I was born as is often the case, at an early age, in Kent in the UK, but grew up in rural Hampshire on the farm managed by my father Martin. I learned to drive at a deliciously illegal age in his Series II Land Rover, which probably explains why I have subsequently owned, and raced in, so many vehicles bearing the famous green oval.
I did an apprenticeship as an airframes technician at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, working on aircraft as diverse as a WW1 SE5a, the de Havilland 88 Comet Racer, and the Meteorological Research Flight Hercules, “Snoopy”. Having completed five years of training I then walked away from aircraft engineering and pursued a career in technical sales, which over the years saw me working in Tampa FL, Sydney Australia, and Dubai in the UAE – long before anyone had heard of it.
It was there in 1999 that I joined forces with my former manager Ian Barker and we set about creating a successful packaging machinery import / sales / service business, Al Thika Packaging LLC. Seventeen hard working years later, we both decided the time was right to bring in a manager so we could chill out a little. Ian’s now living on top of a mountain in Spain, growing olives and chasing goats off his land, while I’m driving around the world in a 6×6 truck, occasionally eating olives and frequently chasing goats off the road.
Over the years I have;
- Founded with half a dozen others, The Farnham Knights American Football team in England in 1984 – still going strong
- Consequently married a cheerleader, Carole, without whose assistance I could not have –
- Brought two beautiful, intelligent, hardworking daughters into the world
- Learned to fly – but ran out of money and never obtained my license. Boo….
- Bought a couple of drum kits – but still don’t play the drums very well. Boo….
- Taken up rally co-driving, at an international level, relatively successfully. Hooray…..
- Founded the U.A.E. Chelsea Supporters Club, before handing it over to the capable hands of Mr. Lee Sporle to run, as my business and rallying started taking up all my time.
- Broken my back whilst co-driving (Oww…) and so had to quit racing. Thank You Dr. Johannes Veldsman, in Abu Dhabi, for literally putting me back on my feet again. Hooray…
- Started successful sales & distribution businesses from scratch in the U.S.A., Australia and U.A.E.
- Developed a secondary career as a freelance motoring journalist. www.wheels.ae
- And another one as a motor sports & airshow photographer.
- And another one as a U.K. property developer. All concurrently!
- Traveled, a lot.
- Obtained my: Light vehicle driving licenses in UK, Florida, Dubai, Australia and China, also my U.A.E. heavy truck and motorcycle licenses
- Worked at six Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a marshal, Start Line I.O. and Snatch Rat (Recovery Crew)
- Worked as a precision driver in three Hollywood movies; ‘Syriana’, ‘Mission Impossible 4’, ‘Fast & Furious 7’, plus many car adverts
So it’s no surprise that by 2016 I was worn out and had decided it was time to retire early…
I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.
Countries I had visited prior to “The Big Trip”
- England, Scotland, Wales, Eire, (Sorry N. Ireland!), France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Croatia, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (as was), Malta, Cyprus
- Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey
- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Singapore, Phillipines, Japan, China, Hong Kong (still U.K. then) Australia, New Zealand
- U.A.E., Sultanate of Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen
- Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius
- U.S.A, Canada,
So 58 in total, leaving plenty more to be seen yet…
Several reasons really, all of which seemed to build up over the years and by 2011 triggered my first thoughts of “I know, why don’t I just drive around the world?”
- I truly enjoy driving – anything from a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse at 332kmh in Spain, to THE Audi sport quattro (chassis #1) around Bavaria, a Peugeot 504 estate across Syria, classic Range Rover across the Rhub Al Khali, Audi Q3 from Beijing to Shanghai, a 13 tonne Actros dump truck around Dubai (for my license) and a Porsche 911S on a frozen lake in the north of Finland, inside the Arctic Circle. I just love driving….so why not take a 6×6 Sprinter around the world?
- A desire to travel extensively while I still have my health. The alternative is that I sit behind my desk for another 12 years, running a business, gaining an ulcer, putting on weight and thickening my arteries. Let me think about that….No Thank You.
- A passion for photography. I want to fulfill my need to record a journey through what I hope are photographs others enjoy, and which motivate them to visit some or all of the places I discover.
- I enjoy writing, and even after 10 years of doing so commercially, still get a buzz out of seeing one of my articles, ideally illustrated with my own photos, in print. Now I want to write about my own adventures and to encourage others to travel; if that helps pay for my diesel along the way, so much the better.
- I need a challenge. During my last few years in Dubai I’ve been going stir crazy. The place has been good to me, no complaints, but after 24 years, I need a serious change of scenery – every day. Being stuck in the same old routine is turning me into an old man faster than I can bear.
- Mid-life crisis. I’ve been having one for about eight years now and it shows no sign of abating.
- More to the point – why not?