Ferrari Day

On Sunday we headed north to the heartland of Ferrari, visiting the museums in Modena and Maranello. 

Modena has two buildings. The modern one houses a collection of cars and gives a short show primarily featuring Enzo and Pavarotti, both born in Modena and good friends. The older building, which used to be the workshop of Enzo’s father, houses mainly engines and a bit more history.

In Maranello it is all a bit more spread out as there is the museum, focussing on Ferrari’s F1 and other sporting achievements, as well as numerous sideshows like tours around the factory (apparently not as good as it sounds, hence we didn’t bother) and a variety of people selling you the opportunity to drive a Ferrari around the town, drive a simulator or other ways to get money out of you.

In my opinion it is worth seeing both but if you only had time for one quick stop and you’re not a Formula 1 fan then Modena is the best bet. It cost us €13 per adult per museum and €5 for an accompanying child under 19. There is ample parking at both sites. There is a bus service from one to the other but we drove and it takes about 20 minutes. They are open from around 10-18 every day but check the websites for details.

The cars with full frame shots in the gallery are the 500 Superfast from the 60s of which only 36 were ever made and the F40 from late 80s early 90s. There will be plenty more when I process those in my camera!

For those who don’t know John Surtees, he is the only person ever to win World Championships on both two and four wheels, done around the time of my birth. He is the oldest surviving Formula One World Champion and the oldest surviving 500cc MotoGP World Champion.


Swallows & Swimming pools

When our swimming pool is not being used by humans it serves as a perfect bar for the local swallows (jaskółki) whose superb flight skills, and I guess eyesight as well, allow them to run the length of the pool and just take the slightest sip of water before pulling back up into the sky. Sunbathing with a scene from The Dam Busters (1955) as entertainment.

Surprisingly, I managed to capture the moment on the iPhone a number of times but as the birds were side on they were hard to see. I did however get the one below where the bird was kindly banking away and so easier to identify – left hand side above the flippers.


Bella Italia

So here  we are again in beautiful Roncofreddo, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

The journey down followed the usual route. Day one was a long drive out of Poland, across Czech and almost all the way across Austria, stopping in Klagenfurt for the night. Day two roughly half the distance, 500km, out of Austria, through the Dolomites down to Udine and then across to Venice, Bologna and down close to Rimini before turning right and up into the hills.

It was a case of third time lucky. The first year we had a smashed windscreen. The second year we had a massive delay in Brno and a buggered alternator. This year, so far at least, the journey has been trouble free with no delays and a car that was a joy to drive. Award for bad roads goes again to Czech. They are in ever worsening condition and the amount of roadworks on the motorways is ridiculous. The award for angry drivers goes to Austria. Either they don’t like Polish people (or Polish registration plates at least) or my driving was worsening as we got closer to the end of a long journey but it was the only place I had two people gesticulating at me to suggest they would be happier if I were not on the road. Fuck them!

Here’s Zosia enjoying our first breakfast before she headed off to the pool.


London – Street scenes and views

In the last of this London photo series is a collection of views and street scenes taken while walking around with the family as well as from the 40th floor of the Cheesegrater (Leadenhall Building), which was part of my two day business conference. Unfortunately, it was early morning on a miserable day so the views could have been better. It was fun getting up to the 40th floor though. The glass lifts hang off the back, straight side, and travel at 6 m/s which is slower than their maximum speed but plenty fast enough. Similarly to the Eiffel Tower, the higher you go the less there seems to be holding the lifts up!

Other things depicted in the photos are:

The Golden Hinde, a galleon in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world between 1577 and 1580 bringing riches back to Queen Elizabeth I. He attacked and captured a Spanish galleon off the coast of Ecuador and seized six tons of treasure, which was enough for the Queen to pay off all her foreign debt and have plenty to spare. Drake was knighted and every investor in the voyage had a massive return. It is such a small ship, displacement of 100 tons, it is hard to imagine such a voyage.

A tour of Westminster Palace, Houses of Parliament. Highly recommended.

Clink Street. Originally this part of London was not the best place to hang around and was full of prisons, brothels and other such places. The use by Londoners of the word clink to mean jail comes from here, as in “Where’s Pistorius?” “He’s in the clink!”.

