Monthly Archives: July 2012

Peak Enjoyment

Nice day on the edge of the Peak District, on the sunniest day for some time.

Forecast said wall-to-wall sunshine, so decided to take the MX-5 for a bit of a run, in the general direction of the Peaks and Staffordshire Moorlands. Headed to Congleton and out on the A53 towards Buxton.

Enjoyed lunch at the Rose and Crown, Allgreave — sandwiches in the beer garden, with an excellent pint of Robinsons.

Cross country to pick up the A53 near Flash, then south to Leek, and on towards Rudyard Lake. Stopped to take in the steam trains, which are obviously a popular school holiday attraction, especially on a day like this.

Over the top and down toward Biddulph. Had a wander round Biddulph Grange Gardens, and enjoyed a Snugburys banana and toffee ice cream.

Home via Astbury, avoiding the centre of Congleton.

A great little outing, with some superb views in all directions at times.

Paris 2012

St Michel from Pont Neuf

Last week, we once again enjoyed what has become our annual trip to Paris. Like the UK, it seems that northern France has been suffering somewhat of a lack of summer weather, so we were braced for a damp visit, but as it turned out we were pretty lucky.

Day 1 – Tuesday 10th July

Left home about 06.45, heading for the “Meet & Greet” car parking facility at Terminal 3. We used a service of that name on our trip to La Palma in January (leaving from T2) and were quite pleased, but this time the arrangement was a lot less not impressive. At T3, it’s not really a meet-and-greet service at all: you have to drive into the multistory car park and make your way to the reserved area, park your car and then go to their “reception” to hand over your keys; which sounds OK, until you have to wait several minutes at the barrier before being let into the reserved area, then find it jammed full and poorly signed, then wait to be served at the reception.

T3 check-in was pretty tedious, too: the do-it-yourself machine failed and the queue for the baggage drop was slow; and I’ve decided I don’t like T3 anyway — it’s too small and poky!

Things improved though, with a prompt takeoff at 9.30 and the usual pleasant Air France service. We touched down at CDG 11.40 local, with the inevitable 13 minutes taxiing, followed by endless walking to passport control and baggage claim, then to train station. After an uneventful train journey, we finally reached hotel 14.10!

Much-needed beer and pleasant lunch at Le Depart. Passed the rest of the afternoon with a bit of a wander round and a snooze.

Tea at Le Clou de Paris, rue Danton, just near the hotel: egg mayo for JL, artichoke salad for me, a bit uninspiring; both had magret de canard for mains — OK-ish; decided not risk puddings here! I have concluded eateries in this area are economy class: must try and remember not to eat around here again! Coffee and cognac at the Bar, Brasserie of Hotel Notre-Dame, on the corner opposite Petit Pont, made me feel better; and crepes from a place just around the corner gave a nice finish to the evening.

Day 2 – Wednesday

Breakfast as usual at Le Depart.

Decided to explore a bit to the east of the Latin Quarter.

Up B. St Michel and past the Sorbonne, to approach the Panthéon along R. Soufflot; admired the building from outside, but declined to pay €9 to enter. Chose instead to explore the church of St Etienne-du-Mont nearby — fascinating interior, including some nice stained glass: the Pantheon is dedicated to Ste Genevieve, but she’s actually buried in the crypt of St Etienne, so we got a good deal!

Checked out a piece of the 12th Century city wall in R. Clovis; then along R Descartes to Place de la Contrescarpe for coffee.

On down the cobbled R. Mouffetard towards the church of St Medard. The final part of this street has a delicious-looking selection of shops: cheese, wine, seafood, fruit, pate, foie gras — you name it!

Next, to the Paris Mosque, which was unfortunately just closing for the lunch period, so we manage only a quick glance into the courtyard.

Then on through the Jardin des Plantes, with its natural history museums and zoo, and so down to the river.

Towards home along Quai St Bernard, taking in the slightly scruffy exhibits of the Musee de Sculpture en Plein Air, then across Pont La Tournelle to Ile St Louis and over the bridge to Ile de la Cite, and to the cafe Esméralda for a late lunch.

Afternoon snooze and doss around

Evening aperitif at le Depart. Evening meal at Le Bar a Huitres on R St Jaques: expensive, but very nice; the menu was presented to us on iPads!


Day 3 – Thursday

Decided to take to open-top buses for the day — we haven’t done that since our first visit to Paris, and it is a good way to get around a few sights, and generally take in the city. Chose L’Open Tour service, which is not exactly cheap, but does cover just about everything

Crossing Pont Alexandre III

From Notre Dame via the left bank to Place de la Concorde, then up Champs Élysées. Hopped off halfway and walked up to Arc de Triophe, with a stop for coffee along the way. Bought butties for lunch at M&S! Back on the bus to Trocadéro and down to the Eiffel Tower, where for once we didn’t stop (we seem to pay homage there almost every year, though only ever went op once). On past École Militaire, round Les Invalides, across Pont Alexandre III, and eventually to Ste Marie Madelaine, where we transferred to the L’Open Tour yellow route to Montmartre.

