All posts by planfmongol

Plan F join the Dixie Chickens

In 2011 when Al and I attempted to drive our Mototaxi the length of Peru we had a variety of supporters and followers from all over the world, some we knew, some we didn’t. Most people would just read our updates and rest assured that we we were in fact alive and that the only reason no one had heard from us for a few days was because we’d broken down in the Andes and were currently sleeping in a sheep shed. Sarah McLester, a complete stranger from South Carolina, on the other hand was not just following our progress but following the progress of the other teams and working out from them where we were. Sarah was planning to do the very same stupid thing the following year… crazy lady. Anyway, the Peruvian Mototaxi Mayhem came and went but Sarah and I stayed in contact as I passed her bits of advice for her and her husband Donald’s attempt. In the same way Sarah followed our updates, I followed hers and we would enjoy a good bitch about shit mototaxis, shit mechanics and shit roads… we bonded!

Fast forward 6 months and Sarah started talking about this ridiculous idea of buying an American school bus and driving it around the world, naturally I thought this was a splendid idea. The plan developed into them entering a team in the Mongol Rally and before I knew it she’d somehow persuaded me to come along for the ride, sadly not all the way, but across Europe at least.

So there it was, Team Dixie Chickens Bus was born. Having never met Sarah and Don, or any of her motley crew I’d be spending a few weeks of my summer riding a 1990 Thomas short bus across Europe with a bunch of strangers… You can read more about this trip on my personal blog, if you’re interested, click here.


Plan F-Stival 2013

After the rip-roaring success of the first ever Plan F-Stival we decided we’d make it an annual event, or at least for now whilst work allows us to. For those of you who don’t know us or have no idea what the Plan F-Stival is I shall now try to briefly explain. Back in 2011 Al and I organised an all-you-can-eat-BBQ in aid of Marie Curie, on that occasion it poured with rain, undeterred we through up a large tent in the middle of the lawn and supported it in the middle with garden canes and parasols and one of our friends made the comment “It looks a bit like a shit version of the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage” at which point I made some reference to it being more of a Plan F-Stival tent, literally seconds after that Al and I came up with the idea of Plan F-Stival; a mini music festival for our friends and family to come and enjoy on a summers day whilst donating to a good cause.

So there it was, Plan F-Stival was born. In 2012 we held the first ever Plan F-Stival and were blessed with a bitterly cold breeze, it had all seemed so perfect until our first guests arrived and at that point the first clouds arrived but never the less we battled on, got the drink flowing and the music going and no one seemed to care. That day we made over £600 for Marie Curie. Fast forward a year and we were back and this time we had every intention of making it even better than last year. We couldn’t perfect the weather but we could perfect all the rest…

Having been forecast good weather we took a gamble and planned for that illusive sunny day. Our mate Stew Rigby supplied us with a large trailer for us to turn into a stage and our previous employers, Guys Thatched Hamlet provided us with a piece of their outside bar so that we could look a bit more professional than an old pasting table with a cloth over. Al was able to get all our meat sponsored by The Horns Inn at Churchtown and my good brother, Stu Edwards, sorted out a deal with The Co-Operative to get us all the lager at a really really good price! Al even managed to get his hands on a cask of ale from Lancaster Brewery, so our bar was now complete with our very own pour-your-own-pint cask at the end of the bar.

Plan F-Stival was shaping up, the day arrived, the sun was shining, the BBQ was lit and we had a lovely Blonde sitting seductively at the end of the bar under a parasol just asking for you to go over and get your hands on her… I’m talking about the Lancaster Blonde bitter you filthy swines! Our first acts arrived followed shortly by the first guests and before long Plan F-Stival was in full swing. Will was doing a sterling job on the BBQ, I was frantically collecting cash and promoting the responsible drinking of all our guests whilst Al ran between helping Will and performing on stage.

Once the sun started to go down, so did the shots of Tequila thanks to Sarah and before we knew it (or didn’t as the case may be) we were all rather merry and it was all coming to a close.

Waking up the following morning a little bleary eyed we began the task of tidying up which between our great group of mates took no time at all. Then came the fun task, counting the money… we wanted to do better than last year and it seemed to be better than last year but how much had we made? Well…. just shy of the £1000 mark!!! Amazing!! There was no question, Plan F-Stival 2014 was going to happen, the question is how the hell could we improve on it?

Al and I just want to say a massive thank you to all of you who attended and in particular all the people who either performed or helped in the organisation or success of the day, we couldn’t have done it without you! A year ago Plan F just consisted of Al and I planning to do a stupidly hard adventure to raise money for charity but since then Plan F has developed into a group of great people doing their bit for a great cause. Thank you all so much.


Plan F’s Junket Trailer

In September 2011 the original Plan F line up went to Peru in an attempt to drive the worlds worst vehicle from Piura in Northern Peru to Cusco in Southern Peru. Sounds fairly straight forward you might think? Well, factor in the Andes and the Amazon, a vehicle that if it were powered by some lame Guinea Pigs would be an improvement and you’re somewhere close to the challenge we faced.

