Category Archives: Istanbul

Thursday

Thursday, Wow, what a day, well over 800 miles from the hotel to or lodgings in Sloveinia. A long day, this s how it went.
Given we didnt get to bed till at least three am, we had to have a bit of a lie in, got up at around eight, I boiled the ketlel and we had a brew once we wereon the road, with the now ubiquetus cake to fortifie our drink. The hotel was cheep but functional and ideal for or neads. the TV didnt work but was very hand as a coat hanger, I think we paid £33 for the two of us in a triple room, cant be faulted. We set off for the alps.
Reimes is a hell of a long way from Slovienia, no matter which way you go, but chuck in a massive snow covered mountain range, precipitation on a biblical scale and a car that want to boil over on every hill, It becomes an almost imposible journey. Before we set out, the commpuotr said 814 miles, then the computor said NO, astra seemed to setel down on her haunches with the thought of such a reiculas amount of mile in one day, the weather was to have it influece. Having set off and keen to make progress, we emediatly got lost, Sall had tried to send us the wrong way but we soon spotted it and re-routed. We put Sally in a bag and left her to sulk for a while.
It was toll road for a lot of the way to geneva, after filling up with diesel we made reasonable progress but a soon as we hit Switzerland it started to rain, It rained or snowed for the rest of the day, We could not really see much beyond the road, it was a bit disapointing.
On dropping down to lake geneva, we picked up a couple of hitch hikers, they we hitching from Beiritz on teh French Atlatic coast to a place in the East part of Switzerland. they had been on some sort of Christan convention and had to find there way home with out any money, all they had to eat was a big bag of gummy bears,MMmmm tasty! Wedid ntend sorting them out with a bit of Helens Cake but somhow couldent as they had to jump out in a bit of a rush at a junction. they did give us some help in getting out euro Vinyet sorted out, a sort of permit to drive in Switzerland and i think ausrtia, must check that. Anyway, it saved us getting a 300 euro fine. We had got into Switzerland with out any trouble, didnt show our pass ports, just drove in. Nice.
After dropping off our new Swiss and Newzealand freinds, we set off to Saint Bernards pass. I was deluded enough to believe we would be able to drive over it. The higher up the alps we climbed, the worse the waeter got until it turned into heavey snow at arounfd 600meters.  And i mean heavey, but the road was well salted and kept clear. At the top we had the option to go over the pass or through teh tunnel, I made a snap decision, if no one elase had been over ther since last July, i wasnt going to be the first, we saw the start of the pass and there was not chance of Astra making it over. So the tunel it was, I was lookng forward to getting out of Switzerland, didnt fill me with enthusiasm as a coutry.
The customes were at the entrace to the saint bernard Tunnel, again, no passpor check, just waved us through. It was a good tunnel, not sure how long but more than 5km. It was good to get outof the snow for a bit, but we were in for a shock at the other side,
As we aproched the end of the tunnel, it turns into a sort of covered road, i guess to stop avalanches fallin into the carrageway, We cam across what seemed to be a brockendown snow plough, we passed it and drove on only to realise that the road in front of us and all the way down to foot of the alps was largley untreated. the road was covere in compressed snaow and ice, we were in a line trafic, the chance of a bump were high. I backed right off the car in front and tried not to brake too much, to seemed to take for ever to get down, we had a few hairy moments, we got away with it. Vidoes should paint a good picture if we can upload them.
The rest of the journey as a nightmare, it pured down all the way, and we had 400 miles from the alps to Slovienia. Nick did most of the driving, I was not as quick as him.
We arrived at Julias House at around 1AM and chose to let sally sleep in the car, she had disgraced her self. We had a couple of beers and went to bed.

We had had a good day, covered a lot of miles and it should secure an easier route for the rest of the week.

The car, it keeps over heating, we found that the fan is not switching on, the work around is to switch on the heating in the car and open the windows, then stop for a bit if it is really hot. Thought i head a ratteling from the injector pump, but couldnt trace anything. Found a loos pipe under the bonnet, it may have been that, so i puled it off ant threw it away, the rattle semmed to stop.

Day One – To the ferry

Out of all the people we passed on the motorway, i dont think any of them were going on an adventure like ours, They were just going about thier day to day tooing and frowing oblivious of the fact that the 1993 Vauxhall astra they were sharing a carriageway was off on the longest journey it had ever made. A journey that if all goes well will transit at least 16 countries, two continents and 5000 miles. A journey where there is potential for adventure and disaster around every corner, a journey where we will meet up with friends and loved ones in a far away land and we can all have some fun together.

