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Our journey to the "War & Peace Show" at Beltring (GB) in 1997

This is the report about my very first journey to Beltring. At that time without own Kettenkrad.

Gen Engeland - Our Journey 1997

On Thursday the 10th of July my wife and I took our Volkswagen Golf and our caravan and went to the West. Via the Netherlands to Oostende, Belgium. There we embarked on one of the new catamaran fast ferrys to Ramsgate.
The vessel could carry 700 passengers and around 200 cars. It is designed in Australia (Tasmania). The ferry sailed with 35 knots (can do 40 knots), which is around 63 km/h or 39 mph. That's fast for a big ship, that's the speed of a cruiser at full steam. So the journey on sea took only two hours.

Our first destination in England was Cambridge. There we know a very nice camping site where we have been two times before. From this site it is only one motorway junction to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford Airfield.

At Duxford Airfield we spent the Saturday and the Sunday, watching the Flying Legends Airshow. The burning British sun made me a sunburn on arms and face. My wife was more smart, she bought a straw hat.
We had very good seats direct at the flight line and we enjoyed the show. One Messerschmitt ME 109 (the Black Six) was dog fighting against nine Spitfires. How horribly unsporting!

There was a lot of old iron (sorry, aluminium) in the air and the sound of big piston engines was heard. The list was long: ME 109, 9 Spitfires, Tigercat, Bearcat, Hellcat, Corsair, Lancaster, B 25, B 17 and so on.

On Monday we went to the South, to Kent, the garden of England. We went to a camping site near Maidstone, around 9 miles from Beltring, where the next event should take place.
In the week we did some sightseeing, like real tourists. My wife had read a book about Sissinghurst Garden and so we went to Sissinghurst to see it. This garden was created by a rich Lady from the 1930s on. She bought the remains of an old castle and made a new garden and landscape around it. It was very nice, but there were lots of tourists. You got a ticket with scheduled time to enter.

On another day we visited the nuclear power station at Dungeness at the south coast of England. It was very interesting to see a working nuclear power station from inside.

On the way we stopped at some garden centres and my wife bought some new plants (dwarf conifers) for her window boxes. In the Garden Centres and in the supermarkets you can see that Europe grows together. Years ago, when I was in England for the first time, you could find completely different things in the shops as you found in Germany. Now you find (nearly) the same things in the English supermarket as you find in a German supermarket.

One day we visited the historic dockyard at Chatham. This was one of the five Royal Dockyards which built the ships for the Royal Navy. They started in the 17th century and the last ship they built was the submarine "Ocelot" in 1962. The dockyard is now a living museum and the submarine Ocelot is there in a basin on display. It is a big diesel powered submarine, a little bit like the German type XXI boats of WW2.

On Friday we went to Beltring to see the War and Peace Show. The event was great. Masses of people, masses of vehicles. It was a new experience for us to see people running around in German WW2 uniforms with weapons and insignia. If you do that in Germany, it is the fastest way to prison (jail?).
There were stalls on the swap meet with machine guns and other weapons. Ok, they were demilled, but in Germany such things are strictly prohibited.
One thing was a little bit disappointing: There were 2000 military vehicles on the field, but I found only one single Kettenkrad. (From Luxembourg, not in very good condition). Some people told me that there should have been a second Kettenkrad, but I didn't find it.
The event at Beltring gave me a lot of new motivation to bring my Kettenkrad on the road. It is my dream to ride on the Kettenkrad to Beltring. Next year is a little short, but 1999?
We were at the Beltring event for two days, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday we stayed on the camping site and relaxed.

On Monday we started the return tour to the continent. This time we used the Eurotunnel. It is like a big subway. You drive with your car into the Shuttle train and the journey begins. You can stay in your car or you can walk around in the train. Normal cars were loaded in double floor carriages, higher vehicles (like our caravan) in single floor carriages. These carriages are completely closed and are 4,3 meters high inside. The complete Shuttle train is more than 1/4 mile long. Every 15 minutes a Shuttle train starts from England to France and back.

The journey in the train is unspectacular. When you look through the windows you see nothing, there is no light in the tunnel. 35 minutes later the light is back again and you are in France. No customs, no checking, you leave the train and you are on the motorway. (Remember to drive on the right now!)

In France we drove to St. Omer to see La Coupole. This is a giant concrete dome, built to protect a launch site for V2 rockets. It was never finished. Now you can walk through the underground tunnels (it's cold there, only 7 C!) and go with a lift 42 m up under the dome where an exhibition about the V2 and the history of the rockets is located. The visitors get little headphones and via infrared you can hear explanations to the exhibits and the sound to the videos and movies in the language you want (English, French, German, Dutch).
The exhibition is excellent and historical correct. It is a place worth to see.

This was the first time that I've been in France and the first time I ever spoke a French word to anyone after school (22 years ago). It was nice to see that I could understand something and that I could make an order in a French Mc Donald's restaurant. (I like Mc Donald's, the big M means food everywhere).

We had planned to stay one or two days in France, but the landscape around Calais is not very nice. So we made up our minds to go back home at once. So we started at 6 p.m. in France to do the 650 km home. In Germany in the Ruhrgebiet we stopped at a motorway petrol station and slept for some hours in our caravan. Next day at noon we were back home.

It was a very interesting holiday. We have seen so much and we enjoyed it. I think this was is not the typical German holiday tour but I don't want to miss it. My big aim is it to do such a journey with my Kettenkrad. May be in some years...

PS: Three years later (2000) I went to Beltring with my Kettenkrad #2 for the first time.

Andreas Mehlhorn, 1997 - 2009