|Getting used to the new owners, 2003|
At the age of eight, our car Nellie* was taken from her Fulham mews, jacked up an inch for extra clearance, weighted down with bull bar, snorkel and big tyres, and sent to Africa. It must have been a shock.
A few years later we bought her - and sent her around Africa again.
Her 24th birthday is next week, there are 206,000 miles on the clock, she's just travelled to Armenia, which is nearer to Delhi than it is to Paris... so it's no surprise she's suddenly gone down with a sort of automobile bronchitis: two weeks ago in Turkey as we turned a bend, she shrieked and her front axle started to emit a sorrowful howling noise, as it continues to do.
|Splashing around in Georgia|
Having been a companion in our year's adventure she has now become its main focus.
A little drama will ensue: in 10 days we need to reach our Breton campsite to attend the InterCeltic Festival and to rendezvous with friends.
But with every kilometre we travel, the teeth of something in the axle grind the teeth of another part into smaller stumps, until one day only a gummy grin will remain, and the wheels will stop turning.
|Armenia: Lada Niva country|
The ex-Soviet countries around here don't know what Land Rovers are, and the few garages which might be able to help are booked two weeks ahead.
So our strategy is this: drive her like Miss Daisy with a light foot, at a maximum 55mph to soften the grinding. And make a beeline for Brittany to reduce the kilometres she has to cover.
We're in Brittany for a week and hopefully we'll find a mechanic who can make the repair. We will of course subsist on gruel for the next six months to pay for it.
Very sadly this means missing visits to friends in Austria, Germany and France, as well as bypassing several planned countries.
|Making friends in Bulgaria|
If we don't make it we will assemble a Plan B, but so we won't tempt fate, not before. This is a first-world problem we know but still... wish us luck!
*Full name: Lady Nelson II. There is a story....