Posted by: anglopole | June 6, 2016

A citizen at last

Yes, it finally happened last Friday, 3rd of June, 2016!!! I officially became a British citizen! The citizenship ceremony took place in a local registry office and we had a chance to meet and chat with a High Sheriff of Bedfordshire for the first time.

sheriff

I did not expect the ceremony to be anything special, but it was quite touching – after the affirmation and being presented with the citizenship certificate I felt this sense of completion and joy. A dot was put over the ‘i’ – an expat of 10 years has been accepted by the land as her citizen. Queen Elizabeth II has gained a few more subjects on that day, myself included. A certain shift in the spirit has happened and it feels good. On top of that, one of my life long dreams has come true. It took 25 years of germination before that dream finally was got materialized.

When I visited the UK for the first time in 1991 I fell in love with the country whose language I had already loved passionately before. I remember, before going back to Poland, I scribbled on one wall ‘my allegiance is to England’ – it was a silly, teenage thing to do, but I meant it and I knew one day I would live in the UK and become its citizen. In my heart I was the UK citizen already at that point. As they say, your home is where your heart is. 

10 years ago we moved to England and settled down here. The question of becoming citizens was not a priority because of multiple other issues requiring our attention.Well, there’s a perfect time for everything and this year has proved to be the right time to focus on applying for the citizenship. I had a chance to go back in time, to the university days when I was studying the history, geography and culture of the British Isles – I had to revise all that I learnt in those days in order to pass the Life in the UK Test, required as one of the steps in applying for citizenship. The knowledge required in order to be naturalized here is at times ridiculous, I must say, as not many born UK citizens know or care how many wives king Henry VIII had and which one was faithful to him, etc. Luckily, I love these subjects so for me it was fun to go through that material again and in February I passed the exam.

The most painful part of the naturalization process was the price! £ 2000 for me and two of my children! Ouch! Everything comes with a price though, eh?!  

Many pages of forms, hundreds of pounds and weeks of waiting later, the invitation to the citizenship ceremony arrived and last week the ceremony itself took place. It is done and it feels good.

Now, it is not just my bulldog Nala that is British – it’s my whole family! Yay! 

Posted by: anglopole | June 11, 2014

Legoland Rip-Off

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Two weeks ago I took my kids to Legoland, Windsor. I had received four tickets as a gift and so I was super thrilled at the thought I was saving A LOT of money. I invited a friend of mine to accompany us and started getting ready for the trip, thinking all I would need would be picnic for the day and, of course, petrol to get us there! I am sure some of you reading it are smiling at the thought of my obvious naivety! 

I studied the Legoland website to see how I can prepare for the day out. I noticed they offered this gadget called q-bot for those wanting to avoid queueing. It is a great idea, surely. Well, it would be if it wasn’t for the price of this device. The basic one costs 15£ per person! All it does for you is, you can book a ride and then wait the exact same amount of time you would if queueing, but you can just walk around or do something else while waiting. It sounds good if you have a small family. I chose to get three of those q-bots, knowing that it would be the kids having all the rides together with my young friend. That was the first blow to my joy over not having to pay for the entrance for the 4 of us. 45£ gone before I even got to the park. When it came to using the q-bot, sadly it is not as convenient as one might think, as the large crowds and lack of enough places to rest, meant that we had to stand anyway and the kids were getting impatient and bored. We could not walk to far away from the queue as we would have missed the rides. I should have gotten q-bot express for 30£ (per person) or better still, q-bot ultimate 70£ (per person) in order not to have to be stranded around the queues. Yet, spending 90£ or, 210£ would be a great expense for me…. Let alone if I wanted to take part in the rides. Now, imagine the cost for larger families. Don’t get more wrong, it is a normal business kind of thinking to want to earn extra by providing extra services, BUT…….. The q-bot prices are far too high for the services rendered and also, when it comes to children, the Legoland management know very well, that the parents will want to make this day out special for the children and queueing is not special or fun, and so most people will go for offer of pre-booked rides in q-bots. Now, after an aggressive treatment I went through last year, I still am not fully there when it comes to fitness. So, I knew I would need to park closer to the entrance. You’d think that parking would be included in the entrance price! Nope! Forget it! I had to pay 5£ for all day parking. It may not be much, but added to all other expenses impossible to avoid, it was just another unnecessary cost. There is no other place in the area that people might want to use the car park for. Why charge for parking then?! The parking lot belongs to Legoland, and once you pay the entrance fee, you should be able to park for free.

