Grand Finale

So here we are at the conclusion:

Sol has evolved from Rust to Rally. With a lot of help from a lot of very special people  – including Adam Jones, Charlotte,  The Rally Round Mechanics (Saints) and our “back up team” total deserving winners of the Spirit of the Rally award – Laurie and Pam and many more….

One day I will find my scarf that you gave me Laurie which will have even more adventures to talk of from being lost – and Pam, who is going to polish our headlamps now!?!? We three love you two xxx Also a big thank you to those who helped us along the way – our “OK” sign has not been used much. Andrew and Claudine right at the start helped at the side of the road when our brakes seized on with a brain storming solution on how to continue without them – Adrian and Ali the first time we ran out of petrol, Alastair an Rachel the second time…. the list goes on.

Our evening started with a fabulous and memorable rendez vue with Harry, who very graciously invited us to join him for Pina Coladas on the Table Bay terrace, a first for both of us. Harry explained the fascinating story of his  breaking of Pina Colada virginity, I will let him tell you the story himself. Him and Gary are now in Namibia for an eight day adventure there on their own – what a pair! Go Harry and Gary!!!

Time for the awards – tumtrallallar…. you won’t be surprised to hear that we won the “Against All Odds” award, but we were delighted to also receive 3rd in Class, and Second in the team entires -go Rusty Nuts and thanks to Andrew and Claudine and Chris and Kathy our team mates.!!!

It’s not over for the cars though, and the next day we were back on the road to deliver our cars to the warehouse for shipping back home…

Not as many as started: One car didn’t arrive at the beginning, one car was T-boned on it’s way from the port to the start of the Rally, one Porsche lost it’s suspension, down a pot hole on a mountain climb in Malawi, Harry and Garry had a broken crank shaft on their Model A Ford, Joan and Bob’s engine packed up on their Ford Capri something to do with a camshaft or distributor or both not sure – we missed seeing your little blue car along the way – then poor Michel and the Bently came a cropper – so glad the operation was successful and you are recovering Michel – and finally literally at the finish line, Philip and Eva’s Alpha Romeo’s engine caught fire!

So it was quite emotional saying goodbye to all the cars that actually made it after all they had been through. Here is a picture of J doing last minute putting to bed before we all said goodbye.

Thank you Rally Round team and all the other competitors for bags and bags of truly incredible memories, and to Africa for sharing your joy….

   

   

   

xxxxxx

 

The Final Day Franschhoek To Cape Town

Car packed again but for the last time this time…

I can’t believe we have fitted our lives into these two bags for the last five weeks, Plus a petrol can which has proved more important than anything – at least the load is lighter now as I am getting through the 42 pairs of knickers I brought with me. They have been serupticiously disposed of along the way, and only once was a pair delivered back to me – in an envelope at breakfast as we were leaving the Selous game reserve! Luckily Stephany and I had already bonded having a wee together at the side j

Sad to leave Le Fran but we are on a Rally with a Finish Line in sight…

Time control, rather than being from the hotel this morning was from a private Motor museum. We were given some extra time to look around it and would have given it a miss after the disappointment of the last two, but luckily we were given a tip off from Marco and his wife Stephanie that this is one of the best private car collections in the world – they weren’t wrong and we were all gob smacked, not just by the cars but by the beautifully landscaped museum also.

Sol of it’s day?

 

I will never complain about my navigation equipment again – bring on the Tulip diagrams!

Beautifully landscaped setting but need to stand in the shade even for a quick photo – so hot already at 10.00am and forecast 40 degrees later!

So after lots of oohing and aahing we all checked out of the museum in car number order to hopefully travel in some sort of convoy to our finish line at Camps Bay School. Needless to say the ordering went a bit pear shaped as we had to stop for petrol and who did we find there eating rum and raisin chock ices – of course Neil and Scal, who are eating every time we see them and even spend their hours on the road chanting “bacon sandwiches”!

Our approach to the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, takes in the incredible Chapmans’s Peak drive.

With literally minutes to spare before our last time control being the finish line – we are already well into the penalty free extra half an hour thanks to traffic and wanting to make the most of the Chapmans Peak drive – we eventually arrive at Camps Bay School.

In time to cheer on a few of our competitors

 

And the Heroes of the day!

Not quite such a celebration for poor Philip and Eva – literally minutes after they crossed the finish line…

After a little bit of mutual congratulations over some fizz and nibbles…

 

We did then set off on our last leg to The Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town for prize giving and celebrating.. hmm lots of jollity and bantering to come!!!

Day 24 Oudtshoorn to Franschoek

The penultimate day…

We set off from the Queens hotel in Oudtshoorn after early breakfast and an extra Regularity was put on to make up for the one that had to be cancelled yesterday – so three in all today. The first two were soon after we set off from the hotel and one almost lead off from the other so it was good to get those out of the way early and very encouraging to get another zero on the first one 🙂 Zero is J’s new nick-name for me. As this was our second one we thought about making it Double Zero but J thought that sounded insulting as it could be a very small bra size! So I’ll stick with Zero which is cool enough for me. Anyway that didn’t stop me being nervous about the third one though which wasn’t until mid afternoon just before we arrived at our destination so I can’t say I noticed much of the scenery today.

Because of the difficulties in closing tarmac roads, the were all on gravel/dirt roads as usual, so many more mouthfuls of dust were swallowed.  The third regularity had two timing points so that made it a bit more of a challenge and the last few Km the average speed went up by 10K just before a dip and a corner and of course the end was just round the corner, but we didn’t do badly and were infact early by three seconds.

At the first timing point, Jeremy’s ace, professional, previous navigator, John Baylis and his other half were Marshalling. Jeremy was so delighted to see him that he turned the engine off! I had to be a very bossy navigator and make him carry on at speed to make up the valuable seconds we were losing by socialising – not to mention that Andrew and Claudine our Team fellows in Rusty Nuts had started one minute behind us and likely to be held up by us and never speak to us again!

