The ‘Col. K’ hits Normandy

After an early start we boarded a ferry to France, waved off by our good friends Rich & Jocie & their dog Ghillie who put in a lot of effort in the cold to take photos from various view points & releasing a good luck balloon on our behalf from the White cliffs of Dover – thanks guys.

Entering the Port of Dover



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Starting our Adventure on The “Pride of Kent” Ferry


Spent a day heading south, with an overnight stop near Deauville. Currently showing the ‘Col K’ the sights of  the Normandy beaches. Currently sheltering from the rain in a cafe near Pegasus Bridge ! Yesterday was lovely and sunny but last night was extremely cold – Which confirms. the ‘Col K was constructed for warmer climates !

J & V

We’re actually off at last

We finally received our International Driving Permits from the RAC on Friday, after finding out that our original applications were “lost” in the post, or system or some other imaginary place that exists only on the minds of the RAC. So it was agreed that if we scanned the documents and emailed them, they would process the IDP’s straight away. True to their words they were delivered the next day.

Once we checked them, it was straight on to the web and booked a ferry to France. So yup, we are off tomorrow, Monday 23rd March 2015!

It still seems a bit surreal, that after all this planning we are finally setting off for Africa.

While talking about planning, we still don’t have a route sorted out, even down to whether or not we go Right or Left out of Calais! But this is the essence of the Lorrywaydown, it’s all a very loose plan.

V & J x

A frantic few days

As usual you think you’ve got ages to sort a last few bits out…..

NO CHANCE! The last few days have been manic, and the next few days are going to be much the same.

We’ve been busy working on The Colonel, fitting some additional locks to the living accommodation, giving extra security for when we leave the Daf packed up, and also for when we are asleep in the living area at night. These are relatively simple locks, being bolted through the wall, but are quite robust, and probably more importantly act as a visual deterrent.

Today we fitted the military spec snorkel kitIMG 2325

This will enable us to ford deeper rivers, but also picks the air intake up much higher and so hopefully into cleaner, less dusty air, and so be less crap sucked into the air filter. Due to the size of the filter (about 10” across and 18” long), we are only carrying one spare on board, and so will rely on blowing the dust out of the filter with the on-board air line.

IMG 2327

The mountain bikes are now loaded, and locked on, and the oiled tarp had been fitted over them and the spare wheel. It all seemed to fit well but will need to be checked after a few “high speed” miles to make sure its not filling with air and shifting about.

We are still waiting for our International Driving Permits from the RAC, and hoping they will be with us in the next couple of days. Once these are received we will book our ferry across the Channel, and start to make our way down through France and Spain.

As always we are looking at the security, and political situation on the African Continent, and the border between Nigeria and Cameroon still remains closed. Issues still remain about gaining a Visa for Angola, and there have been a few incidents in Mali. These are issues that have been around for at least a few months, but hopefully will improve/change before we get to these areas. Im sure that other areas will have issues before we get there.

Loaded into Colonel K’s belly (lockers) are some very clean (at the moment anyway) and snazzy recovery straps.

IMG 2318

The purple one is a 85mm wide and 20m long winch extension strap, the green one is a 5m tree strap. We’ve also got a 12tonne “swing away” snatch block pulley for use with the main winches on the truck. The straps will also be useful for recovery of the Daf, or for us pulling other vehicles out that are stuck.

We are still saying lots of goodbyes, and today got treated to a fantastic lunch by Richard and Jocie, thanks guys, it was a lovely meal with great company. The food is always good in the 5 Bells at Brabourne, but today was top notch.

So as of Friday, we will be living in Colonel K, where depends on our IDP’s arriving. So we will be Pikies, but is it gonna be in Kent or France? Well that now depends on the RAC.


The Off is imminent

The last week has been full of goodbyes to family and friends (those that we haven’t got to see we’re really sorry, time has caught up with us), as it seems that we will hopefully set off on our travels on roughly the 20th of this month.

Both our vehicles have been sold, and many thanks to Jacs sister Kaz, for lending us her sporty little number for a few days. We haven’t booked the Channel ferry yet as we need our International Driving Permits to arrive before we actually leave. Hopefully they will arrive this week some time.

I’ve given the Daf a quick service, new engine oil and filter, and new air filter, and am going to try to fit the military spec snorkel kit that I purchased from eBay. It seems the kit was supplied to the Forces to fit both the Bedford and the Leyland Daf, and the hose may need a reducer made up for the hose to fit the air intake. If that’s the case then time may run out, and I might have to leave it behind. The idea behind the fitting of the snorkel is not only for the water crossings but also to get the air intake up higher, and so out of the dust and crap kicked up from the front wheel and other vehicles.