We got to Legoland early in the morning, before the opening. Now, we had our tickets, and q-bots but we still had to queue to enter, and then had to queue to get the q-bots meant to help us avoid queues!😉 Ridiculous, isn’t it?! Now, all set and ready to start exploring the park we ended up stuck….. in a mighty queue to enter the further part of the park. Why? The park opens at 9.00 am, but the rides open at 10.00!!!! So, when you get there in the morning thinking that you’d beat the queues and crowds, let me tell you, you won’t!!! You start the day with kids getting bored and frustrated.

ImageWhy open the park at 9.00 am and not let people walk around to whatever rides they want to start their day with?! The crowds would have spread around and the queues would have been smaller if the people were allowed in at the time of the park opening. I seriously do not get this extra hour of waiting! All the crowds are kept between the entrance gates and the barriers leading to different sections of the park. Of course the shops in that area are open. I am sure the idea is that the parents, wanting to entertain their kids, would start the day buying toys for them……

Now, my younger son is into cinema, so he really wanted to see one of the 4D movies in the cinema in Legoland. When I was getting the q-bot I was told I needed to pay extra 2£ per person to book the thing for them…. nobody advised that at this time of the day it was really unnecessary to pay for avoiding queues there as few people start with the cinema…….. So, I paid another 6£ only to get there and enter the cinema without any queue! 

ImageI wonder if they feel proud with themselves about how skilfully they fool people into all the unnecessary expenditures around the park? Anyway, by this moment I already spent over 50£ on top of the tickets that would have cost me about 130£! 

Many rides in Legoland are super fun water ones. The kids loved them. Fortunately, the weather was lovely and very very warm as they could get dry quicker. 

ImageThe children’s joy is priceless, of course. The Legoland management know it and use it to the full. In order to get dry fast, you can use dryer booths BUT, of course, it is NOT for free. You have to pay 2£ for 3 minute session, which is not enough to get dry, especially if someone wears jeans! Now, why not give a certain amount of tokens with each ticket for people to use those booths within the ticket price?! Only if they want to have unlimited wet rides they’d have to pay after exhausting their tokens…. That would be much more fair, I think. There are quite a few rides where you can get wet, and so be prepared to spend at least 10£ to get dry! Most rides offer a photo taken of you, and these are about 10£ on average! I passed that one and enjoyed taking my own photos. Lots of to lotteries on every corner, with assistants enticing the kids to make their parents pay for various shots to win a toy. 

What I found really tiring was the limited amount of benches or other places to sit and rest while waiting for your relatives to come back from a ride. They charge so much for everything, welcome crowds and so you’d expect the place is crowd friendly and one where you can have fun with no stress. It’s not so obvious….. Prepare to be frustrated and exhausted, let alone skinned ;-) 

The one thing I found good value for money was a refillable drink bottle that you just paid once for and then could have refilled with soft drinks as much as you wanted throughout your visit to Legoland, and it’s a nice souvenir too. 

I loved watching my kids having fun, but I think the whole experience is totally over priced and is a classical rip-off. 

 

 

 

Posted by: anglopole | May 23, 2013

Sharia Madmen in Woolwich

For the past two days all UK has been fed with updates on the gruesome killing of a young British soldier. It is shocking and so no surprise it is hard for everyone to comprehend the brutal killing. It makes more even more sad to know that the killers are of Nigerian heritage and I lived in Nigeria and know some nice people from there (except the one I married, who happens to be Nigerian too! duh!). I am so very sorry for the family of Lee Ridgby, the victim of the two self-made jihadists! A little boy has lost his dad, a young woman has lost her husband, and a few others lost their brother, parents lost their son….. and all for two mad men wanting to make a point….

