Sunday, 7 December 2014

Time flies....

I have been meaning to update the blog since the last blog (back in September?!), and have been nagging Charles to write down the technical stuff so I can copy and paste into this post.. this has not yet been done so I will write down what we have been doing from my viewpoint!!

So it all started when Charles finally got around to varnishing and carpeting the car, all is now finished and it looks really good (I will post photos of this when I get some!). Charles bought some more boxes so now we can store everything neatly and tidy (not sure how that works considering our house is normally a tip!) - and it means no crates sliding about in the back! At the same time Rob (I think) fixed the sagging driver seat so no more complaining!

After this the ever lasting search for a fridge came to an end when Charles found one (again technical details to follow) - he managed to get one for Rob as well with a sneaky discount which always helps! The boys spent a long evening fixing various things but they fitted a second battery (technical to follow) and also the fridges on sliders. I just now need to buy a stool so I can actually see what is inside! On our recent trip to the rugby in Cardiff it was tested (only on beer!) and works really well!

I think that is most of the car stuff out the way - Charles is now spending his evenings researching water systems... (as opposed to fridges!). So hopefully in the new few months we will have one installed.

Regarding the route we now have a more specific one planned... I can't remember exactly but it involves Morocco,...! Again I am sure in time we will get it up into the blog! We spent an evening with Rob and Mandy talking about this and talking about jobs as we move forwards.

From this evening my main jobs were to sort out injections needed and also First Aid courses/kits. Having researched every African country (not just the ones we are expecting to go to) it was evident we need yellow fever and many many more!

 The ending conclusion was to get to our doctors, see what we already have, their advice and get ordering because injections can take a while to order in. It is safe to say we will be feeling like a pin cushion for a while! I have also been in contact with Oxford Collage of First Aid ( who have been amazing and are providing us with an outdoor personalised first aid course in February for a very reasonable price. We will then speak to them about what we should be taking with us medical supplies wise!

Last week we we camping in Cardiff to watch South Africa v Wales... we won't talk about the crushing score (in case Charles has a strop!) but it was successful in other ways! The temperature was not as cold as expected however, it was great to try out sleeping bags etc in minus temperatures. We also were able to use the fridge (as talked about already) and add to our ever lasting list of things we need/need to do! The next thing is a magnetic plate under the roof tent to attach lights to when it is dark and we need to get to the back. After the rugby, on the Sunday, we went green laning somewhere further into Wales, it was good fun- it is safe to say I need far more practice (without Charles to begin with), however the car was great - go to the facebook page (see below) for videos and more pictures!

Since this trip we have been waiting for a sunny day to dry out and clean the tent - sadly during the very un-summer holiday to Scotland it got damp and began to go a little mouldy, so yesterday we were at my parents' house scrubbing and drying! Fingers crossed that will be the last time!

Now on the count down to Christmas (and snowboarding in Austria!), there are still many things we will be needing to get and now plan for - I am hoping Charles will get all the technical bits into a blog after he sees I have done the main writing.. I may well have forgotten 90% of what we have done!

Have a lovely Christmas and if you have not already like our face book page: Where to next Africa. Rob is very good at updating the page especially with the technical stuff and photos of what he is doing to his car! 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Scotland: beautiful scenery, great food, amazing biking and lots of midges!!!

So after the fantastic wedding of our co-adventurers Mandy and Rob (see for some great wedding/land rover photos!), we left to do some camping up North - as far as we could go on a limited time/budget.

We set off in Ditsy with the bikes attached on the back and headed up to Barnard Castle in County Durham. We headed towards a campsite (see link below) and arrived at about 5pm. As we pulled in the wind began to howl and the rain began to lash down, however due to the fantastic staff at the campsite we were pitched out of the worst of it! We visited High Force and Low Force water falls (the longest in the UK - Charles was not hugely impressed!), which was a great visit and beautiful scenary. We walked towards Bowness and had the most amazing lunch and bought some local honey mustard (eaten throughout the week at various stops!!).

