The Mission

The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.

Monday, 4 July 2016


Harry Washington, who is 19 and co-driver to his dad Bruce, has the amazing privilege of leading the Rally and is very likely to be in the winning car, How incredible must that feel when you have just left school and are heading for university?  In camp in Mongolia (and slightly drunk)
Harry said to me that his dad could change anyone's life within five minutes but sadly I never got that much time with Bruce - our current relationship is at the Yo! Rhubarb and Custard level and there it will stay as I am in Hampstead and they are in - well somewhere else.

It's nice being back home, lovely to be with friends and family again and to swap notes on the rally and what it all means. At the same time it is strange to remember your friends and rivals who are still on the road and battling through.

We flew back from Kazan via Istanbul and it says something of my sense of direction that I couldn't quite believe I was travelling in a straight line but that's how far east we were.  Somehow we have to recover our car from Russia - but I expect that money will fix that problem.

The more interesting question is how do we recover ourselves emotionally? And it is not so easy - my mood goes from high to low and back again.  I can rationalise our exit and condemn it in the same breath. I can enjoy this evening in the pub with my friends and yet be in tears as I write this. I'm a bit broken and a bit exhilarated. I'm a bit down to earth and a bit in space. A bit accepting and a bit frustrated.  I'm annoyed, thrilled, fed up and fazed.

We've been invited to rejoin the rally in Europe and to follow along in another car. I've told Richard tonight that I can't do this. We had a Rally car that we thought would get us across half the world and that hasn't happened. Following along in a modern something wouldn't be the same.  I would love to give a wet eyed and warm farewell to  our fellow travellers in Paris but for me it would be fake to be at the dinner - is it okay if I give you my group hug now?

I hope that Bruce and Harry win - but nothing is certain.  Can you call me Bruce? I just need five minutes of your time...

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