3 Alberts Take On Rusty Rex
Who are the 3 Alberts?
Welcome to the 3 Albert’s on tour blog, we hope you enjoy sharing in our adventure!
Our mission is to complete the Rusty Red Challenge by driving 3500 miles across Europe from Riems to Nice via Switzerland and Italy in a car costing less than £500.
So who exactly are the three Albert’s and why are they braving a week of continental commuting?
Albert 1 is Fishermen’s Mission Senior Superintendent Tim Jenkins from Lowestoft. Tim is the brains behind the adventure. It was his idea to join this madcap scheme and he is also responsible for vehicle maintenance. To prove this he has packed a spanner, a hammer and a roll of gaffer tape. Tim is nicknamed ‘The Spanner’
Albert 2 is Fishermen’s Mission South Coast of England Superintendent Nick O’Neil. Nick has prepared for this trek by having a fishing net shaved onto his head. Nick is fluent in Spainish which will be really useful if we were going anywhere near Spain, which we aren’t. Nick is nicknamed ‘El waffledor’.
Albert 3 is Fisherman’s Mission Fundraising Manager for the East of England Andy Malcolm. Andy is not keen on driving so is the designated navigator for the mission. He has already proved his worth by successfully navigating the other two Albert’s to the coffee bar on the cross channel ferry. Andy also gets to sit in the front of the car giving him full control of sweets and snacks. Andy is nicknamed ‘are we nearly there yet.
So why are our three intrepid Albert’s exchanging the bliss of a summer in Blighty for endless hours of hot dusty tarmac in a cramped motor across Europe?
The answer lies in the title of our trip…3 Albert’s on tour.
Albert is the name given to the Fishermen’ s Mission iconic collection box normally found in fish and chip shops around the UK. On this road trip, there are 3 Albert boxes glued firmly to the roof of our beloved banger, but they are doing the same job….raising funds for the Fisherman’s Mission.
A huge thank you to our major sponsors who have made this trip possible, they are travelling with us as their logos adorn our car, but you can also show your support.
Sailing across the channel we passed huge container ships and other large ferries, all passing through the waves in serene fashion. But looking further out to sea one could spot the tiny dots of fishing vessels, plying their trade in this busiest waterway as they have done for hundreds of years. Battling the elements, they looked so tiny in the vastness of the seas surrounding them.
The 3Albert’s on tour are completing their challenge to raise funds for the men and women who work on these fishing boats. For those who have suffered at the hands of the sea, the most hostile environment there is to make a living. You can help us support active and retired fishermen and their families by sponsoring our challenge. Visit www.justgiving.com/3albertsontour
Thanks so much for your support and for dropping by to read of our adventure. Follow our daily blogs here and our virtually live progress on Twitter @3albertsontour and @thefishmish
More updates later!
As an organisation, we receive no government or lottery funding. We look after both current and retired commercial Fishermen and their families. In the last 10 years, 100 fishermen have lost their lives doing the job they love, putting fish on our plates.
Calais to Reims – Day 1
Calais to Reims
Welcome to the second instalment of our 3Albert’s on tour blog.
Vive la France!
We have arrived in France and completed the first leg of our tour. After leaving a good two hours to clear security at Dover we were through in less than 20 minutes and so boarded an earlier ferry. The weather in Calais was most unusual as large wet drops of water fell from the sky. The locals call this phenomenon ‘rain’ and after the recent dry spell in the UK it appears we have exported our traditional summer weather across the channel.
Thankfully our trusty steed, who we should really introduce properly, it’s a Chrysler Cruiser with 130,000 miles under its belt, has fully functioning windscreen wipers so we were soon heading south. A couple of hours later we stopped for a rest and the first appearance of gaffer tape as ‘The Spanner’ (Tim) sprung into full-on car maintenance mode to fix a piece of the interior that had decided to fall off. All very exciting, the only thing missing was an oily rag and a furrowed brow.
We entered Reims in good time and made our way to our pre-booked accommodation only to find we could not enter it and the French-speaking owner was nowhere to be found or contacted! With stiff upper lip and true British resolve, we were reduced to questioning any passers-by to see if they were our reluctant host. After shouting ‘Charlie?’ to numerous rather bemused Frenchmen we realised it was a futile exercise and contacted the booking company. They also had no joy in locating our mysterious French friend and so arranged for us to stay at a nearby hotel.
With all that sorted our next adventure was to make our way into town for a meeting at a local restaurant with our fellow Rusty Rex Rally competitors. A fine bunch of folk gathered and we all sat down to enjoy the football…..ho hum, at least we’re not venturing into Croatia on this trip.
