Bit of a late post, but here goes…
So first of all, CAE stands for Camping Auto Extravaganza. Which should give you some idea of the type of event it is. Last year was the third, and my first. And the first time I’d met the majority of the club members, even though I’d spoken to them all online via the club forum.
In the intervening year, friendship and bant has developed and I now consider them all to be friends and some of them to be close friends.
I had Friday off to get ready and get there, and Brad suggested I join their convoy from Birchanger Green services. So I got there ridiculously early and sat and sunbathed and read a book in the sunshine (and had a sneaky KFC for lunch!) while I waited for him, Jim & Karine and Nigel to turn up.
(Can’t find a pic of my car in the car park )
As it happened the traffic was completely horrific so I had longer than planned to read and chill out, but eventually got a call saying they were there and to head off, and they’d catch me up. Knowing they were all in turboed cars, I did.
And spent the next 30 miles driving as slowly as I possibly dared, letting trucks overtake me and desperately looking in my mirrors for signs of MR2s coming over the horizon! Eventually decided to go off at a junction and over the roundabout to delay myself – got back on the sliproad and they all shot past me! But I beeped and they’d seen me so I caught up, and then the drive got fun! (the traffic was stil horrific and there was lots of stopping and starting, but it’s fun driving in convoy with friends. Jim & Karine livened up the journey by dropping back and chucking jelly babies at us – hit my car but not me, sadly, but the thought was there!
We arrived in Peterborough about 4ish I think, although I was so excited to be there I didn’t actually look at the time. The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of chatting and hugging and catching up with people, it was so lovely to see old friends, and be introduced to new ones! It was also fantastic to finally meet the people behind the usernames I’d been chatting to for so long J
Michelle and Ian’s place is beautiful, with space for us all and beautifully put together both inside and out. The pool was warm, the hot tub was warmer and they had two BBQs and several fridges for all our drinks J and a BAR!
Friday night was spent munching takeaway, deciding on treasure hunt partners (for anyone curious, this is the closest we got to keys in a bowl, lol – just names in a hat for who drove and who navigated the next morning!) and then drinking, dancing, swimming (Anna and I got in the pool at stupid o clock) and talking. I even braved the hot tub. I drank far too much, to the point where I flashed my floozies (only a little bit!) for Rob and Russ (and Luke – who I then spent ages trying to convince I was normal. I hope I succeeded!) and had an unexpectedly fabulous time – much better than every time I go out clubbing and try hard to have fun. I think I eventually went to bed about 2am, and did that really annoying thing where you try to be quiet and make more noise than you would have done normally. Oops.
Saturday morning was a convoy of all of us, which definitely ranks among the most exhilarating experiences of my life – was such a kick to see so many roadsters and other toyotas all together, revel in the looks we got and know that every car contained a friend of mine J (yeah, I’m a sappy idiot, lol).
My Poppy is the car on the very far end :)
Then the treasure hunt was on, and we all met back at the house for a photoshoot and lunch. Look at the pretty cars…
(this pic courtesy of Luke Abbott – I failed to get a decent pic of all the cars together)
Took the opportunity to get a new profile pic too..
Saturday afternoon was really chilled, involving chatting, playing pool, reading magazines and in my case napping *blush*. I came back outside blinking at about 6ish and asked if I’d missed anything. Someone said ‘yeah, you’ve slept so long Amy Winehouse is dead’. Which obviously I dismissed as the usual bant. Then realised it was true and was actually quite sad!
The chilled vibe continued into the evening, only with added alcohol, and I remember sitting at one point by the pool, lit by candles, laughing at something ridiculous (I believe spiderman pants and a drawing of thongs and mankinis were involved) with some of my favourite people in the world and just being the happiest and most content I can remember for ages.
L-R Me, Rob, Wills
Hou in foreground, Anna and someone headless in background
Then we had dinner, then we drank and danced and talked some more, I dropped my duvet in a puddle, we realised it was actually quite cold and broke out the sleeping bags, and I continued drinking and got sleepier and sleepier. We had some ridiculous but wonderful conversational moments (and ahem, educational too) and I gave up trying to stay awake and went to bed somewhere between three and half three.
L-R – Jim, Luke, Wills, me, Beka, Karine, Brad
Anna and I having a silly moment in the hot tub
L-R Brad, Luke, Jim
L-R Jim, Brad, me, Beka
Sunday morning… was mostly full of people ambling around sleepily, talking about the weekend and their plans for getting home. We had an amazing full English breakfast, then people started to wander off. Which made me really sad, actually.
So we said our goodbyes and promised to get on facebook/keep in touch/do this again really soon, and then Anna and I went and spent the afternoon sat in a pub garden talking about how lovely it had been.
Returned home, helped my housemate pack some of her stuff, and then settled down to the flurry of photos, new friends, messages and comments on facebook. Turns out that this year, it’s not just me that’s soppily nostalgic about the weekend and would much rather it hadn’t ended. Everyone’s struggled to get back to reality this week. And I’d like to think that we’ll all stay friends for a very long time, having experienced it together. There’s not many groups of people I could have an entire weekend with without getting seriously cross with some of them at some stage. And I’ve never in my life met so many new friends at once!
Best. Meet. Ever.
And I really hope we do another big one before next CAE – I can’t wait a whole year to see these guys again!
*apologies to anyone reading this who went, my words and photos don’t do justice to how awesome it was.
**apologies to anyone reading this who didn’t go, who is probably bored senseless. But really – if you do one thing this year, buy a Toyota and join us next year!