Monday, 4 August 2008

One For The Doubting Thomas'

I must say Ian has done us proud with his last update, I spent the last week in awe
of the fact that he managed to get the word velveteen into a posting, and now look I've managed it too!

Well the weeks have past and we now look back on our fantastic journey with rose tinted spectacles, yes Russia was difficult and yes the problems we had were of our own making, but my word have they given us plenty to talk about.

Funnily enough one recurring question I've been asked since returning home is "would you do it again?". Well my answer is quite simply, no. But to be honest it would have been the same even if we hadn't had problems, there is after all a very big world out there. For anyone thinking about a similar run my suggestion would be to head due north through Sweden and into Lapland, then head south through Finland to Helsinki and then take the ferry to Tallinn and then down to Riga. Although I have it on good authority that it would also be well worth travelling on down to Vilnius in Lithuania. With the benefit of hindsight, which as they say "is a wonderful thing", I would have considered parking the car for a few months and then flying back out to participate in the Baltic Snow Challenge this sounds just up my street, but typically I've only just heard about it. Perhaps one of you out there on the interweb will consider it!

Time for me to sign off, all the best and thanks for reading,

Ps. Oh nearly forgot, here is the photographic proof that we did at least meet one blonde person on the trip! Pity she ended up getting our car impounded!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The end of that long, blonde road.

"Inside the compartment it is the very picture of conviviality. The professional busybody assigned to our carriage shooed me and Pete and settled down in the last compartment. Why would she want to be anywhere else? Her whole life is laid out in her home on wheels, with coloured cushions, flowers, her own curtains, an icon on the wall and a singing kettle on the stove. Always on the road.

Our first-class compartment is also like a salon, with two velveteen pull-out beds, red draperies, white lace curtains and plastic flowers on the table.

The train pulls away, outside there is nothing but Russian countryside, here and there a chimney, from the speakers the soft sound of Russian songs, and quite soon the day begins to fade..."

So that's how (to paraphrase Supergrass) we set sail from St Peeeetersburg. making use of our tiiime...
In three days we were out of there ...and it wasn't a day too soon!

Albeit for all the wrong reasons, Russia probably was the highlight of our journey and definitely an experience that'll stay with both of us for a long time and (although we lost the car) we made it across land from Oxford to Riga in two weeks as planned. We travelled 2500 miles(ish) through 10 countries, stayed in 13 different beds (including the car once and a Russian prison) and were hosted by 7 of the nicest people we could have met. We saw parts of Europe I'll never forget, we had no crashes, didn't break down and didn't squash any moose, moomins or fellow Europeans. So, all-in-all I'd consider that an overwhelming success.

It's been said before but once again, a massive 'Thanks' to everyone that helped us, thanks to everyone who has been following us here (and for your messages of support) and a special big thanks to Sarah (Pete's wife) who, from the base back home, helped us on many many occasions.

Proost, Prost, Skaal, Kippis, Na zdorovje, Prieka and Cheers
Your friend

The Riga express. The quickest route to freedom ;-)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Home Blog: RIP Our Trusty Steed

It's great to be home but I can't help thinking I've left an important part of my soul in Russia.

RIP Rover (aka The Dog, aka Ralph) you served us so well.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Riga, I gotta leave ya...

I came to write my fairwell but it's just taken sooo long to get all my pictures fixed - I'm outta time :-(

However, it's enough just to say that I'm still in Riga (although I did go out of town exploring today) and still without a real plan. However, I'm gonna head to the coast tomorrow with a Dane and a Yankie and then we'll take it from their. But anyway, this is another journey and has no place here on the Road to Riga :-) so, to get the usual Eddy updates from now on, please return to my original hiding place -

For the photos. Please click your mouse on this link

You'll find a few like this...

Finally, can I just echo Pete's sentiments and thank eveyone who helped, look after and hosted us over the past two weeks - you've all been fantastic. Also, many of you have emailed over the last few days (pete included) and I promise I'll get back to ya'll asap

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Airport blog - Riga - Day 15

Well, as you already know from Ian's update we made it to Riga. Pity about the car, but it was always a one way trip for it.
I have just waved goodbye to Ian and left him in a sweaty hostel dorm room with a rather odd bunch, he will fit in nicely!!

