Monday, 22 April 2013

Excursion to the Country House of Nieborow and the Romantic Park of Arkadia - 170kms - April 20th 2013

Our small party of 5 cars assembled outside the Palace at Nieborow.
Lt to Rt.  Blazej Zulawski   Series 1 E-Type convertible, Iain Booth's E Type Series 11 2+2 coupe,  Michael Moran's Rolls-Royce 1974 Silver Shadow, Marcello Sora's Porsche 911 and just creeping in Iain Batty's Jaguar XJ Supersport    (BZ)
Click on photos for larger reproduction - pictures by Blazej Zulawski (BZ) and Michael Moran (MM) 

The Casual Car Club (CCC) was formed recently in Warsaw in Poland by a few English expatriates, some Polish enthusiasts and one notable Australian.  It is an attempt to socialize in a civilized way over excellent dinners, chat about the challenges of owning and maintaining classic cars in Poland as well as to take advantage of the splendid, relatively unregulated, motoring pleasure the country still has to offer. It is also an attempt to avoid the  bureaucracy, management committees, detachment from the interests of the members and political infighting that afflicts too many large single marque car clubs. Small is beautiful.

As luck would have it we chose the final day of a terrible run of poor weather this year for our first spring excursion. The weather was the determining factor and despite contemplation of increasingly complex meteorological diagrams verging on  flight plans for a Boeing Dreamliner en route to New York, it was raining lightly at dawn. However this had ceased by 8.00am and the day brightened a bit although chilly. With members and their guests we were expecting around 20 participants (including four keen children) at the start. However by 9.30 only two E Types (Blazej Zulawski and Iain Booth) and that Australian chap in the Rolls-Royce had assembled. We waited until 10.00 before leaving but no stragglers arrived.

A few members had a week ago sent their apologies for not taking part which was appreciated. David O'Driscoll was unable to come but turned up at Mlociny to give moral support which was great and rather needed  in the circumstances. We were to meet Iain Batty and his son Jasper in his cracking new Jaguar XJ Supersport en route at Teresin - or so we hoped. Marcello Sora was still in the shower after a hectic Friday night but would soon be toweled down and on the way.     

Blazej planned a particularly nice route to Nieborow on minor roads. We first called in on Antoni Borzewski at his Palace at Zaborow completely unannounced. In true Polish style he welcomed us in without hesitation. He was about to leave for an urgent business appointment in Warsaw but what of that? Here are friends!   This was a truly 'lived in' Palace built in a rather eclectic French style at the beginning of the twentieth century. No immaculate Downton Abbey costume drama in this place - real life with huge dogs, a burly and charming mustachioed guard in black and all the accumulated paraphernalia and detritus of a busy world view. Marcello, now dry and refreshed, had joined us in his raucous blue Porsche 911.

Outside the Palace at Zaborow   (BZ)

Michael's 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Chassis SRH 18723  (BZ)

Our group in the Conservatory at the Palac w Zaborowie   (BZ)

The formal gardens at the Palac w Zaborowie from the Drawing Room.  (MM)

Resuming our tour we only encountered one detour which slowed us up slightly. The E types managed to retain their exhausts but I had my doubts knowing that what appear to be quite innocent Polish detours often turn into moonscapes or worse. We even had a faultless rendezvous with Iain in the Jaguar. And so 5 CCC members with their assorted guests and children arrived at Nieborow.

The booked tour of the house in English was professional and informative. Below are a few pictures which scarcely need any explanation.

The unique Baroque staircase at Nieborow entirely lined with blue Delft tiles     (MM)

One learns something new every day - amazing really   (BZ)
The fine portrait of Princess Helena Radziwill by that wonderful artist  Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun. This artist fled the French Revolution with her daughter and survived by wandering Europe painting portraits of the nobility in many royal courts and aristocratic residences. Her life is an amazing tale.   (MM)

The superb Library at Nieborow. Of particular note are the unique and superb pair of fine terrestrial and celestial globes by the Venetian Vincenzo Coronello 1683 which originally came from Versailles.  (BZ)

Nieborow was built for Cardinal Michal Radziejowski, 1690-96, by the Dutch architect Tylman van Gameran who  designed so many fine buildings in Poland. The house finally passed to the Radziwill family in the the eighteenth century. That highly artistic woman of sensibility, Princess Helena Radziwill, is responsible for the present appearance of the palace  (BZ)

On the terrace of the garden front at Nieborow  (the guide took this)

At lunch in the Palace. Simple wholesome food in rather grand surroundings  (BZ)
A rare photograph of Blazej Zulawski gesturing on departure towards one of Poland's finest with a suitably patrician expression  (K)

And so after lunch we headed off to the Romantic Park of Arkadia a short distance away. The park was laid out by Princess Helena Radziwill between 1778 and 1821. It has a 'thematic programme' for the happy wanderer among the various structures and classical remains - the River of Oblivion and the Island of Dreams beckon strongly in our increasingly violent world. By this time the sun had come out and the day was really quite pleasant. It had in fact not rained at all for the entire day.

The line up at Arkadia. Not at all sure about that loathsome SEAT which has crept into the proceedings  (BZ)

The remarkable Temple of Diana in Arkadia     (BZ)
Two Polish ladies upholding a modicum of  traditional English style in the Romantic Polish Park of Arkadia
'Et in Arcadia Ego'  

And so after a slightly muddy but interesting wander around the park (even to the Hermit's Cave) on the very cusp of spring we made our separate ways home after a most enjoyable day. We all 'got on' terribly well together and not only because of our shared interest in cars which is really excellent. And there were no breakdowns or as is said in R-R parlance no 'failures to proceed'.

One thing I would say to members. I know we are a Casual Car Club. This indicates a general psychological demeanor and does not apply to fixed arrangements. If you confirm a place for dinner or on a rally or tour could you either actually come or at least email or telephone your cancellation in good time. It is both embarrassing for the organisers and rather expensive for those who soldier on and actually do appear if some simply do not show. This is especially true if firm arrangements for dinners or bookings have been made with museums, houses or organisations that we visit. Otherwise it is just not cricket. 'Play up! Play up! and play the game!' gentlemen. [Henry Newbolt Vita├» Lampada]

                                                                           Michael Moran (Chairman)

And so we make our weary way home....   (K)
This is a link to an excellent and quite brilliant site run by a classic car enthusiast friend of mine in the UK Ashley James. He is a fellow member of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiast's Club ( of which I have been a member for over 20 years.   

Outstanding technical articles for Triumph, Austin Healey, Bristol, RR and Bentley.

He also manufactures simply the best sound systems on the planet.