Monday, 3 April 2017

Excursion to Gościniec Pod Żaglami at Skoki Duże Poland 2 April 2017

Cloudless earliest spring day on the Vistula from the gardens Gościniec Pod Żaglami at Skoki Duże
And so the 2017 driving season begins! 

The weather was rather unseasonably warm as we assembled at Rezydencja Parkowe in Mlocinyfor our drive along the banks of the Vistula through rural Poland. Once one leaves the major routes, the minor roads in Poland are gloriously deserted, Polish drivers being of the Husaria or Spitfire temperament and predominantly take major routes wanting to achieve a crushing defeat and reach the planned destination in the fastest possible time. This situation is excellent for aesthetes like myself (and a few others) who actually enjoy appreciating the countryside one is 'flying through'. 

We joined the minor road 575 near Modlin and then followed it almost into the historic city of Plock, high on an escarpment overlooking the Vistula, once the capital of Poland and burial place of two Polish kings. On this occasion we decided not to visit Plock itself as it was a particularly busy day - the Polish Tourist Office having designated this a special weekend to encourage Polish people to 'Visit Poland'. Lunch and parking were at a premium so we decided to stay on the south side of the river. 

However a visit to Plock is essential as the Cathedral there is the second major Renaissance building to be built in Poland after the Wawel in Krakow. Adam Zamoyski considers that the proportions make it one of the greatest Renaissance churches north of the Alps but spoiled by insensitive 'hideous' internal restoration. The main square has some fine buildings and the rest of the town a museum with an excellent collection of Secession and Art Nouveau objects, also other churches and monasteries that survive and are well worth visiting. Another day....

At the off...

From the rear of the line: 
Michael Kenny's 1970 MGB GT, Iain Batty's freshly restored Mercedes Benz Pagoda and finally Jerzy Bylica's 1955 Austin Healey 100/4 BN 1

From the rear of the line: 
Paul van Arkel's Aston Martin DB6, Mirek Staniszewski's Porsche and my 2008/2010 Jaguar  XKR

Paul van Arkel's glorious 1965 Aston Martin DB6

Now what the devil is happening here?
Suggestions for a caption for this photograph of Paul Blackman's 1995 Dodge Viper

After a very  minor navigational glitch at Modlin where we inadvertently crossed the Vistula, the 575 led us through at least a hundred kilometres of largely deserted Mazovian countryside. The road surface varies from somewhat bumpy to superb smoothness depending on the dedication of the local councils (Gmina in Polish) to the task. 

Crossing the Vistula near Modlin (Jerzy Bilica)
The major horror for me on this route (and any Polish route in April 2017) is the wholesale cutting of trees. The law preventing private individuals from cutting trees on their properties has been relaxed resulting in this wholesale, anti-aesthetic slaughter. The entire ecological balance is being upset - birds and animals confused with no nesting places or sheltered burrows, the murdered bodies of trees lying abandoned by the roadside. Sections of the glorious Polish countryside I remember from the early 1990s when I wrote my best-selling literary travel book on Poland, is being destroyed forever. This chain-saw massacre is inexplicable apart from crude financial considerations - enough of the country was despoiled by the Nazis and the Soviets surely without finishing off their horrendous work! Hopelessly short-sighted.

Rear Window - not the Hitchcock version but the Aston from the rear window of the XKR

Arrival at Gościniec Pod Żaglami at Skoki Duże

Some of the CCC fraternity at the excellent fish restaurant attached to this garden retreat on the river. The fish was outstandingly delicious especially the Sandacz (Pikeperch)

          Earliest spring on the Vistula from the gardens Gościniec Pod Żaglami at Skoki Duże

A most successful and enjoyable day's motoring was had by all as we made our individual way home by various routes.


Michael Kenny           1970 MGB GT [25 years in California, 20 years in Holland]
Iain Batty                    Mercedes Benz Pagoda 
Jerzy Bylica                1955 Austin Healey 100/4 BN 1
Paul Blackman           1995 Dodge Viper
Michael Moran           2008/2010 Jaguar XKR
Mirek Staniszewski   Porsche
Paul van Arkel            1965 Aston Martin DB6

                                                                                    Michael Moran (Chairman)

Saturday, 17 December 2016

CCC Christmas Dinner, Hotel Bristol Warsaw, 15 December 2016

The Arrinera  painted in Spitfire photo reconnaissance aircraft colours with the
Polish Air Force chequerboard applied 

Some 20 Members of the CCC and a well-behaved infant assembled for Christmas dinner at the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw after an admittedly lackluster year concerning club activities. Three members of the Polish Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club (also CCC members) were present as a variety of Christmas 'joint effort' - the Chairman of the Polish Section, Dariusz Brudkiewicz, the Secretary, Michael Moran and Paul Blackman an RREC  Polish Section member. 