I'm about to fly back to the london where Sarah will be waiting (assuming she has forgiven me for the Russian stress earlier in the week).

We have had a fantastic trip , met loads of great people and seen some stunning sights. Contrary to the pictures in the blog we only had 3 big nights out and took our driving seriously, yes, its a shame that we ended up on a train, but hey that in itself was an experience.

Loads of stuff to follow so stay tuned:)

Once again thanks to all our wonderful hosts. A big hug to Irena in St Petersburg. You were so kind we could never thank you enough.
Pete x

The T-Shirts say Road to Riga in Cyrillic (hopefully)

Friday, 11 July 2008

I've lost track of the day number...

...but this isn't a road blog anymore :-(

It's a foot blog :-)

However, all is well, we made it to our final destination and we're currently enjoying sunny days in the Latvian capital - Riga.

What happened in Russia? Well, it's a long story (and best explained using lots of expletives) but, the basics are - the car got impounded, we got a Russian style wrist-slapping and the language barrier made fixing things near impossible.

So, with the legal formalities complete (we hope) we took our stuff and came to Latvia minus the car. It's a little disappointing as we did indeed loose the furry dice however, as far as we know everything else was resolved and looking back it was quite an experience. We also had a huge amount of help from the Russian people we met and, without exception they were friendly, helpful and generally great.

If your planning a trip just make sure you know which forms you require and leave the car at home.

We spent the day exploring Riga yesterday and since the sun is shining today - we're off to the beach for some much needed R and R.

Pete leaves for the UK tomorrow and (as usual) I haven't got anything planned beyond that. I'm sure we'll both find time for a concluding blog rant in the near future.

Ian and Pete

PS, our you'll be pleased to hear our faces have almost returned to normal now.
PPS, the odd-shaped toilet thing is for being sick in. I kid you not....

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Train blog - day 13 st petersburg to latvia

Sorry for the radio silence. We have had one or two problems in russia. We are currently on a sleeper train to riga. Much more to follow. However please dont worry as all is well. Need to get some shut eye and will update later on. Love to all pete and ian.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Road blog supplemental - St Petersburg

We arrived in the city this evening. It is fantastic, so beautiful. Ian and I are having a few (about 50) beers to celebrate. We meet our kind host Irena tomorrow. This is just a wonderful trip, hope we are insiping people as we go.
You must come here soon.
All our love Pete and Ian x

Road blog - day 10 - Russia

It took us 2 hours to cross the border from Finland into Russia. Lots of paperwork but no real problems. Insurance for Rover cost 1100 rubles. Currently in transit to st Petersburg where we will stay for the next 3 days. First impressions are very positive. What a fantastic trip.
pete and ian

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Day 9, Salty porridge and Moose meat from Jyväskylä to Lappeenranta

What is it with these countries? where are all the stickers??

We've been looking for 7 days and 5 countries and just can't find any. We found a shop this morning that sells plastic dogs, 50cc mopeds and wine making equipment but no stickers. We were hoping to plaster the car in them but it's not proving easy. I guess stickers (the national flag, symbol, country code type) just ain't cool up here. We finally managed to get a shinny 'FIN' sticker this afternoon with the help of our hosts but still...

Anyway, we're still having a lot of fun in this pine-tree wonderland. We've been having a picnic with Krista in Jyväskylä, laughing at a chubby kid in the internet cafe who was devouring 4 large energy dinks and making funny noises, being baffled by strange toilet things (see picture) and drinking 'bear' with a bar man from the 80's ...and that's just in the last 24 hours! We even slipped a real Finnish Sauna in for good measure. Also, in an attempt to stop myself from becoming completely car-shaped - I've even been jogging twice. Once along a Swedish river where I got attacked my a Goose and once through the Finnish forrests where I got lost. Luckily, I survived both and still have enough energy to write this rambling update.

We're now in Lappeenranta on the south-east frontier of Finland and the north-west frontier of Russia and we've been hosted by the kind & friendly Jaana and Toni. We explored town this afternoon, saw the biggest sand castle ever (a whole wild west town) and let Toni joy-ride us to the supermarket in Ralph, the car. The drive here from Jyväskylä was short(ish) about 4 hours and we stopped on-route for tea, pasta and canned Moose meat.

