If you’re ever near Lisbon – make sure you don’t miss Sinatra. I never knew a place like this exists, soaking in romanticism, rich history (and rich on many levels), mysticism and fairy tale spirit.
This is however not a post about travelling. The beauty of the place is just a bonus. It’s about the conversations between a parent and a 2 (and almost) half years old child.
So – pay attention to the first part when Sanj briefs me on what he’s taking with us and what not. Can you hear that the word “milk” is pronounced in spelling rather than a “human” word. It’s because in our family Arya’s desired objects, no matter how quietly and at what times are pronounced , Our daughter will pick on and will take advantage of to such an extent that we might regret even thinking them. “Milk”, “chocolate”, “ice-cream”, “tubby” (Teletubby) have this power of being needed right after they are called upon. They therefore simply have to be spelled and we are safe until the girl learns how to read (I’m very much in Catch 22 here when answering the question: “Do I want Arya to learn to read?”).
Secondly, there’s always the aspect of making decisions. They take long but if not respected irrespective of the outcome, we are screwed.
Thirdly, there are daddy’s lectures. Painful to hear for mummy, ignored completely by the daughter.
And most importantly – “Mummy! Put the phone down”.
While Arya is sleeping on the plane, Sanj looking at her Teletubby mascot: “Which one is it? La-La? Tinky Winky?…
He sings the jingle from Teletubbies then half way through he reminisces, still holding the mascot in his hands: “When I was at school, I used to argue with my friend which one is the best Teletubby. He claimed the red one, I liked the yellow one. What was his name?”
O.K. I didn’t answer because I was still digesting his first words – the part “when I was at school” and thinking: “right, so like 7, 8 years old…
Sanj continued, oblivious of my calculations: “Some people at high school were dating girls, some were thinking which college to choose. I was debating about Teletubbies.
– High school?!!?!?!? – it is very likely the whole plane heard me.
It might seem irrelevant comment but it very much is super relevant: – love is a funny thing – it’s simply only:time and place in life. Nothing else. Time and place.
If Sanj’s and my paths ever crossed in high school I would probably never even know his name and Sanj would, very likely hate me or my face would, very likely be a type of a mean girl or an opposite of anyone who he would feel attracted to. It’s our childhood and teenage hood that drags all the sh** in the rest of our lives.
My time in Poland is coming to an end. I spent here three weeks and as much as I enjoyed my holiday I am glad to be flying back home. Yes home. My home is in London. My small house, decorated by us, my sweet little baby kitten – Bastian, our life.
The sad part is that I never fully felt the Christmas spirit. I know, it comes from within, but the lack of snow, Christmas carols on TV, Home Alone 😁 and Arya having a cold – all that contributed. Nevertheless, it’s been my first Christmas. My first Christmas in total happiness. Light, without the depression, the miserable hope for next year. Light, with wings.
Yesterday, at Christmas supper, as tradition goes we shared the wafer and said wishes to each other. I realised – I don’t wish for anything this year. Apart from health, all the rest I need to work hard for on my own. All I need- is here with me. I’m strong. I’m complete. The rest will follow out of my happiness.
When I was younger “a loner” was my unspoken nickname. Since I remember, since my family remember. That was my thing. People used to say: “Asia [my younger sister] is a cuddler and Agnieszka has her own world”. I was able to stay for days in my room, the door closed, a book in my hand. As soon as school was over, I ran upstairs, slammed the door and I was gone for hours. I felt so comfortable in my own cocoon. Safe. Alone and snuggled.
Then I fell in love for the first time and this warmth of being on my own suddenly disappeared and instead I insisted on at least spending nights together. I needed someone else’s warmth. Another heart beat. The need to feel loved. Had I not needed that before I found love? Or had I felt safe then because I had known the loved ones were just behind the closed door. I think that’s it. Until I left home to study at the university I actually had never tasted a true loneliness. Lost love, empty beds, empty houses. They all started when I left home. And they brought the chill of loneliness.
