So how do we now start to prepare for a trip that started almost two years ago??
It’s odd really, I remember how excited/nervous/frantically busy we were before
we left the UK in 2008, especially once we’d both left work and were itching to get
on the road, but things have really changed since then. We’re still itching to get
back on the road, but our perceptions of what needs to be done before we leave this
time have altered massively. I guess our perceptions on all kinds of things have
changed a lot on this trip, and I’m sure will continue to do so while we’re away,
but I’m getting off topic a bit there.
When it comes to getting ready, two years ago we were so sure that everything had
to be beaten into submission and nailed down to perfection before we could call it
‘ready’. Now its much more a case of looking at a thing or task or whatever, and
giving it a good hard stare before we even decide to think about saying it might
be necessary to the trip. Spare rooms at various family members houses are testament
to just how much stuff we’ve realised since November 2008 that we simply don’t need
to have with us - I think we’ve stripped out about half of what we originally left
the UK with, and the purge is still ongoing.
Admittedly there was lots more basic stuff that had to be done before we left originally,
like getting the house ready for renting out, leaving work etc - there’s lots more
on all the original preparation on the original Moglet site.
On the flip side, there’s quite a few things that have been added to Moglets contents
since we left, often down to us simply being unaware of a need when we originally
departed. Sometimes we learned the hard way that we really needed more shorts/less
shoes, and other times its just been the result of wandering around other peoples
travel sites and blogs, or after chatting with people on various forums.
For example, a major undertaking for me in the last few weeks has been the creation
of new and improved mossie nets. The camper body windows all have integrated blinds
and nets but as we found out in Scotland, they’re more of a fly screen than a mossie
net, and definitely not midge proof. Added to that is the fact they’re at least
7 years old now and not as tight a fit around the edges as they used to be, plus
we’ve had little buggers crawling through the really rather sizeable vent holes around
the bottom, and I started to feel like an upgrade was in order. Whilst for some
this might have been a task to keep them amused for a couple of days, for someone
with my skills at a sewing machine, its taken more like a fortnight. But we now
have additional screens for all the windows as well as the main door into the camper,
and screens for the cab, all made out of midge proof material. They’ve been soaked
in a permethrin solution and are currently drying in the sunshine, so hopefully that
will make it just that little bit harder for things that go chomp in the night to
feast on us while we’re sleeping.
And while I was having so much fun with mossie netting, Jason suggested than an outdoor
tent that we could sit under in the evenings when the mossies are really flying might
be useful. We’d already had an awning made for Moglet by the fantastic people at
Pennine Outdoors in Yorkshire (strangely, Fiamma don’t really make much that’s in
our size!), so I’ve cobbled together a kind of mossie net gazebo that has fixing
points to hang it from under the awning. Probably not the most fun I’ve had recently,
sewing double stitched hems on about 30 sq metres of netting, and its not really
as square and straight as it could be, but it should do the job.
Then of course there’s been the seemingly endless website changes (if I’d have known
what was involved when I started, I’m not sure I’d have taken the plunge in the first
place!), the huge and structural changes we decided to make to Moglet herself (click
here to jump back to the old site and read more about the chassis swap), the continual
paring down of clothes we’ve been hauling around for two years... The list goes on!
When we arrived at mum and dads here in France not too long ago, we came armed with
a List of Things To Do before we left Europe. There’s always a List, isn’t there?
Oddly enough though, one of the things on our list was Eat Food and Drink Beer.
Not too onerous a task you’d have thought, and surely something that would be ongoing
anyway? The reason for putting it on the list though was because of the sheer volume
of food and drink we had stashed away in Moglet. We’d got into a situation where
the day to day food stuffs got rotated on a regular basis as you’d expect, but everything
else just got left there because ‘it’ll be nice to have that half way down Africa’.
Then of course we’d go shopping and forget what we already had, and pick up a couple
more tins of this or that... before we knew it, I unloaded a massive 12 carrier bags
full of food and drink when we got here! So since then we’ve been on a mission to
not do any shopping and eat our way through our long-stashed supplies. This has
resulted in an occasionally very odd dinner selection, but on the whole has been
quite successful. And to be honest I really quite like having a good reason to have
to eat my way through HobNobs and packets of Angel Delight!
We’ve also come to the realisation (albeit a little late!) that the maps we had weren’t
up to the job, so a bundle more were ordered from Amazon, and Tracks 4 Africa bought
and downloaded for the GPS. From what I can see, the latter is going to be more
use in the southern half of the continent than the north, but we’ll see how we get
I suppose in a nutshell, the preparation this time has been less about what we need
to take and more about what we don’t need to take. We’ve focused lots more on getting
Moglet ready for the trip, and have naturally needed to re-do some of the original
things (vaccinations that needed boosters, medication that would be out of date half
way through the journey), but essentially its been a much more laid back affair.
And that’s saying something, considering our usual approach to life in general!
I think because we’ve had a much longer lead time for this trip, it’s really only
relatively recently, for me at least, that Africa has become ‘real’. For so long,
its been some kind of vague notion, something that's going to happen at some point
in the future, a faraway land that other people have been to and I’ll probably get
to eventually. But suddenly its all getting very real and its all really rather