A joint effort from my brother Alan, and my nephew Glen, has resulted in a perfectly fitting rear recovery point.

IMG 2312

This is bolted directly to the chassis rail, and at approx 32mm thick, should prove strong enough when required. Once again thanks guys.

We have also fitted a bit more security to the cab.

IMG 2314

I pinched this idea from another Daf T244 owner, it simply involves a double “lollypop” padlock, inserted through a 13mm hole through the wing (fitted with a rubber gromit), and once fitted it prevents the door being opened. Its highly visible and would be very hard to remove. You can also see the application of the antislip tape on the wing, this I’ve also fitted to the rungs of the stainless steel ladder. These were very slippery when damp, and the tape has made climbing up on the roof much safer.

We’ve also got additional locks to fit to the cabin (living area) door. The existing lock is not very secure and is quite flimsy, the new locks will allow us additional security from both inside, and for when we leave the truck.

As you can see below, we have also fitted the Jerry can holders to the roof rack. (Gun Hatch in the centre)

IMG 2313

Most of the time, these will remain empty and so fairly light, and only really filled up when there is doubt about fuel availability ahead of us. The main tank should give us a range of about 800 miles, and the Jerry cans (80 litres) will extend our range for about 200 miles.

Following a discussion with the RAC, it was decided that we wouldn’t apply for the Carnet de Passage until we get to Morocco, then they will post it to an address in Rabat, and we can pick it up from there. This means that we can take our time travelling down through France and Spain, visiting a few people en route, and seeing a few sights along the way. A chill out before the onslaught that will be Africa.

Slightly excited now.


The Colonels back……

After receiving a call from Woods Commercials, Aylesham, we drove down and collected Colonel K this morning.

The MOT retest has been completed and the brakes feel great. After it was diagnosed that the hub seal had leaked oil over the brake shoes, we decided it would be prudent to replace the seals on both rear wheel hubs, and as the brake liners were contaminated with the oil on that side, we took the decision to renew the brakes on the other side too.

The biggest issue was getting the hub nut undone. Eventually Woods managed to borrow a wrench that fitted the notched nut from a local Daf dealer (they didn’t realise they had one until they looked, it had never been used).


It seems that the seals are a known weak point on the Daf T244, and with this in mind we have decided to add a hub wrench and seal to our “spares locker”. The nut could have been removed by drilling holes on opposite sides of the nut and then splitting the nut in two halves, but even if you could get a nut to fit “in the field” it would prove very tricky to tighten it properly, as it is recessed inside the hub. 

Steve and Jason at Woods Commercials have done a great job on the truck and despite the issues with getting ex military parts managed to get the work carried out fast enough that we didn’t have to pay for a full retest (it has to be within 10 days).

On the drive home, I decided to call into Sainsbury’s to put in a little cheeky 100 litres of diesel (about a third of a tank), as I was deep into the reserve of the gauge. It was a reminder as to how expensive diesel is here, £1.14 per litre, compared to for example: 

  • Morocco £0.65 per litre
  • Uganda £0.66 per litre
  • Nigeria £0.55 per litre
  • South Africa £0.54 per litre
  • Botswana £0.45 per litre
  • Angola £0.23 per litre

For a full fill up (300 litres) that’s £177.00 cheaper in Nigeria than in the UK, or to put it simply almost all the countries that we will be travelling through are less than half the cost of diesel in the UK

Check out the following web site that have regular updates on world fuel prices 


Jac is currently looking into Medical and Repatriation insurance, it’s a bit of a mine field and the common theme is all the insurance companies refuse to cover you when travelling in a country or area where the Foreign Office advises against travel. It’s impossible to travel through Western Africa without going through these places, such as Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, so we better not fall ill or have an accident in these areas.


Still lots of sorting to do both in and out of the truck, but we are getting there……





Prepping “The Colonel” for the trip

We’ve had a few highs and lows with the truck over the last week or so, all in preparation for the Lorrywaydown.

Last week we had a couple of new Michelin XZL tyres fitted to the front wheels, and new genuine Michelin inner tubes fitted to all the remaining wheels. This meant that we could finally get rid if the old Goodyear G188 that we had on the spare, and remove the Michelin that I wasn’t 100% happy about ( it had very light cracking/perishing marks on the sidewall), maybe a bit over cautious, but we have to set off being happy with these wheels. The work was carried out by  http://www.commercialtyres.com I can throughly recommend these guys, the price was reasonable (well as reasonable as can be had for brand new XZL’s), and the speed and professionalism of the work was top notch. There was very little damage to the wheels paintwork (it’s only black Hammerite), and they only took about 90 mins to strip out and redo 5no very heavy split rim wheel sets. Top guys. They are also getting me a couple of spare Michelin tubes to take to Africa. After seeing the differance between the Michelin tubes and the cheaper Internet bought tubes that I had fitted before (especially around the valve area), I won’t fit anything else now, unless we have no choice in Africa of course. The combined weight of these wheels and tyres still amaze me, but hopefully they will prove reliable in the field, and the tyres should be pretty puncture resistant, they are after all used on most of the Dakar Rally race trucks.

