Dobrzyn: Sunday

Tomorrow afternoon it’s a sad farewell to the quiet village of Dobrzyn and my human and other mammalian friends. The post-Albatross vacation is nearly at an end, and who knows what criticism awaits me on my return?

But, for the nonce, I’m enjoying my final days. Here are some photos from yesterday, and I’ll tender my final report tomorrow before I leave. Tonight we had a nice bonfire (it’s cool in the evening) and communed with the stars, d*g, and cat with a few Zubrs.

Here’s the main square of the town. Our crib is about 2 km away (the town has 3,000 inhabitants).

Dobrzyn main sq

First some snaps of the Princess. Have you ever really looked at a tabby? They’re so common that we often ignore their beauty, like that of pigeons.  Look at this beautiful striped pattern on the forehead, with the upside down “M”:

Tabby head

I always wonder about the stripes that extend backward from the edges of the eyes. Cheetahs have them too; do they have an adaptive significance? If so, what is it?

Eye stripes

I bought Hili special Whiskas chicken in a sachet (Cyrus got treats, too: a chicken wing, as Ben Goren recommended, and other treats for his inflamed gums). Here Hili wolfs down the chicken (you can see her tongue):

Hili nomming

Hili was proud to show me that since she’s lost weight, she can now fit on two jars instead of three:

Hili on jars

Morning communion with Her Majesty:

Me and Hili

What greater pleasure than a comfortable sofa, a book, and a purring cat? Here’s a selfie. Sadly, the book was The Bonobo and the Atheist:

Reading 1

Cyrus interpolates his snoot, as he is wont to do:

Reading 2 Cyrus

In the afternoon, I helped Malgorzata make a plum tart (of course, she did most of the work, first rolling out the dough:

Making crust

I pitted the plums:

Peeling plums

And in a display of primate cooperativeness, we placed the plums on the dough:

Adding plums J&M

Ready to bake:

Prebaked pie

Baked! (Not I but the tart.) Andrzej got to it before I could photograph it. It was good.

Baked pie

And dinner: chicken wings cooked with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, oil and sesame seeds, served with delicious rice boiled in chicken broth and Polish cole slaw. It was all washed down with a new kind of beer, since one commenter dissed my beloved Zubr.  Dessert was, of course, plum tart.


Here’s the beer I bought, which I know nothing about but bought because it cost more than the others. It was good: marginally better than Zubr. Perhaps a Polish reader can supply more details.


Tomorrow at 4 pm I’m off to Warsaw, and will fly home at noon on Tuesday. Thanks for joining me on my quiet interlude in Dobrzyn!


  1. Woof
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    > upside down “M”

    Often called a “W”. 😉

    • Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      My thought, exactly. WonderCat!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Or Wow.

    • gravityfly
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I see Jesus in those stripes 🙂

  2. Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    There’s a joker in every crowd! Try the roast beef!

  3. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Which reminds me: I’ve been cat-sitting for the past few days, and I’m puzzled by the fact that Smokey (a Nebelung) refuses to eat wet food. Why is that? I’ve always thought that cats (and d*gs) are drawn to foods that are closer to the real thing, and yet Smokey only wants to eat dry stuff. The owners said to always leave out a dish of dry food, and so maybe he’s spoiled. But yesterday I experimented: I only put out wet food. No luck: he barely touched it. Weird.

    • Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Ha, cat-sitting. Many years ago we accepted to move in into the Brussels apartment of friends that went on vacation for a week. We soon found out that the cat loved it if you would throw a ball of paper at her, she would jump several feet and catch it. But more interestingly was the fact that if you would go to the toilet, she would join you and share the fun with her little cat toilet. Then there was this balcony, with a little hole in the middle. If you would peek through it you would see a neat pair of garden chairs and table. The cat, whenever she could, would go sit on that hole and sprinkle on the garden furniture, eliciting screams from downstairs.

      • Barry Lyons
        Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Well, that cat is certainly more lively than than six-year-old Smokey!

        Another interesting tidbit: twice I gave him some catnip — and twice it’s had zero effect. Then this morning he was crouching and pouncing at phantoms. I have no idea what he thought he was seeing or what got him so excited AS IF he had catnip when, in fact, the last time I gave him catnip was two days ago.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Chipmunks have stripes around their eyes but not like tabby cats do. Simon explains how to draw a cat & he specifically mentions the M.

  5. Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps those stripes are the feline equivalent of go-faster-stripes.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, BOGATY SMAK (on the beer label). I’ll guess (only because smak means taste in Swedish, which of course has nothing to do with Polish) that that means something like Hearty Flavor. Close?

