Sunday, 17 October 2010

Where do you start?

This is strange!  I am now sitting in my living room in front of a warm fire typing this on my laptop and not on my finger defying blackberry!  It seems really very odd, firstly not to have my great companion Adrian to ask about spelling and facts and figures , but also to be back in a western,  comfortable environment after such an experience. I dont know whether we will ever really be able to explain to others what this adventure was really all about, the hardships, the successes,  the challenges, the highs and of course the lows, but  for me the biggest thing I take away from this are the friendships, forged in the  hardened steel of shared times. We have seen much to expand our horizons and educate our minds , amd much to make us feel humble about what we in the West enjoy and take for granted , it will definitely change my perspectives.  Some of the companions on this epic trip will I hope be friends for life, it really has been an awesome experience, and one that I have been honoured to share with Adrian.  He has been a most generous friend , in so many ways, and in letting me drive and help tend his beautiful Aston Martin DB5 is just one such example of that.

We started this journey with no real objective other than to try to get both ourselves and the car half way around the world on roads of unknown quality and to try to take what ever was thrown at us with a chuckle and a decent sense of humour.  I hope we have got somewhere near this but others will be the judges of that.  The car has been beautifully prepared by Richard Williams and his team and has proven that an Aston Martin really can mix it with all comers what ever the conditions  and do so with style and presence.  I hope that one or two garage queens may be tempted out of hibernation to do some longer runs now that we all know they can manage 10,000 miles between services!  I am going to sort of miss the car, the daily routines of checking her over and the joy of being in such a wonderful machine for 5 weeks, but most of all I will miss my friends, old and new. 

Thankyou for supporting us...........and dont hesitate to have a go will love it and never regret the experience I guarantee!

The party's over.....time to come home

Saturday, 16 October 2010

It is - it's our Andrew clutching the trophy!!

Brought to you live from Paris by Pluckley Broadcasting Services.   22.00GMT 16 10 10

The boys take third!!!! - is that Andrew?

The Aussie winner - is it a Ford? Honychurch tight lipped!

The boys are back in town - Paris 12.30gmt Saturday 16 October 2010

Gliding through France...

Gliding through France in an Aston Martin db5 has always been a dream of mine. I am happy to report that the reality is every bit as good as the dream. South eastern France is very attractive and we picked our way through beautiful villages and passed numerous chateaux.

For now the harshness of central asia seems a distance memory. New brake pads have returned the Aston to fine form and we put in yet another impressive time during the timed section in Bresse.

This is only my second blog and will be my last before Paris tomorrow. This has been an adventure like no other. I have learnt a great deal and met some quite remarkable people. The car has been extremely competitive and my thanks go to R S Williams for their efforts in getting her ready for the event. Most on the rally felt the Aston would not make it. All now agree she is a remarkable car. Here I agree.

Andrew has had the difficult task of caring for the car and also driving the more important timed stages. Both, he has done  with skill and energy. The success of our venture is very much down to him. For me......well I am afraid my friends are in for many hours of stories from my peking to paris adventure!!!

Paris tomorrow and day 37 of the rally. The end!!!


Friday, 15 October 2010

Fabulous France...

After a couple of non stop days crossing Italy east to west yesterday we crossed the Alps into France. It seems kind of strange that was our last border crossing and no one was there to check, check and recheck our passports as in most of the other countries on route. 
The climb up to the border crossing was spectacular but a big struggle for some earlier cars.  Last night we overnighted in Aix les Bains and we are just about top depart for Troyes and then tomorrow into Paris if we can get past the protesters.  
A different air is now hanging over the rally.  It's almost over and it will soon be back to reality. 14500 km, 11 countries our journey has been awesome and something we will never forget. There are many stories to recount but right now we have to make sure we get the Aston to Paris and there is still 600km to do!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Today has not started well.....

The ferry was about 2 hours late and as a result all the early stages have been cancelled. We are now in an horrendous traffic jam of Italians all seeming to want to leave Ancona at the same time as us.  What happened to the sun?   Tonight's rest halt is Viareggio the second largest city in the Province of Lucca.  We will report on progress from there.   Arrivederci!

Dawn break on route Ancona....

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Here it is at last. Only two hours late!

Ferry nice...