With the help of my big brother, we have fitted a couple of fairly large 24v fans in the cab so that the hot air can be circulated around our hot bodies in the very hot cab. I’m not sure how effective they will be, but it can’t hurt.

My Nephew met us, and is fabricating a rear tow/recovery point that will be bolted directly to one of the rear chassis rails. This will give us something to return the rear winch cable back to. Returning the end of the cable through a pulley/snatch block to the truck will effectively double the winch’s pulling power and reduce stress on the winch (if carried out correctly). All we need now is a winch extension strap which will double up as a tow strap, a heavy duty snatch block and a few heavy duty shackles. We know we are gonna get stuck at times in mud, sand, or indeed will need to assist others in getting unstruck (hopefully the later). Obviously it’ll be easier for us to recover a Landcruiser, than the other way round!

The rest of the weekend was spent giving the Colonel a quick once over ready for the imminent MOT on Monday morning, and sorting out the many boxes that we had literally just dumped in the back, lockers and roof box. We still have a lot to sort out but we are slowly getting there.

We also tried the double mosquito net up over the bed, after lots of messing about and trying it various ways, we finally came up with a plan, but it does require lots more loops to be sewn into the net to hang it from. Jacs has sorted this on 2 nets (with the kind help of Bina and her sewing machine). We are taking a spare net, as the chances of getting exactly the same net while in Africa is extremely remote, and I’m sure the net will get damaged somewhere along the line. As far as Malaria is concerned, preventing the biting critters getting to you is by far the best form of defence, and sleeping under a net is a must. The nets that we have are also impregnated with a repellant, which hopefully will help.

Whilst on the subject of Malaria, we have finished all our jabs now, and have decided to take approx 12 months supply of anti-malarial drugs. All of this was supplied and carried out by http://www.bmcmedical.co.uk The travel clinic staff are extremely helpful and are happy to discuss any travel plans, we have been using them for many years.

Next stop was the MOT station, this is the 4th MOT that the truck had gone through, and so far it’s sailed through with flying colours. You know what’s coming next!!!

Colonel K failed with flying colours! Apart from a few very minors items, such as a headlight too high, it failed on the Air brake system. The rear offside wheel was operating at approx 20% of what it should be, this also meant that it failed as the brake performance over the real axle was not matched over the two rear wheels. 

We decided to leave the Daf at the garage (in Aylesham, nr Dover), and let them examine the damage. The next day, a phone call revealed that the problem was caused by the hub seal failing and spewing oil all over the brake shoes. This means that the shoes will need re-lining, and obviously a new seal will be needed. I’m currently waiting to hear from the garage to find out if it’s going to be an issue getting this seal (some military spec spares are problematic to obtain). Talking to the garage yesterday it was decided that both rear wheels will be done just to be on the safe side. It could have been a lot worse, and it’s better to get this sorted before we set off for Africa. Hopefully we will get Colonel K back next week so we can continue with our prepping……………..


A complicated move

After a few weeks of packing, stacking, chucking, and a bit of shouting, we have actually moved out of our house at last. The storage unit is packed to the gunnels, and God help us if we want to get anything out of there. So there was stuff going to storage, the truck, the temporary accommodation, and the tip. A very hectic few days.

We are temporary located in a lovely 2 bed holiday cottage a couple of miles from our house (and pub), for this week, then we move to a smaller holiday cottage for a few weeks, a couple of villages away but nice and near a decent pub. The idea being we slowly get used to smaller living space! 

The truck is having a couple of new Michelin tyres and 5 new genuine Michelin tubes fitted next week, then is booked in for its MOT the following week, and then the tinting to the cab windows can be carried out (not strictly legal, but necessary. 

We have loaded up The Colonel with bedding, clothes, spares, beer, and some food, it is currently bursting at the seams and definitely needs a good sorting out. There’s far too much in there, and we need to be a bit canny with the packing and a bit brutal with some of the stuff.

We are still aiming for a setting off date for mid to end of March, and have checked out the cost of the ferry from Dover to Calais, it unbelievably is only about £20 more than taking the motorbike! 

So now we gotta sell our cars, sort out our Carnet de Passage, International Driving Licenses, medical insurance, currency, etc. oh and have a few more jabs.

