Sunday, 30 June 2019

First half of 2019 - health in numbers

"Beat last year" is a good motto when it comes to staving off the onset of old age. The fact that I am stronger and healthier than I was last year and even more so than two years ago  is good news. Above all, I have greater strength of will. Knowing this contributes to good well-being and that useful Polish word samopoczucie (how you feel within yourself, a combination of mental and physical). But to beat last year, you need to know what last year looked like. I've been logging health-related key performance indicators since the beginning of 2014 in an ever-growing Excel spreadsheet. Paces walked, alcohol and fruit & veg consumption, exercises and (since June 2017), blood pressure.

In the first half of this year I have walked more - with a daily average of over 11,800 paces a day, every day, while in the first half of 2018 it was 11,078 paces. Press-ups - comfortably more. Although I had a break in London in mid-June due to a shoulder-sprain (once again, too much stuff in the rucksack, this time groceries). I was unable to rehabilitate with weights as these were back in Warsaw. However, since last week I've returned to the full exercise routine and have just done 47 press-ups. Focusing more on quality - from nose to the floor to arms fully extended.

Planks are great exercise, strengthening the body's core muscles. Since the end of January when I started, I've 'held the plank' for over 14 hours in total! (usually two-three minute stretches).

Weights - 5kg is now the norm, lateral rises, internal and external shoulder rotations. I returned to these gently after coming back from London, starting with 3kg, now back up to 5kg, building up the numbers to 12 x 3 set of repetitions for each exercise.

Alcohol consumption - finally got it down to the UK health guidelines of 14 units a week (first six months of last year this was 17 units), with number of days without alcohol increased to 121 - up from 116 in the first half of 2019. Intake of fresh fruit and vegetables at 5.4 portions a day identical to the first six months of last year and 2017.

The real achievement remains my overcoming high blood pressure without medication. This time two years ago, my average readings were 140 (systolic) over 100 (diastolic). I was prescribed pills ("to be taken for the rest of my life"). How am I faring? On 30 June 2017 my average reading was 134/95. On 30 June last year - it was 112/79. And now it's 110/79. [Heart Foundation's guidelines are between 90-129 (systolic) and 60-84 (diastolic) as the acceptable norms of healthy blood pressure.]

Over the past two years I have lowered my blood pressure to healthy levels, consistently and sustainably, without gulping pills. I take measurements daily and log them, observing them consciously, like the results of a quantum experiment. This, I believe, helps me will myself to stay healthy. So far so good - onto the second half of this year!

This time last year:
Key Performance Indicators - health - first half 2016

This time two years ago:
Three and half years of health and fitness data

This time three years ago:
First half of 2016 health & fitness in numbers

This time four years ago:
Venus, Jupiter - auspices

This time five years ago:
Down the line from York

This time six years ago:
Cider - at last available in Poland

This time seven years ago:
Despondency on Puławska

This time eight years ago:
Stalking the stork

This time ten years ago:
Late June lightning

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Down the line to Warka

Next up on my explorations of the stations between Warsaw and Radom - Gośniewice and Warka. It seems the modernisation of the Radom line is happening at an equal pace, in other words, patchy. Here's a stretch almost done, and here's another stretch way behind schedule. But generally, work on laying the 'up' track is progressing, though whether the whole length will have been laid by the end of the first week of September, the anniversary of work commencing, is unlikely. Once it does happen, all the trains will be diverted to the 'up' line and the 'down' line will be ripped up and the whole process repeated. There will be much work to do at the bigger stations, as is visible in Chynów and Warka.

We start with this view, looking toward Michalczew, which I visited a few weeks ago. Below: the station building is visible to the left in the middle distance. To the right, new electricity gantries and new rails on new concrete sleepers are visible.

Below: departure of the train from Gośniewice halt towards Warsaw and Minsk Mazowiecki. The 'up' platform has disappeared altogether; the 'down' platform currently serves both directions. Just three passengers alighted at Gośniewice. This must be one of the most remote stations on the Koleje Mazowieckie network - no asphalted roads reach it. Opened in 1972, this was never an important stop. A ticket booth and toilet have both long disappeared. Unusually, no island platform here, which suggests this halt was an afterthought, plopped down between Michalczew and Warka.

