The primary school fete at Kemsing is always held at the end of June. As fetes go, it’s pretty typical of the genre, but worthy of continued support if only to reward the local kids for all their hard work during the year. Fifty-something years on and I can still recall the nerve needed to take even a supporting role in the school’s annual play….However, amid the strawberries and cream, the bric-a-brac stalls and the silver band, the second-hand books and the jigsaws one feature stood head and shoulders above the rest. Adjoining the line of Classic Cars - and standing adjacent to an old, rickety paste table containing an assortment of potted annuals that appeared to have been liberated from a neighbouring garden - stood a nasty yellow Rover Streetwise. Wearing the lop-sided stance - and the foreboding appearance - of an abandoned MOT failure, the Rover had a pair of part-used off-road tyres sourced from eBay leaning against the faded grey plastic bumper and a map of Western Europe stuck firmly across the windscreen. A thin blue line wormed and wriggled its way eastwards across the map from Goodwood, near Arundel in Sussex, to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, taking a route that passed south of both the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea by way of Turkey and Iran. I bought the plants - all of them, a mixture of half-starved Cosmos and some ornamental grasses. I also questioned the three lads who were manning the stall about their proposed project and it soon became apparent that any sort of mechanical preparation of the Rover had been kept to the bare minimum, the after-market sump-guard playing second fiddle to the installation of an upgraded sound system. Hooked, these professional anglers played me like a fish. The car was also a recent eBay purchase and apparently something of a real bargain, having just 40K on the clock and wearing a Buy-It-Now price tag of £700.00. No doubt the vehicle had also benefited from one careful owner before being acquired from somewhere north of Watford by Team-Immaculate Pasta. Why Immaculate Pasta? That’s one question that, regrettably, I forgot to ask! At the end of the afternoon I left the fete with my charity account £150:00 the poorer, but richer beyond belief. I’d bought advertising space on the Rover’s bonnet for my other pet-project, a monthly blog detailing The Ramblings of a Madman, the proceeds of which also go to charitable causes. More important were the words that had been left ringing in my ears. ‘You can do it. There’s still four weeks before the off’. A pipe dream for the young, perhaps: to get six weeks off work in the middle of the summer to undertake a ten-thousand mile Road Trip through nineteen countries was out of the question. Besides, I hadn’t even got a suitable vehicle or any sponsorship. And, to cap things, my Passport had expired. However, a seed had been sown that either needed nurturing or eradicating with a strong mix of chemical weed-killer. The weed-killer approach didn’t work: you’re never too old and the theory held that over half a century of automotive life-experiences should give me a head start over the youngsters who had more idea of ICE than what goes on under the bonnet. Matters significantly worsened once the rally started. True to their word, a constant barrage of e-mails began to hit the screen detailing their long, arduous journey east - France, then Belgium. A quick circuit of the Nuremberg track in German. Photographic proof of achieving 109 mph on an Autobahn, notwithstanding the speedometer was indicating a whisker over 120. Turkey, Iran. Then a whole heap of countries ending in …stan; and eventually Russia and the Mongolian border. Stories of speeding fines and punctures; corrupt police and bolshie border officials. It was an itch that needed urgent scratching, and www.theadventurists.com was accessed for more information regarding the 2012 event, and the criteria seemed fair. Anything vehicular could be used, providing it was less than ten years old and had an engine capacity of less than 1200cc - unless of course, you chose to undertake the arduous journey in a Public Service Vehicle, a redundant ambulance or perhaps a fire engine. The entry fee was a shade over £700, and a minimum of £1000 was needed for a nominated Charity. A plan had started to formulate that involved, of all things, an eight-year old vehicle from the nearest car auction....
Posted by Maxwell at 1st September 2011 at 19:30
Still looking for a Co-Driver, and a Co-Co-Driver, but I've just had A0 road map of Iran printed by one of my proposed Sponsors - except that they don't know they're my proposed Sponsors yet!
However, it may be a bluff.... Watch this space!
Posted by Maxwell at 2nd September 2011 at 20:23
Posted by Maxwell at 3rd September 2011 at 21:25
A £120 Samsonite briefcase off eBay for just £4.25 After all, we'll need something to keep the documentation in!
Posted by Maxwell at 5th September 2011 at 20:12
The funding is [more-or-less] in place - we've sold our cherished 1980 Triumph TR7\V8 Drop Head to assist. It's called dedication - no, sorry, determination - no, better make that dedication after all. Gosh, I'm confused!
Posted by Maxwell at 8th September 2011 at 18:02
The old one has been returned to me with two corners cut off. Of the new one: not a sign yet..... Perhaps tomorrow....
UPDATE: My new Passport has finally arrived! Hardest part at the moment is finding a suitable crew!
Posted by Maxwell at 11th September 2011 at 20:44
The next job is to pack up and sell all my unwanted TR7 spare parts. Bumper Caps, a spare green tinted windscreen, a four-speed rear axle, clips, screws, bolts, and sundry grommets. Then we can start on clearing various bulbs, rear light clusters, side repeaters, pop-up headlamp pods, a front bumper iron, a brand-new gearbox mount......
I may even get my shed back!
UPDATE #1 Now advertised a new TR7 Gearbox Mount and the secondhand windscreen.
UPDATE #2 Also secured my first Official Sponsor......
Posted by Maxwell at 13th September 2011 at 17:16
I've got a Team! We're up and running and it gets even better! He's a qualified mechanic!
UPDATE #1 24 hours on, and he hasn't changed his mind!!!
Posted by Maxwell at 16th September 2011 at 23:50
.... with selling my TR7 bits. I'd have thought 'they' would have been climbing the walls for a 4-speed axle and some headlight pods! Still, early days and all that!
Also checked out tents today: I didn't realise there were so many, yet I couldn't find an old canvas one anywhere!
Posted by Maxwell at 17th September 2011 at 19:07
Check out the Gallery.
Click on displayed pic to reveal others! What do you guys think?
Posted by Maxwell at 18th September 2011 at 16:33
OK, guys, there are only 299 days left, so I've splashed some dosh and bought a GPS,
only to get lost coming home from the shops...
First Sponsor... ACE!
Posted by Maxwell at 21st September 2011 at 16:52
Posted by Maxwell at 22nd September 2011 at 18:49
Now got our second sponsor on-board. Not cash - but the use of a prominent shop window in a family-run Department Store for around six weeks commencing 7th July 2012. Perfect to display our route-map at a scale of two feet per 1000 mile and updated [daily?] with a shiny drawing pin and a length of light blue ribbon.....
Thank you, Mr Barsley.
UPDATE: And now another! Thanks to all in the TR-Drivers Club.... and for the welcome at Hurtmore today!
UPDATE 25 Sept..... A lorry-load of redundant TR7 bits sold: another £150:00 in the kitty!
Actually, it wasn't really a lorry load: the whole lot fitted into the back of a Smart Roadster!
Posted by Maxwell at 26th September 2011 at 18:38