Sunday, 17 September 2017

Full-frame, mirrorless and interchangeable lens.

As all photographers know, the world is divided into Nikon and Canon users, so if you're a Canon user - well, let's just leave it there. I've used Canon, Nikon and Leica at work, but when shelling out my own money on kit, it's Nikon all the way for me (don't even bother to argue). Since going digital in 2007, my principal cameras have been Nikon digital single-lens reflexes (DSLRs), although I also have a Nikon Coolpix P900 bridge camera (mainly for its amazing zoom lens) and a Nikon Coolpix A, my travelling-light camera.

Now, the Coolpix A (discontinued in 2015) was a great little camera - solid and sturdy yet light, with an excellent wide-angle lens and amazingly good battery life. But it lacks two things. The fixed lens limits it to landscapes and interiors (too wide for people or wildlife). And the full-frame sensor that would make it equivalent to a 35mm film camera in terms of resolution and coverage.

Nikon has just released its latest full-frame DSLR, the D850. This amazing beast has a 45 megapixel sensor (compared to the 24MP sensor on my D3300 DSLR or the 16MP on my Coolpix A), incredibly fast and accurate autofocus and incredible low-light abilities. BUT with kit zoom lens, it weighs 1,700g (compared to 300g for the Coolpix A and 600g for the D3300 with kit zoom). One point seven kilos is way too much to be lugging around one's neck all day. So pass.

The idea of the mirrorless camera is to remove single-lens reflex's mirror box, reducing the distance between focal plane and the flange where the body meets the lens. The digital mirrorless camera is in effect the old rangefinder camera (of which the Leica M-series was the champion). But Nikon made rangefinders too, ditching them in favour of the SLR shortly after launching the Nikon F.

The Nikon Rumors website is abuzz with stories that having got the D850 launch out of the way, the next big product release will be a mirrorless camera. With a full-frame (FX) sensor rather than the two-thirds size DX-format sensor that my Coolpix A and D3300 both have. Launching an FX- and a DX- model would mean Nikon would have to produce two whole new lines of lens. If it's a toss-up between the two, I'd go for full-frame FX.

To ensure compatibility with Nikon's F-mount 35mm/full-frame lenses, any new mirrorless camera would need to work with an adaptor. But the real beauty of full-frame mirrorless is the ability to launch a whole new range of lenses that are smaller and lighter than those needed for the SLR design. Looking at the leading full-frame mirrorless digital cameras on the market, the Leica M10 and the Sony A9 can give the image quality associated with a DSLR like the D850 in a package two-thirds the weight (just over a kilo for body plus lens).

A DX-format mirrorless digital camera could weigh in at under half a kilo with lens. But it's that full-frame that I hanker after; the depth and richness of detail and colour.

This is what I'd love Nikon to come up with; harking back to the S-series rangefinders of the 1950s, but with a 45MP full-frame sensor with in-body vibration reduction, 25,600 ISO low-light ability (up two stops on the Coolpix A) and a handful of fast standard and wide-angle lenses to begin with. Retro-design but stripped of all unnecessary details.

Below: the lens mount would be based on the Contax bayonet, making it compatible with old Nikon rangefinder lenses. An adaptor for Nikon F-mount lenses would be available too.
Here's a to-scale comparison of the different sensors, the full-frame (FX), the APS-C or DX format, the CX format (Nikon 1) and the 1:2.3 format found in my CoolPix P900.

Commercially, Nikon has to get this one right if it is to stay in the game. The Sony A9 has impressed the reviewers with its abilities - but at the end of the day it's neither a Nikon nor a Canon. The Leica M10 is just too expensive to be of interest to any but the wealthiest and most dedicated amateurs. Introduce a camera that fails to catch on (like the mirrorless Nikon 1, with its CX-format sensor and interchangeable lenses), and financial peril draws near. Get it right, and Nikon will make up lost ground on market leader, Canon, which also lacks a full-frame mirrorless camera in its line-up.

In the meanwhile, I really appreciate the capabilities of the Coolpix A. [I think Nikon did it a disservice by putting it into the Coolpix range - it's as good as any DX-format camera Nikon makes, plus it's made of metal, a really high-quality piece of kit. Here's mine, below. Note the corners where the paint's worn off, showing bare metal beneath. A bit more about the Coolpix A here.

And it performs well too! Below: a pic of my prewar Contax II rangefinder camera taken using available light with the Coolpix A. You can see the genesis of the Nikon rangefinders here.

