Christmas 2003

It was great to spend some time with our folks over the Xmas holiday period but we were still busy too, finalising the last details of the trip. We had almost 4 weeks in Belfast but it flew in really fast and before we knew it we were packing up to leave. Santa was kind and last minute additions to our expedition gear included a load of motocross kit from Norman Watt Motorcycles – Ireland’s leading off-road specialists. We decided this would be comfier in the really hot climates but were initially unsure whether to bother, as it was yet more kit to carry. In the end our folks were at a loss as to what to get us for Xmas so we decided to go for it. Buying the kit from Norman was a real experience on it’s own. The ‘shop’ at Temple just outside Belfast was an old house crammed from floor to ceiling with motocross, enduro & trials bikes with all the associated kit stashed away in various boxes, racks and shelves. It was an Aladdin’s cave and needed the expertise of Norman himself to dig in all the dark nooks & crannies to find what we needed. Still, the personal service was first class and he went to great lengths to make sure we had the right gear and that it all fitted properly. When it came to paying it was even better as he had a tendency to round prices down & offered us massive discounts on ‘old’ stock! We came away as 2 very happy customers.

Christmas was a delight as we completely put the trip out of our mind (well at least for a few days over the festive period). We operated on the camel principle and ‘stored up’ with a plentiful intake of food & drink (well that was Norman’s excuse anyway). For New Years Eve we had a rousing send off at the Castlereagh Glentoran Supporters Club (storing up this time on the alcohol intake) and then departed Belfast on 2nd January, fully rested and primed for the start of our great adventure!