A very noisy but awesome weekend in Italy

After our few days in the beautiful Bellagio on our holiday last week, we packed our bags and headed south to Limbiate, a small town outside of Milan and close enough to Monza to get to the Autodromo Nazionale for the Italian Grand Prix.

I thought we might get away with doing a little less walking for the second half of our holiday but no – at least this time none of it was uphill though.  Our journey to the circuit every day involved a twenty minute drive to the station at Dessio, a few stops on the train to Monza and then a lovely forty-five minute walk through the beautiful old town and then through the Monza Park.  It meant that we didn’t have to battle with the thousands of other people crammed onto the buses to and from the circuit each day, and the park was pretty (plus lots of people walking their dogs so I got my daily fix of fluffy).

IMG_1137The Royal Villa of Monza park

On the Thursday of the race weekend we headed to the circuit and joined loads of other people in the pit lane where we got to watch some of the teams practising pit stops which was pretty cool, and then we walked around the pit straight and bumped into Jenson and Checo (McLaren) just before they jumped into a van to do the track guide for Sky and for the BBC. As the sun started to set, we wandered around to the old banking which used to be part of the track until 1969.  It’s so steep it’s insane – we climbed up it but to get down again we had to shuffle on our bottoms!

IMG_1134After free practise on the Friday, we had a Paddock tour organised thanks to a contact of Simon’s at the Caterham team and the lovely Cyril who let us hang around a little longer than we should have done!  We managed to have a chat and some photos with Simon Lazenby and Ted Kravitz from Sky F1, Eddie Jordan and several of the drivers, which was awesome.  Cyril also showed us around the Caterham garage so we saw the cars being taken apart for the night as well, and then a quick drink in the Caterham motorhome.  It was a brilliant experience and made the whole weekend perfect – hot sunshine, fast cars and a few celebs, fantastic!  The race itself wasn’t one of the most exciting of the season but just being there is exciting enough, and the track invasion as soon as the chequered flag was waved at the end of the race was also totally insane – thousands of fans (many Ferrari, of course) climbing over the fences and running down towards the podium to see the drivers and their trophies, and enormous confetti cannons going off, covering us with red, white and green confetti and streamers.  We got squashed but caught up in the euphoria – there really is nothing like it.  Just being there for the long weekend is brilliant and if I could, I’d be off to a race once a month at least.

We were totally knackered by the end of it all, and were up and out of our apartment at 6.30 on the Monday morning for our long drive back up to Paris where we stopped for 24 hours before heading home to Blighty – ciao Italia!

Paddock_presenters

Top left: Mark, me, Simon Lazenby and hubby Simon Top right: Simon being “interviewed” by Ted Kravitz  Bottom left: with Eddie Jordan  Bottom right: Simon and me in front of McLaren’s motorhome with their ’50 Years’ livery

Paddock_drivers_two

Bottom left: with Roman Grosjean, Lotus  Right: with Jacques Villeneuve

Paddock_drivers

Left: Hubby with Pastor Maldonado (Wiliams)  Top right:  with Max Chilton, Marussia  Bottom right:  with the legendary Nikki Lauda

IMG_1161Two Eddie Jordans…

 

Day twenty-five of the 30 day photography challenge – strangers

It’s far too easy not to really notice other people as we go about our business every day – I know I’m usually rushing about from one place to the next and always thinking about something as I go (although, oddly, I often seem to notice people’s shoes, no matter how quickly I’m walking…).

When we were at Silverstone in June, we had a brilliant time because there was so much going on but also because everyone there was also having a great time and there was a really friendly atmosphere.  It felt like we really did notice other people more, and there was a lot of friendly banter between us (even the people in the next tent who stumbled home in the early hours one morning and woke us up by shouting at the chap in the tent on the other side to stop snoring).

On the Friday night, we joined our fellow race-goers and campers in the Big Top for a bit of live music and in front of us I spotted a young dad with his little boy, enjoying a bit of guy-time.  I couldn’t help but take this pic because I thought it was adorable.  What do you think?

IMG_0610

Day twenty-three of the 30 day photography challenge – patterns

I like the patterns found in nature and this one in particular appealed to me – it’s blue skies and sunshine, clouds, and aeroplane trails from the Red Arrows!  If you look carefully at the bottom right hand corner you’ll see a couple of flags from the grandstands – one of them a chequered flag and the other a Union flag (we were sitting amongst lots of other McLaren/Jenson Button/Lewis Hamilton fans that day).  If you look even closer, you’ll see that the bright white swirl in the middle of the picture is in actual fact five Red Arrows – but I just love the pattern of the clouds in this picture.  And it reminds me of English summers…

IMG_0618

Silverstone baby!

This time a week ago we were packing all our camping gubbins and several picnics in the car and high tailing it off up to Northamptonshire for a weekend of fast cars and festival, and what a flipping brilliant weekend it was! The weekend was a birthday present for my brother’s 40th – he’s a Motorsport fan and has been to lots of car events including Le Mans, but never an F1 race. It’s the first time I’ve been to Silverstone and we’d booked our tickets back in February. Hubby and I were lucky enough to go to the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai a couple of years ago when we were travelling and that was my first experience of a GP (and the one that hooked me into Formula 1). Great though it was, there was actually nothing going on at the circuit apart from the race and the Chinese weren’t hugely welcoming.

The campsite at Silverstone

The campsite at Silverstone

Silverstone was a completely different story: our campsite had a pub and a steak house (!) as well as a couple of big stages for live bands and comedians, and different food stalls. The atmosphere was brilliant – everyone was busy having a marvellous time and the circuit was the same, with more food stands, restaurants and another huge stage with entertainment and jolly times to be had almost constantly (Saturday night on the big stage was the legend that is Billy Ocean. I know. It was brilliant!)

I’ve never been to an actual festival (was probably not actually cool enough) but this was pretty much what I imagined a festival would be like, complete with putting up a tent in the rain (good ol’ Blighty) and getting covered in mud (hurrah for the wellies!) and getting sunburnt when the weather took a turn for the best (not me this time but there were an awful lot of very pink people).

Full English fry-up to set us up for the day

Full English fry-up to set us up for the day

Before the race on Sunday, we were treated to the Red Arrows and I was once again reminded why I love being British – there are some things we do really rather well and these guys are incredible.

The race itself was brilliant and even though you see less of it when you’re there than you do watching it from your sofa, it was so much more exciting. Afterwards, they opened up the track and we all piled onto it to get up close to the winners’ podium (something else we weren’t allowed to do in Shanghai), and then we spent the rest of the evening kicking back in the sunshine in front of the stage with a beer to a few more bands and the drivers coming out to say hello. We had a fab time (so did my brother) and we’re already planning to go back again next year – better start saving the pennies!