We bought a car!

Purchasing a car unseen on ebay is almost certainly a bad idea. Even more so if you’re hoping to then drive it ten thousand miles across who-knows-what to Mongolia. But then again, £600 quid for a Skoda Felicia with only 37,000 miles on the clock seemed like a good deal, so we decided to go for it anyway. Plus it was white, and we thought the team logo would look nice on white. In such situations it’s important that you get someone with a sound knowledge of motor vehicles to check out the relevant worky-bits before handing over any cash.

Now, I know pretty much nothing about cars. I know they’re generally supposed to have four wheels; I know that if bits fall off when you drive that’s probably bad; and um… lets stop there shall we. Fortunately for us, Don has been messing around with cars since he was a wee laddie, and Gilbey is an “engineer”. Alright, Dave doesn’t know much about cars either, but still a fair bit more than I do. What a relief! I’d hate to have had to go along on my own, pretend to know what I’m talking about, hand over a large wedge of cash and then break down on the way home, having let the entire team down.

Sadly, Don lives in the USA, Dave had to work, and if we told you what Gilbey was doing we might have to kill you. It was therefore with no little trepidation that I set out alone to collect the car from some dusty little village in Gloucestershire.

The seller met me at the station. He seemed like a nice sort of chap, and made a decent cup of tea, so I decided to trust him. I made a bit of a show walking round the car, poking things and looking under stuff before declaring that I was happy with our purchase and setting off back home in the our new rally car.

And you know what, she drives like a bloody dream! Bring on Mongolia!

What’s Next?

It’s April 1984, Al is wetting his pants and being sick over his mothers shoulder, I’m being dragged into the world with some forceps and Gilbey is still a bun in the oven. Fast-forward 30 years and here we are, approaching middle age wondering what to do with our lives. Where has the last 30 years gone? How does it only seem like yesterday that our idea of an adventure was going to Blackpool Pleasure Beach?

Well, they say time flies when you’re having fun and I suppose you could say that between us, we’ve all had plenty of that! So, We’re rapidly approaching 30, we could sit around and whine about growing old or we could grab life by the short and curlies and do something ridiculous to mark our giant leap into adulthood. Naturally, we chose the latter. So here we are at 29, planning to buy a beat up car fit for only your Grandma  to run to Sainsburys and back once a week then pimp it out sufficiently for it to take us 10,000 miles from Blackpool to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and see in our 30th year in style.

There is obviously an element of danger involved in this adventure which we are very much aware of. There is grumpy gun toting border officials, Eastern European Mafia, bad roads, terrorists, getting lost in the middle of nowhere, bandits and not to mention Alan’s driving and Gilbey’s choice of music! All these things have been taken into consideration and we’ve decided we’re still going, why? Well, because if it were safe, it’d be simple and we’re after an adventure!

Watch the below video for a taster of things to come.

Devizes to Westminster Race

Two thirds of the team are not content with driving 10,000 miles for charity, that seems almost easy in comparison to this charity challenge. Dave and myself are currently training for the Devizes to Westminster boat race.

This idea has brought an entirely new meaning to the idea of ‘two men in a boat’.

Dave, Master Kayaker and me as the wise Navigator (yes there is some irony in that statement) intend to compete in the Devizes to Westminster boat race – completion preferred but not guaranteed. The full details of this hideous event can be found on their website, however, by way of a summary – its 125 miles starting on the Kennet and Avon canal, finishing at Westminster pier on the Thames, passing through 77 portages. Completing this gruelling event relies on supreme endurance, efficient teamwork and a flexible support crew. The race takes place on Easter weekend, the 30th of March. Our aim, potentially an over-ambitious one, is to complete the distance in under 24 hours – note: worryingly, in 1998, only half the teams completed the distance!

The boat we have borrowed is a rather supreme K2 race boat – aerodynamic, light, and terrifyingly unstable. Every subtle movement is amplified and smooth passage requires honed intuition and precise synchronized paddling.

You can like our Facebook page here. The page will be used as a blog to track and monitor our progress. There’s no guarantee that we’ll make the event let alone complete it in under 24hrs. Through this page, you can live our every stroke, chilly capsize, and gruelling training hour but as you can see, it’s September and we can paddle 10 miles comfortably for a pint… only 115 miles to go!

Gilbey

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.

Dave.

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.

Dave

http://youtu.be/y46XDAEfV8M

http://youtu.be/89zBdZpAHRY

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