The Blog was our Website Log that kept everyone up to date on our progress while we were on the rally.
|Hey guys, cheers for all your messages. Were in Barnaul in Siberia at the mo starting the 5th week of the Rally. We haven't got long on the interweb because of the Helga behind the desk. We all got a bit of a headache today as we found out we slept in a massive field of Marijuana last night!!! Yes a field of pot. This place is full of it. No wonder all the Locals speak so slow. Were heading for a place up north today that I can't pronounce never mind spell. Weve officially entered Lada territory now making the Nova look like a Mercedes-Benz. The border was a bit tricky yesterday and took 7 hours of haggling and random arm shaking before they would finally let us through. To celebrate we all decided to drive for half an hour with no lights on through Siberian darkness untill Team Alan Paca nearly joined the Siberian Expess railway head on. The Nova (nicknamed "Sharon" or "Shaza" the Chav Mobile) is going really well and I even managed to get it up to 80 MPH today before the Local Siberian PD flagged us down for yet another check point. Sorry the Blog is a bit all over the place today but ive left all of my notes of recent of event in the car and the Helga behind the desk has now moved behind me to prod my shoulder and waive her hands at the clock. The next blog (Real one this time!) should be within the next couple of days when we arive (hopefully) at Irkutsk next to Lake Baikal.|
|The team is now at the Kazakhstan/Russian border waiting to get through customs, which they think will take another few hours. |
Found out that the convoy has shrunk by one. Team Honey Trumpets's head gasket blew when they tried to use that rubbish road a few days back, so Quidgrid and Marco Polo have left them as they try to get it fixed. Hopefully with some 24/7 driving, they'll be able to catch up with the convoy in a couple of days.
Marco Polo also had a crash with a Kazakhstan car yesterday. The other car slammed into the corner of Marco Polo's car (wasn't Marco Polo's fault). Luckily the only damage on Marco Polo's car was a crumpled corner and smashed indicator. The other car on the other hand was close to being a write off! Marco Polo tried to drive away but the guy in the other car grabbed their camera and ipod to keep them there until the police came! Luckily Lloyd and Andrew were there for backup just in case the guy tried anything else. When the police finally came they just sent them on their way!
On the way to the border, Lloyd and Andrew saw the team Alan Paca at the side of the road waiting for the recovery service. One of their wheels had disintegrated after driving so long with a flat tyre, so all that's left is the inner circle and no rim!
Sounds like Quidgrid's Nova is performing brilliantly compared to everyone else's cars. Lets hope it stays that way.
|We received a quite a worrying text from Lloyd yesterday saying that he and one of the other guys were covered in lots of red itchy dots, which he didn't think were insect bites. He also did the glass test on them and said they didn't disappear. Several phone calls to him and frantic searches of medical books and the internet later, Lloyd's family and I decided that it was probably only a rash seeing there were no other symptoms. Much to our relief, Lloyd said the spots are clearing up a bit more today and that they actually do disappear with the glass test. Crisis over, we hope.|
The team left Almaty in Kazakhstan today and are making their way to Semey near the Russian border. That's all I really know about their progress. I've just checked a map of Kazakhstan and Semey is roughly 550 miles from Almaty. Assuming the roads aren't all covered with tarmac and given their extremely slow progress over the past week, they'll probably take a couple of days to get there.
The boys have been gone for exactly 4 weeks now. They still have a LONG way to go but only 2 more countries to conquer!
|Everyone will be glad to know that the car seems to be fine now. Lloyd and Andrew changed the mixture in the engine and it seems to be running smoothly again. |
The last I heard from Lloyd they were relaxing at Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan whilst waiting for the convoy they had to turn BACK from! (see earlier blog) Turns out team Quidgrid managed to gain a few hours on the convoy by using actual roads. Heather (Lloyd's mum) has told me that they were waiting for team Honey Trumpets this afternoon after their car failed to make it over the mountains (who'd have thought eh?)
The lake is apparently about an hour from the Kazakstan border and so they should be in Kazakstan by now. Next destination is Almaty in Kazakstan.
|With help from Heather (Lloyd's Mum), we've managed to decipher Lloyd's text message and find out what they've been up to:|
Lloyd and Andrew were on their way to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan this morning after having to break away from the convoy and turn back because the rubbish roads they were using became too much for their poor little Nova.
The car is also taking a turn for the worse. The team mentioned a noise coming from one of the wheels and thought there might have been a problem with the wheel bearing. The noise has stopped now so maybe it repaired itself! The car also wont tick over anymore so they're trying to find someone to take a look at it for them.
Let's hope everything's ok - they've gone so far!
|The team is now in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. The boys haven't been able to make too much progress today because they spent a few hours of it in a police station after trying to cross a border via a minor road (tut tut). After much interrogation over why they were there and if our government knew about the Mongol Rally (!), Lloyd and Andrew were finally allowed into Kyrgyzstan.|
A local guy has even invited the guys to his house and is now showing them around town. Sounds dodgy to me but Lloyd thinks it's quite nice (although he is staying sceptical).
|UPDATE FROM TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN:|
- First things first, thanks for all the messages and keep them coming!
- At the moment Me, Lloyd, Teams Honey Trumpets and Marco Polo are just chilling out in an internet cafe waiting, once again for our Kyrgystan Visa's as we screwed up ther last batch and have had to re-apply.
- It's been a long time since Ashgabat and alot has happened since. We did enjoy Turkmenistan as the seanary was buitiful and the people were really friendly. Although what we didnt mention, as all internet and hotel rooms for westerners are bugged, is the constant buraucracy we had to deal with. For example there would be a Police check point every 10km to check your route and passengers. It was made easier by the fact all of the Police were very friendly (In fact one stole 2 Watermelons from a passing truck for me and Lloyd) but after 1000km of stopping and starting the whole experience became tiresome.
- After the last blog the convot made its way to Mary, Turkmenistan where all of the bank security guards seemed a bit nervous about letting me and Lloyd in. Luckily the local dodgey folk outside were willing to give a better exchange rate - probably with forged notes.
- That day we also met up with an Irish Guy (Affectionatly known within the convoy as "Wierd Al") who had been travel so long on his own he saw last years Mongol Rally pass him by and that he hadn't said a word to anyone in 4 months!!!
- As it was getting on in the day we all made our way to find a camp site for the night. Surprise Surprise it turned out to be another desert. That night we all tucked in to the $1 vodka we had picked up and decided to have a little bit of fun with Turkmenistan's ludicously cheap petrol. Camp site fun included creating a camp fire in 1 second flat (atkin more to a Petro-Chemical fire in Hemel-Hempstead), recreating the "Back to the Future" tyre flames across the desert and exterminating a rather large ants nest we found next to our tent.
- The next day we stopped of at a local market that sold anything from a G-String to a Gear Box. Martin from Team Honey Trumpets also enjoyed the market as the rest of us has to wait ages for him to stop flirting with the local totty. From then it was a mad rush to the border before it closes which was when our Visa'a run out risking possible fines or being Arrested. We got there with 5 minutes to spare along with another rally car in jungle livery.
- The Border crossing was quite fun as we all played with the x-ray machines and tried our hardest to make the guards let us have a go of their AK-47's but to no avail :)
- That night the 4 teams found some nosh at the local restaurant 10 klicks past the border where we realised what a bongo bongo land it was. Subsequent events were: kid's peeling off the car stickers and placing them on the window, one of the little pickey's managed to unlock the car, we got fed a Goat's ear and then they tried charging us $50 for the privilage.
