Showtime in Belgium
John Stokes enjoys the Leafer-only camping weekend in Flanders
Series-only gathering in Flanders
Somewhat inexplicably, a 99mile drive from the Rotterdam ferryport down into Belgium is just too risky for some owners of Series Land Rovers. They seem to forget these vehicles have explored almost every part of the world – and they actually relish being used. But for a few Brits, the annual pilgrimage to this Leaf-sprung Land Rover event simply can’t be missed.
Early July saw the 8th Opheers weekend take place in the grand setting of the Herkenrodehove van Opheers, a recently restored 17th century mansion. With the support of family and friends, Carl and An Van Ravensteyn have steadily built interest for this event, attracting visitors from all over Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and UK.
I grabbed a ride in Chris Groves’ 1958 SWB Series II truck cab, which he’s owned since 2005. Chris and his family have been making the 450-mile round trip from his home in France for five years: he had a spare seat this year while the family stayed home due to school exams.
A carefully scouted greenlane route took us, together with about 40 more Series Land Rovers in small groups, south towards Liège and on to the Ardennes.
We re-grouped for lunch at a traditional ‘frituur’ serving the best chips in Europe – and the allimportant mayonnaise, of course – before heading north, arriving back at Opheers, muddied from the overnight rain.
One of the appeals of Opheers is the Friday night shared international buffet, where everyone brings a main dish or dessert from their home region.
Catering for about 80 visitors this year, Carl and An put on the best event yet. Next year’s date is already set: July 5-8. Come and join the party. And if you’re nervous about venturing outside the UK with your classic, don’t be – just meet up with other Brits and make a convoy!
Home base for a brilliant weekend Greenlane run was a highlight
Food has a big role to play at this event! ‘Another glass? Don’t mind if I do’ Smiles all round – hard not to, really