Billing Aquadrome Land Rover weekend

I’ve just returned from a good few days down in Northamptonshire, Billing Aquadrome to be exact and a huge gathering of Land Rover lovers.

I’d gone down with an advance party on Thursday to set up the Doncaster District Land Rover Club campsite. Mark and Ben led the way with their yellow Union Jacked roof 110 and were towing their weekend den…disguised as a caravan. We rumbled down the A1 to Stamford then cut west across country, over the last few miles we explored leafy lanes and twee villages before arriving at the aquadome. Adrian, Katie and their killer dog had joined after they had tail chased us all the way down to Stamford, his old series landi was wheezing a bit after that lengthy jog and his engine began to sweat oily black stuff.


Our tents in front of the beer tent with Marks Yellow 110 by the club banner in the late Thursday sunshine.

We were directed to a patch of grass by the huge beer tent. The front entrance was just a bottle throw from our tents and Marks tin tent. Quietly we eyed up then “liberated” a large pile of metal fencing and promptly secured our patch with a ring on steel, this stopped folk walking through our camp and would assist midnight’s merry dwellers in going around us. With our tents erected and tin tent secured. The flag pole went up next then Ben and Mark put up the fluttering green DDLRC banners. We paused and we took  sustenance before “setting to” with the new fangled club tent. The weather was brilliant, clear blue skies surrounded a huge shiny ball of happiness that bathed us making us shine with man sweat as we banged in peg after peg. By 16.30 hrs we were finally dug in and happy.


The Land Rover equivalent of “showing a leg” My truck doing summat it’s not done before! This weekend was a lot of firsts for me.

A quick look around was the plan but the place was just sooo big and sprawled all over Billing so we just had a stroll in a general circle, before returning to our encampment for a few more beers, cooked dinner drank more beers then retired to sleep..or should I say lay down and listen to the next dozen tracks get royally murdered by the assassins on stage just a couple of yards away. By midnight they fell silent and I fell asleep.

I was up very early the next morning as the growing twinge in my back woke me. I got up and went for a long walk round the site.


 Long articulation looking impressive to me seeing it for the first time.



                                                   What speed hump occiffer??


13 (2)

                       An ants eye view… before getting squished

 For some odd reason I just love cooking bacon at dawn outside and on the grass, there’s something comforting about sizzling bacon! Eventually zips opened and the tin tent rocked as the others began to stir and move about. The day was starting early and so after breakfast I was soon in the nearby camping kit shop replacing some old stuff and buying larger, newer kit, I no longer have to fit everything into and onto my bike, I can afford to be normal and buy ordinary sized equipment! I returned £120 lighter with arms full of new camping “bling”

I took a look around the Landis amongst the tents and caravans scattered in the various fields, most were from England, though I saw groups of Land Rovers from France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Holland and one Swiss guy. It’s always nice to see some internationals who have made the effort and went to say “Hi”



                                                     The German contingent



7An English couple converts a DAF truck, They tell me they just waiting to sell the house before they take to the road in Africa. TWENDE means “let’s go”.



                                   An early version of the camper van!


                                        A very VERY early type of camper van!

 In the afternoon we were asked to attend the centre arena to play a memory game?? So on behalf of the club we said yes, Just five people and a dog in two trucks represented the whole region of DDLRC in the afternoon Gymkhana games. Basically what it was, was a large wobbly circle of poles with plastic cups attached, in them were ping-pong balls with numbers on, only they didn’t go in any particular order! The Buckley duo went first and racked up an impressive amount of penalty points. Then it was my turn with Adrian hanging his ass out the window to check the ones marked 6 to 12. If you missed one you had to drive right round again, no reversing was allowed you see! We managed to rack up even more penalty points than the yellow 110 and got a few more for crap parking at the end, Ya Boo!! All good fun with plenty of cheating going off…Buckley senior squashed a few plastic cups to scupper our chances and succeeded too coz we racked up hundreds of minus points.





            Remember to put your mouse on the photo and double left click on the photo to make them LARGE!

Mark has a look at that dodgy bit and decides the half shaft ought to be changed. There were plenty for sale here but not ONE to fit the 110, they were either too big or two small, so Mark and Dan decide to change what they can and within the hour its done, sorted! These are just the kind of lads to take with you overlanding.


