Category Archives: Uncategorized

Best Songs 2022 (Iain)

Years’ ago, I paid a small fortune for two tickets to see Adele in concert. I gave them to my wife for her birthday, assuming I’d get invited. That the unwritten rule… right? If I buy two tickets as a present then I get to go too. Everyone knows that… except my wife.

She took one look at my exceedingly expensive purchase and said “My friend will love this!” She immediately phoned her friend and told her the good news that they were going to sit on very expensive seats whilst listening to Adele perform.

Did I mention just how expensive these tickets were?

But I’m not bitter… maybe just a little bitter.

I share my Spotify account with my wife. Which is my excuse for why Adele features on my most played in 2022 list.

In this list, only James are someone I actually listened to.

2022 was not a great year for music. Lots of albums came out but most suffered from the modern problem of good single, crap album.

The art of making a coherent interesting album seems to have been lost.

Here’s three examples of songs I enjoyed in Albums that disappointed.

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 8 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought would be fun to publish them again.

18 December 2004Team Smokey Bandit in ruin/Rouan…

Despite emergency repairs on the side of a french motorway, our car is experiancing major transmission problems. It and us may not be going much further as both the Chrysler garage in Rouan and our very helpful contact at Chrysler in London are doubtful that our automatic gearbox will survive for much longer.

We are discussing options and will let you know what happens next.

A major thank you to Team Leak who stuck by us last night and made sure that our car reached Rouan.

19 December 2004The end of the road?

Beauty, our Chrysler Town and Country, was officially pronounced dead late on saturday. She has now been scrapped. We can’t explain how gutted we feel to lose her – we’ve been planning for this for more than 6 months, and to think that this could be the end of the road is incredibly hard to take.

We knew, before we even bought the car, that there was one risk we could not mitigate – Beauty was an automatic, and while we were confident that we could fix anything else that went wrong with her, we knew that if the automatic transmission went there was next to nothing that could be done. And there was nothing either we, or the guys at Chrysler could do in advance to protect against it. The gamble we took was that it would hold. Our luck ended on the side of a miserable french motorway late at night.

So what now? Well, we’ve made our way back to Paris. Andrew is going to stay in Paris for the time being, while Gav is making his way back to London, to see whether or not we can get a new car and start again – we’re only 3 days behind everyone else, so it’s not unrealistic that we could catch up. The trouble is actually likely to be the paperwork – it took us months to put all the insurance, visas, ownership and export documents in place, to try and turn all of that around in a day may just be asking too much. We’re hopeful, but at the same time it’s a tall order.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far – we’ll try not to let you down. Even if we can’t get back on the road to Dakar, we’ll do something else, so keep checking back to see what happens.

27 December 2004Fitness freaks

We’re getting over the disappointment of not being able to complete the Plymouth – Dakar challenge by throwing ourselves into our new challenge – the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative’s New Year’s Day Triathlon.

It’s fair to say that in the run up to the start of the Rally our preparations didn’t allow us much time for anything – including going to the gym. No swimming. No cycling. No running. Fortunately we did have time for a fair amount of Christmas eating and drinking though.

So from the time we got back and got accepted for the triathlon we have just 10 days to get ourselves fit enough to take part in the triathlon – swimming 500 metres, cycling 20 kilometres then running 5 kilometres. With no stopping in between. We get out of the water, jump on our bikes. We get off our bikes and start running straight away.

So there were no seconds of christmas dinner (well, ok, a very small plate of seconds). We can’t have too much to drink on new year’s eve.

The big question of course is – who is going to win? The Bandit has more triathlon experience, and its fair to say is the better swimmer. However Arbroath Smokey is a pretty good runner, competing in marathons and half marathons on a regular basis. We reckon it’s going to be a pretty close thing – keep following us for training updates, and the all important results!

[2022 Comment – This was the final report and the first time I’d ever though of taking part in a triathlon. But it would be a few years later before I actually entered my first race as I couldn’t get through to Edinburgh to take part as I didn’t have a car and I hadn’t realised that trains didn’t run on New Year’s Day. D’oh!]

