Visa processing times continue to keep our itchy feet on British soil; the good news is that we have been granted Kazakhstan and Mongolian Visas and are just waiting on Russia now. For all our planning and painstakingly precise lists there are still two big logistical questions before we hit the road; will it all fit in and will it all work? With bonus time on our hands we set off for 3 days camping on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. Designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, this peninsula boasts the highest number of native wild flower species in Britain and is home to all seven of the UK’s reptile species. The weather has been gorgeously sunny throughout England over the past couple of weeks; we chose Burnbake Campsite, a quite woodland spot as the location for our overland overhaul.
Space was pretty much maxed-out as we drove off which has provoked some thought about how we can reduce our equipment to allow a less crammed-in carload. The majority of our possessions are organised into 13 Wolf Boxes which stack together and allow us to store and access our equipment easily and methodically. These have also controlled what we take with us; both Andy and I have limited ourselves to one box each for clothing and one for personal possessions. Throughout our travel trial the boxes were shuffled and re-packed, with some items being relegated as superfluous and others being added to a new list.
Our rooftent is now a boudoir of luxury with new duvet and bedding, we have also fitted foam camping mats between the mattress and the fibreglass base for extra insulation when we venture close to the Arctic Circle. We fitted DIY hole-punch peg eyelets to the bottom of our awning walls to fix it securely to the ground and stop the sides flapping about in the wind.
Some kitchen Feng-shui presented us with an efficient work area for food preparation; the industrial-lino-covered tailgate has already proved to be an excellent work surface. Our pristine Coleman dual-fuel burner stove was taken out of the box and (following careful reading of instructions- it runs on petrol!) was soon cooking up our first outdoor cuisine. Despite being limited to just 2 boxes our kitchen has pretty much everything; including the kitchen sink (collapsible, of course).We were keen to see how long our ‘house battery’ would last before needing a re-charge; impressively, for the 3 days we were there our fridge ran constantly at 3⁰C, we charged laptop and camera batteries, and had lights underneath the awning and in the rooftent at night (with 25% power remaining when we left!).
Our ‘2 second cabin’ lived up to its name when bursting out of the bag (mastering the art of folding it back in took slightly longer). This lightweight, compact 1m x 1m tent is ideal for use as a shower, washroom, toilet or changing tent. The adventure Hammock had its first ‘stringing-up’... following this our productivity noticeably decreased; nothing is more relaxing than swinging gently in the dappled sunshine with a warm breeze and only background bird song. We can’t wait for some of the shine on our new equipment to be replaced with dust and mud but in the meantime it’s reassuring to know that we’re well prepared for the journey ahead.
Following a perilous crossing of the English Channel for the first stage of our journey, we took shelter in the bay of Weymouth for a second weekend of ‘waving off’ and general adventure partying. It was lovely to spend time with family and friends who travelled to the South Coast, especially my sister Clare and boyfriend Leighton who flew all the way from Dubai.
With friends scattered around the country it was a great chance to spend the weekend together and catch up. Friday night was spent old school ‘Butlins’ style at the Riviera Hotel complete with staff cabaret. This was followed by (too much) drinking and dancing at the legendary 24 hour Dorothy Inn on the seafront. Saturday we gathered at Ma and Da’s for a BBQ (five types of sausage no less) and stayed up until the small hours chatting around the fire pit in the garden under the twinkling lights and bunting in the gazebo. Sunday’s wouldn’t be complete without a big, fat traditional roast and we all headed to the Ship Inn, with lunch followed by an epic skittles battle, boys v girls. For those with stamina, the drinking carried on at The Spyglass followed by a blow-out curry back at the house.
We would like to thank everybody who made the effort to travel down and spend the weekend with us, it was a wonderful send off and we hope that over the next 800 days we will meet up with friends and family on our travels.
Emma and I have a monthly double page spread in Gallery Magazine. Each month the magazine is set with a theme, this months being 'Gluttony'. We are incredibly lucky in that we can write and design the article as we plan to subsidise our trip to some degree by working from the road. I'm a part-time graphic designer by trade so can freelance from anywhere around the world as long as I have the occasional internet signal. You can read the on-line version of this months Gallery Magazine HERE. Our article is on page 42/43.
Emma and I are sat on the ferry, watching St Peter Port harbour disappear into the distance. We have officially set sail (from Guernsey at least). We marked this occasion by having a serious weekend of partying with our friends and family on the island.
The last year has been spent so intently focused on working, planning and fund-raising that our social life’s had taken a bit of a backseat. It was great to catch up with friends and have one final blow out.
The weekend saw us celebrate at The Townhouse in Guernsey where we threw a ‘Russian Prison Tempempory Tattoo Party’. The idea was that when we are arrested in Russia we’ll know what to expect when we are thrown in jail. Everyone made an effort and we had all the fun whilst many of our friends played DJ sets. Carnage ensued as various shots got necked in short succession.
We’d like to thank all the people that came down and helped us celebrate in style, especially those who travelled from the UK just to wave us off. We’d also like to thank Sam Jarrold, Andre De Carteret, Paul Mason-Barney, Liam Gleeson, Dave Clyde, Pete Galliot and anyone else who may have played records.
We also had a slightly more civil affair the day before we left with close friends and family. The carvary at the Imperial Hotel took a battering as we devoured plates of Roast Beef. It was a little sad to say goodbye for the final time, but it’s nice knowing many of our friends and family are willing to come and visit us on our adventure (although once they’ve seen the toilet arrangement they might change their minds!).
The next two weeks are going to be fairly intense with the last of the car jobs taking priority alongside the final red tape fiasco and our Weymouth leaving party.