We are now waiting to board the ferry for our overnight crossing to Ancona in Italy after a long drive across Greece today. The photos are of the most amazing rock formations at Kalambaka complete with hill top monastery. 
The scenery has been spectacular today it was only a shame that the weather has been more UK than Greece which reduced the view. The morning consisted of three time trials and most cars seem to have got through to the port with limited trouble. We are looking forward to a long rest on board and hopefully splendid weather for the rest of the trip in Europe.   More soon.  

Bread and beer. Our staple diet!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Salad days...

We have now moved from Turkey to Greece and we find ourselves getting really rather excited by the prospect of a Greek salad for lunch. From actively avoiding salads or any food not cooked in the earlier countries we now feel we have sort of done lamb and rice and yearn for some different fare.  

Greece is hot today and as I write this we are heading to Amaxades for a time control on a Greek motorway.  I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to be driving on well laid tarmac although I fear it may not last.  There is word that we will be doing some of the stages used on the Acropolis rally.  Let's hope that the traditional Greek spectators are not out in their usual force. 

The rally rolls on with now only 80 cars on the check out board from a 105. Its odd that you don't miss people, unless you know them very well, until they reappear. Two guys turned up today having been missing in action since Mongolia. Their Lagonda is still there with broken axle so they flew home to Holland for a week, prepared their beautiful Healey 3000 and drove to meet us in Turkey. This sort of ingenuity typifies the spirit of the rally, people just don't give up.  There are three other crews who bought local cars when their own failed and followed the rally that way. 

Yesterday was a very welcome break and is our last until Paris.  That said we sail tomorrow night for Italy on a 14 hour crossing. 

The Aston is really running well and we think she can smell home.   Now off to find that salad.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

It's in here somewhere...

Another day, another restaurant...

Well life's not too tough today. Arrived at our hotel just outside Istanbul early this morning. 
Our good friend Mike has flown out to join us for the day and kindly brought some parts to replenish our spares package.  Just changed the offside rear spring and shock absorber as they were both looking like they had done about 30,000 miles.  All done and now we are resting for the day before rallying starts again in earnest tomorrow as we move into Greece.  Anyway off for a swim now!  Ttfn. 

Friday, 8 October 2010

Mud mud glorious mud....

We are now safely ensconced in our thermal spa hotel on our second day in Turkey after what I think was our longest day in the event. Over 700km with three time trials set high up in hills that resembled the Cairngorns. The roads were actually more like farm tracks and we enjoyed heavy rain, sleet, fog and more mud than a hippos back yard. The car performed superby in very unpleasnt conditions and is now a shade of colmans french mustard outside and in. In fact Adrian and I are similary toned at present. 
This part of Turkey is really very undeveloped and not unlike Iran in many places. We drove through farming villages with perhaps 6 or so small holdings with the usual mix of free range cattle ducks geese and goats. The locals seemed very happy to see us tearing up their village and perhaps even used to it as I understand the Turkey motor club use these roads often as well.  
Lunch consisted of a packet of crisps and a can of coke but we don't notice the lack of food as we are too busy navigating and driving. Off to dinner now so more tomorrow. Just one week to go until Paris and we are really looking forward to see all of you who are coming over.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Iran Car Club banquet....

Ummh?  Seems to be the general consensus from all those who attended.  We were promised the deputy President of Iran and got the deputy deputy president and director general of the Institution of Physical Education instead due to a cabinet meeting taking precedence! 
Goodness. The experience was interesting in the way perhaps a meeting of the masonic society would be to those who were not members. Lots of ritualistic back slapping and endless thankyous and loads of claptrap all while we waited patiently for our supper. Most lost the will to live after ten minutes. 

The Banquet  turned out to be the same as every other meal in Iran.  Pressed meat kebab and rice washed down with coca cola. At least we were given an alabaster gift which weighs a ton and will make a good wheel chock.  I don't mean to be ungrateful but Iran was a funny country and not really to my liking. A lot of people were nice but some were most unpleasant and with the kids throwing rocks at the cars we are glad to have left to be honest 

Anyway one or two of you have asked about the scoring system which keeps us firmly stuck in third place when we are clearly the best team out there!  Well basically the rally works on a series of timed exercises. Some are A to B timings and some a special stages where speed matters.  In reality if you break down or get lost on these trials you incur penalties which add to your time. 