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 7 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought would be fun to publish them again.

16 December 2004An impending sense of … something

What is this funny butterfly feeling in my stomach? Is it nerves? Excitment? Fear? Panic? Or just that Chinese from last night?

This time tomorrow Team Bandit will be well on their way, hopefully arriving at Dover awaiting the ferry that will transport them on towards their adventure.

Asked how they were feeling about the big trip now looming less than 24 hours ahead of them, The Bandit replied “Sorry, can’t talk now, too much work to finish before we leave.” Arbroath Smokey was more forthcoming however: “What do you mean 24 hours? We’ve got loads of time, we’re not leaving till December. What do you mean it’s December already..?”

17 December 2004 – Smoke Signals Part 1

If its London and its December it must be dull, grey and raining heavily. Despite that, preparations are underway for a 11am departure to Dover – which is you know pretty close (we think) to Plymouth. Well, almost as close as Banjul is to Dakar.

We’ve spent the last few hours ensuring that the car is fully “pimped” with logos and graphics (Check out http://www.crash.net and http://www.rollonfriday.com for pictures later today) and we’ve now moved on to the all important “have you seen my passport?n I’m sure I left it around here somewhere…” loading of the car.

Apart from my complete failure to remember to bring my flat keys – Iain, make sure your in the flat when I get back! – we’re all set to start the Plymouth (now Dover) to Dakar (now Banjul) Challenge!

[2022 Spoiler warning – we weren’t!]

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 6 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought it would be fun to publish them again.

7 November 2004 – Mr Smokey’s Orientation 101

So they drive Plymouth to Banjul via Dakar. 

It all sounds so easy. First they go to France then Spain then Morocco. They take a quick trip across the desert by passing through Mauritania before ending up with a short ride through the Gambia to reach Senegal.

Easy.

Or at least that’s what they thought.

Turns out, these countries are slightly bigger than they anticipated. It turns out that some of the signposts (that’s if they’re lucky enough to actually see any signposts) might not even be in English. Worst of all under cross examination Mr Smokey had to concede that he didn’t actually know where Senegal was.

“Africa”, He said, “On the coast, I think”

So Team Bandit bought maps. Loads of maps. Road maps of Western Africa. Individual maps for each country. Such detailed and highly precise maps that even Mr Smokey must surely know where Team Bandit is going.

We were wrong.

“Africa” He said. “Down the coast, I think.”

Mr Bandit despairs, he really does…

8 November 2004 – Bandit Jones’ Diary

Sunday 7 November 2004

Number of finger nails with oil under them: 10
Number of minor injuries: 2
Number of new spark plugs on Beauty: 4
Number of swear words used: too [bleep]ing many
How absolutely useless are Halfords: very

A productive weekend for Team Bandit as we continued to prep Beauty for her holiday in the sun. The Bandit earned his mechanical stripes, putting to good use the brand new shiny red box of tools we bought last week. Beauty had a mini service: new spark plugs, engine oil and oil filter, replaced the leaky coolant hose, and probably most important of all put the Chrysler hood ornament (a five pointed star) up there at the front of the bonnet.

We also scored a major success on ebay (the auction website where we bought Beauty in the first place), procuring some all important sand waffles for a knock-down price, of which more later.

15 November 2022 – They’re Waffely Versatile!

Our sand waffles arrived safely at the end of last week, causing a great amount of excitement at the Bandit’s flat. Well, ok, truth be told only the Bandit was really excited – Karly, and Ian (the Bandit’s flatmate) were pretty non-plussed.

Right about now you’re probably wondering (with good reason) just what the heck sand waffles are. You’ve heard of belgian waffles, which are often eaten at breakfast time with whipped cream and a strawberry conserve. You might even have heard of potato waffles, which come from the freezer section and they go great with eggs, burgers, fish, fingers – fish fingers… you know the rest of the song.

