golden carriage and try to listen to the light drops falling from a huge light fountain.

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