Thursday 25 May 2017

Wyverns Wandering Wagons

Gray Elgar 3rd 

Those who know me know that I am a keen Landrover owner and have had several over the years. These all get used as they were intended on and off road, as adventure vehicles and practical tools.

Ok .. its no the most girly of cars, its big, four wheel drive, cumbersome and often dirty, but its very practical as its got lots of room to carry shoes, shopping and take friends out to parties !!

So why Landrovers…
I learnt to drive when I was in the RAF and then spent some time on bases where I had the opportunity to drive Landrover ambulances, not very fast, but very practical for the task that they were designed to do.

Sitting in the SunSet in Ireland

My partner and I had taken some time out and cycled round the world, where we saw various NGO landrovers doing jobs that only landrovers could do, and our respect for the vehicle grew. On returning to the UK we bought a small car that was economical and efficient, but soon found we needed more space …so my partner knew that I wanted one and while I was working overseas in Mongolia, bought a brand new one as our main car!
It was a dark green 110 defender with 12 seats and was wonderful. It had lots of room to carry things and go to inaccessible places, and we loved it !


Elgar’s Rainbow
As we enjoyed traveling we wanted to use the landrover (who I named Elgar, as being British and majestic) as a camper. We constructed a rudimentary bed board in the back that was big enough to make a double bed and store supplies and equipment underneath, loaded our Trangier cookers and food then set of on touring the UK.

Elgars Rainbow - Norway

After about four years we traded green Elgar for a newer model with an upgraded engine, that was a lovely red colour.
Elgar the 2nd was a faster and more drivable landrover  which we continued to use it for camping, but wanted to have some more home comforts, so we arranged for a UK company called Dormobile to fit some equipment into the vehicle.
Dormobile are one of the original campervan specialist in the UK with a long association with landrovers. We had a cooker/sink unit fitted with a 30ltr water tank, and gas bottle. The seats were all changed for four camping seats that made two single beds, a wardrobe and internal lighting and many other additions.

The Dormobile Seats - as beds

This made the landrover very useable and we made trips all over the UK, and I was able to make the most of it when traveling back and forward to work.
Red Elgar 2nd was a great vehicle, but had several mechanical issues that needed correcting under warrantee, and after 10 years we found that all the doorframes had corroded to dust and would all need replacing.
Elgar 3rd was found when we were looking for a car that my partner had seen and expressed an interest in. This had all the right things that we wanted in a landrover camper base. Tinted windows, anti-lock breaks, traction control, air conditioning and a better motor/gearbox unit.
We moved all the dormobile equipment from Red Elgar 2nd to Gray Elgar 3rd and started to make plans for more trips.

Ireland Wild Camping

Travels with Elgar 3rd
Elgar 3rd was the most traveled of all our landrovers and the most reliable and comfortable with a good top speed and lots of useful extras fitted that made it more comfortable in cold weather.
My partner and I had been together for 25 years and we wanted to do a special trip to celebrate, so where is the most romantic place in the world that we could go to … Venice!

The Awning - and Wine 

So our first long trip overseas was a 1500 mile adventure across Europe, through Switzerland and into Venice.
The landrover performed faultlessly, the camping side was great and we found that the beds and equipment worked very well for our style of camping.

After the initial trip we continued to travel regularly and visited exciting places like Sweden Norway, France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Austria and many more in transit across Europe.

Austria Camping
One trip we did was to the north of Norway, where we crossed the Arctic Circle and had 24hr sunlight. The weather was very mild for the time of year and we had only brought winter warm clothes so were rather warm most of the time. However we followed the coast with some of the most stunning scenery imaginable, (Slartibartfast was  credited with designing the coast and won awards for his efforts according to Douglas Addams ) We has some wonderful wild camping areas and met some lovely people en-route.

The Arctic Circle

Adventure Recitals
I’ll not recite all the adventures we had, as I don’t think that the blogg site would take it, but I’ll give a couple of examples of what things we got up to..

On Top of the World in Ireland

Driving up past the Arctic Circle we found a fast flowing river swollen with snow melt that had a rope bridge across it. Being drawn to water, my partner wanted to take some photographs so we set about crossing the river with all the cameras tripod, back pack on the swinging rickety bridge holding on like Indiana Jones !
The shots were spectacular and worth the trip, but we were very glad to get back on solid earth after crossing the torrent for a second time.

Norwegian Bridge

Driving up from Bergan we went through one or two tunnels, sorry I mean 10 or 20 tunnels !! There were a lot of them ! We would be following a lake then pop into a tunnel and emerge in a snow field like popping out of a wardrobe in Narnia !
On one of these tunnels we popped out and found a lovely view point and pulled over to make a cup of tea, have a late breakfast and take some photos. A few minuets later a touring cyclist emerged and was heading our way. As he got closer we offered him a hot drink and some food, (Thus paying back some of the kindness we received when we were cycle touring)
Sitting chatting with the kiwi cyclist 

Chatting to him we found out he was a New Zealander and had been personally invited to Norway by the Prime Minister. He was a carpenter and was renowned for his work in the Antarctic for restoring the huts used by the various expeditions. The Norwegians had asked him to renovate Roald Amundsen's hut built in 1911. He had been paid by the government for the work and was touring the county by bicycle before heading back home to start the work.
We bumped into him twice more on the trip and we swapped stories of our various adventures.

A cool breakfast stop in Norway

On the drive back, we found we were passing the Olympic Nordic ski training center. This was high in the mountains and had a lot of snow shaped into demanding runs that the athletes had to negotiate as part of the training program. As we watched it soon became clear that  most of them were only wearing swim suits !! we were stood there in our thermal lined trousers and padded jackets watching them go round and round with next to nothing on!

Slartibartfast at his very best 

A New Chapter 
So now we have just sold our beloved Gray Elgar 3rd after 10 years of service and have replaced him with the newer ‘Poppy’, a red and black 110 with 7 seats and all the bells and whistles, which we are going to make into another camper with a few more refinements for longer trips that we are hoping to do in the future. 

Poppy - with our K2, in  Scotland 

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