Sally and Clive Harding left Newcastle recently to embark on the 2017 Mongol Rally after receiving a fond farewell from their family, friends, as well as patients, volunteers and staff at St Oswald’s.
Since then, Sally and Clive have driven thousands of miles across various countries and each week we will be bringing you a little snippet of how their adventure is progressing. Here are some highlights from Sally and Clive’s first week in Sally’s own words:
We decided when we were planning the rally that we would drive through Europe as quickly as possible as we'd rather see places we've not visited before. So we set off down the German Autobahn, whose lack of speed limit brought joy to our restricted British souls. We only saw one other Rally team today, so either we are lost or everyone else has gone another way! It's like a big group of vehicles all splitting up and zipping madly and excitedly around Europe in diverse directions.
We drove on through Austria and the beautiful Alps, rising up in jagged peaks with snow in the tops still. Lots of tunnels through the mountains and we finally popped our in Slovenia. I didn't know what to expect: it's very lovely, still lots of mountains but a bit less rugged.
On to the next leg of the journey we drove through the rest of Slovenia, all beautiful with mountains as a backdrop and vast fields of copper topped green maize. The sky is blue without even a hint of a cloud, and today it reaches 32 degrees.
Then we drove into Hrvatska and were about to congratulate ourselves on travelling into a country that we had not known existed, only to realise that that is the way you say 'Croatia' if you live there.
The roads in Croatia were bumpier, but to be fair, still largely better than the M1 and pretty easy driving. Clive and I try and do two hours driving each and then swap over. Somewhere in the middle of the countryside, we drove up behind a little white van and Clive announced 'See, we could have taken that on the rally instead of this,' in a tone that suggested that that would have been a bad thing to have done.
We didn't manage to see any of Croatia except the motorway from Slovenia to Serbia, but a guy at a petrol stop told us we must come back and visit Split and Dubrovnik on the coast, as they are really beautiful. We’d love to. On a plane.
Joking aside, we are doing well. The scrap yard replacement seats in the car are really comfortable as are the over the shoulder seat belts. We are getting along just fine, although three days together constantly is but a dimple on thirty five years of marriage!
Belgrade, our first big capital city on this journey and I was glad that Clive was driving. The traffic is dense and fast with everyone else certain of their destination and determined to get there as quickly as possible. I must have more mercy on visitors to the UK in future.
We decide to walk the 5 minutes to the Kalemegdan fortress. This ancient citadel is at the heart of the old part of Belgrade, and is actually more like a walled city, looking out over the two rivers.
It sounds like Sally and Clive are having a blast! Check back in with us for regular updates.