Monthly Archives: April 2014

Day Two

Breakfast time in? we’ll some where 160 miles south of tours. Was rudely awoken this morning by banging on the hotel door at some ungodly hour, time to get up!, we were in the cars and heading south with in a couple of minutes with the plan to stop for breakfast on the way. Within in feet of the hotel I noticed a problem with my charging system, the rev counter which is controlled by the alternator was bouncing around all over the place. Eat her the fan belt was suddenly loose or we had an electrical problem. We pulled up just as we got onto the toll roadmto I investigate.  The cable that connects the alternator to the electrical system had come loose and was giving an intermittent charge. I re connected it and we were back on the road in a minute or so.

Found out this morning that Jim has no GPS. This is a concern if we get split up. Most of today will be on one road.

We stopped for breakfast at around 11 am, in a service station, I would like to take this opera unity to thank Harvest Whole Foods for be purveyors of such fine vegy burgers. The laybays and service stations on the toll rods are very good, of then set a long way from the road so you get some peace and quiet.  It was the first thing I had cooked in the kitchenette on this trip,

We are heading for the Spanish border now, probably around 150 miles away, we would like to get to our digs reasonably early so we can get out for a pint and something to eat.

a word on the 2014 snoring competition. Following the event last held in Dubrovnic in 2013 I knew that nick was in with a shout of the championship, however I didn’t expect to be kicked out in the semi finals. The new contender, Mark, who is nicks brother apparently put up a sterling effort all through the night to secure his place in he finals, Andy reported this morning that he had considered sleeping in the car.
More news of the completion tomorrow.

The roads are very good, but not very interesting through this part of France, it’s very flat a gricultural land with few features. We are looking forward to the pyranise .

Car. Has to be nursed along due to the overheating, if we stick at around 65 to 70 I it is ok. I have just realised that the tyres I had fitted to the front of the car are smaller than the back, I think that this must men we are constantly going up hill and so the engin gets hotter. I am going to change them round as soon as I can.

Apparently I Snore

Apparently I Snore

So we got to Tours pretty late on Thursday. We had missed the train we were supposed to get and had to jump on the next but one. We arrived around 2 am. Pretty tired and ready for some sleep.

I think Simon may have had some sort of plan in mind based on previous experience as Mark, Andy and I ended up sharing a room. Simon, Tom and Jim in the other.

Now its pretty much a zoo of sounds during the night with one Harrison brother, with two we in the Serengeti. Much to Andys horror. Now I struggle with this, since the only time I know I have been snoring is when I wake myself up. When people (Jayne) punch me in my sleep and look at me with irritation in the morning I cant always sympathise as I have had a reasonably good nights sleep.

Mark is louder than I (except when I have had a tipple or two) but has sleep apnia. This is where you take a long drawn breath and then suddenly stop breathing, then almost as though you remembered what you had to do, continue breathing again. This is puncuated by various coughs and snorts. 

My snoring tends to be more consistent. When we are in the same room this developes into an almost rythmic counterpoint of noises.

Thus I was awoken at 3 am by Andy literally whimpering and talking to himself about having been mad to agree to come on this trip in the first place.

At four am it was the sounds of someone rifling through my clothes in an effort to find the car keys so that he could sleep in the car.

This continued pretty much until 7 am when we all finally gave up trying to sleep and got moving. I suspect ANdy plans to book an extra room for himself tonight.

Day One

Day one in the wagon continues. We left Telford at 12:30 this afternoon, not quite clear why we were so long getting diesel but half an hour went befor we got on the road south. Dispute best intentions to stick together , my suggestion to continue along the m6 and go down the m1 seemed to get lost in translation over the radio.  Nick and marks waved as we parted company on the junction with the M42.  There was nothing I could do but let them know I would meet back up with them in ash ford where we were due to pick up Andy, the sixth person in the group.  Driving a car that I am 100% confident in but none the less is quite old, it is reassuring to have a couple of friends in other cRs as a back up plan in case of a breakdown. 8 was on my own with 200 miles to go before we met up angain, the radios would only last for about 5 miles then it would be mobile phone comms only. Jim and Tom had followed nick and mark.

I amused my self for the following 4 hours by listeding to the drone of the engin and trying to gues what all the different smells were that waft through the cabin.

I arrived in ashford to meet with the crew about a minute before they did, Sally had assured me that there was over an hours delay on the m42. She was wrong I I will never forgiver her I threatens to change her voice for a mans voice.

On the trainWe quickly greater Andy and set off to the euro tunnel station, we had a good idea that we had missed our train. When we arrived we we’re put on the next one, it is a very slick operation and once on the train we were getting off again in about 20 mins and we were in France, Jim and nick could put a new flag on there car. We were soon burning up the tarmack in France and making our wy to the hotel which was 340 milesfrom Calais .
So far we have stopped twice, the first time for a comfort break, hands up who likes that phrase!

