5. Dobby goes to Holland
My master had always wanted to go to Holland ever since a planned Easter trip in 2007 was cancelled. The NG Owners Club has a number of members in the Netherlands and one in particular had recently invited us over for a visit. I thought that was very friendly – but then the NGOC is renowned for being a friendly club.
Wim and his wife Janine had joined the club and met my master at the SE Area Annual Christmas Lunch at the end of 2010 and my master tells me they hit it off at once. I reminded him I hadn’t yet been to mainland Europe (I’d only been to Guernsey and the Isle of Wight) and that I was up for another adventure so a date was set for July 2012. The master made an appeal in the magazine and managed to tempt one other interested party from the Club. I was excited to be going on holiday with another NG and it was even another TF but I was also a little nervous as I hadn’t met it before.
So it was that on a very soggy July day we set off for Dover. My master had arranged to meet up with Johnny and his partner Jan at Maidstone Services but imagine my excitement when I spotted another NG on the M25 before even crossing into Kent. Through the rain I saw that this grey TF was loaded up and must be our friends (who else would have an NG out on this miserable day?). We followed them all the way to the planned rendezvous and then I saw that this TF was just like me with SVA screen, spot lights and chrome wires. So this was to be my companion for the week.
The next stage of the journey took us to Dover where we queued up to embark the ferry to Calais – and still it rained. Once on board, MDH and I had a little shelter from the persistent precipitation while our folks made use of the ship’s café for a spot of lunch.
Now the adventure began as I had to get used to motoring on the right (or should that be the wrong) side of the road. My master had prepared me with stickers on the windscreen as a reminder and spots on the speedometer to mark the main kph divisions. I have to say I don’t know what all the fuss is about as the roads seem less frantic over on the continent, so we made steady progress (even though the rain continued on and off) mostly at around 100kph.
We crossed the border into Belgium and continued to our first service stop where the A18 joins the A10 west of Brugge, where my master had “fun” trying to work the petrol pump with his card. We continued, following the planned route, taking some slightly less obvious roads to avoid Antwerp in the rush hour. We then passed through a trio of tunnels to the North of Antwerp which took us into the Netherlands and within 10 miles we arrived at our destination, Bergen op Zoom. We were greeted by Wim & Janine and ushered into a long drive beside their lovely house. MDH and I slept soundly after 250 miles in the rain.
The next day, weather still damp, we all went for a short tour to see the Dutch Seawater project at Neeltje Jans dyke and also Zoutelande. At least we managed to get our hoods down a little and, as there were two of us NGs, we created a bit of interest.
The following day MDH and I were given a rest while the others all set off about 130km in Wim’s and Janine’s cars for the Appeltern Gardens. They met up with members Ad and Joke van Shaik who had taken their NG. I’m told they finished off the day by gorging themselves on some pancakes at the Pannekoekenbakker – greedy lot!
As Wim is rebuilding an NG, Johnny and my master spent a little time nosing around the garage and I gave Wim a ride locally to help him see what fun he would have when he was finished. Janine too had a ride and popped in on a friend, pretending that my master was her new boy friend. I thought they’d all grown out of that sort of thing!
Other days were spent locally shopping, visiting the delightful Thorlen Windmill, a trip to Rotterdam (where I’m told they took a river cruise) and a visit to see a nearby canal. Each day the weather became a little brighter.
The day before we came home, we had been invited to join the Dutch Kit Car Club on a run. So MDH and I took our respective humans and VW Cabrio took Wim & Janine and we all met up with 20-30 kit cars at Seppe Airport. Of these, 5 were NG TFs – quite a statement. As well as MDH and myself, there were Ad’s Red AL, Wally’s Blue AM and Fokke’s Red RHS (sorry I didn’t catch their real names so have to use their number plate letters). After the humans had toured the aircraft museum we all set off in a follow my leader style, which was novel but a little hairy - doing 80kph on the “other” side of the road for a couple of hours and having to keep up to save getting lost and taking everyone else with me.
This was a gloriously sunny day though and all tops were down. At last we returned to Seppe and after some farewells we parted from our 3 NG friends and returned to Bergen op Zoom to recover for the long drive home.
Next day, after a leisurely coffee and farewells to our Dutch friends, MDH and I set off for home, taking the same route as going. This time, however, it was really hot. Sun cream and drinks were needed frequently. One more excitement awaited us on the return as we had booked the Chunnel. Being a sports car, I liked this better than the ferry – more sure footed and quicker.
Now back on the left (or should that be the right) side of the road we soon made it home – and all on one tank of petrol from Holland. Would I go again? You bet I would!