- For the past couple of day's all 3 teams have been mulling around Samarqand and Tashkent. We managed to get a 2 bedroom hotel (for the 6 of us) for pennies. Current activeties include sitting in the hotels pond (our adopted swimming pool) and checking out the local nightlife. Once again all the clubs had more Hookers than you could shake a stick at all at $2 a pop.
- The only catastrophic failure so far is from our Tape adapter, but Were not holding our breath yet as were heading for the Mountains of Kyrgystan!!!
Speak to you soon!!!
|Lloyd and Andrew are staying in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent tonight. They were both relived to be able to find a cash machine in (yet another) 5* hotel, which accepted Maestro cards, so they drew out some much needed dollars.|
That's all I know! Kinda thought they would be adding something to the blog seeing they're loitering around all these classy hotels but maybe they can't afford it!
|Thought I'd give you guys a brief (and I mean brief) update on what's happening with our courageous explorers. Basically they've spent the past day trying to get out of Turkmenistan before their visas ran out at 6:00pm today (Turkmenistan time). Seems like they made it as the last I heard from them they were in Uzbekistan.|
Their convoy has also grown by one after meeting another team at the border.
That's it for now - really not getting much info from them these days coz Lloyd's phone bill is probably extortionate by now!
|UPDATE FROM ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN:|
- Finally managed to get to the Internet (due to there only being two places with Internet access in Turkmenistan) so there's a lot to mention...
- Since Istanbul we drove to Terme just outside Samsun in Turkey. It was Andrew's birthday but the place was dry so we ended up played poker with tea bags sober but it was all good fun.
- After Terme Team Marco Polo broke off from the convoy to go through Iran. That night they were moved on by the Turkish army with big guns due to the fact they were sleeping in "bandit territory"! They were moved on to a local petrol station where they were given tea and food by the soldiers.
- In Gorgia we were complete freaks to the locals. The whole village we stopped at stopped and stared for the whole time we were sat at a restaurant eating.
- T'blisi was nice from what we could see in the night. We pulled over for some repairs and were given homemade wine from the gangster owners.
- We tried to camp on the border of Azerbaijan but were harrassed by some locals to pay up $5 or else (signalled by a cut throat gesture!). We promptly moved through border that night where we were told to "respect your customs official with money" by some dodgy guy on a phone! A few hours and dollars later and we were in Azerbaijan.
- Azerbaijan wasn't a particularly nice place. It's quite poverty stricken - people living at the road side selling god knows what next to their four-post beds!
- We got pulled over twice for speeding by the coppers in a space of 30 seconds. They tried to fine us $50 but with a quick $8 bribe we were on our way again.
- We camped up outside a customs control office for lorries and were given bread, soup and tea by the very friendly customs officer.
- The ferry to Turkmenistan was a health and safety nightmare. We were squeezed up inches away from a huge train. The crew on board enjoyed our company and forced us to sleep in their cabins. The ferry took about 22 hours in total from boarding to disembarking and cost a ludicrous $250 per car.
- We finally got in to the country after a hellish 5 hour wait in customs at a cost of $350. It was knocking on 50 degrees with a wind chill factor of 100 degrees through the desert. We camped up with a few beers and our homemade wine in the middle of the desert until the small hours.
- The petrol cost in Turkmenistan is absolutely outrageous. It cost us almost a whole dollar to fill up our tank. We didn't quite have enough local currency to pay for it believe it or not so they let us off. Drinking water is about 30 times as expensive as petrol here!
- When we stopped and asked some locals for some water they showed us to a well and began pumping it out!
- Yesterday we went off road and did a few handbrake turns and burn offs in the desert. Then at a police checkpoint one of the very friendly guards wanted to give us a present so he stopped a truck and stole two watermelons out the back to give to us! We'll be eating those later.
- Last night we were boogying on down in Ashgabat's party central only to find that all the women were prozzies and all the blokes were pimps! They were well cheap aswell at $2 a pop but the boys all pussied out (of course I have a girlfriend so wouldn't even consider such a thing!)
- Now using the internet in a 5 star hotel and enjoying a few cups of tea and some proper food for a change. Well expensive though - 25p for a pot of tea and a quid for a huge club sandwich and chips!
- We've met back up with Team Marco Polo in Ashgabat so the convoy is now complete again. We've had very little food over the last week. They've even noticed our weight loss and they've only be gone 5 days!
- From here it's onward bound to Bukhara, Uzbekistan via Mary, Turkmenistan.
(Note when we say "camp" we mean park up and kip in the car as we decided we're too lazy to bother putting the tent up each night - plus there are too many spiders and snakes in the desert!)
|The boys were arriving at Turkmenistan yesterday morning and waiting to get off the boat. They heard that some teams were still waiting at the Turkmen border so there may have still been problems with the visas (shock!). Have yet to hear from them since yesterday morning, but I will keep you guys updated as soon as I hear any more news from them. |
|After a mad dash across Georgia and a couple of nights sleeping in random straw fields, the boys found themselves at the port of Baku in Azerbaijan this morning, waiting for the ferry to take them across the Caspian and into Turkmenistan. |
Lloyd and Andrew have met up with a few other teams at the port, some who have been waiting for a ferry for a few days!
There was a last minute panic for all the teams waiting in Baku, as teams were being refused onto the ferry without confirmation of visas for Turkmenistan. Obviously the teams didn't have anything because the visas were only recently sorted out by the event organiser. A quick call to the British Embassy in Baku by another team soon sorted this out (well hopefully) and everything should be back on track.
Unfortunately, as team quidgrid.com really didn't want to miss the ferry, which only leaves every few days, the team weren't able to call at the Azerbaijan branch of one of their sponsors, Weir as planned. They're quite gutted they couldn't take a picture to take back to Weir in South Wales and they said sorry!
- Haven't heard any more news about the state of the car - which I suppose is good news.
- Their supply of packet pasta is slowly depleting!
|The boys have been taking it easy recently. |
As it was Andrew's birthday yesterday they decided to spend most of the day on some beach near Samsun in Turkey. A few games of touch rugby later and a sun burnt and crispy Lloyd, they're now trying to make their way to Georgia for tonight - though they very much doubt they'll get there.
The Turkmenistan visas have now been fully sorted and are waiting for the team at the border.
The mobile tariff is getting too expensive for me to keep detailed updates, though Lloyd is trying to cram as much info in one text message!
|UPDATE FROM ISTANBUL:|
- Hrm... where to start...
- After Hungary we headed for Belgrade in Serbia and Montenegro but were rejected with a hefty stamp in our passport as we didn't want to pay the ridiculously excessive 123EUROS per car. So we headed for Romania instead.
- Romania was proper mental. Horse and carts, insane roads and giant birds nests on lampposts. We also almost took out a cow (or more like it nearly took out us!).
- From Romania we had to catch a ferry over the Danube to Bulgaria (which cost a small fortune). As we arrived at the Bulgarian border I realised I had locked the keys in the car! In a frantic panic six of us tried to break the seal and open the lock with wire as the ferry was unloading. After about 10 minutes of trying, some Hungarian guy walked over with a small knife and just opened the driver door as if he used a key! We were much appreciative as you can imagine.
- Also Andrew lost a T-shirt which he left on the roof as we drove off. Team Honey Trumpets (one of the teams in our mini convoy) left their petrol cap on the roof which has now disappeared.
