24 July 2012

Gdańsk: a Sunday at home

We wake to the muted ringing of church bells as pale sunshine spills onto the wooden floorboards of our little apartment. There's no rush to get up, not today—it is Sunday morning, our day off.

Gdansk sunday brunch
Sunday brunch at home: tiny fragrant fraises du bois, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries on local yoghurt
with dark honey and waffles

It is a year since my last post, and we are back in the old city of Gdańsk. Once again, we are here to oversee the work on a new boat. We've watched her take shape, day by day, timing our shipyard visits to coincide with the workers' break so we don't get underfoot. We swipe our security cards on the unimposing little door that opens out into the huge hangar-like workspace, and walk the yellow safety lines towards our new boat. Dusty sunlight high on the rafters, the rasping and clanking and hammering cacophony, the melange of new-boat smells: sweetish thin solvent fumes, the phenolic dryness of wood shavings with the occasional hint of vanillic coumarin, the dull blandness of epoxy resin—and out of all this emerges the shape we are learning inside and out. Day by day, we watch as her structural bones are fleshed out and panelled and polished, as she is inlaid with neat bundles of wire and circuitry whose electrical pulsings will order her movement and fill her with light and sound, as ridged and curved tunnels of plumbing are laid in her bowels. We snap photos, so we know what lies behind each panel; we record serial numbers of each pump and each bubble-wrapped appliance. We ask questions. We make lists, and compile orders for suites of spare parts, for water toys, for uniforms. It is work, and it is fun.

But not today. Today, we sit back in bed to enjoy the sounds of home—the leafy rustling outside the windows, the birdsong, the bells. There will be a lazy leisurely brunch made from our eager selections at the open markets the day before—there were generously heaped pyramids of fruit, and brown eggs, and dark honey and delicious local yoghurt as thick as clotted cream; there were fine-boned little elderly women speaking a stately formal English, sitting behind displays of ruffled chanterelles and the plump lewd shapes of ceps. There will be seconds of coffee (and perhaps thirds). Later on, when the bright panels of sunlight elongate and fade, there will be the deep red gleam of wine. It is Sunday, the day off. 

Gdansk Markets strawberries
only 10 zloty per kilo of these beauties!

Gdansk markets blueberries
fresh succulent berries at the markets

Gdansk sunday herbs
we bought plants to brighten up the flat—a pot of lavender to crush between the fingers for the scent, mint for tea and salads, basil for everything

Gdansk sunny flat
our sun-filled little flat in the Stare Miasto (old city)

Gdansk markets strawberry plate
so sweet and juicy—even the inimitable Mrs Elton could have had no cavil with these

Gdansk markets bounty
the best of shopping at the open markets

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about this blog

Occasional vignettes from the life of a charter chef who loves simply messing about on boats.

"I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brains and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world."
MFK Fisher


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