Sandbags to Sand Dunes Expedition 2010

40,000km overland in an Land Rover

Archive for the ‘UK Pre-departure’ Category

3 days to go – Trial run up to Northumberland

Posted by jamesandpolls on January 28, 2010

Its Wednesday and we have three days until the off. I am writing this from Foleys 4×4 in Harlow where the Land Rover is getting a final once over before the departure.  We’ve just spent  3 days at Polls’ parents house in Northumberland – or the health farm as we call it, we now feel well rested and very well fed. We had blustery walks on the beach, and a farewell party (doing quite well with those and still quite a few to come!). We also had some interest from the local press.. See picture of the ‘photo shoot’ James braving the Northumbrian winter in a Help for Heroes T-Shirt, while Polls opted more sensibly to wear a thick jumper underneath!)

Pax going like a dream, although managed to drink quite a lot of diesel on the way up, probably due to James zooming along at 70 (wow!) most of the way up, think from now on 60 will be our maximum speed otherwise we will have run out of money before we leave the country…

We have also been waved off from the front of Old College at Sandhurst (in the rain while the cadets were practising their drill),

Goodbye from Sandhurstand yesterday visited the Light Dragoon base in Norfolk to drop off all James’ army gear and for him James to say goodbye to his ‘brothers in arms’. Most of the past week has been taken up with packing up our house, and depositing our belongings to different areas of the country including Wiltshire, Dorset, Northumberland, Norfolk and London – I guess a tour of the UK is a good place to start before we drive to the other side of the Earth!

Spirits are high and we both can’t wait to get going, almost getting to the stage where we’re tired of talking about the trip, need to get on and do it! We’re ‘Marching Out’ (!) of 133 Kings Ride tomorrow when we’ll be officially homeless – our new address will be The Pax Man, Somewhere between London and Cape Town, Earth.


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10 Days to Go – SheWees and things

Posted by jamesandpolls on January 18, 2010

Well Howdy! It is now less than two weeks until Polls and I leave for Africa. The last few weeks have been incredibly hectic, I was doing the Sydney -Hobart yacht race, Christmas, packing, dishing out all our house stuff to friends and family (we still need to get rid of a double bed. . anyone?) and all teh other stuff you must do when packing up stuff here to go abroad. I have also managed to get South African / UK dual citizenship over teh last few weeks so i am applying for a passport as i write, this will help when we reach Southern Africa with visas.

I also spent a day up at Foley 4×4 – the guys fitting out the LR. Steve and Martin spent the day with me going over PAX from top to bottom so i now have a rough idea on how to fix him (definitely a him!) when things go wrong (remember a LR never dies but is almost always slightly sick!).

Here he is on the right just last week. You will be happy to know that three days after this he was ready to roll out and we picked him up last Friday. No leaks yet and only the passenger door broken so far. . to be expected and rectified before we leave.

The ‘expedition’ room is coming on well and is full of pretty cool stuff. Look at our website for a video of everything we have accrued on this venture of ours. Quite an impressive collection. . the saying ‘all the gear no idea’ comes to mind. I am particularly excited by the Sat Phone – not sure why as its just a phone that looks like it was made in 1992, but it appeals and importantly it works. Huge thanks to All Road Sat for providing it (and i know things are pretty busy with Haiti at the moment so good luck there).

Polls is still working and holding up to the pressure well – still making sales in the last week. I think the highlight of her week was when the SheWee arrived! Google it if you want to find out what it does. Needless to say all barriers will be broken when i see her using it for the first time – nice! She is also in charge of the route…

Well. Must go. House packing to do and i am such a slow typer. There are 359 of you so far who have read this – or my mum has read it 359 times. Keep looking and if you are feeling generous why not donate to the charities we are doing this through our website –

All the best,


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Two Months To Go

Posted by jamesandpolls on December 9, 2009

Having been told by my brother this weekend that we are not very good at updating our website I have decided to post my first blog. . . .ever. What a thrilling experience !