Earlier posts about my dream Nikon rangefinder (from March 2013 here, and from April 2015 here).

This time four years ago:
The rich, the poor, the entrepreneur... and the banker

This time six years ago:
At the hipsters' ball

This time seven years ago:
Cycling through the spirit of place

This time eight years ago:
Invaders or liberators?

This time nine years ago:
Adlestrop, en route to Kraków

This time ten years ago:
Return to Zamienie

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The demographic challenge facing Poland's employers

Wrocław, Katowice, Rzeszów, Tarnobrzeg - wherever I go around Poland to meet with local employers, the number one subject for discussion is the difficulty in recruiting and retaining employees. Let me explain this with one graph (below)

The largest age cohort of Poles today is 34 years old; people born in 1983 (in the dark days of Martial Law). There is nearly 700,000 of them. Then there is a sharp and consistent downturn, with fewer births in each successive year for the next 20 years, with a demographic low of 14 year-olds, born in 2003. This low is followed by a small 'echo boom', weakly mirroring the demographic upturn experienced by Poland between 1967 and 1983. The 'echo boom' high-point is made up of eight year-olds born in 2009, after which a decline, which the 500+ universal child benefit scheme seems to have halted at least. Question now (and a nation will anxiously await the statistical office's population figures for 2017) is whether 500+ will actually do what it is intended to do, namely to cause a long-term increase in fertility rates.

Those 34 year-olds, born in the darkest days of Poland's recent history, grew up as children at the tail-end of communism, remembering (just) when confectionery was rationed. They left school in the mid-1990s, when the free market was asserting itself. They went to university to study management and marketing - skills sorely needed at that time. And when they graduated, unemployment was beginning to fall from the record 20.4% it reached just before Poland's EU accession. This age cohort moved Poland's economy along, driving growth right through the global crisis. Today's 34 year-olds are now economically stable; many are home-owners and mortgage-payers with small children - and a large stake in Poland's future prosperity.

But let's look at the other side of the coin. If employers are worried that things are bad now, with unemployment at a record low of 7.1% (GUS's claimant count)/4.8% (Eurostat's economically inactive count), recruitment and retention will get even harder over the next seven or so years. Between now and 2024, the number of school- and university graduates entering the labour market will continue to fall by around 17,500 a year. After that - a short respite of six years of rising labour supply before the next dip.

Now - is this really a problem, given that several reputable think-tanks are forecasting that some 30%-45% of all jobs on the labour market will disappear between now and 2030 because of robotics and artificial intelligence. New technologies such as machine learning, internet of things and distributed ledger (blockchain) will automate whole swathes of routine white-collar work involving accountancy, supply-chain and maintaining all manner of registers. Machine learning will automate many of the more mundane tasks carried out by lawyers.

So is it a bad thing that fewer young people are entering the labour market?

It is very much about matching skills of jobs.

With nearly half of school-leavers in Poland (and indeed in the UK) going on to some form of tertiary education, the question is whether 50% of the jobs remaining in the labour market will be graduate-level jobs.

Looking at today's school leavers who are going on to take a degree course, the question is whether they have an idea for what they want to do at the end of it - or not. Those who want to end up as engineers, doctors, or IT guys will go on to study relevant courses. But what of those who don't really know what career path is right for them at the age of 18 or 19? Is there any sense on taking a five-years master's course in some -ology or -istyka? Are they doomed to a service-sector job at a call centre at the end of it?

Today we stand at the cusp of a major technological revolution as profound as the advent of IT in the early 1980s, the introduction of the assembly line and electricity at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries, and indeed the very beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century.

Young people - and their parents who guide them - who do not feel which way technology and the economy is evolving - may end up in dead-end jobs.

The worst-case scenario is a labour market crying out for people with skills, while huge swathes of young people remain out of work because they have the wrong skills. It is up to the government, looking soberly at demographic projections and assessing the direction of technological advance, to come up with the right policy response that will create a education system capable of turning out the work force tomorrow's labour market will need.

In the meanwhile, Polish employers are filling gaps as they can - mainly with workers from Ukraine (of whom there are over 1.2 million working legally in Poland). This is a short-term measure - literally - as their work visas are for three to six months. Numbers of Poles returning from the UK are still low, though employers and recruitment agencies are reporting a rising trend in this direction. While salaries in Wrocław, Krakow, Poznań or Gdańsk might be three or four times lower than in London, house prices are seven to ten times lower and public transport is up to 13 times cheaper.

This time four years ago:
The rich, the poor, the entrepreneur

This time five years ago:
Food: where's the best place to shop in Poland? 

