Friday 16th October is a date that will stay with me for a long time. It marked the final day for this adventure as Bridget and I arrived at Kimber House in Abingdon. An apt destination, as the current headquarters of the MG Car Club, and a tribute to all the car club members around the world that have been so helpful during our trip.
We were welcomed by the lady Mayor of Abingdon marking the long relationship between the town and the MG marque. For those that are not MG owners, Abingdon was the location of the factory that produced these marvellous cars and would have been where Bridget started out in life.
As well as my family and friends, Julian White, the General Manager of MGCC led a posse of local members and officials many of whom had brought their MG’s. Television and the press were well represented.
So we have completed the final leg of this journey and ponder what lies ahead, but first I need to reflect a little on our achievement.
As the BBC so succinctly put it at the start, “You only speak English, you are not a mechanic and you are going to drive a totally unsuitable car around the world….” That helped to focus my mind on what I had undertaken and at the same time hardened my determination to do it. Now some 39,000 miles later I can ask “Was it really worth it?” Since the ninth day out I have had no doubts whatsoever that the personal experience was worth whatever the cost turned out to be.
I have been privileged to touch the lives of thousands of people in 27 countries around our globe, many of them children. In most cases the experience was fleeting, a laugh, a cry of glee or just a smile as we drove past, but if seeing Bridget caused even one child to develop the ambition to improve his or her life then I shall deem the event a success.
The contrasts of the different cultures are fascinating yet it is the common desires for love, peace and harmony, all very overworked adjectives, that is so striking. The vast majority of differences are superficial; the way our food is cooked, the work we do, the buildings we live in, but when given a media slant it makes “them” different from “us”. Add some emotive words such as “alien” and soon there is distrust and even hate.
Seeing and experiencing the extremes of nature such as the floods in Australia, the landslides in Ecuador and the earthquakes in Panama; or the beauty of the Andes, the spiritual effect of the Himalayas and the wonders of the deserts in Pakistan, Australia and Peru gives a true perspective of mankind and our insignificance.
There are so many people to whom I am immensely grateful for their support during this adventure, in particular as I mentioned earlier the members of the MG clubs in England, Australia and Canada. There are also the fond memories of individuals around the world that helped me or who I have swapped stories with. They are not forgotten even though I may not have actively kept in touch, such as the Reithers in Austria, the lifeguard in Iran, the Mullah in Esfahan, and the students in Kerman. I am still trying to establish that they are safe after the trouble following the elections in Iran.
Will there be a book? As long as I can find a publishing agent that thinks there is a suitable market then yes there will. I hope to make an announcement on this site before the end of the year.
Would I do it again? Probably not in the same way or even the same route because I’ve done that, but I certainly won’t stop travelling. There is so much more to see, for instance I have only seen the northern Arabic countries of Africa and there is still Russia, Mongolia and The Gobi Desert. An MGB might be more suitable for The Gobi, or perhaps an Austin Healey. If I was to strengthen the rear suspension…………….