- Bulgaria's roads are far worse than Romania's. On normal roads you have to dodge potholes and random animals and the bad roads are the ones still being made while you drive passed! There were also random fires around the place and even more prozzies littering the lay-bys. Some crazy Bulgarian also tried to ram us off the road after we were slowing in front of him but he soon realised that our cars were far to crap to go bending. We also got pulled over by the local police but when we said we were British, he sent us on our way! And, a man with a gun accused the other convoy team (Team Marco Polo) of stealing paper towels but they manged to convince him otherwise!
- We finally arrived at the Turkish border which took ages to cross in the small hours.
- The drive into Istanbul was absolutely crazy. About five to six cars all share a three-laned motorway in a row, all fighting for space. We had fun joining in the local driving. We almost died, but it was good fun.
- Petrol is WELL EXPENSIVE in Turkey - about 1.50GBP per litre! Twice the price of Europe.
- After the massive all-nighter through Bulgaria we arrived today at a hostel in Istanbul, Turkey where we are now writing this blog. We've just been for a shisha and a meal and are looking to get to bed soon ready for the early morning trek to Ankara and beyond tomorrow.
- We have lost our reverse light
- The front nearside (offside) indicator has blown so we now have a mental indicator.
- We've had to gaffertape some of the adverts as they're pealing away.
- Flag is still holding up
|UPDATE FROM HUNGARY:|
- After a day of driving through Hungary we eventually stopped at a camp site about 150KM of Budapest. We all got hammered on cheap beer. Andrew was catastrophically ill last night and this morning and I was lucky not to have a blast of spew over my head in the tent - he got out just in time! He then went on mumbling to himself outside in the dark about how he lost the keys to the car. Then after about an hour of hunting for them and waking me up and getting me to hunt for them for another hour, he found them in his pocket!! He was propped up this morning with his legs on the wall and his face in a drain just outside reception.
- It's ridiculously hot. Especially after a quick game of rugby with the boys.
- We're all burning and have different coloured arms.
- We've got some good fottage on camera with stills and video that we're looking forward to making into a DVD
- The Church of Bones in Czech Republic was just crazy and sick and funny and creepy and interesting all at the same time!
- Thank to my girlfriend for updating the website for us. Missing you and lurve you lots xxx
The boys left quite late from Prague a couple of days ago so had a lot of driving to do; but only after a detour to the creepy Church of Bones in Czech Republic.
The guys have formed a convoy with 2 other teams who will be taking the same route as them, which was really handy seeing that one of the teams seems to know where all the campsites are for a much needed shower!
Not content with the level of adventure they're getting, Lloyd and Andrew thought it would be fun to spice the rally up with a spot of traffic dodging on the motorway... One of the guys from the other team left his wallet on their roof and all its contents flew all across the road. The convoy had to turn around and try to recover his drivers license, money etc. They managed to collect most of it but the police weren't too happy - luckily they were let off!
Last night the team stopped just outside Vienna for a kip and the last I heard from them they were on their way to Belgrade.
- The windscreen wipers stop working when switched to highest setting
- The air vents let rainwater through, giving the boys a refreshing face wash
All in all, they should be fine if it doesn't rain too heavily! The little Nova's coping well, seeing one of the other cars has broken down twice already!
|UPDATE FROM PRAGUE:|
- Arrived in Prague yesterday and got very lost. Luckily we caught up with a few other ralliers (one of which was in-tow) and finally found our way to the car park.
- After a semi-heavy night out we ended up in a cheap strip club. And it really was cheap - full of munters.
- After a beautiful night's sleep in the car park (with Andrew sleeping on the carpark floor), we're now in a internet cafe trying to print off our contracts to sign a bit pronto otherwise we can't get into Mongolia.
- Off to Bucharest today hopefully but we need to sober up a bit first. Pretty much all other ralliers are in the same boat.
- A big thank you to my girlfriend for updating the site for us. Lurve you!
The boys arrived at Prague at around 19:00 GMT - PLENTY of time to grab a few pints before they set up camp in the multistorey car park housing all the Mongol Rallyers.
The team were able to make good progress throughout the night but had a severe petrol shortage in Belgium. A few other teams were seen scattered along the hard shoulders of Belgium after making the mistake of waiting to buy petrol on the continent rather than back in old Blighty - unknown to all that there was a lack of petrol stations! Lloyd and Andrew were able to give one guy a lift to the nearest petrol station, only to find several other teams filling up too!
Unfortunately, the boys were unable to take a detour to the famous Nurburgring to test drive their banger due to time pressure. They were also a bit annoyed that they could only reach 55-60 MPH on the autobahns of Germany - what a wasted opportunity to legally drive in excess of 70 MPH!
In case you missed it, check out the previous blogs for videos of the launch in Hyde Park.
|UPDATE (From the field):|
- We're in the port of Dover now. Gonna have a cuppa then hopefully get some kip before we catch our 8:30 ferry. Car's been fine so far - just bought a tyre pump from halfords as we forgot to pack one.
- A big thank you to my girlfriend for doing our updates. This is prob one of the last blogs from me (personally) as we lose mobile internet when we're in europe.
The time finally came today for the boys to set off and hopefully I will be able to keep everyone updated on what they get up to.
Firstly, the day got off to a great start when they discovered they had a flat tire, but a quick trip to a local garage found that this was due to a leak (from the weight of everything) rather than a puncture. Phew.
The boys got to Hyde Park relatively early, but the hours of 10:00 to 13:30 were spent registering and FINALLY getting their passports back. They also found out that they still haven't received their Turkmenistan visas yet so will have to buy them at the border - interesting to see how that turns out!
A quick scan of the other 160 odd rally cars showed that team QUIDGRID easily had the most individual sponsors and probably put the most effort into the fundraising - well done guys.
Special mention has to be made for:
- the car with a humongous flag pole drilled through the roof of the car - thrashing Lloyd and Andrew's curtain rail
- a car which none of us seem to know what it is, and may even be built by the team themselves
- the hearse that got away with having a big engine for its great comical value
- the poor effort from one team in a modern 4x4
Check out the gallery section for photos of some of the other cars. I'll try to add more when I get the chance.
Also check out the following videos of the day:
Chilling before the start - Check out the authentic mongolian music in the background!
Team Quidgrid about to leave
And their off! See you in a month boys!
The boys are currently almost approaching Dover, ready for a well deserved kip before hitting the roads of Europe.
Don't forgot to leave the guys a message on this site as I'm sure they'll be checking them regularly!
|UPDATE (this one really is the last one before we leave, honest!):|
- We arrived in London tonight ready for the launch day tomorrow (Saturday). Unfortunately, we didn't make the launch partynight in Knightsbridge as we set off too late and had some last minute amendments to make (see below). We did go out and have a very nice meal, however, and we are now looking forward to a nice lie down in a bed for the last night 'till god-knows-when.
- After another team zipped passed us on the M4 on the way to London (in a VW Polo) we realised we were missing an essential item: a big giant Welsh flag. Last minute dashing about finding a flag, flag pole (an old curtain rail) and some cable ties means we now have a massive Welsh flag in flight above our car. It looks absolutely ridiculous! It's fashioned in such a way that we can lower the mast for things like ferries and multi-storey car parks. That Batchelor of Engineering degree is really shining through recently (although it was Internet engineering!).
- While fitting and testing the flag we were approached by some neighbours from the flat above (we're staying in my Central London flat for tonight) who kindly made us some spankingly delicious sandwiches ready for tomorrow. Bit posh for us though: homemade bread, goats cheese and rare beef. Anyway, they are VERY much appreciated and we ope to see more of them in the future.
