The Goodwill meeting 2002
(Dutch version German version)
by Annette Flottwell and Takeo De Meter
What is the 'Goodwil'? Unlike some better known, very exclusive meetings in Belgium, this was invented for fun and the love of Land Rovers. Five years ago, a small club had booked a large playground round a nice little castle in the Ardennes, near Namur. They had invited many friends in other clubs to share a muddy weekend, a campfire and the repairs that inevitably follow these exercises.. That became such a success, that they decided to do it again. The Goodwill was born and it is still the same group of friends who organise it - no profit intended for more Land Rovers every year and a still very low participation price of less than 50 Euros. Hard to beat.
So this year friends from our Series Land Rover Club in Northern France convinced us to come. What a surprise when I rang up a Swiss friend to get advice about a Yorkshire Land Rover and he asked me" what are you doing in Yorkshire? I thought you would be in Goodwill on Wednesday?" So we did just that.
50 Land Rovers had arrived on the first day, eager to dig themselves as soon as possible into the forest tracks. Soon participants from 7 countries were present, filling the campsite with laughter and emergency repair curses in many languages. Their vehicles represented most types Land Rover had ever exported to the continent and seven Minervas that were to outperform many modern Land Rovers with their agility completed the picture.
The sides of the little valley, cut out over the centuries by a small brook, are wooded and there have been some forestry tracks there, since ever. I say have been". Now, there are ruts, holes, pits, mudholes and waterpits, and the whole place is generally filled with bogged Land-Rovers, some more successfully stuck than others. The sun is shining and it is warm, but the shade in the woods pleasantly shield the men and women who are driving, swearing, winching, falling over, shouting and mostly eating mud in all its flavour varieties. Engines are heard to rev up into high heaven, exhaust gases display a wide range of scents like LPG, petrol, diesel and the occasional delicate touch of burnt cheap, Aldi-purchased cooking oil burned by some Germans in their Td5s, but nobody really notices these exhaust fumes smelling of french fries for we are in Belgium, after all. It all starts when you find an 88" carefully parked at the bottom of a pit, only a foot or so longer than the truck itself and with not much more tha half a foot left on each side. The pit is also about six feet deep. If it had carried a sturdy roof rack, the next truck could have comfortably been driven over the first (they did that with Churchill tanks during the last war, they were called "Churchill Ark"). A bit further, one could observe a Rangie trying a similar exercise, but in a pit with about 3 feet of slushy mud in it. Twenty yards further an 80" Series 1 Minerva was pulling an 88/90' hybrid out of some deep ruts. The same Minerva then climbed happily up a steep slope, paved with loose rock.
This is the fun part of the Goodwill: 5 miles of winding tracks in the woods. When Annette decided to go in there and take some pictures, her Stage One performed brilliantly for the first 300 yards, after which things got a bit hairy when I took a wrong turn and had to react very fast to get her back on all 4 wheels. I got out and persuaded Annette to drive the rest of the track which very soon brought her onto a 45 degree slope of broken slate, so she got down there real fast, where the pond was. Half an hour later, Annette had a good overview of where the better spots were to take pictures. so she went back in on foot, toting cameras and the necessary supply of film.
It was NOT about participating in regular" trials. It was all about having nothing more than a healthy dose of Land-Rover fun. Some of the mudholes are just impossible to get through and would be even more than a challenge for a modern tank, but hat is where all went first. They were queuing to get bogged. Up to the door handles in slush, but all had big smiles on their faces when doing it and these smiles instantly turned into ear-to-ear full-teeth grins when they eventually got out of the first mudhole, but only long enough to get into the next one. If they would have to do this for a living, they would flatly refuse. Never seen such hard, backbreaking work under conditions that would incite any labour union to start a civil war.