I have to say, though, I am equally angry with the British media. All the daily papers today had their front covers completely devoted to that madman with blooded hands and holding knives…. That is a ‘great’ PR job for these two savages!! Why give them all the publicity when we all know that this is precisely why they carried out this horrid attack?!!!! It must be a new kind of stupid!  24 hrs a day of almost pornographic details of this crime is not just distasteful, but it promotes the killers, grants them the notoriety they wanted. The media response and the hunger for the gory details among the public are almost as sick as the crime itself.

Yes, write about the story, talk about it, but, for goodness sake, don’t fuel the ill intent of the terrorists with the exaggerated attention!

Life is very fragile and one life cannot be promoted by destroying another life....

Life is very fragile and one life cannot be promoted by destroying another life….

Here is a commentary of a Polish journalist in the USA on the events in London. He is presenting an uncut version of the video showing the terrorist explaining why he did what he did:

In the uncut clip we can hear, Michael Adebolajo, the terrorist, making references to the Quran and Islam. Now, why was this part of the clip masked by ALL the British media?! Who are the media working for and representing? The British society or the terrorists wanting to destroy it?!

Posted by: anglopole | January 1, 2013

Devotion at the end of 2012 and Devotion for the New Year!

I cannot say I regret 2012 is over and I am going to miss it! It was a tsunami year for me that shook pretty much every aspect of my life. It ended well, though. I am still standing and smiling and hoping for the best and so there was a happy end to last year. 

Read More…

Posted by: anglopole | December 29, 2012

Cupid and Clone Ltd.

Not long ago I watched this very thought-provoking picture: ‘Womb’ (‘Clone’ in the UK), starring latest Dr Who, Matt Smith and Eva Green. It’s supposed to be a science fiction story written by a self-made Hungarian director/writer Benedek Fliegauf, but I couldn’t help and think it was all too real….as in a very realistic portrait of what we so often do – recreate the passionate love we have lost.

Yes, it is a love story and pictured in a very poetic way, almost touching its core that, to me, is always in the human spirit, that is when we think of true love, of course. Two childhood sweethearts are separated twice. Once in childhood, after falling in love with one another and then after being reunited for a short time, death of the young activist parts them suddenly, but not forever, so it seems. Dr Who star, would be cloned! Cupid has found a new way in this movie, to make sure that love survives the worst of all trials, death itself!😉 I was even wondering if it was a coincidence that Matt Smith was selected to play the leading role in this drama. Anyway, Rebecca, played by Eva Green, so loved her sweetheart Tommy, that she decided to give birth to his clone and bring him up to the horror of his mother and the local community.

Eventually, Rebecca lost Tommy the third time, after he discovered the whole truth of his identity. She was, however, given a present – the long awaited love encounter which resulted in her falling pregnant. Tommy then left her mother/lover….. and that to me constitutes a moral of the sad, after all, story – you cannot recreate the past…. you just cannot…. the copies of past experiences will never be more than copies, even when they bear fruit and give pleasure….

The film is very interesting with lovely photography and the overall climate and way of telling the story and is well worth watching, if you are into poetry, philosophy, psychology and science fiction.

Now, I hope the stupid cupid will not get the idea of cloning itself ;))

cupids

Posted by: anglopole | November 12, 2012

Nala, my brave Victorian Bulldog

I have always loved animals and have owned pets since I was a child. My first dog was a fox terrier cross and I had him for 13 years. Due to serious health problems, he had to be put down and it was one of the darkest and most traumatic days of my life. I was grieving for Timi, my first canine friend for a long long time. I couldn’t even imagine ever having another dog in my life. 

Now, having kids, one of whom has been diagnosed with the Asperger’s syndrome has brought the subject of adopting a dog back to my attention. I have wanted to do this for some time, but always had arguments against it. Either the time was not right, or the conditions we live in, or the kids’ age, blah blah blah…… In June, however, when one of this year’s disaster struck my family, namely myself being diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought, there was no time to waste…. Why wait to provide something so beautiful as a canine love for myself and the kids? We all needed something positive to happen for a change. Yes, it would be another duty for me, naturally, but also another incentive to get up everyday regardless of how well I feel. So there, I browsed through websites of known dog breeders, but was more or less focused on two breeds: pugs and bulldogs. Initially, I wanted a Frenchie, thinking about their toy size, but there was this advert in one of the newspapers about a family looking for a good home for their last Victorian puppy girl. When I saw a photo of her, an electric shock went through my body ;))) hahaha – or at least this is a flamboyant way to describe the feeling I got when I saw that gorgeous puppy old tyme bulldogge puppy. So I took my sons and went to see the puppy…..