- I've just shaved all my hair off ready for desert climates. Only thing is, I now have a white head and tanned face - just aswell I've got that hat...
- Don't forget to check out our Mongol Rally Team Page where you should be able to see our SMS text message blogs that we can send in from out in "the field". You can use the bright yellow link at the top of the page to access it.
- You can still donate to our cause by clicking here.
- Don't forget to leave us a message.
|UPDATE (the last one before we leave):|
- It's been a hectic last few days as you can imagine. But I think we've managed most of it. All we have left to do is pack the car up with our personal gear, spares, accessories, tools, wheels and food. So not much! We will be leaving for London in about 2 hours' time. Got an assembly line system going at the moment burning millions of MP3 CDs for the journey. Yes, we are well prepared as you can tell!
- Updated the website so that it now shows the car in its completed stage. I've also added the link to our Mongol Rally page where you should be able to see our SMS text message blogs taht we can send in from out in "the field". You can use the bright yellow link at the top of the page to access it.
- We're taking our cash cards, credit cards, $1000 and £200 worth of Euros so far. Hopefully we won't need any more than this. Hopefully.
- Mongol Rally HQ officials are leaving things right to the last minute by only handing our passports back on the launch day! They're still in the Uzbekistan embassy at present! We hope all goes well.
- We leave on the ferry tomorrow for Calais from Dover at 20:30. Hopefully we can team up with a few other teams for a drink.
- Andrew's dad secured our roofrack further by bolting it to the roof and welding supports along it. See the gallery section for the pics.
- Hopefully we will get chance to update the blog and gallery section from "the field" so keep checking back!
- Again, a huge thank you to all those that donated to our charities and sponsored our car!
- Website updated
- More detailed blog to follow
- Apologies for not updating sooner. We have been busy.
- The ASDA car park fundrasing went well. We managed to raise £100.98 all to go to the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice. The rest of the money paid to Ty Hafan will come from our sponsorship money. Our Nova now has weird little pictures and messages stuck over it in amongst the printed sponsors, adding to the craziness. A big thank you to Jo and Melissa of ASDA Caerphilly for letting us fundraise there. Pics of the car will be in the gallery section soon.
- While in ASDA car park we were approached by a guy who is the sales rep for JVC in the west. He said we could have got a good sponsor from them but as time was short he managed to get some JVC stickers to put in the rear window and gave us £20 - very much appreciated.
- As we've run out of time to gain much further sponsorship we have decided to reduce the premium side advertising boards back down to a quid a square. This means all those that advertised on the boards will have their ad re-printed twice the size. Weir Services helped this as they had their own front board instead of taking space up on the side boards. This will be done on Wednesday.
- We will be spending this last week getting in the very final sponsors and preparing all our things ready to leave. We will be leaving Caerphilly in the afternoon of Friday the 21st of July for the Mongol Rally party in the night in London.
- Wednesday will see us having a very last minute crash course on how to fix cars thanks to Mike from South Wales Transmissions (one of our sponsors).
- The buying squares online facility will be taking down tomorrow. Also the rest of the site will be revamped over the next few days ready to be geared more towards following our adventure. By the end of the week we should have a new blog system set up which can be updated via text messages so we can update en route.
- While you lot were probably out getting hammered tonight we stayed in printing out stickers for the car and a huuge banner for ASDA's car park. Poor us :(
- ASDA have given us the go-ahead for tomorrow between 9AM and 12PM. We'll be parked up outside somewhere with a big ol' bright banner. This is our last day of fundraising so we hope all goes well.
- Visas seem to be all be OK now. We'll get the final ones done the day before we leave though - cutting it fine!
- A big thank you to Sheila Richards and family for the £25 sponsorship - we had her sponsorship after contacting Hydro (formerly Alupress) in Pant Glas Ind Est. After the company said no she still gave us a personal sponsor for which we're very grateful.
- After our joint doctor's appointment Rawlinz and I now have a month's course of malaria tablets for the trip. Let's hope the nasty side effects don't bother us too much otherwise we'll be spending most of the time on the toilet (or nearby bush) and not in the car!
- A big thank you to our sponsors today: £50 from Peter Rawlins Financial Advice in Bedwas and £50 from Dearden Studios in Trethomas.
- Picked up the rest of our parts today from CAM Motor Spares - jump leads, hose protectors and two jerricans.
- The Caerphilly Campaign newspaper came around again today to take further photos and write up a follow-up story on us. It won't be front page stuff again but it gave us a chance to thank all our sponsors and get them noticed in the local rag.
- We bought, cut, drilled and attached a new board at the front today for Weir Services' advert. The new ad sports the words "WEIR SERVICES CARDIFF - BAKU" ready for when we pop into their Baku workshop in Azerbaijhan for a cuppa. See the grid progress pics and the sponsors section to see it.
- Again, we've run out of vinyl so more is on order and should be with us in a few days ready to print up the outstanding ads. This should be the last lot we buy now before we leave.
- We're hopefully trying to get ASDA Caerphilly to agree to letting us stand outside in the carpark with our car and sell off squares to passers by. If all goes well you can find us in ASDA Caerphilly's car park from 9:00AM on Saturday 15th July (this Saturday). This will be our last day of fundraising. All money collected this day will go to the Ty Hafan charity. We'll have a big box of felt pens, a couple of fold-up tables and some big banners. We'll chop all the remaining vinyl up into squares and sell them off for people to doodle anything they want. They can then stick them on any free square remaining on the car. Should be fun. More on this when/if we get the go-ahead.
- Rawlz and I have realised how 'close' we've started to get. Not only have we spent pretty much every day with each other over the last few weeks (and will be for the next month-and-a-bit), own a car and insurance policy together, own a joint bank account together, and are slightly related to each other, but we've gone and booked a joint doctor's appointment together for our inoculations for the trip! Scary.
- Oh - and congratulations to Lewis Jones for getting his 2:1 from the London School of Economics (which we all knew he'd get anyway).
- Keep up the sponsorship!
- Another good sponsorship fundraising day today. We had an amazing £300 sponsor from Weir Engineering Services Cardiff (thanks to Donny, Lloyd's stepdad, and Kenny, the manager), £30 from Dave Roberts Engineering in Senghenydd, £50 from R D Mechanical in Bedwas, and £25 from Mr Welshegg in Caerphilly.
- Over the weekend the Castell Coaches mechanic serviced our car - points and plugs were checked and the oil was changed along with the front brake pads. A big thank you to Brian of Castell Coaches and the mechanics for this.
- Andrew's dad and friend (of South Wales Transmissions - one of our sponsors) have started work on modding our rally car. Not too much, though. We're just being sensible by having the lights and grill meshed over incase of flying rocks, and a sump guard, petrol tank cover and fuel line covers screwed on.
- All stickers to date have now been applied to the car. See the Gallery section for the pics.
- Grid progress pics have been updated - see the side bar.
- A good few sponsors today. The Nuaire Group (the head office of which is based in Caerphilly) sponsored us £100 on the new "premium" boards. We also had sponsors from K's Fresh Fruit & Veg in Bedwas - £30, ZAC Decorating Supplies - £30, Cheaper Cars Caerphilly - £50, The Sofa Factory in Treforest - £40, Valley Valeting Llanbradach - £20, BTL Motorcycles - £15 and a free gallon of oil and two personal sponsors from the pharmacist in Bedwas - £5 and Mags - £5. All in all a pretty good day. A special thank you to Derek of DJ Tyres for supplying us with a load of contacts.
- We bought our tent today from ASDA Coryton - £29 four person size. Sorted.