Fortunately sand waffles are not a member of any of the food groups. For a start they’re too big to fit in your freezer, and would be too filling to eat for breakfast. 

Rather, they are made of glass reinforced plastic, are about a metre long, 30 centimetres wide and 5 centimetres deep. You place them under the wheels of the car when you get stuck in sand and can’t get out, and they form a little bridge to help you get out of the sand and get moving. The theory is that once you’ve got some momentum up you can keep going, and as long as you keep a bit of speed up you shouldn’t get stuck in the sand again. And a top tip from the Bandit’s brother – Andrew “Ray Mears Survival Expert” McGinty – tie the sand waffles to the back of the car with a long bit of rope so that you don’t have to stop to pick them up and get stuck in the sand again.

They’re pretty essential then when you consider that we’ll be spending days crossing a desert in a car which, quite frankly, can’t even cope with a daytrip to the beach.

They were another wonder of ebay hunting, and Gav won them, quite literally, by beating the other bidders in the auction by 70 pence with 4 seconds left to go. If that sort of luck stays with us, the trip should be a breeze!

14 December 2004They’re Flashy! They’re Bouncy! They’re Flashing Bouncy Balls!

Being popular is a difficult business. 

But if you have something to offer, something that people like about you, then soon you’ll be the coolest kid on the block. But what if you have nothing? What do you do then?

Team Smokey Bandit have no fears on this front, as thanks to Pinsent Masons the team go fully stocked with a box full of fluorescent coloured flashing bouncy balls! Roughly the size of a golf ball, when dropped these things bounce straight back up to you (Wow indeed!). But that’s not the real magic – the clincher is that the bouncing action sets off some crazy disco-party lights! 

Yes, it’s certain that we will be the most popular team when we start handing out the coolest christmas presents in town. Border guards will open gates, desert bandits will wave us through as, once Mr Smokey and Mr Bandit set all the lights going, they will become Africa’s first mobile discoteque!

15 December 2004 – Flu? No, they drove there by car…

In HG Well’s War of the Worlds the evil Martian invaders are defeated by none other than the common cold.

Though these Martian’s had heat rays and tripods and interplanetary crafts, “intelligences greater than man” and “mathematical learning… far in excess of ours” they didn’t have Strepsils or Soothers or lemon flavored lempsip.

Now, Mr Smokey has all these things (plus a bright red nose from two days of constant sniffling) and, he, unlike those lily livered Martians, isn’t going to let a last minute bout of the cold get in the way of preparations for the rally.

With a flight to London booked on Thursday night, Mr Smokey is confident that his umpteen injections for everything Africa can throw at him (surely they must be good for something as simple as the cold?!?) will show this cold what what and ensure Mr Smokey is fighting fit for Friday’s rally.

The common cold?!? The cold’s nothing! Why, in Africa they don’t know the meaning of the word “cold”…

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 5 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought it would be fun to publish them again.

11 October 2004 Falling at the first hurdle…

Sharon, the most patient person in the world, has for the last couple of months kindly been letting us store Beauty in the garage beneath her flat. In doing so she has risked inciting hatred from her neighbours and ridicule from her friends. We’re extremely grateful.

This week, however, Beauty needed to find a new home, as Sharon needs her space back. Not a problem, we thought, she can go out the back of Gav’s flat for a while. So Gav went round on Sunday morning to move her. Now Beauty hasn’t been driven in a few months, so she didn’t quite share Gav’s optimism that she would start first time…

After a bit of a push start, with the long-suffering Karly at the wheel, the engine caught on the second (third… fourth…) attempt. 

“Hmmm, I’m not sure she’s meant to sound like that.”
“Why is she revving so hard?” 
“Sounds like the accelerator pedal is stuck. Can you smell burning…?” 
“Ok, turn it off.”

