Monday, November 21, 2005

Chilly Reunion

Just got back from the reunion on Saturday night in a barn near Chichester. It was great to see everyone who made it but understandably tough to look back at all the images and reminisce about last summer through rose-tinted (or thick barbecue smoke-tinted) specs.
An excellent jazz band kept things lively, and a feast of a barbecue fuelled us against the cold. Outside it was a crisp -4 but inside the barn it was a balmy zero degrees, mainly thanks to a jet engine gas heater and the barbecue.

Some people were already gearing up for next year and quite a few people had come along for a few pointers. I got a lift back to Oxford from Sergei who might do it next summer. The best bit about that was that we zipped back to Oxford through thick fog on empty roads in his super-trusty F reg Panda 4x4, ah the memories!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reunite, Remember and Recite

Hello all, this is a bit of a randon post because this blog basically no longer serves a purpose, what with there not being a rally on any more and both of us being totally engrossed in our daily lives once again.

However, I'm really looking forward to the reunion on the 19th nov when we'll get to meet all the other ralliers (many of whom I've never met as our paths never crossed on the trip) Secondly, there's a very cheesy piece I wrote on the rally at career-break cafe - a new online resource for career breakers. have a peek here

I'd also like to say a massive thankyou to all those that helped with advice, money and support before and during the rally, together you totalled over £2000.

Time to get back to work.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Hello all from London! We ended up jumping straight onto the plane (a very dodgy Russian Tupolev) because the train would have been cutting it a bit too fine for getting back in time and going via China looked expensive. It's very odd to be back - only five days ago I was staring at a Gobi sunset and toasting the locals with vodka shots... The trip finished with a really nice meal in UB with the Mongol Mini and Tom and Jenny who, like us left yesterday to drive back to Britain.

Looking forward to seeing you all very soon and catching up properly, I'm afraid we didn't even have time to catch the post in UB to send the postcards so they're going to have to be hand-delivered.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

We have arrived in Ulaan Bataar

Bad hair day in Altay
Originally uploaded by myblackboxrocks.

Time of Death: 30/08/05 18:27 GMT+8

Final mileage: 8202 Imperial miles

Cause: Drowning and multiple massive impacts to engine precipitated by lack of suspension, functioning engine or tyres and generous offer of a lift to nearest town (Bayankhongor) in a functioning jeep – well stocked with Chinggis vodka and flowery paper cups (Thank you Saints & Scholars and Mongolia or Bust)

Nothing and nobody can prepare you for the amazing lack of roads in this vast country, or the incredible quantities of mutton and noodle stew. 7500 miles makes you cocky, and over the last month we became increasingly convinced that our Panda was not in fact a small, cheap and weedy Fix It Again Tomorrow, but an indestructable extension of our hands, feet and bums; a growling monster of a machine that would live forever.

Theoretically we could have had her fixed, the rims banged out yet again, the tyres resealed with inner tubes, the oil changed, new springs on the back and the camshaft bearing replaced, but as we were being towed behind a very luckily timed jeep, MBBR fm (88.5) shuffled and fell upon Yesterday by the Beatles, and so it looked as though MBBR's troubles were indeed here to stay... Better let go there and then and see some of Mongolia the sensible way like everybody else.

An 18 hour minivan ride with 18 people now has us in Ulaan Bataar which is very very odd. We just had a hot shower, ate a full English breakfast and some nice patisserie with black tea - without salt in it. There are plenty of other teams still here and it has become clear that our problems are far from over, flights are booked up as are the trains, there is talk of being smuggled into China in buses, trekking to Beijing surviving only on bamboo (not Pandas) and sneaking into the hold of a plane bound for Europe... Help!

More soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Update: 25th August

Into MONGOLIA! All good, amazing amazing amazing, but where's the road?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Update: 22nd August

150 km from russian border nr old nuke testing site at Semey. Just seen our first forest for weeks!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Over the Top

Tien Shan
Originally uploaded by myblackboxrocks.
Almaty. We had been wondering why no other teams were heading through the Fergana valley - Then we got there, all the borders totally chaotic, closed; we wasted a day finding the only one open to foreigners. On the plus side the local people really looked after us, putting us up for a free B&B on two occasions.

Into Kyrgyzstan, Mini had engine issues which lost some time but a local mechanic had a 5 minute fiddle and we were motoring past yurt camps over the Tien Shan to Biskek. We had a freewheel race down the other side and beat Mini by 3km, but pushing the car at 3000 metres was our first exercise for a month so we took a holiday at Kyrgystan's equvalent of Butlins at crystal clear Issyk-Kul (Is he cool?). Amazing views of the mountains all round.

The exhaust was welded back together and it's time to get a move on, but will the police agree?