March 22 - 0930 - The long queue of MX-5s from the Continent drew stares from the other ferry passengers as we climbed the ramps onto the ship. After being guided into the narrow parking areas, we headed to the food-deck! It then occurred to us North Americans that we still didn't have any local currency. Of course, we weren't sure what "local" meant by that point - we had been in 4 different "currency-zones" in the previous 24 hours! Off to the Thomas Cook money changer - then to the on-board Diner! After about 10 minutes on board, an announcement was made that there were alarms going off in the parking area. Allan jumped up from breakfast announcing "It's mine" and he darted off to find his car. It turned out that Einstein had forgotten to set his parking brake or to leave it in gear.
After breakfast, many of us went up to the top deck to look for the beautiful White Cliffs of Dover which marked our forthcoming arrival in England.
March 22 - 1100 - As we pulled into Dover, Espen said to me "Hey, why don't you drive?". Good idea, I thought. Espen had never driven on the left side of the road before and felt a bit tentative about it. Down the ramp we went. And off to the Customs and Immigration lanes. Naturally, we pulled into the "EC Only" lane, never bothering to consider the fact that neither the United States or Norway are part of the EC. They quickly pointed out that little issue and sent us over to the idiots lane where the conversation went something like this:
Immigration dude: Where are you coming from?
Net dude: France.
Immigration dude: (Smiling at my stupid answer) I meant before that.
Net dude: Belgium.
Immigration dude: Well, before that?
Net dude: Holland.
Immigration dude: Huh? Do you live in Europe?
Net dude: No.
Immigration dude: Well, when did you leave the United States?
Net dude: Yesterday.
Immigration dude: What are you doing?
Net dude: Just driving around with my friends.
Immigration dude: (Handing me my passport with resignation) Have fun.
March 22 - 1130 - The regrouping stop was at a small car park just across from Dover Castle. Then it was off to some little winery, the name of which I can't recall. We spent about 30 minutes tasting their Seyval Blanc and other offerings. But we were really more anxious to jump back into the cars and drive around. The next stop was at a little (really little) museum which housed about two dozen well preserved examples of Morgan three wheelers. Across from the museum was a pub where several of us also decided to have a bit of lunch and a flagon of ale. The weather was shaping up into an incredible day. Bright sun, warm (for March) temperatures, and a clear blue sky made it a perfect topdown day!
March 22 - 1330 - We probably lingered a bit too long at the pub and were the last of the group to head out again. Next stop was the picturesque Bodiam Castle. Like usual, after pulling into the parking area, most people were more interested in walking around and checking out the other MX-5s than in touring the castle. But eventually we got around to going inside. The castle was a hollow shell, having been destroyed some centuries back. But the first thing everyone did was to scamper up to the highest "vista point" in the castle where the view was magnificent! Again, several of us lingered a bit too long while admiring the views, and we were the last ones to head off.
March 22 - 1600 - It was beginning to get late. We were informed that dinner would be at 7PM at the Inn and that we had quite a bit more driving to do yet. As a result, we were forced to keep driving past the beautifully serene Beachy Head. I would have liked to stop and take some photos, but it wasn't to be. Unlike the US Miata Clubs, we weren't using CB radios to chat between cars. The only way to get each others attention was to honk and/or wave furiously. We decided not to.
March 22 - 1900 - We rolled up to the stately Nutfield Priory Inn where we found out that dinner wasn't until 8:30. Great! We're no longer in a rush. Check-in was a bit dicey with 30 or so people standing in the miniscule entry hall waiting for rooms. Several of us were given incorrect rooms, but it was soon sorted out. Keith ended up in a suite so large we could have had the entire group in there for a party! In fact, we started planning it, but we were sidetracked with other plans.
March 22 - 2030 - Dinner at the Nutfield Priory would be the only time all weekend where the whole gang was in one spot at one time. The food was great, the people were fun, and we all had a blast getting to know each other. Helio even joined us from Portugal since he was in London for business! After the salmon dinner, we managed to get everyone's attention by giving away two Team Voodoo shift knob/brake grip sets compliments of Miata.net! There were screams of "fix, fix" when Espen Tandberg won a set. The other set was won by Rüdiger and Andrea Döll from Essen, Germany.
As always, we ended up
lingering around the dining room until rather late. You see, we
had to wait until Allan Elegeert went off to bed so we could
begin executing our special plan for him.
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