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Thursday morning

It’s a super busy day today so this day is brought to you in two halves!

All the kids had been booked into a soft play session in Lublin which they adored.

It was absolutely wonderful to stand and watch they have such fun. Kids being kids with absolute freedom.

Lots of shrieking, chasing, laughing, shouting. Absolutely joyful.

And then…

Bringing it right back to their reality. On our way back to the coach, suddenly an alert sounded. Every child and teacher reached for their mobile. Their emergency air raid app had triggered. The app tracks bomber jets taking off. And warns them to take cover. Depending on routes and types of bombs, they have a certain number of minutes. Inconceivable isn’t it? This is their reality. On this occasion everyone at home was safe and unaffected. On this occasion.


But off we go and very kindly the charity Caritas had invited all the kids to lunch look at the beautiful church behind. Stunning.

The kitchen is run by Ukrainians and the lunch they made was very familiar Ukrainian fare. The kids were starving and tucked straight in. The majority of the kids are terribly anaemic because it’s impossible at the moment to get access to a range of food and heat sources are not reliable. So it was such a joy to see them eating such hearty healthy hot food.

After lunch we met Cezary, a local businessman dedicated to helping Ukrainian refugees. He won’t call them refugees or displaced, rather ‘our Ukrainian friends’ Cezary was inspirational. He runs a home for 130 families. He has a real understanding of the impact of war on the current and future generations, with a passion for working on mental health and well being. This is a theme we are hearing more and more about. We have taken Cezary’s card. We wonder if we can help him.

And now we are enjoying a Christmas party entertainer. We’ve been joined by 50+ Ukrainian families who have fled their homes and a currently living in Lublin. It’s a tough life, full of uncertainty. In many cases they have no homes to go to. Awful. But this afternoon, they can be children at Christmas time.Honestly. It’s such a tonic to hear these children LAUGH AND LAUGH. Best thing!

And now Saint Nicholas is here!! For real. Kids are all getting big bags of swag. How fantastic to be able to treat them like this.

Our first evening

Having dropped our things at our hotel in Lublin we headed over to the hotel where the children coming directly from Ukraine will be staying, it’s an absolutely beautiful sight. Used for weddings in the summer, this gorgeous traditional family run hotel looks so warm and inviting in the snow. A perfect setting for their respite break, yet only 25 miles from the Ukrainian border. Such a contrast within a small geographic area. A true safe haven.

The children arrived into Poland with no significant delay at the border. The hotel is on the main road joining Kyiv and Warsaw. But the children couldn’t use the nearest border crossing, as due to the war, that crossing is purely for fuel tankers. The Ukrainians can’t import fuel on trains anymore as they are such a target for opposing military forces. So this created over a 350 mile trip for them

But they are safely here and we’ve briefly seen them, and met their teachers. Truly astonishing women. They are also travelling with a child psychologist.

And we were reunited with all our blankets! Absolutely wonderful to see all our hard work and woolly love in this setting so far from home. Was like meeting old friends!

And all the torches and power banks. Tortie for scale 

Absolutely bloomin wonderful. we can’t thank you all enough.

We all had dinner. Delicious. We were so thankful. It had been a long full on day for us and for them. In fact the children went to bed early. They’d had some craft activities planned but they can wait for another day. We heard how last year some children had slept with their curtains open to enjoy the street lighting. In Ukraine there are very often black out periods or power cuts. So lighting is a novelty. We heard reports of 45 minutes of power during 36 hours as not uncommon. In addition to light, imagine how cold that is.

After the children had eaten we spent time with the others from the CCLL (we adore them) creating Christmas party bags. We were on chocolate duty. And NOT ONE PASSED OUR LIPS! Tortie was in charge. We thought, what could go wrong?!

And we made a new friend in the hotel cat. Very chatty and chirpy. Like us.

So a lot done on Day one. We’ve retired to our room with a cheeky traditional Polish nightcap Say no more.

Some more pics from today.

See you tomorrow. X

Hotel corridors of doom. Lublin edition.

In the children’s hotel which is often used as a wedding hotel.

Chocolate sorting. Our forte.

Beautifully warm and welcoming for the children.

Respite. It’s such a comforting place.

The Tort has landed

Uneventful journey. By our standards that’s nothing short of MIRACULOUS. 😃😃 Currently on the way to Lublin. Very cccccold and misty. So Tortie is hiding in a bag.

Keeping an eye on the wing.

Hello 🇵🇱 !

Lublin is waiting for us!

The marvellous Dennis has driven all the way from Alton to Lublin with our blankets for the children plus other a lot of aid. Here’s ‘our’ van waiting in Lublin. 🥶 So fantastic to know he and they have arrived safely!

We leave tomorrow morning, flying via Warsaw.