A brief inspection under the hood later, and Gavin “The Car Doctor” McGinty offers a diagnosis. The accelerator cable is definitely jammed. If only we knew which one the accelerator cable was, and how to unjam it. Also, there appeared to be a mysterious green liquid leaking from one of the hoses. Looks like coolant. Or Limeade. If the car has an automatic Limeade dispenser it’ll be mighty handy, but we’ve yet to find it.

We put a call in to the RAC (who I suspect are going to get to know this car quite well between now and Christmas). A short time later our mechanic, Emma, turns up. She agrees with Gav’s diagnosis, but fortunately she also has the skills to heal Beauty. Actually, within 2 minutes, she’s got her purring like a kitten again, and has fixed the leaky coolant hose. Hmmm, I’m sure we could have done that if we really put our mind to it. As first tests go, then, maybe we should have done better… there won’t be an Emma in the middle of the desert (unless we kidnap her).

23 October 2004 – A Very Bandit Christmas

Countering years of popular belief, Historians have today announced that the date of birth of Jesus, commonly thought to be 25 December, is in fact wrong. They have revised previous schedules and announced that the correct date is in fact closer to 23 October, bringing the popular feast of Christmas forward by some two months.

Or, at least, that’s the way things are in the McGinty household today, we’re taking a rare opportunity that we’re together to have christmas dinner, as Gav will probably be somewhere south of Casablanca on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

24 October 2004 – Does Beauty know what you have planned for her?

A copy of Mr Smokey’s email to the Bandit tonight. Beauty won’t know what’s about to hit her.

“Howdy,
And now a guide to what we need to do to the car courtesy of my paranoia about breaking down in the middle of the Sahara: 
1. Beauty needs to be in sound mechanical order i.e. engine, cooling system, fuel system, suspension, gearbox, transfer box, clutch (or whatever the automatic equivalent is), brakes, steering etc. This is what the garage should do.

2. Drive beauty repeatedly and for long trips to see if she’s up for the journey. 

3. Add bash plate to protect sump and gearbox and cover the tie rods. 

4. Add new springs and shock absorbers.

5. Check battery.

6. New all terrain tires all round. Keep two of the old ones as spares.

7. Have 2-3 spares inner tubes for the tires

8. Miscellaneous equipment: High lift jack, sand ladders, towing strap, shovel or sand spade, spare engine oil, brake oil, warning triangles (these are compulsory in some countries but not sure if it applies to our ones), foot pump, tyre repair kit, block of wood to place under jack, pressure gauge to check tyre pressure when adjusting it for different terrain

Not much really!”

25 October 2004 –

A reply

And now for the Bandit’s response:

“That all seems to make sense Mr T, and good to have it in a list form. Some
comments per your numbering.

1. Hopefully we’ll get a garage to do all this stuff, Alan is going to chase his
guys today, and we’ll see where that takes us, otherwise I’ll start to push on with that.

2. I do need to get Beauty out and about more than she is, alhtough in part I’m reluctant to do so due to lack of MOT / Tax, and the consequences that getting caught could have on my licence… So 2 maybe has to come after 1, and we’ve got her an MOT. I was thinking about a long trip up to Glasgow one weekend, to give us an opportunity to do some scottish PR work.

3. This will either be done as part of 1, or alternatively we’ll sort out the
parts we need and then get it done in Morocco. The cost of a day’s labour from a mechanic down there is £5…

4. This would be nice, is perhaps more of a Could have than a Must have, but if we can get them as part of 1 then all the better.

5. The battery is strong, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a new one, or at least to
carry a spare.

6. Yep, that would be good too, we might need to get onto some kwik-fit style people and start begging 🙂

7. Inner tubes is a good idea, the other thing we’ll try and get is some instant foam sealant stuff, in case we get really stuck.

