Behind the wheel of a Land Rover 90

LRCH camping weekend in Axel

Each year hundreds of 4×4’s descend onto an open field during the “Pinksteren” [Pentecost] holiday weekend. The reason?

Simple. To celebrate everything that is Land Rover.

In the Netherlands, there aren’t a lot of places left for 4x4s to roam; largely due to the size of the country in relation to her population and their needs. So most offroaders head east towards Germany, Poland and Croatia or are southbound towards France, Spain and Portugal.

AXEL Zeeland

However, in one tiny corner of Zeeland (in the southwest of Holland), there’s a little paradise tucked away in an industrial zone. The Land Rover Club Holland takes full advantage of this haven. There’s just one little catch. It’s a closed event for members only.

The ink on the sales contract for our Landy wasn’t even dry, let alone us having our 90 parked on the driveway. Fortunately, Rob could pull a few strings and organise for the two of us, Simon, Mikki and their girls to attend as guests.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, and while the others set up camp Naomi and I dashed off to fetch Diana from the train station. Back under the tunnel into traffic jams. Nope, not from cars. The bridges on the canals were open letting oversized barges and yachts through. The Dutch take their sailing seriously 😉 When we got back, the dinner was warming that Diana had precooked. Talk about organised!

First timers

It was magic putting faces to the names we’d been hearing about. We finally got to meet Kitty and Jasper (co-owner of the Pink Panther) as well as Wojtek and Darota . It was also nice to meet Fulco (LRCH Chairman) who sent us the daily updates of the Croatia Trophy 2009 to add to Rob’s website.

Totally fascinating was watching all the 4×4 concoctions drive past. There were makes of Land Rover I’d never seen, like Jasper’s super soft-top Lightweight. We learned a little more about the Series, Disco and Range Rover models, and there were vehicles, I’m sure, intended for camping on Mars. They were as huge as they were rugged.

The offroad terrain is small in comparison to others we’ve seen but superbly challenging. Rob and Jasper kindly handed over Pink Panther to us, while they played with the Lightweight.

It was Mikki’s first time and something she’s been wanting to do, but not sure if she’d have the courage. She tackled it like a pro! I got some more practice in and noticed how tiring it was when the power steering worked intermittently. Ladies, it’s a great way to tighten up those chicken wings! My triceps were sore for a while.

Mikki and I wanted to spit at one of the new Landies, where the driver was turning the wheel with two fingers. Humph, softy! (tee-hee). The kids loved it. Hopping on and off the back with freedom and a great sense of adventure.

Bad whiskey

That evening we enjoyed a barbecue and I examined a Whiskey bottle a little too closely. My word! I haven’t felt that poorly since I was a teenager learning to drink. EWWWW! I was a bombsite the next day; surfaced long enough to refill my water bottle, took one look at the brain-incinerating sunshine and went straight back to my sleeping bag.

Not even my favourite glass of red could tempt me … for a week and a half! Later I took the four girls down to the pond and managed a swim. Wow. Just what I needed. I felt almost human. After that, we went back into the terrain and watched everyone having a blast.

I sat on the back for a little while, but feeling too queasy, chose terra firma instead. Argh, I could kick myself. What a wasted opportunity! In Rob’s famous words, “Het komt goed!” [It’ll be okay.]

Simon and Marcel joined the girls in another swim, and we watched a wonderful guy playing sea monster with his group of kids. They collected all the green gooey stuff to make a fortress and bedeck each other’s heads in the spongy algae. Just fabulous! On Sunday morning we packed up leisurely and left the campsite void of any evidence of our weekend. Except, of course, muddy tracks leading into the bush …

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