If all goes well we'll be leaving europa tomorrow and (if they let us in) we'll be dancing with the big, red, Russian bear tomorrow in St Petersburg. We're on schedule so hope to spend as long as possible in Russia soaking up slavic hospitality and being confused by cyrillic symbols.

In good BBC fashion, we'll keep you posted with news as it unfolds...

Hei Hei (bye bye (for now(can you put brackets like this?)))

Ian (typing this) and Pete (drinking a Marskalkka beer).

PS. Did you know that...
> Unless you were born in Finland, 78% of Finnish words are impossible to pronounce
> 22% of finnish words have over 60 double letters and 33 syllables
> In 2007 2671 English people died trying to read or speak Finnish

PPS. Despite my repeadted warnings to remove it and offer of a truce, Pete has chosen to turn this page into ugly photo warfare. He's done it to himself. So, I leave you with the following...

I say no more


This holiday is turning out to be one big wig-fest

Can you work out what it is? We think we've worked it out. See if you can guess

Wey-hey a finally a sticker!

Loose Moose

Picnic ontop of Finland

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Is Something Wrong With Ian?

I think the Swedes may have damaged Ian beyond repair, does anyone know how to fix this condition? Otherwise the rest of the trip could be difficult.

Day 8 Supplemental Log - Moomin Triva

For lunch tomorrow on the road to the Russian border we will be dining on the fine Finnish cuisine of Elk meat and canned Moomins. For those of you who can remember the Moomins you will be pleased to know that they are alive and well in Finland even if we stopped airing the TV show back in the 80's

Q. Why do Moomins always look so bloated?
A. Because they have no bum hole!

Many thanks to Samuli for our fantastic lunch menu, never before has anyone used a camping stove to cook such fine food.

Finnish Sauna blog (splog)- day 8

Had a great day in vaasa with Samuli. Just about to sauna in Jyvaskyla then out for a picnic with krista. Planning to get to the russian border tomorrow. Car running well.

Still on sign of the moon, please give it our regards.

A big thank you to all our hosts so far. You have all been wonderful.

Keep the messages coming. Pete and ian.

Friday, 4 July 2008

This ones a photo update....

We'll write something tomorrow but for now, we've just updated the pictures for each post :-)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Road blog. Day 7. Sweden to finland

Superb days driving yesterday through fantastic lake filled forests en route to umea. We stopped regularly and swam in the lakes when it took our fancy. We picked up a hitcher called Hannah who told up lots about her glorious nation. upon arrival in umea we tidied the car before turning it into our bed for the night. It was dusk at 11 and by 12 it was dawn again. Zero hours of darkness! Currently on the ferry to vaasa. time to blog and relax before a might out in finland. Thanks for the messages do keep them coming. Pete and ian.

We've seen a lot of this and to be honest, I'd be happy to see a lot more of it. Scandinvia is undeniably pretty.

...and you can stop almost anywhere for a swim...

...and the towns are so pretty...

...and Pete isn't. Yes, Elvis and co have good reason to look worried.

Day 6. We are in Sweden.

Things you might not know about Sweden...

1. In Sweden you are always 3 turns and 5 minutes from a place to Swim.
2. Unlike the rest of the world (who use those little bricks) - toilets in Sweden are cleaned using little packets of tobacco - toiletsnuffen
3. Not all Swdish people are blonde - there are 4 Swedes without blonde hair.
4. In Sweden you are only allowed to drive Swedish cars. If we get caught in our Rover, there's a good chance we'll get drowned in a lake and fed to the Elks...

Anyway, we've been having a massivley fun time in the ridiculously picturesque town of Orebro with (amongst others) Elvis, a boy who is living off his own death (it's a long story), a South African and a girl who's just been exiled from China.

Today we have a long sunny drive north (probably having a swim or two on the way) and we'll probably exercise our constitutional right to allemansrätten, or 'all mans rights' meaning we can sleep wherever we choose :-)

Providing the elks and bears don't eat us, we'll keep you posted (from the phone again) tomorrow.