Last Tuesday I flew to Poland. Before Arya was born any travel on my own made me instantly sick with sadness. Now with my baby on my lap I felt so calm and filled with love to her. No loneliness. At the same time however I already missed Sanj. But I’m not sure if I missed him more or worried about him more because he’s the one who’s stayed on his own. I know the horrible feeling. I know the darkness of loneliness and I certainly do not want my husband to experience it. I want him happy all the time and especially at our home.
According to Buddhism – one achieves fulfilment only when one is able to find peace of soul in solitude.
I can only quote one very famous Polish singer, Kora Jackowska (a terribly interesting woman) who says in one of her songs: “Lubię samotność lecz we dwoje, na wyciagnięcie ręki twojej”.
“I like loneliness but when there’s two of us, at the length of your arm”.
Last weekend was very much desired, days countdown started with the first second after the booking confirmation had landed in my mailbox. The criteria for finding the right place were simple:
must have an amazing spa
must be within an hour drive from London (because my baby hates being restricted and locked in small places – I’m starting to suspect she’s got claustrophobic tendencies or perhaps she’s scarred after so many long distance journeys she’s already gone through)
must be a luxury hotel
must be available with short notice (because we needed it now, right now and not a day later)
And, being a master of finding super places to stay in (no, really I AM) I settled on this one. Just needed Sanj’s confirmation and after his approval I booked a Lavender suite – with a private terrace, hot tub and bathroom spa. Hell yeah!
The plan was that we will leave in the afternoon, stop for lunch somewhere closer to the destination and then check in the Sopwell House.
While Arya was falling asleep in the car (it was her nap time so perfect timing) I quickly googled a restaurant and found Paprika quite interesting so we “gps-ed” it. My jaw dropped though when upon arrival, casual entrance and asking for a table for two the waiter announced to us: “I’m afraid we don’t accept babies… We don’t have high chairs or changing facilities”.
Did I say that my jaw dropped? My jaw dropped. Probably down to the very floor and probably with a massive impact because I’m pretty sure all the guests turned into our direction and stared at me for a good 30 seconds. And for a good 30 seconds, while my jaw was lying (pretty bruised and battered I recon) there on the wooden floor of this pretentious small French &Asian fusion , there was silence. A long pause. Because my husband never says anything back, just politely adjusts to the surroundings and me? Well, my jaw dropped, remember? And since it was all in pieces I was not able to speak. WTF? What do you mean there are no facilities for babies. Who’s fault is that. So provide them you stuck up, “babist” dive.
We left and Sanj, quite annoyed with me (probably because of this whole “jaw thing”) snarled at me: “Oh come on, stop being so dramatic”. (Wel, if he’s saying that to me after 10 years of knowing that being dramatic is my thing, this whole Paprika thing must have affected him too but in such a way that he dropped his marbles!)
– What do you mean stop being dramatic. It hurts so bad. My baby was rejected.
– Oh come on, you know there are places like that. Leave it. Let them be pretentious, we don’t need them. There’s lots of places to eat here.
I really felt hurt. For Arya. Although she, of course, had no idea what was going on, I felt as if I didn’t protect her from the evil world. I failed her. I didn’t stand up for her rights. She’s a human for god’s sake, she should be allowed EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE!!!! You hear you stupid Paprika and all other restaurants who apply such rules.
But Sanj was right – no point dwelling on this for too long. We ended up in Hun•Gry where Arya burst into tears, on seeing a lady in a purple (ridiculous) hat, pink fan in her hand. Not sure if that was the fan or the hat. Hard to communicate with an 8.5 month old baby. The lady, apparently was a member of the Red Hat Society (I didn’t eavesdrop, I swear; it turns out the lady was American and as you must be already familiar with this phenomenon – Americans in England sound very loud, it’s probably because all places in England are compact comparing to those in USA and Americans, used to large spaces, always speak loud because the distances between people are bigger too and when they come here it’s hard for them to turn down a notch; I personally find it cute; Sanj considers it annoying and as we learned recently, Arya gets all in tears).
When we arrived to Sopwell House I spotted a couple of more Red Hats and when we entered into the building, the reception was all dotted in purples and reds. It’s like all the parrots from a some Zoo hating away and got attracted by mooing of the cows grazing on the neighbouring grass.
