I could not believe it, the sun was blazing down when at last the time came to pack Mr T. It was Wednesday morning as tomorrow we would be heading South to attend the HUBB UK 2013 meeting. This year being held for the first time at Donington Park Farm on the Derbyshire / Leicestershire boarder.
To make things a little special, Ben was coming along with me which meant carrying a little more kit than I was used to. Just how much extra kit I severely underestimated. Thankfully, after a brief exchange of emails with Cliff at The Adventure Bike Shop, my bacon (literally as I took 2 packets) was saved. Cliff fired out my order straight after the Bank-holiday, ensuring I’d be the proud owner of a two Touratech (TT) Pannier top mounted bags. Plus a Series 2 Redverz footprint ground sheet which I forgotten to order when I bought my tent. The order arrived timed to perfection on Wednesday morning as we arrived home from our break up in the Lake District.
So with extra, clothes, sleeping bag, food, self-inflating mattress & what amounted to a mountain of food I set about loading Mr T. The TT bags fitted perfectly even though they are not designed specifically for the Metal Mule Panniers. I was chuffed to discover each bag once expanded will accommodate a sleeping bag perfectly.
Mr T All Packed Up
& was the only XT1200Z at HUBB UK 2013
After a leisurely start to Thursday morning, Ben got ready whilst I finally realised that with two of everything there just was not enough room in the panniers for the sleeping mattresses. Lucky with a little care the mattresses slid under the elasticated straps on top of the TT pannier bags. This in turn freed up sufficient space for me to empty the contents of our fridge into the panniers.
My last job was to print off Sam’s ‘Volunteer Rotas’ as I’d volunteered to help. Sam had me on the recycling crew same as last year, little did Ben know at this point but he would also be assisting. With a flurry of hugs and a kiss all round, Ben and I mounted up, posing momentarily to have our photo taken.
Pobsey wishes us 'Bon Voyage'
Pulling off the drive I instantly noticed how unstable Mr T was. The front end was extremely light especially at low speeds, not a great start to the two hours ride down to Donington. Happily the M62 ‘George Orwell Strasse’ and the M1 were busy but flowing without issue and before we knew it we were pulling off at junction 24, shortly afterwards I missed the right hander which took us to the Donington Park Farm campsite. (Thinking about this now, it was an omen!). It had been a tough choice to attend as I would have loved to have been heading to Nordkapp to collect on TeaPotOne’s promise of a ‘brew and a butty’.
Pulling into the farm we were greeted by the Arrivals Crew, the reception was warm, welcoming and well organised. Once I had completed our paperwork it was time to head into the the campsite to pitch our tent.
“Look Dad, Sam’s there” Ben said excitedly spotting Sam to our right.
“He’s busy on the radio’ Ben, I’m sure he will say hello later on when he’s not so busy” I replied.
I chose a spot 40 feet away from one of the numerous toilet blocks dotted around the campsite. Quite level, or so I thought until both Ben and I woke up with our feet in the air having slid down our sleeping mats during the night.
Having had lots of practice, we had the tent up, kit unloaded and were cooking a spot of late lunch within the hour. Having set off at 1200 mid day we were both ready for a bite to eat as it was now heading towards 1500 hours. 3 Bratwurst each, chilli sauce for me and brown sauce for Ben plus a coffee and juice respectively saw our energy levels replenished nicely.
Once everything was washed up and put away Ben gave his Mum a quick call to let her know we had arrived and were entrenched safely at the meeting. It was then time ‘explore’!
Hello Mum, CAN YOU HEAR ME!
This years new location proved to be a massive site with lots of hidden area’s for camping in. There was the main building, surround by presentations rooms, a bar, an outside ‘Real Ale’ bar. The 4x4 area was very impressive with numerous displays and stalls. There was just so much to take in I just had to have a pint to settle my nerves!
Ben spotted Birgit in the HUBB tent and shot off to say hello, followed by yours truly. We had a big hug and a catch up, well it had been at least a fortnight since we’d all sat and had a chat at the BMF Show in Peterborough.
Next Ben and I had a good look at the massive amount of presentations planned for the coming four days.
Presenters at HUBB UK include...
Margaret & Mike Hingley
So as you can see there was a lot to keep everyone entertained.
Thursday evening saw us just relaxing with a beer and a lemonade, both costing the same. After another couple of hours looking around at all the bike display stalls. If ever you need anything for ‘overlanding’ the the HUBB UK meeting is the place to buy it. Plus if it is not available at the show one of the hundreds of people attending will be able to point you in the right direction.
How many room's?
