– by Graeme George
A couple of years ago I became a Citroëniste when I purchased my 2CV Charleston from a long-time friend, who lived in Vancouver, and drove it 4500 km to my home in Ontario. Shortly afterwards said friend moved to Glasgow, Scotland and we made a plan to visit the World Meeting of 2CVs.
Without having a 2CV over there, we just went for the day on Friday the 29th, after the meet had been gathering steam for several days. The event was very well organized, with sightseeing runs to Edinburgh and other surrounding attractions and the usual concours and displays on site. We had met many 2CVs on the road as we approached Kelso (the town adjacent to the castle). Often, the older ones with the small engines, were leading a parade of traffic on the narrow hilly, roads!
Not much need for speed bumps to calm the traffic in the campground. The mud “ooze” was for the most part confined to the roads, not under the tents!
In fine weather the grounds of the castle would be very scenic. Unfortunately, because of the frequent heavy rain the camping and activity area had become a sea of mud. The whole area started out as a beautiful grassy estate with no roads, but the large number of cars had gradually churned up the lanes between the tents. Attempts had been made to lay down traction mats on some of the steeper parts but even they became mud covered and extremely slippery.
We watched some cars having trouble on a relatively gentle slope and thought that they were unskilled drivers until we tried to walk across it and discovered that there was absolutely no traction in the mud at all. It was like walking on ice. Later the Laird had crews putting down loads of heavy gravel on top of landscape cloth. I guess the estate has ended up with some new roadways unless he plans to have it all scooped up again.
Participants navigate rivers of mud thanks to thousands of narrow tires churning up rain soaked dirt paths.
The other bad feature was being downwind of the Portaloos (as they call them)! One hundred yards was too close. Incidentally, the supplier of the Portaloos was a company with the appropriate last name of Pugh!
The big marquee was the venue for the evening concerts and other events and also housed the “boot sale.” Only vendors who were working out of their 2CV trunks (boots) were permitted. There was surprisingly little of the usual flea-market type of used bits and pieces, but perhaps these had been sold off during the first days before we attended. Lots of 2CV clothing, stickers, models, toys, add-ons, etc. were available from vendors from all over Europe. The major suppliers of new or remanufactured 2CV bits had other display tents and were doing a brisk trade.
There were many cars and truckettes for sale but when the price was converted to Canadian dollars they were not cheap and there would still be shipping and other costs to get one home, so I managed to resist.
I haven’t heard what the final count was, but they had 1,780 vehicles and over 4,000 people registered in pre-bookings by the end of May and the expectation that many more would turn up at the site. At that time, twenty-eight countries were represented, including Japan (1), Australia (17) and New Zealand (4) and, yes, Canada (2) although we couldn’t find the latter in the melee. [Ed. Note: That would be Steve Loria!]
Scottish drinking and driving laws appear to have been relaxed somewhat for the meet.
Almost any type of food was available, but perhaps the best quality was found in the tent of the Floors Castle kitchen staff who were doing great bridies and pork sandwiches. I suppose when one owns a castle these days every little bit helps to keep it going!
Every conceivable type of special 2CV was in attendance, from the commercially made three wheelers and convertibles to the stripped down racers and rally-cross vehicles. Some were very well done. One of particular interest was a recreation of the first prototype although it had to have two headlights and a few other bits and pieces added in order to qualify to be driven on the road.
I have to admit that camping, especially in those conditions, no longer appeals but being a part of the 2CV scene and absorbing the passion, even for a brief few hours, has given me added enthusiasm to get my Charleston back together.