- We also have a good number of contacts ready for Monday. So fingers crossed.
- Updated the grid progress images for the side bar.
- Keep up the sponsorship! It is all very much appreciated.
- Today we had sponsorship from Peter Alan esatate agents - £200 and Rhino Hire in Bedwas House Ind Est - £40. A big thank you to those! A special thank you to Andrew Barry of Peter Alan (who we met at the Caerffili Lions meeting) for also giving us some amazing contacts.
- The new advertising boards were attached today. Thanks to my grandfather we now have the boards bolted to the roof rack. It looks absolutely ridiculous - which we love. See the gallery section for the pics.
- While we were attaching the boards a neighbour kindly said that he would donate four alloy wheels to us. We've now got them on and they set the car of perfectly. Looks like a proper rally car now. The wheels had new tyres aswell. A huuge thank you to Tony and Shaun for donating these! See the gallery section for the pics of them.
- As we are now running out of squares to sell, and we need a good £1600 more yet to be able to go, and the squares on the two new boards are very prominent, we've decided that the new squares will have to sell at £2 per square. It's the only thing we could really do. However, they are easily worth £2 per square as they instantly grab everyone's attention.
- We had an email through today from a mathematics teacher who we also met at the Caerffili Lions Club meeting yesterday informing us that we are under-selling ourselves. He cleverly pointed out: "as an ex maths teacher I must point out that your grid squares are not 1.5 square inches but are 1.5 inch squares. A square of area 1.5 square inches would only measure 1.224 inches on each side! A square of side 1.5 inches would have an area of 2.25 sq. ins." This is quite right and we apologise for our bad semantics.
- All car stickers to date (that we could do) were printed and stuck on tonight. See the Sponsors section for the pics.
- Keep up the sponsorship!
- A good day today for fundraising: we had a £40 sponsor from Rhino Hire Shop in Bedwas and a massive £200 sponsor from the Caerffili Lions Club.
- Andrew and I met up with the members of the Lions club at a meeting they had tonight where we met some nice people and got some great contacts for some further sponsoridge! They sponsored us with a large area on the front of the roof. We're also going to take banners with us and swap them with Lions Club members in as many countries as we can. This will add a bit more excitement to the adventure.
- We bought our Interational Driving Permits today - a pointless bit of paperwork it seems, although they were only £5.50 each.
- Cheques were posted off today to cover the full costs of the visas - £674 ouch!
- Lagging a bit behind with the sticker printing. They will all definitely be printed out and stuck on tomorrow. We will also aim to get the new side boards attached to the roof rack tomorrow (now the paint has finally dried).
- Keep up the sponsorship and remember to write us a message!
- Not too good on the fundraising side of things today unfortunately. We had one sponsor of £20 from Starline Blinds in Caerphilly. So a big Thank you!
- We bought the wooden boards from B&Q today to put along the side of the roof rack. We painted them white and they are now ready to go on (which is a job for tomorrow). You can see the pics in the gallery section.
- We also managed to get the majority of our spares and accessories for the car today from a combination of B&Q, CAM Motor Spares in Caerphilly (who gave us a lot of things for free and the rest at cost) and my grandfather. A photo of the items can be seen in the gallery section.
- I will be adding a new page to the site shortly documenting our preparation in more detail. This will be for our own records more than anything!<
- We'd also like to thank John of the Mongol Rally HQ for getting in touch with us and letting us know that our visas are all going ahead as planned. Apparently we're just waiting for the Uzbekistan visa to come back, then the Turkmenistan visa can be processed, which then allows the Russian visa to be completed (which will have to be done via the fastrack method as time is limited). Thanks John!
- Trying to scrounge, beg and borrow (and perhaps end up buying some) camping gear over the next few days. We decided sleeping in the car all the time might not be such a good idea so camping outside seems the next best thing.
- We booked and paid for our Dover to Calais ferry today. We're leaving on a 7:30PM ferry which leaves us plenty of time to get out of London and head to Dover.
- Not long now - a fortnight Saturday! Keep up the sponsorship!
- Another quite successful day of fundraising today - and a very hot one too. A huuuge thank you to our sponsors today: DecTek in Treforest Industrial Estate - £30, Studio One - £5, Bik Kei Sung with a huge picture of Peaches the hamster on the wing - £25, and Wedding Secrets Ltd on Piccadilly Square, Caerphilly - £100.
- We picked up a roof rack from CAM Motor Spares today for 12 quid. In true Mongol Rally style it's absolutely crap. It will most likely fall to pieces as soon as we put anything on it. All part of the fun though. See the gallery section for pics of us trying to assemble and attach it in teh dark!
- Our car tax ran out at the end of June so we had to get another 6 months today. If we remember, we should be able to claim 3 months of it back when (if) we return. Still, £60.50 we could have done without coughing up.
- We'll be visiting CAM Motor Spares tomorrow to pick up the rest of our spares.
- Keep up the sponsorship and remember to post us a short message by clicking here!
- My university research project "PLUTO" sponsored us today with a graphic on the wing using the online buying system. A big thank you to John Cosmas of Brunel University, my project supervisor and the PLUTO project's leader, for this brilliant sponsor! The excellent PLUTO website can be seen here (no prizes for guessing who made it!). John is also looking to see if the univeristy itself and department can sponsor us even more. Thank you John!
- Another huuuuge thank you to CAM Motor Spares on Nantgarw Road in Caerphilly for agreeing to supply us with loads of spare parts and accessories for the car for either cost price or free. This is amazing and has saved us so much money. We will be getting things like a spare battery, full roof rack, oil, break pads, coolant, jump leads, tow rope, paint lacquer, hoses, tyre repair foam, bulbs, fuses, in-car power supply (for powering music devices and phone chargers etc), funnel, gerry cans, fan belts, etc. etc. In return we'll be providing them with a nice big advertisement on the new advertisement boards which will be attached to the roof rack. Thank you CAMs!
- Another big thank you to Matthew from Caerphilly who very generously gave us four spare wheels all with very good tyres. This also saved us a nice bit of cash.
- We will be looking to recommence fundraising next week now as Andrew is moving out of his house in Swansea and I'm in London for uni work for the rest of this week.
- I have now added a messages section to the site. If you would like to leave us a short good luck message then please click here. All messages left by people can be seen by clicking here. The latest message posted will be displayed on the side bar of every page.
- I have also updated the welcome page slightly.
- Keep up the sponsorship! It is all well appreciated!
- We met up with a guy from Blush!ingbuyer.co.uk who made a 30-square purchase and £5.00 donation to charity. This was very much appreciated. It was nice to meet someone who knew about the rally and who had friends that had previously been (and made it all the way in a Citroen 2C!). I'm sure you will go next year! Check out their website for great offers on all things that you wouldn't want to ask for over the counter.
- We also had a great sponsor from Chris Howell Timber & Landscape Supplies in Caerphilly today - £50.
- My mother has also bought 50 squares to put a really embarrassing photograph of me as a baby on the bonnet - it's our fault - we did say you could put on anything you want! Another £50.
- We're bang up to date on the finances after collecting a few cheques today. Thank you to all those who have sponsored.
|UPDATE & APOLOGIES:|
- Sorry if you tried to access the site yesterday and found it was down. Again, all due to the host provider. Will be changing soon as I'm fed up with their poor service.
- A huge thank you to Tekno Computers (located at the top of Caerphilly town) for their extra sponsor with their website across the front of the bonnet. See the sponsors section for the photos.
