Saturday, 13 July 2013

Travel Trade Crusade 2013 - Day Three, Saturday 13th July

Day three, but officially day two of the rally. Another early morning - but with a difference. We had to leave the car in a public car park, but when we left the hotel there seemed to have sprung a market somewhere between us and the car. It didn't take too long to find - we knew the general direction. We had to all meet this morning in the car park of Lidl - at some point on the outskirts of Metz. Good old Mrs TomTom took us almost straight there. The regular customers of Lidl on a Saturday morning didn't know what had hit them. We had little groups that were going round looking at each car as if they were at a car boot sale. There were some late comers - some couldn't find it, and some, I think, didn't get in until 5am this morning so were feeling a little worse for wear. The Green Ladies had come as Rambo this morning in green camouflage - with the only male deciding to wear a skirt, fishnet stockings and a blonde wig - all in green of course. We hit the road, heading for a town called Bitche, where we were promised that the British Boys Club had arranged for champagne and smoked salmon at the old fort there. Excellent news. We all headed the same way, but all seemed to peel off in different directions at some point. Must be how the satnavs are programmed. We found ourselves on a toll road, and at the end seemed to be in the queue to pay with about another four or five teams. One of the teams from Holiday Extras (The Chavs, with Ali G driving) had a loud PA system attached to their Subaru and amused all the people with their pre-recorded Chav chat. We got to the fort by passing through the most beautiful medieval village. It was so picturesque. We climbed up the hill, until we got to a huge car park that I must say, we took over. The champagne was coming in the camper van, and was a bit on the drag, so we went for a wander around the outside of the fort. Derek Jones, the MD of Kuoni, was doing an SAS jump and roll off a bridge - presumably for his challenge for the day. The champagne then turned up - nicely chilled - but I only partook in a very small glass. I was driving. Paul looked for his hat, and decided it had fell out of the car as it was missing again. He did ask me if I had thrown it away - as if I would! Never thought of that - should have done it years ago. He borrowed one from Dan Archer, the photographer. Always got a back up hat! We left there and set off for the Nurburgring - along the autobahns that have totally unrestricted speed limits. I bumped into Sarah Archer, one of the organisers, at a petrol station where she asked what speed I had got to on the autobahn. Never thought of giving it any welly, so when we set off again I thought I would. I got to 150 miles per hour before traffic held me up - how rude to be in the fast lane and only travel at 120! It was Sarah's birthday today, and our challenge was to get Sarah a present that cost the least money and was the most creative. Oh dear - creativity is not my strong point. We photographed Raquel on a few more modes of transport - tractor, lorry and fork lift truck on the way to the Nurburgring. As I said, creativity is not my strong point. We arrived at the Nurburgring and went straight to buy our ticket for the lap. I put the roof up - just in case we rolled over. Wanted to be safe not sorry. The track was absolutely buzzing. There were marshals lining people up just to get on to the ring, and we took our place. The card was read (to prove that we had paid) we went through a few cones and then we were on it. Wow. It was so exhilarating. To start with, nothing came past me. I think that was probably more to do with nobody coming on straight after me rather than me going too fast. Soon cars and bikes were whizzing past doing god knows how many miles per hour. I had my hazards on, and kept to the right hand side. I kept an eye in the rear view mirror, so if I saw two or three cars coming just as we were coming to a bend I let them pass. And pass they did - some even left as much as an inch or two between us! There were some really serious drivers with fireproof clothing and crash helmets. I had a t-shirt, cut offs and sandals. It was about 20km from start to finish, and took 18 minutes 8 seconds. Paul was taking pictures as we went, and also set the stopwatch. He didn't have too many kittens, or shout, or even get out so I couldn't have been too bad. When we came to the bit where all the spectators look over the ring, where there have some pretty bad accidents, we saw the film crew filming us. Not the fastest or the most elegant lap, but a lap nevertheless. We finished, and were shown off the track. We then met another couple of teams that were then going on - I challenged them to beat my time. Ha! No chance of me being anywhere near up the leaderboard with that time. We then saw the Green Ladies - completing another challenge. They had managed to get three lads (British) all with big motor bikes, to wear Travel Trade Crusade t-shirts over their leathers, and then put on a green mankini. They then all did a lap wearing them - the film crew shot it all. I bet there has never been anyone go round the ring looking like that before - and probably never will be again. We then (after a few turns up and down the road, as Paul had the map upsidedown) went to the viewing area to just watch from a distance. It was amazing to see how fast they actually travel. We saw the Holiday Extras Chav team going round - just before they broke down, and had to leave the car there to be scrapped. It was, apparently, the third lap that the car had gone round, with no chance to cool down inbetween laps. Something broke - not the PA system - that was still working perfectly! It was gone six o'clock, so we reluctantly left the ring and set off for the last leg of the journey to Koblenz. It was only just over half an hour, and a lovely early evening drive, still in the beautiful sunshine. Koblenz, what little we have seen of it, looks a beautiful little town. We all met and ate in the courtyard of a hotel by the river, where Sarah was presented with her presents. She took away with her a necklace of bratwurst sausage, an embroidered hat with her name and ttc13 on - and a pair of knickers with Travel Trade Crusade on. She was presented with a cake from the Green Ladies - together with a video of how they had got it - they "held up" a cake shop with their guns and "stole" the cake rambo style. So funny. I am sure most of this will be on the finished dvd. Time to retire ready for another action packed day tomorrow! Don't forget that we are doing this at our own expense for the EACH charity so please make a small donation at - every little helps!

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