Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Siwa Days

Our Expedition driving 1200 miles into The Sahara will end, as many LRDG trips did, in Siwa. This Oasis town has grown in isolation to the rest of Egypt and Libya - for it is very close to the current border. Virtually inaccessible for most of its history, Siwa has a unique character and the Siwan people, predominantly Berbers, have features unseen in the rest of Egypt. Rounder faces and a high proportion of Albino’s for some reason. The old mud brick town still has some inhabited buildings, whist most residents have migrated to the younger buildings spreading out into the desert landscape. Siwa is the location of The Oracle. The real one! Where Alexander the Great was confirmed as Divine and a Pharaoh of Egypt. We shall bath in the hot spring and wash 12 days of grime away, then enjoy the comfort of an Hotel for the night.

The photos show an existing Egyptian Army base still operating in Siwa, Chris Scott bouncing around in a donkey drawn cart - a popular means of transport there, and the view of the eroded hill looking across the ancient mud brick town.

Link of the day. British Pathe News has some remarkable old B&W film of the LRDG departing Siwa and towards the end of the clip the landmark of the eroded hill is clearly visible.

Monday, 18 October 2010

How to spend Easter. No eggs!

The web site is up!

For two weeks we shall re-enact many of the daring escapades of the legendary Long Range Desert Group in a pair of original 1943, World War Two, Jeeps. Our expedition, limited to just eight people, will drive through the stunning dunes of the Great Sand Sea.  Explore the Gilf el Kebir, a plateau the size of Switzerland. Camp under the stars a million miles from the nearest town.  Stand in the Cave of the Swimmers, immortalised in the film, The English Patient.   Live for that Ice Cold in Alex moment as we celebrate in exactly the same bar as they did 70 years ago. This is no cruise along the Mediterranean coast, but the real thing, sweat, steam and fatique, but with a fully equipped logistics team on hand to cook, wash up and guide us through some of the most beautiful desert scenery on the planet.

Departing from Cairo, we shall cover in the region of 1200 desert miles between Monday 18th April 2011 and Monday 2nd May 2011.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Back room boys.

There are two businesses, without whose help none of this ambitious project would be possible. Jeeparts UK, in Shrewsbury, run by Graham and Amanda, and my son’s business, Matt Savage, up in Matlock.

Any phone call to Jeeparts is greeted with a knowledgeable reply borne out of a lifetime of Jeepery and the answer you want - “yes, we have that in stock”. Likewise, any call to Matt gets the response - “Yes, we’ve done that”. This level of service is rare these days, and I speak as someone who has had a few ‘Main Dealer’ confrontations over the years.

Today was the penultimate visit to Jeeparts for bits. All those little bits that you don’t know you need until you (Matt!) come to join one bit to another. Light units, Speedo, dials and cables. Meanwhile, up at The Matt Savage Overland Preparation Barn, there was a bulging box of wiring components to fabricate a new loom and much progress since my last visit a week ago. The aim is to have it running by the end of next week.

With such professional chaps on the job that should happen.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Classic Love Story.

It has been suggested by Chris Scott, that perhaps we could screen a DVD of The English Patient whilst actually in the cave, in Wadi Soura, that the memorable scene is based. Kristin Scott Thomas, laid out on the rocks whilst her failing torch batteries act as a metaphor for her tragic death. Ralph Fiennes gallantly walking out of the desert to find a plane and rescue her.

Wadi Soura is on the western edge of The Gilf el Kebir and we should, In-sh-Allah, be there on Tuesday 26th April. There are many red ochre paintings on the walls of the cave, depicting figures ‘swimming’. The high vertical cliff opposite would suggest that, far from swimming, they were in fact being hurled off the top in some ancient ritual. Still. No need to let a theory spoil a good story.

Chris has a new book out shortly Overlander’s Handbook. Indispensable to anyone with interests in this direction.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A tight fit

A productive day up at the Matt Savage Overland Preparation Barn in Matlock. I went up in the 101 to have a few minor jobs done - new brake linings, oil and filter change and general check over. This accomplished, we thought it would be prudent to try and fit the Willys MB in the back. The master plan is to stick one Jeep in the back of the 101 and tow the other on a trailer, as far as Venice, where we shall drive them onto a ferry and head for Alexandria. The great news is that the measurements proved correct and a Jeep will just fit in the back of a 101. It’s tight, but with a set of 15 inch Suzuki SJ rims, no tyres and the steering wheel removed, we shall be able to have the roof on for the 2000 mile return trip.