Archive for September, 2010

Driving, Camping & Final Days in Mongolia

The latest update from Harry Jurgens in his Peking to Paris Saga.

September 20th 2010.
Driving through Mongolia & getting a taste of life here has been an amazing experience. The scenery is quite beautiful, wide open plains, clear skies, mountains, deserts. Night skies present a display of bright stars, full moon, like you could reach out and touch them.

The roads are much worse than anticipated. When the route was planned two years ago, the roads were apparently in better condition. Rains, floods and other storms have caused pot holes and done damage to the surface. Many of our competitors have suffered serious damage to their cars, spending days (or evenings) in the local blacksmith, truck or auto shops. Those who are more competitive have taken the risk to drive faster in their attempt to win. We have decided to be more cautious, take it easy on the car, and make it to Paris safely and in one piece. That strategy has served us well, so far.

The local car/truck shop was busy today, our group has contribued greatly to the local economy, and local mechanics and merchants are taking advantage of this opportunity to “cash in” on the huge demand for their services.

One would think that in a country with only 3 million people in a space the size of Texas, finding a nice campground wouldn’t be a problem! The first night our campground was next to a railroad track, and the trains only run at night. OK, so that was only one night. The next night our campground was an area covered with rocks, so we spent time “clearing” a space for our tents. That wasn’t the worst, however. Our next campground was one that had been used for grazing cows, and was covered with 100′s of years of cow poo-poo. Yes, we had to clear that before putting down our tents.

The food has actually been pretty good. We’re not sure, however, whether that might be because we are so hungry at the end of the day. The shortage of wine has been an issue, however. On the last rally (4 years ago) the organization brought lots of wine, yet no one purchased it…so they didn’t bring as much this time. On this rally, however, the wine is in great demand, and has sold out quickly. So the rally organisation and local merchants are scrambling to keep the team in ample supply.

The people are fascinated with the old cars. If we stop on the side of the road, they stop to see if we need help, or just to look. Even though we don’t speak the same language, the language of cars is easy to interpret. We brought a “polaroid” type camera, so we take a picture of the locals next to our car and give it to them as a souvenir. They’re delighted.

We’re off to town to go shopping for cashmere blankets, which apparently is what you do here. Soon we’ll be in Russia and in a hotel again.

Roman Rambles

On Tuesday September 14, 16 members and friends of the Foxearth & District History Society attended a tour of the roman villa site at Hill Farm Gestingthorpe, the home of Ashley Cooper and his father Harold

In 1947 Mr Harold Cooper began deep ploughing on the farm, during the course of which the plough started bringing up red tile. On approaching the experts at Colchester he was told it was roman. Being not long after cessation of hostilities in 1945 there was no money to spare on archaeological digs as all the clearing of bomb sites was opening up opportunities to investigate areas which hitherto had been covered with buildings.

Mr Cooper was advised to go it alone. This he did and so began an interest which continues to this day 63 years later.

We were led by Ashley to the site which is clearly marked by grassed areas surrounded by darker soil to show the extent of the walls. With the aid of many pictures which he has commissioned the extent of the settlement with the farm and artisan areas also marked. Ashley has a natural talent when explaining how the villa was built and occupied. By the use of members standing in for the owners and servants the various jobs needed to keep the whole setup running smoothly was made understandable to everyone.
Specific areas were pointed out where significant finds had been made; these were now displayed in the farmhouse museum. Ashley then took us on a field walk and we were instructed to keep our eyes on the ground to see what we could find. This walk produced a number of different tile pieces all of which he explained as to their original position on the villa.

The second part of the tour took us over the latest area of interest where much more digging will take place in the future

We later went to the barn museum where tea and biscuits were served and the new floor was officially open by Alan Fitch.

The last part of the tour was conducted in the farm house museum.

Next meeting is on Tuesday 12th October when we visit Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury. Meet outside at 10.20am sharp.

Peking to Paris – Gobi Desert and “Rest” day

The last 2 days were spent racing thru the Gobi desert. Every day there were 2 or 3 “time trails”, which represent the true racing aspect of the event. We are starting to do very well in these, and it is quite exillarating. The car continues to behave better and better, probably because we starting to know it better. All kinds of things are coming off though, because of all the ratteling and shaking. We have to stop several times per day to tighten various parts, headlights, steering column etc.
Today was a “rest day”, spent mostly working on the car, greasing it, adjusting the brakes, increasing the size of the axel stop, so the tires won’t hit the fenders in the big bumps. We also shed some weight, since we packed too much spare parts and luggage. Next up is a week long trip thru Northern Mongolia, were we will camp every night. It looks like it is going to be a little colder, but the food in camp is incredible ! Pictures will be on the site soon.
September 14th, 2010
Day1and2-067-300x225The last 2 days were spent racing thru the Gobi desert. Every day there were 2 or 3 “time trails”, which represent the true racing aspect of the event. We are starting to do very well in these, and it is quite exillarating. The car continues to behave better and better, probably because we starting to know it better. All kinds of things are coming off though, because of all the ratteling and shaking. We have to stop several times per day to tighten various parts, headlights, steering column etc.
Today was a “rest day”, spent mostly working on the car, greasing it, adjusting the brakes, increasing the size of the axel stop, so the tires won’t hit the fenders in the big bumps. We also shed some weight, since we packed too much spare parts and luggage. Next up is a week long trip thru Northern Mongolia, were we will camp every night. It looks like it is going to be a little colder, but the food in camp is incredible ! Pictures will be on the site soon.