We travelled up towards a biking park in Scotland on one of the Forestry Commission sights at Glentress staying in Peebles for a while. Peebles was a small town but had a good couple of pubs - Charles was certainly happy with the ales!! Glentress was brilliant and after this we headed up towards Loch Lomand.

Once in Loch Lomand we stayed a while in Aberfoyle at a campsite called Cobeland. It was a lovely campsite next to the river next to a village with a great pub and a great butchers which sold some amazing pies and pork pies!!

Our next stop was a campsite next to the Loch called Milarrochy Bay. Again a great campsite and we were pitched right next to the Loch. We biked along the foot way - I had a slight sense of humor failure when we had to push the bikes up hill up 60 steps... It was such a beautiful place full of so much to see and do (even some shopping!!). It is safe to say however that both of us got munched on by midges despite cans of insect spray!

Overall another great trip -still tonnes of things we want to get done... many probably a carry over from the previous blog:

Shelving unit that goes beyond the load lugger in the back
Nets across the ceiling
Hooks to hang from the poles in the roof tent

We also need some boxes but we are going to see what the costings are like making them ourselves through a CAD design programme.

Links for the campsites

Sunday, 3 August 2014

A quick update and a few photos...

Again nothing much has been done in the last few weeks regarding the trip or the car. Charles and Rob went to Billing Land Rover Show which I am assured was a good weekend!
Whilst there he bought a jerry-can holder for the roof and also a ladder for the back of the car (to help me!!).  

As you can see below the car now has our facebook page (run by Rob) on it - it will eventually have the blog on! Please add yourself to it 'Where to next Africa' to keep updated. 

It is safe to say we have been monitoring the Foreign Office website quite closely - especially with this outbreak of Ebola virus. It has been on their radar for about 3 months now so trying to see where it is spreading to and a time scale is quite important!

Our next jobs are to buy a fridge so if anyone has an opinion please give us your feedback below! We still also need to varnish and carpet the draws (especially as the carpet is sitting in my spare room!!) - however time at the moment is hard to come by (for Charles) so it may be a while before photos are up!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

'She looks pretty good' (C. Cooper 2014)

Sorry for the lack of information or blogging in the last month or so... for me it is coming to the end of the school year so the weeks are jam packed counting down to the summer holidays!

It is safe to say we haven't done much on the car, or towards the trip since the beginnings of the shelving unit!

We traveled to the Eastnor Land Rover show which was a wet and wild weekend - I fully appreciated the back canopy that comes down from the roof tent when the rain was lashing down as we came down in the morning, somewhere dry to get changed made things more comfortable!! The boys had also bought a Dutch Oven/Potjie pot which we used (meat, veg and a can of beer), which again was very much welcomed!!
We bought an ipad holder which I am sure will come in handy.. sadly it is not near enough for me to read my books but map wise I think it will come in handy.

Last weekend the boys took Ditsy to Rob's garage to lift the body (apparently it wasn't big enough already!). According to Charles; 'well... we lifted the body, at that time we extended the front break lines (only the front due to the need of a refurbishment of the back axle - another job...!!)' ... he added 'anyone wanting to do it be prepared to use ingenuity and brackets to make it work!!'. 

The car now/still needs:
  • A new steering shaft due to the lift which is not a necessity but will help to improve the handling.
  • Discs and pads all round.
  • Complete overhaul of rear axle - including diff.
  • Front wheel bearings. 
  • Full wading kit.
  • Bigger wheels............. (apparently because INSA Turbos are noisy and rubbish on road.. any excuse!)

I do not know how they did it, all I can say is Charles needs to fix an additional loop in the door so I can hoist myself up!!

Regarding planning the trip none of us yet have had a moment to sit down to think about it, but I have been in contact with a helpful source who has guided us towards first aid courses, assault training and equipment...

Ah yes.. Charles did manage to pick up a tracking devise (Global Spot) which was lying around at his work that we can buy a contract for to use when we are travelling!! Amazing what you can pick up...! 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Nothing like a bit of sun to fuel motivation...

