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(In)famous Five have fun in Gotland

After much email chatter (without lashings of ginger beer) Silverfish, Snotamog, Senzanome, Mean Green and Silver Surfer had agreed on a trip to the Island. As the only local, Mean Green(Bertil & Berit) made arrangements from Gotland while the rest of the British contingent booked ferries from Harwich and Newcastle.

Dave and Nicki took decided that the only way was Essex , while Tom, Mike & Judy and I took the North East passage.

My departure was a little hectic, having just fitted the new ignition module, timed the engine and loaded the car, on Saturday morning there was no spark! Quick change back to points & condenser and I was away. After 40 miles the car ran out of steam, and mindful of the departure deadline I frantically mended it at the roadside, a new condenser had failed so I fitted the spare, arriving at the ferry just in time.

We arrived in Amsterdam and took a leisurely drive through Holland, where we seemed to be among the few in cars in proportion to the number of cyclists everywhere.

We then hit the tarmac to Bremen and made good time when, after a set of lights near the Hauptbahnhof the two cars following vanished from view. I pulled over and decided to find the route to the campsite. I was setting off again when I heard and saw a Messerschmidt bubble car on the other side of the tram-lines in the middle of the road. While waiting at the first roundabout the Messerschmidt driver climbed the pavement behind me and shouted "What is this car?"

"Pembleton, is that a Tiger?" "never heard of those, yes, come with me to my workshop!"

I tried to explain my loss of both companions and route but he assured me he would show me the way if I went with him. I complied and was taken to a garage where Gerd had a collection FOUR Tigers, all beautifully restored and working. One was a racing model with sports coaming (not fitted).

I had to phone Mike to find where they were and it turned out that Tom's ignition had failed. I volunteered my new friend's services and we set off back to the Station Square. We found Tom had carefully chosen an erotic club to park near, and with Mike was trying to conjure a spark. No joy, so with two lengths of rope we hitched the Snotamog to the Surfer and I towed him through the streets of Bremen until we found Mike and Judi's hotel. There was little we could do except have beer and dinner in that order and the next morning had to leave Tom to his own devices with a map of how to find Gerd's garage. Another tale.

Senzanome and the Surfer drove through miles of roadworks to reach the ferry at Puttgarden which took us to Denmark followed by a drive along country roads to Koge where we had arranged to meet Silverfish. The hotel had a room available for me so after a shower

we went to the café in the square for a beer in the evening sun. The sound of the Guzzi announced Dave and Nicki's arrival. We heard from Tom to say a new ignition module was needed and being dispatched.

The drive over the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo was our introduction to Sweden and we turned off the motorway to follow the coast (turn off, head north and keep the sea on the right). Not long after our first fuel/coffee stop the rain started and we were stuck in a torrential downpour which felt as if it lasted for hours. We spied a service stop and went in to drain and dry at the Rock Museum Restaurant. A good Swedish fixed-price lunch made us feel better and the rest of the drive to Paskallevik was dry. Getting out of the cars we were all assailed by mosquitoes which bit so viciously I decided against camping and found a room in the hotel opposite the others' Guest House. Good food and good company made a very pleasant evening.

The ferry at Oscarshamn was 10km away so after breakfast we were able to take a leisurely drive before loading. Having established ourselves in our seats, after an hour or so an announcement called for Mr David Parr's party to report to the reception desk and we were ushered up to the bridge to meet the captain, a friend of Bertil's. A fine opportunity to see a ship from the other side of the railings.

Mean Green was waiting for us as we drove off the ferry and the week of entertainment organised by Bertil and Berit started with a visit to the Mediaeval Fair and market. The local paper sent a journalist and photographer and we featured in the following day's edition.

We drove to Bertil's where we had a chance see his immaculate workshop and after eating drove to Bunge where we were to stay for 3 nights. We heard that Tom was on his way and should arrive the following day at 14.00h.

We were in barrack huts left after a WRAC equivalent training school was closed down, the main building had a dining hall which made excellent food and baked their own bread. Their breakfasts and evening meals were excellent. I need more exercise!