Below: looking towards Warka - the new 'up' platform will be staggered, located to the south of the 'down' platform - just as at W-wa Jeziorki. In the far distance, to the left of the tracks, the brewery buildings in Warka.

Below: Warka station, one of the original buildings from when the line was built in 1934.

Below: waiting for the southbound train to pass before crossing the track. Just as in Chynów, there will be an underground passage linking the platforms.

Below: general view of Warka station. Note the sign, placed at an angle, a good innovation, increasing its visibility! To the left, new ballast awaits sleepers and track, while to the right, track-laying equipment stands waiting.

Below: close up of the equipment taken from across the tracks.

BONUS PHOTOS: Stork nest in Pieczyska (unlike this post from 2016, the storks didn't show any symptoms of parasitical infestation. I watched them for several minutes, none was scratching itself.

Below: frog's-eye view of a pair of menacing storks.

This time two years ago:
Unusual sights on the railway

This time three years ago:
Brexit - it was new-EU immigration that swung it

This time four years ago:
Still flying after all these years

This time five years ago
Yorkshire's smallest city

This time six years ago:
Cramp in the night

This time seven years ago:
Football goes home

This time eight years ago:
Birds of Omen

This time nine years ago:
Yes, it does matter who you vote for

This time ten years ago:
Poland could do with some more mountains

This time 11 years ago:
Warmth of the Sun
 - the Beach Boys and Noctilucence

This time 12 years ago:
Polish roads that look like America

Friday, 28 June 2019

Jakubowizna in high summer

Went to the Urząd Gminy in Chynów this morning to notify the local authorities of my purchase of the adjoining plot of land, register it for tax etc. Sadly, the office was closed. A wasted journey - though a good walk along the way, and quick pop-in visit to my działka.

Had I bothered to check the urząd's website before going, I might not have found this notice. It was buried near the bottom of the home page. I'd have needed to have scrolled past seven local news stories (such as level-crossing closures and weather warnings) to discover that on the day I'm due to go there, the office will be closed. At least it's open next Saturday.

Anyway, lovely weather, lovely scenery, so no great loss. A burger at J&B Snack Bar and off I go to survey my landholdings. Below: floral gate - wild roses greet me. Every time I come in spring and summer, some flower or other is in bloom, always a pleasant surprise

Below: house looking good, now to sort out the garden, but first I need to incorporate the new plot into the totality and fence the whole thing off as a single parcel of land. Before I can do that, through the good offices of a geodeta (legal surveyor), I need to have a court document stating my ownership of the land; this can take months. And so I wait...

"Hey daddy-o/I don't wanna go/In to the basement" sung the Ramones; an entirely understandable sentiment. Below: here's my basement - the thin black line on the wall on the left shows the extent of May's flood.

Below: a spider's web in the basement sprinkled with drops of condensation. It's damp down here, but the house above is insulated by a thick layer of protective material.

After checking that all is well, locking up and setting the alarm, I head ofp back to Chynów station. Month Ten of the railway line modernisation, and here, emerging, is the subway passage that will link platforms and Jakubowizna with Chynów.

Between the station and town, I walk down ul. Działkowa and see this lovely 1980s Ursus C-330 tractor, fitted (though you can't see it from this view) with the narrowest-track axles to get between the rows of apple trees. The C-330 was an all-Polish design, in production from 1967-87.