Early start tomorrow for our Day 2 trip down to Switzerland…and just like we said when England took the lead in the football last night, what could possibly go wrong now!?!?!?
The 3 Albert’s
Reims to Interlaken – Day 2
Day 2 dawned bright sunshine as Andy (are we nearly there yet) and Nick (El Waffledor) shared a continental breakfast wondering where Tim (The Spanner) was. He had not made it for the prearranged breakfast meet at 07:00. Was there a problem with the car that only the Spanner could fix? Was he out looking for fishermen to help even though we were hundreds of miles from the sea? Actually, he had simply overslept although blamed his lateness on a roll of gaffer tape blocking his view of the alarm clock.
We set off to retrieve our vehicle and the 3 Albert’s were back on the road again. Our first port of call was to the rally start point at the old formula one race track just outside Reims. Here we met the thirteen other cars in the rally and though the other drivers and crews were all very friendly it was clear each competitor was eyeing up the other to see who had the worst vehicle. Thankfully ours was looking in good health. In fact, all the cars had the correct number of wheels, doors, mirrors etc. Who knows if it will be the case in a few days time!
We were then given a briefing on the days route by the Rusty Rex Rally organisers and handed our first set of challenges. Although this is called a rally it is not a race but is a competition. The rally winners will be decided by who gains the most points from the challenges set every day.
Our challenges for today included taking photos of Riems Cathedral, a shot of the team eating lunch in full fancy dress, finding the cheapest bottle of Champagne and more photos of as many Swiss watch factories as possible.
We were taken on a magical tour of the rural /French countryside. The roads were clogged with dust and Tractors as the corn harvest was being gathered in. At one point Albert himself was inspired to get in touch with nature when he ran off into a field of Sunflowers for a selfie. It was a long but beautiful 5-hour drive to the village of Gray for a lunch stop. Driving on we crossed the border into Switzerland. The border guards were not interested at all in us as they appeared to be stripping one of our fellow Rusty Rex rally cars back to the chassis…maybe they were searching for cheap champagne!
Avoiding all motorways made our journey through Switzerland rather diverting but we were lured on and inspired by the sight of the majestic Alps in the distance. We were soon greeted with the sound of cowbells and the smell of expensive chocolate as our final destination came into view. After 10 hours of driving and very exhausting navigating our journey was complete. We gathered in town with the other competitors and swapped experiences of tunnels, passes, and the cost of champagne…ours was 12.49 euros from Aldi in Riems.
How did we do in our challenges? Find out tomorrow in the next instalment of our blog.
Seeing the French tractors at work today reminded us of a different harvest, the harvest of the sea. Like cheap Champagne fish, this winter has been hard to find for our fishermen, particularly on the South Coast of England. This has made life very tough for our fishing families, many of whom are really struggling. Thankfully they know where to come for help in tough times. /your support of this rally and the Fishermen’s Mission means we can always be there for them Thank you.
3 Albert’s on tour
Day 3: Interlaken, Switzerland to Bormio, Italy
Hello everyone, thanks so much for checking in with our daily blog as we 3 Albert’s continue our adventures in the Rusty Rex Rally 2018 Riems – Nice.
Today was a hot day in the mountains. The sun shone brightly throughout with temperatures in the valleys reaching 32 degrees yet almost halving when topping the high mountain passes. Another long day’s driving with close to 10 hours behind the wheel. Lots of ups and downs on winding mountain roads and hairpin bends where it appears the Swiss authorities have forgotten to install reasonably secure crash barriers. Our morning was spent traversing two major mountain passes at Grimsel and Furka. Lots of tunnels and steep inclines backed all the time by the sound of Swiss cow bells and the smell of sweaty cyclists who painfully pedalled to the tops.
A special moment came when we came across a large expanse of snow and ice. The car was drawn up as close as possible, a Christmas CD was put on at loud volume and the Albert suit was donned for a spot of snowboarding without a snowboard. We were all in tears as we remembered our families back home and thought of crackers and Christmas pud. Other drivers, cyclists and the odd passing cow seemed rather bemused and puzzled by the whole thing but Christmas in July works for us!
We had a couple of worrying moments today when the car momentarily lost power on the steep ascents. We don’t know the reason, the Spanner suggested dirty fuel from the Swiss petrol station. Whatever the cause, the Crysler Cruiser has so far done us proud and seemed to recover well from the earlier hiccups.
Our Rusty Rex Challenges today were all photographically based with items as diverse as totem poles, bobsleighs, and bears on motorbikes needing to be snapped. We achieved most of them so are hoping the judges are kind to our efforts.
