Friday, June 01, 2007


The Gnomads have a new possession. It is a Mk 1 Landrover Discovery in white (with brown speckles). Not the Gnomadette's choice, she would much rather have a stylish family saloon, all comforts included. However as both the Gnomad and the Gnomadette like to go for drives in the desert, a saloon is not really a good option. "Oh dear," thinks the Gnomad, "I will just have to get an irresponsible, environmentally unfriendly 4X4 to play with. Mickety Mee, Alas and Lackaday." :)

My first choice was a Jeep Cherokee Classic, but none of this particular breed was available in the Magic Kingdom for a price that suited the Gnomad's limited purse. The disco was not really on the favourites list at all, what with the famously temperamental gear shift and the vast turning circle - slightly better than that of a crude oil tanker, but not by much. However this "slightly foxed" disco came up at only 10,000 shekels (about 1,350 UKP or 2,700 USD) so it was worth a look. 1992, V8 injected engine, lift pack on the suspension, brand new springs, brand new back axle, uprated aircon, not pretty but, as the Gnomad's younger sibling would have it, "straight, hard and cool". Now I know that in the UK the Landrover Defender is the real "straight, hard and cool" Rover, but they just aren't up to life in the Arabian Desert without some serious preparation, unless you've got the military spec Wolf XD and that still needs some preparation.

Someone had obviously prepared this discovery for the desert in a pretty competent way, but had not paid any attention to the look of the vehicle and in this town, where looks count so much, there were no buyers. A test drive was arranged, unaccompanied by the vendor so it included a certain amount of off-road Clarksonism ( see and/or ) The Rover performed well on the test drive, the gear shift and turning circle being the low points, but nothing unexpected.

A certain amount of haggling ensued and the Gnomad got the price down to 9,000 shekels (1,200 UKP or 2,400 USD). Many of the Gnomad's work colleagues commented on the price and age of the vehicle, asking why Gnomad didn't buy a much newer car. The company will lend up to 70,000 shekels (almost 10,000 UKP or 20,000 USD), interest free, for a car purchase. The only problem is that it must be repaid in the life of one contract, and since the Gnomad's contract has one year left to run, the loan on offer was actually of no practical use whatsoever.

Now all I need to do is get the high lift jack, jacking plate, tyre inflation pump, snatch strap, tow straps, shackles, hand winch, sand shovel and a few other bits and pieces and I'll be ready to go. Apart from the obvious GPS unit, any suggestions for the recovery kit/off road pack gratefully received. I already have a compass :)

Visits and Visas

Plans for the summer break are coming to fruition. To our deep delight the Gnomadettes UK visa was issued two days ago. Depending how you look at this, it either took three days or three months.

The actual issuing of the visa took three days; application form, passport and supporting documentation dispatched via DHL to British Embassy, returned two days later avec visa.

DHL have a good arrangement for passports to the Embassy. You go in and dispatch the documents, paying for outbound and return carriage, DHL pays the Embassy fees (they won't carry cash) and then you collect your documents from them, reimbursing the Embassy fees DHL has incurred. Pretty straightforward. Well something in the Magic Kingdom has to be.

What took the time was getting the embassy to say what documents were actually required. This took months. If you look on the Embassy website it gives a general list of required documents but says to check with the local diplomatic mission (ie the Enbassy) what other documents are required for your specific country of departure. So, duly emailing the Embassy for local requirements the Gnomads recieved the response "check out our website" having replied that the website said to contat the embassy, the next reply aksed a couple of apparently pertinent questions and promised, once these questions were answered, a full and complete response.

Questions duly answered the reply came back "check out the website for the documents you need" This went round and round several times until eventually the visa section emailed a list of documents. This list was apparently cut and pasted directly from the website (or there was a phenomenal coincidence in text, font, colour formatting and spelling errors, but I suspect not)

so with no further information forthcoming the documents et al were couriered off the the Embassy. Where they were not accepted as they weren't all present! Everything on the list had been sent, I checked it about fourteen times. No this was another document, one that had not previously been mentioned. Fortunately DHL were really on the ball, rather than return the package they called us with what the Embassy had said and advised us to fax the missing document through, and said they would hold the delivery untilwe called them to confirm the document had been recieved. I suspect they had had this problem before because, as it turned out, the DHL guy delivering to the embassy was on first name terms with members of the visa section. The next day the missing document was duly obtained and faxed through, DHL did their stuff and the day after the Gnomadettes passport was duly returned with the visa safely inside.

Plans are now afoot to be in the UK for the first two weeks of July, or thereabouts. defintie dates will be circulated by other means.