Category Archives: Planning – Articles on the lead up to the Trip

Leaving as Soon as Possible After the 10th November!

Sometimes a fixed date is not what the universe wants, and certainly in our case, leaving on our journey, it is unlikely we are going to know what actual day we leave, possibly until we have left!  What I can say is that we need to be in Africa by Christmas so we can avoid the rains in northern Kenya.

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Sofia at Brightona – The bike meet on Brighton sea front

Reasons for the leaving date has become fluid is multiple, and trying to force any of them to comply to a fixed dated feels wrong as they all have their own time to develop.

The first reason to present itself was my riding skills.  Granted, I’ve not see much of the bike over the summer with it being in an out of the workshop all summer and one mechanic holding it for a month for now reason too boot.  Now finally it is stablised! yay!

Out Training with Mick of MPC Ural Motorcycles
Out Training with Mick of MPC Ural Motorcycles

This has seen a number of forays into the world of off road, both with and without experienced back up, and I’m pleased to announce that not only have I clearly returned alive, but as a result my confidence and skill has been improving.  My most recent story I posted on our Facebook page – Africa With Autism.  For me what is important (because the expectation to ride like I have 20 yrs experience is not my agenda) is that I am able to work through situations on the road that might occur.  I feel now that I will be able to do that.  The fear and panic has now given way to a proactive approach to problems.  I’m still learning though, as you can see from the post!

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Out training with Dave (retired) in the Devils Punch Bowl, Hindhead

Another aspect to the date is Sofia’s school application process for September 2016.  Sofia in now in her transition year, which is effectively her final year of Junior school.  As she has special educational needs, there is a process by which senior schools are applied for.   One of the reasons this trip is possible is that it fits nicely within the process within the process.  We do however, need to ensure that all the paperwork has been done before we leave.  This is something we can’t put a date on as yet especially as the school we are choosing needs to finish its assessment process.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest show stopper of them all is the finances!  We are otherwise ready to go.  We have nearly all the kit, The bike is almost ready, and will make its final trip for tyres and modifications etc next week.  Financially though, we need a lot of money to get this project on the road.  Yes, believe it or not, it is the paper work that costs the most, and there is a lot of paper work that needs to be completed. It is the single biggest reason why many who would love to travel overland, don’t.   So now the project becomes a challenge to win hearts and minds for autism, and help create an amazing story with which to raise funds for autism for years to come.

Please donate to our Charity Foundation – Africa With Autism

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eeek! 8 Weeks to Go!

Oh my! only 8 weeks before we are due to leave!  Some how it seems so far away, but at the same time, 8 weeks can pass in the blink of an eye.  There are many things that still need to happen between now and then, and to be honest, I’m not sure how they will happen, I am just trusting that they will.

20150813_135544Since I last wrote the main high lights have been all to do with the motorbike going through a perpetual round of repairs.  It is shocking how much damage can be done on a bike in its poultry 10,000km life.  Most of the issues set up in its first 7,500km with lack of riding on the one hand and really bad riding and maintenance on the other.  None the less, we are on the road to recovery, and the main thing is to keep up the mileage I do on it before we go to make sure that it is fully tested and any faults are picked up before we leave.

The big up swing in getting the bike ready has been finding the right man for the job, not only is the bike getting excellent attention, but also great modifications.  I am also being well trained in the art of driving the Ural sidecar combination, and my mechanical skills have shot up to the point where I now feel confident to get my tools out on the side of the road if necessary.  It would be great to fix it on the side of the road as well, so tempting fate, I would not be unhappy if that where to happen before we leave so that my handy work can be assessed and improved upon if necessary.

