Sam Wat­son

LRO (UK) - - Contents -

… with over­land­ing ad­vice you can’t ig­nore

Sam shares top tips on stor­ing roof tents, how to cook Christ­mas din­ner on a camp­fire and re­veals how a so­cial me­dia SOS saved some over­lan­ders

Love it or hate it, so­cial me­dia is now in­sep­a­ra­ble from the mod­ern world – and from the world of Land Rovers. There’s al­ways some­one around on the pop­u­lar Face­book Land Rover pages, and this can be very use­ful. Re­cently in the wet sea­son a group of over­lan­ders drove into the mud pan at Lac Maider in the desert of south­ern Mo­rocco and mis­judged ground con­di­tions. All their ve­hi­cles (in­clud­ing a De­fender) got stuck in thick gluti­nous mud caused by heavy rains.

In des­per­a­tion they mes­saged a friend on Face­book, ask­ing if any­one was able to help them. The friend was 340 miles away in Es­saouria and too far to help phys­i­cally, but he in turn put a mes­sage on the Over­land­ing Mo­rocco Face­book page ask­ing if any­one could as­sist. More than 4600 miles away (and three hours ahead in time dif­fer­ence) in Dubai I was on­line, saw the mes­sage and sent a text to a Mo­roc­can Ber­ber friend who lives in Tafraoute, about two miles from Lac Maider it­self. He runs a small garage in the mid­dle of the oa­sis vil­lage, and he was able to drive out to the mud pan and re­cover the stricken ve­hi­cles. All thanks to Face­book. There’s al­ways some­one around who can help, so never be afraid to ask.

Go­ing through the roof

It’s that time of year when many of us take roof tents and awnings off and put them into stor­age for the win­ter months. It’s also a good time for a bit of pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance – they are ex­pen­sive bits of kit, after all. When stor­ing a tent, es­pe­cially a roof tent, putting laun­dry dryer sheets in­side (some­times called fab­ric soft­ener sheets) as you fold it away can pre­vent the smell of stale cloth that can build up in some mod­els. Zip fas­ten­ers can ox­i­dise or seize up dur­ing pe­ri­ods of stor­age so, to pre­vent this, treat them with beeswax, sil­i­cone paste or sil­i­cone grease. Sil­i­cone spray or WD-40 (or sim­i­lar) also works, but it can dis­colour fab­ric. To clean dust out of a tent zip use a tooth­brush soaked in WD-40.

Don’t put roof tents away wet. If you do have to, open them out to dry (ide­ally in sun­light) as soon af­ter­wards as you can. If mildew stains oc­cur be­cause of damp stor­age, wash them in a so­lu­tion of Det­tol (or Lysol) and hot wa­ter, brush clean, and then rinse in a so­lu­tion of lemon juice and salt in hot wa­ter. For best ef­fect, al­low to dry in sun­light – the ul­tra­vi­o­let com­po­nent of sun­light will help re­move residue. How­ever, you may need to wa­ter­proof the tent again after this treat­ment.

Open­ing for busi­ness

Three years ago the in­te­rior of the Egyp­tian desert be­came off-lim­its for over­lan­ders be­cause of se­cu­rity con­cerns, and so re­moved some of the best off-road­ing in the world from the op­tions open to po­ten­tial trav­ellers.

The first signs of the re­lax­ation of this re­stric­tion are start­ing to ap­pear. The Pres­i­dent has as­sured the me­dia and lo­cal res­i­dents that the White Desert and the Great Sand Sea will fully re­open ‘soon’, and lim­ited desert travel is now pos­si­ble around the oases of Siwa and Ba­hariya in ad­di­tion to the widely trav­elled ar­eas of north­ern Faiyum and Wadi El Rayan. The man to talk to if Egypt is on your planned route through Africa is Nick Rock­ing­ham, a Brit who runs We Know Egypt, a sa­fari com­pany based in Maadi in south­ern Cairo. His email is [email protected]­know­e­ – Nick is an ex­pe­ri­enced desert driver him­self, and is ac­cus­tomed to deal­ing with over­lan­ders and help­ing out with guides and per­mits.

Cook­ing up a storm

I spend a lot of time at the mo­ment ex­plor­ing the moun­tains and wadis of the eastern UAE, and tend to cook with a camp­fire. Camp­fire cook­ery is not as easy as you may think, but a few ex­pe­ri­ences have passed my way that may be in­ter­est­ing for those hav­ing a go or even those who are old hands.

Burn­ing sage on a camp­fire cre­ates aro­matic smoke, which re­pels mosquitoes. If you are a fan of ba­con and eggs but hate wash­ing up, take a pa­per bag, line it with four pieces of fatty ba­con, crack two eggs into it, place it on a grill and heat slowly over red-hot coals. The fat will melt and line the pa­per bag, and the ba­con and eggs will cook nicely. Burn the bag after eat­ing – no wash­ing up! Do put the bag on a plate or some­thing when eat­ing, as the fat can es­cape and stain cloth­ing.

If you’re one of those peo­ple who al­ways burns the meat on the bar­be­cue or in the coals of the fire, wrap the pieces in cab­bage leaves. It keeps the meat moist and it won’t burn as eas­ily – works with Christ­mas tur­key too! On that note, if you do hap­pen to be over­land­ing dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod and want to cook Christ­mas din­ner on the camp­fire, it’s eas­i­est to make foil parcels of a tur­key breast, a cup of stuff­ing, half a cup of gravy, a cup of veg, dried cran­ber­ries and salt, pep­per and thyme. Spray the in­side of the foil with fat, and cook each one in the em­bers for about 20 min­utes. Merry Christ­mas!

‘Re­cently in the wet sea­son, a group of over­lan­ders mis­judged the con­di­tions and got their ve­hi­cles stuck’

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