This time six years ago:

This time seven years ago:
Commuting made easy

This time eight years ago:
Work starts on the S79/S2 'Elka'

This time nine years ago:
Warsaw's accident-filled streets

This time ten years ago:
ul. Poloneza's pot holes rip off my car's exhaust (This bit of Poloneza has since been renamed ul. Kujawiaka)

Monday, 11 September 2017

All hopped up and ready to go

As I've expressed here in the past, I just love the hoppy taste of India Pale Ales, the craft beer revolution has delighted me. In London, my father stocks up with Lidl's own-brand IPA, Hatherwood's No. 2 Green Gecko, a consistently decent ale with good bitterness. Here in Warsaw, the profusion of craft-beer pubs (last week the London Boys had a get-together at Drugie Dno on Nowogrodzka) means my predilection for hoppy ales can be satisfied on a night out. I stuck to a beer called Modern Drinking from the Pinta brewery, and very good it was too.

Over Lent I was wondering when someone would come up with an alcohol-free IPA. And sure enough, I found this in Auchan...

Na-chmiel-ona. Hoptimum, by brewer Nepomucen, from Jutrosin (which lies between Rawicz and Krotoszyn). It has 0% alcohol, zero sugar, carbohydrates or gluten. It is simply hops and water. It is, however, not cheap, costing over 6zł, for a refreshing, thirst-quenching and very grown-up beverage.

Now this gave me an idea. Surely it is not beyond my wits to construct something similar? As it happens, round the corner there's a działka with some hops growing over the chain-link fence adjoining the pavement. Will these be harvested in coming days? The hop cones are big and ripe. I help myself to a few that are overhanging the footpath, so that I can conduct an experiment...

Around 20 hop cones. Half a litre of water. Nothing else. Boil vigorously for 30 minutes in a pan with lid. After half an hour, remove from heat, strain and allow to cool. The half-litre has reduced down to around 300ml of hoppy extract, which is mightily strong. This can be diluted with around four parts fridge-cold sparkling mineral water to one part hop extract. The result is something that has that the bitterness of IPA without any of the alcohol. And a taste that lingers around the mouth and tongue, refreshing, clean and sharp.

Medicinal properties of hops? Read this. So there we are - how to get the hoppy taste without the alcohol. Now - where to buy larger quantities of hops!

This time two years ago:
September song

This time four year ago:
A traveller's tale (reading this shows how fast Poland has progressed in transport infrastructure)

This time five years ago:
One for the record - hot September day (30C)

This time six years ago:

This time seven years ago:
The half-closed airport

This time eight years ago:
Last of the summer bike rides to work?

This time nine years ago:
My own Polish Adlestrop

This time ten years ago:
Laurie Anderson's chillingly prescient 'O Superman'

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Preference and Familiarity

My mother never, ever wore trousers. And my father has never worn jeans. Perhaps a generation thing. He never wears a hat. But then neither does my son Eddie wear jeans or hats. Now that's a pure preference thing. A 21 year-old who doesn't have any jeans (and has never had any jeans) in his wardrobe is rare. We all have our own set ways.

My aesthetic tastes are shaped by the past, in particular by past visions of the future from the recent past. The postwar years, the early 1950s, were years of optimism, space-age dreams of rockets and Saturn's rings. Modernism in architecture, the automotive flights of fancy as created by Detroit - that's where I'm at. To a soundtrack by Count Basie And His Orchestra.

The notion of spiritual continuity - not reincarnation, for that suggests that from life to life you continue being you - but more the continuity of familiarity and preference across lifetimes. How does this happen? Could this phenomenon be connected with the theory that matter consists of mass, charge and consciousness?

For me, there are times and places that resound with an immediate familiarity, that 'click' or 'PAFF!' moment, this has happened to me since early childhood. I have written about this over the years on this blog; my goal being to bring greater understanding and definition to a strange phenomenon that defines me.

One immediately familiar object that resonated with me was getting a toy American diesel locomotive from Święty Mikołaj (aged four or five), one of these, though moulded in orange plastic. I pulled it out of the box and - instant recognition. It was one of these (below)

These are images which still connect with me far more than train pictures from Britain, Europe or anywhere else on earth. Immediate familiarity.

Others pieces of machinery that have the same effect have included (in the air) the Douglas DC-3 Dakota, Piper Cub, North American T-6 Texan, Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, while on the road all manner of Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Chryslers, Fords.. and Hudsons, Studebakers and Nashes, Harley-Davidsons and Indians.