Now one thing I’ve omitted to mention about the site is the noise, not from us but from the fact that it literally backs onto Donington Park Racing Circuit which was in full use from when we arrived to our departure 0900 until 1800 hours. Add to this the fact that the East Midlands Airport is just a few miles down the road and well you can guess the rest. By 0330 hours I was ready to pull my hair out, what bit I have left that is. With a plane passing over head almost every 20 to 30 minutes, deafening us whilst lighting the inside of the tent with the wing and fuselage lights as they took off and landed.
Up and about at 0700 hours I made myself a ‘Full English” with a coffee then went to make myself known to Jane and Chris who were heading up the ‘Recycling Crew’. As it happened we all knew each other from last years event. That done I headed back to sort Ben’s breakfast out as I was not on duty until mid afternoon. Warm Wheatabix and an ‘Earl Grey’ (takes after his Mum on that one I afraid). Then we were off to see one of the presentations but as fate would have it we could not find the room and missed the first 10 minutes so retreated to the bar for a couple of soft drinks and a show.
Masai Dancers flew in from Kenya
They were Fantastic!
Lunch followed at 1300 then it was ‘Recycling Crew’ time at 1345 hours. Ben did a sterling job with the litter picking claw whilst I followed with the refuse sacks. The two hours flew by with me spending more time taking photo’s and chatting to some amazing people on the way round. Before I knew what was happening one of the other crew members reminded me it was time to get back and pass the job onto the next volunteers.
Load's a Bikes
Now last year I had been chatting with a really nice guy who’s name escapes me yet again. He had arrived on a ‘monkey-bike with a two seater bicycle trailer attached with a huge board with ‘cut and paste’ photos all over it stating ‘Been there, done that!’ The photos showed him in Africa, Australia even one of him riding across the surface of the moon. It was a brilliant idea and everyone found it as hilarious as I did.
This year he was on his late fathers Piagio Scooter with side car frame attached upon which he has mounted a car roof box emblazoned with “One Wife....... Livid!” down the side. What a star! It was great to meet you once more and I look forward to our next encounter wondering what mode of transport you will be on.
“Sam’s there Dad, shall we say hello?”
“He’s busy darling, later maybe”.
Dinner comprised of a couple of Bockwurst in Pea and Smoked Ham soup for me and Bacon and Egg sandwich for Ben.
Ed March’s presentation about his trip to Nordkapp on his Honda C90 whilst returning from the Elephant Rally in Austria, was brilliant! Ben loved it and was really impressed with Ed sticking his tongue to a lamppost at -15 degrees C just to see what the outcome would be.
It was well past 2300 hours before we eventually headed back to the tent having said hello to numerous people. Ben decided we should lay ‘across ways’ this time so we did not end up sliding down our sleeping mats again. By 0330 hours the last of the ‘hard core’ story tellers had called it a night in the tent behind us and I fell into a very wrestles sleep. Sadly rolling onto Ben in the process. Still we both managed to get a few hours sleep thanks in part to the blanket I had tied across the middle of the tent to block out the toilet block lights.
By 0700 hours I was up showered, fed and watered and off to collect my refuse sack from the HUBB Gazebo ready for my at 0745 shift. I left Ben to catch up on some well overdue sleep safe in the knowledge I could see the tent at all times.
Once again I headed around the campsite weaving my way in and out of all the little alcoves and various nooks and crannies where new arrivals had pitched their tents. It was brilliant to see such a wide variety of tents motorbikes with and without side cars, plus 4x4’s and camper vans.
Ben loved Iain & Debz SetUp
I got talking, as you do, to a guy who had painted flags of countries he had visited on the front of his windscreen. Having got fed up of having to keep buying new stickers each time he changed his bike. It transpired that we had both served in the former Yugoslavia under the UN back in 1992. He had actually had the misfortune of stopping of at ‘Redoubt Camp’ where I was the chef and shared a few brews there.
What a small world it is!
Halfway through my ‘tour of recycling crew duty’ Ben appeared at my side out of nowhere and commandeered the litter picker claw. We spent an enjoyable hour looking around for litter of which there was very little indeed thanks to the thoughtfulness of the attendee’s. I took a fair few photo’s and Ben scavenged for more litter, unsuccessfully.
“Sam’s there Dad”
Ben was really impressed with the huge 4x4’s that had arrived on Friday and were parked at the back of the site in the overflow area. One had wheels almost as big as Ben. Then he spotted it, Ben’s favorite a VW CamperVan complete with elevated roof. Ben was over the moon, especially when the owner turned out to be one of the coolest guys on the site allowing Ben to pose with his pride and joy.
Can we have one Dad?
Then as we made our way back to the HUBB Gazebo at 0940 hours on Saturday morning Ben just said
“Can we go home?”
By 1400 hours Ben was installed on the sofa watching some mind numbing children’s drivel on TV.
Well done Bruce