Budget Expedition.

Budget Expedition. Going Caveman in my 1948 Land Rover.

The thirst for an expedition of some kind has been brewing in the dark recesses of the Savage brain throughout the Autumn.  This follows reading some excellent historical accounts of brave pioneers in Series 1 Land Rovers;  Barbara Toy’s circumnavigation of the World, the Oxford & Cambridge drive to Singapore - there were so many done in the 1950’s on shoestring budgets taking little more than a Thermos Flask and Dad's old pen knife! Recent travels seem to have become very gear dependent seeing Land Rovers weighing up to three times that of those early explorers with just two people in them!  I am sure our forebears would be very amused at our antics and the equipment deemed essential to modern expedition travel.  We could rightly argue that these items make the journey both more comfortable and certainly more time efficient than back in the days of Black & White film, but is the core value of the expedition somewhat diluted?


My expedition dreams were jolted into action the other morning as I read another magazines' 14 page review and test of tie down systems to keep loads secure whilst driving off road.  Whilst it did contain much useful information and stressed the importance of keeping load and vehicle together at all times, I did finish reading it thinking ‘What is the World coming to?’  Do potential overland travellers think it unwise to embark on their expedition without equipping themselves with a matched set of Kevlar and Titanium monogrammed ratchet straps?  Pouring a second cup of tea I announced to Jo that we would spend the day having an expedition for £10 each and see how much adventure we could achieve!


I pulled the venerable 80 inch out of the garage and disappeared to buy a tenners worth of petrol whilst Jo went shopping for a couple of big free range chicken breasts, mushrooms, carrots, peppers and onions - total £10.  We had half a bottle of white wine left over to cook with and for good measure slung another bottle in to drink, which sort of broke the rules a little, but a chap needs a glass of wine with lunch!  Into the back of the 80 inch went the food in an old wicker basket, the high-tech expedition spec. cooker in the form of a bag of firewood and Jo’s Mum's old copper jam pot.  Two deck chairs to sit on and a box of matches.  The whole lot was made secure with a length of lorry rope liberated from the side of the road last year. 


We soon left the main road and pottered down various B roads to a Green Lane about 10 miles away.  I know it well and it has commanding views across Leicestershire that on a clear Autumn day take some beating.  There is also the advantage that the Farmer, Michael Summers, is a pal of ours and had agreed to our somewhat bizarre request to cook lunch in his field.  We had the lane to ourselves and I knew there was very little chance of getting stuck as most of it has a gravel surface, but when we pulled off the track to drive down the edge of the field it was a little slippery, but taking it gently was easy as we dropped down into the field to set up our ‘camp’ next to the stream.


In a surprisingly slick operation Jo tied a length of string around the top of the wine bottle and lowered it into the cold water whilst I dug out a square to turf and made a fire pit.  Into that went some newspaper and the all-important fire lighters.  No Ray Mears techniques for us!  With the fire lit and wine being chilled it was time to prep the vegetables and slice the chicken up.  I rigged up the pan on a length of rope and three ‘lamp irons’ found years ago abandoned outside my house.  They made a very efficient tripod to control the fire to pan ratio and within half an hour the meal was bubbling away steadily.  The remarkably versatile 80 inch tailgate was transformed from kitchen work surface to dining table with the addition of a table cloth and some cutlery.  Sitting down to eat in glorious sunshine (if a little chilly) we remarked that we were having a REAL expedition, just on a small scale, but there was no reason why, if more time were available, we could not pack everything back in the Land Rover along with a tent and a couple of sleeping bags and continue along the B roads and Green Lanes of England buying supplies as and when we needed them.  We must have proved something and certainly had a grand day out.




Hot food cooked over an open fire eaten outside is one of the greatest pleasures and can be done anywhere.


An 80 inch Land Rover.  Overlooked today as an expedition vehicle in favour of modern Land Rovers, but these have done some of the most famous expeditions in history.