Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Goodwood Revival 2008

Vintage cars, vintage planes, vintage clothes . . . The Goodwood Revival has it all.

As I wrote last week, the Goodwood Revival recreates the golden age of motor racing from the 1950s and 60s. The event is held on the motor circuit at Goodwood House, just outside Chichester.

It's a wonderfully atmospheric event. Visitors are strongly encouraged to dress in period costume, and many of the spectators make tremendous efforts to dress the part. Only pre-1966 vehicles are admitted onto the grounds, which helps give the whole event a terrific time warp quality. Spectators who arrive in their own vintage cars can park close to the action, but modern vehicles must be left in remote car parks.

The main event is motor racing, with 16 vintage car races spread over the weekend. There are also lots of other attractions, including displays of vintage aircraft, a fairground with a carousel and helter skelter, and a huge market selling vintage clothes and car accessories.

One of the highlights is a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. This unit of the Royal Air Force includes Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and a Lancaster bomber.

Many of the spectators are turned out in period clothes. Here's a selection of pictures from around the grounds.

The principal race of the weekend is the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration. This is a one-hour long race for closed-cockpit GT cars from the early 1960s.

Ferrari 250GTO and Jaguar E-type lowdrag coupe

Aston Martin DB4GT

Racing can be a dangerous sport, especially with vintage cars. Despite many of the cars being highly valuable, the races can get very competitive. There was a heart stopping moment when Jochen Mass, the German Formula 1 veteran, flipped over his Lancia-Ferrari D50A when coming out of the chicane. The marshalls quickly pulled him out of the car to safety.

The Man of Mode belongs to the Goodwood Road Racing Club, which gives him access to the paddock. Here are a few shots of Ferraris in the paddock, just before their races.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Fashion secrets from the new Japanese PM

A curious story from Reuters today about Taro Aso, the newly-elected head of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (and presumptive new prime minister).

Aso, who hails from a wealthy family of industrialists, has a reputation for being well-dressed. His tailor has just revealed the secret of the immaculate creases in Aso's trousers: tiny lead weights sewn into the hems to help the cloth hang smoothly.

According to Aso's tailor, Seiichiro Moriwaki, "It's something that's often done with ladies' clothes, to put little weights in the hem, but it's highly unusual for gentlemen's outfits."

According to Reuters, the idea for the weights came up in a discussion between the two, who call one another Taro and Seiichi, but it never caught on with other customers. It's a trick also used by French design house, Chanel, who traditionally put a narrow chain in the hem of women's jackets.

(photo above from BBC News)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Goodwood Revival - coming soon

The Goodwood Revival is coming up next weekend. It's a unique mix of historic motor racing and vintage fashion, recreating the golden days of motorsport at Goodwood in the 1950s and 60s. Here are a few photos I took the last time I went (all photos are my own, except the fashion ones which are borrowed from the Goodwood website).

The races include 1950s Grand Prix, early Formula 1 and GT cars. There are plenty of unusual (and valuable) cars being thrashed around the track, including Shelby Cobras, Ferrari 250 GTOs and Aston Martin DB4GT Zagatos.

The entire weekend is done in period style, with many spectators dressed in vintage clothes. The racecourse is closed to modern vehicles, and many visitors arrive in classic cars (a couple of particularly choice examples shown at the bottom).

A sunny day in London

Readers in London may have noticed an unusual climatic phenomenon this weekend.

The sun was . . . shining.

After a damp and grey June, July and August, it felt like the first day of summer. Alas, I fear it will simultaneously be the last day of summer.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Land Rover at 60

The Land Rover burst into the world sixty years ago. The chief designer of the Rover car company designed it in 1948 while at his farm on the island of Anglesey, off the coast of Wales. He was inspired by the World War II Willys jeep, but created a sturdy workhorse that is uniquely British.

Since then, they've been used in the toughest conditions around the world. Mechanically simple, they were designed to be serviced in the field and to run on the poorest quality fuels.

The manufacturer has developed other models, including the upmarket Range Rover, the Discovery, and the Freelander. However, the classic Land Rover (now labeled the Defender) is the definitive model, and remains very close in appearance to the original 1948 design.

Here are some photos I've taken of Land Rovers on my recent travels and around London.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Modern Pantry

This Georgian building in Clerkenwell has lain empty for years. It's a handsome building, not pretty, but with a sturdy appearance in keeping with the industrial past of the neighbourhood.

It's just been renovated and has emerged from the scaffolding as The Modern Pantry, a stylish new cafe and restaurant. Anna Hansen, formerly of Providores on Marylebone High Street, is in the kitchen.

There's an informal cafe downstairs, a soon-to-open restaurant upstairs, and a cake shop at the back of the cafe. I haven't eaten there yet, but have only tried a few of the goodies from the cake shop.

The first reviews have been extremely promising. It's fusion cooking, but without any identifiable source or style. The menu includes a sugar-cured prawn omelette; onglet steak marinated in miso; and chorizo, date and feta fritters (which one reviewer described as falafel for meat eaters).