The week in England has proven very useful to complete preparations for the trip, despite the fact that it has rained every day! Simply driving the Defender each day was a good exercise, as it helped to ensure that everything was working as it should before venturing into mainland Europe.
On Saturday I had a day of mechanical familiarisation training with my Defender. This exposed me to some of the maintenance routines that I will need to perform throughout the journey with demonstrations on how to perform them. It was also a useful opportunity to ensure that I have the necessary tools to complete the tasks that might be necessary. Whilst most of the tools were already in my kit, there were a few additional ones that I had to buy (e.g. viscous fan spanner, 52mm box spanner for adjusting the wheel hubs, grease gun, etc).
On Saturday, I also picked up more spare parts to complete my list. With additional tools and spare parts to fit into the Defender, space was becoming tight. After moving a few things around to assure easier access, I had to make the decision not to take my Wavebox 12-volt microwave with me. It’s a wonderful bit of kit that came in useful on last year’s trip but, with more kit being loaded into the vehicle for this longer adventure, the tools and spare parts took priority and the microwave was the casualty! It will now spend the next five months in David’s garage instead of accompanying me.
On Sunday, David and I were back at the Bath & West Showground at Shepton Mallet for vehicle recovery training. David gave me instruction on the theory of vehicle recovery, whilst we went through my recovery gear to ensure that I had what was required to effect a variety of recovery procedures. A couple of gaps in my equipment were graciously filled by David, who loaned me some kit for the journey. With the theory understood, we then took my Defender and recovery gear onto the off-road course and practiced an actual recovery. This included using my Wyeth-Scott hand-winch along with other bits of my kit. The hand-winch is slow progress but it gets the job done without the expense and weight of an electric winch fitted to the fort of the Defender.
After the recovery training, I was able to visit an aunt, uncle and cousin who I haven’t seen in over 20 years, so that was an added bonus to the trip.
I’ve now made the trip to Dover and will be on the ferry to France tomorrow. The adventure is about to get underway!