All posts by planfmongol

Driver Donski Arrives

School bus driving specialist and all around top bloke “Donski” arrived in Lancaster last Sunday to spend a week prepping the car with us and generally just getting familiarised with everything. Once we got back to my place in Ulverston Don got to see the car, I made a £5 bet that he’d stall it first time based on the stereotype that Americans can’t drive stick. Also having driven it a fair bit I’ve noticed that the clutch takes a bit of getting used to as the biting point is about as noticeable as a needle in a haystack! Anyway, I lost that bet as he got in the car and drove straight around the car park with absolutely no issues. Bugger!

The following morning we were up early to fix an issue which had cropped up with the temperature gauge – basically it wasn’t working – kind of a big deal when your attempting to drive half way around the world and across numerous deserts! Thankfully a simple £5 temperature sensor was all that was needed to fix that little issue and once again the Felicia was fighting fit! I had to go to work later that day so I left Don to it in Ulverston, I pointed him in the direction of a few good pubs and knew he’d be fine. Fast forward 10 hours and at 1am when I walk in I find a rather jovial American man swaying around in the car park in his socks but with no shoes!! Turns out Don had gone to the pub and got chatting to a couple of guys, they explained they were travellers to which Don replied something along the lines of “Me too man! I’m just over from South Carolina, USA, me and my buddies are about to drive to Mongolia!”, the conversation progressed and somewhere between pint one and pint ten Don realised that their kind of travelling wasn’t quite the same as his – these were Romanian Travellers!! Either way he seemingly had a good evening.

Tuesday we were joined by the mothership who came up on the train so we could all have lunch together outside in the glorious sunshine. Don sadly did not find his new Romanian friends that night.

Wednesday Don took the car out for his first proper drive, he drove an hour down the road to Al’s house for a BBQ to celebrate his sister, Lynne’s birthday, this was the first time the two of them had met but I’m lead to believe that there was “good food, good music and good people” – I guess these two will get along just fine then!

By Thursday I had finally finished work for the trip and so was met by Al and Don in the Felicia so that we could take her for her first proper road test in the Lake District. Meanwhile, our fifth member (Rob) had also arrived so we threw him in the car and took him with us, 4/5ths of Plan F were ready to see what the Felicia had to offer! On a blisteringly hot day we drove up the side of Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere and then cut across and went up and over Honister Pass to test out her up hill abilities – slow and steady is how I could best describe it, and with a run up of possible! Dropping back down to Buttermere we looped back around on ourselves and headed back towards Bowness for a beer by the lake. It was the perfect day to be in the Lakes.

Friday morning Don and I had a bit of a lie in before attempting to pack the car up with all our gear, like putting together a jigsaw without the picture we seemingly are experts in the field and had it sorted in no time. At this point a massive thank you should be said to the guys at David Ian Skoda on Whitelund Industrial Estate at Morecambe for sorting us out with a fantastic touring kit of spare parts and extra fluids, by now this Felicia has to be the most treasured and cared for one in the country. Seeing as how we’d packed the car so quickly I thought I’d show Don some culture and take him to Lancaster on the train to have a looks around the castle – Americans love all that shit because their country is only about 200 years old, a veritable nipper in comparison to these fine shores! We arrived at the castle and yet again it was a beautiful day, we had the briefest of looks around before Don turns to me and says “Cool Castle, now where’s the pub!”, well that set the tone of the afternoon and after numerous pints sat out on the canal we frequented a few more of the local hostelries before heading to the Tap House. I recommended the Brew Dog Punk IPA to Don and so we both went for a pint of that, Don got all excited about the smell of hops, had THE geekiest beer and hops conversation I have ever heard with the barman, Oh and we met an Ewok! I’m not even kidding -we met a rather interesting vertically challenged gentleman who regaled us with his tales of parties with celebrities and showed us countless photos of him with said celebrities – I think Drunk Don even got his autograph!! A train ride full of drunken laughter and hiccuping, a curry and some more hiccuping entailed before we finally decided it was best that we head to bed as tomorrow was Launch Day!

Pimp My Ride

I was giddy with excitement as we rolled up outside Lustalux in Preston…and I wasn’t disappointed. Johnny and the boys had well and truly pimped our ride! An amazing job at a very charitable price. The Adventurists might think the car looks “too professional” but what do those guys know. We think it looks badass!

We’ll raise a glass to Johnny and the Lustalux lads when we reach Ulaan Bataar!

lustalux-logo

Meet Rob – The 5th Member

Some time ago now we came up with an idea, an idea for a competition which would give one of our sponsors the opportunity to come with us. Obviously we couldn’t afford to foot the bill for all those bloody visas and we certainly didn’t think an extra body in the Felicia would help matters either – so we thought that taking a cardboard cut out with us would be the ideal, but equally stupid compromise. After sending out a few emails the wonderful folks over at PartyPacks.co.uk bought into the idea and offered to help us bring the competition to life by sorting us out with a life size cardboard cut out of the winner.  The  idea being that the lucky winners cut out would come with us wherever we went and be in every team photo from here to Ulaanbaatar…

For everyone who sponsored us £10 we put their name in a hat, for every multiple of £10 thereof we added another ticket with their name on, increasing their chances and our sponsorship! So after months of you guys sponsoring us we drew the winner of our 5th Member Competition and  this fine fellow’s name came out. Meet Rob McLeod, equally as foolish and incredibly envious that he couldn’t get the time off to come with us. Luckily for Rob he is coming with us now, just not in the way he’d hoped.

