Its been a few months since my last confession....
After an pretty OK flight back from Halifax to London with a supprisingly low price of about £250 each we got home to a fridge full of basics thanks to my Mum. The cars were still on the driveway and Matila was still on a boat. That was the next challenge. Getting Matilda into the UK. the worse place in the world possibly to get her into so far. Thats a long story. The shipping agents at both ends had been great so if you need some details on that take a look at our other posts and various forums where its been cross posted.
First tasks were to cut the hedge and grass and get the house back to running state. Since we'd packed everything up and sold furniture because of "the rental that never happened" we were in a right state. All the clothes needed ironing as we sold all our bedroom furniture when we thought the house needed to be empty. We still have piles of clothes with no where to put them and we are still living out of boxes. We cannot afford furniture yet so it will be some time before we are back to normal. At least the Kitchen is working and we can eat what we like. The vacuum cleaner was broken so i've fitted another motor. I've repaired my computer monitor as that had blown an internal component. Luckily i'm pretty handy with Google Search and a soldering iron. Its strange how things break from not being switched on. The PC power supply had also blown so that needed a new one. We don't even have TV as Julie's sister "borrowed" the Sky Box. At least it means we don't need a TV licence. We are watching dowloaded stuff on the Laptop. We got internet installed again before we returned home so at least we have that to keep us entertained.
We tried to claim benefits from the government since we have no jobs and no income. They would not give us anything as we'd been out of the UK for more than 3 months so we have to wait three months and then you guessed it, we get nothing. All my Tax and National Insurance going to pay for Europeans to come over here and claim. I've been paying tax whilst away and i've even had to do a tax return but whats OK for one department isn't for the next so i've not been here physically but on paper i'm still a resident so pay tax.
Now of course we have to deal with the DLVA and getting Matilda road legal. This government department is a nightmare. Every time you call in you get a different answer and you just almost have to guess which one is correct. Anyhow, two forms later and one letter and we have Matilda back and registered. They've still messed it up of course so another letter has been sent to try to get them to sort it out. Nothing can be done via Email or Phone. Its all letter. We drove from Liverpool to Yorkshire with no road Tax, MOT or registration plates. We managed to get insurance from Admiral but even that took nearly 8 hours on the phone. I have the name of the guy who sorted that out if you need VIN Insurance for and unregistered car. I was really stressed we were going to get pulled over. She passed the government MOT as soon as we got back. They guy said there was only one thing he could even comment on and it wasn't even an advisory let alone a fail.
Now we have a working car we went over for a camping weekend for a buddies 40th. Met some friends from where I used to work. Doesn't seem like 5 minutes since I was working with them all. I start a new job on Tuesday so that's a load off my mind. Some money coming in again.
OK, so I've sat on this long enough and I've just got to let it out....
Toilets in the USA.
What is it about the gap around the entire edge so all that come in can see you sat there. In some toilets its an inch (make that 2 centimetres). One of the manufacturers is called "Hiny Hiders" and they not only do no hiding but certainly don't hide my "hiny". They also all end about a foot from the floor (make that 30cm) or more. When I first came to the USA, many years ago, I was so put off by the gaps that I could not go to the toilet at all. In certain places here and usually its in the disabled stall they have the gap directly in front of the seating area....so you can guess what you can see there.
All the toilets also have auto flush systems. At the first sign of you standing up to complete the last part of your sit down, the part that involves the toilet paper it flushes. You can try to stop it flushing but it still flushes no matter how careful you are, thus wasting over a gallon of water, sometimes more. That's 4 litres to normal people. You can't stop this inevitable occurrence and they all do it. You barely lift off and there it goes so each sitting takes two full flushes to complete. How is that good for the environment, water, waste processing, wear and tear and this is not considering the waste of electricity powering all those auto flush systems?
Enough said. All you people who've been here on holiday will know what I mean. I like privacy when sitting......and shitting. How the scared Yanks put up with this paedophile enabling system is beyond me. I know I wouldn't like my kids "Hiny" on show.....
One more thing....the gaps are so large they don't have (or need) a vacant and occupied signal on the latch on the outside as everyone can see the stall is occupied and what colour your underwear is anyhow. They might as well put windows in......
A big THANKS to RAB who today have sent us a box of goodies. They've delivered us a couple of coats and a new sleeping back for me. I've had one of their sleeping bags for 24 years and I'm still using it. They truly are the best and now I have one that's not loosing feathers and filling the car with quality down feathers.....It sometimes looks like we've hit a goose on the road....I suppose I should stitch the small hole up.
We are very lucky people.
Happy Holidays to your all. Avoiding the Christian messages and wishing all our friends, no matter what their faith, a Happy Holiday. Its not like the non-chiristians don't get the same holidays, you lucky people ! We've been on holiday for over two years now and its soon coming to a financial end.....Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings.....