We loved her and so I decided to adopt her as our latest family addition, a lovely canine baby full of character and life! :)) It took us some time to find a name for her, but since from the beginning she showed a lot of stubborn, decisive, bossy attitudes we called her Nala…. the queen of Anglopole’s world! 

Victorian bulldogs, also known as Dorset Old Tyme Buldogge are similar to British bulldogs but are said to be healthier being taller…. Temperamentwise they seem to be like a cross of American and British bulldog. So, far, I can say Nala is a very friendly and loyal puppy and a very intelligent playmate and companion, but of course, most depends on how I, as a pack leader, will train her to coexist with us. So, I have become a great fan of Cesar Millan and his unquestionable charisma in rehabilitating dogs and training people. I will be writing about Nala and our adventures with her as often as possible. I certainly am more than happy I have got her and have already been mightily blessed by her unconditional affection! 

you can’t but love her!😀

Posted by: anglopole | November 12, 2012

Agent CCC

I have not been very active here for ages, which is a shame, however, I have valid reasons for it. In June, I became an agent, agent CCC, to be precise – Combat Chemo and Cancer has become my motto and the reality of my life in the past few months. I have been presented with a challenge:

who is going to devour who?

This nasty carcinoma of a tumour, like an ugly old shoe decided to throw me that challenge and I took it. I am half way through my treatment and am going to win this battle! I have my little helpers in that journey to getting my health back and for them I am battling a good battle with positive attitude, laughing my way through it, as why add worry and fear to what’s challenging enough?!

‘smile, even though your heart is aching…. smile….’

I have started a blog about this my encounter with the deadly breast carcinoma: Born Survivor – in case you want to learn more about it, get inspired or inspire someone you know is going through this tough trial.

Posted by: anglopole | June 8, 2012

60 years on the throne, 35 years in my heart!

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The Jubilee week is coming to an end, unfortunately! I am not being cynical, honest. I really enjoyed all the celebrations! In fact it was a lot more festive for me than Christmas, for a simple reason; Christmas is really no longer about the birth of Christ, but about all the commercial obsession of buying, showing off, rushing about, etc. While this jubilee was really and truly about the Queen Elisabeth II whose 60 years of reign is also important to me and my story. My fascination with Britain started over 30 years ago, when I was a preschooler! Then I heard about the British queen for the first time and started dreaming about being one of her servants, however lame that sounds😉 A few decades later, here I am living not that far away from the Buckingham Palace and still loving the British culture. The fact that I have a laugh at this or that in my everyday life as an expat in England, does not mean I do not appreciate and cherish the richness of the British history and culture. I would not have studied it at uni, had I not been passionate about it.

Anyway, it is a pity I was unable to see the celebrations in London personally, but enjoyed following many of them on the TV screen. However, I did take part in some celebrations here in Bedfordshire. On Sunday, despite the typically English weather, we had a street party in our church in Bedford:

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That’s is the faithfulness of her Majesty’s subjects in action!😉 We had fun! VC Bedford – you rock!!!

On Monday, I went to the Wrest Park in Silsoe, Bedfordshire. There I had a time travel to Georgian times, which was quite interesting. All the displays of armour and dress code of that era were impressive and set in the Georgian environment provided a very original atmosphere, indeed. I had fun!

I often visit the Wrest Park and indulge in my photo obsession as there are always plenty fantastic objects and people to photograph. This time it was especially colourful and interesting as it just gave me a taste of what it was like for people 200 years ago. I love such events. 

