Share this page on

gold Status gold (Level 9/10)



Trusted by 583 members
See member statistics

If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ There are times that I look at my Ciao back catalogue and wonder how I pack it all in! ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004


Wroclaw (Poland) 20/08/2016


Wroclaw (Poland) FIRST AN APOLOGY…… ……to those who do not like review links in reviews. Rather than repeat a lot of information already published here on Ciao, thus making this review very unwieldy, I have included several links to other reviews. This will, I hope, be of aid to those actually planning a visit to Wroclaw. WHERE IN THE WORLD? At the end of June, we spent four wonderful days visiting the fascinating city of Wroclaw (pronounced vrots-wahf) in western Poland. With a population of 636,000 inhabitants, Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth largest city. For many in the UK, this particular city is completely unknown, some may have heard of it by its German name – Breslau – or even its Czech name - Wratislavia - but few that I have spoken to have heard of it, let alone know where it is. As it transpires, that is a pity. Wroclaw is less of an unknown to other Europeans however and we found that English was very widely spoken here as a second language. Wroclaw is located on one of the ancient trading routes from the west, way into the depths of eastern Russia. Now Europe’s longest intercontinental highway, E40 connects Wroclaw with Calais in the west and Ridder in Kazakhstan in the east, a total of 4971 miles (8000km), Wroclaw is a mere 700 miles from Calais on this route, for us, a comfortable days driving on some of the best, fastest, roads in Europe. Geographically Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia, is located about 220 miles south of the Baltic coast and 25 miles north of the Sudeten ...

Zakopane 16/08/2016


Zakopane AN ADVANCE APOLOGY Rather than allowing this review to turn into a work of War and Peace proportions, I have included links to previously published RICHADA reviews of attractions or places linked to Zakopane. At the risk of annoying some readers, I hope that these links prove of interest and assistance to those seriously researching this particular tourist destination. WHERE IN THE WORLD? We are back in Poland for this one, in the Tatra Mountains, about 110km (70 miles) due south of Krakow. The Slovakian border runs along the top of the mountains (the highest in Poland) and thanks to this geographical phenomenon, Zakopane sits in a small valley surrounded on three sides by this border, forming the very southern tip of Poland. Having been visiting Zakopane most years since 2004, it is a place that we know very well and one that I have long intended to review, but, in a sense, have been at a slight loss as to know how to. Of all the places which we visit regularly during our annual trips to Poland, along with Sandomierz, Zakopane is the least changed over the last decade and is mercifully free of the large scale modern developments that have destroyed the character of so many Polish towns and cities. Zakopane is actually the town, the mountain resort, yet we and the majority of people refer to this small region in the Tatras as Zakopane, whereas in reality this mountain area is dotted with small villages, which serve as satellites to the main town. We have never ...

Restaurant Oranzeria, Rzeszow 16/08/2016


Restaurant Oranzeria, Rzeszow WHERE IN THE WORLD? It has taken me some fifteen years to be able to pronounce the word “Rzeszów” in a manner that a native Pole does not laugh at. To help you out, this provincial city in south eastern Poland is pronounced Jzezshoof. Needless to say here, it is a city with which I have been acquainted long before I could pronounce it! Whilst having its history rooted about 700 years in the past, unless visiting the very heart of town – its attractive, if unexceptional, Rynek (Market Square) - Rzeszów will strike the visitor as an extraordinarily modern city – indeed much of it is now unrecognisable since my first visit there in 2002 and that very much applies to the then, as now, landmark Hotel Rzeszów in which the subject of this review is located. In terms of location, Rzeszów is on trans-European route E40, the closest city of any size to the Ukranian border, in south eastern Poland. There is an international airport here (flights from Luton or Stansted pretty much daily) or you could undertake an 1100 mile, seventeen hour motorway drive from Calais – a long way to go for, even a decent, meal I have to confess….. WHY DID WE CHOOSE RESTAURACJA ORANZERIA IN RZESZOW? In this case it really rather chose us. Having some business to do in Rzeszów, fairly early in the morning, we decided to go and have a look at the very new Galeria which opened recently on the site of the old Hotel Rzeszów. This is an unusual development in that externally at least, the hotel and shopping ... 30/07/2016