Bonus shots pointing my 300mm zoom right above me to capture single-piston-engined aircraft directly above me. Below: a Yak-12 of the Warszawski Aeroklub

Below: a Cessna 172 (most-produced aircraft in history, still in production after 62 years)

This time last year:
Warsaw's Raffles Hotel opens

This time four years ago:
The ballad of Heniek and Ziutek

This time five years ago:
Yorkshire's yellow bicycles

This time ten years ago:
Horse-drawn in the Tatras

This time 11 years ago:
Rain, wind and fire

This time 12 years ago:
The Road beckons

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Lifelong brand ambassador

It's nearly 40 years since I bought my first pair of Loake shoes - for the May Ball at Warwick University. The shoes were nearly new, bought from a second-hand shop in West Ealing - and I still have them (stored in a Loake box, in the garage). Over the years, I have had over 20 pairs (see this post from nine years ago). I associate with the brand value - a fourth-generation family business currently run by Andrew Loake (see my 2016 interview with him here). Shoes can come from a factory in the Far East that churns out stuff for volume's sake, and branded with a brand that had clever and expensive marketing attached to it.

Bought in Warsaw, here are my latests Loakes - the model is named Pimlico, and is somewhere between the tough desert boot (Loake Kalahari) and something acceptable for wearing in the office. The Dainite sole is a huge plus for Warsaw streets - mud, snow, ice, puddles etc.

Compared to the Kalahari, the Pimlico feels stouter - the three-eyelet laces give a closer fit around the ankle (good for keeping the wretched ticks out in long grass), and it's a shoe I can wear into town.

Loake is one of the überbrands that have won my lifelong loyalty. I cannot envisage me buying into another shoe brands. Other lifelong brands that exclude the possibility of buying other products from the same category are Nikon (cameras) and Levis (jeans). Getting close to this status is Vistula (suits - I have bought five over the past nine years, of which four are still in service).

One thing I love about Loake is the firm's commitment to keeping old shoes going. Worn-out pairs get sent back to the factory for a new long-sole with heel; the shoes come back not new, but looking a whole lot better and good for several years' more use.

This time last year:
My brand-new used laptop
[Student SGH - a year on it's working perfectly - just the Windows 10 than annoys me!]

This time two years ago:
How much for locally grown strawberries?

This time three years ago:
Zamość - the beautiful, must-visit town of Poland's east

This time four years ago:
Voting closes in citizens' participatory budget 

This time five years ago:
Beginning of the end of PO [Civic Platform]

This time six years ago:
Where's the beef? Fillet steak in Warsaw

This time seven years ago:
W-wa Zachodnia spruced up for the football, W-wa Stadion reopened

This time nine years ago:
Literature and biology

This time 11 years ago:
Old Nysa van spotted in Grabów

This time 12 years ago:
The oats in the neighbouring field rise high

Sunday, 23 June 2019

From Peace of Mind to State of Elation

Peace of mind comes from not so much an absence of intractable issues in one's life - financial worries, problems at work, health woes - but being on top of them. Not letting them wear you down, nor letting them dampen your spirits. I would argue that 'a contented consciousness in a sound mind' is an even more important goal than 'a sound mind in a sound body'.

How to get there?

A very important part of this is, as Jacek Koba once wrote in a comment to a post on this blog, ensuring that the ratio of your expectations to reality is 1:1. If you expect more from life than you can realistically expect from it, you will be pulled down by bitterness and regret.

Another important life lesson I have learned came from this billboard edict to distinguish joy from pleasure, to make the act of the distinguishing the two a conscious one.

I am contemplating the notion of replicable joyful experiences. A walk at dusk - 'magic hour' in film-industry parlance - amid trees and lakes. A back-roads bike ride on a sunny day. Discovery of the new or spending time at much-loved places? Which is more likely to bring about elation?

Much joy is to be obtained from spending time in good company, cheered by a glass of fine wine or foaming ale. I have pretty much limited all my alcohol consumption to that knocked back with people I like spending time with.

Going on holiday to somewhere new, somewhere that your your soul has not been calling you all your life, is not for me. Likelihood of disappointment, a sense of money and time wasted, no real, deeper connections with spirit of place. I'm not a fan of exotic foreign holidays; I have no atavistic connection with the Middle East, Far East or Africa. No curiosity, no drive to visit those regions.

