All posts by Nick Harrison

Day 2 Closing

Friday night we landed in a small town in Central Spain where we had booked our stay, it was a really nice guest house, clean and friendly and most of all cheep. Andy decided to book a room on his own so we have had to postpone the the first match match of the snoring competition final, Andy being the only qualified adjudicator .

The room was pal ail in comparison to the last one, which was more like a caravan than a room, three single beds and I tidy bathroom. But our object was not to consider the various features of the room, it was to eat and possibly have a pint or two.
Tapas is a traditional Spanish food similar in a way to canapés , it is served in most bars and restraints and is made from all sorts of local fresh ingredients. Spanish people will go from bar to bar sampling the tapas. It was not made clear to use that it was not prerequisite to have a pint with each taster. Any way, that’s what we did and injected a few extra euros into the Spanish economy. Not long after we arrived at the first bar, I realised I had left my card in the room, so gave my apologies and went back for it. The hotel had gone, it was defiantly there when we left it but now it had gone,  I went back to the bar and explained it to the team who for some reason showed no sign of concern over this strange occurrence, Tom offered to to come and look for the missing hotel, and with in a few minutes it was found, back in its correct place again with the cars parked opposite, thank goodness for that.
We had a great time in the bars of ? Can’t remember the name just now, the people were really friendly and keen to hear what we were up to and I. Managed to go most of the night with out mentioning our next stop was Gibraltar, when it slipped out, I think I got away with it, may be the Spanish have another name for it!

We are now about 110 miles from the port, haven’t booked a room yet and haven’t booked. The ferry, we are hoping to get to the ferry terminal tonight and book an early boat then go and find some digs. Unless nick has managed to already, our radio isn’t working so I can talk to him, or at least he can’t talk to me!

The Spanish roads are very good and quiet and largely toll free, we had a few sm all tolls in the north soon after leaving France, but none today so far. I think today is Easter Day over here perhaps that is why it is quiet. The scenery so far has been fairly flat at first, we were on a large plattow of agricultural land surrounded by mountains, it peaked at 1186M on the road. That’s higher than snowden which I thought was the highest mountain in the world. We are now traveling over a similar plattow which is at sea level, if you lift the sat nave through the sun roof you can make it 1 m above, we have to do something to keep our selves amused!. The high land was very beautiful, and rustic, lots of run down farm buildings and quite a few castles. I would like to spend more time exploring, but we have somewhere to be, inevitably, back home.

Sorry I don’t know how to spell plattow, GLYN can you sort this before you upload, Elaine, when you fly out, can you bring the earplugs Clive gave me, I am dreading ending up camping, in tents , on the same site as Mark and Nick.

Now for a nice glass of princes gate still water while I consider the array of job opertiunities from that fine recruitment agency ‘ Recruitment  Zone’

A note from Tom

Tours to Medina De Rioseco (Valladolid)

Left Tours at 8am. Made good progress through France and its many toll roads (around 10 booths in total, prices ranging from “take a ticket” to 32 euros). After carefully navigating our way through and around Bourdeux (minus Tom almost taking the wrong exit, and all three cars getting caught out by some suddenly placed French motorway cones), we headed towards the mountain range in the distance.

The Spanish border consisted of a 1.70 euro toll and we headed into the Purinees mountains. The motorway swept through the vast valleys, disapearing into lots of tunnels and over briges, sometimes leading straight onto one anothor. After a quick glimpse of the sea, we headed onto some open and very flat farmland. The roads were very long and very straight, and after going through small desserted and half destroyed farm villages, we eventually reached our end destination for the night – somewhere beginning with ‘V’ and somewhere none of us could pronounce.

“It’s like Chester but older” – Nick, after inspecting some wooden pillars.

