Field of Dreams Show Report 2014

Field of Dreams VW Show 2014
Written by Mark Stutt of Camperscape;   Photos by Lauren Frost & Rick Goodwill

We couldn’t make the first Field of Dreams Aircooled VW Festival (FoD) in 2013, so we were very keen to get to this one, it being in the North saving hours on the motorway and that it’s organised by friend, Kate of Classic Volks, was a bonus!

We were also keen to get along as to be honest I’d fallen a bit out of love with VW shows, what were great events focusing on the cars became massive and expensive with traders selling hardly anything VW related or complete tat; the music on offer wasn’t to my tastes and the growth in popularity of T4s and T5s meant air-cooled vehicles were becoming a minority and I say this as someone lucky enough to own a Late Bay as well as a T4! Indeed, a group of friends and I started the Tynemouth Classic VW Rally a one day air-cooled show to counter this trend, and as it’s by the beach with the vibe and atmosphere we wanted and that we felt others did to, we’re onto our fifth one now. I knew anything that involving ClassicVolks.com would be top notch so early bird tickets were purchased, dates put on the calendar and time booked off work.

The great day arrived and we purred (our Late Bay, Gracie, having received a new exhaust!) through the Tyne Tunnel on the A19 and headed south.  An hour and a half later, with more and more VWs appearing, we turned off the A19 (no need for maps or sat nav, 98 miles on the same road!) and into Escrick Park. Straight away one of the selling points of FoD became apparent when we were directed to the air-cooled only parking area! Although to be fair, the steward did have to ask if we were aircooled, so maybe a VW spotters guide should be included for the stewards! It easy to forget that not everyone is as obsessed with aircooled VWs as we are…

A short trundle over the fields, and a friendly chap guided us into our spot and that set the tone of all the stewards/organisers – friendly, helpful and approachable (no ‘hi-vis vest of power’ attitude here).  Awning up, kettle on, camp chairs out and relax! We were pitched at the bottom of one row of aircooled VWs, a mix of Splits, Bays (Early and Lates) and a few T25s with a large area in front of us leading to the marquees and food and drink stalls, so a long walk to where things were happening certainly wasn’t going to be a problem.

Catching up with old friends and exploring the trade area took up the rest of Friday. The trade stand area itself is worth mentioning as it was the best one I’ve seen at a show; enough relevant, quality stands to offer a great choice (including three swap-meet stalls) but not too many that it overwhelmed the show. It’s positioning was ideal, being right by the main site in between the two camping areas and when the sun set the strings of light bulbs for illumination were a really nice touch.

I’ve mentioned there were two camping areas, one was air-cooled only and the other was for any VW or even (whisper it) the odd caravan… These gave people the choice to camp in the mixed area to be with friends who don’t own an air-cooled VW or, if they did, be part of the actual event, as it’s raison d’être! A busy week before FoD led to an early night on Friday but it was very pleasant listening to the excellent music of The Inspectors coming from the marquee and once that had ended a very good night’s sleep ensued.

Saturday started overcast but warm and the appearance overnight of the Rothfink crew from Cardiff. They’d brought the awesome “Rustbus” (drool…). Parked up with them for the Haul of Rust display was a beautiful patina’d Beetle, a couple of ‘Things’ and If you don’t know Rothfink (and why not?) they produce a natty line in clobber and some great photshoots of old Dubs, tattoos, bikes and anything else that catches the zeitgeist. They are a nice bunch too as I found chatting to Jason as our daughters caught some air on the bungee trampolines!

Saturday day was spent chatting with friends, tree climbing, lounging on the handy straw bales listening to some excellent acoustic music and observing Kev’s  masterclass in MCing on the wireless mike! Next to the music marquee with it’s cool Beetle DJ booth was a chill-out tent with more straw bales and blankets in case the weather turned, thankfully it stayed dry, but it was a nice touch.

Due to tragic events at the Manchester Dogs Home the Canine Show n Shine was almost cancelled but people rallied round, volunteered and the show did go on! Bravo to all those who helped. All proceeds from the dog show were sent back to Manchester with Dogs N Dubs to be given to Manchester Dogs Home to help with the rebuild of the home.