- Another huuuge thank you to Yvonne Cheasty who very kindly managed to get us an extra £28 in donations from her friends and relatives - D Cheasty, B Taylor, J Cheasty, Clive Fire, Dave Hughes, Kay O'Conner, and Sue, Steve and Abby Bradford. This was very much appreciated.
- Russian visa application forms will be sent out today. Weird filling out a form with the cyrillic alphabet.
- Mongol Rally HQ has reported that the Uzbekistan visas will be very difficult to get and that we probably won't get them at all. Some serious route changes if we can't. More news on this soon hopefully.
- Still yet to get a roof rack and spare parts for the car. We will be looking to get the car completely serviced this week by the very kind mechanic at Castell Coaches (one of our sponsors). Time is ticking now...
- Even though the grid is filling up nicely there are still plenty of good spaces left on the car. We've only got this week and next week really to completely fill it. Plus we should be getting some boards for extra squares when we get the roof rack.
|UPDATE (a long one):|
- Apologies for not updating the site yesterday. We pretty much spent all night designing, printing and applying the latest graphics to the car. Our rally car has been a huge success so far and it's looking very good now. It's nice to hear comments like "I don't know where's best - there are not many squares left now are there?". Keep 'em coming...
- One month today until we leave!! It's getting ever so real now.
- We went to the doctors today to receive our vaccinations ready for the rally. Looks like we're gonna have to pay for malaria tablets and the yellow fever injections as they aren't covered on the NHS - what a rip off! (Well I went to the doctors anyway - in true Andrew style, he woke up late and missed his appointment!)
- A big thank you to all the sponsors we've had over the last two days: Tekno Computers (Caerphilly) - £30, Carpet Castle (Caerphilly) - £63, Pinz n Needlz (Trethomas) - £10, Kestrel UPVC (Caerphilly) - £30, David Morgan Ironmongers (Trethomas) - £10, Garran Lockers Ltd (Caerphilly) - £50, Cariad Chocolate (Caerphilly) - £10, Edelweiss Florist (Trethomas) - £16, JAC Windows & Conservatories Ltd (Trethomas) - £20, and Delta Marines (Caerphilly) - £2. Also we received a sponsor through our online system to print "Amy-Leigh Howell Caerphilly xxx" - a huuuge thank you for your sponsor. Phew!
- We also received a VERY generous £100 sponsor from i-SMC Ltd Surrey (my uncle's company). This was very much appreciated and pretty much dominates the co-driver door.
- Our mates, Cameron Coles and Gareth Critcher, also bought an excellent row across the rear panel of the car for £66. They are going to use it to advertise their band and a new T-shirt brand - more news on this when we get it.
- All panels are now finally gridded and put online for selection. Almost all of the rear panel of the car was taken before I could even get it online! Extra panels added today: rear (only a row of 8 squares remaining), two wings and B-pillars.
- HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Glenn love Janine! - see the sponsors section to see the VERY bright pink message which dominates the right side of the rear panel of the car. This is the biggest and brightest personal message we've had so far.
- We still have to get our Russian visa application form sent off. We've been so busy with printing and administration it's difficult to get round to it. They will definately be posted off tomorrow.
- We spoke to a guy yesterday who said he has a load of spare Nova parts we can have. We will be getting in touch with him over the weekend. This is exactly what we were hoping for.
- Still trying to find a roofrack which is either free or cheap. If you have one, or know of anyone who has one to donate, please get in touch with us. It has to be a clamp-on style as our Nova doesn't have modern roofrack sockets! When we get a roofrack sorted, we will be looking to attach some boards to it to provide extra area for more squares.
- By popular demand I will be looking to add a messages section to the site over the next few days. This will allow anyone who visits the site to write us a small message that will be seen by everyone.
- Our mate, Robert Barker, has started to film us on the 30-day lead up to the day we leave. Combined with our footage we take on the rally itself, we will be looking to produce a nicely edited DVD that we can put on eBay when we come back (IF we come back...). As Rob has now finished uni he's obviously getting fantastically bored and drew a picture of us. You can see it the gallery section.
- Apologies for the long read.
- Our luck came back today... with force. We had many very generous sponsors: ARC Valeters (Pontygwindy Road, Caerphilly)- £77, Car World (Pontygwindy Road, Caerphilly) - £100, ANT Loans (Blackwood) - £50, PRS Timber (Pontygwindy Road, Caerphilly) - £9, and a huge £400 sponsor from Clarity Copiers in Pontygwindy Ind Est who bought most of the two rear back panels!
- A special thank you to Matthew Tustin of Clarity Copiers for taking us comfortably into the "definitely going" zone as far as the rally goes with his huuuge £400 sponsor. He also gave us some great links in Blackwood for sponsors. It was nice to talk to someone who was really interested in our crazy adventure and who appreciated the hard work that goes into the fundraising and administration of such an event. Cheers Matt!
- Understandably, a few of our sponsors are not paying for their graphics until they know we're definitely going on the rally. This means taking the car round to them about a fortnight beforehand to show them we're all ready and it's all still on.
- Russian invites came today! We finally received our Russian invites by email. We can't understand a word on it though! You can just about make out our names and "VAUXHALL NOVA"; the rest is gobbledeegook. I'm sure we'll manage though. We now have to send our actual Russian visa application forms off with the invites.
- Still no word on the rest of the visas as yet.
- Again, we've run out of vinyl and are awaiting another batch of it ready to print the rest of the graphics. We've also ordered even more now as we're getting some tasty sposnors.
- Tonight we drew on the remaining parts of the car grid. The car is now complete. In addition to what we already have, the B pillars, rear, and wings of the car will soon be available (should hopefully get them on the site by tomorrow evening).
- Keep those sponsors coming!
- We knew our luck had to run out at some point: a very miserable day today. Not one sponsor. We spent most of the day collecting cheques from sponsors we already had. The weather was rubbish (raining and cloudy) and it was Monday. Basically everyone we visited was miserable - we were probably even miserable ourselves. Still all our printing and now all our finances are up to date. Start fresh tomorrow with a positive attitude.
- A HUUUGE thank you to Taggy from Swansea Unviersity for her very generous 6-square sponsor and extra charity £2. Our only sponsor today. It put a nice smile on our faces after a miserable day out fundraising! Thanks Tags!
- We bought some lacquer today to cover over our stickers for extra protection against rain and sun. The lacquer actually seemed to make the prints more vibrant by increasing the contrast in colours.
- Still no word about the visas as yet. We're really getting worried about them now. Still, 30-odd days left yet.
- Added a new section to the sidebar of the webpage called Grid Progress. This shows a set of photographs of the car's grid filling up over time. We will update it periodically. As you can see, we're getting there slowly...
- Got all the stickers on the car today. See the sponsors page for all the photos. We had a good few cock-ups mostly to do with a row of grid squares missing from the bonnet in the online database - all are fixed now though. Car's now looking good.
- Got to get up early tomorrow to get out getting more sponsors.
- Looking for a good lacquer spray to cover teh stickers on the car so taht it's extra protected from the elements. If you know of any please give us a shout using the Contact page.
- The new vinyl was delivered today so all our printing will be done over the weekend. All will be printed and up-to-date by Monday.
- We banked a cool £500 in sponsorship money today in the bank. The rest is still pending. Thank you to all our sponsors!
- We're hoping for the same luck next week. Fundraising has been an excellent experience for us and it seems to be paying off. We're going to spread a bit further out next week into Pontypridd and Cardiff areas. We're also going to start trying some of the local pubs as it's a great opportunity for them to advertise offers.
