Ever had that feeling that you’ve turned up somewhere on the wrong day? It’s something I worry about, and it got worse after I turned up for a meeting in the Elephant and Castle a week early. Still, it was better than being a week late…
Last Saturday I trundled gently onto Millennium Place in front of the Coventry Transport Museum, towing a caravan, to be greeted by a wide expanse of paving occupied by a young lad doing stunts on a skateboard. A waitress from the café was wiping down the outside tables. No, she hadn’t heard of a meeting of any car clubs here today.
I already felt fairly daft bringing a caravan to a classic car meeting. Now it looked like I hadn’t even done that, I’d brought a caravan to the centre of Coventry for no reason at all.
Thank god for Facebook. In the time it took me to log on and check that ‘You have 1 event today,’ three Ladas hove into view round the corner of the museum.
I grew up in Crewe. Lots of people drove Ladas. They were cheap and got you from A to B. One of my friends drove a hatchback Lada with tinted windows. The tint was stuck on rather than part of the glass, and she was very stern about not peeling it off. Now they are rare and to be marvelled at. This made me feel quite old.
Why was I taking a caravan to a meeting of the Wartburg Trabant IFA Club? Because he is an East German caravan travelling on Trabant wheels and I thought he’d like to meet some friends.
We had a lovely day. On a caravan site Werner (the Wohnwagen) just looks a bit old and sad. At a caravan rally people like to come and look at him because he’s an intriguing oddity. Lined up beside a row of Trabants and Ladas he looked very much at home. A German lady bounced over, said ‘What a lovely QEK!’ and told me a complicated story about a German TV presenter touring the country in one. We were invited to join the SALT tour, which next year is in Yorkshire. This year’s was Norfolk, which would have been rather more suitable, being very much flatter than God’s Own County.
I’ve only seen one Trabant before in real life – I was at an Esso station filling up Hortense when one chugged up to the next row of pumps. The rest were full of stressed people in BMWs and Audis. I think we were having more fun. En masse they are a wonderful sight. Though they do sound exactly like motorcycles, which confused my bike radar.
I have learnt that you pronounce it KEK as in trousers, not KWEK as in quaiche. I have learnt that Millennium Place is a tolerated motorcycle parking zone, which is good to know for the future.
And now I am resisting the temptation to buy a Trabant to have a matching set.