Green Bay Café (a café housed in a Green Bay bus…) provided caffeine a converted DubBox trailer provided alcohol and lots of food stalls provided grub (the wood fired pizzas proving very popular with us!) and a very pleasant day was had by all.

The evening’s music kicked of with TEN79 playing some cover versions and their own songs had an early REM vibe with the headline act The Talks and their two-tone, ska, rap fusion going down a storm. The theme for this year’s FoD was ‘A day at the races’ and special mention to Steve (from Dubenhams.com), Honor, Gary and the rest for turning on the style.

To round off a most excellent day Kate had arranged for an exclusive showing of the VW bus film ‘Circle the Wagen’; the tale of a couple of young lads who bought a Late Bay bus off Ebay and decided to drive it from New York to Los Angeles! Needless to say things didn’t run (in every sense of the word) smoothly but along the way they made friends, learnt more than they could have bargained for about air-cooled engines and discovered the fantastic VW community that we all value.

The Show n Shine took place outside our awning door on the Sunday and there were some cracking vehicles, a Split Screen Beetle drawing a lot of attention and for me a gorgeous Karmann Ghia  was the highlight as it was the double of my Uncle Johnny’s that sparked my interest in all things air-cooled and VW. Reggae was playing over the PA and everyone was kicking back and enjoying the show. Our daughter won the Hobby Horse race and I was persuaded/blackmailed in to entering the Men’s Hobby Horse race – the 1.20 from Escrick! I came last but special mention to the awesome home made horse and outfit from one of the Flat 4 Dubbers – outstanding!

We had to leave before the prizes for Show n Shine were given out, but I bet the judges had some tough decisions to make.  All in all Field of Dreams 2014 was without doubt one of the best VW shows I’ve been to, the location was great, facilities spot-on, enough things to keep kids entertained, not too big, but with enough people and vehicles to create a special vibe that other shows just haven’t got. If you didn’t make it this year, make sure you get your tickets for 2015, it’ll be one of the best shows of the year, you heard it hear first.

Thanks Kate, and all the others who put this show on, you nailed it!

2015 dates are 11th – 13th September, tickets are available from midday on 27th October 2014 by going to the website

(www.classicvolks.com/vwfieldofdreams.html)

 

 

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Words and images by Martin Bellamy

Spring 2011: I’m chatting with my friend and business partner whilst out on a cycle ride and he says, “Did you know that you can buy new VW campervans?” “Really?”, says I, “I thought they were all old ones, that break down all the time” “No”, he says, “I saw an advert in the paper yesterday – they’ve got an offer on with £500 discount*”

 A month later and Mrs B and I are on our way to Yate, near Bristol, to visit the Danbury showroom. We’ve got an appointment for 2pm (you can’t just turn up) but we’re an hour early. The receptionist (sitting behind a desk made of a VW T2 body) isn’t sure there’ll be anyone to see us yet but she’ll ring upstairs to try and find someone. After a short while, Dan comes down and so starts the bewildering process of buying a new Brazilian made VW T2 Kombi.

I suppose driving down to “look” at a Kombi is a bit like going to “view” a litter of puppies. Apart from timewasters and those who can’t stretch themselves that far financially (and, believe me, it’s a stretch of gymnastic proportions) both outcomes are liable to produce a sure fire sale.

We’d thought about buying a classic 60s or 70s Campervan, but I don’t have the mechanical skills to keep one on the road. If it’s a pen you want pushing then I’m your man – but the thought of being stranded by the roadside with my limited skill set fills me with dread. What we wanted was something reliable that we could use at weekends and for summer holidays.

“Why not get a modern T5 then? They have power steering, modern interiors and much more powerful engines” That’s my head talking, of course, whilst meanwhile, my heart is doing cartwheels at the sight of the iconic T2 shape and suddenly I’m the hippie, free-spirit that I dreamed of being back in the 70s.  In reality, I’m MD of a commercial insurance broker in Wigan but, hey, we can all have our dreams.

