Dutch Flower Festival Rally - 2012

Camping Koningshof

Rijnsburg, Holland

14 - 27th April 2012


Alison’s smartphone is so smart it not only gives you the weather forecast but makes relevant noises too. Every morning she switched it on and every morning it made the same noise. You’ve guessed – hissing down rain! Although the phone proved fairly accurate the poor weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the 64 ralliers who found themselves at Flip Kromhout’s excellent site, Camping Koningshof, near Rijnsburg in Holland.

Over the years the Club has rallied at Camping Koningshof many times, always coinciding with the local flower festival. This took place on the middle Saturday in cold, wet conditions. You had to feel sorry for the participants, some of whom were wrapped in plastic capes to keep out the rain. Our ralliers were there in force, brollies up, determined not to miss anything.

The parade was a fitting end to the first week of the rally which started with a hearty welcome meal in the on site restaurant. Flip and his team did us proud. The following day many went to the world famous gardens at Keukenhof. At this time of year they’re a sight not to be missed with millions of bulbs somehow kept in a perfect state of bloom and laid out with considerable panache.

On the Tuesday we chartered a boat and sailed the canal system all the way to Delft, famous for its lovely old buildings and handmade pottery. On the Thursday evening we gathered in the Princenhof for no less than four birthday celebrations – Pat James, Pat Vowles, Stuart Brelsford & Ron Ward all had birthdays during the rally. Cake and wine flowed in the traditional manner – you can forget any ideas about dieting on a Swift rally!

The second week kicked of with John & Val Brailsford celebrating their 450th rally on the Sunday evening. Colin Patterson ‘dished the dirt’ but was actually quite complimentary. Once again the wine and nibbles flowed. Before we got too ‘tired’ Val Rowe showed us how to make dragons out of old paper and bits of string. The idea was to have a good selection for St George’s day, the following day.

To mark the occasion the marshals, aided by a willing team of helpers, put on a full English breakfast. Yes, a full English breakfast, rounded off with toast and marmalade - amazing. Forget diets on Swift rallies! Later in the week Flip was called upon to judge the dragons and pick a winner. The honours went to Betty & Colin Patterson.

On the second Tuesday a double decker coach picked us up early for a trip to Polyplastic in Rotterdam. They make the plastic windows for the majority of caravan manufacturers in Europe, including Swift, whom they have been supplying since around 1980 when glass windows in caravans were outlawed. 2012 is Polyplastic's 60th anniversary year so our visit was especially timely. We received a very warm welcome from the managing director, Jan Peter Veeneman, and his PA, Reiny Tijsseling. Following a fascinating presentation on the history of Polyplastic we split up into groups for a factory tour. It transpired that no less than 32 nationalities make up the 200 workers employed on the site. Are language barriers a problem? “Not at all” said Jan Peter with a wry smile “we all speak Dutch of course!” Mmm...


SOC members pose for
the official photographer
before leaving Polyplastic

In the afternoon the coach called at the Maeslantkering flood barrier, which is designed to keep the sea from flooding Rotterdam. It consists of two arc shaped floating hulls that can be swung out from each side of the channel to meet in the middle where they are then sunk to form a solid wall - fascinating stuff for the engineers in the group.

Later in the week coaches took us to Oudewater, known for its weigh house, an official town building, now a museum of witchcraft. In the sixteenth century witches were believed to be able to fly and were therefore thought to weigh much less than ordinary people. The trials and scales used were often rigged, resulting in the burning or drowning of hundreds of innocent people. The scales at Oudewater however were known to be accurate and so offered the accused a chance of proving his or her innocence. On completion of weighing a certificate was issued proclaiming that the accused’s body weight was in proportion to their build. Today these certificates are issued for fun to tourists who take to the scales. Several ralliers were so presented.

After Oudewater we went to Gouda for lunch and to buy some local cheese from the cheese museum. Flip had even organised a guide to show us round. On the way back to site one coach stopped to see the windmills at Kinderdijk, the other was unable to park there and so went on an impromptu tour of Rotterdam instead.

Before we knew it we were back in the restaurant for a farewell meal. Flip was presented with a crystal glass decanter and in return gave the marshals a book on the monuments of Holland. It was a fitting end to another fine continental rally where so many owed so much to so few for the organisation that makes it all possible.

Many thanks to Flip Kromhout and his team for helping to organise the tours and for making us so welcome. Thanks also to the marshals Val & John Rowe, Maureen & Ron Ward and their excellent team, who did just about everything else.

Photos courtesy Val Rowe & Alison Owen
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