I would wish to immediately place on record a complaining note that the lamentable CCC club Chairman is clearly a whimsical individual with little collective responsibility to the membership. Let us hope he does better in 2017 now that he has bought a respectable GT to take part in club excursions.

There was a great deal of banter 'a la Biggles, Bertie, Ginger and Algy' over an excellent dinner (considering the low cost in the Moniuszko Salon with dedicated staff) until the main excitement of the evening - a lecture by the distinguished development manager, Piotr Frankowski, concerning the first Polish supercar, the Arrinera Hussarya GT.


Piotr Frankowski in full lecture mode confiding details of testing at Goodwood and
Brooklands, Weybridge in Surrey.

Of course the greatest proportion of world technical motor-racing expertise resides in the UK. The evolution of the Arrinera has benefited greatly from many specialisms and authorities on aspects of motor racing too numerous to mention.
The cockpit of the Arrinera

The Arrinera Hussarya GTs  being tested at Silverstone

Two Arrinera Hussarya GTs in front of the Brooklands Clubhouse

Arrineras Hussarya GTs  parked on the historic remains of the 
Members' Banking at Brooklands
Frankowski in secondary lecture mode on valiant and distinguished Polish technologists, inventors, pilots and aristocratic racing drivers of the past
From Lt. to Rt. Frankowski, Dariusz Brudkiwicz, 
Chairman of the RREC Polish Section and Erik Hallgren (Maserati driver)
A fine Mercedes Benz Type 300 Adenauer brought by two CCC members.

As a security feature by those clever Benz technologists, if one locks the door from inside the 'revolutionaries' and 'terrorists' attempting to drag the corrupt great leader lounging within to an untimely death are defeated by externally locked doors. However our brave chums were unaware of this counter-revolutionary feature and locked themselves out of the car. Fortunately a passing car hijacker gave them the benefit of his experience and  helpfully provided a nifty piece of wire which facilitated entry and off they sped into deepest conspiracy-wracked Warsaw
The Chairman's trusty 1975 RR Silver Shadow in front of the Presidential Palace, almost adjacent to the Bristol Hotel.

He was not asked to 'proceed' in case the car spontaneously exploded as might be expected to happen there in a predictably rebellious 2017...armed guards were 
probably too cold to move him on. 

Well it was quite a fun evening just before Christmas 

                                                                                                     Michael Moran (Chairman)

CCC Club members present:

Michael Moran
Erik Hallgren
Błażej Żuławski
Paul Blackman
Piotr Frankowski
Neil Crook
Ian Booth
Guy Pinsent
Mathieu Spencer
Paul Ayre
Mirek Staniszewski
Michal Wrobel
Bill Flint
Michał Prząda
Janusz Zawada

Dariusz Brudkiewicz
Arthur Gabor 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Korczew Excursion - First CCC foray into the 'overnight' stay adventure

Click on photos to enlarge - far superior effect

Korczew or Bust 


Michael Kenny

The 30th April/1st May opened the CCC's summer touring account. 

Meeting up at the KFC in Zakret at 10am with a planned destination of Korczew Palace near Siedlce, 9 cars made it through the unusually heavy morning traffic to open their 2016 touring account by watching Neil Crook sample some of KFC's fine chocolate cake for breakfast (subsequent note by 'Captain' MM: cake later reportedly 'shit' by the consumer - unquote. McCafe remains the rendezvous of choice).

One by one the cars arrived including Neil's Citroen GS4, an aubergine MX5, 2 fine Mercedes SL, one with spurious number plates, 2 equally fine red MGAs (one finer than the other and certainly less smelly), a rasping Porsche 718, a Range Rover on LPG and a divine green E-type. A touring biker group were also amassing in the carpark so the combined group of machines made for interesting viewing.

By 11 a quorum had been reached so we set off taking a back road to try an avoid the snarling A2 traffic. The plan was to amble the inner roads and convene at Liw Castle near Wegrow, about 60km away. Sadly the traffic snailed for the first 20km. With the rain spitting and the temperatures hardly hitting 10 degrees it didn't make for a very enjoyable open top cruise. By the time we arrived at Liw my neck, ears, thighs and lower back were in need of a clothing re-think. 

It was at the point that Mateusz Zulawski brought me up to date on the difference between a roadster and a cabriolet: a roadster essentially has no side windows. The MGA is a roadster while the MX5 is a cabriolet.