There were daily breakdowns, nights slept in sheep shed’s, night driving in the Andes with a knackered headlamp and impromptu street parties. Some would say this would be there worst nightmare, not Plan F though, we just got some beers in when it all got really tough.

You can get a taster of what our Mototaxi Junket was like by watching the below video. *WARNING* There is swearing in this video!

Plan F

People often say, “What the hell is Plan F?” and it’s a good question, of all the stupid names we could have dreamt up why did we choose Plan F? Well the truth is we didn’t really choose it, it sort of evolved, or devolved as the case may be.

Generally, when people plan to spend all of their savings to go travelling they make meticulous plans which define set places and set dates with a strict budget. Following these set plans means that you ‘supposedly’ get the best out of your money and see all the places you want to see and as we have heard many pretentious traveller tell us before “they travel properly and have better experiences”. Al and I say bollocks to that! Don’t get us wrong, planning has its benefits; you never end up roaming the streets looking for accommodation in the middle of the night and there is always a man with your name on a board waiting for you at the airport. The downside to travelling in this way is that when things inevitably go wrong, which they do, frequently, it cocks your whole plan up.

Al and I first travelled together in 2007

Race Night

Finally with just over a week to go until we fly to Peru we had our last fundraiser. This time we’d organised a charity Race Night at Th’Owd Tithe Barn, the pub we have used as a base for all emergancy Plan F meetings over the last few months. Having become regulars we were blessed to get to know a rather unique gentleman called Mooch (Don’t ask why, we don’t know, his real name is Dave). Mooch runs the Tithe Barn pub quiz which we’ve also been regularly attending in an attempt to win each week as part of the Plan F Pub Quiz Challenge. Getting to know what we were doing and like all others, thinking it was a thoroughly ridiculous idea, he offered to help us out in any way he could and suggested we organised a Race Night.

Neither Al nor I really fully understood how it worked but agreed to it and sorted out the date with the landlord, made posters, advertised it in the local press etc in hope that we could get as many people there as possible. A last minute dash around town had proved fruitfull and we now had a shed load of really good prizes to give away on the night. We’d been asking Mooch what else we needed to do prior to the night and he just kept telling us not to worry about it and just sell all our horses before the night for £5 and if we could, sell the jockey’s for £5 too. Turns out Mooch is even more laid back than us two!

All the horses and all the jockeys sold out in a matter of a couple of days and so we were all set. Mooch casually arrives 10 minutes before its about to start, sets up, briefly explains to me that I’m the bookie and how it worked and we were off. Mooch gets on the PA system and starts announcing the odds to the already very busy pub. Cupids Stunt 250-1, Wonky Donkey 130-1. A little bit of poo came out at that point as both Al and I looked at each other and thought if one of these comes in and someone has bet a quid we will be ruined and Marie Curie will be going into administration. Not to worry though as Mooch had it covered. Turned out that they were the initial odds, once you bet on them the odds reduced significantly to a point where we would actually be able to pay the winners out if they won. I’ll not lie to you, there was a moment of panic from both of us and a few concerned faces around the pub too.

A few races in and people were getting really into it, screaming for their horses to win, more importantly I had the cash and we weren’t in debt by thousands of pounds! Once all the races had finished we held an auction race. The final 6 horses were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder and everyone of the owners was guarenteed a prize, the top prize being the £100 voucher for the Sparling. The first horse sold for £20 and both Al and I were thinking if all 6 went for around that much we’d make a tidy sum. Second horse went for £25, Third went for £40 then we were on to selling the fourth horse, it got to £40 in a matter of seconds, then £50, £60, £70, £80, £85, and then George who I’d been doing the betting with put in a final bid for £90 and it was sold. We couldn’t quite believe it. The final two horses both sold for around £40 and so it was time for the big race…

It was neck and neck for a good while but in the end George’s horse which he had paid £90 for won the race and there was a huge cheer. What a top man! Everyone seemed to have a great night and as everyone started to leave we were left in the pub with a couple of the lads that I work with and George. Kieron decided he wanted one last race and so made everyone throw in £5 with the winning prize being £10 and we’d take the remaining £20… seemed like a good idea to us. After a rather heated final ileagal race, Marti won, much to the annoyance of Kieron and Dave.

After walking back to Plan F HQ, Al and I had another beer whilst counting our takings for the night and were so surpised with the number we came up with on the first count that we counted it again.. yes, we had made £781.00. We couldn’t believe it, this was followed by a lot of cheers’ing and then it dawned on us, we had just 9 days to sort everything out. 9 days… minus the 5 days I was working and the 3 days Al was on a stag do in Amsterdam which left us with just one day next week to sort everything out. Good job we don’t like planning isn’t it??

