Monday, 9 June 2014

Summer Picnic - June 9th 2014

The river bank yesterday

Click on pictures to enlarge - far better results

I always lament the fact that the beaches along the Vistula in the centre of Warsaw are not yet sufficiently developed for carefree swimming as in the past. 

Although the many natural beaches right in the centre of the city are packed in the summer one rarely sees many intrepid swimmers. As an Australian who lived in the South Pacific for years I see this as an extraordinary and underutilized  resource although there are a few fine restaurants on the water these days and a large embankment redevelopment project in progress. 

Well Warszawa is not Sydney of course but the city has fabulous potential as a tourist attraction if the the water treatment was approached with proper scientific care and dedication. I see an analogy with the condition of many of the roads in Poland although they too are slowly improving. 

The Vistula is an unregulated river rare if not unique in a European capital. Warsaw could be developing this resource even faster than at present especially in terms of water quality. That great tourist city competitor Krakow has nothing like this on the doorstep. However since 1991 when I first visited Poland, a revolution has taken place in the country of course. However the Vistula River so far has been only a small part of this change. More is the pity. 

A natural beach in central Warsaw
It was such a hot and gloriously sunny day yesterday - 32C - the hottest of the year so far - I decided I desperately needed to be near some running water and so took our member David O'Driscoll's advice on his favourite 'secret' picnic and swimming spot a mere 35 kms from Warsaw Centrum. 

No, I am not going to reveal the place on the internet and cause the masses to descend as all our elite members already now know where it is. The area was once a resort for a former large communist enterprise - there are many in the choicest most picturesque spots in Poland. These were sold to perceptive and canny investors after 'regime change' in the 1990s. This place is owned by a famous Polish actress and her husband who have done wonders here, were charming to me and invited us back in the future as a club. 

Although there were quite few people here early on they drifted off as the afternoon wore on. Actually it was really rather deserted for a hot Sunday that was also a church holiday - Pentecost Sunday or Whitsun. 

The river is clear, shallow, fresh and access to it is hidden away. As you can see many people including children were swimming without a care in the world. It is a beautiful area relatively unknown except to locals. A small kiosk serves grills and beer. Kayaks are for hire with an excellent service where you are taken up river by the managers in a minivan with your kayak on a trailer and then in a leisurely style drift back down to the beachfront with the current. 

Pity I was on my own with the beautiful Basia for much of the day until Blazej Zulawski turned up for a couple of hours inspiring car chat. 

I took an excellent picnic assembled from La Fromagerie in Warsaw (some of the best saucisson and Goat's cheese anywhere outside of France - seriously). In addition a bottle of chilled Rose (a delicious and rare Sancerre Rose from Marks and Spencer in Arkadia. -They have the best selection of hard to find roses in Warsaw just now - Italian, French, Californian and South African - with an excellent discounted Macon Rose). All packed into an old Fortnum's wicker hamper basket  I have and belted to the luggage rack of the TC.

Many rivers in Poland still retain a feeling a being relatively untouched and one is able to wander along the banks among the willows free of fears of trespassing on private land which has so blighted if not entirely destroyed carefree picnicking in the UK. Poland is still blissfully unregulated concerning this type of wonderful summer leisure activity.

I will not bore you with even more pictures of the MG TC as it was the only classic there...but here are a few pictures of where 'we' were.

Basia after far too much rose wine in 32C heat....

Oh and the TC ran like a top throughout with no overheating problems even in traffic on such a hot day and with ethanol in the Polish petrol. No Kenlowe fan either. With ethanol in the petrol ignition temperature is higher meaning older cars run hotter - something not well known. As well as this the bio-fuel additive attacks all older seals in SU or Solex carbs and elsewhere in the fuel lines. Ethanol is also hydroscopic which affects storage of petrol in the tank over winter. 

Be warned if you are running an older car and do your research on your model. My RR for example is unaffected. There are ways of combating these unwanted effects with safe and proven Millers additives depending on your engine (ESP is ideal for the TC engine if you have hardened the valve seats for lead-free petrol).

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