For the past few weeks, since our trip to Cannock Chase biking (and joining the Camping and Caravan Club!!), Charles has been scheming and drawing a draw set for the back of the car. All it took was a sunny day (beer!) and a weekend at home to fuel this plan.

Early Saturday morning he was at a local Wickes store buying hardwood ply, helped by a talkative policeman to ratchet to the roof, to make into shelves in the back of the Disco. 

The back seats were unbolted, measurements were made and wood was cut.

The final result - see picture below - is fantastic! It provides space for 6 Hannibal storage boxes, as well as side space for Jerry cans to be securely placed. 

It still has to be varnished (my job over half term .. apparently), and also a water resistant carpet to be fitted on top but the current result works well; until we use it and tweaks are made!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

I would walk 500 miles...

(photo courtesy of Rob)

Our trip to Scotland was our first test of what is to come next year. It was eye opening to say the least...

Day 1 and 2 we stopped off in Appletreewick which is at the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales. We camped at Masons Campsite, a small site in the middle of rolling countryside. The campsite facilities were great and well looked after! After opening the tent and putting up all parts of the awnings and back canopy we trotted up to the nearest pub for ale and cider - this made for a great evening! During the next day or so we walked for miles finding the other pub in the area. From this we took away that actually the back canopy (see photo) is not a necessity, possibly nice to have during a long stay but quite fiddly to put up. The awning and the sides were invaluable because in the windy, rainy weather it was nice to have somewhere to huddle! Food wise we worked out how to make some AMAZING toasties on Rob's grill which would keep us in good stead all week!!

Day 3 we drove up to the Lakes stopping off in Windermere for a drink and a quick Internet session to find our next campsite. Finding a campsite was fairly hard due to the reluctance of open fires in a lot of caravan/camping sites. We found one just outside, again in rolling countryside, called Park Cliff. This campsite again had great facilities and very friendly staff. We walked up to Gummy Hill for fantastic views of the Lakes! We hired out kayaks on Lake Windermere the next day which was great fun, even Belle (Rob and Mandy's dog) enjoyed sitting in the middle of their kayak - Charles maybe realised that having one pair of shoes is not the best of ideas.. especially when they get wet however his shoes tied to the roof rack to dry out caused a lot of amusement from all sorts of passers by!

Day 4 and 5 was the long drive up to Scotland via some breath taking scenery. Luckily the radio (which was initially not working) was now cranking itself up! In Galloway Park we found a campsite called Balloch Dee. It was a small, peaceful but with a lot going on! We camped in the middle of a field, met a companion for the night (with a Defender travelling from Amsterdam to Ireland), set up the fire and sat under the stars. Galloway Forest the next day provided the scene for our 35 mile bike ride, past three Lochs on hilly paths. Safe to say we were knackered by the end but we were rewarded by beautiful views!

From this mini-adventure we have realised more about what we need to store and where... for example having the boxes with the kitchen stuff on the top of the roof is a hassle, however having the bike stuff in the car is a waste of space. It was a good exercise in what should go where! We also have become adept, and quite fast at putting the tent up and down... definitely team work involved! Regarding the mechanics.. I have no idea.. I have yet to be told anything more we need to spend money on but I am sure there will be lots!

Things we now need!!

Blanket (in the cold!)
Decent cheese grater
Can opener
More storage boxes
Two decent wind/rain proof coats - one for the day and the other for the evening
Toastie making grill


Let's start at the very beginning...

When first discussing travelling Charles and I always knew we wanted to go to as many places as possible but when Charles' sister proposed driving across Europe and down to South Africa we knew there was no other answer than 'yes'!
As it stands we are aiming to leave in July 2015 with Rob and Mandy (Charles' sister and her will be husband); head across Europe and then into Africa. Charles and I will then ship the car over to Australia to travel and work over there. The route as of yet is undecided due to current and future political climates. I am starting this blog now to track what we have already done and what we will continue to do in the future.