Anyway, enough of that, The journey down to dover went well, a bit of a hold up on the M25, but we should have expected that. We stopped for fish and chips in Dover, A tradition now for team Astra, Clive and I had done the same thing in September 2011 on our way to the Arctic circle. If this trip is half as good as that one its going to be great. The high point of the trip so far was Hellens cakes, Flapjack to be precise, it was perfect, delicious, and presented in foil and grease proof paper as good as any cake shop. WELL DONE Helen, your ace.
We got the wireless gubbins working and booked a hotel in Reimes. It is about 2.5 hours into France, the ferry was late sailing so we wont arrive until after 1am. had some potentially good news at the ferry terminal, the French are on strike tomorrow, so we wont be able to come back on the ticket we bought, it was a Sun newspaper special £21 return over night. we only intended using one part of the trip but now they are not going to be able to bring us back, they will have no reason the apply any penalty clauses for us not turning up on time.

Ferry is as expected, a feint odour of Sick, uncomfortable seats, lots of opportunity to spend money on shite. still it floats my boat when its a necessary tool for adventure.
NIck has just got the coffee in, happy days Bon soir.

 

It begins

It Begins

Flapjack

Flapjack

Dover brew

Dover brew

 

Twitter

IMG_0281I am now on twitter montybedfords
we set off in 24 hours, and just in the nick of time i managed to fix the breaks, before nick found out they didn’t really work. I was going to tell him on the way down from the alps but now they are fixed. We have a rout plan, again, it looks good but a big drive on day one and two. My friend Julia is letting us stay at her house in Slovenia, that will be on Thursday night, then we head south east for Dubrovnik and then Albania. We are both looking forward to the trip, I not sure but i think Nick is particularly looking forward to my cooking!!!

Fitted kitchen

The desire for a mew kitchen is not something that I could normally be accused of, the old one is fine would be my default answer, as it would be for many request for new stuff. But when you start to make improvements you sometimes realise that something new would be good. I have found this while fitting the kitchen area out in the back of the Astra. While hunting around for a second hand stove I have decided I am going to by a new one. Ive been in touch with Charlies store and a really helpful guy in the camping area made a few good suggestions and I am off tomorrow with my twenty pound note to lash out. Wait till I post a photo, it is going to look ace. It will feature a worktop and hob, a grill and a breakfast bar. All you folks who have spent thousands on camper vans, wait till you see what I have done with 20 quid and some old shower panelling.
I have looked into European breakdown insurance, lets just say that given the age of the car it would be cheaper to fly home 1st class British airways and leave the car where it stops. So Nick , grab your self a copy of ‘how to fix a broken down car in the dead of night in pouring rain’ and get reading!
Putting things into perspective, Driving in to, work on Tuesday just before the M54, A car in front of me in the next lane braked and the car behind him and to my right arse ended him big time. Glass and plastic showered the front of Astra, not my favourite event of the day.
What’s happening regarding the trip I hear you ask. Well things are moving forward a pace, I have emailed press releases out to three major newspapers, none of whom have either printed anything I sent them or acknowledged my mail, such is life, I have been back in touch and they assured me they will do something. We have a fund raising bash going on at home in the next couple of weeks, hope to make some money for Hope House. Done a bit more maintenance on the car and a bit more planned. Things are coming together and I am keen to get going. More tomorrow Why not go to justgiving.com/intercontinentalastra and make a donation, two so far, Many thanks .

Straplines and mood meters

I have been musing on the strapline, should it be amateur professional or professional amateur. The former has a ring of hope to it, one day perhaps, though we be amateurs at the moment, we may become professional. The later, (professional amateur) just sounds like we might be serial underachievers. Mmm, on reflection this is not necessarily wrong, I am going to reserve judgement for the moment. I am considering using the strapline as a sort of instant mood meter on the trip. If you log in to the blog and find the strapline reads ‘amateur professional’ all is well with the world and we are on target. If it reads ‘professional amateur’ then we may well have broken down, the phrase book is open and our faces are contorted in failed attempts to form foreign words. In either case refer to specific blog entries for details.