8. High lift jack (got) 
sand ladders (need to get – though would prefer some sand waffles – their about £70 a pair)
towing strap (need to get)
shovel or sand spade (need to get, will get a snowboarding one that I’ll buy
myself, and then probably an ex-army folding one)
spare engine oil, brake oil (also need spare air filter (at least one) spare oil
filter, and petrol treatment (the further we go the lower the octane rating
gets, and you get a lot of very watered down petrol, we need to keep her running sweet 🙂
warning triangles (we’ll need for France, and useful to have anyway), 
foot pump (got), 
tyre repair kit (need to get) 
block of wood to place under the jack (got), 
pressure gauge to check tyre pressure when adjusting it for different terrain
(is a part of the foot pump).
Also need a decent tool kit.

A lot of this stuff is relatively cheap and easy to buy, but I’m keen that we
get some corporate sponsorship to help us out with this.”

And how many weeks are there to go again…?

Balloch To Clydebank Half Marathon 2022 (Iain)

I have always enjoyed the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon. Which is a strange think to say about a race that is usually held in questionable weather, has a route that only a blind man might describe as scenic, and it had one of the worst finish lines in racing – the bins at the back of a shopping center.

You can read about my last attempt at the race here.

https://twinbikerun.com/2019/03/11/balloch-to-clydebank-half-marathon-2019-iain/

This year the race took place in September rather than March. And the route was altered to have a new much improved finish line, and a more scenic route. Although there was still a section down the lane at the back of someone house. It wouldn’t be the B2C race if it didn’t incorporate some questionable views!

But the biggest shock was that they even had new buses to take everyone to the start. These ones had brakes and heating. It was a real treat.

There wasn’t many racers at the start line. A combination of the change of date, the late race announcement and some bigger races occurring the week after meant there wasn’t as many folk as usual doing it. Which was nice as it meant the route wasn’t crowded.

I hadn’t run much since Celtman. I had an achilles injury going into that race and its taken a few months to fix. So my goal was just to make it round in under 2 hours. I managed 1hr 55min which I was happy with.

At the end of the race we got a medal from 2020. I wonder what caused that race to be cancelled? Some poor soul spent lock-down with boxes of medals!

We also got a t shirt from the Polaris 10k series. The organizers had some spare so they were giving them away. They also handed out a t-shirt for the race. Which meant I gained 2 t-shirts. Result!

I know some people don’t like getting t-shirts but I use mine all the time. I’m always happy to receive one.

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 4 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought it would be fun to publish them again.

25 August 2004 – What Mr Smokey don’t know can’t hurt him…right?

Q. So, Mr. Smokey, what do you know about cars?

A. They can help you pull chicks, oh yeah!

Q. Chicks?

A. You know, birds, babes… the lay-deez! Uh huh – They love the ride!

[Beat]

Q. Right. So what you’re saying is you know nothing about cars?

A. Well…

Q. About engines and bearings and filters and exhausts.

A. Of course I do, guys just know all that kind of stuff naturally.

Q. Have you ever changed a tire?

A. Come on, give me a hard question, I’ve changed hundreds of tires.

Q. Name one?

A. Why?

Q. I’m just curious that’s all. Name one time when you changed a tire.

Q. Well, there was this one time – this was years ago – when my dad asked for a hand with a really fiddly tire and I mean it was a beaut. This was the Mount Everest of tire changes. A real humdinger.

Q. What did you do?

A. It was easy. It was too easy! It was nothing. Click my fingers, just like that, it was done.

Q. Yes, but what did you do?

A. We changed the tire.

Q. What specific things did you do? The lugnuts, the hupcap, come on man, give me details!

A. Don’t want to.

Q. Why not?

A. I’ve got nothing to prove. I’m a guy. We fix things. It’s as simple as that. Change a plug, fix a light bulb, repair a car, it’s all good.

Q. Then why won’t you answer my questions?

A. Okay, okay. One question though, that’s all your getting.

Q. How did you change the tire?

A. Well first I got a spanner – 

Q. Surely you mean a lugwrench?

A. Yeah, of course. So, I got the lugwrench and I start to unscrew those big screw things – 

Q. Sorry to interrupt again, but what about the hubcaps?

A. The hubcaps?

Q. You did leave the hubcaps on, didn’t you? It’s not like you’d want to start to change the tire with the hubcaps still on.