WEBUYANYCAR.COM - SOLD! WOULD YOU BUY A USED CAR FROM RICHADA? ( guarantee to) In spite of, amongst other things, fronting the sales side of the business for over a quarter of a century, I am a rubbish salesman. I am hopeless at advertising things and asking for money, in many cases preferring to give items away rather than sell them. Good then that we manufacture such an extraordinarily niche product that unless you actually require it, I cannot sell it to you. Cars however are an altogether different matter. These days we have a very small fleet of vehicles, until this time yesterday afternoon, five cars and an increasingly “historic” Ford Escort Van. One of my elderly relatives, who has had company cars for the last 50 years, has now had to give up driving a manual gearbox car, his own car being automatic, a month ago he handed in the keys to his nine year old company car – a Saab 9-3 TiD Convertible, which had covered 98,000 miles. Being the company fleet manager, the “disposal” of this car landed, along with its keys, on my desk. At that age and mileage – that’s the car not the 82 year old driver of it (I would caution against the purchase of an Audi now on the basis that this gentleman was running a Lancia when they pulled out of the UK and also a Rover when that company went pop) – there is little value left in any car, let alone a Convertible produced by a now extinct car manufacturer. To put it politely, this car was in somewhat less than perfect condition; however ...

Jack Russell Terrier 23/07/2016


Jack Russell Terrier ……IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE Hello everyone, remember me? Of course you do! I’m unforgettable, once met never forgotten. It has taken Richard far too long to repair this keyboard (since my last effort in fact) so that I can write to you again here, but, having spent many months looking for a suitable subject for me to write about, he told me about this one – my favourite subject - ME! Well, not really, it is about Jack Russell dogs as a breed, but if you REALLY want to know about them, then what better than to ask one? Before I get to tell you some of my inner thoughts and characteristics (or he confiscates the laptop) I had better tell you that I recently had a near to death experience following a trip to the vet in order to have my beautiful teeth scaled, I didn’t want this done and had to be put to sleep, and, several days later I suffered some awful reaction to the anaesthetic, Richard was very empathetic, as he had had a similar experience following an operation on his leg and ankle. Anyway, apart from scaring the life out of my servants - just what would they do without me telling them what to do? - it reminded me just how good life is and how remarkably popular I am. Having made a miraculous and speedy recovery, I discovered that, with clean teeth and fresh breath – for the first time in a while, I could really taste their, sorry my, food again. I can also keep a much stronger grip on my favourite tennis ball too. Richard even paid me the ultimate compliment by ...

Brexit: what's next? 17/07/2016

Theresa May? I hope she CAN!

Brexit: what's next? THE REVIEW I SAID I WASN’T GOING TO WRITE...... .....But thought this such an excellent topic for Ciao that I would voice my opinion on the subject and thus, hopefully, support further such thought provoking suggestions for Ciao Current Debates “BREXIT: WHAT'S NEXT”? After the last three weeks of political and social turmoil, ‘what indeed?’ was my natural response to Ciao’s highly topical question here. As events over the last week have unfolded, I am now of the mind that ‘maybe this won’t all be SO bad after all’. The much swifter than planned departure of David (call me Dave) Cameron and his flailing, divided government can only be a good thing. Whatever you feel about Brexit itself, the sooner the country gets on now with “what’s next”, the better for all of us. Personally speaking, I was never all that keen on Dave anyway. Cheating somewhat in leaving the writing of this piece until AFTER Ms May’s (fortunately not another Margaret, or we would never have heard the back of Rod Stewart) appointment yesterday, clearly the ball of the “what’s next” issue has already been firmly kicked into motion. Three weeks ago, bound for Wroclaw in western Poland, we drove away from our home in Brighton at 3.30am in the midst of the longest thunderstorm that I can ever remember, long in both time and geography, we did not clear it until 9.00am upon reaching R0 – the Brussels orbital motorway, where we drove out from under the dense, black, cloud into bright blue, blazing hot, ...

