Some days you are a pigeon ...

Trip Start Mar 12, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of France  , Rhône-Alpes,
Sunday, March 13, 2011

And some a statue. Yesterday was a pigeon, today was a statue.

Started off well, we had a good breakfast. Went out to start the car before checking out of the hotel, and it wouldnt start. It had rained overnight, the air was damp, so it wasnt too surprising, Stanley (for that is what he is called, as he has to take us through many stans) doesn't like damp weather.
So we started sorting all the things that it could be. Sprayed everything with damp start, checked the plugs, no spark. Checked the distributor, there was a spart in the points. checked everything we could think of. Even sorted the carburettor, as the spart may be there, but not visible. Replaced the plug, the distributor cap, the rotor arm, the coil. (Luckily Martin had had the foresoight toensure we had spares, and some of them were fiytted alongside the originals. Everything was fine. Eventually we gave up, and called the recovery guy. Took a few international calls to get the right service, and of course, being Sunday, and UK an hour behind France, they weren't on duty when we first called.
Eventually, the guy arrtived and very quickly located the problem, the points had shifted in the distributor. So as they do, he fixed in minutes what we had poured over for hours.

So we set off. Stopped at lunch to fill up with petrol and have a bite, and we took the opportunity to look at the oil situation, Stanley had been using a bit of oil, well, too much. We identified where we thought it might be coming from, and sorted that out. Of course, as we were working, there were a constant stream of other motorists, both French and English, coming over to admire the car, offer advice and tell us how much they wished they were coming with us.

Set off again, went for about half an hour when the car totally conked out. Dead. Nothing. Martin pulled over to the side, we put out the warning triangles, donned the yellow vests and started sorting things. Identified that there was no spark at all, and were just discussiong that we shoould put the original coil back in place, when up drove the  cavalry. At least 2 cars with motorbikes - the gendarmes had arri9ved. They insisted that we werent allowed to stop on the motorway. We couldnt do anything else. Well, how long have you been here/ And so it went with them really only blocking us from fixing the problem. Eventually they uinsisted on calling out the breakdown service to tow us off the motorway, but at our cost. As we had no alternative, we agreed, but then continued replacing the coil. And so the engine fired, and ran beautifully! They were impressed. However, they then insisted we wait until they could cancel the breakdown service, so it took a bit longer. How did they manage to find us so quickly, we cant have been there more than 10 minutes at the most. You try getting the police to respond to a call in that time!!!!

Drove on and into rain. To find that the windscreen wipers didnt work. Luckily, the way to turn them on is to pull out a knob and turn it, which engages the wipers, so we could operate them manually, if not electrically. So we went down the road, both of us operating one wiper. Had great fun doing it at the same time, until Martin's wiper fell off. Luckily it stayed on the bomnnet so we managed to recover it and put it back at the next Aire. Then about 30 minutes later it fell off again!

However, now we are checked into a hotel, had dinner and ready for another day. Hopefully not as exciting though.

260 miles av speed 42.2mph max speed 58mph

Martin- If it was going to be easy everybody would be doiing it.We knew that there would be difficulties and what we have to do is deal with them and keep moving on.We know we have to average 250 miles a day and although we lost 4-5 hours today I was determined to maintain the average.So 250 miles we did -whether we are going in thre right direction remains to be seen.French people are always a delight and without exception all we have encountered have been pleasant and helpful.What has been a disappointment-even more so than the last trip through here has been the Americanisation of the shopping precincts and the fast-foodiness of the restaurants.Huge Italian and Chinese buffet-style lifeless places.Perhaps we are experiencing life per the Autoroute.
Also very disorientating watching the effects of the tsunami on Japan as reported by silent French TV in garages and restaurants.Has one reactor blown?Is another in danger?Are there enormous consequences internationally,even allowing for the huge damage and dreadfull loss of life?Perhaps one of ouir avid  readers might send an update.
Are we in the safest part of the world?
And remember - see yesterday's instalment:

....But the bravest of all,at least so I am told-
Was Abdullah Bul Bul Ameer

More tomorrow - need to dream of oil leaks now
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Emily on

What an eventful day! Sounds quite frustrating with all the stops and starts- I hope it wasn't too stressful?! You must be exhausted. I hope you have an easier day tomorrow.