But more than anything, we are defined by our tastes in music. It's natural to have a lifelong affinity for music you enjoyed during your childhood, teens and young adult years. But what determines whether we grow up preferring, say, soul over heavy metal, jazz over folk, or Ralph Vaughan-Williams over Gustav Holst. Research is definitely needed into the genetic sources of musical preference. Do certain harmonic structures, musical intervals and tempos tend to create emotional responses in people with a certain genetic variation?

Watch Louis Jordan, another of my "past life" favourites, getting all existentialist. I fundamentally agree with the tenets of his argument here.

Is there something deeper at work here? A spiritual, supernatural, (for want of a better term), rather than biological reason behind our aesthetic preferences, be it in the visual arts, the built environment or music?

This time last year:
A long day in wonderful Wrocław

This time three years ago:
Putin will not heal Russia's tortured soul

This time four years ago:
Opole, little-known town

This time five years ago:
Raise a glass to Powiśle  (Mrs G-W gets a thumbs down)

This time seven years ago:
Mud, rain and local elections (Mrs G-W gets another thumbs down)

This time nine years ago:
There must be a better way (commuting woes, again)

Monday, 4 September 2017


I won't find The Answer in my lifetime. You won't find The Answer in your lifetime. No one alive today will find The Answer in their lifetime. [There are lots of people peddling Answers but they're all wrong.] We can, however, all get a small step closer to total knowledge, total wisdom. We can reject false answers, wrong perspectives, incorrect approaches. The search is from our perspective, never-ending. We can ponder, discuss - reach ever-higher levels of synthesis than has hitherto been reached before, but it is like building a staircase to the sky out of housebricks - if you build too high without a broad-enough base, the while edifice will come eventually crashing down.

Since childhood, I have been convinced that I am somehow operating on a higher level of consciousness than most people around me. My daughter says this way of thinking is judgemental, elitist and snobbish, that I'm putting people down. But my feelings are based not on judging others for their innate intelligence or their level of education. Rather it's the fact that some people do have more acute powers of observation - perceptiveness (spostrzegawczość) than others. And then some people more naturally curious about the world around them than others.

People who notice interesting details of stuff around them and ask themselves questions about life and everything or those who - consciously or subconsciously - are on a lifelong quest to broaden and deepen their understanding of their own existence.

As I grow older, I feel that life is coming into ever-sharper focus. New insights into issues, gained over decades, improve understanding. But simply growing older is not enough; if we do not question what we think we've established as wisdom, we end up entrenching ourselves with fixed ideas. The phrase "I've always said that..." is a warning sign that you're dealing with a person who does not appreciate that one's own views should evolve and mature over time, become more nuanced, accommodating newly-discovered complexities that arise as we honestly ponder the things around us. Beware too of persons (populist politicians, typically), who want to oversimplify, to reduce complex issues into solutions which seem appealing at first sight - but are wrong.

At school, none but the best teachers teach us to be curious. And indeed, can curiosity be taught? Should the curious mind break out from the pack, to seek ahead, alone? Thinking back over my 14 years of primary and secondary education, I cannot honestly recall a single teacher that did encourage us pupils to grow in curiosity. Some were better, others worse - but essentially they were handing down predigested knowledge to be memorised, rather than to be assembled into wisdom.

As to perceptiveness, the concept of spostrzegawczość was explained to me in Polish Scouts in 1970s London. We'd get points for noticing that which is around us. An important part of field-craft, bearing in mind the paramilitary nature of Polish scouting. Powers of observation can make all the difference in a battlefield between survival and being a sniper's victim. But in civilian life, finely-honed powers of observation have different guises. Some of us are attuned to noticing different things - and will attach great import to a stained collar, cracked plaster-work, a funny smell or a chipped cup. Others will notice, but will not get bothered by superficial imperfections. Others will simply not notice.

Those of us with above average levels of curiosity and perceptiveness will grow in consciousness, share and discuss and learn and teach and thus develop as human beings, for consciousness is all, it is the essence of being alive, it is that spark of Godliness, or Universal wholeness within us.

This time last year:
Interstices: between Kłobucka and the tracks

This time three years ago:
In which I ride my Brompton to work

This time six years ago:
Bike ride to Powsin as summer fades gloriously

This time seven years ago: 
Compositions in yellow, blue and white 

This time eight years ago: 
When the Z-9 used to run, temporarily, to Jeziorki 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

New estates and phantom bus stops

A long walk to see how things are going between the railway line and Zgorzała. The housing estate here is growing rapidly

Click to enlarge these Google Earth images using the Time Slider feature to see how these fields have changed between June 2008 and September 2016. New housing outlined in yellow; since last September, more is appearing.