SantaCon 2014. Seems to be an excuse to get drunk while dressed as Santa, or an elf.

Southwark Cathedral has been a place of worship for over 1,000 years. We need to go back here as it was a lovely place but we only passed through. Had to negotiate with two officials to be allowed to take two photos without paying for a pass.



London – The Globe and The Marquee Club

The penultimate London post features two very different venues for entertaining the folks.

The Globe Theatre is where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. Built in 1599 from the timbers brought across the river from an older theatre, burnt down in 1613 and rebuilt with a tiled instead of thatched roof. Finally closed in 1642 because of a puritan administration and then demolished in 1644 to make way for housing. Skip forward to around 1970 when Sam Wanamaker founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust, the beginning of the re-emergence of the theatre on a site a few hundred yards away from the original location on the south bank of the Thames.

We took a tour, which was short but fun. Unfortunately could not take pictures inside because, we were told, some children were rehearsing. They weren’t children and whatever they were rehearsing was crap anyway but still, no pictures. The exhibition is also worth seeing, even without the tour.

If you walk a short distance around the back towards Southwark bridge you can easily find the original sites of the Globe, now under a block of listed Georgian flats and the Rose theatre, which predates the Globe.

The Marquee Club must be London’s equivalent of New York’s CBGB, a small shitty place that was home to tons of great music. It opened in 1958 on Oxford street as a venue for jazz and skiffle acts. Its most famous period, and the one during which I visited many times, was between 1964-1988 when it was at 90 Wardour Street, Soho. My pictures show it as it is today, converted into swanky Soho Loft apartments, the only sign it was ever a famous music venue being the blue plaque about Keith Moon playing there with The Who in the 60’s.

Aside from the fact he’s dead and was a nutter I have no idea why they singled out Moon for the plaque. The 60’s saw Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies, Chris Barber, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, The Who, King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Pink Floyd as well as The Manish Boys featuring David Bowie and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac who gave their first performance there in 1967.

The 70’s saw a leaning towards punk acts like The Boys, Eddie and the Hot Rods,The Stranglers, Generation X, London, The Police, XTC, Skrewdriver, The Sinceros, Buzzcocks, the early Adam & the Ants, The Jam, Joy Division, The Sound and The Cure amongst many others.

In the 80’s it became popular with British Heavy Metal bands including Def Leppard and Iron Maiden as well as Marillion and many others.

Aside from any of the more famous names, two gigs I remember as being a whole lot of fun were by these bands:

Nine Below Zero

Eddie and the Hot Rods

It looks like both bands are still going strong. Good for them!

Here are the photos:

London – Markets & Chinatown

In the third of the London series we’ll take a look at markets. We visited four;

Borough Market – located at the south send of London Bridge and first mentioned in 1276 but thought to date back to 1014 or earlier. Present buildings from mid 1800’s. Traditional role, along with Covent Garden, was selling fruit and veg wholesale. Nowadays it sells speciality foods to residents and tourists. Some great places to eat here and a Neal’s Yard cheese shop I’d love to have in Warsaw. They export to many countries but not Poland.

Old Spitalfields Market – east of Liverpool Street station and has been a market since 1682 when King Charles II gave a license for flesh, foul and roots to be sold on Spittle Fields. Used to be a wholesale fruit and veg market until that was moved out of town in 1991. Now a mish-mash of proper shops and markets stalls selling fairly mainstream tourist stuff.

Brick Lane Market – a little further east than Spittalfields. Originally a farmers market back in the 17th century when the area was predominantly Jewish it is now a hotspot for curries thanks to the Bangladeshi immigrants of the 20th century. There are stalls the length of Brick Lane but also numerous offshoot markets in buildings that were part of the old Truman Brewery that dates back to 1666. Definitely the most interesting market of the ones we visited with an eclectic mix of vintage clothes, food and oddments.

A Christmas Market – by the entrance to the Tate Modern. Can be seen in the photo with view of St Paul’s which was taken from the balcony of the Tate Modern. No history worth speaking of. Had a decent bacon roll.

Everyone knows London has a Chinatown so not much to say. We wandered through on the way to the theatre.