Wednesday, 20 March 2013

March 14th. Going Dutch!

Friday morning 7am saw Dave Maton and I trying to find an alternative route past the A2 in Kent which had just been pronounced closed by Radio2. We opted for the longer and more boring route of the M20. Luckily, the huge queue of trucks waiting to cross the channel that had been parked on it for a few days while the snow cleared in France had gone. We stopped at Tesco's in Cheriton so fill up with fuel and while there Dave bought some spicy chicken pieces to go with his Curry Pot Noodles and curried mackerel! (I'm sure glad we had seperate rooms!)
We arrived in Dover with some trepidation as the last two times I had made a ferry crossing with DFDS both boats had been cancelled which resulted in long delays. However, our fears were unfounded this time as all sailings were present and on schedule. As an added bonus, there were also some other classic cars on our ferry that were attending the Poppy Rally at Ypres. There was even another Mk1 to keep Gertie company.
After an uneventful crossing we reached Dunkerque and set out for the long haul over to Beekbergen in North Holland. Just before the Antwerp ring road what looked like a long strip of toilet roll came floating across the motorway and disappeared under the car. I looked in the rear view mirror and waited for it to exit the rear of the car, but it was no good. We'd snagged it. A little while later while in stationary traffic we heard a 'shh, shh, shh' noise and then all of a sudden lots of little streamers of this 'toilet paper' came out through the bonnet louvres like paper through a shredding machine! This was followed by a burning smell which forced us onto the hard shoulder to investigate. The 'toilet paper' turned out to be a sheet of thin polystyrene which had been destroyed by the fan and melted on the manifold. With all this removed, we carried on and reached our hotel at 6pm CET.
        After a quick wash and brush up we investigated the local town to get some dinner. We did find a shop called 'The Slageri' but it wasn't selling what we thought it might! We then found a restaurant which had 'Ghoulash Croquettes' listed. I asked what they were and the gentleman behind the counter pointed one out in a display case and said 'It's one of those but I don't know what's in it'. I decided not to risk it and settled for Bratwurst and Frites while Dave settled for a good old fashioned Horse Burger.
         Saturday morning we discovered the the fluffy white stuff that had been terrorising England all week had followed us and taken up residence where we were. However, it wasn't too bad and by lunch time it had all disappeared.
Walking around the town again we bumped into fellow CT Essex members Mike and Gillian Helm who had caught the night boat over from Harwich and arrived that morning. All too quickly, the afternoon flew by and it was time to head to the start location at the Wok Chinese Restaurant. As usual, there was a varied range of cars taking part and a good turn out too.

With the lovely Chinese food consumed and the drivers briefing complete we headed of into the dusk following the tulip diagrams. I have to say it was a lot easier with the brantz trip meter now fitted and it's going to be one of those things that makes me wonder how I ever got by without one before!
We made the half way stage with no problems and enjoyed the Coffee and cake that was on offer and then just took a leisurely drive round the pitch black lanes and eventually back to the Wok Restaurant for the finish. We enjoyed a few beers and a laugh and a chat with some of the 'locals' before returning to our hotel around midnight.
Sunday morning, we awoke to snow again, although it wasn't settling this time. After another leisurely drive to the ferry we found ourselves arriving at Dunkerque three hours before our booking. We attempted to board the 2pm crossing but DFDS wanted to charge us and extra £45 for the privilage. (Funny that, because they never offered me any compensation when they cancelled both of the boats I was booked on!)
Anyway, we refused to be ripped off, but the nice young lady told us to come back after 2pm and she would book us on the 4pm boat free of charge. (Our booked crossing was 6pm)
We finally embarked from Dover at 5.20pm local time and encountered some torrential rain while hacking up the M2. (Never mind, Gertie needed a good wash.)
We'd had a great time and hopefully, we can get to go out again for the next one in November. (I'll need to how the funds are after the 10CR)
Gertie performed faultlessly and needs no repairs, which is a bit of a relief as she's lined up for another night rally this Friday night with Chelmsford Motor Club. After that, she can rest up for a while before the CT Historic Counties Rally on April 13th.

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