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Welcome to our blog. We are starting to document our Silk Road journey.  We will start with some of the planning and preparation!

One Life Adventure

One Life Adventure

Over the weekend 20/21 January 2018, Jim and I chose to go to the Yorkshire Dales with OneLife Adventure to try out the more rugged capabilities of our Landy.  We spent the weekend driving around Garsdale and Wensleydale, near Richmond.  This went down well with Jim who knew the area remarkably well as he had visited the area a lot because his Aunt and Uncle had lived nearby.  Jim's local knowledge was astounding.  He never ceases to surprise me.

We only have a few weeks left till we take off on our journey and this was our last chance to learn how to use the 4 Wheel Drive capabilities of the car.  We had got used to driving her around Greenwich and up and down the motorway, but what was she capable of, off road?  Or more to the point did Jim and I know how to drive her off road?  Actually we have levers in the front which say H2, H4 and L4 and rear diffs and front diffs?  We did not have a clue.  There are also locks on the front wheels and we had no idea what they did.  Thanks to Julian Voelcker we knew these things existed and did turn.  The 4WD gear lever seemed very stiff and we did not know what to do with it in any case.  All that changed in a snowy Farm in Yorkshire when we met Paul Blackburn of OneLife.  We had signed up for some training before we were due to drive off to foreign parts.  So we spent the weekend with Paul Blackburn with a group of off roaders driving down snowy tracks sometimes in white-out conditions. Although the weather was bad and the snow deep, Paul turned up early and showed us how to use the extra gears and when to shift from one to the other and initiated us into the world of diff locks.  He then took us out on a deeply rutted stony track to allow us to try out our newly acquired skills.  It was quite exhilarating and gave us renewed confidence about the capabilities of Landy. The only problem we encountered were hungry horses. We then spent our first night sleeping in the truck after cooking our first meal, with Tilly dog perched in her basket in the drivers' chair.  

 Hungry Horses

Hungry Horses

In the morning we packed up camp, installed Tilly's basket in the back and wedged ourselves back into our seats to join the small off road convoy some of whom had arrived from their toasty b&b's.  Before we could leave however, Paul had to go and rescue one of the participants who had got stuck with his young son, in the snow on one of the passes trying to reach the group.  Then unbelievably Paul himself got stuck trying to get him out.  So there was a bit of a delay, before the day could start.  Jim, needless to say, took this opportunity to find a local cafe and have the largest full English he could find.  Meusli in the back of the van in sub-zero temperatures did not have the same appeal.

What I did not realise was that the weekend would be punctuated with Paul occasionally rescuing and pulling out stranded drivers from snowy drifts, who were motoring in blizzard conditions in the middle of nowhere,  without suitable vehicles or forethought.  How lucky they were to find a convoy of well equipped 4x4 vehicles ready to assist.  

Once our little convoy was underway,  Jim and I knew what to expect, having had a bit of one to one the day before.  I say thought, because although it was bright and sunny, more snow had fallen in the night and many of the tracks Paul wanted to use were not passable.  He found us some alternatives, which in normal conditions, might have been a piece of cake, but in snowy, icy conditions, were, at least for us, an exciting challenge.  We were issued with a radio and crackly instructions emitted from time to time, but mainly we just had to work out which gear to use. I have to admit that it was easier for co-driver to wallop the 4WD gear in than to do it whilst you are driving with the main gear stick.  So we worked as a team and we had great fun.  

Needless to say, one of us managed to skid off the track fairly early on, but there was no shortage of other 4WD's to tow us back on.  I am glad to say that there are no photos of us being towed back onto the road.  The second night out camping in the car, we anticipated temperatures dropping to minus 6 degrees C.  I was astonished that on arriving at base, at the back of a very muddy farm yard, in fairly deep snow, Paul dug a pit and made a big log fire.  Another cooking fire was set up alongside by another intrepid off roader and we huddled in our new camping chairs, hugging a beer watching people cook steaks in the snow.   I have to tell you folks, it is a different world, all this outdoor stuff. 

Before we turned in and hunkered down, the inside of our car was 4 degrees.  (I had taken a thermometer).  We really hoped that our sleeping bags were up to the job.  I have to reveal though, that earlier in the week, we had had the diesel Eberspracher Heater replaced and we turned it on before we clambered into our pop top and the car was quite toasty by the time we had to slip into our sleeping bags.  Fellow campers commented that our diesel car heater was much quieter than most and I was grateful to South East Autos in Maidstone for recommending the silencer as the gentle hum blended in alongside the crackling fire.  

The canvas single skin sides of the tent to the pop top were dripping wet inside when we climbed aloft, and we were not sure whether it was leaking or condensation.  I actually think it was condensation, but actually we both slept pretty well on both nights, thanks to good sleeping bags - thanks Bel Burn!  

The experience has heartened us in terms of the cars' capabilities and indeed our own.  It never faltered when starting up in the cold.  The experience has resulted in a few additions to our car set up, including purchasing a suitable tow rope.  A few of my clothes have been jettisoned and overall the leisure batteries worked well, the radio was fab, the bed tolerable and the heater gets a three star rating.  A big thank you to Paul Blackburn for his quiet leadership and support.  We do feel empowered by the experience!

 

Our last Goodbyes in the UK

Our last Goodbyes in the UK

The Countdown

The Countdown