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      But (? for Malgorzata) perhaps given the proximity of Sweden and Poland (plus, weren’t there a few coastal areas under Swedish control in the 1600’s?) Smak is a Swedish word that infiltrated into Polish or vice versa? Of just a couple words in Polish that I know, ogorki (cucumber pickle) is gurka in Swedish.

      • Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I think smak = taste in Polish. It is smak in Norwegian and Swedish, but smag in Danish. About the cucumber: According to a joke I heard in Sweden, there is a reason it is called gurka in Swedish, but agurk in Norwegian. A Norwegian visiting in Sweden ate cucumber for the first time and asked the Swedes what the vegetable is called. “We call it gurka”, the Swedes replied. Hmmm, gurka, I must remember that. I will bring this delicious vegetable to Norway. On the train to Norway, he repeated “gurka” over and over so as not to forget it. “gurka-gurka-gurkagurkagurkagurkagurk-agurk-agurk…” That is why it is called agurk in Norwegian.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      That would make it easier to buy polish beers!

      • Pawel Michalak
        Posted August 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Yes, “smak” means taste/flavor. “Bogaty smak” is “Rich flavor”. Debowe Mocne is one of many new Polish beers I have never tried, but I heard that it’s quite good. It is stronger than Zubr. You might be able to find both Zubr and Debowe Mocne in Chicago (Irving Park?). A great blog, thanks for sharing the pics, and safe travels.

    • Craig Gallagher
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      As it’s a beer, probably something along the lines of “Full Flavour” or “Full Bodied”, I’d guess.

      Smak and variants of it do indeed mean taste or flavour in various northern European countries for example, smaak in Dutch or Geschmack in German

  7. Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for taking us along on your wonderful vacation, Dr. C!

    • polly3yr
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Yes, thank you for letting us be flies on the wall wherever you go…your posts are just plain happy-making, and are much appreciated.

  8. Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Such a pretty plum tart! Simmering rice in chicken broth is a nice touch. I am guessing Polish coleslaw has other raw veggies besides cabbage in addition to a boiled vinegar/oil dressing instead of mayo?

    Thanks for the ‘action’ food preparation photos!

    Cyrus does loom, doesn’t he? 🙂

    • gravityfly
      Posted August 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that plum tart looks good!

  9. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know you could measure cat weight in jars.

    I always wonder about the stripes that extend backward from the edges of the eyes. Cheetahs have them too; do they have an adaptive significance? If so, what is it?

    Another thing I didn’t know, that there was common striping.

    If zebras has evolved black stripes on light background to confuse insects, maybe cats have evolved a similar distraction? I believe there are flies that specializes in eyes for liquid nutrients (and perhaps grosser stuff, now or earlier).

    Or maybe it just looks good on a Princess.

  10. Chris Laraia
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks again for so many food themed posts from your Vacation! I really enjoy seeing the Polish beers and all the wonderful meals and deserts you’ve introducted me to.

  11. Marella
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    It’s sad that you have to leave Poland, it’s been pleasant enjoying your holiday vicariously. Back to reality!

  12. Les
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I got alot of vicarious pleasure from your trip.

  13. largeswope
    Posted August 3, 2014 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I feel like it is my vacation ending. It is so nice to visit Hili and her staff. Thank you for all the wonderful posts.

  14. Posted August 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Cyrus contacted me telepathically yesterday and said he is still awaiting his belly rub.

  15. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I’ve loved your stories about your trip, but am confused by the “for the nonce” statement. The only use of the word “nonce” I’ve ever come across is in England, where it’s slang for paedophile. Being quite sure that’s not its meaning here, I guess you’re talking food again, but I’d advise being careful where you use it!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha! That could lead to misunderstandings! It means “for the time being” or “for now”.

    • Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Before you take me to task, look it up.

      Here’s the Merriam Webster definition (Diana is right):

      • stephen
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        You and Diana are correct regarding North American usage,Jerry.According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary it means “for a particular or express purpose” or “at the very moment”.”We have really everything in common with America nowadays except,of course,language.” – Oscar Wilde.

      • stephen
        Posted August 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        I forgot to add that Heather is also quite right: in colloquial (British) English it refers to those who prey on children sexually.

  16. Posted August 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Debowe Mocne (pronounced something like “Demn-BO-va MOTES-na) (like dust motes) is a great beer! I drank gallons of it on a trip to Poland with a Polish-American friend of mine. I barely know a word of Polish but my buddy told me mocne means “strong”. It typically refers to the alcohol content. Debowe Mocne has something like 7% alcohol—that is probably why it costs a bit more. Another Polish beer called Warka (pronounced “VAR-ka”) also has a mocne version. There are a few more with that designation, I believe. I am not sure if there is a plain “Debowe” beer, they may only make a mocne.

    Na Zdrowie!

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