At the end of all those dusty miles and hot competition we were rewarded by being welcomed onto the home of previous Rally Round competitors Clive Venning and his Wife – for a fabulous wine tasting at their very fabulous house.

Then on we went – luckily only round the corner for the drivers – to the Le Franschoek Hotel. Another beautiful place where we each stayed in individual “huts” more like houses, with a lovely airy main building where we had dinner in a sort of huge dining hall. There was a lovely atmosphere tonight. Everyone is in the mood for celebrating. The end of the Rally is in sight but still the excitement of the competition goes on. We have now such a reputation for overcoming all the problems with the Sol our car that we were clapped out of the dining room when we left. That was very special.

Umhlanga to Umngazi

Super organised Charlotte, had organised for the brakes parts and a new cable for the Guage Pilot to be sent to the Oyster Box, so we were really looking forward to continuing in a “relatively” normal way – and for me to do some of the driving – but “this is Africa” and the parcel is stuck in customs so we have organised for it’s return as it will never catch up with us now.

So off we go at the very sociable time of standard time 9.30. The clutch fixed but overnight Sol had decided he was only going to run on three pistons…. We stopped later at a petrol station, a quick chat to the locals while J cleaned the spark plug and we were on our way again.

The wire to the petrol pump keeps shorting – we’re never quite sure if we have run out of petrol as we don’t have a petrol gauge, but a quick wiggle of the ignition usually gets it going again. We just had our fingers crossed that it didn’t happen in the middle of our Test at the aptly named Dizzy Raceway racing track.

Thankfully it didn’t and we had a good whizz around the track and the cones. We were told later that we were spilling oil everywhere causing cars after us to skid – well that is rallying…. and it would explain why the oil pressure keeps dropping.

It was a long old climb up and down mountains on the handbrake but J enjoying the relatively easy road surfaces. Covering so many miles in one day means you go through really diverse landscapes. Some open countryside, some forest and some crazy little towns.

Down a very bumpy track to our insalubriously named destination Umngazi River Bungalows. What an amazing surprise…. This place is fabulous. All the hardships of the Rally forgiven – and the Magicians I mean Saints otherwise known as Mechanics have fixed Sol! For now!

  

Motororing without wheels….

  

Here is a picture of Marco and Stephanie’s 1977 Bently Convertible looking very gracious parked in a slipway

And Eva and Philip tuning their very ancient mode of transport

Our favourite place so far and what a view from the outdoor shower of the Indian Ocean at the mouth of the Umngazi River….

Tonight at dinner we were acknowledged for getting a Zero in the regularity yesterday. A sparkly star for me and a metal mug for J with the words I love you Umngazi on the mug – says it all xxx

From Phinda to Umghlanga

Bye bye team at Phinda – lovely seeing you and all the other animals.

Hello Umghlanga

The face says it all – we have arrived at the Oyster Box in Umhalanga – a beautiful hotel in a stunning location, in one piece but with no clutch! The closest I have seen to J not smiling!

I have enough wifi to upload a few photos but feeling FOMO as my group WatsApp with the Rally is inundated with pictures of  everyone else enjoying cocktails, while I do Blogging. Here I am with Eva and Barbara feeling very proud of ourselves!

J is spannering with the mechanics (saints!) with the help of a beer from Pam. Pam and Laurie do know how to look after us!

p.s. Recent regularities have been cancelled and I totally messed up the ones that we did do – partly because of the broken cable to the gauge pilot – no speedometer – no kilometre – no trip meter – etc etc – but today we had two regularities and with the help of a stop watch (even that is 4 seconds out), and an app on my phone which didn’t overheat today, we got a Zero and a 1 – (for my friends and family who don’t know – low is good) is bring on the beers.

Here is a picture of the Rally Round Team – Organisers, Doctor, Photographer and Mechanics, with my celebrating our Zero with Gary 🙂

Kasane to Francistown

Lots of Driving, lots of Navving, lots of Distance, I overshot the turning to the track to lunch, partly because J was following Alastair and Rachael who had also overshot it, because he was convinced they would know where they were going! – denying the first rule of Navigating that he taught me (actually the only one) which was never follow anyone else!

Arrived at our watering hole only to be whisked off on trucks to the salt flats – well it was all very flat as our truck got a flat tyre, with no spare – so we baled onto another truck that had already seen the flamingoes and went back!

More spannering needed – don’t ask me what – you don’t need to know…

From Zambia to Botswana

We were warned that this would be the most difficult/stressful border crossing, but little did anyone know that the ferry would be broken! we left in batches rather than one minute intervals to make the crossing easier, the 9.00ers before us were very lucky as they got on the last ride before it broke. There was no shade and we were waiting in 40 degrees African sun  When we were told it would be half an hour to fix it we thought  maybe three days, so were utterly delighted that it was all fixed in under four hours! We (in a very hot way) enjoyed the view of four different countries, (don’t ask me to name them now – I’ve had a cocktail in celebration that I have enough wifi to upload a photo!) and watching the scenery such as the carved out canoes going past

then we were on our way

  

And here we are in no mans land between Zambia and Botswana

  

 

And the Surprise Was….

A ride on the Livingstone Express (their version of the Orient Express in it’s day) with dinner and drinks.

  

More than slightly uncomfortable as we were steaming through communities of people living in shacks surrounded by rubbish – plastic bottles mainly but they rushed up to cheer us on, with sheer joy on their faces.

Time to leave Alastiar to his Babes

A quick toot of the whistle

and back to study the route book to see what tomorrow holds for us in a navigational way. If only we had a plan of what will go wrong with Sol tomorrow! xxx