NSU Kettenkrad Homepage
My trip to the "War and Peace Show" at Beltring 1998
1. Friday the 17th of July
The weather this "summer" was really bad, and so I drove to Beltring "last minute", on Friday the 17th of July. I decided to use the Eurotunnel from Calais to Folkstone and I drove with my good old VOLKSWAGEN GOLF Mk II and my old Eriba caravan.
To get the cheaper night rate at the Eurotunnel, I had to be there before noon. The distance from my hometown Braunschweig to Calais is 735 km (460 miles). So I started at home at 3 o'clock a.m.
I drove through the Netherlands and Belgium to France. I had a short stop for petrol in the Netherlands and I was shocked about the fuel prices there, more than DM 2.00 (US-$ 1.10) per litre (at that moment I didn't know the fuel prices in England...)
I arrived at Calais at 11:30 a.m. Not too early, because I got the slowest lane at the cashier boxes, but at 11:45 I had my ticket for the LE SHUTTLE train. The cashier called 1,680 French Frans and at that moment I didn't recognize, that this wasn't the ceap night rate... So I gave him my credit card and paid...
Next came the French customs: Three armed customs officers came to my car and asked: "Quel'que chose a déclarer?" I took all my school knowledge in French and said: "Rien à declarer!" But the good old GOLF with the old caravan and only one single male passenger seemed suspicious to the customs officers. I had to leave the car and the three officers checked the car and the caravan for twenty minutes. At first they found my english shoeshine bag in camo colour, which I bought at the Tank Museum at Bovington some years ago. Next was the album with the photos of the Kettenkrad and other military vehicles. And than came the climax: They found my russian gas mask, which I had bought at an autojumble a year ago. Very suspicious.
I took again all my knowledge in French language and asked one of the customs officers: "Que'est ce que vous cherchez?" (What are you looking for?) and he gave me a perfect response: "C'est notre metier!" (That's our job!)
One of the customs officers wanted to dismantle the caravan and take away the wall panels, but the other two were not interested. So after 20 minutes I got back my passport and was allowed to go on.
Now it was 1 o'clock p.m. local time, I had to set the clock 1 hour back from German summer time to English summer time. I drove to the camping site and parked the caravan there.
At 3 o'clock p.m., after paying £ 5 admission, I was on the ground of the Whitbread Hop Farm. A little tired, because I had been on the road for more than 12 hours or 825 km (515 miles), but I was there.
A lot of MV collectors were there, too and so I did my first tour on the site and had a look at the autojumble and parts mart. Same procedure as last year: Most of the vehicles US-stuff, the rest British and very few German vehicles. But three Kettenkrads! I've never seen so many Kettenkrads on one location!
After three hours on the site I became really tired and drove back to the camping site and went to bed. You may ask, why I went on a camping site and didn't stay on the camping area of the Hop Farm. The answer is simple: Have you ever seen the state of the toilets on the Hop Farm???
2. Saturday the 18th of July
Early in the morning I woke up and decided to have a real English Breakfast. So I drove to the next TESCO supermarket and ordered a "Double English Breakfast, discretly served on one plate". It was delicious and it filled the stomach.
After the breakfast I made my way to the Whitbread Hop Farm. I arrived there at 10 a.m. and there were already a lot of people and vehicles. I paid again £ 5 admission and was on the site. My first task was to find Richard. I only knew, that he was near a FORD F15 with a Polsten AA gun. I found the vehicle and asked for Richard. The guy (David Ballard) took his wireless and called for Richard. 2 minutes later he was there and I met him for the first time in my life. I had never seen him before, I knew him only by e-mail.
One complete NSU Kettenkrad was for sale, but the trader called £ 18,500 or DM 54,000 and the vehicle was not in a really good condition. Many parts not original, no correct chassis no. and so on.
The day went by with walking over the site, looking here and looking there, while the hot British sun burnt my bald head and my nose. This saturday I got more sun than I had the last two month at home! As I always say: South England, that is sun, beach and palm trees!
In the evening it became cold and after some beer and discussions about MVs and other things I drove back "home" to the camping site.
3. Sunday the 19th of July
On Sunday morning I went back to the Whitbread Hop Farm, paid again £ 6 admission (1 £ extra for sunday) and went again to Richard and his friends. This Sunday we made a lazy day. Most time we were sitting in the sun near the vehicles and talked about all and everything.
Today was pricegiving, and David got three awards for his Canadian FORD F15: Best medium truck, best Canadian vehicle and best vehicle on the site. So he got three cups and must build a cupboard till the next event.
His FORD F15 with the POLSTEN gun is a really nice vehicle and very rare. David restored it during the last nine years and he is a fanatic. He told me that it took a long time to get the correct Canadian padlocks...
On the autojumble I spotted a BRITAINS toy model of the NSU Kettenkrad. I already have one, but the figure of the passenger soldier is missing. There was one for sale, with passenger. The trader called £ 15, I offered £ 12, he agreed at £ 14. He took the model, and wrapped it in a plastic bag. I paid, took the bag and went off. After a few minutes I became curious about my new model and I looked into the plastic bag. Oh what a horror! The passenger figure was missing! I rushed back to the stall and said some nice words to the trader and told him to give me the passenger figure. He said sorry, looked around and the figure was on the table of his stall for sale...
But now I had my Kettenkrad model with passenger and I've learned to look into the plastic bag when I buy something.
In the afternoon, more and more participants drove home and the site emptied. Many people stayed on the site until Monday, so Richard and his friends did.
In the evening, after some beer, I said good-bye to Richard and his friends and went back to my camping site.
4. Monday the 20th of July
At first I had planned to stay till tuesday and to see the museum at Dover Castle. But the many MVs at Beltring gave me new motivation to work on my own Kettenkrad. So I made up my mind to go home as fast as possible.
I drove direct to the Eurotunnel at Folkstone and arrived there at 11:30, just in time for the cheaper rate (at that moment I still didn't know that the french cashier had taken the expensive day rate...). I had to wait for the LE SHUTTLE train and so I went into the terminal building with the Duty Free shops. Oh dear! Compared with the prices in a German supermarket, the prices were high. So why buy anything here Duty Free, when I can get it cheaper at home? May be the cigarettes are cheap, but I don't smoke.
On the back tour there were no French customs officers and I drove through the Eurotunnel, via France, Belgium and the Netherlands back to Germany. At midnight I was safely back home.
A very nice weekend. My good old GOLF II has 1,744 km more on the clock and some £s or DMs are less in my wallet, but it was worth! I met very nice people, saw a lot of superb and rare vehicles, I drove legal on the left side of the road and I got ham and eggs for breakfast.
Next year again! I hope with my own Kettenkrad on it's own tracks, but who knows?
PS: I wrote to EUROTUNNEL and told them about the wrong rate. Let's wait if they'll do a refund...
PPS: They offered a discount of 50 % for my next EUROTUNNEL trip. Let's see what will happen in 1999!
© Andreas Mehlhorn 1998-2009