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)

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