Sunday, 28 April 2013

Very Busy Times!

Since the last post we have definitely been keeping ourselves busy, hence why we've not posted for a while. This will be a bit of a long one! At the time of finishing work, it felt as though we had all the time in the world to get everything moved and sorted, and naively we imagined the moving out process would be really chilled and easy. Obviously the reality differed somewhat, and it went a little something like this...

On Friday the 19th we rode the bike (December) down to Sussex. After managing to nurse and protect it through three years in Manchester, we spent the week prior to the journey being really paranoid that it would get stolen, so when Oli opened the garage on the final day we both gave an impromptu loud cheer, which must have surprised the neighbours! Saturday was my birthday, and we were lucky enough to have a beautiful and warm sunny day. We spent this walking around the Sussex countryside with the dogs, and then went in to Lewes to meet Emma and Sam for a drink and a curry at Chaula's in the evening. It was a brilliant day and made us both remember how much we love that part of the world.

Tuesday, we travelled back up to Manchester to pack up the flat and move out. After one final Domino's with the lovely Harriet, Jas, Laini, Amice and Amy we got properly stuck into sorting everything on Wednesday. We have moved so many times in the last few years, and every time the lesson is the same... it will take far longer than you think! Although we had kept the flat clean, the final moving out sorting still took forever. We may have loved it, but we would be the first to admit that it wasn't the fanciest of places. Pretty much everything in there looks grubby through age, so deep cleaning was a bit of a thankless task.

Our original plan was to have everything done on Wednesday and to leave on Thursday, but not only did getting everything sorted take forever, Oli's external PhD examiner decided to mention that he had not received the document sent to him six weeks ago. Oli then had to spend Thursday running around printing and go into uni on Friday to sort it out.

The main problem however, was that we had to get all our stuff out, and had only one carload to do it! This would have been fine with an estate car, but poor Maui was not the ideal vehicle for the job!Through determination, last minute freecycling, force and ignorance we managed to get all our things in the car. Alas, I would not fit in with it so was relegated to the train. Oli had to do the drive to Doncaster on his own, all the time hoping that the car wasn't going to bottom out!

Relaxing that evening at Oli's Grandma's house felt amazing after the hassle of moving. Luckily, we were able to dump a couple of boxes at hers before setting off, which meant I could be promoted back to the car for the next stage of the journey.

We arrived in Cambridge yesterday afternoon, and spent the evening with our friends Andrew and Joe. They were excellent hosts and we were treated to delicious homemade pizza and plenty of G&T! After food, we decided to head into town for a drink and a wander around. Oli and I hadn't been to Cambridge many times before, and had never seen the centre at night. It really is a beautiful city, and the architecture looked absolutely stunning all lit up. We had a great evening and it really felt like the start of the holiday!

Luckily today we had all escaped hangovers and pedaled in to town for a spot of punting. This was pretty much disaster free, apart from Oli getting the pole stuck in the river bed, leaving us floating helplessly around. Thankfully, some other amateurs managed to grab it for us and bring it back so disaster was averted!

We're now back in Plumpton, where I am sure the holiday feeling will quickly evaporate in a haze of insurance documents and visa forms!

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Possible Change of Route...

It's been another busy week, and we are marching slowly on with things. We now have very little stuff left in the flat, and are loving it! It really is amazing how much rubbish you can accumulate in a short space of time, and how little you actually need. I suppose this is a good start though, as we are going to have to travel as light as possible once actually on the road.

The time left in Manchester is absolutely flying by, and we are trying to see as many people as possible before we disappear. Friday saw us enjoying a fabulous meal and a lot of wine at Steve and Denise's flat, and Saturday we were again wonderfully spoiled at Helen and Gareth's.

Route wise, sadly we may have to adapt our plans, as we have not yet been able to get our Pakistani visas. Apparently there is a new rule, and the visa sponsor company (tour operator, i.e. anyone with a Pakistani tourism license) have to apply for you to be cleared by the Interior Ministry. As the visa agent couldn't tell us how long this would take (or even if we were likely to be successful), we have had to withdraw our application. Technically you are supposed to only be able to get the visa from your home country, but we will try to get them again in Turkey or Iran, so fingers crossed!

Presuming we can't get the visas, the new route would be the same up until Iran, where we would get a ferry to Dubai. From there, we should be able to crate the bike and fly to Nepal. It will mean missing Pakistan and India which is a shame, but looking at the roads and traffic in India it might be a blessing in disguise! We will aim to have our Indian visas before setting off anyway though, as that gives us the option of heading in from Nepal if we please.

