When we were in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the Botanical Gardens, part of the University of Warsaw. A short bus ride from our hostel, the gardens were the perfect haven after a few days’ sightseeing in the bustling city. We spent a lovely few hours reading on a secluded bench amid the trees and flowers.
It was one of the times recently when I’ve felt most relaxed – it was lovely to just switch off and just be in a beautiful place. It’s moments like that which really nurture us, I think. When I wasn’t daydreaming, I powered through much of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling!), which, incidentally, I LOVED and would thoroughly recommend.
If you happen to be in Warsaw and would like to visit the gardens yourself, the website can be found here. There is a small charge to venture inside – I can’t remember how much it was, but I’m pretty sure it worked out at less than £1 in the good old GBP.
Here are some of my photographs which I took – take a botanical wander with me!
This is actually the beautiful open boulevard just outside the gardens themselves
Listening to I like this one by Joe Stilgoe, Waitress Song by First Aid Kit, Everyone is Gay by A Great Big World and Sister Rosette Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
The clue is in the bicycle’s cargo: ‘kwiaty’ is Polish for ‘flowers’, presumably 50 metres further on. This bicycle was on a backstreet in Poznan; we discovered it during a very early morning wander: we were up at 6am in an effort to avoid the heat of the day. It’s such a beautiful signpost, how could I not take a photograph?
Today it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Or, to give it its traditional name, Mothering Sunday. Sitting in the pub yesterday evening, somebody suddenly exclaimed that they’d forgotten to post their Mother’s Day card: a phone call would have to do this year. Another of my friends piped up that he hadn’t sent a card at all, because well, what was the actual point of Mother’s Day anyway? Isn’t it just a festival made up, seemingly like so many others, to get us all to buy things in order to say thank-yous that we should be saying all year anyway? Well, yes, perhaps in some ways. When I mentioned what I knew of the day’s history, he was surprised. And interested. I don’t think many people know about the day’s roots, so I looked into it a little more, and felt like it might be an interesting little nugget to share here (any excuse for a bit of history…).
Mothering Sunday started off as the day that people would return to their ‘mother church’: the church in the place where they had grown up, in about the sixteenth century. It later became the day that those ‘in service’ away from home would go home to see their mothers: traditionally, they’d pick wildflowers on the way to give as presents. This tradition then evolved into the day that we know today: a day to say thank you to our mothers. But not just our mothers. At our church growing up we used to give out daffodils on Mothering Sunday: not just to women with children, but to all of the women. Historically, Mother’s Day was always about coming home; remembering the place and the people you came from, and it makes sense that Mother’s Day should still serve as a moment to be grateful for all of the women who have made us the people we are today, whether they are related to us or not. Yes, in some ways it is hideously commercialised, but any day that makes us pause and say thank you can’t be all bad.
So, thank you to my mum, of course, who I know diligently reads my blog. And her dedication and support in that department sums up her approach to mothering in all of my twenty two years. Always there, often in the background, caring and loving and never asking for anything in return. The safest of refuges no matter what happens. Love you mum! And thank you to all of the other amazing women, whether they’ve been in my life fleetingly or since the beginning, who have taught me so much about grace, wisdom, bravery and just getting on with stuff.
And to finish, the indomitable Sarah Kay, on mothers, and the kind of mother she would like to be. A perfect, passionate poem about mothers and daughters. It’s entitled ‘B’. Enjoy!
Listening to: Budapest by George Ezra, 212 by Azalea Banks and Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars.
Yes, okay, it’s Saturday. But that’s almost Friday. Anyway, here’s a photograph of summer to offset the winter blues. These purple wildflowers are a common enough sight along the coast of Northern Ireland, a fact which does little to diminish their beauty, especially in the late summer sunshine.
‘The earth laughs in flowers’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Purple wildflowers, the Northern Irish coast, Summer 2013.