Ian and Pete.

PS, as you can see from the photo's, all this fun has turned me and Pete into a right couple of mingers....

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Road blog. Day 5 . Sweden

Took the carlsburg brewery tour yesterday it got a bit messy. an absolute must 4 any visitor 2 copenhagen. Well after two nights in a tent in copenhagen we feel ready to hit the road again. We have just rolled over 1000 miles. Ian is driving and im road blogging the technology is fantastic. Although the sat navigation is sometimes frustrating. We ended up taking a ferry over 2 sweden as opposed 2 taking the bridge. Must not grumble though it is fantastic in cities. Car doing well although could do with a wash. staying with elvis tonight in Orebro.

An Englishman drinking Slovene beer in Denmark. Thanks to Ajda for the beer :-)

Probably the biggest beer collection in the world, the Carlsberg brewery, Copenhagen.

I've put a little weight on recently...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Day 4 Germany to Denmark

Yesterday was more like an acid-trip than a road-trip. Cheap, surreal, funny and at times quite scary. Yesterday, I caught Pete, dressed as one of the Village People trying to strangle Florian (aka wigman) who was dressed as a gollywog! leaving that weirdness behind we got to the German border where I tested positive (twice) for drug usage. You can imagine my face after the second test the mean looking customs guy leant into the window and said 'so, you take H'. You can also imagine my concern as he took me off to his office and got some rubber gloves out. Thankfully for everyone, they were only used to wipe a thing on my neck which proved that, i'm not a junkie after all. Things are a little better in Denmark but we're camping in a fortress, have been attacked by huge dog-like flying things and 3 dudes in suits just walked into the tent next to us. Maybe the Danish see camping as a serious business? ...naturally we ended the day drinking Slovene beer
and eating tinned peaches. Today we're invading Copenhagen. We'll keep you posted. Ian. Ps a woman just walked passed pete and shouted 'nice box'

Me and the Queen - Lubeck, Germany

Florian, pretending he's a real actor

No comment

The secret theatre

Monday, 30 June 2008

Road blog. Day 3

Arrived in lubec at 10pm after a fantastic run through holland and germany. Sad to see germany loose football. Hosted by flo who has made up a cd for our drive on 2 denmark. Copenhagen here we come. Pete and ian x ps slight problem with power stear but still rolling!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Road Blog: Day 2

Made it to Utrecht in The Netherlands for a late lunch with Mili.  We forgot to wind our clocks forward an hour so as a result turned up late.  Ian and I had a few cross words when we got ourselves low on fuel in the middle of the city, but we'd made up after a sleep and in time to arrive in Alkmaar.
Our host in Alkmaar  was fantastic and took us out for a night on the town.  Bearing in mind that we only has 2 hours sleep on Friday we slept through until 1.30pm this morning.  Our mission today is to drive trough Germany and get to Lubek in time for the Germany-Spain Euro Cup final.  Another wild night in the making.   My poor head!!
Thanks to all of the messages, keep them coming.

Yes, the Windmills are everywhere. This one's in Alkamaar - our home for the night.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Road blog. Day 1

Made it to Dover without event. Something is making a rather loud squeal from drivers front wheel. Kicked type a few times all well again. plan to be in holland for lunch.

Me, Pete and Ralph 'the dog' Rover

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Did you mean to search for: roadtrip

Google roadtoriga and it asks you the above, how fitting is that?

24 hours until we depart. We will be posing our daily progress on this blog, expect all the wit and charm that we can muster up on the keypad of a phone.

The car has been recently adorned with fluffy dice and a cuddly toy so we are now ready to roll!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A plan? Don't be ridiculous...

...but we do have our first bed/sofa/floor sorted in Alkmaar - Holland and I'm working my typing fingers to the bone trying to arrange some more. However, not knowing exactly how far Ralph will take us each day makes planning quite hard. So does my deep aversion to planning.

However, with the view of doing 5-6(ish) hours driving a day, it's currently looking something like this.

Oxford > Alkmaar in Holland.
Alkmaar > Lubeck in Germany.
Lubeck > Copenhagen in Denmark.
Copenhagen > Örebro in Sweden (yes, the places are getting strange now ;-)
Örebro > ?