Also, there was the mandatory night run: problem was, it was held in very much the same woods where everyone had gotten bogged before, but now with the added delight of not seeing anything and being blinded by other's headlamps, torches, signal flares, oil lamps and whatever lighting implements were carried by the spectators. After the thing was over, search parties were sent out to retrieve lost kids and dogs and there was lots more of activity in the showers, mostly by mothers and fathers trying to get most of the mud off the aforementioned children before letting them in their sleeping bags. The next morning, Henry (from France) showed us one of his tyres that had lost one of its side lugs. This was quickly compensated for by removing another lug on the opposite side with a hacksaw
When Sylvain, the trial organizer, offered me (Annette) a ride in his rusty but reliable Minerva, which was driven by a 1982 Land Rover 2.5 Diesel engine, I did not hesitate a second. I had never driven one of these before and was simply delighted. Turns between the trees that are impossible to take without serious body damage in a 109, were suddenly child's play. If you just keep the tyres muddy enough, Sylvain explained to me, you can practically turn a Minerva on the spot. It really worked, even though the 7.50 felt on that little thing like 9.00 on a big Land Rover, but without the hard labour.
OK but they look so strange with their edgy, cheapest steel bodies, you might say. But as in an edgy Lightweight, you can actually see what you are doing. It is fascinating to see what is happening 10 cms in front of your bumper bar, you don't need to let your bulkhead rust till you can see the driver side tyre. It must be said that in Antwerp they used the largest headlights they could find after the war, so you don't need to carry a Maglite to find your way by night in a Minerva.
"In here, àGAAAAUCHE!" Sylvain shouted, I could still hardly believe it. Steered all I had in milliseconds, come on, he can't mean in FRONT of this tree. Come on, he continued, let the steering go, you made it well round the corner, even a bit too narrow.. Up a hill and suddenly we were back at the campsite. Pity it was such a short ride, I silently regretted, but then my watch told me it had been for an hour .
Lucky me, my husband told me the other day that we actually need an 80", would be nice as a runabout...
Friday saw many emergency measures taken in order to make a good appearance in public during the Saturday roadbook. Minerva vapour locks were treated, many bumper bars and wings were straightened, some lamps were glued back into the body and some contemplated the effect of too much mud and water on their Lucas installations. Spare fuel pumps, water displacer, good advice, duct tape and baling wire were much sought after, inventive solutions were found for many smaller problems. Some even tried to scrape mud off Land Rovers and kids and dogs. The steaming hot showers stayed surprisingly clean, thanks to the committee's great efforts and the lack of effort by some to take any shower at all. Shopping excursions went to replace empty bottles, children's shoes left stuck in the mud and a working mobile phone for me.
On Saturday morning Ghislaine dished out the roadbook, a nice opportunity for everyone to enjoy some rare Belgian sunshine, so every roof, windscreen or doortop was removed if possible. Sylvain had made sure we were to produce great plains dustclouds that you would never expect to see in this part of the world. A touristic 54 km trip along gentle green lanes and gravel roads between the drying flax was the opportunity to see all vehicles in the open.
Only a fleamarket caused some confusion: Instead of looking for Sylvain, who waited to redirect all traffic, many participants listened rather to instructions others had made up. Others didn't miss the opportunity for a spontaneous barbecue or to invest in another Land Rover - in 1:68. For me all these open Minervas, LWTs and modern Land Rovers arriving from all directions at one of the last dusty crossroads were good for 2 pleasant hours in almost Mediterranean sun, photographing at my ease.
So, after a few hours of roof platform photography, Annette started to colour in shades of a freshly cooked lobster, finely powedered in road dust. Even better, just before sunset, we lined up three Stage Ones. But that is a different story!
The official Goodwill Trials: a very neat little circuit was marked out with drive-through gates, on a mostly dry, and partially grassy surface. Turns were tight, shunting was inevitable and the marshalls were very strict and very liberally distributed penalties on their marks sheets, accompanied by appropriate comments to justify the marks they gave: 1 penalty point for not smiling at the marshall, for instance, or: 1 penalty point for savagely aggressing an innocent gate marker stick, 1 penalty point for failing to display an appropriate haircut, 1 penalty point for driving a clean truck and so on. This was also duly reflected by how the prize cups were distributed later that day: 1st prize cup for the participant who had turned right instead of left at the very first tulip in the tulip diagram roadbook and needed 15 miles to find out he had missed the very first turn, prize cup for the participant who least soiled the showers (had not taken a shower in 4 days), prize cup for a 19 year ol girl participant who had just gotten her driving licence on a 101 and had driven a flawless trials run at the occasion of her very first ever trial attempt, prize cup for bringing the pet that did not bark the whole week-end: a cat, prize cup to the spouse of a french participant who had driven her husband's Land-Rover for the first time because he had broken his shoulder a week before, prize cup for a participant for not having showed up at all the year before etc.. And this was very indicative about the deeper meaning of the whole Goodwill rallye: coming from all over continental Europe with only one goal: having fun, and nothing else.
