A week before the summer vacation, Marc Rengers organized a pleasant two-day Mailing List Event, comprising a barbeque, some little camping and a greenlaning tour in the south-east part of Groningen, the northernmost province of the Netherlands. As we will be leaving for our big vacation of camping in England the weekend after this, we didn't want to risk the tent getting wet. So we decided to go early on the Saturday, do some greenlaning with several other early arrivals and then finish it off with the barbeque between friends, and leave the camping and the Sunday tour to the diehards.
In the morning we start going for Amsterdam, actually not completely the correct direction. North of Amsterdam is a big camping shop where we buy two more camping seats for Roderick and Daphne who have outgrown their small seats. We had already put the other three camping seats in the car, as they would be used for sitting at the barbeque. After the shop we go further north and drive over the long Afsluitdijk. As I was the only one from the family to have been here before, we stop halfway at the parking area to look at the IJsselmeer south and the Waddenzee north. Then we go on in the direction of Friesland and Groningen.
Just before the city of Groningen, unfortunately, the Disco gives a woosh sound somewhere left front, and I steer to the hard shoulder. Maybe a flat tyre? Well, to make the story short: the drive chain in the Td5 has been torn to pieces, shattering the engine. The car won't drive today any more. By the ANWB Roadside Assistance, the Disco was transported to a central point in close-by Vries, to be further transported to my repair mechanic garage in Ede in the following days. We were given a simple rental car, to get about. So, all in all, we arrived a good two hours later than expected in Onstwedde, too late for greenlaning, without a car for greenlaning, but well in time for the barbeque.
Having pre-announced the Land Rover's predicament to Marc, we are well received by the already arrived group of Land Rover friends. We set up our seats and have a vey pleasant evening. One of the highlights is when PaNiek introduces the trick of Land Rover shirt folding. He has a short Chinese demonstration film about how to fold a T-shirt: just lay it down in a particular way, then one flipflop movement, and woah it is folded perfectly. As folding the wash is a ladies work, according to PaNiek, all ladies give it a try, and Anneke is the first to do it really well. The children play around in the meadow annex garden, and the rest of the barbeque is fun too. We have a very pleasant evening, and a nice meal. We're home late, but we had a nice evening.
During the summer the car is repaired. And for my job I have to be in the north of the country nearly monthly, so every now and then I contact Marc to find out whether he has some spare time to still do the greenlaning tour with me, as he promised. It takes till December for us to actually get our calendars to match, and we make an appointment for an afternoon greenlaning tour.
In the early afternoon, after lunch in the car from Delfzijl to Onstwedde, I arrive to find Marc all set and ready: he is just putting all his three well stocked toolkits in his 110. And I thought I was properly prepared because I had my pulling straps, a big D-ring, and gloves with me... His 110 is also quite interesting: it has no hard top anymore (actually it is just laying at the back of his yard), and it now shows a 109 soft top. And because his old window was worn (I do know how, perhaps it was so threadbare that you could see through?) he replaced it with a 109's, which only 'needed minor car surgery'. But when it starts the 2.5 petrol engine gives a lovely V8-like sound (could be that his exhaust is going out?).
When we start off, the first 300 m is already greenlaning: Marc's driveway is already unpaved, and it only gets better. Crossing the road, we go over to the Oosterholtpad, a muddy greenlane, which gives a nice impression of the outskirts of Onstwedde. Then we continue down south to the very old fortress town of Bourtange, on the Dutch-German border. As we drive all around the town, I guess we come very close to (into?) Germany, although I don't see signposts.
Pictures Copyright © 2004 William Lagerberg and Wim van Dorst, Text and editing Copyright © 2004/2005 Wim van Dorst