Wroclaw Zoo, Wroclaw 13/07/2016


Wroclaw Zoo, Wroclaw RICHADA AND ZOOS An odd way to start such a review certainly, but this is an opinion site and my opinion is that for decades zoos have been well out of touch with the modern thinking of those who potentially would be most likely to visit them. Of course there are zoos and zoos, the best of which do fantastic conservation and breeding work in order to keep rare species from becoming extinct, and, offering in so much as any such place can, wild animals an acceptable quality of life whilst being, unarguably, in captivity. Some have even been pivotal in reintroducing such species into the wild. In my experience it tends to be wildlife parks that achieve this aim best and therefore in which I feel most comfortable as a visitor. Then there are the hideous “tourist attraction” type zoos, once beloved of run-down seaside towns; what should be noble animals cowed and confined in tiny metal cages or enclosures, pacing backwards and forwards until tossed their next meal. I remember leading a debate at school, in around 1977, proposing that “Zoos Should Be Banned” – I had had a recent experience visiting just such a seaside zoo on the Isle of Wight, run on an ever diminishing shoe string, and wanting to shoot the poor big cat (species evades me now I was too upset at the time) to put it out of the misery of being confined to a tiny metal cage that I wouldn’t keep a rabbit in. Apart from several wildlife parks, the only zoo that I have since visited is London, which over the years has ...

Restaurant Akropolis, Wroclaw 09/07/2016


Restaurant Akropolis, Wroclaw WHERE IN THE WORLD? We are in Wroclaw, in the west of Poland, some two and a half hours drive east of Dresden, for a long weekend, en route to see my wife’s parents who live about three hundred miles east of here. Wroclaw is the current European City of Culture, more than justifiably so as it was to turn out over the four days that we were there, to fully appreciate the place you could quite happily spend a week in this city sightseeing and taking in its many cultural attractions. WHY DID WE CHOOSE RESTAURACJA AND TAVERNA AKROPOLIS IN WROCLAW? On our arrival at the three star Hotel Europeum we were told by the receptionist that, during the duration of our stay, their bistro restaurant had no service after 4.00pm. We had arrived at about 7.00pm having been on the road since 3.00am the same morning, 881 miles ago, and I had been looking forward to a full, if “light” dinner. Oh, and during the course of our journey the temperature had increased from 14deg.C to 35deg.C, it was, at this time in the evening, still 32deg.C in Wroclaw. Helpfully the receptionist informed us that there was a large range of eating places within a two minute, two hundred metre walk of here in The Old Town – she was not wrong and, as it transpired, the choice was bewildering! The main square, as Polish city squares are apt to be, was lined with eateries of just about every persuasion and nationality, including McDonalds and KFC who had adjoining premises. Incidentally it has never made any sense ...

Europeum Hotel, Wroclaw 01/07/2016


Europeum Hotel, Wroclaw THE DAY THE NEWS BROKE I guess that, like the assassination of J.F.K., the death of Elvis Presley (hmm…..maybe not in my case) or the destruction of the World Trade Centre, one will always remember where one was the day dawn broke and we woke up to find out that the UK was to be no longer part of Europe. RICHADA, that is Mrs R and I, were probably an hour ahead of the rest of you on this one, we were staying at the incredibly appropriately named Europeum Hotel in Wroclaw. Having cast my own postal vote several weeks ago, the day of the referendum had started at 3.30am at home in Brighton and ended at about 7.00pm, 881 miles later, in the very heart of the fascinating city of Wroclaw in Western Poland. It had been an extraordinary, and I hope not prophetic, journey – we left in the middle of the longest, fiercest thunderstorm I ever remember in Brighton – a storm that lasted right through to Brussels some 250 miles and five hours later, where we drove out from under the black cloud into fierce, blazing hot, sunshine just as we joined R0, the Brussels arterial motorway! Wraclaw is an extraordinarily “European” city as it turns out, having been Breslau, a German city, for over 700 years of its history. The ambiance there is about as “European” as anywhere that I have ever visited, we went to bed that first night in the Europeum Hotel having every notion that we would both wake up as Europeans the following morning – my (Polish) wife did, I didn’t…… ……and the rest as we ...