In a particularly poignant moment as the 3 Albert’s looked out across the stunning lake and mountain view in front of them we pondered what we would love to do at that moment. For Tim (The Spanner) it would be a chance to race a power boat across the inviting waters. For Andy (are we nearly there yet) it was a calling to climb every mountain in view and traverse the jagged peaks on foot. For Nick (El Waffledor) it was a case of surveying the scene and opting to have a barbeque. Well, it was nearly lunchtime.
The day of up’s and down’s continued and as we crossed from Switzerland into Italy the border guards stopped us to ask us one rather confusing question…”Have you bought anything that is alive today”? a simple “no” seemed to be the correct answer and we were waved on to Italia. This must have confused Navigator Andy somewhat as after an hour or so of being in Italy he remarked upon a large number of cars with the letter ‘I’ on their numberplates and wondered why there were so many Icelandic drivers in the area. Tim nearly misjudged the oncoming hairpin through tears rolling down his cheeks!
Most of all today we were reminded of the majesty of God’s creation. How can we ignore it when surrounded by such breathtaking views as the mountain peaks soar into the clear blue skies with the lakes of turquoise glistening below. Our God is an artist who sculpts and paints in shapes and colours that just blow our minds, how thankful we are.
Remember the reason for our trip is to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission. Our target at the start of this trek was 15,000 pounds. To date, we are just under that total so really need your help to push us to the chequered flag. We’ll announce our running total in our last blog but if you want to be a part of our adventure visit www.justgiving.com/3albertsontour and give whatever you can to support our fishermen and their families. Thanks to everyone who has done just that, no matter if you are one of our major sponsors or have just given a few pennies, you’re all wonderful and we cannot thank you enough.
Bormio, Italy to Val-d`isere, France – Day 4
Bormio, Italy to Val-d`isere, France.
Hello from France, thanks so much for reading our blog.
A dramatic night was had in Bormio as shortly after midnight a huge thunderstorm raged down the mountains into the valley. Lightening shafted across the inky black sky, rain fell in large wet blobs and a loud noise rumbled around the hills…it was thunder, not Tim’s snoring as first thought.
The morning started with a team breakfast of cereal and croissants before heading off to meet the other teams and organisers by the Bormio stair lift. We were there super early as Tim (the spanner) had offered to help another team who appeared to have boiled their brake fluid on the mountain passes the day before. The chances of them getting their vehicle to ever stop again were slim, then up stepped The Spanner with gaffer tape and hammer in hand. His expertise and gentle fingers did the trick and our motoring pals were mightily relieved.
It should be pointed out that this rally is far from a gentle drive around Europe. The roads and environments are challenging. We have spent at least 10 hours behind the wheel every day. Both our drivers, Nick and Tim have been highly skilled and excellent whilst Andy’s control of the snacks and expertise in pretending to read a map have been a joy to behold. But it must be stressed this is a tough and exhausting challenge for all with many hundreds of hot miles covered and hundreds still to come.
We set off today for our first landmark which was Lake Como. One of our challenges was to get some photos taken on a blowup sunbed in Lake Como. It was very hot, 32 degrees, and the roads were packed. We skirted around this beautiful Italian lake but found no easy access. We eventually found ourselves in Como town itself and after some expert navigation came to the shore as a seaplane was coming into land. We had stumbled across the Como Aero Club. That’s not a place for like-minded fans of light bubbly chocolate to gather but rather a training school for fliers of small seaplanes. After chatting to some of the chaps there we arranged for a photo shoot for Albert and had a number of bemused locals look on as a giant foam-headed fisherman clambered aboard the tiny plane.
Photographic duties done, we headed out of Como towards Milan on the superb Italian motorways. The skies darkened again and another huge rainstorm battered our car as we headed south. We had a long afternoon drive of many hours through the Italian Alps to St Bernards Pass. It was scorching hot and for Tim, things got even hotter as he accidentally turned on the driver seat heating element when swapping with Nick. For a while, he couldn’t understand why his posterior seemed to be on fire. A quick pit stop at a local supermarket revealed the cause and a relieved Tim climbed back into a cooler seat!
The St Bernard pass took us over the mountains and back into France. Again the driving was testing and the views simply stunning. The Tour de France will pass through these huge hills next Thursday and already fans were beginning to camp out and paint the names of their favourite riders on the tarmac.
