Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We have arrived in France

Well, we made it. We survived our underwater crossing on a large train, where everyone came to inspect the Mog as it's quite a talking point. Someone asked me this morning where we were going, so I said "Malaysia". Lawrence doesn't seem to tire of talking about our plans and the truck, so he has become the spokesperson.

We are camped in a lovely Caravan Park in Licques, not too far from Calais. It's very peaceful and rural, quite bucolic. I went for my first ride on scooter, and we came back from the village with our baguette, I felt very French. The French still don't know how to make tea.

I spent a couple of hours lying on a blanket under our tree reading a book - sheer heaven. We are here for 3 nights and then move on the Champagne - God knows what we'll find to do there...

I've been reading Ewen McGregor's 'Long Way Round' and have started to see the advantages of a Mog - in countries without roads that is.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

London calling...

After leaving our haven in Northern Wales and our friends Kath and Pete, and their divine dogs Sophie and Daisy (see photo of curly coated retriever), we headed south.  We spent 2 days in a wee village called Spratton in Northamptonshire. These friends, Mark and Stephanie, have a cottage attached to their house, so we were living in luxury. Managed to visit an equal number of pubs and churches, so everybody was happy (well, maybe more pubs than churches). We then spent 2 days in Stratford-upon-Avon with Liz and Paul, before heading to London to catch up with the truck.
Our cottage in Northamptonshire

We have now been in London for 4 days AND so has the Mog. Lawrence drove it down from Lancaster without incident. It is residing in Rochester in a friend's work yard, lurking behind porta-cabins, so no-one steals it (we should be so lucky!). Anyway, I am gradually making friends with it, and it had rewarded me by revealing a secret wine storage cupboard, which of course made me very happy. 

I've scrubbed the living area and stocked it with our goodies from IKEA etc and it's starting to look like home. Once the Riedel wine glasses are in situ, we'll be ready to roll. We also have the weather on our side which always makes things seem better, today is 21 degrees..!!

We head for France on Monday, which is the real start to our adventures as we will be without backup rescue teams. We need all you atheists out their to pray for us - is there a Unimog God I wonder? If so, we'll need to sacrifice a goat and bottle of cheap Prosecco or something similar on Monday. Will keep you posted, assuming we survive driving underwater across the channel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Made it to Wales - with a little help from our friends...

It's now Saturday and I'm sitting in a cosy house in Wales outside the lovely town of Conwy, which has it's own Castle and wonderful 13th century city walls. We are without Unimog.

This is NOT of my doing, as you are probably thinking. I bravely got into the Monster and sat quietly trying to find some good points. Good point No 1: I'm not in the office. Good point No 2 (ok having trouble thinking of one - I'll get back to you).

Anyway, 10 mins down the M6, steam started pouring out of the engine and the dashboard. I bolted out of truck thinking it was going to explode (not hoping it was it going to explode), and we waited 45 mins for the cavalry to arrive in the form of the mechanics that have been working on it for 3 MONTHS. Off we go again with great trepidation, another 10 mins, we are on the M6 shoulder again with steam billowing out.
Bad Hair Day

We finally made it back to High Bentham, where I drank another 2 pints of issue avoidance. We were rescued by Pete who kindly drove us to his house in North Wales in terrible traffic. The 2 hour trip took 4 hours. The gin went down well went we finally arrived, 5 hours late.

Apparently the monster will be delivered to us on Monday - we'll see.

This is NOT a good start, n'est pas??

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lawrence's view on the Unimog

Let me start by saying that I'm not accusing Kate of lying, it's just that I believe the size is a matter of perspective. I had expected a slightly adverse reaction from Kate, but not quite the condemnation that occurred. Yes, it's a big truck (it's a bloody Unimog for god's sake) but it's not THAT big. There are Fiat Ducato and Ford Transit campers that are longer than the Mog driving about. It's the same width as a towing caravan. What makes it look so massive is that it's 3.5 metres high, it sits on huge tyres and it helps if you've got a stepladder to get into it. I prefer to see it as a superior driving position which allows you to look down on on inferior vehicles while being at the same height as the drivers of 48 tonne trucks. Anyway, she'll be glad of the height when we get to Mongolia.

The Last 2 Weeks

Well, here's a recap.

3 days in HK. Lawrence boosted the coffers of the Foreign Correspondents Club, as we spent a large amount of time eating and drinking there. The rest of our time was spent at Barbara and Peter's eating and drinking and swimming in the pool. Wonderful relaxing 3 days after our hectic week.