I'm finding this a rather inchoate community; on the one hand it's officially Zgorzała, on the other, there's no asphalt road connecting it to Zgorzała... the only asphalt in and out links this estate to Nowa Iwiczna. Neither ul. Przepiorki (connecting these houses to Zgorzała proper) nor ul. Gogolińska (connecting these houses to Jeziorki) are in any way passable to cars after a few days of rain.

And still more houses are being built, presumably there's planning permission to fill these fields with houses. But what about shops, schools, restaurants, bars - everything that makes a town a town? There's one shop, a Lewiatan, not bad (stock reflecting a sophisticated and well-to-do clientele)

Everyone's expected to pass in and out by car along ul. Kielecka. Nowa Iwiczna station (Zone 2) is a one-kilometre walk away, with no pedestrian footpath short-cut.

Another phantom bus shelter! Here in Zgorzała estate, across the way from the Lewiatan shop. No signage, no clue as to what buses will run to/from here and when.

Phantom bus shelters are all the rage south of Warsaw's border: this one is by the new estate at Zamienie. Again, not an inkling as to when it becomes operational. Maybe it awaits the asphalting of Raszyńska/Złota, the road that links Podolszyn Nowy and Zgorzała by way of Zamienie.

And another phantom bus shelter - this one in Dawidy. Like the one above, it was completed in May, you won't find anything official about it on the internet, only hearsay (alleged lack of planning permission). What bus routes will be using this new infrastructure?

Apropos of Zamienie - I noticed today that it has a new fire station! Here's the old one...

...and here's the new one. A worthy investment, giving that hundreds of houses have sprung up around these parts in the last few years.

Having said that, it won't be long before this fire station ends up on the wrong side of the S7, but that will be a while (and the expressway junction at Zamienie is not far anyway).

And finally - I wrote last week about the new railway timetable (which comes into force today) and how this should mean the gated level crossing on ul. Baletowa by W-wa Dawidy will become operational. Not a bit of it. Today, as last week and for many months, the level crossing keeper's hut stands idle, no barriers.

This time seven years ago:
Battle of Britain: Poland's contribution

This time eight years ago:
Sewer under ul. Karczunkowska

Saturday, 2 September 2017

All things visible and invisible

Our daily lives, our surroundings - furniture, pavements, shops, our day-to-day concerns consume so much of our attention that often it's hard to put human existence into a Universal context - our place on a planet in a solar system that's one of billions in a galaxy that's one of billions.

And yet when we do so, it can strangely comforting; the thought that there's so much out there, the scale and mystery of it all - and the fact that here we are to behold it.

Consider the massive input of resources that governments make into researching the Universe; from the Large Hadron Collider to the huge radio telescopes dotted around the world. "Money," say some, "that could be better spent addressing humanity's more pressing needs."

But as a species we could not countenance a situation in which we are not doing everything possible to gain a fuller understand of our Universe - from the inner workings of the atom to the farthest galaxies.

Science is about hard fact. Unlike politics or economics, which have so much direct effect on our lives, the theoretical positings of scientists searching for a provable consensus to the conundrums of cosmology seem immensely vague and distant. It's so much easier to have heated arguments about migration, Brexit or in-vitro fertilisation than it is to discuss why there should be less gravity about in the universe given the amount of mass in it. What's causing that extra gravity? Is it dark energy or dark matter? Quintessence or dark fluid?

For all of Mankind's expenditure on science, we really know little about the Universe in which we live; however, we do know much more than our forefathers. We know that the Universe is expanding - (Red Shift); we can work out how fast it's expanding, and what it's expanding from (the Big Bang).

But we don't know whether that expansion will result in a steady state, or whether matter will start to slow down, then start to close in upon itself, drawing back to the original singularity. Does the Universe, then, expand and contract in endless cycles?

And is this Universe, the one that we can see, the only universe there is? Are there several? Or are there an infinite number of universes, including one that's identical  in every respect to this one, except there you had gooseberry yogurt for breakfast last Thursday?

So - we have (so the scientists, armed with results from telescopes provided by us taxpayers, tell us) all this dark matter, dark energy, dark fluid, quintessence - which no one can yet pin down. There are many equations arguing the existence of these theoretical types of matter and energy, but there's no empirical proof - no one yet has ever seen dark matter.

