Latest charity figures

16 08 2010

I have just got back to work after a week off on paternity leave and got an email telling me to go see our CEO’s PA and collect a cheque for £500 which my company has given to our fundraising. Thank you Arqiva!

Arqiva run a scheme where they will match the charity fundraising up to a maximum of £500 per employee per year, so I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to increase our overall numbers!

Our target was £1,000…our current total raised so far is a fantastic £1,916. I’m going to keep nagging and pushing people to get that last £84 to hit the £2,000 mark!

Thank you again to everyone who has donated.

PS: I’ll be putting some new photos up very shortly.


Charity fundraising update

2 08 2010

Our fundraising target of £1,000 was acheived the night before we set off for Calais and we have now hit a total of £1,261. A HUGE thank you to those of you who have donated to the future research into beating cancer.

The company I work for will soon be giving me a cheque for £500 which will also be added to this total. that will take us to £1,761.

I wonder if we will be able to keep going for a while longer and get to the £2,000 figure! All we need is another £239.

PS: I should be able to get a lot more photos loaded onto this blog over the next few days, so keep watching!

We’re famous…not!

2 08 2010

As mentioned before we left for Rome, the Southern Daily Echo (th elocal Southampton newspaper) did a telephone interview with me and I emailed them a picture of all four of us from outside Edd’s house. They told me that the story would appear in the newspaper on Monday 26th July, but it didn’t appear until the Tuesday.

This is my first day back in the land of reality (work) since H2R so have just found the link to the story on the Daily Echo website. Here it is:

Home2Rome 2010 done, dusted and complete

31 07 2010

WiFi connection problems prevented me from doing a blog update on Friday, our final day. So here it is.

After the events of Thursday night myself and Russ didn’t get to bed until nearly 4am in the morning and were up again at 8am. We must have eaten something strange on Thursday because for some strange reason we both had quite sore heads and didn’t fancy any breakfast. 😉

Our destination for the day was Rome. The final stop on the rally. We were all to meet at Cafe Bernina in Piazza Navona at 7pm. The hotel at Sottomarina was the last place all the cars were together in one place as there is no way you can park in Central Rome. We set the Sat Nav to our hotel which was beside the Colosseum and headed off.

Our challenge for the day was to present five photographs of damaged cars which were still driving on the roads. Italians tend to have a more relaxed way of driving shall we say, and tend to simply live with the consequences quite happily. So, we had to find cars that had damage to either one, two, three or more panels or even a car with a wheel missing.

The drive to Rome was pretty uneventful as it was all motorways. Triff and Edd did the first two driving stints. I slept for the first four hours of the trip, but woke up when we stopped for lunch somewhere in Tuscany. I then took over the driving and took us through Unbria and Lazio and on into central Rome.

As I mentioned earlier, our hotel was just down the road from the Colosseum, but I was still very pleasantly surprised with the view from my bedroom window. It was even more impressive from the roof pool!

Arriving at the hotel was greeted with a big smile from all of us but there was also a hint of sadness as the reality of scrapping the car the next day dawned on us. There was more than one comment along the lines of “we should drive it back”. But, the flights were already booked and no one could take more time off from work to get it home. Besides where would we store it and what would we do with it!

A quick shower and change into our team t-shirts and we were ready for the meal, speeches and prize giving in Piazza Navona. We did the half-hour walk to the Piazza to do some sight-seeing on the way. Having only seen the Colosseum on TV before I didn’t appreciate the scale of the place. It is simply amazing. Just behind it is the Palatine, where Julius Caesar lived. The relatively modern building of the central museum is immense and stunning in it’s architecture and scale.

We grabbed a table under the umbrellas at the restaurant as the sky was turning very grey. We were glad we did because the thunder and lightning soon started and the rain came down like stair rods. We couldn’t face getting soaked for a second day!

We didn’t win any prizes, but that’s not why we took part. It was a fantastic experience and I would definitely do it again. The first prize went to the Mad Hatters in their VW Passat estate because they got the most points in all of the tasks. Second place went to Last Fast & Flaming Hit in their D-Reg Volvo estate, and third was Speyside Stig in a VW Golf.
Special awards for Most Misery went to in their Reliant Robin because they had the most breakdowns. Thankfully for them they are all recovery mechanics and worked miracles along with their co-team It’s Tow Joke in the Isuzu Trooper to keep both of them going. A seized engine on the Robin and several broken injector pipes on the Trooper made sure they were kept busy all the way along. At one stage the Trooper was towing the Robin on a rigid bar, while the guys in the Robin took out the fibreglass access panel to the engine and changed the distributor…while being towed at 70mph. That’s hard core!

The prize for Best Bodge went to Beauty And The Beast in their 1985 Citroën Visa convertible. Their clutch cable snapped on late on day 2, and they ends up putting a hole in the passenger footwell and grabbing hold of the remainder of the clutch cable. With that end of the cable tied to a hammer the driver would shout when they needed to change gear and the passenger would pull the cable by hand. They did that for 200 miles!