 

Taken, I have been

I think we should celebrate this epic trip by having some business cards printed; I am going to look for a good cheap place to get them done. Oh, what’s this, Vista print, business cards for £3.12? I am signing up; this is great value.
Here is how the final price broke down.
£3.12 was for 25 cards, not a lot of use really, I want 250-n that will be £10.62
I took the opportunity to up-load my own design £1.87
And a design for the back £1.87
Black and white only on the back, I didn’t see an option for invisible ink £1.66
Gloss paper (as opposed to what…Toilet paper?) £1.87

By now I was more than a little irritated, but it was done and all I had to do was check out? Oh no Mister Bedford we still have one more opportunity to take you to the cleaners, we think a donation towards postage would be aproriet at this juncture here are the options, bear in mind we leave in a month
Standard delivery 14 days                                                                                £3.59
Priority (Priority ie it hangs around on some photocopier for 7 Days)  £8.16
Rush (3 Days, Amazon and eBay can get this overnight, that’s rush)    £15.04
Express                                                                                                                 £18.80
So my pack of business cards that I thought would cost me in the region of £3.12 actually cost £32.94, more than 10 time the original estimate, I will never deal with this company again, probably the most resented purchase I have ever made, HM revenues and taxes could use Vista Print as an analogy for the pain of payment, handing over my hard earned to the taxman is a philanthropic donation in comparison.
Anyway, back to the car, Yep definitely not good at present…

 

Simon

Just Giving just started

Today i can report the first donation on our just giving site has been made, www.justgiving.com/intercontinentalastra  I am sure that this will now snowball and it has encouraged me to start promotion of the trip. So Julie of TI Automotive, thank you, you are the start of something big,   well bigish.   Nick has secured a premier dot com website name, we will be on goggles front page at last.   Before long you will be able to type in intercontinentalastra.com and go straight to our blog. We wanted a short snappy memorable name, but none were available so we chose this. Give us a couple of days and it should go live.

News on the car, its knackered.

But you already knew that. I find it quite reassuring knowing my car is not really road worthy, rather than finding out on a wet monday morning when it dumps its oil on the Shrewsbury bypass and leaves me stranded. I am used to that concept, if it to happen again I will cope, I’ll be reassured by the fact that it’s worth just as much broken down as in ‘working order’.

I have a plan to make it go a bit faster, I am fed up of lorries overtaking me on hills. My plan is this. Get new injectors, get the exhaust fixed and change the fuel filter. It should make a difference. I spoke to Keith at United Diesel (now I have mentioned you on our website can I have a discount please?  http://www.uniteddiesel.co.uk/) he recondition’s injectors, I asked him if mine needed doing, I explained the smoke, the lack of power, the starting issues, the miss firing he was fairly convinced that the reconditioned injectors (£50 each) would help. Then I mentioned the quarter of a million miles on the clock. The phone went quiet for a minute and I heard muted laughter in the back ground, then he came back on and told me they would be ready in a couple of days. I take it they need doing!

I have noticed that the fuel consumption has got worse over the last 100 thousand miles, now hovering at around 53 MPG.

Thanks to Tony for sorting out my satnav. Tony knows all things tech.

I have been very busy at home with DIY, that bit is nearly done now so more blogs and more preparation.

Catch you all again soon

Simon

Language preparation

So with Simon putting in all this effort I thought I had better contribute something as well. To this end I have purchased two phrase books, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. I can now ask for the nearest garage in upwards of twenty languages, all be it with some impressive facial gymnastics when trying to pronounce some of the words. If I have to gurn my way through the Balkans so be it. I am determined to be useful on this trip.

Time is on my side

At last i feel like i am going to get some time to make more plans for this epic adventure, the like of which has not been seen since King Richard drove his mk3 escort to Syria in the days of the crusades.
I want to spend time looking for sponsors and look into places to stay. I am really looking forward to dipping my feet in the Adriatic and the red sea, driving over the bridge into Asia and spending a couple of days in Istanbul which will be the furthest east i have ever been, and the furthest from home the Astra has been. I think this trip will be very different from the Arctic challenge of 2011, the traffic i think will be a significant difference and may cause us issues, much more than the quality of the roads and the weather which were the concerns in the Arctic circle.

More bloggs soon and perhaps some photos of the old girl

www.montybedfords.wordpress.com

Just giving sponsorship page

I have set up a just giving page and we are hoping to raise £1000 for Hope House children’s hospice.

http://www.justgiving.com/intercontinentalastra

I am also looking into a new web site for this blog, more on this later.
The car still need work but I have fitted two new tires on the front, the old ones were near the end of their life and I wanted to have a bit of extra traction in the snow that currently covers mid Wales. I will be donig more road trip related activities over the next few weeks and will report back more often.