SponsorsWhen we pulled up a French truck driver came over to us and asked if he could buy our trousers, he had left how with out any and wanted ours, we had to decline his request and moved on. In hindsight, I should have given him my TI Automotice branded shirt, I had intended throwing it in the bin as it is past it’s best and tha wonderful girls in HR had recently given me some new ones. Thanks Joan and Julie.
We have stopped for fuel and to change Jim’s radio, now we are back on the road, Mark is driving and we have 172 mile to the hotel and it’s  twenty to eleven.

The Eve of The Journey

No-one would have believed, in the earlyish years of the twenty first century, that this blog was being watched from the timeless worlds of the internet. No-one could have dreamed that it was being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of travelling to the Western Sahara. And yet, across a few bits of Powys and Shropshire, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this endeavour with dubious eyes; and surely, eventually, we will fill our pans with couscous.

One sleep to go.

The Last Minute

Why do I always leave everything to the last minute, the car is over heating, the window won’t wind down, I have lost my driving licence and I haven’t ironed my sleeping bag yet. Despite this, I have a plan, a new door is arriving tomorrow, hopefully with a functioning window, I think I may have now fixed the overheating thing, and at least I have found my sleeping bag. I was delighted to find that my friend Clive had very kindly dropped off a bag of ear plugs today, not to give me some peace while driving, more while sleeping, thinking of our trip to Asia last year! I know snoring can be an issue and I like a good nights sleep? fortunately for the rest of the crew, I don’t snore ;-)
I think today for the first time in a long time I have started to look forward to the trip. I have a vague feeling that we are going to have a real adventure. I have heard today that the riff value in northern morocco is a bit of an issue with cannabis cultivation a significant wealth creator. There is word that it can be a violent area and should be avoided at night. Given the preferred cash crop it surprises me that they can be bothered to be violent, we expect to be through the riff valley within a day of landing in Africa.

I have a fridge. I made it out of a wooden box and some bits off another fridge. It will hook up to the power in the boot of the astra and keep food and drink cool. It’s not very powerful so I have frozen a bottle of water to get it started , perhaps the fridge will keep it cool. Thanks to F.T. For the original fridge. Photos to follow.

The kitchenette now not only includes a fridge but a work top, a two ring stove and, just installed, a drawer. The drawer, like many kitchen drawers is already full of non kitchen related stuff, spinners, insulation tape, etc.

It is less that 48hours till we leave, the trip that was originally planned on our way out,of Telford on our way to Asia last year. I am most looking forward to looking at the stars in the Sahara, sticking more flags on the fender, cooking up lunch in the astra kitchenette .


PS. Jim washed my car tonight, the last time my car was washed I was going for an interview for my job at TI Automotive

Comments and Preparation

The day draws nearer and nearer, we are all frantically trying to make arrangements and get work related items finished before we go. Its quite a long time to take out of our normal routines so we are experiencing a certain amount of trepidation, but excited and looking forward to it none the less.

The planning for the trip is actually fairly loose, and with six of us this time it could result in some interesting issues. There is every possibility that we will end up with sixteen forks and nothing to eat out of, or a two man tent between six but enough stoves to cook for an army.  Minor points really and easily remedied on route. Of more concern is Simons over heating problem, thats his car, not Simon personally. Certain parts of the journey are moutainous and if the cooling system is not sorted the car will not survive.

I have changed the way the commenting on the blog works. When I looked the other day, we had something in the region of 27000 comments, of which 17 were actually approved entries from the last trip, I have deleted pretty much everything that was there. Half of the comments were just the meaningless drivel you tend to get from spammers trying to promote things. The remainder all appeared to be in Chinese or perhaps Korean. I have no idea as to the content of these, and there is a remote possibility that we had a huge following in North Korea, if so I apologise for deleting your comments – but I sort of doubt it.

So if you wish to comment, and we really do welcome your comments, you will have to register with the web site this time around. Its not terribly difficult, just go to the log in link at the bottom of the page, select the register option and enter your email address. The web site will automatically send you an email and you can use your details to comment as often as you like after that.

5 Sleeps to go.



Imminent Departure

Its getting close, the train is booked for 16:50 on Thursday the 10th. At the moment the plan is to meet up on Wednesday evening and load up. Simon is off to work Thursday morning but we should be able to link up with him in Telford at about 11:30. This means leaving Monty about 10:30.

Assuming we get off ok we need to be at the train at 16:20 which gives us  four hours and 50 minutes to get down to Ashford, pick up Andy and carry on to Folkestone.

We then have a long evening ahead of us as we are booked in to a hotel in Tours on Thursday night. I doubt we will get there before 23:30 zulu ( thats local time ). However if we can make it,  it works well for us in timings for the following days.

Simon, Jim and I met up with Jims friend on Saturday night for a Morocco ‘briefing’, and it was some briefing. Fill you in as we go.