Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Summary

2013 was at last a year of adventures.

That's not to say that there was no maintenance, or that there isn't more to do, in fact more was planned by now and I have the parts at home, but some work things came up which means I've had to postpone the installations until 2014

So what have we done

In January I was finally able to confirm that Katy had been an active ambulance on active duty in relation to Op Hanwood when we discovered a picture in a book of her parked in Bosnia

In February she let us down on our first trip for the year which was up to the Yorkshire Dales, but I'm glad to say that was the last time she let us down in 2013 (well almost)

By March it was time for another MOT and this year as well as the track rod ends that were advised last year it was the brakes that failed and needes some work, but Steve soon sorted it for me and I have to say the braking has been much better since, so it clearly needed doing

By this time I had committed us to going to the Alps so we needed to get some miles in to increase our confidence in her running so in April we headed off with the SWLRC and made our way to Pembrokeshire where we had some walks and some Land Rover themed fun. We were really glad of Katy as those in tents did complain about the cold.

Off again in May we went to the South Coast to Beer to see an old friend of ours who lives down there for the summer in her palacial caravan, and we had wonderful fun on the narrow lanes of the Jurassic coast. We also met a kindred soul who absolutely loved Katy, and then we made it to the Pencoed Show, but so did the clouds and rain so we all packed up and came home again. 

By June I was starting to really get into the swing of preparation and I sourced an awning through gumtree which fitted (just about) on the back to give us some much needed extra room and a means of keeping the door open in hot or wet weather, and we hosted a wonderful visitor Noel from the New Zealand Land Rover Enthusiasts who joined the club on our inaugural Cardiff to Langorse Road Run I'm not sure Katy actually wanted to do the trip as she let us down and it was only the purchase of an instant start charger from Halfords that saved the day, we arrived in time for the big set-off and had a wonderful day

July was to be the big month, but I started it badly. I had good intentions, get her serviced early so there was time to shake down any issues and then take her for some runs to make sure the battery was now in good shape. The trouble was on my first run after the service there was a small red car that stopped in traffic and I wasn't quick enough so I rear ended it. Net damage to Katy was just a bent bumper as you can see below

Net damage to the Vauxhall - write off.

I didn't blog this at the time as it was inappropriate, but now things are settled I can say thank goodness all that was truly hurt was my pride and my insurance premiums.

So then it was the Alps trip.

This was to be an important milestone. I wanted to be able to say we had done done over-landing and I wanted to do it without a major breakdown if possible. After some running repairs following the bump, we got enough confidence to set off. Our first aim was Dover. If we made it beyond the ferry and broke down we were at least on foreign soil and would just holiday where we landed.

The run down was faultless and we even made time to be put on an earlier ferry which was superb. Day 2 which was the first of August was probably the hardest days driving I have ever experienced. it was into a strong headwind and we were making about 5 MPH better than the large lorries and passing them was hell as the buffeting was really bad, but with such a long journey we felt we had to keep pushing. The day ended with at the wonderful camp-site at Camping Grappe d’Ore at Meursault

Day 3 and Day 4 were driving again, and we finally arrived in Italy quite exhausted and ready for a rest, but of course that was not to be as the very next morning we were on our way from Salbertrand to Mt Jafferau for our first day's green lane driving in the Alps. 

The experience was almost indescribably wonderful as we set off in trepidation and ended the day in success having achieved everything we had wanted to in terms of proving to ourselves that we could do this type of overland style driving. 

From then on everything was a bonus and we had wonderful fun on the following days, going from Mt Jafferau to Argentiera the next day and then from Argentiera to Gran Bosco via a wonderful high level track on the third day. Every day we faced another challenge and every day we overcame it and our confidence in Katy and ourselves grew. 

The second part of the week was to take us to our highest point, but unfortunately the weather was not to be so nice and we found ourselves dealing with snow fog & rain and being forced to take a lower route as we went from there back down again and over into France to Lac du Monte.

Our Last day was to take us on a wonderful high level route and back again as we wended our way back from France into Italy and to our final night at the Grand Bosco campsite

As we made our way back though the Alps into France and then we made a personal pilgrimage to the Thiepval memorial to see my relatives's commemoration on the memorial. It's an incredible place and if you are ever in the area I would encourage you to visit to understand the scale of the horror that took place.

All in all that trip was a wonderful experience and I've gained an immense amount from it

Since then things have been quieter

By the end of August we were able to join our friends of the South Wales Land Rover Club on the stand at the Eastnor Land Rover Show where we were able to source a new bumper to replace the one I bent in July. It was also an opportunity to see the great granddaddy of all land Rovers HUE 166

In September we went to the Hidden Earth Caving conference and we were spotted by our Friend Pete who did this wonderful drawing for us, and we also went to the Tredegar show in November we used her as a camper van again whilst visiting friends

Since then things have been really quiet which is disappointing. I have done some leak proofing which so far has not been 100% successful so more work is needed.

Inspired by the Alps Trip I have loads of new equipment ready to fit to Katy, but some other things have got in the way of actually doing that fitting. If you are interested in new lighting, rear view cameras, CB and more then please come back again in 2014 when it will all get fitted

In the mean time I've been adding a few things to this website with the Refurb log getting an update, a Technical page to keep the major rebuild items in one place, and last, but not least a History of Land Rover Ambulances which I am starting to research when I get time.

There is still a proposed respray to be done some time when I've got all the mechanical stuff sorted out.

Until then I hope that anyone dropping in to read this stuff is still finding it interesting

In 2014 I'll be 52 and she'll be 26 so that is 1/2 my age.

Happy New Year


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