International Mini Meet – Mini 55 – Kent County Showground, Maidstone 31st July – 3rd August 2014
This was the main event of the mini calendar 2014. Every 5 years the IMM returns to England, this year responsibility for organising the event fell to the Southern Mini Owners Club who had won the vote to host the 2014 show at the 2011 IMM in St Switzerland.
Thursday 31st July 2014: Dawn, Rachel and I left Wootton Bassett at lunchtime with the plan to arrive at the showground around 3pm, pitch the tent and then go for essential supplies (alcohol!!). The 3 minis behaved perfectly on the trip there and the M25 was surprisingly clear. We arrived at the site to find a holding field full of minis waiting to enter the show. It took us 3 ¼ hours to gain entry to the site so by now the beer run plan was off and patience was some what tested (thanks to Rachel for saving the day with a supply of 6X).
Having finally got on to the site cars were abandoned on the camping pitch and a first visit to the site pub ‘The Rusty Subframe’ was made for a much needed drink and then to sort a ticket for Dawn for Friday’s brewery tour.
The tent was then pitched after much swearing (ground was full of rocks) and we finally got some food from one of the vans (not cheap but no other choice at 9.30pm. We were soon joined by Carenza and Johnny and IMM friends Steven, Robert and Jackie for a social evening and a few drinks.
Friday 1st August 2014: An early start, bacon rolls (from a food vendor as still no food run complete!!) and then caught the coach for a trip to Faversham for a tour of the shepherd Neame brewery and lunch. We spent the afternoon in town and then back to the site, a trip out to Tesco (to finally get some provisions) and then back to the site for an evening BBQ (first outing for the new club BBQ) and more drinks.
The club presidents meeting took place during the morning and it was later announced that mini club Belgium had won the vote to host IMM 2016 (A welcome short trip following next years long haul to Lithuania)
Saturday 2nd August 2014: We spent the day on site, spending in the vast trade village, a few trips to ‘The Rusty Subframe’. A visit to the ‘Mini People Lithuania’ club stand to collect information for IMM 2015 and a photo opportunity with Paddy Hopkirk and a signature on our IMM mini models.
IMM meal was held in the evening (yet another long queue, an hour plus) before the evening IMM party and more drinks at the campsite.
Queues aside, a very enjoyable and well organised event, many thanks to the Southern Mini Owners Club (IMM2015 May 21st – 25th – Lake Zarasas, Lithuania).
Sunday 3rd August 2014: Having already picked up all the parts we need at the trade stands it was decided we would forgo the planned IMM breakfast (none of us could be doing with yet another queue) and take a run off site for a pub lunch and an afternoon tour of Chislehurst caves before returning to Maidstone for the IMM closing ceremony and the traditional handing over of the IMM key to next years hosts, this followed by another BBQ and of course some drinking!!