Surprisingly this time Arya did not even notice the ladies. She must have been admiring the place, just like her mummy.
And from this moment, everything (EVERYTHING!!!) is amazing. The receptionist who is so “incondesendingly” kind, I almost feel as if thousands of kittens were licking me while squeaking in human voice: “We love you, you’re so pretty and smart and you’re better than our mummy”. And the porter who’s showing us around, slightly shy but professional to the very top of his buttoned collar. And the gate that opens to the separate (read: for the privileged) area with a Thai style garden and a jacuzzi. And our suite with a private terrace with a private hot tub (which I plunged into the minute the porter was gone, although I was so excited that I almost invited him and all the other guests to join me in the tub). Two floors (a lift was missing – well, that’s a deal-breaker), plasma TV downstairs and upstairs and a bathroom spa.
I had my treatments booked for next morning so on Saturday we were celebrating with drinks and food. Arya had her whole box of toys brought from home and she enjoyed the views, new people and of course food. Oh help me god, how she enjoys food.
Next morning was a slight hangover moment which is rather sad because the previous night I drank only two glasses of wine and half of a glass of champagne (yes, I know it’s the mixing thing) – some things have to be done: since we didn’t take any headache tablets (how had I supposed to know that two glasses would kill me???) I was forced (by higher powers, aka headache) to drink the remains of Arya’s nurofen (well, this girl has everything packed for all circumstances), hoping that my tri-active facial and massage would do the rest of the magic.
Because we were departing right after my treatment I packed suitcases leaving just my makeup thinking that I would come back to make myself even more beautiful for the road and for the rest of the day. Sanj loaded the car, Arya fell asleep and I went for my “me” time. The nicest part was that I was able to have my eyes closed and not trying to overhear if my baby is ok, not hearing her crying or having a good time (because if she’s having a good time without me I would be all jealous and upset and all my quality time would be ruined) or not being slapped in the face or have my hair pulled or being jumped on or sucked on. Basically I could lie calmly and be PAMPERED. Oh my god, I said it. I was being PAMPERED. I can swear there were tears under the shut eyelids. The tears of incomprehensible happiness. And then there was a wide smile, while leaving the spa and hearing my baby’s cooing. Sanj already checked out and the happy trio left the building.
I must have known something was not right then but on the other hand, why would I. Everything was amazing. I only realised half way through when we quickly popped into Dunelm that… ARGH!!!!!! Somebody help the poor fellows around – my bare face with no makeup was exposed to public. And that’s dangerous. They might go blind or never get out of the shock after such a horrid view… Well, hold on. After all I had my face all lifted and rejuvenated so i actually might be mistaken for Arya’s twin sister for that matter. So this time it was ok. What was not ok was the fact that MY MAKEUP KIT WAS CASUALLY SPREAD ON THE DRESSER IN THE LAVENDER ROOM, probably enjoying its treatment too. But that I discovered only at home, while unpacking the bag and yelling at Sanj that heras the done the final check before he left the suite for good. What the hell. He always does. ALWAYS! He does a routine check of my check and his own three other checks and this time… Well, Aryabwas his priority. Let’s praise the almighty that he took her with him.
It didn’t change the fact though that I was fuming and started getting palpitations because I just realised WHAT EXACTLY WAS IN MY MAKEUP KIT LEFT BEHIND. I estimated the loss for more or less £300 but it was my limited edition lipsticks and contouring set that pushed me over the edge.
If you now turning your head in disapproval, thinking how materialistic I am then screw you. Because I’m not. I probably would live happily ever after without the face enhancing instruments. And yes, I am grateful for having a roof above my head, healthy family and bread on my table, for a beautiful autumn and clear blue sky. I am. And life is beautiful and all that jazz but if I can fume I will fume. This allows me to get the negative energy off my system. It always have and I’m doing it now. It never works at the moment of fuming by it definitely cleanses my aura for the future. So my dramatic snorting, preaching, heavy breathing and what not lasted as long as this brilliant idea came to my mind – go and collect it. Bingo.
And that is another asset of booking a spa 45 minutes away from home. Within 2 hours my makeup was safe at home.