Sausage Fest

Sincere apologies for the lack of communication recently, it seems like everyday we’re fundraising and as such have completely neglected our blog. So whats been going on??…

Well in the last few weeks things have started to come together. We are now proud owners of a map and a phrase book.. however neither one has been even glanced at as yet, our team t shirts have been delivered, decals have been collected, oh and we’ve become local celebrities!

In terms of important stuff like learning Spanish and deciding on which direction to head we are still massively under prepared, but we do have an awfully long flight to spend some time working on these ‘minor’ issues in between taking full advantage of the free alcohol.

So after the rip-roaring success of the Plan F All-You-Can-Eat BBQ we had decided to host yet another BBQ to clear out all the leftover booze and food. Seeing as how there was a truck load of sausages left we naturally decided to name this event ‘Sausage Fest’. Even when ridiculously hungover from the previous nights entertainment we found this extremely amusing and I would be lieing if I said we didn’t spend a good half hour coming up with various inuendos to do with stuffing as much sausage down your throat as you could… Ahem! :-\

The day of the inaugural Plan F ‘Sausage Fest’ had arrived and it was time to turn Al’s garden into some form of German Beer Hall using just a tarpaulin, a parasol, a knackered gazebo and some zip ties… being the resourcefull young chaps that we are we found that task a piece of cake, and there we had it, the newly named Bilsborrow Beer Festival Tent. All set up for ‘Sausage Fest’ we headed off into the town to play on our new found fame as local celebrities in an attempt to get local businesses to donate prizes for the Plan F Race Night which was in just a few days. After being a bit cheeky, a lot of smiling and in some cases a little bit of flirting, we got through the usual “are you bloody mad” responses and found that yet again Plan F were pretty good at blagging free stuff. In just over an hour we’d managaed to get £100 voucher to the Sparling, 8 tickets to Guys Oyster Festival worth £115, numerous meal for two vouchers, massages, bottles of champagne.. the list goes on.

Satisfied with our efforts we headed back to the Bilsborrow Beer Festival Tent, put on some Oompah band music, poured ourselves a beer and sat and waited for our guests. After a few hours of drinking and eating people started to get a little ‘jolly’ and it wasn’t long before we were all throwing shapes and having a dance off in the ‘Plan F Nightclub’ (Al’s Garage). One thing led to another and for a good half an hour we seemed to have a medley of classics like Music Man, Agadoo, Conga, Row Boat Song, Macarena and the obligatory YMCA. Amazingly my brother Stu knew each dance routine off by heart and was absolutely insistant that we all took it seriously and got it right whilst calling out the dance moves as he was going along.

Carnage ensued and it wasn’t too long before Al and I locked ourselves in the garage and carried on drinking whilst recording our drunken ramblings so that we could watch them back and laugh at them in the morning. Random! The following morning we had a count up and were extremely impressed with a further £130 which we had raised… Next up.. Plan F Race Night at Th’Owd Tithe Barn, we’ve not really any idea how it works, we’ve left that up to Mooch. We’ve just got prizes and sold horses so God only knows how that will turn out!

The Second Job

After finally recovering from our BBQ it was time to get back to work, not just to our day jobs but to what is fast becoming a part time job for us… organising this bloody adventure. We don’t like planning, that’s why we’re Plan F, but it seems that if you want to raise any money whatsoever you have to put some serious hard yards in… that involves planning and organisation, not normally our forte!

Although it may be something we try to avoid like the plague we’ve discovered in the last few months that we’re actually pretty good at planning. We managed to pull off our all-you-can-eat BBQ without losing money, design and made this fantasmical website and we wrote to a whole heap of businesses in hope of sponsorship. Even though all that had been done and was a big success, we still seem to have an ever increasing ‘To Do’ list. We still had to try to get more sponsorship, get all our injections sorted out, buy more kit, speak to Robert at the Tithe Barn about arranging a Race Night, write more letters, sort out team t-shirts… the list goes on.

The good news is that this list is finally starting to get shorter, both Al and I have had most of our injections. The Race Night is set for the 18th August at the Tithe, we’ve got our ‘Sausage Fest’ on the 13th, been into the local paper the Garstang Courier and the team t-shirts have been ordered.

The last week has seen the charity pot get a big boost, in the last week, two local businesses, Mobility Smart and Graham Heathcoate Hair Studio in Garstang have stumped up some serious cash to support us in this ridiculous quest to cross Peru in a Mototaxi. The Plan F Pub Quiz Challenge is still going strong and having not won anything last week we’ve come back stronger than ever with two wins, bagging ourselves £20 and 3 bottles of wine! Today I went down to the local Galloways Blind Club to give a talk on our adventures in India and the kind folk down there donated a further £20 to the cause on the proviso that we went back in November to talk about the Junket.

We’ve still got quite a lot of important stuff on our list though like; buy maps, learn how to fix a motorbike, oh and learn some Spanish! So, yes, there is a lot of important stuff to do yet, but we’ve still got 4 weeks to do all that in which is plenty of time, isn’t it?