End of the road for Gallivanting Quines
THE Gallivanting Quines have completed their 10,000-mile Mongol Rally within a month, raising £7,500 for charity.
Kay Simpson from Oban and Anne MacAskill from Skye finished the race in Ulan-Ude, Siberia, last week in Kay’s beloved 22-year- old 1200cc Renault Express van, nicknamed the Green Machine, ornamented by a giant horned yak’s skull called Genghis.
The race started at Goodwood Motor Circuit on Saturday July 16, when 300 vintage cars and 800 participants did a lap of honour, and Kay, 70, and Anne, 68, were given awards for being the oldest racers. ‘I’ve never been given an award for being old,’ Kay said.
Anne, mum of stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill, posted their adventures on a blog and Facebook page, The Gallivanting Quines, first driving through Belgium on Sunday, Germany and Austria on Monday, across Hungary into Romania on Tuesday, Bulgaria on Wednesday, and Istanbul on Thursday. Anne wrote of Turkey: ‘The driving has greatly improved (I don’t mean Kay’s) since I was last there with her in 1968. We may have hit a brick wall to get into Iran tomorrow as we do not have a
carnet de passage. I am getting my goon and scarf ready.’
In Iran, the pair had to share their two-seater van with an official guide, Pouriya. ‘We found Iranians charming,’ Anne wrote. ‘Iran involved a horrendous amount of sleeping policemen. There were plenty of living ones as well stopping us. Kay emerged after three days sitting in the back of the van like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. We got through some tolls without paying – they, like the policemen, were fascinated with Genghis.’
In Turkmenistan they celebrated Anne’s 68th birthday on July 29 with a hotel and breakfast but Anne wrote: ‘Kay [a retired vet] was worried the warm milk for her tea was from a cow with mastitis, but decided it was just dried stuff. Kay bought a fancy teapot – she needs tea to survive.’
Kay surrendered her unfinished bottle of gin at the Iranian border, and was delighted to restock the wine cellar in Uzbekistan. Her ‘amazing driving’ through Tashkent’s Sunday market crowds, plus a bribe or two, got the pair into Kazakhstan, within 1,700km of the Russian border.
It went across ‘ endless steppe, horrendous roads’, and, Anne wrote, ‘the biggest potholes I have seen. We shall not be complaining about Scottish ones any more, even if one ripped my car’s tyre before I came away. Kay had to change a fan belt on the van – she can turn her hand to anything’.
In just three weeks, they had reached Russia’s border on August 5, but visa troubles delayed them for a week. At this point they also heard Mongolia was charging rally teams $4,000 to cross its border. ‘We can not and will not pay that,’ Anne wrote, but the time did give Kay the chance to put pen to paper. ‘We are used to big Hondas, BMWs, Audis overtaking us,’ Kay wrote, ‘but today Anne’s pride was dented when an old, bashed-up Lada overtook us.’
After reaching Russia on August 12, and the finish line in Ulan Ude on August 16, Anne wrote: ‘ We have travelled 16,705 kms, or 10,380 miles since we left Goodwood plus the 1,384 kms or 860 miles for Kay to get from Oban to Skye to collect me before we travelled south – and we are still on speaking terms.’
The faithful Green Machine was dispatched to Harwich via Estonia, while Kay and Anne flew back to London on Thursday.
However their adventures were far from over. ‘Kay managed to lock herself into the bathroom of a Gatwick Airport hotel at about 3am,’ wrote Anne. ‘Fortunately she had forgotten to remove a Swiss army-style knife from her handbag and a rescue was effected.’
From Glasgow, the pair travelled home by bus, ‘probably ready for our own beds’, Anne said, ‘ but what an experience altogether.’
Anne is fundraising for Cancer Research UK and Wings for Life, funding spinal cord injury research projects, while Kay is fundraising for Animals Asia.
Final stop: Kay Simpson and Anne MacAskill reach Mongolia after a 10,000-mile adventure.
Anne cooks dinner at the roadside during their marathon rally.