2 listopada 2018

Trust in your dreams and make them come true / Astorga 1808

fot. Antonio Martinez Fuertes
Sometimes the best you can do is to believe your dreams and follow your intuition, even if it seems a total nonsense. What doesn`t make any sense for others, can make it for you. 
And so it is what is all Astorga 1808 story about. The sudden plot twist that made miserable, modern life cinderella an empire countess; with good friends support, help from the other people and little luck.

Now, when I write this post, sitting on my bed, wrapped in blanket, I still can`t believe I actually was there, and it is me on the pictures. Daydream mixes with reality and I don`t even know where to start the story. So maybe the best start will be at the beginning, many, many months ago, when I received an invitation to an event and was not certain if I could go, as Spain is so far away, the flights are expensive and I have never been to that country yet... But I kept the invitation in my mind and as the time passed I was more and more certain I can go with a group of soldiers, as usual.

We prepared everything, I have been sewing a new dress for a month (what you could see on my instagram and even help me decide about the cut of my spencer) and two days before our departure part of the group I was to travel with said we can`t attend the whole event. I had to break through my shyness and contact organizers, I was even having a phone call to Spain, what I can`t believe I was brave enough to do. Until the midnight everything was done and I could happily report I managed to achieve everything they wanted to participate. The same night, while I was sewing decorations on my dress, I received the phone call they cancel participation of the whole group for some unclear reason.

It was not only because of the event and all the long preparations - it was also because of my modern life misery (which I was accused lately I do not share widely on the internet. But why should I? Let`s say I can write about it here now, as it is necessary for the story). Let`s confess: I lost my modern work twice this year. After the first time I did not give up and tried to do my best but because of bad circumstances that didn`t depend on me I lost it second time. As I am modern life cinderella, I don`t rely on anyone but live on my own, from the money I earn. So by loosig work, I also lost the only source of my income. Astorga was a long planned holidays to relieve myself from the nightmare following me, chasing me day and night like a shadow for past few months, comsuming my life energy, forcing me to cancel most of my plans and cut on most of my usual, basic expenses, making me nervous, depressed, losing belief I can influence anything in my modern life. Astorga was a planned refuge. 

It appeared that, despite my miserable, yet brave efforts, I will not go anywhere. I will stay in the nightmare for the long, grey and cold upcomming months. I can`t remember much of what was happening the next 24 hours, only that it got even worse with the very last days of my modern work and I fell terribly ill. I recall my own forehead on the working desk and tears falling down on the bunch of unsigned papers. I recall myself shivering in bed in high fever, trying one by one multiple pills none of which worked. I recall one unread message in my phone. I recall myself booking nonsense flights what meant wasting my last money on a travel I will not be able to arrange in that short time and that high fever. I recall myself getting dressed and leaving my flat behind as it was.

The plan was short and not simple to follow. At first bus to Katowice, then one to Cracov, to the airport. The flight to Munich. The flight to Bilbao. The bus to Burgos. Begging Burgos cathedral stuff to let me inside for the night because I am f_cking Disney princess Esmeralda. The bus to Astorga and then, after 27 hours of travelling ill I was planned to put my foot in the french camp. While not having any tent to sleep and any of my camp stuff because it was all too heavy or too strangely dubious for the airport.

In the very beginning I lost my first bus that did not arrive at all. Then I had to run to catch the second bus in few last seconds. But then it was nice to Burgos. Over the earth, flying in the skies I got some well deserved peace and sleep which allowed me to cure and lower down fever. Then in Burgos it appeared, there is one bed in low price hotel so I don`t need to be that religious and pray all night in cathedral ;)
I had to march or rather run 5 km at 3 am with my heavy bag to the railway station. I marched through the sleeping city and through the wet, gravelly field, completely dark and abandoned under high electricity cables and when I reached the station, I realised my mistake - as the transport was actually from the centre... So all for waste and just at the end of travel! Fortunately the only man present at the station that early in the morning helped me and ordered me a spanish taxi back to the centre. Few hours later I was finally in Astorga and after few biscuits and water what was my breakfast I just entered the hall that was sleeping place for soldiers who were not in the camp.

I didn`t know where to go, whom to ask and if I am already allowed to stay there. So, knowing all the problems and dilemmas I decided to finish my hat first. Then, slowly got dressed and left in the town direction. Good luck with me! As I met there my Spanish friend Marta and newly made friend Lourdes. Few vine drinks later we found each other in the allied camp, being very kindly welcome and served with hot stew. Thanks to Marta and organizers who were there, I was allowed to stay in my 'secret tower' in soldiers place. Happy I am not homeless anymore, I enjoyed a time with my friends.