A. [Laughs] Of course I left them on, any idiot knows that.

Q. HA! Got you! You can’t leave the hubcaps on, you fool, they cover the nuts and the wheel.

A. Well, I…

Q. You don’t know the first thing about cars at all do you?

A. …….

Beat

Q. So what really happened?

A. I passed my dad a spanner.

Q. A spanner. 

Beat.

Q. And was that it?

A. It was the wrong size. 

Q. You don’t know the first thing about cars do you?

A. No.

19 September 2004 – Children’s Hospice Week

Today marks the start of Children’s Hospice Week in the UK – a week-long celebration of the fantastic work that Children’s Hospices do, and a good time for fundraising.You can find out more about Children’s Hospice Week at the swanky new ACH website – http://www.childhospice.org.uk.There are all sorts of events going on – you can hold your own Butterfly Tea Party to help raise money. We did think of holding one ourselves, but the last time we did any home baking the emergency services had to be called…There will also be collections at Somerfield supermarkets, and indeed you can meet Gavin at Somerfield on Old Street, London, a couple of nights this week. Please talk to him, he doesn’t bite (as long as you donate some money).We’re also using Children’s Hospice Week to launch our own fundraising part of the site – and you can now donate quickly and easily online using credit or debit cards by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/smokeybandit. There are links to our fundraising page all over the site, and to find out more about the different things that your donations will get you visit the “Help us” page.

28 September 2004 – Gentlemen, start your engines

It is with great pleasure that we can officially declare the Pit Lane open. We thought about doing a proper opening ceremony, you know, putting up some red ribbon, hiring a former soap opera actor to come and cut it, and handing out fizzy wine in plastic cups. Unfortunately Dirty Den from Eastenders claimed to have a ‘prior engagement’.

Anyway, you can now access the Pit Lane from the menu bar, and you get to use our super-sophisticated password protected entry system, meaning that only those who have donated some money to our charity get access to the Pit Lane. Massive thanks to Alan Woolston for writing the code for the password, his IT prowess may make him slightly geeky, but he knows 47 ways to kill you with his little finger, so much respect is due.

What are you gonna find in the pit lane, then? Well, at the moment there’s some useful answers to questions which everyone seems to want to ask us. There’s also some comedy coincidences between us and the film Smokey and the Bandit. There are some choice photos going up, including pictures of Beauty as she’s appeared in a number of films – some of which may come as a surprise. There will also be a live daily journal which we’ll update as we embark on our adventure. Basically, then, its ram-jammed full of great stuff, is guaranteed to be much funnier than the main site, and is yours from the take-home price of just £5 (although don’t be ashamed to give more…).

So ladies and gentlemen, start your engines please, the Pit Lane is now open…

[2022 Note – I have no memory of doing this or inventing OnlyFans in 2004!]

Plymouth to Dakar in a Car Bought For £100 – Part 1 of 8 (Andrew)

In 2004 a friend and I tried to to drive from Plymouth to Dakar in a car bought for £100. In August 2022, Livejournal sent me an email to congratulate me on my 18 anniversary of starting a journal with them. When I checked the link I discovered they still had all my old online journal (not called a blog then!) entries. I thought it would be fun to publish them again.

11 July 2004 – First Date

Pandemonium has broken out at Team Bandit HQ at the news that we have a car! Bought yesterday on ebay for the princely sum of £205 (ok – so we slightly broke the rules, but nobody’s really counting) she currently resides in Merseyside, but we won’t hold that against her. Here are some of her best features:

1. She’s a beauty! Yes, we have to confess, we bought with our hearts and not our heads, but she truly is a beautiful beast. A pleasure on the eyes and on the senses, although we’re a bit concerned about the damage she might inflict on our wallets.

2. She has four wheels! And an engine! It’s true – she has almost all of the major components one would expect to find in a motor vehicle!