Our car gave us no problems whatsoever. Although people did comment that it was often used as a guide on the roads as the florescent yellow stripes could be seen for miles. All week we played a game of seeing who could get the best wheel-spin away from the toll booths. By the end of the week it was getting quite asthmatic so the wheel-spins turned into squeaks!

Triff and I are flying back home on Saturday while Edd and Russ are coming home on Sunday as their wives flew out to Rome on Thursday to have a long weekend there.
Edd and Russ took the car off to the scrapyard this morning and filled in all the paperwork. That allowed me and Triff to do the tourist thing so we did a guided tour of the Colosseum i would have loved to go to The Vatican but time constraints meant we could only do the one thing before grabbing some lunch and heading for the airport. The car has done a fantastic job of transporting 4 grown men and all of their luggage a total of 1,960 miles from Southampton to Rome. I videoed the car leaving the hotel, but when Edd and Russ get back to the UK I will be able to upload a picture of the car in it’s final resting place.

The guys in the scrapyard were a bit bemused ad to why it was being scrapped apparently but were happy to pose for photos and even called a taxi for Edd and Russ.

We will all be sharing our photographs from our cameras and I shall put lots more on this blog over the next week or so. During the week all of the photos and all of the typing has been done on my iPhone so I apologise if there have been weird spelling mistakes or silly errors as it’s not that easy to write these essays on such a small keyboard. I am writing this on the plane back to Heathrow and will upload it as soon as I get a decent (and free) 3G network back home.

We have met some fantastic people on this trip and have had a whale of a time doing it. It has been a very long week, but it has gone so quickly at the same time. Thanks to StreetSafari for running a very well organised event. It was a blast.

Would we do it again?
Will we do it again?
Only wives will tell.

Day 4 complete

30 07 2010

The overnight stay at the top of Stelvio Pass was a little bit cold. The heating in the hotel was switched off and we only had thin blankets. Our room looked like something from Colditz, so the photograph below is that of the escape committee.
One of the other teams tried to set off Chinese Lanterns, but they weren’t very successful as we were 3,000 metres up and the oxygen levels in the atmosphere were quite low.

The day started with us all dressed as nuns having a water fight in one of the car parks. All the residents of the surrounding hotels were hanging out their windows to watch. Even a matching pair of British registered Jaguar XKR convertibles turned up to watch the fun.
The organiser of the rally, Justin Clements, stood on the roof of one of the cars to make an announcement and ended up getting soaked to the skin when all of the teams ran forward and blasted him with their water guns.

The drive down Stelvio was brilliant, with all four of us having a turn to throw the car around the hairpins. Each time we changed drivers though, we had to let the car stand for about ten minutes as there was smoke billowing from the brakes. If we wanted to reach the bottom in one piece we had to let the brakes cool regularly.
We ended up on a convoy of about ten cars on the way down, which was great fun with all the horns blaring to give it that extra bit of atmosphere. We all had to stop suddenly for some roadworks on one of the 48 hairpins and one of the teams cars ended up skidding into the back of another team. No one was hurt and there was minimum damage done.

Our daily challenge was to go in to St Marks Square in Venice , dressed as nuns and get photographs of us with groups of other people. The more people in the group the more points awarded.
The drive to Venice wad miserable. We had biblical rain storms the whole way there. Maybe it was because someone upstairs wasn’t happy the teams were dressed as nuns in the country which is home of the Catholic church! We had not seen rain like this while driving for many years, and it delayed us by over an hour.

The rain didn’t ease off when we arrived in Mestre, which is where we parked up and caught the train into Venice. Leaving Venice train station we were soaked within seconds. We had decided by that stage not to take part in the days task. Partly because our costumes were still wet from the watt fight 7 hours earlier, and partly because we felt like drowned rats so didn’t fancy being drowned rats dressed as nuns.

The rain did not ease up the whole way around Venice and even though we were all wearing water-proof jackets, we got soaked right through. Our shoes, socks and underwear were sodden. It was worth it though, because St Marks Square, and the whole of Venice in fact, were stunningly beautiful.

After trudging through the rain to get there we decided to get one of the many ferries back to the train station. I don’t think we could have faced any more rain! As soon as we got on the train…the rain stopped. Typical!

It was then a short drive of about 25 miles to our hotel for the evening in the holiday resort of Sottomarina, near Chioggia.

After a beautiful meal all the teams enjoyed a few drinks together and had a great night.
One of the teams however seemed to enjoy themselves a bit too much and decided to vandalise some of the other cars. Fire extinguishers were let off over two cars, and at least three cars had their doors kicked which meant big dents in the bodywork. They then proceeded to get into their own car and spin it around their hotel car park and crashed it into another teams car. They might be bangers but there is no need to treat them like that. Afterall, they still have to drive the final section to Rome, which is about 500Km.