Today is Bastille Day in France and Val d`isere was decorated and ready to celebrate. After eating and getting our photographic challenges from the day scrutinised we trotted along the street to the town square where a live band were playing. We were in fancy dress, wearing oilskins, which was handy as the rain began pouring down again. It didn’t seem to damped the French at all in their celebrations and many dancing the night away whilst holding umbrellas aloft. Well, why not join in, who could resist, although once again the locals both puzzled, bemused and probably a bit pitiful and three oil skinned fishermen joined ina danced the night away. Nick was particularly lightfooted and his take on the dance normally performed by the members of Madness will live long in mine and many of the locals memories. Fireworks then followed to round off another tough but amazing day.
Be sure to join us tomorrow to see where we are going next….and…with one stage to go we are currently second in the race to win the Rusty Rex Rally!
Val-D’isere, France to Nice, France – Day 5
Hi there, thanks for joining us to get the latest reports from the 3 Albert’s on tour.
The rain of last night subsided and the bright morning sunshine and smell of coffee heralded a new day. Throughout this road trip, we have stayed in budget hotels, spending as little money as possible. Last night’s hotel in Val-D’isere was excellent and we all shared one room very snuggly. But on waking we immediately knew we had a problem. One of the Albert’s was off colour. Only hours earlier he had been the king of the dancefloor at the Bastille Day celebrations but now he was a pale, very pale, shadow of the fine Albert we all knew and loved. Nick had awoken with a cracking headache and other symptoms which this blogger would rather not disclose. Alas, the 3 Alberts were down to 2.5 Albert’s at best. Poor Nick was looking as if he had just spent the night out on a creel boat and a day of sleeping and gently nursing was required.
Undeterred we set off and met the other teams to receive our challenge for the last day of the rally itself, another huge drive down out of the mountains to the coast at Nice. We took no chances and after following the route out of Val-D`isere across the highest paved road in Europe, the Col de L’iseran, we left the rally route to get to Nice as quickly as possible. This would save on driving time and get our poorly Albert to comfortable surroundings.
Our challenge for the day meant our team which was 3 Alberts and they became 2.5 Alberts was now 4 Alberts or was that 3.5 Alberts? Anyhow, we had adopted a new team member, a watermelon who we named Alberta. Our challenge today was to make our watermelon, Alberta, into a person and get her photographed in various poses. even with our team depletion and a day of mostly motorways we managed to complete the tasks. Special thanks go to a random French lorry driver, an old man over 80 and a couple of teenage French girls. Least said about that lot the better. Even with a route made up almost entirely of motorway we still spent around 8 hours on the road, arriving in Nice, our final destination in the late afternoon. Today was cold, the temperature barely reaching 12 degrees on the mountain pass and hot in Nice where we sweltered as the thermometer topped 33 degrees.
Leaving Nick to sleep, Tim and Andy headed out to finish some final pictures with Alberta the watermelon and to investigate the Nice fishing industry. thinking that the sea would be a good place to find boats we headed for the local beach. After sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea for some time we realised that maybe the boats were elsewhere but it was worth a look.
The roads on entering Nice were remarkably quiet and everyone appeared preoccupied. what could possibly be happening we wondered. Also, the bars and public squares were packed, people were painted red, white and blue, draped in flags and continually singing the French National Anthem. Occasionally there would be a huge cheer and smoke bombs, fireworks and flares would be set off. It was extraordinary. Tim and Andy could only assume the whole town had come out and gathered to welcome the three Alberts.
This warmed our hearts and made us so thankful. The crowds of Nice got even more excited when they realised Albert 3 nick was feeling better and took to the streets waving flags, blaring horns, sitting on cars, dancing in fountains. How lovely! We were overwhelmed and a tear formed in Albert’s eye. It was only later that we realised the reason for this mass celebration. Apparently, the football World Cup actually carries on after England have been knocked out! France had gone on to win the whole thing and the city of Nice was celebrating. As I write this at just after midnight the streets are still packed, the flares still burning and the horns still blaring…it might be a long night!
Nick restored, the three Alberts made their way through the exuberant crowds to a local pub for the final night of the Rusty Rex Rally to Nice 2018. Here the results of the rally would be given, who has won? would it be the three Albert’s? Well, we did our best, we almost made it, but due to a technical error as the fundraiser didn’t correctly read the first challenge, we came a gallant second overall! Well done each Albert! We finished second by the slimmest of margins.
However, as the rally part of our trek draws to a close it is fair to say that we have not lost at all. We have only done this gruelling challenge to raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission. We have been successful at that with our total inching ever closer to the 15,000 target. We have driven every one of these hundreds of miles in a cramped and dodgy old car because each one of us believes passionately about just what the money raised can achieve. Every penny helps those in our fishing communities who often have nobody to help them. They may be struggling with loss, with poverty, with loneliness, but they know the Fishermen’s Mission are there for them. You can help us help them as well. There is still time for you to sponsor our mammoth trip. Please visit www.justgiving.com/3albertsontour to give anything you can. Your help really does make a difference and is deeply appreciated.