Aside from that, we have both been spending a lot of time in the garage. I have been assisting Oli with the more fiddly jobs, and have surprised myself by not being as incompetent as I expected. It's actually really interesting and I am enjoying picking up some (admittedly very basic) mechanical skills! Hopefully by the time we finish the trip I will have learned a lot more. When I mentioned this to Oli, the response was “I bloody hope so!”... what a sweetie.

For the next post, I will badger Oli again to write a more detailed bit on bike modifications / checks etc for those who are interested in such things!


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Practical Post...Medical Stuff and Whatnot

As the preparations carry on in full (well, medium) swing, I thought it might be a good idea to give an update on the practical side of things, even if only as a record / for reference.

Although we usually take the “it’ll be fine...” approach to illness and injury, we both agree that a decent first aid and medical kit is a must for a trip like this. Minor injuries can easily lead to problems if left untreated, and the stakes are a little higher if you are days away from decent medical care. With this in mind, off we pottered off to Boots yesterday to stock up.  It was a fairly amusing undertaking; as neither of us usually take anything stronger than paracetamol (even then rarely), we were fairly lost amongst the aisles and discovered there really are products for pretty much everything (pre-conceiving vitamin pills for him and her... seriously?).

Anyway, the final list for the first aid kit is as below. Hopefully we have struck a balance between having all the basics and not carrying around a full on hospital.


Adhesive wound dressings (pack of 5)

Cotton crepe bandage

Roll of gauze

Small stretch bandage

Stretch fabric strapping

Zinc oxide tape

Vinyl gloves

First aid scissors


Anti viral / bacterial hand foam

Antiseptic cream


Paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets

Cold and flu relief sachets

Diarrhoea relief tablets (for emergencies only!)

Laxative (as above)

Rehydration sachets (dioralyte type stuff)


Canesten cream (would just like to point out have never suffered from Thrush... but there is a first time for many things, and just imagine if it happened on the road... yeeesh)

Cystitis relief sachets

Antibiotics in case of UTI

Athlete’s foot spray

Optrex Eye wash

Multivitamin with iron (just in case we don’t eat that well for a few days at a time)

Sterile syringes

Malaria pills (Doxycycline) & bug spray containing 50% DEET

Hopefully we will not have to use most of this, but it should cover most common minor illnesses associated with travel as well as some emergencies.  It looks like a lot when all written down, but once unboxed it really doesn’t take up a lot of room. We need to purchase a new bottle of TCP though, as Oli managed to drop the bag on the way home and smash it. Everything we have bought now smells very strongly of the stuff but hey ho, at least it’s sterile! 

As well as the above, we have both made sure we are up to date with our vaccinations. This was pretty expensive (about £650 between us), but we felt it was well worth it. The jabs we have had are as below, and varied due to what we have both had before for previous trips, and some require several boosters:

Tick Bourne Encephalitis (Oli and Charli, paid for)

Japanese B Encephalitis (Oli and Charli, paid for)

Typhoid and Hep A (Oli, free on NHS)

Typhoid pills (Charli, NHS Prescription of 3 tablets)

Tetanus booster (Oli and Charli, free on NHS)

Hepatitis B booster (Oli, paid for)

Hopefully this list will be useful to anyone who ever plans to do something similar, or at the very least will help to reassure my Mother!

Next post will hopefully be a motorbike one from Oli.
Charli x

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Visas, Leaving Drinks and Iran Chats

We now have just under two weeks to go until we leave Manchester. The time we have left is going so fast that it seems hard to believe.

Yesterday, Oli and I met his colleague Atefeh and her husband Amir for a coffee. Both are from Iran and have given us lots of advice on the best places to go and things to see. I am now really hoping that I can get the visas (should be no problems for Oli as he has a Turkish passport) as it sounds amazing and should be a real highlight of the trip! When I have mentioned Iran to people they have been surprised that we would plan to go, but from what we have heard from other travellers / bloggers the people there are very friendly and welcoming, and the troubles are mainly between govenments. Really, the Indian roads will probably be far, far more dangerous!

Today, we have my sister Georgie, Craig, Emma and Sam staying with us in our little flat. It is pretty cosy but great to have everyone around. Currently they are all asleep in the lounge / dormitory and Oli and I are working out when is acceptable to go in and get breakfast. Geo has already been complaining about the standard of the “hotel” (they had to make their own beds, but on the plus side got wine and cheese on arrival). We're all out for farewell drinks later tonight with the Manchester gang. It will be great to see everyone but also sad, as we are really going to miss all the lovely people we have met whilst living here.

Later today Oli and I are going to pop to the Pakistani visa centre to collect our passports. There was some trouble in the application process so we don't actually know if we have have got the visas yet... fingers crossed and updates to follow!