The airfield next door is privately owned by an ex-Air Force pilot and trainer and his wife (also an instructor) who keep a small collection of aeroplanes. He showed us a short film of his exploits including a flight under the bridge at Stockholm.

We then set off back to Visby to meet Tom and had to drive through rain for a good part of the journey.

Our next outing was to the island of Faro by ferry visiting an English Cholera Graveyard and a Creperie which was surrounded by a huge and eclectic selection of rusting motor vehicles of every description and period

Rain again drove us back to the main island but fortunately it was the last rain we saw on Gotland. That evening we had a pleasant time in the communal sitting room and presented Bertil and Berit with an engraved Quaiche commemorating the adventure.

We left Bunge and headed south towards Slitte and called in briefly to see Bertil's mother. Then on southwards past a Viking Ship Burial site to a picnic lunch on the SW coast of Gotland, with just the right amount of sand in the sandwiches!

At the end of our run we arrived in Holmhallar where three cabins and two camping pitches had been booked. Tom and I pitched our tents and then headed for the dining hall where the evening meal was served at 17.00h. After dinner we took a walk along the SE coast nearby seeing amazing rock formations and picking a spot for our swim in the Baltic the following morning.

A wonderfully clear sky ensured that I froze in my cheap 2 season sleeping-bag but I did see a shooting star when I got up to put more clothes on!

We met for our swim and it was most refreshing and not as cold as might have been expected. Berit has photographic evidence!

We spent the day touring the southern part of Gotland including a visit to a stone-works with a delightful hot-bulb ignition agricultural engine running an overhead line-shaft driving archaic machinery to make grindstones. After our return to Holmhallar for the evening meal we had the pleasure of cycling along the shore and then onto the road in search of a café which might be open. We found it but though the pottery part seemed to be standing open there was no sign of life. Cycling along country lanes and tracks we returned to our base at Holmhallar.

Monday saw us leaving and going up the west side of the island for a second dip in the Baltic at Klintehamn but although Mike and Judi swam, it was too cold for the rest of us.

We headed north towards Visby again and called into a motor-museum in Kneippbyn, a wonderful collection of bicycles, auto-cycles, motorcycles, cars and tractors. Our last evening on the island was spent at a theme-park with cabins at Kneippbyn having a final dinner in Gotland overlooking the sun sinking into the Baltic with a Cabaret Show taking place in the restaurant behind us.

The following day we met Bertil & Berit for our last day in Visby, getting the chance to look round the old city wall and do some last minute shopping before saying our goodbyes and loading ourselves onto the ferry. We arrived in Oscarshamn and headed for Paskallavik again to face the mosquitoes.

The return to Koge was a reverse of our northward trip without the rain but including a visit to a military surplus store I'd spotted on or way north. We said goodbye to Silverfish the following morning as Dave and Nicki headed for Esjberg and we continued south to Bremen. We all suffered in a massive rainstorm on our separate routes and if I wasn't convinced before, I was certain then that motorway driving in a Pembleton is not for me.

Mike and Judi stayed at their hotel while Tom and I camped in a very well-appointed campsite and the hero of the hour, Gerd, arrived in his racing Messerschmidt Tiger to join us for dinner in the restaurant in the park.

After breakfast we headed south into Holland with a minor interruption of Guzzi power as a poor earth on Snotamog brought Tom to a halt in a long queue for some roadworks. The problem was soon sorted but the time we lost meant more motorway to meet the ferry loading deadline. A frantic dash round Utrecht and the south of Amsterdam brought us to the ferry in time to board for our crossing home.

Bertil and Berit really did us proud and organised a fantastic week's entertainment and good accommodation for us and we are most grateful for all their efforts.

Everywhere we had been we had met friendly and interested people who were fascinated by the cars and I think I can speak for all of the party in saying that Five really did have fun in Gotland.

Tony Deblin who told this tale to Duncan Grimmond

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