Information for 2003 will be found at
· +32 (0)87 53 00 76 (Gislaine)
is de Goodwill? Er zijn een aantal beter bekende en (sommige) zeer exclusieve
bijeenkomsten in België, doch de Goodwill is bedoeld voor de lol,
voor het plezier van en de liefde voor Land-Rovers. Vijf jaar terug werd
een groot speelterrein rond een sympathiek kasteeltje in de Ardennen,
bij Namur, afgehuurd door een klein clubje. Ze hadden vrienden uit andere
clubs uitgenodigd voor een week-eindje slijkploeteren, een kampvuur en
de nodige herstellingen die gewoonlijk volgen op dit soort oefeningen.
Het werd zúlk een succes, dat ze beslisten dit het volgende jaar
over te doen. De Goodwill was geboren en wordt nog steeds door dezelfde
groep vrienden georganiseerd. Er wordt niet op geldelijke winst gejaagd
om elk jaar meer Land-Rovers bijeen te krijgen en de deelname bedraagt
nog steeds slechts een 50 Eurootjes van niemendal voor vier dagen. Valt
moeilijk te verbeteren.
Op de eerste dag kwamen er al 50 Land-Rovers toe, de één
al haastiger dan de ander om zich zo snel mogelijk in het bos te gaan
ingraven. Algauw telden we deelnemers uit 7 landen en ze vulden het kampeerterrein
met gelach en herstellingsgevloek in verschillende talen. Hun voertuigen
vertegenwoordigden de meeste types die Land-Rover ooit naar het continent
exporteerde en ook zeven Minerva's die er, door hun wendbaarheid, in slaagden
het beter te doen dan veel van de modernere types.
Dit is het FUN gedeelte van de Goodwill: acht kilometer sporen en putten
in het bos. Toen Annette besloot erin te duiken en aan haar fotoreportage
te beginnen, deed haar Stage One (109 V8) het schitterend voor de eerste
300 meters, waarna het een beetje raar werd toen ik plots zéér
snel moest reageren om het ding weer op alle vier zijn wielen te krijgen
in plaats van op slechts twee. Ik stapte uit en overtuigde Annette om
dan maar zélf verder te rijden en dit bracht haar op een glad hellinkje
van gebroken leisteen en van 45 graadjes richting naar beneden, zodat
ze sneller dan verwacht bij het meertje in de diepte aankwam. Een half
uurtje later had ze een goed overzicht van waar de beste foto's te maken
waren en ze ging te voet terug het bos in, beladen met kamera's en de
nodige hoveelheid onbelicht materiaal.
Toen Sylvain, de organisator van de trials, me (Annette) een ritje in
zijn roestige doch betrouwbare Minerva-met-1982-Rover-diesel aanbood,
aarzelde ik geen moment. Ik had nog nooit de kans gehad er eentje te besturen
en was heel blij. Bochten die onmogelijk zijn zonder een 109 te beschadigen,
worden kinderspel. Als je de banden maar slijkerig genoeg houdt, zo verklaarde
Sylvain, kan je een Minerva bijna ter plaatse in de andere richting omgooien.
Ik probeerde het en het lukte, alhoewel de 7.50 banden op dat kleine ding
aanvoelden as waren het 9.00 op een 109, maar dan zonder het zware trek-en-sleurwerk
onvoorzien, wegversperrende bazaar veroorzaakte enige verwarring en enkele
deelnemers improviseerden maar wat om de weg terug te vinden, in plaats
van naar Sylvain te luisteren, die het verkeer omleidde. Anderen organiseerden
een barbecue-onderweg en nog anderen investeerden in een nieuwe Land-Rover,
ditmaal op schaal 1:68. Ik bracht een paar
uur door bij een van de stofferige kruispunten met fotograferen onder
een bijna mediterrane zon.