3. She was cheap! Ok, ok, hang on a minute here – this list is starting to seem a little ropey. I mean, what sort of car can you get for £205?

All will be revealed very shortly when we make the trip up north to collect her…

18 July 2004 – Team Bandit Own a Car!

For hours, days even, she has been nothing but a dream, a dream in chrome and wood. But now she is reality. She has come into our lives, drinking real petrol and smelling really fousty (trans. “fousty”: an acrid smell caused by dampness; orig. Scottish). But she’s lovely. More than we could have hoped for. Sorry, clearly I’m smitten, but it is half past one in the morning and I’ve had a few glasses of wine. Perhaps I should explain in rational terms…

After bidding for our car on e-bay towards the end of last week, this weekend Gav travelled from London to Liverpool to pick her up. It was always a bit of a risky venture – buying a car in an internet auction for the price of a good Scouse night out, on the basis of a couple of grainy distance photographs and a loose description.

But nonetheless it’s all paid off. She made the trip down without so much as a grumble, surviving what could only be described as a torrential downpour on the motorway along the way, although admittedly the aquaplaning was a touch on the frightening side. So what information can we share at this early stage? Well, she’s a good looking 22 year old – only 4 years younger than us – so we’ll all get along perfectly. She started off her life in Canada, moving to Georgia and then Florida, before coming to Wales, then Liverpool and now London (before Gibraltar, Casablanca, Sahara, Dakar…). She’s better equipped than most new cars today – with an automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, electric windows all round, and intermittent windscreen wipers with variable speed control. We’re particularly excited about the wipers. On the run down the road she got up to a whopping 75 miles per hour. But more than that, she got admiring glances all the way. No, honestly, people smiled, children waved, petrol station attendants actually made conversation – even in London. It’s a dream start. 

We have to thank some people for bringing her into our lives. Lynne and Katherine – Liverpool’s finest taking time out of their Saturday to help a couple of fools with a stupid plan. Sharon for risking ridicule amongst her neighbours for letting the car stay in their ‘lock-up’. Joe (and John) who sold her to us for such a bargain basement price – they don’t actually know that she’s going to end up crossing a desert, and I’m not sure how well they’d take the news. And lastly, Joe’s grandkids, for letting us have their favourite car (sorry kids). Thank you all so much.

Now, if only someone could tell me what the big red warning light on the dash that says “BRAKE” is meant to be telling me, I’d feel much better.

We’ll post pictures in the next couple of days, and launch the naming competition. Check back soon!

Me Luv U Long Time, Mr Smokey

Tomorrow, Arbroath Smokey will finally get to meet our ride, our lady, our chariot across the Sahara. 

He seen the pictures, he’s read about her on the internet, but as he lives in Glasgow and she stays in London he hasn’t had a chance to meet her.


Tomorrow, that will change.

Is our lady ready for Mr Smokey? Is Mr Smokey ready our lady?

Tomorrow will tell.

Like the time he ordered a mail order Thai bride (and, to think, he said that would be the last time he bought something on the internet just by looking at a picture…) he can’t wait to see our lady in the flesh, to take her out and show her a good time.

He only hopes, that this time, she doesn’t break down far from home…

To be continued….

I Have A Confession (Andrew)

Tri-suits are not flattering. Every lump and bump is highlighted when it’s covered by lycra. That’s why, when I go to a race, I always admire anyone who would wear one because it requires a level of body confidence I don’t possess. I’d much rather have a tri-burlap sack.

But, at races, among the ‘normal’ athletes you will also find the men and women who couldn’t crease a suit even if they breathed out after eating a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. The Kreme de la Kreme of triathletes. The ones you can’t help buy admire if you end up running, cycling or swimming behind them.

I don’t notice these physical gods at any other time. I don’t think “oh my, what broad shoulders he has” or “what a slim waist she has” at any other time. They only catch my eye at races and only with a tri-suit. That’s why I think I might be… ahem… tri-sexual.