                                        Katie and Poppy enjoying the Billing sunshine



Adrian in the business seat of his workshop and everyday Landi series…erm Heinz 67 truck. Easily the most photographed on our stand! Due I think to the naughty stickers adorned on the sides 

Later in the afternoon I had a walk around a tented area, these were the Oztents and one of the reasons why I was here this weekend. For those who don’t know, these are tents made in Australia with outback camping in mind, very strong and sturdy and able to be erected very quickly. Overlanding is something Im keen to try next year. Stopping in at the green smooth flat camping site with brick-built shower block at the end of the day is not always going to be an option! A certain amount of self sufficiency with be required. The Oz tent is something I’m researching. I’ve done a lot of camping over the years with the motorbike both in England and on the continent but with the bike everything has been small and compact even down to the collapsible washing bowl. I didn’t buy a new tent but after seeing them in the flesh so to speak I have a better idea about things and have had a lot of questions answered.



                                                Rubbish or Gold?



                   Some sellers showed ingenious ways to attract us buyers.



  Some of us though  were content to just walk around in circles.. bless!









Challenge time in the arena! Getting a wheel all ther way to the top whilst keeping all the other wheels touching the ground, very tricky indeed!







                         Sometimes they went just a bit too far and just fell over!

The grassy plots were littered with Land Rover parts of every size and shape but mostly all covered in oil and dirt. “One mans junk is another mans gold” is certainly the case this weekend here at Billing. Men shopped with glee up and down these aisles unlike the more uncluttered and cleaner supermarket run! It was busy on all three days and I’ve never seen men push and pull so much. Sat on our pitch later on I sat and watched men return with truck wings and bonnets over their heads, others wheeled chunky tyres in front of them, ther had little trollys loaded with bits, it was like watching ants returning to the nest after a day of foraging.


             Why do you suppose it has such HUGE wheels?….. 


75          …Simple, Its so the big guy can get in with the spanner!!                   

Friday night was a re-run of the previous night, by now a few more members had trickled in like Red Pagan in his 90, 


                                          Mr Red Pagin… on the phone again!!


 Jed an Claire pulled up too but because they were towing a caravan they couldn’t pitch on our paid plot for reasons that escape me at the moment. Another band arrived tonight in the beer tent and slaughtered more good tunes. At bike rally’s I’m normally in there from start to finish and they normally put up about 3 good bands on per night, We used to take our own beer in too as well as partaking from their own bar, the drinks were priced reasonably .The profits went to the Motorcycle Action Group’s (M.A.G) fighting fund. M.A.G fights in parliament and in Europe on our behalf about any anti bike issues or proposed legislation and over the years have been extremely succesful. There are M.A.G groups in practically all the E.U countries so are quite a powerful body. BUT today in the beer tent for 2 pints of flat tasteless Fosters and a half pint of fruit juice Adrian had to fork out £10! Needless to say I stayed out and drank my own full-bodied tasty Fosters instead. I drifted off to sleep somewhere around the demise of “Eye of the Tiger”

Mark was woken by Darryl just after dawn to say “I’m nearly here get the bloody breakfast on!” Darryl is the chairman of the club and had travelled here straight from his last night-shift in his green 110 and was pulling an old sanky trailer full of club goodies, he also had with him Ian in his white defender 90. After a good old heart attack breakfast everyone got stuck in and dressed the club stand, it was all sorted by 9 and we were ready for the meandering crowd.


                        Darryl shows a novel way to keep both eyes open

Id showered as soon as Id awoke at 06.30. The secret at these big shows is to get in there just after the cleaners, when the toilets and showers are as good as new. The cleaning girls started at 06,00hrs and did a sterling job all weekend as did the guys who clattered about pulling huge trailers emptying all the wheelie bins every morning. Well done to the secret army indeed!


     Mark, the camp cook having a few minutes before washing up.

A couple more members arrived with caravans and had to pitch yards away, so actually we were here more in numbers than our pitch showed. Alison, Mick and little Jack drove up from Devon and Cornwall in heavy traffic, sitting on the motorway for hours making their day extrememly long. Little Jack soon got dirty as little lads do and was quite happy, Alison was happy too and showed her mucky feet, Mick got a bottle of beer and kicked back and unwound. Ann-Marie and Winston brought their tribe of nippers. Little Caitlin looked stunning, dressed in a nice little “onsie” Made from Grans curtains according to Darryl. Jed was celebrating his 40th birthday, wifey Clare had put out the buntings and balloons. Jed the tanned ginger gringe didnt think much to Clare’s buntings to begin with and smile great deal to begin especially when I put up the camera to record the scene. He looked like he was chomping on a bag of wasps! 