- We got the Castell Coaches change changed by The Masons Arms on Mill Road in Caerphilly. The pub also said they were interested in some squares on the car. We'll be hearing more from them next week.
- CARS 4U has now told us to come back Monday as they were "having a bad day". Whatever that meant. They promised us a £50 sponsor so we're hoping it's going to all be OK.
- We paid a visit to PHS and Nuair in Caerphilly's Western industrial estate yesterday along with Thomas Caroll Insurance in Caerphilly. These would be some great big names to have as sponsors. Thing is, we've had to call up to make appointments and write letters to certain departments. Hopefully, though, the responses will be good.
- I've got the table drawn up ready to make into a database for the website for the rear panels of the car. These should put up as extra panels to choose from over the weekend. Both rear panels are completely blank at the moment. They are a great place to advertise as most of the panel is at a really eye-catching height. We still haven got the grid drawn out on the wings or the back of the car. This should be done over the next week.
- Again, thank you all for your sponsors. Keep them coming. We've had a lot of personal messages on the car which look good. You'd be surprised how even a measely two square (£2) message stands out on the car. Get your message on the car now by clicking here!
- First of all I'd like to give a huuuge CONGRATULATIONS to Helen Woosnam-Jones from UGS Construction and Lee Jones from Jewson in Barry for having a new baby girl, Grace Isabelle Jones!
- Also a thank you to Helen for introducing Barry Jewson to our crazy adventure. Lee Jones, the manager there (Helen's husband), and the rest of the team sponsored us £25 with an extra £5 to charity on top. Cheers guys! They chose a 5x5 square right at the front of the bonnet with all the lads' names. We will get this printed ASAP.
- Today was amazingly another successful day! We had sponsors from CAM Motor Spares in Caerphilly - £35, Jewson in Barry - £30, Helen from UGS - £2, Pacific Nutrition in Treforest - £48, Planet Kitchens in Llanbradach - £10.
- Also, we had a different request from Castell Coaches in Pant Glas Ind Est in Bedwas - they want a visor across the front and back windows with the company name and telephone number. In return they gave us a huge bottle and bag of change. We spent ages counting it out ready to change with the local pubs. It totalled £141 which we were well chuffed with. Thank you Castell Coaches! We couldn't get the money out very easily so Rawlings wanted to smash open the bottle. I said it was stupid idea as glass would go everywhere. While saying that the dickhead toppled over the bottle and it smashed... and glass went everywhere. It's all cleaned up now and we're £141 better off! See the photos in the gallery section.
- Unfortunately, we've run out of printing vinyl. More has been dispatched and should be delivered tomorrow so we can get on with printing the graphics. We have a few small pieces left so we hope to get the smaller stickers printed tonight.
- We're seeing CARS 4U tomorrow morning to see about getting the £50 sponsor they promised.
- Another successful day today. We managed a confirmed £272 in total just today. This is mostly thanks to Tile World Cardiff (in Taff's Well) for their huge £200 sponsor. Also, Toys4Boyz in Bedwas sponsored £30, Springfield Softdrinks sponsored £10, Piccadilly Carpets Caerphilly sponsored £20, the very sexy girls from UGS Construction in Treforest sponsored with their names on the bonnet, Opal Computers £2, and 1st Image Embroidery £7. A huuge thank you for all your sponsors. Keep an eye on the Sponsors Page to see the printed graphics.
- Still no word on the visas or Russian invite yet!! What's hapening?!
- Today (Tuesday) was our first proper day of finding sponsors. And it went well. Very well. It was raining for most of the day but as soon as we set out, the rain thankfully stopped. We definitely think that the fact we were armed with QuidGrid.com flyers, pictures, T-shirts and the front page of the Caerphilly Campaign newspaper really helped our sales approach. A big thank you goes out to all the sponsors we had today:
- £50 from AB Styling in Treforrest Ind Est (A special thank you to Shaun for recommending some of the others)
- £50 from Beech Farm on Nantgarw hill, Caerphilly (just off the big roundabout)
- £20 from South Wales Transmissions in Pant Glas Ind Est, Caerphilly
- £50 promised from CARS 4U in Treforrest. We have to go back there Friday to finalise things.
- Other sponsors we spoke to and have shown an interested are CAMs Motor Spares on Nantgarw Road, Caerphilly, and DecTek in Treforrest Ind Est.
- Got the stickers physically on the car today. See the sponsors section for the photos of the taken squares.
- We ran out of the sticky vinyl that we use to print the car stickers. Ordered more from eBay. It's expensive but it's weatherproof.
- Andrew got stopped by the police earlier in our Nova - apparently the QuidGrid.com banners we had were "obstructing his rear vision" - you could even see through the banners from the inside of the car. He was ordered to remove the banners there and then while she (the police officer) watched and waited. Surely the police have something better to do with their time. We weren't even allowed to keep the back side windows covered. We forgot - you can't possibly drive a vehicle that has no rear view - sorry lorries and vans, time to get some rear windows installed! He didn't have the cheek to ask for a sponsor from her - the chicken.
- few more pics added to the gallery.
- Keep those sponsors coming!
- Got our sponsorship from ASDA today - £50.00. This is excellent. Thank you to Lloyd Bowen who helped arrange it and to my grandmother (who works there) for bringing it to his attention. A thank you to Joanne also - General Manager of ASDA Caerphilly.
- Quite a few personal sponsors today. Thanks to all those including: Angela, Chris & Wendy, Ken Williams, gaynor Williams, Val from ASDA and Florry Pritchard! See all the sponsors and donators!
- Also, Andrew and I found out that we are actually related to each other today - very strange! It's only through marriage - but there is a link. Crazy!
- T-shirts compelted today! And they look wicked. You can see them in the gallery section.
- We got the business cards completed last night. Just need to print them off now.
- Printing of the sponsors to date will be done tomorrow evening (we need the daytime to fundraise). The images can be seen in the sponsors section when they're uploaded.
|UPDATE and APOLOGIES:|
- Apologies to anyone trying to access the site over the last couple of days. The database this website runs from has been down for the last few days. This is my hosting provider's fault once again. They had a distibuted DoS attack on their MySQL servers. Anyway - we're back up and running now. It was only just resolved (about 4 seconds ago from starting to write this blog!)
- ASDA said to come see them Monday (today) - We will be going there later.
- Still no Russian invite as yet! Also, there's been no more news regarding the visas.
- Flyers are complete. We now have flyer/business card stylie cards to hand out to sponsors with all the details on. We're also getting the T-shirts printed out today.
- We can now go out to sponsors armed with the Caerphilly Campaign newspaper, flyers and photographs of the car.
- Will be printing the first graphics onto the car today. A big thank you to all those that have bought squares so far!
- Keep sponsoring us - we need all the help we can get!
- Just got off the phone with a member of ASDA Caerphilly's store, Lloyd Bowen of security. He has very generously arranged with managers that the store sponsor us with an "ASDA Caerphilly" logo across the bonnet. Hopefully we will be finalising it all this Saturday. This will be a great second large sponsor for us! Thank you ASDA Caerphilly!
- Good news today! Someone from ASDA (Caerphilly) has contacted us regarding buying some squares on our Nova. I think my grandmother (employee of ADSA) put in a good word. I will be sorting things out with them tomorrow.
- A big thank you goes out to Bethan & Lloyd for their very generous charity donation and 3-square purchase. I will be looking to get all the sponsors' graphics printed onto the car by this Sunday at the latest. All the images should then be uploaded to this website by next Monday. You can see the sponsors and donations we have received to date in the Sponsors page.