Funicular railway up to Sacre Coeur, where we ate our butties sitting on the steps; to Place du Tertre for beer; then back down to B. de Rochechouart to rejoin the bus. Onward via Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Place de la Republique, past Folies Bergère and back to Opéra. Here we swapped back to the Green Line for return home via the Louvre.

At this point the rain set in in earnest, and we just got back to the hotel in time to avoided a soaking.

Wet evening, with excellent meal at Brasserie de L’Isle Saint-Louis


Day 4 – Friday

Time to go home already?!

We had an aiport shuttle booked for 12:15, so by the time we had packed our bags and paid the bill, there was time only for a final bit of a wander and a last coffee, at Café Panis just across from Notre Dame.

Although it meant leaving rather early for our 15:50 flight, the shuttle (which we have never used before) was a good idea; probably do this again.

Flight home all OK, aside from having my multitool confiscated at the airport security check — guess I should have known not to have it in hand baggage.



Well, of course we had a nice time — we wouldn’t keep going back year after year if we weren’t hooked on the place. What more to say? — only better weather could have made it more enjoyable, and there’s no way to control that.

The full set of snaps is in this google album


Silverstone Grand Prix 2012

Preamble – Thursday 5th July

Left home just after 2 o’clock and had a reasonable run down to Cherwell Valley services on the M40, where I checked into the Travelodge. Slightly slower than expected, on account of the M6 Toll road being closed, causing traffic chaos on the M6: I fortunately caught it on the radio, and diverted to the cross-country route. 116 miles, 2h15m,51mph
Drove over to the circuit to sign on (14mile, 25 minutes). Considering the weather we’ve had, the camp site and car parks don’t look too bad.
Headed towards Bicester looking for a beer and some tea. Nice pint of Pedigree at Bure Farm, Barberry Place, followed by fish and chips from the chippy next door.

Day One – Friday Practise

Up early with 5.30 alarm; Travelodge breakfast-in-a-box (surprisingly  OK); made food for the day, and on the road by 6.30. Arrived at the circuit and in to the marshal’s  car park without any delay, apart from a little early morning commuter traffic around the motorway junction. Significant queues already forming for routine entry to the circuit but sailed in via the specified route to Winterhill.
Very wet day, with limited action in the second F1 practice; the GP2 and GP3 practise, and Porsche session ran to schedule; HFO session in very wet conditions was pretty tame — but then, if you owned one of those machines, you wouldn’t want to take chances with it, would you?
Listening to Radio Silverstone and the Twitter feed, it became clear as the day progressed that there was chaos in the outside world with people trying and failing to get in. The day ended with the organizers telling people not to come to the Saturday Practise.
Longish journey home, following the recommended route through Buckingham. Tea from Burger King.

Day Two – Qualifying

5.30 alarm again; journey to the circuit quick and uneventful.
Weather started OK but spell of heavy rain after lunch caused an hour’s delay halfway through F1 Q2. Late finish, leaving circuit about 7.30
Salad from M&S for tea

Day Three – Race Day

Once again, 5.30 alarm, and managed to be on the road by 6.25; straightforward run as far as Silverstone village, then slow traffic to the car park; on post just before 7.30.
Some sprinkles of rain for the GP3 and GP2 races, but basically pretty dry. Low cloud base meant Red Arrows display somewhat limited, but stil very impressive. Sun came out about 12.45 and a completely dry GP was run mainly in bright sunlight — actually took my jacket of for the first time!
Excellent race, with a great drive by Alonso; but deservedly won by Webber, who passed him about 4 laps from the end. Disappoinment for the Brits: PDR out on lap one with a puncture; Button again steady but unremarkable, just finishing in the points; Hamilton pretty good, but not good enough. In the end, Red Bull, Ferrari, Ferrari, Red Bull was a fair result.
Very slow getaway from the circuit and deadly crawl to the A43 and on to the A5 roundabout: a tad over two hours to cover about five miles! Once on the A5, good run to M6 and thence home:  just over 100 miles in about two hours, with a brief stop at Corley.

In Summary —
A great experience again, despite the weather; nice to have a bit of variety with some pit lane involvement; enjoyed the racing, both GP and support events (well, perhaps not the Porsches); good bunch of fellow marshals in the team.

Back next year? – if possible, yes!