Then the concert for the Queen, which took place in front of her royal home, was absolutely fabulous. This is what one of my all time favourites, Stevie Wonder sang for the Queen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Qz9LyIf5tI

I totally agree with the dedication. The Queen is lovely and 60 years of reign through various ups and downs in the UK and Europe as a whole is a real achievement! My humble contribution to the jubilee is that I am dusting my blog off and picking up writing in it what I experience in my new homeland!

stay tuned!🙂

Music carries sounds that can sooth, elevate, encourage, inspire, enrage, irritate and words that can do the same. It can then have a greater impact on people than words alone, all the more that we tend to listen to our favourite music quite often, all the time, in some cases – in mine certainly (especially in the car). I am aware that all that I have just said is truism or a cliche, but even these are sometimes worth repeating. As I was watching the riots that flooded many streets of some British cities and towns I immediately thought of Ed Sheeran’s music and the latest CD I bought, namely No. 5 Collaborations Project.

Ed Sheeran belongs to a group of those British artists who have a lot to say, a lot to sing and shout about, and have the talent to do so, but do not really care about the charts and fame, which is what has always attracted me to such artists. With other talented singers he makes a true statement in one of the songs, called ‘Radio’:

I never had a playlist in my heart, oho
Now I need an A list just to chart
but I’ve been famous from the start
How am I gonna make my mark
Are you gonna play me, though, song was never meant for the radio
I get …radio spin, I’m just doing my thing, and I don’t have time for a playlist
How much will you pay me though? the song was not a hit on the radio, oho, oho, oho, oh

For this reason I have not been listening to radio for a long time…. I’d rather dig out good music and get addicted to something that is of value.

Here’s a song that makes me thing of the films I once wrote about here ‘Adulthood’ , ‘Kidulthood’  and ‘This Is England’ – as you can see, the reality these films refer too is not one that will change anytime soon and the riots that happened last week were a living proof of the morality or rather lack thereof that permeates the youngsters in Britain.

Yes, I know it happens in many other countries and not just Britain. But, not many other countries put themselves up to mentor those in the third world (or developing, as I should put it to be more politically correct), for example.

If a Britishman is singing:

‘London calls me a stranger,
A traveller Ohoohohh,
This is now my home, My home,
Oh Woah..’

… then what can an expat to Britain say?😉 This is my home and this is precisely why I allow myself the freedom to talk about the reality here the way I see it and the way it is.

In a beautiful and moving way, Ed tells true life stories of many anonymous citizens Great Britain who may not be finding their life here too great at all…..

What can I say, I am grateful singers like Ed Sheeran use their talents to do what the government institutions fail to do so often – to notice what is seemingly ugly, taboo, unnoticeable!

Keep up the good work Ed, I’d say! I am surely your fan!🙂

Posted by: anglopole | April 4, 2011

A thousand beautiful things… and more!

Yesterday was a mothering Sunday in the UK and I too was celebrating it. One of a few gifts that I received from my lovely children was a CD, ‘The Annie Lennox Collection’, which I have wanted to have for some time now. One of the songs on this CD is:

As I was listening to it in the car, I realized that this is exactly what I have been doing for some time now. Everyday, I set out with a camera (be it my professional toy or the one in my mobile), regardless whether it is to relax or work. I know that wherever I go I will find a lot of things that are worth capturing – a thousand beautiful things and more. Life is much more interesting with an attitude of a ‘beauty hunter’!🙂

Today I parked in the centre of Bedford and there, behind a toilet, far away from any supermarket was this lonely, abandoned trolley:

I didn’t have my camera with me, but I had my multifunctional mobile phone and so I had to, I simply had to snap a picture of that, some might say, ugly sight. As I was looking at the trolley I was thinking about the UK – there are many,  many things that have been misplaced and abused here, like in any other country, but the worst thing that can happen is to go past them without any notice… pretending that they don’t exist. I have had many comments on this blog that were rather hostile in nature, simply because I dare to describe reality as I see it and my impressions may not always be positive. Yet, the most important thing is that I want to see things and I want to give them my attention and try to understand why they are the way they are. In the process of my observations I learn a lot and am blessed with countless objects, situations, sights that make my eyes and mind smile….

Everything around is worth putting in a frame… even if it’s just a piece of green field….

 

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