Congratulations Rob!

Mr Rob

Painting The Rack

“Hold can 6 inches away from surface” it said, well that should be easy, all men know how big 6 inches is, its half the length of their penis – obviously! Turns out the instructions are wrong, they must mean “Hold can 12 inches away from surface” as 6 inches was clearly too close and it started to run immediately!!!

In all seriousness though I thought how hard can this be, I did an A Level in Art and i followed the instructions, turns out Hammerite are a set of liars. Perhaps it would have been easier to paint if the roof rack hadn’t been attached to the car – the panels for the secret cash stash painted just fine – either way, it was running and no matter what I did it just kept on running. In the end I gave up, sure we want our Rally car to look the business, but a few stickers over the top and no one will even know… thats the plan anyway.

So here it is, our painted (albeit badly) roof rack complete with high intensity spot lamps. Other modifications to the mighty Skoda include the hull otherwise known as sump and engine guard, the secret cash stash for the inevitable moment we are victims of a shake down, a second battery and our interior has been pimped out with an inverter and a whole load of 12v sockets. You’d think we were almost rally ready… however I have noticed there seems to be an issue with the temperature gauge. Yikes!

Modifications Underway

Skoda aren’t renowned for their motoring ingenuity, style or robustness….but, according to Whatcar, the 1.3 litre Felicia ‘was built after the company got its act together, so what you get for your money – and not a lot of it – is a very solid and dependable little hatchback’. Apparently, most importantly, it has excellent paint quality, a high quality trim (see next paragraph) and good shut lines (whatever they may be). The truth of the matter, from a driving perspective appears somewhat less reassuring. A previous owner has described his five-door variant as ‘pretty gutless’ and having ‘awful brakes that required double the distance you would need in a modern car’ – although he is very happy with the ‘intermittent wiper setting’. The critical buy/don’t buy modification we all hinge our decision on!

Much has been done to develop and improve this once discreet and innocent wagon into a foreign cruiser with off road and endurance potential. The cabins traditional grey soft-to-touch interior has been stripped and replaced with break out hammers, fire extinguishers and an illuminated compass. The engine bay has been modified to include a second battery, larger coolant header tank and a second radiator fan. Underneath a protective skin has been installed to guard the oil sump and fuel tank. The vehicle has also been styled and given a practical hat – a steel roof rack has been constructed with fuel jerry can slots and equipment tie down points. To improve visibility, some high-watt spot-lights have been rigged to the roof rack in preparation for the lonely nights retracing Genghis Khans path. The bonnet has been fitted with an air intake scoop and the 38,000 mile carriage has been treated to a pre-jaunt service.

Plan F-Stival Total £1067

It is the Plan F Team’s pleasure to announce that the total raised for Marie Curie at yesterday’s Plan F-Stival currently stands at £1,067 including gift aid! This means we’ve smashed last years total in spite of the rain. It also takes the total from the three festivals so far to over £2,600! Who knew you could raise so much money just by having a good time! Money is still coming in, and if you missed the festival but would like to contribute, then you can do so athttp://www.justgiving.com/planfOf course, none of this would have been possible without so many wonderful people attending, playing, setting up, and generally mucking in. In particular we’d like to thank: our host and singer, Brenda Hempton; Mr. William Bretherton on the barbeque; Alan Holmes for his superb sound expertise, music, and the use of his wonderful sound system; cake baker, musician and wine merchant Lynne Hempton; all those responsible for the other yummy cakes – Tess, Emma, Claire, Kim; Mary, Anna, Bekki, Rowena, and Peter for amonst other things, the wonderful and frankly riotous celidh; to all of our other musicians: Les Bratby, Karin Grandal-Park, Glynn Shipman, Bob Hempton, Frank Barnes, The Bimble Brothers (aka Michael Pritchard and Damon Kilcawley), and finally the inimitable Joe Hyde.We’d also like to say big thankyous to Rory at the Borough Brewery for the ale (…can’t believe how fast that disappeared!); to Patrick at Cornvale for the meat; convertible tractor-driver and bar-borrower Stewart Rigby; to Morgan Shaw at Fizzpop Creations for the lovely banner design; Julie and Cliff for the loan of the world’s biggest barbeque; and to Rick for boldly agreeing to have his flowing locks chopped off with garden shears in the name of a good cause.Special thanks also go to Ali, Pat, Sarah, George, Rich, Emma, Rushy, Anne, Hannah, Hannah, Don, John, Rob, Carys,Hazel, Christine, Gill, Andy B and little Stu, for mucking in and helping out in so many diverse ways.

In all the excitement, we sort of forgot to mention that the festival was also the launch of Alan & Lynne Hempton’s new CD – which you can get here:http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/alanlynnehempton, or by asking Alan or Lynne. £2 from each CD sold will also go into the pot for Marie Curie.

If you got any photos of the festival, we’d love to see them, and once again, if anyone still wants to make a contribution, this is the place:http://www.justgiving.com/planf

Our heartiest thanks and goodwill,

Alan, Dave, Gilbey & Don (Plan F)