Sunday, 18 February 2018

Winter Drive to Mazury (formerly known as 'Dancing on the Ice') 27th to 28th January 2018

Winter Drive to Mazury by Paul van Arkel

On January 27, climatic disaster struck. The unseasonably warm weather meant that there was in fact not enough ice-thickness on the Masuria lakes, and hence our grand plan of “Dancing on Ice with Cars” had no chance. We will have to accept this as cosmic justice, a sort of Wiedergutmachung for the fumes our classic cars produce I guess

So instead, the most committed CCC members decided to venture into Masuria by normal road. A nice mix of modern cars (Jaguar, BMW, Aston, the fabulous Viper of Paul Blackman) undertook a 12-hour journey over two days.

Coffee prior to Departure....

Visiting the former FSO factory...
Jaguar X-Type 3 litre, Aston Rapide, Dodge Viper at the off

Amazing sight of thousands of Veturilo City Bikes stored for winter

The journey kicked off in the old FSO factory in Targowek, with a tour of the building that included a Bitcoin Farm (less spectacular than you might think), the Autlet car dealership (with a very nice Mercedes youngtimer for sale) and the new loft-sized workshop of the van Arkels (promptly baptized the CCC Clubhouse)

Land Rover restoration work-space promptly renamed the CCC Clubhouse

But of course we were here for the driving. So, we took a straight shot towards Bialystok for a smooth, fast drive on a perfect highway. It was glamorous until it wasn’t. There are of course those pesky roadworks. So we turned off onto country roads into Masuria for an adventurous journey of an hour’s worth of slippery white country roads. They were challenging for all of us, but especially impressive for the Viper with its summer tires, mighty V10, and complete lack of traction control or other electronics. 

After a lunch-stop in Galkowo, the Potocki country house that nowadays hosts the Polo tournament and a lovely restaurant (where one of the waitresses delighted us with her fluent use of at least 8 languages - Dutch/Flemish included!), we went on to a tour of 3 Palac’s that could not be more different in renovation approach.


A friendly Dog at Potocki Galkowo

Colourful Winter in  Galkowo

Henryk, Blazej, Tola, Paul and Maja at Potocki Galkowo

The owners of Palac Nakomiady, Joanna and Piotr Ciszek, clearly focused on retaining originality. Each room has the original 6-meter ceilings, and bedrooms are huge. As a result, there are only 9 guest rooms in the Palac, which led to a fair amount of debate on the financial viability of this particular bed & breakfast. Similarly, the ceramic manufaktura produces a batch only every few days, and hand-paints maybe 20 mini-stoves designed to host tea light candles per day. We concluded it must be more of a hobby than a business. However, for charm, originality, and passion, this Palac and its owners are unbeatable. 

Nakomiady Palace

Ceramic Factory Nakomiady
Zamek St Bruno - the hotel where we spent the night - was the opposite end of the spectrum. Although the historic walls of this old Teutonic Knights stronghold are still standing, the interior has been completely renewed. Rooms are “modern” in size, style and comforts. The hotel has a spa (the smell of chlorine dominates it's halls and corridors, unfortunately), bowling alley, discotheque, and other too-modern comforts. That said, the quality of the dinner was excellent, and the guys concluded that bowling in a Bar/Disco is fun. 

Frozen Lake Gizycko

The former Teutonic Knight's Castle at Gizycko now the St. Bruno Hotel

Paul Blackman's Darth Vader Dodge Viper appropriately parked at the St. Bruno Hotel, a former Teutonic Knights Castle

Dinner at the St. Bruno Hotel

Bowling after dinner
Palac Pacoltowo - in fact more of an equestrian Centre with attached Palac - was yet again different. The Palac itself is quite small, a lovely size for a country house. It has been renovated to a very high quality. Great materials used, no expenses spared, nice large rooms ... but historically largely incorrect. Personally, I found the end result very successful, but any student of architectural history will point out that the decors are from the wrong era etc. Worth another good debate. And what’s with the badly copied Rembrandt’s that adorn it’s walls… travesty!

The extensive grounds of Pacoltowo Palace

Entrance Drive to Palac Pacoltowo

Grand Piano in the Salon at Pacoltowo- there was a Chopin recital that evening

Billiards in the Palace

Tola enjoying an Orange in the Pacoltowo Drawing Room
On the Sunday, after a long night, that included a venture into town, a narrow escape from a bar brawl, and some other episodes unfit for printing, we made our way past the XXX hospital of the Maltese Knights and the lovely city center of Olsztyn, before heading home. No substitute for Ice Driving, but still a fun weekend!