In which case, here's my theory (sorry - no equations, I'm afraid). As valid as everyone else's, until proved wrong...

Yesterday morning I was still in bed, drifting in and out of consciousness in that part-asleep, part-awake state that one achieves when there's no rush to get up. Downstairs, son Eddie was frying bacon. The smell wafted up into my room and entered my dream.

It then suddenly struck me.

While we're asleep, our resting consciousness picks up dark energy. You may think you are lying still in a bed standing on a floor of a house standing on a patch of land. But that house, that bed is actually on a planet that's spinning (at Warsaw's latitude) at 642 mph (1,033 km/h) while hurtling around the sun at a speed of 66,619 mph (107,230 km/h), and rushing through our galaxy at 515,000 mph (828,000 km/h). And as you travel in your bed at these improbable speeds, sweeping through oceans of invisible dark energy, your consciousness picks it up - much like your nostrils pick up smells - and it relays it to you in the form of dreams.

Once again; your consciousness ploughs through fields of that dark energy while you're awake, and while you're asleep.

The dreams are local to us, just like the smell from your kitchen is unique to your kitchen and different to your neighbour's kitchen. So it's unlikely you'll get a dream featuring stuff that's going on in a faraway galaxy, but far more likely that you'll pick up threads of something that's happened nearby in the not too distant past.

So there we are - consciousness as a part of the universe, along with matter and energy.

Until science proves otherwise - that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!


The heart of this article, by Prof Adam Frank, is this: "Consciousness might, for example, be an example of the emergence of a new entity in the Universe not contained in the laws of particles. There is also the more radical possibility that some rudimentary form of consciousness must be added to the list of things, such as mass or electric charge, that the world is built of. "

This time two years ago:
Work starts on Warsaw-Radom rail modernisation

This time three years ago:
Won't be long 'til summertime is through

This time five years ago:
It was a good year for the apples

This time seven years ago:
Early-September moan about the commuting

Thursday, 31 August 2017

End of August, end of summer?

The end of August; with it the end of meteorological summer. Astronomical summer ends with the Autumn Equinox, which this year occurs on 22 September. Seasons come earlier to London than to Warsaw; you can feel spring in the air by February there, whereas in Warsaw you have to wait to April. And so summer lingers longer here, but even so, this year, the end of August was beautiful, with four clear days of sunshine before the clouds rolled on marking a change.

So then, a quick overview from Town and Around of the last three weeks, since my return from London. I being by taking a look at our ponds. Below: a coot. The coots are thriving this year.

Below: the swan family is down to five cygnets (from six chicks born)

Below: so good to see the great crested grebes doing well.

Below: the harvest is in, the straw cut and baled. Looking across from ul. Karczunkowska towards Mysiadło.

Below: I confess to having had a bit of fun tweaking this photo (below) of an empty coal train returning from Siekierki, to give the impression of a baking savannah

Below: part of the flypast on 15 August, a formation of MiG-29s over Warsaw, snapped from the Ballast Mountain (as was indeed the above photo).

Into town. Below - view from my office window as a storm front crosses over from north to south bringing a massive downpour. Ten minutes later, rain was lashing central Warsaw. Half an hour later, the sky had cleared. This was 23 August.

Below: one evening last week I walked from my office all the way down to Metro Racławicka (4.6km), passing the entrance to ul. Śniadeckich from Pl. Konstytucji on the way.

I wrote about the Ilyushin Il-14 that has been turned into a restaurant on the corner of ul. Marszałkowska and Świętokrzyska back in mid-July. The city authorities said it would be removed as it was installed without any planning permission. Well guess what, it's still here,

Palace of Culture's still here too!

I managed to snap the floral clock on the southern side of the palace. The photo was taken with my arms raised as high as possible, then slightly stretched on Photoshop - which suggests that either the angle at which it was set is too low for passers-by, or that it exists so to tell the time for the guests at the Marriott. Photo on Google Maps satellite view shows the floral mermaid by the clock, which was not planted this year.

This time last year:
Pavement for Karczunkowska... a bit at least

This time two years ago:
Gold Train update (the hope! the expectations!)

This time three years ago:
Changes to Poland's road traffic laws

This time four years ago:
Poland post the Rubbish Revolution

This time five years ago:
Poland's most beautiful street

This time six years ago:
Getting to grips with phrasal verbs

This time eight years ago:
What Putin wrote about Molotov-Ribbentrop

This time nine years ago:
Summer Sunday in the city

This time ten years ago:
Last bike-ride to work of the summer