Linder is having trouble posting messages with her computer, so she
asked me to post the following message on her behalf.....
HOL TRIP TO UKR 2006'
29TH August -Stansted UK, to Rzeszow ok - 3 hrs flight, Ryanair
good, put watch 1 hr in front
Slav met us @ 11.30am, tiny/sweet little new airport, 4 tables cafe,
drink in cup & saucer!
1 x check-in, 1 x out again, onto Lviv George Hotel [put watch
another hr in front] - 60 miles +,
border [usually 5-12 hour wait + bribe payments, but with disabled
sticker through 2 sets border-crossings,
in 1 hour [no bribes], then 35 miles to Lviv - 'George' hotel
is 'fawlty towers', 2 rooms + bathroom - rooms good,
service & food terrible, price $107 per night, no tea-making
facilities, water very slow, restaurant out
the side + round the corner. Porter disappears when he sees your
Next am - 25 miles back in border direction to Nahaciv to family. No
made-up roads, just big pot-holes/no
pavements/street lights/phones/water or sewerage/folk's on horse &
but a 'bus-stop'! to next village . [This is why we don't stay at
family home, I'm too posh, I need
a water toilet] Many new houses of brick only/no window frames,
doors, but with roofs on. Folk's ran out
of money, some been there 10-20 yrs. But, they're built
Very flat country land/ducks/geese everywhere. And a lot of very
tall chimney stacks.
Slav tells me that the area was very rich in SULPHUR, [chimneys
everywhere]so the Russian's wanted it
and built hundreds of small apartment blocks to house the Russian +
local workers, who worked in the
'Sulphur Quarries' Then, when the Russians went away, they took all
the 'quarrying' equiptment to Eastern
Ukraine, leaving the still empty apartment blocks, ugly things, made
of concrete blocks and cobwebs.
First stop - church, we see the church dome from a distance away.
Priest at school, kids first day back at
school. Find 1 cousin [living on the oldest peice of family land
 and before. This, has the wooden house
dad born in, in 1914+ 40 yrs old 'new' house on it]
4 family there, out of 8, rest in fields working and planting.
Make cam-film of important info, turn cam off, - have fun!,
Food/vodka/toast everyone and everthing,
about 6 hours!! [ no escape!]
Day 2 - church service for ring-blessing + family etc/all on 'cam-
We had our new platinum rings made and engraved on the inside in
Next, go to graveyard, /film all family graves/film area around
where dad worked for the old 'landowner' and dad pulled the
'horse-waggon into the lake as a 'joke' on drunken man asleep inside
etc - apparently, St. Andrew's Day is the one day
in each year that young men and ladies can play tricks on each
other. The drunken fellow did think it so funny and
chased dad all through the village with his 'sythe' [as in sythe and
sickle?] - this meant the Russian policeman was sent
for and dad carted off to jail in Lwow. From there, 'kangaroo-court'
and 10-20 yrs in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. These Russian's
can't take a joke, can they?
go to priests house/more food + 5 barrel brandy [half bottle this
time only, [no vodka like last time]/swap pres [he has
a 'sort-of' water-toilet! - family reckon he's a 'capitalist!]
on to 'the pub in the woods'- this is an AMAZING place. Two rooms
and no toilet - well, it it in the woods!! [£8.50 for feeding and
watering 20 people] Before 1939, there was a large landowner in the
village and this was the 'paymaster's' house. There were numerous
outbuildings/stables/barns for storage of food grown on the
lands/woods/ponds/sheds. One of these sheds was being pulled down in
the 1930's and the church books inside were being burnt. The
peasants couldn't read or write, so 'bonfire time!' The village
priest realised what
was happening and rushed over and saved just 3 books. ONE WAS THE
1914 BOOK - all my family in it!! So, 2nd stroke of luck for me!.
1st was when Brian Lenius [Gazetteer of Galicia book]was helping me
look for dad as RC, Michal Stachnik - when he turned out to be
Protsko Stakhnyk GC. Brian had tried all RC churches in the area,
and in desperation, tried the GC priest in that village, asking
for the name Stachnik - priest said 'sure, they live over the road'
The proof was them showing old photo's dad sent them AND I have the
same ones in my attic!!
I digress - next day, another cousin's house - 21 reli's appeared
from the woodwork, weather great, so food outside under the 'grape-
The family is considered 'wealthy' by their standards. They have a
cow, in a cow-house and a pig in a pig-house and working horses.
a cousin's daughter living there. She is 22 yrs old and must get
married before she's 24 - OR PIG GO BOOM! [as they say] One fellow
makes 'moonshine vodka' blow your hat off stuff, add that to the
vodka for toasting everything - WOW. Ever seen anyone, in a w/chair,
across bumpy grass, in a zig-zag motion, after a lot of drink.??
Then, 6 men trying to lift me IN the w/chair into a mini-bus?? Good
job Slav stayed sober!!
Guess what? we did it all again the next day at another house and
took Ukr pals out to dinner at night too!! Went to the markets with
so much stuff that Slav has had to send it back by 'courier' in a
I took presents for everyone and sent stuff on in advance to Slav's
home, now he's sent loads of stuff back.
Last job, go back to Rzeszow for the night, before early flight
All in all, an amazing trip - 7 days seeing the other side of life -
priest wants us to have a 'proper Ukranian wedding' in dad's church
when the church is 100 years old. That would last 3 days, can I
stand it? Must practise doing all the drinking and eating, not too
the dancing though!
After a 2nd visit to them, I can't help but be amazed that they want
nothing from me, [we're all rich Westerners here] they are surprised
'daredevil' reli, will travel to a Ukr village in a w/chair. They
tell me I'm just like dad - the daredevil prankster and if you stand
cousin Katya and me,
side by side, we look like twins!
Fab trip, will go again soon, with my hero SLAV, but, we need
a 'holiday' now - you know 'butt on sunbed/book/glass of something'??
4 days after returning, we were in London at Sikorski with Hania and
Jagna -this HRT must have 'speed' or something in it.
Off to Belgium and France on 16th Oct! Oh well, Just THINKING about
finding your past is silly - do it now!!