I'm not freaking out yet....
So coming home has been a fest of broken failing devices. Shower and cooker being noteworthy....
On a more positive note the car passed its MOT so we are now mobile and don't need to borrow Mums car. Actually its Dads car and he put up with the flowers on the side......me not so much.....How about some bear paws....hehe. Thanks Mum.
So the reason for the post. My portable hard drive was accidentially partially deleted....my fault. We copied (recovered!) off all the data to my main PC at home (7 hours work). This is the one that contains ALL photos and backups on multiple redundant drives. This has failed. Completely failed. I supect motherboard or PSU (power) and I do not know whats happened to any of the data. I'm currently creating another backup of the photos since Africa (that would be the 6000 of the America's). The Africa ones are in a state of limbo until I can get another PC or buy a USB to SATA adapter to see if they still exist on any of the drives. I think I have 3 copies of them but its a long time since I did the backups. Recovery, if possible, will need to be done via the laptop they repaired today in my home (Argh !). Problem is copying many GBs of files around means lots of blank storage. I've just got another 1TB of storage. This is enough for maybe 15% of my stuff.....and thats only the recent stuff.
So i'm freaking out and have maybe 48 hours of copying to do onto blank drives I cannot afford. Worse case is we get a new PC in another lifetime.....this may have to wait until we get jobs next year.....
I really don't get this at all. I know I'm not a movie site and I know I'm not a Movie Critic. How the hell on this good green earth is Batman (a man) going to fight with Superman (the man of steel). After all Superman is indestructible and Batman is well, just a man in a cape with some tech gadgets? I do not understand how Superman isn't just going Laser his ass and give him a giant wedgy. Unless Batman can think of a way to put out the Sun (where Superman get his power) then its going to be a short fight....Possibly Sheldon can post a comment on how this will work in the slightest. In fact any one of the boys, feel free to post.
I'll not start on if Affleck is the correct choice for Batman and we'll not talk about the Kilmer era.
Looking forward to it....probably not. I'd rather Affleck carried on as director of "The Stand" and left the acting for someone with muscles.
Been meaning to post this for a bit....
We've been told on our travels that we are moving too fast, moving too slow and that we've missed the "beautiful" things....that we're going to die in the next country on many occasions....many times we've been told this in both Africa and America...
We've met people "travelling" very slowly....in fact they are "travelling" so slowly they are not moving at all. They are just living in a country for years (in a car). Some only move to do a visa border bounce or to get the car paperwork re-done. This isn't overlanding in my opinion and isn't really travelling. They pass opinion on where we should go and what we should see and say that we are "travelling to fast". Most of them are well meaning, well travelled and not at all falling into the category of people I'm talking about here though. Unfortunately some do fall into this category and these are usually the ones with nothing to go home for. These are the ones that have left their homes and in fact do not have homes at all. They live abroad and have no fixed abode. They pretend to be overlanders but do little overlanding combined with plenty of camping.
Some of us have a budget and a limited time that allows. We are not retired and not working. For goodness sake....we're NOT working. If i wanted to experience South America for 2 years. I'd move there and buy a house! I spend as much time in a country as I want to. I stay one or more nights in a place and move on before I get to the point where you stop travelling. In certain campsites there are other overlanders around and you stay too long. No sooner do you decide to leave than another overlander turns up and you decide to stay a few more days to get to know them. Its like a virus....every new arrival at the camp infects the "residents" with the desire to stay a bit longer. Before you know it you've been there for three weeks and done nothing. You've certainly not travelled! You have met some great people however. This not only destroys you bank balance, as every day stationary is a day lost somewhere else but it destroys your drive to get going to the next place. I'm not doing this journey to meet every person in every town or indeed every overlander on the continent. I like meeting them but not at the detriment of my journey or our/your Journey.....now get the fcuk moving.....
Not quite as dramatic as being on the moon but we may be out of contact for quite a while. No working internet on the phone and no 3G. We are back on Sat Phone and Wi-Fi cafes. The Sat Phone messages take 24 hours to come through sometimes. UK text messages to my UK number work fine. Julie switches that phone on all the time as we get bank updates/alerts on that number. We can respond off the Argentina sim card. So we still have contact. Of course we will be updating the map as we try to drive 2600km in 10 days....
Checking out of the aprtment in half an hour. We still need to make the car habitable. There's wiring to fix and stuff to clean. Its a mess !
We've dumped two suitcases today which we've been carrying around since we came home in October. I'm glad they're gone. We seem to have accumulated a car full of stuff. Its about time we had a clear out.