If anyone reading knows anything about these places or knows any 'must see' things near by we'd be happy to hear them. I know Pete is desperate to stop at Moomin World in Finland but beyond that it's a blank page.

OK, well I should really start packing but before I go I'll share the first 'gimmage' (image found using google image search) which I found when I googled 'Alkmaar' our first location. Behold - 'The Wolky Alkmaar'


Oh, and incase you're wondering about the clutch. We went for option 2 'leave it and risk it'. Please pray for us.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Full Tank - No Leakage

Well we currently have a full tank of fuel and so far no leakage. Strangely enough you can no longer smell petrol as you drive along either.

Next we need to decide on the best solution for the stupidly high clutch biting point. Three choices:
  1. Fix it
  2. Leave it and risk it
  3. Buy a clutch plate and take it along for the ride (just in case).
Obviously the idea is to do this as cheaply as possible, so I'm loathed to take it to a garage, but I do want to get there too. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Tank On, Tank Off, Tank On Again

On Thursday the replacement hook bolts arrived so Ian and I spent the evening putting the petrol tank back on. We had a really productive evening and were chuffed that everything went well. We only had about 1/3 of a tank of petrol in cans so the final test of our handy work would have to wait until I could get to the petrol station.

On Friday I filled the car with fuel on the way home, and honestly thought that everything was fine. However upon return home I was greeted by the strong whiff of petrol around the rear of the car. On closer inspection I could see that petrol was actually dripping out at quite a rate. So out came the syphon tube again and we decanted the entire tank of fuel in to various receptacles. Sarah managed to gather up quite a few containers from the neighbours. It was such an impressive array I thought it worthy of a photo.

This afternoon I once again removed the fuel tank and this time set about a few scientific tests to find the leak, which involved talc, a screwdriver, a wire brush and a bit of petrol that was left in the tank. After a bit of time I managed to find three tiny pin prick size holes on the tank. After a bit of a clean up and a helping of chemical metal, the holes seem to be patched. However saying that I will reserve judgment until I fill up with fuel again tomorrow.

For the record: I have now officially consumed 2 pints of petrol, do not smoke anywhere near me for the next two weeks.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Tank Off

Well after a long hard slog yesterday evening I managed to get the fuel tank off the Rover 214.

In the process I managed to drink at least a pint of petrol. On a plus point however Sarah and I did manage to get about five gallons into suitable containers, which in this economic climate is about 5 million quids worth (or there abouts).

Currently the car is still up on axel stands, the leak has been fixed (hopefully) and all surface rust removed. Today for good measure Sarah gave the tank a coat of Hammerite and it is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately in the process of getting it off the car I had to cut the two hook bolts that mount the tank. So we now have to wait for new ones to arrive in the post.

Total cost for this repair:
£2.50 WD40 (and trust me I used tonnes)
£2 Jubilee clips
£10 2x Hook Bolts

I'll update once the tank is back on

Monday, 9 June 2008

Did we fix the petrol leak?

Nope. But check out the stripes!

Who needs a working engine with Viper stripes like these? ...and yes, the do make you go faster...

PDF Haynes Manual - Rover 214

You can even get PDF versions of the Haynes workshop manual for the Rover 214, all we need to do now is work out how to drain £50 worth of petrol and fix the leak! I bet there isn't a section on sucking fuel through a hose!!!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Wake up and smell the... er, petrol.

Well, I guess it had to happen. It's just days since Pete's pixelated picture of 1's illuminated our screens and phrase "we're on!" boomed from Pete's typing fingers and the problems have started. I haven't been fully briefed on the situation but it appears we have a leak the petrol tank!. Thankfully, Sarah (who kindly filled the car up for us) didn't go off like a Bomb Dog.

SO, it looks like we have some work to do on Saturday.

Anyway, whilst Pete wraps his lips round a syphon tube, I'm gonna seize the chance to submit my top 16 driving tunes. Choosing 10 is simply not possible, in fact, I only stopped at 16 because I've sat on my foot too long and can't feel it. So without further petroleum leakage - here they are:

OK, there are many many (way too many) good driving tunes out there but my first choice band make 'em better than most. To be honest the whole album is probably the single best driving album ever written. Whats more, we walked past the lead singer in Istanbul last year. So I'll kick off with...