So, it had to be a T2, and we got down to the process of choosing the options available. I’m 6’5”, so sleeping room was essential and we opted for the full size double bed option. Ker-ching! This meant the spare wheel had to go on the back and we’d need the locking wheel cover, of course. Ker-ching!  Do we want all leather on the seats? – you betcha, we do! Ker-ching! How about having her lowered? Oh, yes and BRM alloys please. Ker-ching!

What about colour? Now, we knew we wanted green over white, but weren’t’ prepared for the option of having ANY green we wanted. We’d expected a small choice like you have with modern cars but Danbury have swatches and swatches of colours. Eventually, we chose Spice Green (“Metallic?” “Yes, please” Ker-ching!)

With the addition of a retro wooden steering wheel and classic bowed roof rack we were done and the order was placed. As we drove away we looked at each other and thought, “What have we done?”

Collection was to be in August so we had 3 months to wait – time we spent worrying about the cost and thinking of where we could go in the new van. I found a Forum specifically aimed at the Brazilian Bay which proved to be a brilliant resource for information and which was so friendly we’ve made scores of new friends in the real world as well as cyberland.

We were so excited by delivery day and the train journey from Preston to Yate seemed to take forever. It was all worth it – our first sight of Absinthe (yes, of course, she’s got a name) was fantastic and we couldn’t wait to drive her home. Paperwork done, Mrs B took the wheel and we set off.

What was immediately obvious after years of driving modern automatic cars was that this one was going to need to be driven. The gearbox and gear stick seemed to have minds of their own and the steering was eccentric to say the least. That didn’t stop us from grinning from ear to ear though (what we now recognise as the permagrin of the VW enthusiast) and being thrilled by the waves from other VW owners.

 

It’s the last bit that has been the real thrill of ownership for us. The VW world is a small one with lots of interconnections and in the main we’ve been welcomed wherever we’ve gone. Sure, there are one or two die-hards who consider anything without an air-cooled engine as less than authentic but, in the main, Absinthe brings a smile to most peoples faces.

The recent ending of production in Brazil has brought the T2 into the limelight again and in 30 years time I’m sure the current incarnation will be as revered as the originals are now. For us Brazilian owners, the attraction is the freedom to use the van as often as we want.

Many of the Forum members use their vans as their everyday vehicles and many have now added power steering to make day to day use even easier. We use Absinthe almost every weekend from Spring until late Autumn and the pleasure we’ve had from her has been immense.

We’ve had 3 week runs through France and Spain and weekends away throughout the UK. We’ve done our first ever Festival (Larmer Tree in Dorset) and have used her as overspill family accommodation at our Static Caravan in the Dales. She’s shifted furniture and been to the tip. We’ve had afternoon teas overlooking the coast and icy mornings in the Cotswolds. She’s even part of our Xmas decorations over the holiday break.

Would we swap her? No! Are we glad we found Danbury? You bet we are.

* a bit like DFS, Danbury nearly always have a £500 offer running

 

 

 

 

 

York Classic VWs first York Club meet

Just a quick one today, I’ll follow this up with a full write up with pictures after the event.

On Wednesday 27th July 2011 we are having our first VW owners club meet in York.  We are meeting first at the Black Bull in York and then a cruise convoy to the White Swan at Deighton just outside York – not far from the York Designer outlet.

So far our Volkswagen owners are bringing: 5 CamperVans, 3 Beetles, 1 Karmann Ghia, possibly a caddy, a Golf, a T4 and maybe a T5.  Unfortunately our lovely Betsy can’t make our first meet as she is going in for her re-spray this week, we were going to wait but I think some were getting anxious to have a meet so we decided to go ahead without her on this occasion.  For the next one, Betsy will be there looking all shiny and new…

We are really looking forward to getting together with some faces that we already know and some new ones. If you read this and are in the York area – or don’t mind travelling, then join our website forum and add yourself to the meets thread that I have put up about our local veedub meet.  We do need to know numbers as at our second stop we are getting some food laid on for us – it will be something like sandwiches and chips.