Could it be we are getting a news paper artcle ? Usually they arn't interested as we don't have some charity to donate a few hundred pounds to. Well you know my feelings on that one. If UNICEF want to send us some pens we'll give em out and well even pay for them. Other than that you could never collect more than you spend unless you're someone famous. So we'll leave it up to Chris Moyles and the like. they did very well on their Kilimanjaro Climb. Millions ££ !!!
Any how this is what i've just sent the paper. Who said I was never good at English. This isn't the start of the book....its only the foreword.
Oh and if any future employers want my proposal writing skills, minus all the spelling mistakes caused by my sticking keyboard, send me a message.
""We decided to do the trip about 4 years ago but had been saving for something for a long time. We didn’t quite know what we were saving for, possibly retirement but what would we do with the money when we were old ? We were also expecting Julie to be made redundant and she was but little did we know was that Jarvis Rail went bust so her nice redundancy cheque didn’t materialise and her 22 years of working for them was worth a lot less than we thought. She had trouble finding a job in Doncaster but managed to get a temp Job at Wilkinsons Head Office which she loved and it was in the right direction against the terrible traffic caused by the new bus lane. Julie had no choice in driving to work as she worked in York for Jarvis and went very early most mornings and before the busses to catch the train. With the parking situation in Doncaster driving to Worksop knocked more than 2 hours from her commute. She was really happy there so leaving to go round the world wasn’t as attractive as it once was. She was still a temp though so what was there to loose.
(for all the Wilko's lots, yes she will come back if you will have her)
My job, where I’d been for 5 years was finally safe as I worked for an Internet company in Derby having been made redundant myself during the Dot Com bust ups. I took me a long time to find the job and almost a year and half out of work after the last one. I’d been made redundant twice but neither gave us much money but since one of us was usually working we made do with what we had and still saved like mad.
We bought Matilda (The Land Rover Defender 110 300Tdi) in Nov 2009 and I spent all our spare cash and time changing parts and getting her ready for the trip. I knew very little about cars and only what my Dad have taught me when I was a little boy. With the help of people I met on the internet at a Land Rover forum and some other travellers from Stockton on Tees we got Matilda ready. There are some websites dedicated to round the world travel and we used them for planning the route. Syria and Egypt becoming a bigger problem every day. We finally passed through Syria in the midst of the troubles on 14th November 2011. The people we were travelling with across Syria broke down in Homms and we managed to stay 2 nights in Damascus whilst I fixed their car. I’d learnt so much fixing mine up that I knew more than the Land Rover dealer in Damascus. Fixing other peoples cars and helping them out seemed to be a bit of a trend from then on.
We have quite a few jabs before we left and a lot of Malaria tablets ! We have another years supply each. Asking the Doctor for 700 tablets is a difficult conversation. Since its private prescription you can have them but for other stuff they just say “no”. Doesn’t matter that you might get ill. They don’t care, there are rules. Julie has to take a tablet every day and getting those from the NHS is impossible as they have these silly rules on how many they will give her. It’s amazing the things that you need to do whilst you are away and you take from granted when at home. Even the most simple prescription costs a lot. Much more than at home. Isn’t the NHS fantastic when you compare it to almost zero healthcare in some place in Africa.
Matilda herself was a Land Rover Defender 110. The 300Tdi engine was old and
uncomplicated. There was no computer and not much that could go wrong electrically. She’s an uncomplicated woman. Which was great for an uncomplicated Yorkshireman to fix. We had three boxes of parts on the roof and a computer full of workshop manuals. Inside there’s just us and Dash our mascot. Dash is a blue teddy bear my mother gave me along with a St. Christopher to go on my chain round my neck. I think they’ve both looked after us.
There’s a summary of our car problems in the link below. Might be a bit technical but it’s all there.
Mother is looking after our stuff whilst we are away. There’s a surprising amount of stuff that needed sorting out. The local Santander Branch Manager has been a star as we always need to do something or pay something and they both look after us very well. We use Skype a lot and we’ve have over 20 PayGo sim cards for my phone. It Internet 3G coverage is great even in Africa. The Maasai warriors have their spear in one hand and their mobile phones in the other.
Africa is expensive, which is very surprising. Egypt is certainly the cheapest place for almost everything including fuel. In Ethiopia we were very surprised as its Green! We only expected to see the sand and dust that the TV programs show but Ethiopia is a BIG place and Africa is massive. You can fit all India, China, USA and all of Europe into Africa with some other smaller countries filling in the gaps. Its BIG and it usually takes 3 months or so to drive from Europe to Cape Town. We took much longer and left Africa after one year.
We slept in McDonalds car parks, hotel car parks, laybys, side of the road, in shopping centre car parks, campsites, the odd hotel, people’s houses and almost anywhere we found that was safe. We even slept in the desert under the night of a thousand stars. It really makes you realise how our little journey is nothing in comparison to the distance to some of those stars in the sky. We saw the edge of the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. Something you only get to do in places like the desert.""