                                                                                                                          Paul van Arkel

Maltese Knights' Hospital in Barczwewo

Around Olsztyn....

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

CCC Christmas Dinner - Bristol Hotel Warsaw - 14 December 2017

The 2017 CCC Christmas Dinner at the Bristol Hotel Warsaw on December 14th attracted a record number of diners - 24 - in fact this was the capacity of the Slowacki Salon. Not only male members but also their wives or lady friends had been invited which lifted the spirits immeasurably and produced a truly convivial occasion. The 4 Course menu was memorable (there a new excellent chef at the Bristol) and the wine was excellent and plentiful.

The after dinner lecture was given by the polymath Grzegorz  Grątkowski. He selected as a subject the names of different models of various famous marques of cars (Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia) and the origins of these names. I am unable to print the entire illustrated lecture but include below an extract from his fascinatingly researched text and illustrations of the section devoted to the Lamborghini.

It’s widely known that Ferruccio Lamborghini used his Zodiac sign, Taurus, as the logo for the machines he built. True, but vague. 
Being more specific, he got the idea after having visited, in 1962, la Ganadería Miura near Sevilla, the ranch of Don Eduardo Miura Fernández where fighting bulls were bred. 
The first Lamborghini named after a bull or a corrida-related theme came in 1966 and that was, of course, the Miura. 
Next was the car given the name of a phenomenal bull that, in 1947 in Linares, killed the matador Manolete. The man was such a superstar that after his death General Franco ordered three days of national mourning in Spain. The name of the bull, and two decades later of the car, was Islero. 
Also in 1968 debuted the exuberant Espada , another model carrying on the same thematic thread.
We might think that at the same time an exception was made and Lamborghini called its model, the Jarama , after a racing circuit where in those days the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix were held. Wrong! The producer from Sant’Ágata was well aware that, his involvement in motorsport being minimal or inexistent, it would be flagrantly unjustified to call a car after a racing venue. Actually, Jarama, the area just north-east of Madrid, not only hosts the circuit,

but also some ranches from which first-class fighting bulls originate (above). Then there were Lamborghini models named after other strains of bulls, including a sort of a baby Lamborghini, a sleek mid-engined coupé called Urraco, definitely an underrated model.

then the Jalpa...
the concept Marzal... 


and, in more recent times, the Gallardo. The latter name is really interesting. Gallardo is an ancient breed of bulls, rooted back in the 13th Century and the word means brio, fervour, vigour, vivacity, being related to gaiety. 
The French gaillard signifies “plein d'allégresse et de vivacité”. In fact, in his Histoire de la France, André Maurois describes François d’Angoulême, later the king François le Premier as un splendide gaillard, jeune, ardent – brave, young and ardent. Or, to quote from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Eldorado: “Gaily bedight, a gallant knight, in sunshine and in shadow, hath journeyed long…”
Finally, the names of particular eminent bulls, in the vein of Islero. We had the Diablo, a legendary bull which confronted the torero José De Lara known as “El Chicorro” in an epic duel held in 1869 in Plaza de Toros in Madrid. 
And Murciélago which in 1879 earned a rare honour – it fought so brilliantly that the matador Rafael “El Lagartijo” Molina Sanchez decided to spare it and send it back to the Miura ranch as a sire bull. 
Reventón , instead, a bull coming from Don Rodríguez breeding ranch, killed famous torero Félix Guzmán in 1943.
Huracán was another outstanding bull from Ganadería Zamorana Conde de la Patilla. 
It fought matador Frascuelo in Alicante in 1879, while Aventador hit the arena in Saragossa in 1993 and faced Celestino Quadri Vides with so much courage that it was awarded, albeit posthumously, the Trofeo de la Peña La Madroñera for its bravery.
Finally, the Urus, the name of the brand’s most recent model. It means the aurochs, tur in Polish, an extinct – or, earnestly speaking, exterminated – species of supercattle once living in vast forests of Europe. 

CCC Members present at the Dinner:

      Erik Hallgren

Grzegorz Gratkowski

Adam Widmański

Zofia Widmański

Błażej Żuławski

Tadeusz Wesołowski

Ewa Wesołowska

Mirek Staniszewski

Michal Wrobel

Barbara Adam

Solveiga Wallach

Jerzy Bylica

Dorota Żylewicz-Nosowska

Agnieszka Cybulska

Jaroslaw Cybulski

Ian Booth

Iain Batty

Agnieszka Booth

Paul van Arkel

Tessa van Arkel

Richard Kaluzynski

Guy Pinsent

Emma Pinsent

·     Michael Moran (Chairman)