But returning to Warsaw after a fortnight in rainy London filled me with elation indeed; the cloudless sky, the warmth, the easy-going nature of people enjoying summer... The weather plays a important role in my state of mind; a few dismal days I can take, but without sunlight, the joy goes out of life.

Below: summer in the city, Warsaw. This is the third week of blue skies and jacket-free heat. So good to be back!

In London I was fighting with an intermittent fault in an SD card in my camera; on return home I found that my SD card reader had been lent out without my knowledge or consent. I have bought a new SD card reader (and a two-terabyte external hard disk drive to back up photos on), so regular blogging should resume soon.

This time last year:
Last summer before S7 works begin
[Over-optimistic again. Work won't start next summer either.]

This time two years ago
Nostalgia, ideology, aesthetics, emotions

This time four years ago:
Civilisation and barbarism - how the former deals with the latter

This time five years ago:
Ahead of the opening of Jeziorki's Biedronka

This time six years ago:
New views of Jeziorki

This time seven years ago:
Motorway finally links (the outskirts of) Łódź and (the outskirts of) Warsaw

This time ten years ago:
Kraków Air Museum

This time 11 years ago:
Quintessential Jeziorki

This time 12 years ago: 
Little boxes, Mysiadło 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Not a whole lot going on...

Two weeks away and what's been happening? Well the viaduct carrying ul. Karczunkowska over the railway line is still not open (no surprises there); over the past two weeks crash barriers have been installed on the north-west and north-east sides of the viaduct. The centre portion of the viaduct still lacks balustrades.

The crash barriers are a laugh. A joke, a mockery of a travesty of a parody, to quote Woody Allen. Look at the photo below. The barriers (still awaiting installation on the south side of the viaduct) are great - they will keep pedestrians safe. They are overkill. The speed limit here is 50km/h or 30mph, the roadway is narrow and curved. But once you've passed that traffic island, the driver feels OK to depress the accelerator pedal. Beyond the viaduct, you can see the continuation of Karczunkowska into the distance. Here, pedestrians are protected not by massive metal crash barriers. Nor by a raised kerb. No, beyond the viaduct there is nothing, literally nothing protecting the pedestrian.

The barriers almost incentivise drivers to speed. They are unnecessary. What is necessary for pedestrian safety is a pavement running the full length of Karczunkowska.

Meanwhile, down south in Chynów, much has happened over the two weeks. Looking down the line towards Krężel (below), I see that new rails are down on the new concrete sleepers. Work is pressing on in both directions, there were new sleepers down on stretches of the line between Czachówek Południowy and Sułkowice. Note the distant heat-haze. Saturday and the gang is working.

From today, the day's length begins to get shorter. Make the most of the summer, the sunshine, the daylight, the warmth.

This time four years ago:
Dreamtime supernatural

This time six years ago:
Baszta - local legend round these parts

This time eight years ago:
Downhill all the way to December

This time nine years ago:
What do I want for Poland

This time ten years ago:
Summer holiday starts drizzly

This time 11 years ago:
Israeli Air Force Boeing 707 visits Okęcie

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Classic cars, Ealing

I'm rather anti-car in my advancing years; I scorn today's cars, don't own one, don't want one. But classic cars are a different matter; I am fond of them and love to see them on the roads today. Most of the cars that graced the streets of my childhood have met the crusher years ago, those that are still driven stir my heart. But as I wrote here the other week, I'm unlikely to ever own one - developing land makes more sense financially as well as emotionally.

Below: an MG MGA 1600 Coupe (1959-1960), very rare in the UK as most MGAs (1955-62) were exported. Plain disc wheels (rather than chrome wires) on this example.

Below: so many styling cues borrowed from the Jaguar XK120. Still, the MG MGA is a very neat vehicle!

Below: And by coincidence, here's an MG MGB passing the same bus stop in the top photo, just two days earlier. The MGB followed the MGA off the production lines at Abingdon. A 1971 example here, 48 years old... also fixed roof (as opposed to roadster), also in cream.