Soon, when the night come, there was official arrival of the Emperor planned. So there was still plenty of time ahead! I strolled the streets and accidentally met my amazing friends from Malta! We spent great time together laughing, talking and enjoying the beautiful evening and early night.

As the night fell, everyone gathered in the French camp. I was there too - to follow soldiers to the one of the squares. There I stood in the crowd, right behind the back of the unit when he came - in the carriage enlighten by a glorious glare of his generals uniforms - to take a look upon his soldiers. I can`t exactly say what happened after although I saw it closely: he kissed the flag, I hold my breath, one of the Polish soldiers fell down on knees bringing memory of The Great Duchy of Warsaw, I had the feeling as if blood stopped in my veins for a moment. He noticed soldier and then moved forward followed by loud "Vive l`Empereur" cries. Indeed, he was here - Napoleon.


Trust in your dreams and make them come true / Astorga 1808

Next day in the morning I woke up in my secret tower and prepared as always. I planned to go to the french camp again - to spend time there and check if there are more of my friends there. After yesterday`s few kilometers walk my poor feet cried for help but, having only the black pointed slippers tied with ribbons, I had to wear them again, and do it with grace adequate to my new, shiny outfit.

Morning in the camp was as usual - soldiers sleeping or making cartridges or cleaning their weapons. I met again few of my friends there and, fond of the meeting went further to cavalry area as I noticed few of my friends there too! I approached to say hello, and, among them all, during our soft conversation, I saw him - quite busy with commands and his horse. A while after he noticed me and came closer for a greeting. The whole time until noon I spent conversating kindly with Napoleon! 

In the camp I also made new friends with Yolande and we spent the rest of the day together. There was ceremony in the town and a dinner in the camp, which was paella served from the biggest pot I ever seen and we ate it in ridiculously funny way having our plates laid on the ground! (that was the workout dinner: when you make push ups and eat in the same moment while wearing a ladylike outfit. Fun! ). 
There I also discovered with joy, that my British friends are also in Astorga! It was obvious allied forces will be there but since their camp was further I have not seen them yet.

The battle was quite far away, with a lot of marching, so the way I like because I really love to march on the side with soldiers, talk with them or listen to their songs. I recall one of them stole an apple right from my hand!
The battle started and as at the beginning we were sitting in the high grass, we realised the troobs moved and we should move as well to follow them. 
We went through thorny bushes, grass high and long, dry blackberry and holly and scented, feathery plants. The ground was orange colour. When we crossed dried river, we saw very picturesque battle field! It looked like a living painting with all the troobs moving, cannons shooting and cavalry! Allies withdrawed and we followed them to a very beautiful, medieval village. With streets made of stone and old-styled, cottage houses the village made lovely impression- especially when French were attacked by Spanish people in their folk dresses! 
Honestly, I fell in love with the Spanish beauty and these folk costumes, too. And vice versa, as Spanish people - maybe because my pastel person differs so much when among them - stopped me so many times just to say, they find me good looking!

The night was falling down slowly as we marched back through the village and looking on my little watch I realised I have little more than 1 hour to be back to my place, take everything off, wash off battlefield dust and then put my ball outfit, make new makeup and hair and run to the Casino for the ball!
I don`t know how I managed it but I stepped in the ballroom right on time! Wearing the dress and accessories which surprisingly matched Casino decoration!

As soon as I stepped in, I found my Spanish friends and we talked for a while. Then suddenly everybody went silent - the Emperor and his staff was announced - and so he came powerful and victorious right from the battlefield. After a moment everyone was back to dances and party, and so was I - laughing with a friend right after I shared a hilarious story from the last ball in Czech. Meanwhile I noticed the Emperor`s bicorn is turned right in our direction. Should I touch the fan? Should I do anything? I thought and the same moment a notable came to deliver compliments for Marie Walewska from the Emperor and ask if I want to answer back. The real Walewska should be mean and unkind but since I am fake and we were not in Warsaw, I kindly thanked and shared excitement with a friend. We went to drink something and after we were back he was not there anymore. I searched the bicorn among the guests and suddenly got involved in dances, which I enjoyed much!