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Green Light PBS Ltd was formed in 2009 to address shortfalls in autism care and support in Cornwall. The company has grown and now offers several family sized properties, flats and apartments, supporting people with autism and other complex needs. Green Light provide care for people with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Epilepsy, Learning Disability, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Associated Challenging Behaviour

We may have missed much of the summer on the bike, however, we are making up for lost time and where invited over to Cornwall to meet with the Greenlight organisation that is providing support for families affected by autism.  In the process we where able to experience the road for 3 nights with bike and tent, stopping in Poole on the way.  I am pleased to say that both Sofia and I have prepared well both psychologically and emotionally, as the 3 days didn’t seem to feel ‘unnatural’ or awkward in anyway and where both taking a proactive stance of learning better ways of doing things.  I even had to wonderful experience of extremely limited phone connection (yes Cornwall seems to have been left off the grid)  and hardly a free wifi spot to hook into.  On the one had it was frustrating because there is still so much to do, on the other, it was great to have the break, and focus on the job at hand of experiencing the wonderful facilities that GreenLight provide, as well making our story available to them to inspire their community.  We are very much looking forward to returning with our experience under our belts.

September is now screaming to an end, and a carnet de passage application form is plaguing my mind!  Visa application start at the beginning of October and we look forward to working with another Autism Wessex at the end of the October before we leave on our adventure!

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Phew! Glad that Month is Over!

11214293_1133029870045567_694130978274829796_nFinally I am sitting under the awning at the caravan site feeling some semblance of relaxation!  A beautiful sunny day with fluffy clouds belies the journey of the last month to get here.

First was the moving and down sizing to a caravan to prepare ourselves for the trip.  I’ve moved before, but nothing resembles what this was like.  On the one hand it was such a relief to get rid of so much stuff, but somehow the packing and storing what we were going to keep, and sorting out what would make it to the next stage in our journey was stressful.  Organising, deciding, coordinating and worst of all finding new homes for our pets.

11050783_1131211920227362_942331995977007826_nSomehow it all happened, and with far more stress than was necessary, most likely because I was always conscious of making it as smooth as possible for Sofia.  Sofia, who has actually coped with it all far better than I have.  Yes, she has had her meltdowns, and currently every morning, she is going off the handle about something as soon as I wake up, but it could have been far worse, so I am incredibly proud of her and very optimistic about her ability to do this adventure.

A wonderful validation has been speaking to another parent on the camp site yesterday evening who told me that Sofia had told them about our adventure and was clearly really looking forward to it!  Yay!

Of course the month would not slip away quietly, and like a storm that brews a builds, so did my crisis-o-metre, which hit the red when I received an email from the mechanic, who was making the bike and sidecar expedition ready, informing me he was not longer going to do the work.  The why’s and wherefores was completely irrelevant at the end of the day for me, all I saw was someone trusted sweep the carpet from under my feet and I went into total meltdown myself!  Whilst I didn’t feel it was the end of the project, suddenly it was in total jeopardy as we no longer had an expedition ready bike, and I have no intention of setting off on a bike that hasn’t been prepared

After a couple of days of feeling completely hopeless, I finally had a good nights sleep and now back in the saddle and ready to make this trip happen once again.

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The foot note to all this is that I am so glad I decided to experience the downsizing stress now rather than wait for the trip.  Even if Sofia seems to be adapting to it in her own way better than expected, clearly for me it is a different story and I would have hated to go through a crisis whilst on the road in another country, and this is true with the mechanic as well.  I would hate to have had that kind of response when we were in desperate need of help out in the bush!    I think we are cool now, but we are parting ways amicably I believe and the bike will find a new doctor to take care of it before we leave.

Above all though, I think I am amazing myself about how important this trip is to me for us to do it.  Yes I felt that it was important to do for Sofia from the beginning, but I think this month has been a make or break challenge for me personally, and I think, coming out the other end, we are both going to cope with what is ahead of us.

We still have a lot of money to raise in the next couple of months – so please donate!

UK tax payers – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

All other countries – http://www.gofundme.com/africawithautism

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3 Months and 25 Days to Launch

We have a leaving date for our project!  10th November 2015.  Yes, you might notice it is a little sooner than original date being generally in December.  The reason for this is primarily because the window of opportunity to get through Egypt is starting to close, and this is the earliest date I am comfortable with in terms of what needs to happen before then.

Doubtless to say this will put me under pressure to get the money raised and be ready with a good plan, but the flip side to this is that I will be dedicated to the task as of August.  As a very minimum we are needing £10,000 to get to Egypt, and a bit further beyond so please help anyway you can including spreading the word to as many people as possible!

I am currently working on a location in East London to launch from, and will update information on the our FaceBook page.