Emily again on

Well done for completing 250miles today, against all odds. Get some rest, sleep well.

david on

Martin...just a few little teething issues. If its not trialing then its driving around the globe and how life would be boring if you had gone in something reliable like a nissan sunny.
As we have all found, over the years, there nothing quite like trying to understand ignition and timing problems especially when the weather has anything to do with it!!. As it happend, me and tim were trying to sort out a very similar problem (sunday afternoon - maybe about the same time as you and roger) for an old car you know well, getting it ready for trial I was hoping to do which actually turned out to be last weekend!! Oh year.
As we have all learnt with these old cars, Im sure you will experience all manner of relationship problems .........hopefully not in the vein of john cleese and a certain branch...get to know it inside out over the coming months and then jast as you are starting to understand one another, your trip will have come to an end. Anyway....looking forward to hearing from you guys soon & keep the camera clicking if you can.

Jemma (Another daughter of Martin) on

Hey Guys,
News update from Oz. Yes you are definitely on the right side of the world. There has been a 2nd blast at the nuclear plant and a 20km radius has been evacuated. They are saying the emissions are 7 times a humans normal annual exposure. 2nd quake has been predicted again in the 9's.Truely tragic.
Mum very proud of your blogging skills, you are putting us to shame.
Guys have a fantastic trip through the rest of France, baguette, cheese and a sample of the Ribena.
"It is not what we do in life, but the journey we take to get there that makes us the people we are."
Not quite as deep as you Dad but will try and build up to a classic.
Enjoy and photos please.

alan ede on

Hi Martin/roger
Sounds like you are both having fun,with more to come,the car is looking good,keep us posted,its also fun to hear you comments,all best for the rest of the trip.

Derek Mc Mahon on

No shortage og problems. Hope Stanley doesn't give you too much more trouble. Good luck for the next stage

Sara on

sounds like a fun day, hopefully most will be better.
Japan- 2 reactor towers blown but only by build up of hydrogen due to heat as cooling systems damaged by the tsunami, so not a nuclear explosion so not too dodgy. problem will be if the rods inside start to react but they are supposedly still coated so no immenent disaster at the mo. not great as some radiation is leaking, but no where near chernobyl scale today at least.
further science bulletins are available on request!!!
isaac and his parents are missing you, bethan is more concerned about getting to the top of the steps to the slide! beautiful day today, spent hours in the garden, very restorative.
with much love,
mother of grandchildren xx


Morning boys,misty and damp this norning,but its ok for you Greece and Turkey are in double figures now.Marys interview tomorrow perhaps find a roadside shrine and have a word with the lady herseif.Hope you have a good day and the word to learn today is Il tergicristallo-windscreen wiper! Ciao

polly on

I feel very left behind and lacking technical ability. Thanks to Em I have been sent instructions how to add a comment after spending what felt like a life time clicking links. Well done dad and Roger. Your blogs are making interesting reading.

alison on

Japan update [english version, sorry sara non capisco!] Three reactors now exploded and fourth on fire. 18 mile radius been evacuated and hundreds of thousands are dead and missing. Entire towns competely wiped out and now threat of radiation, more treamours and waves. Nothing like it since WW2.Unbelievable.

Mr Sparks on

OK Gaunt, now I see where the J&S pension money went. Some of us still have to work for a living you know!
Only Just caught up with your mad scheme. Wake me when you get to China.

Good Luck


Emily on

Come back Dad, Mum is taking over the internet!
Looking forward to the next update, I'm getting withdrawal symptoms!

Barbara Goss (friend of Roger from Indaba) on

Lots of excitement already! Hope any further excitements are as easily dealt with. Will follow with interest.

Tim on

Reading your fantastic blog on the side of road myself, having lunch outside Newmarket. The wonders of technology. Ahh, ignition problems are always fun, but windscreen wipers are pretty crucial.!! How do you drive and operate a windscreen wiper manually god only knows.
Anyway, look forward to your next entry,
Will update you on the rugby score at the weekend. Take plenty of photos, if you can drive and operate windscreen wipers, a camera will be a doodle.

Tim on

... and a doddle..

Lorraine and Roy on

Hi there - hope things are going okay and that we haven't heard just because you don't have coms at the moment.
Hope going well!!!

Peter (Ca) on

Glad that you are under way. I cant help noticing that on a previous trip you stayed overnight at Williams in CA - I lived in Colusa which is only 12 miles away.
Now I live and have lived in Morro Bay for nearly 20 years which means when you stopped by Solvang you would have gone thru San Luis Obispo which is only 12 miles from my place. In the event of you getting into our area again give some advance warning as visiting Rhodesians can enjoy free bed & board.

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