I should take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who supported our charity ball either by bringing a table, donating prizes for the auction, bidding for those prizes or simply just for coming! We raised just over £15,000 on the night (when everyone has paid!) which is an awesome effort by you all. Thank you on behalf of Help for Heroes, The Prostate Cancer Charity and Hope and Homes for Children. If you have not donated and would like to, or indeed you would like to give more then see our website and go to the ‘charities’ page  where you will be able to give through our Just Giving site.

With the ball now out of the way we can concentrate on the expedition. We have just completed 1/2 day at the LandRover Experience Centre in the Chilterns where Mark, the chief instructor took us through our paces in a new Defender. Although we squeezed every bit of information out of Mark that we could (you were exceptionally kind, helpful and patient Mark so thank you) I fear that the real test will be on the road, when we are having to make the decisions ourselves outside the comfort of a bespoke driving centre!

After a VERY helpful supper with Henry Hallward and his wife Gi (who are THE experts on overlanding in Africa – they did this trip about 20 years ago but I am not sure much has changed) we have changed our route somewhat. We now intend to go from Tanzania down the coast of Mozambique before heading West to Malawi, then North to Zambia before heading into Botswana then South Africa and then finishing up in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. A few more miles but will ensure better coverage of the best spots in Southern Africa. The Zimbabwe question gets asked a bit. . .are we avoiding it? The answer is no, not really, it just does not seem to offer anything that other countries can not and time is limited.

The most exciting thing happening at the moment is that we are about to see our vehicle for the first time. We are heading up to Foley 4×4 (who have sourced our vehicle and are currently working on it) on Saturday to be introduced. Now there is a habit that other overlanders have which is to name their vehicles. . I have always thought this is a bit weird, similar to naming a toaster or some other inanimate mechanical object and have never named a car in my life but perhaps on this occasion the relationship with our vehicle is going to be so personal that it (she – I think all vehicles are she’s aren’t they?) will need to be named. We will see. Anyway. . .exciting times.

Well, that was it Als (my brother), I hope that it was OK. Never been into this self promotion thing so this is a bit of a novelty just writing to the world like this (or to those 3 people who read our blog).

Have a Happy Christmas everyone.

p.s. Have just got a camcorder so will try and put video in the next one when I work out how to use it!

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3 months until departure!

Posted by jamesandpolls on November 2, 2009

We will be on the long and winding road in less than three months now – and still have loads to sort out!! The count down is really now on. ..

The route planning is in full swing – we have the ‘maps for Africa’ CD which has lots of GPS points all though Africa which will be a great help. We are starting to buy all our kit too. Looking at other people’s websites who do overland expeditions is a such a help as many of them list exactly what they take with them in terms of spares, tools, medical kit etc etc. We’ve just bought a new camera Canon 1000D – bit too pro for us but thought it was worth getting a good camera for all the amazing things we are going to see..

We have been exceptionally lucky so far with gathering sponsors for our trip. Special thanks to Handtec Ltd, who have given us a Colorado 300 GPS, All Road communications (California) who are providing us with a SAT phone for the trip, Welbeck Management Group for providing funds for our equipment, Foley Specialist Vehicles for building us our trusty wheels, Adam Smith for being the creative hand for our logos and Alex at the Live Link for providing us with a great band for the ball.

All tables sold out now for the ball, but there are a few spare tickets floating about so please let us know if you are keen to come. Great news – Mark Cooke who set up Hope and Homes for Children (one of the charities we are supporting) will be coming to the ball to say a few words about the charity. They are also arranging some visits for us in Kosovo, Rwanda and South Africa

We were on BBC radio Surrey breakfast show on Tuesday 6th October – quite amusing, unfortunately though we are no longer on iplayer and didn’t get a copy so it has now dissapeared into cyberspace. However – all is not lost as we are appearing on radio Berkshire later this month ( think its the 24th) for an hour – it is a deasert Island disks type of show so any song suggestions are welcome!

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