Friday, 5 June 2009

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Personal Thank You from MapAction

David Spackman writes:

MapAction is hugely honoured and impressed by the efforts of Chris and Paul to undertake the Barcelona rally on behalf of MapAction. The daily blog proved fascinating and we were glad of the opportunity to follow their GPS tracklog along the route. We were particularly pleased that they dropped into the MapAction office on their way. They did splendidly well and we’re proud of their sense of fun, practical hard work, and charitable aims.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the redoubtable duo and who made very generous donations to MapAction. It was a wonderful gesture by all those involved and MapAction is greatly appreciative for the kind donations. It has given us all a great fillip.

For the record during the car rally MapAction had volunteers in Papua New Guinea, Kathmandu, Panama, and in Norway/Sweden. We are about to despatch volunteer teams to Sri Lanka with the Mines Advisory Group, to Pakistan with the humanitarian logistics centre, and a separate team to the regional office of the UN in Islamabad. The money raised therefore by the car rally has helped MapAction to provide its present humanitarian GIS service. I hope all our donors will take satisfaction from this current record of charitable effort.

So special thanks to, and admiration for, Chris and Paul in the first instance, and a heartfelt thank you from MapAction to everyone who donated so generously.

David Spackman, Director MapAction

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Final Secret Uncovered

Now that we are home, safe in the knowledge that all our fellow Barcelona Bangers should by now have left Spain, we are able to release details of our final day's route. Up until now the route has had to remain a closely guarded secret for fear of an "ambush" by the Spanish authorities, who we believe were keeping a close watch on this website for any clues.

Click on the red button to the left to open the tracking window and see where we have been.

The final couple of miles took us along the front of the port in Barcelona before heading inland along Carrer de la Marina towards our hotel. However, as soon as we turned onto this road we were awestruck by the sight of Gaudi's most famous work in the distance -
la Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

We immediately realised that an underground hotel car park was not a fitting end to such an epic journey across Europe. For us the finishing line had suddenly become la
Sagrada Familia. With Kate (Mrs TomTom) encouraging us to take a right turn at every opportunity, we opted to ignore her directions and the ensuing persistent reminders to "Make a U-turn".

Whilst making our circumnavigation of one of the most amazing examples of architecture you are ever likely to feast your eyes upon, we were conscious of the need to obtain a photographic record of the event for prosperity - and proof that we had actually made it. At the first available opportunity (a red traffic light) Paul
leapt out of the car and snapped away.

That was it. Our finishing line. We had made it.

And so we set off on what was, unknowingly, to become our last few hundred metres in the trusted green goddess. We soon found our hotel for the night and eventually found the underground car park. I mention this because there are those amongst you who have been avidly watching our progress and casting aspersions on our ability to successfully locate our en route destinations at the end of each day. You know who you are! Driving round in circles allows us to get our bearings, the spatial relationship between hotel, pub and
restaurant is an important one to understand.

Home At Last

After what turned into an eventful afternoon the intrepid Burly Bald Blokes landed back home safe and sound in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Our 22:25 EasyJet flight from Barcelona was delayed (what a surprise!) and eventually took off at midnight local time. We were deposited on the tarmac at Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 01:00 this morning. Mrs N very kindly provided a much welcome taxi service and we arrived back at base camp in Southport at 02:00. Paul collected his car and made a quick dash back over the Pennines to Huddersfield. I can confirm that he too is now home safe and sound but please don't do any sums based on the the time of this posting - and if you do please don't tell anyone!

And so to bed!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Green Goddess Cheats Death

A nice relaxed walk around town, a tapas and Sangria lunch and a final coffee on the harbour then back to collect the car and off to the scrap yard before 6pm.

That was the plan and the first three elements were executed with aplomb. The fourth however resulted in near disaster as the green goddess decided to have a flat battery. Numerous appeals through the concierge to local garages proved fruitless and we resorted to international breakdown.

No help for two hours was the response, meaning we would hit the scrap yard well after closing. We were facing another night in Barcelona.

Then, like a knight in shining armour came Linberg (real Spanish name) who agreed to take the car off our hands, despite the maps and the dead battery. Our new best friend signed the export papers and the green goddess got a reprieve.