Hopefully get will be disqualified and asked to leave the rally. The last I heard was that the police had been called, so we shall see what happens.

Our car has an appointment with the scrapyard on Saturday morning, but we are hoping to get to Rome early enough on Friday to be able to do the dreadful deed then instead. That will at least give us a free day on Saturday for some sight seeing before myself and Triff have to get to the airport for our flights home. Russ and Edd are staying for an extra day as their wives are flying out to meet them in Rome.

It has been a very long week, but I don’t want it to end. It relate has been one of those experiences that will be remembered forever.

Bring on the last day of driving and the group meal in Piazza Navona in Rome.

Day 3

28 07 2010

Left Menton just after 9am and the temperature was already in the high 20’s.
Our task today was to present the organisers with photographs of 7 cars of various colours. Each colour is worth different points (Black 2, Blue 3, Green 4, Yellow 5, Brown 6 & Pink 7). Plenty of Black ones and Blue ones, but as you can imagine there aren’t that many Brown or Pink ones. Those with the highest points win. And yes, we could just present 7 pictures of Pink cars for a maximum of 49 points. Pink cars aren’t that popular in Italy as it turns out! We ended up with 3 pink, 2 brown and 2 yellow for the most points out of all the cars we photographed.

The end point of today was the Albergo Folgore hotel at the top of the Stelvio pass. Our route takes us past Milan, Lake Como and then Sondrino before passing through Bormio and on to Passo de Stelvio.
We decided to drive straight to Lake Como and spend some time there doing the proper tourist bit. Unfortunately we got stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on the motorway just outside Como…
We sat in that traffic jam for about an hour and a half with the engine off to avoid overheating in the 32 degree heat…we don’t have aircon afterall.

We eventually got moving and headed to the waterside at Lake Como for some lunch. The lake is amazing, and you can see why it is used for films all the time.

Our route from Como up to Stelvio took us up the East coast of the lake, so I was hoping to get some really good photos and video. But, that road is basically all tunnels! Out of one tunnel and straight into another one so no chance of scenic pictures. Lots of video of tunnels though! One of them was just under 4 miles long!!! We must have gone through at least 60 tunnels in total today.

Heading up the Stelvio Pass was great, hairpin after hairpin and climbing to 3000 metres. Bearing in mind that we were wearing shorts and flip-flops this morning, it was a major shock to the system when we made it to the top and there are snow patches on the ground still! Changed into jeans and trainers really quickly. It’s chuffin freezing up here!

Don’t know what our task is tomorrow, but first thing in the morning we will be dressed as nuns and having a water fight just outside the hotel. That won’t be cold at all will it! Not sure I’m looking forward to that bit anymore.

After the water fight we will be heading towards Venice for our daily task, before going to our hotel for the evening in Sottomarina about 20 miles south of Venice.

Day 2 Complete

27 07 2010

Don’t know if this will work because the WiFi at this hotel in Menton is a bit useless!
We started the day at the hotel in Montelimar and our endgame was Menton, which is a couple of miles East of Monte Carlo. On the way our challenge was to photograph the numberplates of motorhomes from as many different countries as possible. And the place to do this was Gorge du Verdun. All I can say about the Gorge is Wow!

The drive there was the first real test the car has has. It was true countryside driving. At one stage we were doing hairpin after hairpin to get over a large hill. At one stage the temperature gauge started rising very quickly, but it never got into the red. Because the hill was so steep most of was done in second gear, so we often got a lovely waft of clutch burning. The way down the other side of the hill meant that our brakes squeak nicely.
It all bodes well for the Stelvio Pass!!

When we left the Gorge we set the Sat Nav for the Marina in Monaco so we could have a bit of a nosey there.
When we arrived the traffic was packed solid so there was no chance of parking up and having a wander around. You could literally see the money dripping off people as they walked they’re very expensive and very spoiled tiny dogs past our car!
The expressions on most people faces were “What the …is that”, but we got lots of smiles and nods of approval as well.
We tried to drive as much of the Grand Prix circuit as possible but one way streets and the heavy traffic didn’t allow us to do the whole thing. At least we saw the famous Casino and drove through the tunnel, albeit in the opposite direction to the F1 cars. We took video footage of our drive through Monte Carlo so once we get home and I learn how to upload it that will go on this blog too.

We shall be leaving Menton (which appears to basically shut at 10pm, even the hotel bar) and heading for Italy. After skirting around Milan we’ll head to Lake Como where hopefully we will be able to stop for a while. After that we will head for Bormio and then go up to the top of Stelvio to where our next hotel is.
This is going to really challenge the car. Stelvio has at least 60 hairpin bends and featured in Top Gear, so if we don’t lose the clutch on the way up then there is always the danger of losing our brakes on the way down on Thursday morning.