Below: this looks familiar! At 36 years old, this Ford Grenada Mk II estate is a real rarity; big brother to the Ford Cortina (my father had a 1979 Ford Cortina Mk IV estate, VYT38T, just four years older than this). I was amazed to see this particular beast still roadworthy - rust has claimed most.

Below: same car, same angle, different colour, different city - this Grenada estate was parked along Aleje Jerozolimskie in Warsaw.

Below: when the original Porsche 928 appeared in 1978, I predicted that its style that would still seem fresh into the 1990s - indeed, production continued into 1995. This is an early '80s model, a 928S with front and rear spoiler and side strip. These might have improved aerodynamics, but detract from the design purity of the original late '70s 928.

Below: a youngster at just 20 years old - a 1999 Mini Cooper. Production of the original BMC/Rover Group Mini spanned over 41 years and ended on 4 October 2000. The design purity of the 1959 concept certainly passed the test of time.

Sadly I was without camera (pushing my father towards Cleveland Park), when a red Daimler SP250 Dart drove past... lovely it was!

This time last year:
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics reviewed

This time two years ago:
Now it belongs to the ages - on Great Works of Art

This time three years ago:
More Brictorian Liverpool

This time four years ago:
Łódź - city of tenements
[Gosh! four years since I bought a flat there!]

This time five years ago:
Liverpool reborn

This time six years ago:
What goes round comes around: retro is cool - again.

This time seven years ago:
Warsaw's southern bypass by this time next year?

This time eight years ago:
Stand Easy! - a short story

This time 11 years ago:
God Save The Queen - I mean it, Ma'am

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Quantum jumps, quantum luck and the atomic will

For my brother, Marek

This is ground-breaking stuff. This Yale University experiment has the potential to change everything we've learn over the past 95 years or so about how quantum mechanics actually work in practice.

Here's the crucial paragraph: "With their high-speed monitoring system, the researchers could spot when a quantum jump was about to appear, 'catch' it halfway through, and reverse it, sending the system back to the state in which it started. In this way, what seemed to the quantum pioneers to be unavoidable randomness in the physical world is now shown to be amenable to control. We can take charge of the quantum."

Wow. "We can take charge of the quantum."

But how? By willing it so? By the simple act of observation? But we know that as soon as you open the box, the cat that's both dead and alive becomes one or the other. So to avoid the collapse of the wave function caused by conscious observation, the Yale team led by Michel Devoret used something (that I can't understand) called a 'second excited state' which reacts to decay (or not) within the first. Let's assume the whole thing works and is real and the results are as ground-breaking as claimed...

Until now, quantum events were considered to be entirely random, upsetting the Newtonian apple-cart. Newton's laws, which shaped human thinking about the physical universe for around a quarter of a millennium, stated that there must be cause and effect. Without an action, there is no reaction.

Quantum physics, however, suggested that atomic decomposition is an entirely random phenomenon. You might know the half-life of an isotope, but you cannot predict when decay will happen. This lack of predictability bugged Einstein, who couldn't bear (at first) this entirely novel notion of randomness at work in the universe. "God doesn't play dice," he said about this. Now, the Yale experiment seems to side with Einstein and Newton, rather than with Heisenberg and Schrödinger, the bringers of Uncertainty. The change in quantum states is neither random nor instantaneous, it seems. It is, they say, deterministic.  Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that a subatomic particle's position and momentum can not be measured simultaneously. Here we have some guys claiming we can.

If so, we need to rethink cosmology!

For me, the uncertainty of quantum mechanics provides the key to the magic of the universe. The key to consciousness, the key to chance. And the key question - can you alter the outcome of a quantum event by thinking it one way or another?

I believe you can - not in a lab, repeating experiments aimed at measuring telepathy or extra-sensory perception, but practical ways. Above all, forestalling personal mishaps by consciously discounting the possibility of them happening - my definition of 'quantum luck'. Whether this new discovery about the nature of quantum events - in particular the possibility of reversing them - has any bearing on how my personal 'quantum luck' works for me, remains to be seen!