Therefore the cars in front of us have not lost as much time as us. Until they either break down or get lost we cannot beat them as the time difference is too much to make up. The important point is that if you arrive early as you have a faster car it doesn't count. You only get penalised if you don't get there within the limit.  You can make time up on special stages but these are typically only a few minutes on you competition.

Basically we messed up on day one through inexperience and are now stuck where we are for the time being. I hope that's clearish!  

Off to supper in our beautiful ski resort hotel now. Pip pip.  

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bring me sunshine...

And sure enough back into sunshine and sweltering heat the other side if the mountain. The Geography today was amazing. On the seaward side of the moutain it was like Switzerland with pine forests flourishing on the relief rainfall which obviously didn't extend to the other side as it became desert immediately we started down. 
Car ran well and we are now in a very smart hotel in Tabriz.  We are being taken to a banquet organised by the Iranian car club that hosted our trip here. Ummh, I wonder what delicacies will be on offer tonight....certainly no wine and beer as that's off the menu until Turkey tomorrow!   

Caspian sea furious...

The Caspian Sea in a fury this morning. Thank goodness we have a coupe and not an open top car.  It's a ghastly day here today but we are due to go over the mountains and down back in to desert by lunch time. 

Driving through Iran...

Monday, 4 October 2010

On to Iran...

This is it!  Iran today and attached is our rally memo for the day.  Don't know what to expect really but last night was fun as all the tipples that had been secreted away in cars were brought out to be drunk up before entering Iran.  Its another bright and warm morning as we listen to the engines firing up to head off to the border. We are now over half way and the road mileages are increasing.....thank goodness.  The Aston remains fabulous on the roads and always gets greeted by the locals as the James Bond car! Amazing. 

Ashqabat is almost all brand new following the devastating earthquake that levelled it in 1947.  Loads of marble and gold.    If you don't hear from us in News 24 for updates!  No seriously we have no mobile connections in Iran so there maybe radio silence again.  Thanks for taking interest.  A and A. 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

At last - a word from Adrian.......

As it is now the 3rd October and the rally has entered the final two weeks, I thought it was time for my first blog. As owner of the car I have winced over every pothole for the last 7,000 km and believe me there have been numerous and very large potholes.

Now we are in Ashgabad, our last stop in Turkmenistan before making the crossing into Iran. To date Samarkand in Uzbekistan has been the real positive surprise but I look forward to Iran. So much has been talked of this nation but so few have been. Tomorrow we will join the few.

The Aston was superb today and we covered the 630km quickly and were the 4th car to arrive at  the hotel despite leaving almost last this morning. Last night is to be forgotten. We stayed in a sanatorium which had pictures of patients being treated on the wall in the lobby. Black mould on the bedroom walls and shared bathrooms and you have an idea. Yuk....roll on Paris.

To all those have been reading the blogs thanks for the support. There have be low moments so to know you are out there has helped. But for now spirits are high and the Aston is showing all her true rally credentials.

Adrian G.
A beautiful Speed Six Bentley

Saturday, 2 October 2010


The temperature outside is 34.6 and the bottom one is inside the car!  We are now in Turkmenistan and being given a police escort to our hotels.  Our is actually called a sanatorium so we don't quite know what to expect.  Its very hot!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Tashkent and Mongolia is still taking its toll!

After a short 220km run today we are now in Tashkent which is a very modern city bussling with life. Only 4 hours to get through customs today so we are getting better at it. That said my dream of a warm bath and a relaxing dinner as we have now got a broken rear spring. It seems all the bashing in Mongolia has taken its toll. I am writing this having stripped the rear suspension again and Adrian has gone off to try and source a new coil. Another late night beckons and our third place is taking some holding onto. Its time for some luck!

Waiting for The Kazak to Uzbek border control.

Judging by the number of Kazak money changers hassling one to buy Uzbek sums from them, we can deduct that Uzbekistan is not doing quite as well as Kazakstan.  We now have 1.5 million sum which looks like 5 house bricks in size and was about $100 worth. Ummh. Think we are going to need another wallet, actually a small wheel barrow should do.   

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Pot holes Kazak style

We are on a fantastic smooth tarmac road interspersed with bomb craters. Anyone of these holes has the capability of finishing your challenge. They make Kents finest look positively pathetic.  Anyway we are half way to Shymkent and the scenery is beautiful.  A mixture of mountains and big open plains.

A fairly typical roadside scene in Kazakstan.

Wild horses and cattle wander freely onto the roads.