4 days in Bonn (actually in Bad Godesberg).
We stayed with Lawrence's brother and sister-in-law, Stuart and Barbara. They live in a lovely flat very close to the Rhine. It's such a beautiful area, I was quite surprised by the prettiness of the area and the history. We were able to walk along the Rhine into Bonn and check out the old city, just beautiful, especially accompanied by a glass or 2 of Kolsch.

Also spent time eating great food and drinking wonderful rieslings and spatburgunders (pinot noir). We went to a place called the Wienhaus and I had the best steak I've ever eaten!! The wine is really cheap compared to Australia, so we are LOVING that.

Barabara cooked a traditional onion pie to have with Federweisser http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federweisser, which is released at this time of year. Rather interesting drop, we don't get it in Oz as it can't travel.

The Rhine area really was the highlight and we took advantage of plenty of opportunities to drink Kolsch alongside it. Looking forward to going back.  ALSO - I'm now an official resident of Bonn, and we have german bank accounts. That wedding is really starting to pay off. I've never been a resident of anywhere, except Australia. Very excitement...

5 days in Glasgow.
Despite what I expected, Glasgow is a really beautiful city (shame about the weather.) It is the best preserved Victorian city in the UK. It wasn't bombed and there was no money to knock it all down and build hideous things. (Oh God, someone just walked into the pub and said Ay oop!). We had 2 sunny days, which is quite extraordinary, sat by Loch Lochmond eating fish and chips and drinking beer in the sun. Weather went to shit after that. Glasgow was really a round of catching up with L's friends and family, and for me, meeting lots of people, I really starting to get weary of our story and the sound of my own voice.

We had a VERY fabulous Rioja at a wonderful restaurant we went to with sister Helen and Maggie, of hat fame. For those of you who haven't seen the wedding hat, I'll be wearing it around the traps, so you'll see plenty of it.

The scots were all fabulous -  friendly, happy, helpful. How do that keep that up when the weather is so miserable? God love them.

Highlight - we stayed in a Victorian house in a CRESCENT! a real one.

Photos to come.

Never Let a Man go Shopping on His Own

I knew this mantra was especially true when it came to Lawrence, the ultimate impulse shopper - why didn't I listen to myself?? Why didn't I heed that voice that said "We don't need a Unimog". We're NOT buying  UNIMOG". I  actually uttered these exact word several times. Why the hell didn't I listen to myself??? Why did I let him go to Italy whilst I swanned off to Broome, thinking I was being CLEVER!!!

As you may have gathered I have now seen IT!!  We are in Bentham in Yorkshire, and I am in a state of shock. It's now the day after the day of seeing IT. I'm in the pub having a pint, L is playing with his new toy.

To recap, yesterday went something like this...

Lawrence: Well here it is - what do you think??
Kate: You've got to be kidding me.
Lawrence: No, this is it.
Kate: You must be FUCKING joking... (please excuse the language, but I'd like my friends to get the real picture)
Lawrence: What's wrong?
Kate: You don't seriously expect me to travel around Europe in that?
L: Yes
Kate: - she is without speech at this moment.
L: What's wrong?
Kate: Are you mad? Are you fucking insane?
L: (looking hurt and perplexed) It'll be great...
Kate: I'm NOT driving that thing!
L: You'll be fine.
Kate: Ha!
L: You'll be fine.
Kate: I need gin and valium.
Kate went back to hotel and took valium.

By now I'm completely speechless, it's not often I am at a loss for words, but that was it.  I imagine many of you are pissing yourself laughing now, saying - what did you expect?. Well, I was expecting an elephant, what we have is a wooly Mammoth. This thing is a monster, truly a monster. I cannot imagine driving it ANYWHERE, even as  a passenger. Today I am refusing to go near it. Issue avoidance in a big way. It looks like a an amoured tank, it's the biggest Unimog in the yard, and believe me, there a  lot of them there. Some of then look almost normal.

My solution is to sell the scooter and buy Fiat Cinque Cento so I can just follow him around, and my sleep in the monster (if I can mange to climb up into it) and we can tour in the FIAT. Is there anyone out there who thinks this is a bad idea???

Also we need a new name as Van Jaune is completely inappropriate. FUCKING GREAT TANK is more suitable.

Summary: I'm am completely mad, and L is certifiably INSANE. Someone please get over her and rescue me and lock him up.

Update on the last 2 weeks to follow.