Awful noise – possibly worst news

Awful noise – possibly worse news

I have just received a text from Julie – the kind of text that I have been dreading for 35 days.

There was an awful noise from the engine and on pulling over they have discovered that the fan has gone through the radiator damaging the radiator so badly that it  can no longer hold water.

Hole in Radiator
Hole in Radiator

Tim fears that if that is the case then  it’s all over – they’re out of the rally. They are at the side of the road waiting for a mechanic now.

Waiting for a mechanic
Waiting for a mechanic

I will update as soon as I have any news but please can everyone keep everything crossable crossed for the next few hours because for Benson to drop out now they are so close to Paris is frankly unthinkable. They only have 800kms to go out of a rally total of 14,000. Come on Benson!

Day 34 Wed 13th Oct – Ancona to Viareggio (Italy) – 370 km

Day 34   Wed 13th Oct – Ancona to Viareggio   (Italy)  – 370 km

Email from Julie 14/10/10 07.45: Day 34 saw a chaotic exit from the ferry with the police blocking the route we were supposed to take. We somehow missed a huge traffic jam that most of the rally got stuck in but suffered later “whizzing” down the motorway off piste and going way too far south.

I was looking for signs to Arezzo which just never appeared. 40 km out of way which equals  an hour of additional driving.  Few choice words. We actually ended up getting to the hotel in about same time as everyone else though.

Going on the motorway is mind numbingly boring. Add to that it rained all day (actually the last few days have been bad weather). Whilst we have a roof we can use, which is more than some, Benson has no side screens for this trip, making him definitely not water tight. You have constant tap of drips on your legs.  We were both going crazy with boredom.

Sitting in a car for 34 days can do that to you.

Day 33 Tue 12th Oct – Thessaloniki to Igoumenitsa (Via ferry to Ancona) – 500 km

Day 33   Tue 12th Oct – Thessaloniki to Igoumenitsa   (Via ferry to Ancona)  – 500 km

Email from Julie 14/10/10 07.45: Hard to remember what we do on each day. They all merge into one.   Beautiful greek scenery on day 33 with the ultimate being the mountain top monastries of Meteora. I cannot describe how truly spectacular and beautiful they were. We had an overnight ferry crossing  to Ancona.  Everyone parked their cars and walked across the road to a little cafe which served fresh fish and salad. The table just kept growing and growing.

Getting all the cars onto the boat was great fun with all the cars hooting their horns. Simon and Rupert have somehow managed to get hold of a police siren and flashing light which they use at opportune moments. That night they were “port authority”

There were two potentially  terminal breakdowns that day. Car 66 Richard and James with no oil pressure and Car 39 Dom and Alex. To get this far and end up with your car on a truck is soul destroying. We are all thinking of that drive down the Champs Elysee.  The effort involved to get these old cars from Peking to Paris is immense.

The Captain kindly allowed access to cart 39 whilst under sail and helped by the wonderful Rupert and rally angel Toby the boys worked through the night to get the rolls back on the road!!  They look absolutely shattered though.

The ferry had a clothes shop. My trousers were hanging off me and I have been longing to throw them away. Am now dressed in trousers that are slightly too short and a glittery t shirt reading “follow my style”. Not a fashion statement but it is an improvement.

UPDATE: Day 32 Mon 11th Oct – Istanbul to Thessaloniki (Greece) – 680 km

UPDATE: Day 32   Mon 11th Oct – Istanbul to Thessaloniki   (Greece)  – 680 km

From an email from Julie 07.19 UK time: “170 km to the Greek border for what we expected to be a relatively easy crossing. Not so when it’s the day the computers break down and they close the border for a couple of hours.

Day 32 time trials
Day 32 time trials

We were all in good spirits though and lined our cars up in one of the two lanes as instructed. You know what’s coming next.

Having been very vocal about how I’d block the road shouting abuse if someone tried to push in down the empty lane, I meekly stood aside as a car I knew did just that. Not so our fellow companions. It was vitriolic.  My “discussion”  at the previous border paled into insignificance at these fine performances of letting someone know what you really think.

The air was peppered with expletives.  Tim then decided he would get in on the act and maneouvered Benson so that he blocked any car, including the locals, from passing down the empty lane.  A burst of a police sirens from an unmarked car he was blocking quickly put an end to that little plan.

Once through the border we decided to simply clock off  the kms. We followed the motorway for about 500 kms to Thessaloniki. No waypoint for hotel made for interesting navigation.  At last,  Met Hotel – chilled glass of wine, ceasar salad, a bed that invites you to cocoon yourself in blissful sleep.

One thing that I’ve not mentioned so far is that apparently I look like one of the rally doctors. Good for me but not quite such a compliment for Caroline. Positives: she is younger, more beautiful and quite obviously much better educated than I.  Paths are sometimes cleared for me with  “doctor coming through”. Negatives: too much information about my colleagues diarrhorea and vomiting.  I don’t want to know. I am dealing with enough issues of my own.

A change in posting protocol for the last week:

A change in posting protocol for the last week:

Now that I am receiving much more current emails and texts from Julie and Tim (i.e. no big deal on teh time delay) I have deceided to change the posting protocol on updates. Instead of updating an existing post I will start a new post for an update. If at any stage this causes unwanted scrolling I apologise in advance :0)

Picture proof of Beson’s amazing top speed

Picture proof of Benson’s amazing top speed

Not that anyone has suggested that they were fibbing but I think they are so astounded that Benson actually made it to the big 100 that they felt some photographic evidence was needed.

Evidence of Benson's big moment (top left hand corner folks)
Evidence of Benson's big moment (top right hand corner folks)

Day 32 Mon 11th Oct – Istanbul to Thessaloniki (Greece) – 680 km

Day 32   Mon 11th Oct – Istanbul to Thessaloniki   (Greece)  – 680 km

From an email from Julie 07.19 UK time: “170 km to the Greek border for what we expected to be a relatively easy crossing. Not so when it’s the day the computers break down and they close the border for a couple of hours.

Day 32 time trials
Day 32 time trials

We were all in good spirits though and lined our cars up in one of the two lanes as instructed. You know what’s coming next.

Having been very vocal about how I’d block the road shouting abuse if someone tried to push in down the empty lane, I meekly stood aside as a car I knew did just that. Not so our fellow companions. It was vitriolic.  My “discussion”  at the previous border paled into insignificance at these fine performances of letting someone know what you really think.

The air was peppered with expletives.  Tim then decided he would get in on the act and maneouvered Benson so that he blocked any car, including the locals, from passing down the empty lane.  A burst of a police sirens from an unmarked car he was blocking quickly put an end to that little plan.

Once through the border we decided to simply clock off  the kms. We followed the motorway for about 500 kms to Thessaloniki. No waypoint for hotel made for interesting navigation.  At last,  Met Hotel – chilled glass of wine, ceasar salad, a bed that invites you to cocoon yourself in blissful sleep.

One thing that I’ve not mentioned so far is that apparently I look like one of the rally doctors. Good for me but not quite such a compliment for Caroline. Positives: she is younger, more beautiful and quite obviously much better educated than I.  Paths are sometimes cleared for me with  “doctor coming through”. Negatives: too much information about my colleagues diarrhorea and vomiting.  I don’t want to know. I am dealing with enough issues of my own.

Julie toasting their return to civilisation
Julie toasting their return to civilisation