Contrary to popular belief we did not come back to the UK to watch X Factor although since my mother is an addict we have had to watch it....
Can't wait to be back in the Land Rover with no TV.....
On Tuesday we went to see our niece Jessica at Newcastle uni. Shes only been there for two weeks so we just missed her when we came home. Thankfully we still get free rail travel so we went for a visit. She has a really nice room in halls and they are not at all like I remember. The ones i've seen before were rather poor in comparison.
As part of the trip we I took to opportunity to get myself an International Driving Licence from the central post office. The only problem being the jumped up little tart on the counter who decided that my photos weren,t good enough!!!? Now these are exactly the same photos used for my passport, my last IDP, my visas and in fact every other official document I've obtained recently. The immigration in about 25 countries think I look like the person in the photo and the UK passport agency think they are of good enough quality to use for a passport. So now we need to go to another post office to get one as they don't do them locally.s
We still have one one quote for shipping and its too expensive. All the car parts and maps are on order for the trip to South America. We've spent a lot of money today.
For all those that used the contact form to contact us i must apologise. The Email wasn't sent to us so i didn't know you sent me a message. I have now g
preparation has gone backwards over the last day. House insurance needs changing involving more 0870 and 0845 numbers (don't you just love those. Dial them off your mobile and you will know what i mean). My phone bill must be the highest its ever been this last month and thats the land line. The post-it note list isn't getting any shorter as various things that were sorted now need re-thinking with additional cost. The mapping site is offline for some strange reason so i've asked the developer to fix it. It was all going so well.
I've not eaten in 24 hours and more importantly not even had a drink of alcohol so it must be bad! The stress is begining to tell. Theres too much to sort out and too little time again. You'd imagine its easy leaving the UK. Its not.
we are still planning on leaving on Tuesday. Things are finally going to plan with packing up nearly finished.
To update you on the letting of the house: with all of two days notice our let has pulled out. So the house is staying as is, packed up and empty with various family staying on odd days so its not left vacant for insurance purposes. Various furniture is going to the "four corners" for storage. Neighbours have keys and will hopefully come in every other day to check all is well.
they've nicked £2500 from my account and wont give it back. This means we can't get our US Dollars. So we can't go ! Thanks a bunch Santander for being so very inflexible when releasing our funds back to us even after 4 hours,,,yes 4 hours !!!! on the phone to them.
The more than my job worth attitude in full effect. At least i got to speak to 10% of Santander call centre staff and found one (only one) that actully tried to resolve the issue. The others were useless.
the afore mentioned person seems to have sorted it out........Thanks to Terry.
went to get my dollars and they had cancelled my card as part of the above problem. Took 1 hour and 15 mins more on the phone to sort that out. Finally they admitted it was their issue after blaming Travelex (who have been superb).
For my trouble today £105 compensation (as you can imagine by the compensation it was a lot of trouble)....a good result really but i'd rather have wasted my time today doing something i needed to do rather that getting very wound up with the bank. I had my first migraine for about 8 years the other day. This isn't helping ! I don't need the £105, can i have my day back please ?
I wonder what the carnet price would be on this shiny beast. I'm drooling....
More photos in the photo section.
The Syria thing is really starting to get on my nerves. Its going to ruin the whole thing. Firstly it made the ferry cancel that route. Now its making it almost impossible to consider crossing Syria. We could spend a few more months than planned pottering round Europe and east Europe praying that they can sort something out that stops the shooting but its winter ! the whole point of goign now was so its not too hot in North Africa. Should we go West Coast or ship to South America ? ARGH !!!!!!
I hate Vision Express....they were given a fair crack of the whip and i even had to resort to a Data Protection request to get my records. Why don't opticians give your PD measurment (Pupil Distance)? Answer, so they can stop you going to mail order places and getting glasses made on the cheap. The only optician in the UK that believes this is wrong is "Metsuki". You should google for them and order a free ruler to measure your own PD. We got ours today. Its the same one the opticians use. They even have a web camera App so you can get it measured online. Save quite a bit on your glasses and lenses.
As it happens we went to specsavers for Julies but i got mine from Metsuki. We now both have what Julie calls "pedo glasses"...If you want to see mine just take a look at the "Who are we?" page. Theres something dodgy about lenses that go dark all year round....
We slept in the 110 last night on the streets of Nottingham. The car was the topic of conversation for quite a bit of the evening where we were celebrating a colleagues 37th Birthday. Makes me feel old as it was a few years ago when i was that young. I drank, as always, way too much and even danced. I do not do "dancing" very often. I now have a mother of a hangover and have just been back to bed for two hours. Never again.....LMAO.
Get notifications of new Blog Entries by filling in the box below. No risk.