Later one of the generals approached me and asked about Bonparte - but if even he did not know, then nobody knew where Emperor was. Actually it was quite obvious, Napoleon didn`t really like ballrooms and parties, what we know from history. Anyway, I enjoyed time in a company of general and few other people from the staff, having nice conversation and secret jokes about Highlanders sitting right about the corner.

The ball was finished. I went back to my secret tower and left incredible mess of shiny things, cameos etc. thrown anywhere around. I laid myself to sleep like egyptian mummy in her tomb and waiting for the next day to come.

And it came - rainy, cold and gloomy day. I drank my morning coffee, got dressed and, pleased with my hairstyle tried to go out 3 times - the heavy rain didn`t want to stop not even for a moment. In the end I knew it is better to do anything than to waste my time sitting on place and so I left it despite rain.

fot. Antonio Martinez Fuertes
On my way I met officers who informed me all morning activities are cancelled because of the weather. So I had free morning for a walk. Maybe I can meet someone in the rain? 
Soon I had hem of my dress and petticoat all wet and heavy. Also wet shoes and stockings, and hat. I stopped near cathedral, hid by the door of someone`s home and waited. The longer I waited, the longer rain didn`t want to stop. I thought it makes no sense and if in 15 minutes anything changes, I am going to visit cathedral. 

My watch showed 12 minutes past when the door opened and I saw my newly made Spanish friends, who organized the event, including the one who stole my apple before the battle and the one, I had phone call with few days ago, in 21st century. Reminding how miserable I was then, and how great I am now, I had to thank them for help, for creating this event and everything else. It was raining, so we went back into the house.

I realised the house is very 19th century also from the inside. My friends were leaving it but asked, if I want to go upstaris, and added, I may guess who is there. Having 19th century brain, I realised, I just can`t go upstairs right from the street so I caught one of my friends and asked for presentation. We went there, I only managed to check in the big, golden framed mirror, I am all wet already when we stood in the room. My friend said something funny, I laughed and HE turned out and noticed me. Napoleon stopped the council they had, my friend tried to present me but Napoleon said only "I know her" and showed me a place to sit down just on his left. My hat was carefully laid on a golden console, I was offered a drink and then could look around the room.

Generals and marshalls - the ones I know and the ones I don`t were discussing vividly in French. One other lady present in the room made me feel as I don`t really disturb them in discussion, so I could freely imagine what they are talking about. Soon all rain from my dress soaked into the carpet - and they were finished as well. Napoleon turned to me - he was wearing his colonel de grenadier uniform, what means the dark blue which made him look little different, maybe more elegant than he looks usually, on a battle field. We had light conversation but soon general came and brought some information. Napoleon explained he must leave to fulfill his other duties, we said goodbye and it was time for me to go, as well.

fot. Antonio Martinez Fuertes
It was not raining anymore and soon there was closing ceremony at the square with lion and eagle sculpture. I went there to see all the soldiers - Spanish, French and British unite to honor the real ones who died 210 years ago on the real battle field. The ceremony was beautiful and hearing all the cries and bursts of fire, after all the story of these few days really touched me. I was crossing the square few hours later, when everything was over and there was no one there. I approached the monument. After all there was still the one wreath lying with three bows waving in the wind.

2 września 2018

To be like Marie

fot. J. Popczyk / portrait by Gerard
It seems a year passed since I was offered to portray Marie Walewska on a big Czech event in Slavkov (Austerlitz). At first I thought it was just a courtesy talk but in spring we were already agreed. It was just about to sew dressed and prepare for the role.

Dzień z życia Walewskiej

fot. J. Popczyk / portret autorstwa Gerarda
 Jakoś chyba z rok temu otrzymałam od czeskiego organizatora letniej rekonstrukcji w Austerlitz propozycję odtwarzania postaci Marii Walewskiej na tej dużej imprezie. Na początku myślałam, że to tylko takie gadanie, ale wiosną wypytałam o szczegóły i wszystko było już ustalone. Mnie pozostało tylko uszyć stroje, zrobić pełen risercz postaci, no i wcielić się w nią!

19 sierpnia 2018

Dziewiętnastowieczne lody! / 19th century ice cream!

 Lody? W XIX wieku? Jak to możliwe bez lodówki? Jak oni je w ogóle wytwarzali i czy były jadalne? Na te wszystkie pytania odpowie dzisiejszy post - a w nim pełen przepis na dziewiętnastowieczne lody do wypróbowania w domu!

19th century ice cream? How was this possible without fridge? How did they make it and were ice cream tasty? All answers are to be found in this post - including original recipe I tried and prepared especially for you!