- T-shirt transfer material has arrived. Tomorrow I will be purchasing some cheap T-shirts ready to print our QuidGrid.com logo on to go out to get some more sponsorship. I will upload some pics of the T-shirts to the gallery page when I've finished them.
- We've had a few messages through the website from a few old friends from Bedwas High School. Cheers for those - nice to hear from you all!
- Sponsorship is looking bleak at the moment - around 70 odd quid in total with only 49 days to go! Plans are underway to start a big sponsoring campaign starting next week. We have to wait for Andrew to finish his exams first.
- T-shirt order has been completed. Having branded T-shirts should help us look more professional as we do the rounds asking for sponsorship.
- Website has been slightly updated: Advertisements have been added to the side-bar using Google's AdSense. This will hopefully bring in some extra revenue for the rally as we get paid everytime someone clicks an advert that takes their interest. The Links page now includes some extra links. The Home page text has been updated. I've also added the ability to add images to the blogs.
- Google still has us ranked on Page 8 when searching for the keywords "mongol rally" - we're hoping to get within the first three pages of Google soon. Since QuidGrid.com's site launch we have come up from Page 56 to Page 8 within a fortnight. This is good news. Our Google AdWords are still running strong and have received over 6 clicks and the ad has been 'aired' 22,000+ times in just a week. Our site also receives around 200 hits per day. This isn't amazing but it's a good start.
- We have received news that our visa application responses are almost ready. Fingers crossed! Before we can obtain visas for Russia we need to be 'invited'. Our invites should be emailed to us by early next week.
- We're on the front page of the Caerphilly Campaign today! This is what we wanted. Taking up most of the front of today's newspaper is our picture and story. I will hopefully be getting a copy for the website soon. You can see the story at Caerphilly Campaign's website.
- We still haven't had a dry day yet to be able to stick on the adverts people have bought so far. This will be done ASAP though.
- For some reason, Google have removed us from their listings! I hate it when they do this - we were on page 8. Hopefully all will be resolved soon. Our AdWords are still running for the time being anyway.
- Still trying to get as many sponsors as possible. With Rawlz being busy with his final year exams and me being tied down with uni work over the next couple of weeks, this could be difficult. We will do our best though.
- Getting some T-shirts printed soon to look more professional when visiting companies for sponsorship. Hopefully this won't amount to much.
- Still haven't heard back from Mongol Rally HQ about our visas. They were delivered (we know as we used online postage tracking) but I'm not sure if we were too late. It's going to be very difficult to get our visas without the help of the Mongol Rally HQ team.
- Sponsors still pending: AB-Styling, Domino's Pizza, Toyz 4 Boyz, Cars 4U and CAMs motor spares.
- Caerphilly Campaign came round yesterday to take our story and pictures. The newspaper we're in should be next Thursday's. Tower Print (one of our sponsors) will be clearly advertised across the bonnet).
- Definite interest from HTV Wales News - they're getting back to me soon.
- Trying to get more sponsors. Cars 4U at Treforrest Ind Est were tried today but the manager was out. We feel this would be a great opportunity for them and are egerly awaiting their reply.
- A thank you goes out to James "Fridge" Steventon for his £5 charity donation.
- After a hellish all-nighter getting the visa application forms complete we've finally posted them off Special Delivery (with the help of the very nice ladies at Trethomas Post Office). They should've been in by last Wednesday but we didn't get the email telling us so! Hopefully all will be OK - depends how generous they feel at Mongol Rally HQ (please Mr Tom - we are so sorry they are late!)
- Found out how challenging visa applications can be. They want to know the ins and outs of everything you do. We probably wasted three times as much paper and toner with application form mess-ups than we used for the actual sent off forms! Not to mention the 4 trips back and forth 24hr Tesco to get photos, then more photos, then some more... then suitable envelopes and paperclips etc (yes, we were very prepared as you can tell).
- Bought our international travel insurance.
- Selected Ty Hafan to be our locally supported charity. Ty Hafan are a Children's Hospice for the incurably ill for South Wales.
- To get noticed as we are driving around we decided to stick big www.QuidGrid.com stickers all over the car. We will take pics and upload them tomorrow.
- We received a very generous £50 from Tower Print in Bedwas Industrial Estate today. Darren, one of the partners there, also gave us some good links to other potential sponsors.
- Caerphilly Campaign, the free local rag, are coming tomorrow to take photographs and give us a write-up. We hope to be on the front page of next Thursday's paper.
- We talked to Real Radio FM today and we are getting in contact with their ents team within the next few days.
- Red Dragon FM told us to phone in to one of their DJs' shows to get a mention. We will be trying this within the next few days.
- BBC or ITV Wales News is next on the media coverage agenda along with the South Wales Echo newspaper.
- Brunel University's student union website has us on their front page - www.brunelstudents.com.
- My ex-uni-housemate (nicknamed "Fridge") contacted me after stumbling on this site and said: "You havn't rebought that heap of sh*t you were driving around in our freshers' year have you?" and "I might even consider sponsoring you big Welsh gay" - which we found histerically funny - nice to hear from you again Frijja!
- Trying our best to find the best insurance quote
- Finding sponsors is the main aim of the next few days
- Ordered weatherproof car sticker material ready for printing
- Apologies for those that have tried to buy squares but had problems. I am trying to iron out the problems but it seems it was an issue with the host provider - it must have been down yesterday for some reason. Sent them a nasty email anyway. All should be working now if you would like to try again. A special sorry goes to Miles Goodman and Taggy as they tried to make a very generous donation and sponsor but for some reason were let down. If anyone has any problems in the future, please let us know at email@example.com.
- Bought some Google AdWords today in the hope that we can get some more interest in the project. Although we only have a small budget, if this only brings in 5 customers it would have been worth it.
- Will be spending the next week going all out looking for sponsors. Getting business card stylie flyers printed to help promote our project.
- "Tidy" Magazine have been in touch looking to sponsor Welsh teams and for the team to wear T-shirts with their logo and have photos taken ready for their August edition. Hoping to hear back from them soon.
- WIll get insurance on our little Nova ready to drive round to promote it.
- Website officially completed today (well, 99%). We can now accept online payments with 100% security.
- My girlfriend kindly bought 1 square to set the ball rolling to test the system.
- More squares will be drawn on the car over the weekend.
- Plans to add roofrack to the car are underway. We will also make more grid squares available by having two large advertising boards on the roofrack front, back and sides.
- Links section now contains links of all the other Mongol Rally 2006 team websites.
- Visa preparation underway. Some serious route-planning has been done to find where we have to cross borders and when. Can't believe how much visa applications cost!
- Grid is drawn out on the two doors and the bonnet of our Vauxhall Nova
- Website now 90% complete: Still to do
* complete the "the rally" information page
* make all the information on the pages work (things such as total raised, latest sponsor etc)
* complete the payment option - dealing with Nochex.com to get this sorted. Payments should be available by the end of the week
We got the car! 250 quids for a white 1990 Vauxhall Nova G reg. It's perfect. We've started to draw the grid on it now. Should get the square buying section sorted within the next few days. Keep checking back!
1. Website getting slowly finshed off. Currently at the 70% complete mark.
2. Please report any errors you find to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers.
1. Added more pages to the website today.
2. Picking up our rally car tomorrow.
1. QuidGrid.com and QuidGrid.co.uk domains registered today. Rest of the website underway.
2. Organised to buy our rally car on Monday 8th May
3. Communication with a few possible sponsors