Rosie's Bar - Monte Carlo
A Monte Carlo legend - Rosie's bar
I think I was about nine or ten years old the first time I went to Rosie's Bar in Monte Carlo.
We were holidaying in Northern Italy and my dad took us to Monaco for the day. He drove us around the famous Formula One street circuit (we were and still are very much a motorsport family) and took us to see landmarks that we'd previously only seen when watching the famous Grand Prix such as the casino.
Eventually refreshments were in order and he led us into a tiny bar.
The interior was dark and there was that wonderful smell of Gauloise. A small figure appeared and did a double take when she saw my dad "Eric!" she exclaimed. Rosie fussed over us - the kids - and then she went on to show my dad photographs of him on the walls.
He was a regular competitor in the Monte Carlo Rally and the walls of Rosie's - or the Chatham as it was correctly named - were covered in rallying and racing memorabilia.I later found out that this tiny establishment was actually the hangout of racing drivers, rally drivers, auto racing journalists and motorsport aficionados who were in the know.
Classic images - These are taken from Rosie's bookClick thumbnail to view full-size
It's wonderful that Rosie found the time to write this book about her life.. My copy is one of my dearest possessions.
It's not just for motor racing fans - although there are some fascinating stories about drivers from times gone by. It's also a fabulous piece of history as Rosie tells about her early days in the principality.
What's also fascinating is the wealth of old photograph, and not just of racing stars and motorsport heroes. There are also fabulous photographs of the principality in days gone by before the arrival of the yachts, the paparazzi and the glittering celebrities.
An Historic Grand Prix
This little principality came to the world's attention when American actress, Grace Kelly, married Prince Rainier to become the Monegasque princess. It truly is a magical place.
I was fascinated by the soldiers guarding the palace in their elaborate uniforms. The sea was a sparkling blue with the most fabulous craft sailing leisurely along.
The atmosphere was unmistakably Gallic but with a special pizzaz added by the fact that this was a tiny country with an interesting history. If you get the chance to go, grab the opportunity with both hands.
Monaco & Motorsport
As you can tell from what I wrote above, I was brought up with motorsport.
In fact, when I was little I thought everyone's dad disappeared at weekends to drive through forests and muddy tracks. That was simply what dads did.
I grew up going to rallies and trials. 'Where's dad?' I'd ask my mum and she'd say 'He's meeting Ken to plan his drive round the world' or 'He'll be setting off for Timbuktu tomorrow'. (Both true!)
I'd grown up watching motor racing on the television too and the highlight was always the Monaco Grand Prix. It still is. I was delighted when we actually went to Monte Carlo and I could walk those famous streets that, once a year, were transformed into one of the most exciting racing circuits in the world.
This tiny principality has everything - the gorgeous weather, the luxury yachts and the fabulous casino. Today, it's symbolic of wealth. And yet for many of us, it's the place for motorsport hosting as it does the famous rally and the legendary Grand Prix.
Classic posters - Grand Prix
I've always loved these classic posters - I can't remember how long ago it was that I first owned one.
They typify a bygone era that is so fascinating for people today.
These were the romantic days but motorsport was tinged with a strong sense of danger. The men and women who raced in those early days were true dare-devils - taking their lives into their hands every time they set off from the starting line.
Graham Hill - a regular at Rosie's.Image from Wikimedia