Stage One: Europe
As many of you are aware I made some notes last year, which, I hope gave you a little insight into the life of a Gumballer for those manic few days in May. At no stage throughout the rally had I any intention to do the same this year. However, I have now been back in the UK for some 12 hours now and, as a result, and the fact I cannot sleep, am now having the time to reflect on the last week or so’s experience’s.
We left Manchester for London around 2pm on Friday 28th April in the F50, this was to be a show car and we were to meet the FLA5H Gumball Lambo once there, having sorted out the transmission problems and the very distinctive wrap. On the way we arrarnged to meet T4NGO and antandpete.co.uk at Keele services on the M6. This we did and proceeded on our jouney south. However, due to poor weekend traffic and the fact a 40ft trailer was on fire we met with 15 miles of traffic. Well, being veteran gumballers, we put our famous lane to use and made steady progress! Ant even blagged an officer to let him use the police layby for a call of nature. Good work fella!
We finally made to london some 5 hours later with a very hot clutch and sweaty armpits, got to the hotel garage and dumped the cars. Once there we met with Des (gumball-3000.com), Bill and Gary, several other friends and went for dinner (after a shower, of course), we then returned to the hotel and met Rob ‘Lonman’ Kenworthey, who, once again showed us his skill in drinking spirits and eating the glass afterwards. At this point I also met Adam, (I heart YOU) Lambo – who was to be a key figure in the forthcoming week. Also, met up with Muss (you talk too much when I am hung over)! and The Balkan Express and many other Gumballers I fail to mention. Okay Alex, but you were busy having coffee!
Got first to registration early on the Saturday (OMG I hear you say) But did not want to sit in the bar as last year and get too pissed (this was to be our only sensible decision of the week!). At registration, this larger that life Polish character arrived to say his car was still in peterborough and that he had no co-driver – much to Julie’s anger, the guy in question was Adam. Consequently, once Julie had explained, or rather told him there was no chance of entry, Adam somehow managed to find a co-driver and get his car to london, Respect! Anyway, we got our freebies and co-pilot satnav after and hour and went to lunch in the bar.
One drink turned into seven and we were getting well oiled. Nods, Gary and I, had arranged to meet Chaz (car 90 last year) back at the hotel after dinner in Covent Garden (we sacked the movie for reasons you now know – it was shit!). At the party in the hotel where we bumped into some old friends (love you Bez n Monica), we bumped into some new ones…. Who the f**k is Matt James…???
Anyway, a late night then an early morning. Went to the lobby and bumped into….Matt James??? this guy followed us to the garage and subsequently to Pall Mall in the Lambo with myself, asking people to question whether Nods had got a new shirt (I am sure you have seen the pics). Got the cars to Pall Mall and went for lunch with Jodie, her mum and Aiden. (Jodie, your mum is lovely!)
Max did the usual debrief and we then headed off from Pall Mall to the chunnnel. We hit the start flag only to be me by jodie, who jumped into our car out of jealously, and came for, what would be her only gumball of 2006, a mere 100yards. After a shed tear, we bid her farewell and had to ask her to leave, then we were on our way. De Ja Vous!
After the send off, jodie then walked back to the hotel with the aforementioned Matt James who was only to be hassled by an unsuspecting member of the press who assumed he was Alexander McQueen (in that shirt?). I believe this 10 minute interview made one of the SKY channels. (Keep your head down Matt!!)
As always, stage one is a killer. Got to the Chunnell this year with no tickets, Woo hoo! Bumped into Steph and Uno, our pals from Llunnas, Portals in Mallorca. ( See you next week guys) Then headed to the Chateaux Beleiol once on the other side of the channel. What a gaff that is!!! And Prince Michael was a per perfect host (wonder if we can get the lads round for some world cup matches?). Along the way we convoyed with antantpete and Damian and Richard in the Phantom, however, we never actually saw them (Camoflage..get it?).
Once dawn approached, so did the endless Audi’s of coppers! We, our selves got pulled 9 times only to be booked 5. We met with so many other gumballers at one police station we thought it was a checkpoint.
Vienna was a godsend. however, once there we were to learn that Gary and bill have taken a wrong turn and were somewhere near Kitzburgh – Bill does like to ski! therefore, they were a few hours behind the pack. Budapest was not far to go! We arrived in poor rain but good time. Met with antandpete and Ben and Rog (F50) had several beers before a well earned siesta.
After the siesta we went to the Moulin Rouge in the heart of Budapest where a fantastic show was put on by our crazy friends The Cuban Bros. Here we partied hard with our fellow Gumballers after that first stage – Oh, and we had a buffet ;-).
Asia to follow…..
Dean & Nods – LAMBO/HUMMER FLA5H