Many thanks to Linberg and we hope that he has many happy days or even weeks motoring in his free BMW.

We're now at the airport and the flight is in four hours.

Journeys End

Just time to grab a few hours to unwind before taking the green goddess on her last journey to the great car park in the sky.

We believe that all bar one cars made it and the one which didn't left the rally on the first day. The border crossing warnings were over-exaggerated and the Renault which Ray got started on the mountainside in Andorra fried its engine as they pulled into their Barcelona car park.

We understand a couple of cars have been towed for being illegally parked, with a 200 Euro fine for release. We'd leave ours in the pound.

Well done to the Comeonthecoo boys who won the rally with the Cannonball Sheiks in second and the Pope Mobile a respectable third.

Thanks to all our sponsors, those of you who have been very generous with your donations and our co-directors Rob and Nick for their unerring support of our crazy fundraising adventure.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

We are the Champions

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that really is the Barcelona Banger parked in front of La Sagrada Familia.

Our quest is over, our nirvana reached, our holy grail raised aloft. Fourteen hundred miles across four countries (yes we are counting Andorra) without a single speeding ticket...that we know of.

Her task over, the green goddess is having her final good nights rest in the luxury of the hotels underground car park.

We've had a great adventure together and she has behaved like a dream.

More later but for now rest easy, we made it, and we're absolutely delighted about it.

A quick change and we are off to the prize giving.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Miles of sweeping bends and poppy fields have given way to an arid barren landscape. A true sign that we are rapidly approaching journeys end.

Chris hasn't spared the horses and Paul suspects that he's been deliberately over-revving, simply because he can.

The exhaust has sounded brilliant through the many tunnels, and has encouraged shifting down a gear the hear the full roar of the un-silenced 1.8 litre engine.

Just 20 miles left, mostly on the A2, to our destination, a shower, prize giving and a parade down the Ramblas to an excellent little seafood restaurant Paul knows.

He's just had a little snooze in readiness.


After sailing through the border with just a couple of smiles and knowing nods we decided to stop at the first opportunity and celebrated our escape from potential incarceration with Calamares & Patatas Fritas and a nice cold, if somewhat small, San Miguel.

Now just 178km to our goal and we've opted for the scenic route avoiding any further tolls.

We left the support team way back and have sprung the 'Red Bull is illegal in Spain' ruse on them and now have visions of them trying to sell it before making the border crossing themselves.

The green goddess is living up to the bulletpoof BMW reputation and showed no signs of any overheat during the long mountain sections.

The end is in sight. Next stop Monserratt.

Viva Espana

Firstly apologies for lack of blog postings over last couple of hours. E-mails dont send from Andorra!

Well, you will be pleased to know we got through the borders with only one slight nervous moment. We got stopped going into Spain and were expecting a full search. After looking in the boot and finding only the remains of a case of Red Bull we were sent on our way. Yipeee!

Barcelona here we come.

Top of the World

Weather not too brilliant as you can see but we made it to the top of the world. We are now in Andorra and as yet are unchallenged.

The beemer banger continues to behave brillliantly. The fuel level warning light came on as we headed up but we decided it was only down to the angle of the car and opted to ignore it.


Team Cut and Shampuma to the rescue! Gladly not for us though.

At a petrol station half way up the mountains we chanced upon a broken down Renault banger and it's downhearted crew. Having stopped for petrol they had spent 45 minutes trying to get her started again.

Raymondo dived under the bonnet like a ferret up a trouser leg and within 2 minutes the engine fired into life once again. Four happy chappies are now back on their way to Barcelona.

Long and 
Winding Road.

We've begun our climb into the mountains. Weather is beginning to come in on us so a short stop by a stream was made to take some sponsor photos.

Onwards and upwards.


Seems like we are not the only ones on the road today. When the motorcycle gendarmerie pulled up alongside us and asked to pull over immediately we began to fear the worst. Fortunately it was to make way for a cycle race.

How easy can that be as a sport? Free-wheeling down a big hill. We've had to pedal over 1,000 miles to get here.

Run to the Hills

For the first time on this run we can now see big hills and mountains. Just going past Foix on N20 and about to enter a 3km tunnel.

Still have a full signal in middle of tunnel so about to post this blog entry now. Hold tight - we shall see what happens.