It did have some beds and, in the views of others something more important, various bars that served beer and tapas. This included a plate of snails and various kinds of sauasage. Locals were friendly enough, and naturally pursumed we had arrived for the start of Holy Week which had just started – maybe next year. Some spoke English, including an Erasmus student who had studied English in Turkey or so we heard; “oh Istanbul?” Mark asked….”No” she said….”Torquay”

More Day 2

I have had some goo ideas in my time, but driving to the Sahara desert in a car with a dodgy cooling system, isn’t one of them. We are driving down towards the port near Gibraltar on a Spanish motorway, it must be 30 degrees outside and we have the heater on flat out to dissipate some of the heat from the engine. What adds insult to injury is the drivers window won’t open so when driving you are going to cook. It’s now 3:30 and it is sunny, proper sunny like we don’t get on your side of the channel, not good.
Sally the sat nave had a turn on us this morning, she could not find herself for ago,it three hours, fortunately, we had 196 miles to do on the same road so she wouldn’t have had too much to say. We eventually got her going just in time to make our first junction, you can’t beat a nice junction.  This time it was a left turn, one of my favorite directions.
Communication between cars  is vital if you want stop for a brew or fuel, that’s why we bought the two way radios, however that description isn’t exactly accurate, ours is a one way radio, we can talk to the other two cars but they can’t talk to us, however, we soon devised a plan, we talk to them and they reply using a simple morse code by flashing their head lights once for yes, twice for no. Unfortunately this only works if we are in front, and given our overheating issues we are usually trailing some way behind. Such is life, well at least the camera has been reliable, err, no it hasn’t, it overheated on the dash board and refused to function until mark held it out of the window (passenger side of course, drivers side doesn’t work) for 5 miles to the amusement of the other two drivers on the motorway.

Mark has just decided that the sun roof should be set to slide mode and opened wide to get the heat out, so hats to or my head will boil. Next post will be about last night. I better not write too much on this mail or my ipad will probably break,  oh, before I go, the TEP which is supposed to give us wireless internet in Europe does not work. Never ever consider hiring one of these units, they are s**t

However if you are thinking of installing a swimming pool or sauna, Colley construction in Martin are briliant! as used by the soon to be best hotel in mid wales the dragon montgomery.

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.

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.

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.

Musical Interlude

We have not listened to all that much music during the journey, the car is quite loud so the delicate nuances of the Prodigy are lost among a veritable cornucopia of rattles growles, groans and bangs. At least thats what you think at first. It turns out that the car is more than a little musical. The handle that sits between the two front seats, known to most of you as a hand brake, is actual a hand break lute. Diverse pitch and cadence can be obtained from only a slight adjustment to the angle of the lute and the revs being generated in the engine. Moving the bags in the boot turns the kitchinette into an acid house rythmn section worthy of the trendiest all night dance extravaganzas.

Another moment on our journey springs to mind, when passing through a village in central Bulgaria. A number of rustic types by the side of the road wearing brightly colored tunics,  both men and women and indeterminate, spontaneously began leaping and gyrating. I now believe the car was reproducing a commendable rendition of an ancient Bulgarian folk song, much to he delight of all those within hearing range.

Another discovery is that idling at traffic lights, the driver can apply elbow pressure to the drivers side door, left hand pressure to the stearing wheel and revs slightly above idle and it sounds just like a golf.

We left Berchtesdarden at around half eight this morning. The breakfast was surprisingly good but the lady in the kitchen was distinctly unimpressed when Simon attempted to fill our travel mugs with coffee for the road. We ended up paying an additional few euros for the pleasure. The German roads are for the most part as one would expect, fast and smooth, we have however encountered lots of road works and traffic, possibly people returning from an Easter break.

We came across a hitch hiker almost straight away and stopped to give him a lift. It was only useful to him for a few miles but it was a few miles further than he was before. Didnt really have time to talk to him too much but we left him clutching a card anyway.

Our next target is the Nurburgring, a prospect that puts a grin of glee on Simons face. I will leave him to describe it later, who knows what tune we may hear on the hand break lute as we speed round the track.