We took in the castle's museum and widened our knowledge of the importance of Liw and the surrounding area. After an hour, revived and more optimistic of the driving conditions ahead, we took off with gusto. The roads were now clear and we raced at a steady 80-100km/h through Wegrow and Sokolow Podlaski. It made a fine sight to see the cavalcade snake through the fields with tall wind turbines spinning against the dark afternoon sky.

Jimmy in the Porsche had been given permission to race ahead and warn the palace staff of our impending arrival. The car made such a cracking Formula One-esque noise as it changed gears.  Przemek and his son Michal were very generous in providing a photographic account during this leg. And Blaze found that driving at 70km/h in light rain with the windows up and the roof down was the minimum speed necessary to enough to stay dry. 15 minutes behind the Porsche, the main body of cars arrived triumphantly into the town of Korczew driving past the dairy farms and fish ponds on our left, through the dusty crossroads that define the village centre and then entering the palace through the imposing tall gates. It was a fine sight to see the cars parked in front of the Palace steps.

The destination of Korczew Palace was significant in that Al Harris, driving his recently purchased red MGA 1600, was inviting us to his family's ancestral home. Here his mother and our host, Mrs Beata Ostrawska-Harris, has been born and reared but when WW2 started she was evacuated to England where she grew up and later married. In the early 90's she returned to Poland with her husband and 2 sons Al and Dominic and daughter Helen. The palace by then had fallen into severe disrepair following 50 years of neglect. In the Palace's small museum were many photo's showing the various uses the palace buildings were put to during various periods during and after the war. She told us that rather than go through the bureaucratic process of restitution it was significantly easier to purchase back her family home which happened to be for sale, for the magnanimous total of PLN 1.

Al's MGA is interesting in that it underwent a body-off restoration in Rzeszow in 2014 by a Polish enthusiast. Finished in Ferrari red, it's a fine example of well restored car. I wish Al many years of fun driving.

After a hearty lunch Mrs Harris explained the palace's history and then we visited the carp ponds, the river Bug and the dairy farm. At 5pm or so, 4 of the cars departed back to Warsaw leaving the 2 MGs and the E-type at the Palace. It made a fine sight to see the 3 old classic cars against the backdrop of the palace. In fact, it was at that point that Al revealed to his mother that he had just bought the MGA and it brought a huge smile to her face. As she sat into the car, it appeared to stoke a hundred happy memories of England in the late 50s and early 60s. 

That evening we returned to the Palace dining room and enjoyed a feast of food and wine. We were joined by Harris family friends Adam Komorowski and Peter Pininski and Al's brother Dominic. Peter is a proud owner of an Aston Martin that he keeps in Warsaw and regularly drives on long trips. After dinner we retired to the kitchen and sipped and talked till the late hours. Once Mrs Harris went to bed the conversation descended into a manly discussion of feats and failures. Al, unused to the energy drain of the MG's heavy steering and general open top driving in cold weather, battled to stay awake. Ian Booth omitted to relieve his wife from babysitting duties so she didn't get the chance to join us.

Our very clean and comfortable quarters were across the road in the small hotel. This was another business operated by the palace in conjunction with their Dom Weselny further down the road. 

The next morning we gathered in preparation for the trip back to the city. A group of day tripping cyclists had arrived at the palace and were excited by the unplanned exhibition. We tried to impress them by opening up the bonnets. The tiny hair-dryer sized engines of the MGs were overshadowed by the twin cam engineering of the E-type but I think they were impressed more by the gaseous emissions from my own MG  as I raced off leaving a plume of smoke.

The journey home was uneventful but the road was open and clear enough to maintain a steady 80 km/h, I felt satisfied that the touring summer had kicked off in a nice orderly fashion and Captain Michael Moran would approve.

CCC Participants 

(photos by Blazej Zulawski and Michal Vonau)

Michael Kenny - 1960 MGA 1600, fitted with MGB 1.8 ltr engine, electronic ignition and Weber carburettors 

Al Harris - 1960 MGA 1600 

Ian Booth - Jaguar E-Type, Series 2, 2+2 Coupe, 4.2 Automatic

Przemek Vonau - Mercedes R129 500 SL (face lifted)

Blazej Zulawski - Mercedes R129 320SL (slightly modified & facelifted)

Radzimir Dębski & Klaudia Wróbel - Porsche 718

Mateusz Zulawski - Mazda MX5, 1.8, NB FL model (FL means facelifted)

And so it's 'Goodnight' from him...
...and them