THE car is a Triumph, and so too was the trip.
Grandparents Clive and Gillian Raven have just completed a monster journey from Sheffield to Singapore - in a 1968 motor bought off eBay for £500.
The couple drove 17,342 miles through 16 different countries over 127 days after deciding it shouldn’t just be gap year types who get to have adventures. Along the way there were bandits, border guards and brilliant sunsets over the Gobi. They braved the chill of the Siberian forests, the heat of the Mongolian desert and the potholes of the roads in Laos. “Almost as bad as Sheffield,” notes Clive.
Then when they reached their destination, they got on a boat, bought another Sixties motor, and had a 2,000 mile spin around India too. As you do.
Now they’re back in Blighty and today the pair, of Bocking Rise, Beauchief, are telling The Diary: it’s nice to be home but it sure was fun on the road.
“Why did we do it?” ponders Clive, a self-employed Diesel plant fitter who restored that Triumph himself. “We like driving, I suppose.
“We’d always promised ourselves we’d see the world when we retired but a couple of years ago we started thinking why wait? The kids are grown up and we were able to get the time off work. We just said ‘let’s do it’.”
And, so, do it they did.
It took two years planning; sorting visas, planning routes and buying map books. Half a dozen in all.
“I hate GPS,” says Clive, 54. “Unreliable. Give me a map and a compass. Did we pack a Sat-Nav just in case? Don’t be daft.”
Then on June 1 they waved goodbye to their two sons, two daughters and one grandchild, and nosed south. They drove about one day in every four, and sight-saw the other three. They spent their nights in cheap motels and camping.
“It was the trip of a life-time,” says Gillian, 53, a special education needs coordinator. “Seeing so much of the world and engaging with so many cultures was wonderful. My favourite bit was Cambodia. I know it’s a cliché but the people there have so little but are so happy.”
En route they saw the Kremlin in Moscow, viewed the Terracotta Army in Xi’an and ate goat’s cheese in the house of a Mongolian family.
“We got talking and within a few minutes they were insisting we go to their house for tea,” explains Clive.
It wasn’t all plain driving, of course.
In India, Clive had to put his foot to the floor after bandits - “big men with sticks” - had set a up an improvised road block on a quiet rural road. In China, they had to have a guide sit in the back of the Triumph.
“That’s the law out there,” explains Clive. “We thought it would be intrusive but he was actually very useful.”
They also took the odd wrong turning - though, surprisingly, perhaps, for a married couple (of 33 years) spending eight hours a day in a car, they say they didn’t argue once.
“We’re a team,” says Gillian. “When we finished, we just felt disappointed to have run out of road.”
And now after arriving back on October 4 (with the Triumph still in tip-top condition), they’re already planning another trip - from South India to South Yorkshire, perhaps.
“The car we bought in India was a Hindustan Ambassador,” says Clive. “We had to leave it there but we’re thinking the best way to get it back to Sheffield would be to fly out there and drive it back home.”