Smashing Pumpkins and Cherub Rock.

Then slow it down and tap the steering wheel a little with a classic from...

The Doors. LA Woman

Before leaving in a blaze of flames (quite literally if we don't get the petrol tank sorted) with any of the rest of these...

Kula Shaker. Hey Dude
Supergrass. Tales of Endurance
Bush. Machine Head
Pear Jam. Once
Jimmy eat World. A Praise Chorus
Franz Ferdinand. Jacqueline
Stone Temple Pilots. Vasoline
Marylin Manson. Beautiful People
Foo Fighters. All My Life
Gomez. Detroit Swing 66
Stereophonics. Dakota 'the' anthem from our road-trips round Slovenia last year.
The Prodigy. Breath
Turin Brakes. Last Chance

Mr Ian Bearder

Monday, 2 June 2008

A Binary Sign

Driving Rover home tonight from work the odometer rolled round to 111111. The geeky and/or knowledgeable among you will know that in binary a 1 equals on (as apposed to a 0 equalling off), therefore I think it is fair to say we are officially on!

25 days til ingnition, and I for one can't wait.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Street Legal But Covered in Crap

Well for those of you who haven't yet set eyes on Rover, here he is. After spending the best part of six weeks parked under a tree full of crows, it doesn't take a scientist to work out that a bit of a clean may be in order.

A shiny new tax disc means he'll be street legal this weekend, watch out if you live locally!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Track Tastic Mate

I know its a golden rule that you should never write on a blog when you've had a few to drink. Oh well never mind!

I've just spent the evening devouring my music collection looking for every up beat driving track to accompany us on our little sojourn to Riga. Truth is I'd like to say I spent the evening looking through my CD collection, but unfortunately it was spent in front of a computer, pity I haven't actually got round to MP3ing my CDs yet!

Anyway, perhaps you guys could help. How about we compile a collection of your top driving tracks too? Just add your comments to this post and we'll do the rest. Perfect bank holiday activity I think, have a good one.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

She's a visa

and she's mine

...and she's arrived :-)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

“The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.”

Still no sight of my bells-and-whilstles two-times visa! But I have faith it'll arrive. Maybe in a month or so.

So, in the absence of this or any other news, I've been compliling my entry for the best 10 driving tunes competition.

Do we have a deadline for this Pete? and can I submit 13 songs and pretend there's just 10?

Finally, you'll be pleased to hear that Obi (my car) is OK. The water pump had gone Chernobyl. (for those who don't know, I had a few minor car issues on Monday) but, the superbly reliable Mr Mark Purcell Ltd had it fixed in 2 hours. It did however cost me £176. That's three quaters of the total price of Ralph 'the dog' Rover! ...and almost as much as a Russian visa ;-)

Mr Edd

Friday, 9 May 2008

Visa Teaser

Well my visa has just arrived back from the Russian Embassy, I'm about £80 lighter for the privilege. Royal Mail managed to not track my recorded delivery to the embassy so I've spent the last two weeks worrying my little socks off.

My advice, do not use Royal Mail's Signed For delivery service for this kind of thing, only ever use Recorded Delivery, it just isn't worth the heartache.

Let's hope Mr Edd comes up trumps with his whizz bang multiple entry visa.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

BBC Radio 2 - Simon Calder's Travel Article

Seemingly every football fan in the UK wants a Russian visa at the moment. Don't much like Simon's alternative route for getting to Russia, I think it was clearly nicked from our master plan!

Click here to listen to the article

Friday, 2 May 2008

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

There be bigger bodges on the horizon

Tools and equipment needed for a miriad of quick fix car bodges:
  • As many cable ties as one can carry
  • Gaffer tape
  • A selection of the highest amp cartridge fuses available
  • A vat of WD40
  • Dirty great self tapping screws
  • Insulation tape
  • A lump hammer
  • A crowbar
  • Vasoline
  • Rubber gloves
  • Cuddly toys (to strap to the front grille)