A Dutchman's difficulties with the Norwegian language in general and the Norsk Land Rover Klubb in particular.


For reason unknown we own a Land Rover. We bought her in 1995, but the buying decision was made somewhere around 1959, at the time when my parents bought their second car. In my expert opinion our first car had severe limitations. Based on my Dinkey Toy experience I strongly advised them to buy a Land Rover. I admitted that the vision for the six children in the back would be somewhat limited, but one could always ask the garage to level the roof and put some glass in. Just think of the advantages. Think of our Sunday afternoon expeditions. Think of our mission to boldly go where no Ford Anglia had gone before. The Land Rover wouldn't just stand there with three wheels on firm ground, stupidly spinning the one wheel that wasn't. And it wouldn't rust. And it was British and since the British had beaten the Germans, their cars also had to be superior. My father agreed and bought his second Ford Anglia.

In 1995 the world had changed. In a park like country like Holland there are no holes in streets to get stuck in and even if one should suddenly develop, some other, redundant, vehicle way in front of you, will take the opportunity. Also I now know that combining two metals is a sure remidy for (not against) corrosion and as to my third point, well, most likely British soldiers fought on foot. My father was a visionary. This leaves us without any up-to-date motivations for our purchase. That is bad. When I maneuver our car in a "Visitors Only" parking spot in front of some modern office building, most people don't see a Land Rover Defender 2.5 Tdi Hi Capacity Pickup, they see a Statement and want to know to what. An honest "Why not?" won't do. Luckily, nowadays, there is Internet as a universal source of wisdom. Not only does it answer any question, it is also a great spot to get stuck, especially if you use a tool called "Explorer" that was exclusively designed for this purpose by one Mr. Gates. This Mr. Gates is my hero. How wonderful this overdeveloped country would be, if only we could replace the queen by him. Think of what our motorways would look like. The holes, the mud, the winches... Anyway, he led me to a site called "Landstreff 98", where I would find all the answers. Some answers were there, be it in Norwegian. But that is only a small deficiency. We have met Scandinavians before and most of them claim that they can read a Dutch newspaper and grasp most of the meaning of what they read. I wished I could. But anyway, if Dutch is close to Norwegian, then Norwegian must also be close to Dutch and without any problem I managed to translate the agenda for torsdag 6. aug. It went like this:

Original Agenda in Norwegian Our Translation
kl. 09.00 - 18.00: sekretariat 09.00 - 18.00: Secretariaat. (Administrative activities. To be avoided)
kl. 10.00: kjøretur til severdigheter 10.00: Rondrit langs bezienswaardigheden (scenic car tour)
kl. 10.00: grennroad 10.00: Green laning (Green laning)
kl. 15.00: båttur 15.00: Boottocht. (Trip by boat)
kl. 16.00: verksted åpner 16.00: Werkplaats open. (Garage open)
kl. 18.00: leker/aktiviteter 18.00: Bezigheden bij het meer (Doing something at the water side. Could also mean "layman's activities", but I don't think so)
kl. 19.00: grill tennes 19.00: Grill tennis (Grill tennis)

Grill Tennis? Wow! That is an answer if ever I saw one! That's it. We must go there. And so we packed our result of long term planning and steered it up north. The trip involved numerous ferries with waiting lines (if only we had a Searover) but two days later, in the middle of the night, we arrived in the walhalla. We were welcomed by wizards in gray dusters with armpit ventilation holes. Much later we learned that these symbols of wisdom were really undercoats from the Norwegian army. Norwegian wizards are very practical. They save themselves the hassle of taking off their coats every summer to remove the inner coat. They just peel off the exterior when the weather improves. The only disadvantage would be that it leaves them without pockets to put their hands in. In winter that poses problems (that's why the outercoats do have pockets), but in summer, when the ground is soft, they usually stick them in the mud. To locate the best quality mud they use Land Rovers. Ours would turn out to be extremely talented in that respect and every time it got stuck, there would be swarms of gray penguins in front of the car, having a good time. It is such a good feeling when things make sense. One of them even dug up a Dutch number plate in the middle of a Norwegian forest, which was very familiar but not from a Ford Anglia.

This happened during green laning, something we had never done before and were completely misinformed about. Green laning is about fuel efficiency. We did not know that, but it's true. That is why it is called "green" (The actual color that we saw was predominantly brown. There was no lane either. Just trees). A good trick is to walk your tracks before you make them. This triples the total distance (remember that you have to walk back to your car) without any additional fuel consumption. Better even still is to walk both tracks. This saves 400%. The slippery walks are also good for developing your driving tactics. Look for holes when you walk. Design a strategy to get through. Read the ground, look where you can find the traction and how to get to the next spot. While you walk back memorize and repeat to yourself what you are going to do. Only then get into your car, start the engine, put it in gear, concentrate and slide into the first avoidable hole in the ground. Put your hands in the air and wait for help. While being winched enjoy the fuel you save. The equipment you need is one car. The make is not critical, any car will do. You only need it to reach the spot where the adventure begins, after that it's pretty useless. Land Rovers are ideally suited. Not only are they designed with such conditions in mind, they are also built to be easily modified to meet their specifications. Not that you should do that. As a matter of fact it cannot be overstressed: NEVER MODIFY YOUR CAR. It will cost you lots of money and spoil the fun. The only exceptions to this rule are the bulbs of your braking lights. Remove them. It's impolite to blind the car behind you when driving downhill. Clothing is important. There is mud everywhere so penguinware is a must. Most people wear boots. That's wrong. How do you know the temperature of the water if your feet are sealed? Wear sandals. Their only disadvantage is the limited oil resistance, but as long as you don't stick your feet under a Land Rover, they are superb. Free advice can be acquired from spectators. They are the only ones who got through the heavy terrain without problems, so they know. Should there be no bystanders, run and ask an experienced driver. Look carefully how he or she gets through, then do as he said, not as he did.

An excellent run! Extremely short jump guarantees maximum winching distance (with somebody else's winch). Many advisors (not yet fully dressed). Driver on sandals (not visible on this picture)

There were many more things to be learned. A Landstreff is a rich source of answers, especially for questions that you don't know you have. The only exception is Grill Tennis. Nobody wanted to tell us what it is. It was a secret and still is. All I can tell you is that they do it every evening and that you shouldn‚t drink alcohol with it (unless you are sufficiently trained, of course). Even after we got hold of the correct outfit and could talk to them from penguin to penguin, it proved too sensitive a subject. We have to go back to gain more of their trust. Everything else is clarified now. We have the answers we came for. What were the questions again?






Firsth published in 4WD medlemsbladet Norsk Land Rover Klubb, 1998



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