The Belgium Nationals 1999
HBRO had quite a turnout for the Belgium National. In total 8 vehicles
made the trek across to Belgium, Paul & Jean in their Range Rover, Zoe,
& Devika in their Tdi 90, Jim & Brenda in their 2¼ Series 2,
'Knobbly' Nick & Malc in their Tdi 90, Steve and Carol Skinner in their
V8 Series 2, Karen & Trisha with their Series3, Nick & Sue in
their V8 90 and Myself & Nicky in our Tdi 110.
After a fairly uneventful crossing from Dover (with possibly the most expensive cup of coffee in Europe - £5 for 2 cups and 2 sticky buns!)*, we landed in Calais and naturally made good progress straight to the nearest booze warehouse. Once suitably stocked up we headed North towards Belgium.
| We arrived at the site in early
afternoon on the Friday and made straight for the camp site, some of the
group had been before and it was decided to 'bag' a good spot for the
tents straight away. After everyone drove round the field aimlessly for a
few minutes we formed a circle(ish) with the gang from LRO Magazine.
With the tents erected in record time (the scouts would have been proud of us) we all traipsed off to register for the weekends events. AAAGGGHHHH, it took over two hours of queuing to book in and get our numbers/stickers etc. This was to be a taste of the organization for the rest of the weekend. Still, after accepting that's how it's done on the continent and many jokes relating to breweries, we just accepted it and got on with the serious business on enjoying ourselves.
The first nights activity was a navigational exercise around the local countryside. This involved deciphering tulip diagrams, which looked totally confusing to the uninitiated (me) but were remarkably easy to follow once you got into the swing of things. We zoomed off in convoy and had a good few hours of exploring the local green lanes. Along one of these lanes a German Series III '88 decided to overtake our convoy across a ploughed field, lost control at speed and nearly caught 'Knobbly' Nick broadside. Nick just managed to avoid an expensive and potentially serious accident by swerving off the track missing the S3 by millimeters. Judging by the S3's passengers reactions the driver won't be trying that sort of thing again!. Just after midnight we all decided to bale out and get some sleep for the next busy day. Although it was past 1 by the time we made it back, we had only completed about half of the course and some teams were still drifting in after dawn on Saturday!.
Saturday's activity was much along the same lines with a couple of visits to off road courses thrown in as well. Half way through the day we all stopped for a picnic and watched the other teams happily trundling past. What could be better - a sunny day with good food, good company and lots & lots of Land Rovers!. A very enjoyable day was had by all with only a brief pause to change a puncture just after lunch.
Saturday evening was spent watching the Camel Trophy extravaganza, where the Camel Trophy Club put on a very impressive display with a giant video screen, fireworks, winching display and swinging around in trees!.
Sunday was the day of the trial, similar to our RTV's although nobody seemed too sure of the rules. Although a small site, the sections were well thought out and a couple quite extreme. I gave the trial a miss, deciding the 110 was too long for a couple of the obstacles but the rest of the HBROers breezed round the course showing up a lot more seriously prepared vehicles. Including the eventual winner, very mysterious!.
All in all an excellent weekend, all the vehicles behaved themselves and came away unscathed bar a couple of minor dings here and there (110 sills look much better crinkly!)
*I've since found out this not to be the case. The Pegasus Bridge Cafe in Ouistreham, Normandy charged 80F (£8) for 4 coffees!!
Thanks very much to Richard for this article, and the 24 pictures that accompany this write up. If you like Richard are keen to highlight the spiraling costs of hot beverages. Why not do so on the Guest Book
Picture Gallery #1 Picture Gallery #2