Saab 9-3 Convertible TiD 22/06/2016


Saab 9-3 Convertible TiD WHAT IS IT? This is the latest in a long line of very popular convertible mid-size Saab models. At one time, in the early 1990's, the 900 Convertible, the car that the 9-3's replaced, was the biggest selling convertible on the market. To be honest, it had far less competition in the four seater open top car market then, however, the 9-3 Convertible is still a big success and is currently the third most purchased convertible on the market. Saab continues to shun the latest fashion in providing a folding metal roof for their Convertible. As with all of its forebears, the 9-3 has a very large three layer fabric, or as Saab describes it, "soft top". As this review will, I hope, demonstrate, there are advantages and disadvantages to this. This is no sports car, indeed it is a (very well) converted Saab 9-3 saloon which, in turn, was based on the Vauxhall Vectra chassis. Saab have never marketed this open top four seater as a sporting model, always promoting it on its' image, all weather comfort and refinement. In some circles it may be viewed as a "footballers' wives" car. At 4635mm in length, it will take up an identical amount of space in your garage to the 9-3 saloon, although the convertible roof compromises both interior and boot space. This is a two door, strict, four seater - well maybe more realistically a two plus two. WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL? The 9-3 Convertible that I am reviewing here is the £25,450 1.9 TiD Linear. To those of you unfamiliar with the fairly complex ...

Pirelli P-Zero Rosso 18/06/2016


Pirelli P-Zero Rosso REVIEWING CAR TYRES, AN ART OR A SCIENCE? As with previous cars and swapping tyres, it becomes apparent that in order to judge and review a certain tyre, you have try the same car on different tyres, it is impossible to review one without a valid comparison to another. I recently published a review on the Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tyres, replacements for the front pair of Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres that my, slightly, second hand Volvo XC60 arrived with, factory shod. That review may rather have given the game away on this one, the two brands and models of tyre being almost identical in price, however I thought it desirable to review these particular Pirelli tyres, using the same comparative scoring system. For the very astute amongst you I would mention here that Ciao actually turned down a proposal for my specific Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyre, which is an SUV rated one. However having examined my tyres and the standard P Zero Rosso’s I have come to the conclusion that, due to an identical tread pattern, wear rate and Euro rates (wet grip, drive by noise etc) these tyres are very much the same apart from the reinforced sidewalls making the SUV version more suitable for gentle off-road use. We are however talking bumpy farm tracks here rather than serious mud plugging for which neither my chosen Michelin, or these original equipment (OE) Pirelli, tyres are suitable. CAR TYRES: THE WRITING’S ON THE (SIDE)WALL The following review is for the specific tyre size 235/60R18 103V. ...

Samsonite Fotonox Messenger 200 Bag 11/06/2016


Samsonite Fotonox Messenger 200 Bag SAMSONITE, NOT JUST STRONG LUGGAGE Are you surprised to read that Samsonite actually manufactures camera bags? I was. Let us start at the beginning and why I wanted a new bag to carry my camera and associated bits and pieces and then, hopefully, answer the question as to whether this well known maker of quality luggage has managed to trump the several well-known camera bag manufacturers such as Lowepro, Hama (my favourite bag to date) and Case Logic. RICHADA AND HIS BAGS I now have three camera bags, why? Well, I actually have three cameras, one of which is never used, another (the Nikon D90) very seldom used and then, I have one in constant use, my Nikon D610. However, in common with many of the ladies reading this, who swap and change hand bags to suit their mood or the occasion, I do exactly the same with my camera bags, dependent upon which accessories I am taking where with me – sorry, to clarify, that is CAMERA accessories, not the ones I happen to be wearing..... ......Coordinating my bags to my outfits is a no-brainer, all of my camera bags are dark grey, verging on black, please do not ask me why, it just happened that way. So, you see, I do not regard my bags as a fashion accessory, for me they require an extraordinarily high degree of utility, let me explain...... I try not to dwell on this fact, but, whilst I have not paid retail price for my current camera, or its two lenses, it is a sobering fact that I am walking around with, at replacement value, ...

