Plots and pans

We are now full time expedition planning since visiting the last school in our UK network on Thursday.
I spend my days touring camping shops, plaguing their hapless employees with questions about the precise battery life in various head torches, the exact weight of a frying pan and the dangers of chaffing when wearing trousers which zip off to make shorts.
Using my extensive albeit 20-year-old experience of setting up dolls’ houses I have become fixated on how small things are and how neatly they can pack into tiny spaces.
And if we ever get four consecutive minutes of sunshine in Somerset I dash outside to trial my solar panels (thank you very much Powertraveller).
However, collecting expedition kit is much more fun than dealing with the devilish detail in our carnet de passage – a kind of passport for the car – or trying to work out the best order in which to obtain West African visas. These difficult decisions I leave to Tim.
– LM

Tooling Up

I’m in Crouch End surrounded by architectural models and CDs and watching Grace the goldfish who seems to have a problem with her swim bladder.

It couldn’t be further removed from waking up in a tent on top of a Land Rover in Mauritania.

Last night over supper in a pub we created a list of ‘potential problems’ and ‘actual problems’ with our project. The actual-have-already-definitely-happened problems list was reassuringly short but potentially a hell of a lot could go wrong.

So I am staving off an anxiety attack with another visit to the Land Rover garage in Herne Hill. Continue reading

Separating the men from the boys (and girl)

I’m pretty good at driving.  I’m a man.  What more can I say?  Not much the Land Rover Experience centre in Herefordshire could teach me then.

We had come to learn to drive the Defender, that box-like brute that you associate with the words ‘Land Rover’, and the model we have been leant to initiate Atlantic Rising.

Herefordshire is Land Rover country and Eastnor is its stable, paddock and exercise ground.  Here, immaculately groomed cars, in showroom silver (it disguises the scratches best), line the Land Rover Experience yard like Grand National thoroughbreds. Continue reading

Wilderness Medical Training

We are sitting in some very comfortable theatre seats at the RGS.  On the screen in front of us is a man who packed badly for a mountain climb.  His thumb is black and shrivelled, his forefinger red and puffy, and the other digits are all missing.  ‘Now this isn’t as bad as it looks, but can anyone tell me what the problem is?’ says the smirking lecturer.  We check the route to the toilets is clear and stifle a retch.  Day 1 of Wilderness Medical Training.

The RGS have paid for a two day medical taster course, preparing us for everything from Lynn choking on her breakfast and Tim developing a bee allergy, to us all being involved in a serious car accident.  It is a sobering, enlightening and terrifying experience. Continue reading

Using a Land Rover on a project about climate change?

It’s a fair point.  We are travelling around the Atlantic, talking to people about the problems of sea level change,  in a great big car – a touch hypocritical?  It’s a question frequently levelled against environmental projects whose activities require travel and other carbon emissions – Al Gore, fire control in Australia, even lawnmowing.  A lot of people answer it by examining whether there is a ‘net carbon gain’ to the project i.e. will the carbon costs of the project be offset by longer term reductions in carbon emissions as a consequence of the project.  With an activity like lawnmowing that is fairly easy to measure, but with something like an education project it’s not so quantifiable.  Yes, we hope that people’s behaviour will change as a result of being involved in our project or hearing about it, but there are also a wider set of questions we asked ourselves: Continue reading