Finally! Update… Balkans to the Highlands

Gosh. Many apologies for silence til now! Two months without a post….. fairly hectic.

So initially after flying home to the UK I drove to Albania. Like you do. When I left Cairo eighteen months ago a friend, Darrell, was also leaving and kindly shipped some of my household bits and bobs to his new job in Albania (in his hired shipping container) to enable me to get them out of Egypt (long story). I therefore drove down through the Balkans to collect them in the Discovery, and at the same time give it a first long trip as a test.

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Hugely taken with the Balkans as a whole – I hadn’t been down that way since it was Yugoslavia and found the people and places friendly and well deserving of a return visit. I drove through Europe east towards Austria and then south through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia etc. Croatia, amazingly, still has many villages where only 1 of every 3 houses is inhabited – the rest being burned-out or destroyed by shell- and cannon fire from the war back in the 90s. A guy stopped me in Bosnia and wanted to enthuse about Land Rovers. We got chatting and I remarked that there didn’t seem to be many in the Balkans. He looked sad. “Here we love Land Rovers. But Land Rovers are very good in battles…. and we have too many battles……” He shrugged. I guess that’s why there aren’t many Land Rovers left in the Balkans :/

The gem of the trip down was Montenegro, a small country of rolling forested mountains, lakes and really friendly, laid-back inhabitants

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Into Albania and then the ferry back through Italy. Certainly going back to that part of the world.

Most of the summer was spent in the UK with aging parents doing household jobs on the family smallholding but I did get up to Scotland, and the Isle of Skye, where I found a green lane whose location I’d forgotten. A couple of days along the remote Hebridean coast is always good for the soul

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It gave me chance to try out various bits of kit in the Discovery, like this 180w solar panel from #Fourby

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The silver cover on the MyWay tent is a genius idea from Dara at #TuffTrek – simply a PU nylon cover that stretches over any roof tent for rain and quick camps – when you strike camp the cover’s the only thing that’s wet rather than the whole tent. Also adding insulation for winter weather too – and stashes away to nothing. Brilliant.

I also got hold of a rear load carrier for the Discovery that mounts on the tow hitch (Discovery 1 and 2 are always a bit tight for load space – solved with the later models), and acts as a swing away table in camp. This works very well with the new Monsoon bag from #FrontRunner, very tough – dust- and waterproof and enormous in capacity.

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Then it was back home to York and calling in at old friend Ben Stowe’s garage #BlackPaw4x4. Ben is restoring and rebuilding a hugely important and very old expedition Land Rover that I’m not allowed to name as it will all be made public next month, but here’s Tusker with her great-granddad……

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And the final thing – what to do with my Defender 110. Elsa, old faithful, is now coming up to half a million miles. I’ve had her for almost 20 years and she’s ever-reliable and supremely capable. However after many winter trips in the snow, ice and mud of Scotland her chassis and bulkhead are going to need replacing soon.

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(border of Algeria and Morocco, 2010)

However. I’ve always liked Land Rover’s extra-long wheelbase, heavy duty model, the Defender 130. So the plan is to stretch Elsa to a 130.

The question is – what’s the best finished version? A station wagon…. (excuse the bad photoshop)…….

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……. or a crewcab camper with lift-up rear roof?

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Either way she will be a bit of a monster when she’s done.

So… watch this space 🙂 Anyway over the next few months I will be back in Egypt, Oman and Nepal as well as exploring here in the UAE with Bumblebee the Camel Trophy Discovery. Off we go again……

 

 

 

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