National Railway Museum, York 08/06/2016


National Railway Museum, York PREAMBLE Most people we know appear to have at least heard of the National Railway Museum in York, indeed, it was so long ago when I made my first visit there (1998) that I have actually forgotten just where I heard about it from but, over the years, I have visited at least four further times, most recently last year on a day trip to York – we were having a short break holiday in Bradford at the time. This is a slightly unusual review on my part as I tend to write on subjects that I am passionate about; liking or loathing them, however I am ambivalent towards trains in spite of counting several train spotters amongst my friends – none of whom have ever accompanied me to this museum. It is not therefore an expert’s guide to a train museum by any measure. Whilst using my standard museum scoring system, this will inevitably have a slightly different “non-enthusiast” flavour to it, which may indeed turn out to be more friendly to the consumer at large, rather than the rail / train enthusiast who will learn nothing from this review, being all too familiar with this particular attraction. This review only covers the main York site and not its satellite museum in Shildon, Durham. For simplicities sake I am abbreviating The National Railway Museum to N.R.M. for the rest of this review. THE BUILDING(S) AND GROUNDS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS 7 / 10 There is a car park opposite the museum, which is expensive and probably not easy to get into at busy times, free disabled spaces are ...

Michelin Latitude Sport 3 04/06/2016


Michelin Latitude Sport 3 CAR TYRES Here we go again, introducing you to a new review format with scored sub-sections, a clue that this may well be the first in a series. Not the most interesting, or glamorous, of subjects I grant you; after all, they are all round, made of black rubber and mounted on a wheel which is attached to each corner of your car by the suspension. What can there possibly be found to be said about a humble car tyre? Well, quite a lot as it happens and, with the average car tyre costing somewhere between £60 and £130 dependant on size, type and car, not only is choosing the correct tyre in the first place important, but so too is shopping around for it. I ended up paying £113 each for these tyres on line at, then had them fitted two days later at our Kwik-Fit depot having already booked the appointment on line. My first quote on them, from the Volvo dealer, was for £208 – a fitting that would have required a fifty mile round journey, so we can safely say that my final choice saved my Company 50% on the cost of these tyres. Searching the internet can save you a fortune on running a car. Every motorist needs to remember that the tyre is the only contact that your vehicle actually has with the road, obvious, but often overlooked that the tyres are therefore THE most vital safety component on your whole car. Not a component to be compromised on then. How though to choose the ideal tyre in the first place? You could always simply replace like for like – the ... 03/06/2016

VALUE BASKET? AM I NOW THE BASKET CASE? IS RICHADA TURNING INTO A BASKET CASE? Some four months ago I very successfully purchased online a new Nikon camera – my dream camera – from an online seller,, who, by sheer fluke, just happen to have a UK office right here in my home town of Brighton. Indeed so impressed was I with not only their pricing, but also their outstandingly good service, that I wrote a very positive review of them here on this very site. That review did however caution readers as to purchasing big ticket items in this way; I did so from in the full knowledge that my purchase was a “grey import” from Hong Kong. Their website had pulled no punches about that, but their service, from order to delivery was precisely as promised on their website and proved to be trackable, via UPS, at every step of the journey. Spurred on by the total success of this transaction, which saved me in the region of £800.00 on the camera and lens combined, I naturally made them my first port of call when searching for a second lens for the camera, in this case a rather unusual and specialised 12 – 24mm ultra wide angle Sigma one. Panamoz were asking £500.00 for this lens, which from a UK retail shop would be £600.00, Amazon incidentally were offering it at £506.00 at the time, on this occasion I saw no advantage in buying from Incidentally, three weeks later Amazon are now advertising this same lens for £569.97 against a claimed RRP (recommended retail price) of £799.99, a price ...
See more reviews Back to top