This time last year:
Under the sodium

This time two years ago:
"Further progress? Hell yes!"

This time 11 years ago:
The 1970s and the 2000s

Monday, 10 June 2019

Ghastly June day in London

One for the record books - while Warsaw sweltered under a cloudless sky (31C), London was beset by the most wretched weather. It rained all day; in the afternoon temperatures reached 9C. An appalling June day - it felt like mid-October. 52 mm of rain drenched London today - the equivalent of an average June's rainfall. Central London was a sea of umbrellas, ill-tempered people splashing through puddles, traffic jams exacerbated by road closures. So many people who set off for work wearing summer clothes, tourists leaving their hotels without having checked the weather forecasts, wet, miserable, shivering.

I was planning to walk from the Kingfisher plc headquarters in Paddington to the Polish Embassy - I ended up sitting in a bus diverted around a road-closure on Oxford Street, thankful for the traffic jams that kept the bus moving at walking speed or slower. Inside the bus it was warm and dry.

When I got home and undressed, I found that the label inside my suit jacket had become sodden through my 'rainproof' jacket and had left a square, yellowish imprint on the back of my shirt.

Below: Sheltering under an archway, Margaret St, London W1.

Cold, wet, annoyed. Despite the rain, I did actually manage to walk over 16,000 paces.


Still raining. Fourth day in a row. The River Brent has burst its banks in Perivale, cutting the footpath between Perivale and Pitshanger Park. Too wet to take the camera for my walk, so image capture on phone, quite unsatisfactory quality, but one for the record.

Oh to be in Warsaw in June!

This time last year:
Perfect weather week in Warsaw

This time two years ago:
Further progress is unimaginable

This time three years ago:
Baletowa reopens as rail works move on

This time six years ago:
Polish doctors in UK offer new healthcare model

This time nine years ago:
The closure of the Góra Kalwaria - Pilawa railway link

This time 11 years ago:
My blazing bus pic gets on front page of Gazeta Stołeczna

This time 12 years ago:
Storm clouds rising

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

This land is my land

As Delmar says in the Coen brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou?, "Hell, you ain't no kind of man if you ain't got land". Well, I gone out an' got me a whole acre of the stuff. That's another 2,000m2 on top of the 2,000m2 I already bought with my działka house (1 acre = 4,047.8m2 ). "Buy land, they don't make it no more!" "Land is the only thing that matters; land is the only thing that counts."

I bought the adjacent plot as an investment for the future; although currently an orchard boasting 42 apple trees, it comes with permission to build 'extensive' housing (ie not more than one single-family house per 500m2. Intensive housing = block of flats = no).

Below: view of both plots from the other side of the road. To the left is my original plot (the house set so far back from the road that it's not visible). The newly purchased orchard is to the right.

Below: a Sketch-up 3D model of my house, showing its situation to scale on the 4,000m2 rectangle. The original fence is seen dividing the two plots, trees are omitted for clarity. The rectangle is roughly 20m wide by 200m long.

Below: view from my rear upstairs patio. To the left is an medium-tension electricity pylon that currently runs through the new plot. Beyond is the forest that lines the eastern edge of the plot.

Below: reverse-angle view; in the distance you can make out the house (repainted white when the external thermal cladding was applied). The concrete electricity pylon is visible.

What now? Well, the most important thing is to mark and fence my territory. This needs to be done by a geodeta, a legally-recognised surveyor, who will mark out the boundaries of the newly purchased plot. These will form the legal basis on which I will be able to fence off the land and in effect merge or unify the two plots as one.

Now, to do this, I need to have clear title to the land that I have bought. This has been checked by the notariusz (notary-public) in Grójec who carried out the transaction (an excellent and professional service, by the way, Magdalena Grzesik should you need a notariusz in Grójec). All is good, but the court in Grójec has to enter the transaction and with it my ownership title in the księga wieczysta (literally 'the eternal book' or land and mortgage register). This can take time! When I bought the first plot (with house), I waited between mid-November 2017 and late January 2018 for confirmation from the court that the transaction had been registered and a new księga wieczysta set up in my name. The notariusz told me that she had cases where the new owner had been waiting six months for the court to register the transaction! One way or another, I cannot summon a geodeta to measure and mark the land without a księga wieczysta in my name. So I wait.