                                            Jed having a “Happy” 40th Birthday

We entered the arena again on Saturday, this time we arrived in large numbers and Darryl was there as spokesman of DDLRC talking to the lovely compare Diane to explain who and what the club was about.


               9 Trucks from DDLRC show off in the main arena


                           Darryl talks to Diane the shows compare about DDLRC

Saturday night was barbi night, Mark had fabricated a great three-legged device that was just the job, it sat right in the middle of the club marquis,chops sausages and burgers were soon hot and served up, I did my own food just outside on my Coleman petrol cooker, This was my first weekend with the group and didn’t know what “the crack” would be so packed accordingly, I’ll know better for next time though!










Mick and Alison after their long drive up from the South West











….Lifes young apprentices…and tomorrows Land Rover owners perhaps?











Ann-Marie and Winston



Darryl tries to make a serious point, but Caitlin doesn’t really care!


Just about everyone gathered for a natter and drinks at the club stand, the kids came too and created havoc, My crisps were snaffled up in my absence to Mums horror! Don’t worry Alison I’ll say nowt to anyone x….At least the kids left my tinnies alone!

 In the early evening dark clouds gathered, blotting out the clear blue sky, the temperature began to drop and the wind got up, this was the prelude to mucho rain, thirty minutes later the first of the rain came down. it didnt really matter to us as we were all under cover, it rained, rained and rained some more. It was quite heavy for long periods too The only positive thing about the heavy rain was that it drowned out the terrible wailing from the band! I may be unkind about the band it may have been different had I been stood in front of them and not camped ten yards away to one side? Oh yes and it seemed to keep most of the undesirables in the caravans. Chris the manager from Level 1 Group Security told me the next morning that the rain had helped and they had captured some people up to no good during the night but generally it was fairly quiet. Chris and wife Jai from Bawlby arrived during the early rains and sat tight waiting for a lull before getting the roof tent ready, through the rain I watched Darryl help Chris then quick as a flash Jai came out of the truck and disapeared up the ladder to bed! Speaking of bed, Red was having a bit of trouble getting up the ladder to his roof tent due to his disability he was being helped but was getting so exhasperated, he shouted out “F**K! this is like Steven fookin Hawkins on a fookin pedalbike!” Its the first time I’d met Red and was impressed how he copes with his problem and gets on with life as best as he can. His truck is tricked up to help him with various impressive gadgets. I dashed to my tent sometime after midnight and fell asleep to the sandpaper like pattering off the on the tent.


                                  Darryl “helps” Red down the ladders.

Dawn on Sunday and the sun was with us again and all was well again, After breakfast we began to pack everything away, my tent and equipment was stowed in the back of my truck before helping with the club merchandise and the tables which were packed away back into the trailer. Darryl packed his 110 up before hooking up the trailer. He hadn’t sold it this weekend after all though quite a few had a good look.


                                                    Sporting my new club shirt.

It was soon time to leave and we slowly followed Darryl off the site, creeping  through the Sunday throng of weekenders and day trippers. Fuel tanks were topped up and we gathered down a sideroad letting the last man catch up then we set off east in the direction of Stamford back the way we came. Darryl led to begin with then thought he’d missed a turning so Ian took up the lead followed by Darryl, Mark and Ben with their tin tent, then it was me, behind was Adrian young Katie and the killer Jack Russell called Poppy in their old series, already he’d had a little help with a tow and a push to get going  (Adrian would sort out the lazy starter motor within the next 24hrs)  Bringing up the rear came Red. We drove along at around 55 on the country roads for an hour or more until we hit the A1 north, parting company in the Doncaster area, I followed Mark and Ben in the yellow 110 all the way home. Stopping to un hitch their caravan and pushed it into the corner of the garden, then off I went down the road just another mile to my place.

I thought it had been a good weekend, the only point against the Billing show Id say was the dozens of travellers who lived on site. You know what they are like so I wont repeat it here.It was a bit of a worry for the stall holders and truck owners alike who suffer at the hands of Gypsys tramps and thieves. Security had to be present around the clock by the security group Level1 yet some things still went missing and damage done. Personally I was OK but don’t think Ill come to this event again unless they can cover it with a ring of steel!





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