Thanks for reading


Over 2,000 hits, and lots of boxes

We, have got lots going on at the moment, the house is getting packed up, the charity shop is stocked , and the village jumble sale was bursting at the seams!

We are moving out next Monday, and currently have 4 weeks booking into a local holiday cottage, this will take us into March. We may need another couple of weeks before we are ready to head South in The Colonel.

We went down to Colonel K on Saturday to load in most of the stuff apart from clothes, most of it was just left in boxes in the living space and will be sorted when we have more time, but it did emphasise the amount we have and lack of space, we will need to be brutal I think. The big 6 litre engine fired up perfectly after sitting in the storage yard for about 4 months, and with the temperature in the minus’s, it showed how much juice is needed to turn over that thick oil. It also took a fair bit of time for the air brakes to build up enough pressure for me to move the Daf.

This week we have received our nice swanky new sat phone


Its a Inmarsat iSatphone2, it’s quite feature packed, and can do most things that a smartphone can do (apart from taking photos), and does include a “panic button” that you can register with a recovery and rescue 3rd party (for a fee) or with a family member or friend, this then gives your current position.

We were also due to receive our Tracks 4 Africa SD card for our Garmin sat Nav, this was not so successful as when we opened the sealed packaging, it was devoid of said SD card. A quick call to South Africa, sorted the problem, and a new card was sent. I hope to receive the new package tomorrow, so fingers crossed this time.

The lorrywaydown site has received over 2,000 hits from 32 countries, which I think is bloody amazing, as we haven’t even left yet! And some of the countries that have provided visitors are a surprise, see below


We also had another trip to The Travel Clinic on Monday, 2nd rabies jab, 2nd Hep B jab, and first course of cholera where gratefully received (and paid for).  Next trip is in two weeks for 3 more jabs, 2nd cholera drink, and approx 12 months of malaria tablets.

The MOT is coming up this month, then tyres, window tinting (pimping) and a good service.

Busy times…..


A trip to the Travel Clinic, puncture wounds aplenty…….

We had a pre booked appointment at The Travel Clinic this morning, to discuss what medication and vaccines we require for our up coming trip.

I came away with 3 puncture wounds, a repeat booking for another 3 next Monday, and 2 more a fortnight later! Jacs got away a bit lighter.

We also discussed Malaria prevention, we estimate that we will be in Malaria affected areas on the west side of Africa (from Mauritania  to Namibia) for maybe 6 months, then out of Malaria risk (Namibia, South Africa, mostly) for 3-4 months (off the drugs for a bit), then East Africa (up to Kenya and back down)  and back up the west coast for maybe 6-7 months. So it looks like we need about 14 months worth of medication, this dictates to a certain extent which anti-malarial drug we take. Doxycycline is the recommended drug for this amount of time, with back up Malarone for treatment if required.

To summarise our vaccinations/medication is for: Malaria, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A&B, Tetanus, and Polio  and maybe Meningitis.

Obviously the best protection against Malaria is not to get bitten! With this in mind sleeping under nets and covering up with long sleeves and trousers in the evening is a must in certain areas.

We also discussed making up a medi pack, with needles, venflons, etc (Jacs dept.).

Looking forward to a repeat next Monday!


Getting closer to setting off

Well things are moving along quite nicely now, as far as getting nearer to setting off on our trip is concerned.

We’ve been lucky enough to get a tenant very quickly to move into our house, so quickly in fact, that we’ve had to find alternative accommodation for a few weeks to give us time to sort The Colonel out, after storage for the winter, and a few other bits and pieces.

So all our worldly possessions are going into storage, vehicles are to be sold, and of course paper work needs sorting (Carnet de Passage, International Driving Licences, etc).

As far as The Colonel is concerned, it’s pretty much ready, it’s due an MOT in a few weeks, having 2 new Michelins fitted and new tubes fitted all round (genuine Michelin tubes to be on the safe side), it also needs a recovery/tow point attached to the rear chassis rails (for when either we’re stuck in deep mud, or someone needs our assistance, hopefully the latter!). There are also the Jerry can holders to fit to the roof rack, and fans to get fitted to the cab. So still a few things.

We are also looking into getting the windows on the cab tinted, to reduce the massive greenhouse effect generated inside, it’s hot enough in the Scottish Highlands, so any help we can get for when we reach the Sahara will be appreciated. We’ve decided that air conditioning in the cab is not really viable, due to complexity, power drain, and costs.

Then there are the more usual things such as cleaning the water tank after sitting empty over the winter, restocking the food and drink, and generally loading up with clothes, bedding, maps etc.

Its gonna be a mad few weeks ahead!



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