Until then, I need to keep the existing fence to the east of my original plot, as there is no fence to the east of the new plot.

Once done, I need to keep a close eye on local development plans. A new asphalted access road to the north of the two plots that is shown on the plans would be useful, allowing easy partition of the north half of the plot into a stand-alone unit, making it easier to develop and eventually sell.

I have time, I have options. The fun part will be to design and cost a new house, which, naturally, will be built to be as energy efficient as possible from the outset. Heat pumps, solar panels etc. But that is many years into the future! The opportunities are huge. In theory, I could build up to eight houses on this property (doubtful though). In the meanwhile, some landscape gardening is an interesting prospect - a small pond, small hillocks, silver birches, pines, paths running through it all...

Finally, I must say I much prefer buying property in Poland compared to the UK process. This is my fourth property purchase in Poland and each one has gone smoothly - the institution of the notariusz being better suited for the job than the English solicitor. Conveyancing UK-style, with exchange of contracts and completion and piles of extra paperwork generates stress and takes time. If there's clear title, the Polish system is straightforward and relatively inexpensive.

This time three years ago:
Preening stork

This time six years ago:
Preserving meadowland - UK and Poland 

This time seven years ago:

This time eight years ago:
Cara al Sol - a short story

This time nine years ago:
Pumping out the floodwater

This time ten years ago:
To Góra Kalwaria and beyond

This time 11 years ago:
Developments in Warsaw's exurbs

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Classic Volgas, London and Warsaw

Imagine my delight when, last week, I stumbled upon a beautiful black GAZ M-21 Volga, outside the Kent in Ealing... It was just like mine, but left-hand drive (from the vignette in the window, an import from Georgia). And in immaculate condition - perfectly restored. My one was a bit older (1963, registration number 3148 PE); I owned it between 1983 and 1985 when reluctantly I had to sell it as it kept breaking down and parts weren't readily available. I sold it to a guy in Manchester who had a fleet of similar cars used for film work. My old Volga did film work too, including an Elton John pop video and a John Le Carre TV spy thriller. And the odd wedding.

The Volga was built for middle-ranking Soviet aparatchiks, and also as taxis. This is a Series 3 model, which was in production from 1962 to 1970.

On my return to Warsaw - look what I find! Another GAZ M-21 Volga! This one, in Ursynów is up for sale...

Careful now!.. this is why I didn't go to this year's classic car show at Nadarzyn - the temptation to pull out the wallet and acquire something like this was nagging me! But as my late mother used to advise me, quoting from Gone with the Wind - "Buy land - land is the only thing that matters; land is the only thing that lasts." (News on the land purchase front on Wednesday.)

Here's a black Volga (snap taken at the Nadarzyn show two years ago). Oh to be behind the wheel of one of these once again... 

A propos classic cars, just a couple of years younger than the Volga, a Chevrolet El Camino SS 454 (with Cowl Induction) stars in this sublime video for Bruce Springsteen's Hello Sunshine.

Mood beautiful.

Bonus classic car - Is this a photo taken from the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico in the early 1960s? No, this is Monday 3 June - while waiting this morning for my train to town, I snapped this Porsche 356B passing Jeziorki station on ul. Gogolinska. Beautifu1!

UPDATE 04.06.2019: More classicism from by my office - below: a customised FSO Syrena R-20 pick-up, used to advertise a radio station... Produced between 1972 and 1980.

Below: you'll have seen these here before, but a well-lit photo of a brace of Jelcz buses from the 1960s parked, as always, outside the Palace of Culture.

This time last year:
Memory and Me

This time two years ago:
Sticks, carrots and nudge - a proposal

This time four years ago:
London vs. Warsaw pt 2: the demographic aspects