Donations can be made to http://www.gofundme.com/africawithautism

UK tax payers can donate to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/donate/makeDonationForCharityDisplay.action?charityId=1005498&frequencyType=S for tax deduction and Gift Aid.

Thank you for you support!

 

5 Months to Go (ish)

Life is moving so fast as the moment, that it is all becoming a bit of a blur!  With in that blur are some key things that have changed in the plan, some for the betterment of the trip, some that will make things a little more challenging.

The Overland Event
The Overland Event

The biggest impact on life right now is the decision to start spending time in a caravan.  The story of how this came about is a long one, but ultimately, the need to prepare Sofia for life style of no immediate access to TV and internet comes to the forefront as she will need to start to find other ways to occupy herself.   It will be a huge adjustment for her and one that is better to happen before we leave when I can give her the attention, than when we are on the road and I have a million things to focus on.

Safari through the New Forest
Safari through the New Forest

 

The plan has changed in other ways too, not least because there is definitely an escalation of ‘trouble’ in the world.  I certainly expected at some point that Egypt and Turkey would be more directly subject to events, however, I believed that would be next year, long after we have past through.  The issues are still mild in both those countries, however, the a yellow flag is raised for me and so not only have I been looking for alternative boats to take us across the Med but will look to seeing if we can bring the timeline forward a little.  Either way, I plan to have a definite date of departure in the next few days, either with a pre-booked crossing or a plan to arrive in port (Italy or Greece) and find a way across when we get there.

Encouraging Sofia to look and see!
Encouraging Sofia to look and see!

One thing I am certain of is that we will not be cancelling as I fully intend to we get through before any serious escalation occurs.   And as happens with changes like these other aspects change to meet the requirement.  The best one being the school I would like Sofia to go to on our return, who have started their assessment process earlier initially to ensure that we would be ready for December, but clearly this will allow and earlier timeline to occur as well.

Please donate http://www.gofundme.com/africawithautism

If you are a UK tax payer, please donate here for Gift Aid http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

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Interview on Adventure Rider Radio

It was a really fun experience doing this and Jim was a fantastic host!  Thank you Jim for having me on your show

Click here to listen to interview

Adventure Rider Radio is a great resource for people who are interested in adventure motorcycle riding.  Lots of great tips and advice, and some really wonderful stories.

If you would like to find out more about Travel Bug Blues who also features in the podcast please click here

Click here to make a donation To Africa With Autism

Becoming a #GreaseMonkey

The month of May has been the most frustrating month so far, mostly because the bike has been indisposed with a set of problems which I couldn’t just solve on my own! Fiercely independent as a person, it has been hard (though it may not feel like it to those on the receiving end of my calls!) to be constantly be asking people for help.  It is impossible to climb that learning curve without it though, so had to get over my own inhibitions and just go for it.  The bike being visible to the world is important to raise money for the trip, so it is a case of – get it fixed!

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And fixed it now is!  it took time to identify the problems, the battery was definitely one and was replaced, but as that seemed to have zero effect on the bike being able to respond, so it clearly wasn’t the only problem.  With some very generous help from F2 Motorcycles and Barry Barber from Portsmouth and countless others who patiently received my calls and helped with suggestions and instructions, we got to the point where is was the timer (unit now replaced) and a relay – not picked up before because when I bought a new one I had no idea that is was the wrong type!.

So there we have it, my first foray into the world of greasy hands and frustrating hours with awkward screws and lack of know-how, I can now safely say that I definitely know my bike and how it works much better than I did a few weeks ago.  I feel really lucky that the bike has taken me on this journey, not just for the learning process, but also got to understand the tool set needed and start to get a grasp of what will need to be contingency planned.  There is one area that I’m still a little nervous about, and that is the valves – I suspect that the bike will take me there too before we leave!

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Unfortunately this month we have not managed to set the launch day, and this may end up being unidentified until September/October time.  Sofia’s application process for schools will be a defining factor and we won’t have a clear way forward until next term.

We are out there looking for a single sponsor to help with the funding of the trip – if you are interested or know someone who is interested please use the contact form on the Sponsors page of this site or message me through our FaceBook Page

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