Well, the rally part may be over but for the three Albert’s the trip is still going. Having got our rusty old wreck of a car to Nice we now have to get it back home again. Tomorrow sees a huge drive from South the North France, crossing a whole country in one day. Check in tomorrow to see how we got on.
Vive Les Bleues!!!
Nice to Douai Day 6
Welcome to the 3 Albert’s on tour blog, we hope you enjoy sharing in our adventure!
Hello, thanks for dropping by to get the latest update sur les trois Albert’s
Well, the official rally part of our adventure is completed but now comes the long haul home.
Today we faced a whole day of the joys of French motorways. Setting off from Nice at just after 8:30 it would be a fun filled 13 hours later that we arrived in Douai, our final overnight stop. Nice this morning appeared to be a city with one big collective headache. After celebrating wildly into the night the arrival of the 3 Albert’s alongside Les Bleues victory in the World Cup, the citizens of Nice were slowly emerging into the bright sunlight of a new day.
With our route programmed in everything packed up and ready to go, the 3 Albert’s set off. What would the day hold in store? What adventures would come our way? Just how thrilling would 13 hours on a motorway be? We’d love to be able to fill this blog with thrilling tales of intrigue and wonderment but the truth is pretty bland. It was the longest game of eye spy the World has ever known. Andy the navigator (are we nearly there yet) had nothing to really navigate as the route was one straight line. Tim (the spanner) had nothing to do but drive as his gaffer tape and hammer were not required. Nick (El Waffledor) also was kept busy doing just driving as the road signs were all in French with a complete lack of Spanish signs for him to translate.
But there were moments of joy, of drama and achievement.
The joy came with the ticking off of each hour and each 1000 kilometres.
The drama came when Tim checked our accommodation for the night and for a short time we thought the three of us were going to be sharing one double bed. Thankfully this was far from the case but it provided a mixture of intrigue and dread as the miles ticked by.
The achievement came when after numerous attempts Andy finally worked out the process of how to use the toll machines on the motorway. To date, inserting the ticket, then the credit card and then pressing a button for the receipt had proved to be abridge too far for our learned navigator.
Scheduled stops to rest and swap drivers broke up the endless miles and as morning turned to afternoon and then evening we finally reached Douai. 1,120 kilometres, around 700 miles or the equivalent of Portsmouth to Scrabster covered. So what would await us in our accommodation?
Yolande and Adrien, the finest hosts in Douai welcomed us into their home. Our overnight accommodation was a three storey traditional French townhouse. Yolande and Adrian spoke very little English and we une tres petite Frenchie, however, they beckoned us into their lounge and very generously insisted that we drank beer and water with them whilst tucking into home made cheese and onion tartlets. We then spent an hour telling them all about our trip and the work of the Fishermen’s Misson, Google translate filled in the gaps. We showed them videos from earlier in the trip of Albert sliding down the ice in Switzerland….even Google translate had problems explaining that one!
After making arrangements for le petit dejuner we headed into town for a very late night meal before bed. Thankfully our superhosts role did not also include tucking us all in and reading a bedtime story, though Tim was hoping it would.
Our trip is almost at an end….. chances are running out….go to www.justgiving.com/3albertsontour to sponsor our trek and support the Fisherman’s Mission.
Join us tomorrow for our last trip across the channel…..once we have tackled breakfast with Yolande and Adrien…
Douai to Home – Day 7
Hello, thanks for joining us for the final update from the 3 Albert’s.
Yolande and Adrian welcomed us into their garden for a splendid breakfast of croissant and brioche with homemade jams. It was a super way to leave France and our mammoth trek behind us and prepare to be reunited with all things British.
A very straightforward drive into Calais and a hop across the Channel followed to see us safely back in Blighty. Traditional gifts such as the World’s largest Toblerone and those boiled sweets you can only buy on ferries were purchased and all was set for a return to our 3 Alberta’s and mini-Albert’s at home.
This trip has seen us cover over 2,500 miles, spending between 10 and 12 hours in the saddle every day. It has been exhausting, testing, hugely enjoyable and continually surrounded by the glory of God’s creation. How fortunate we have been to spend time in his magnificent creation, seeing sights that take the breath away, even if it was through the mouth of a large foam mascot costume or the window of a car that had seen better days. Talking of the car, despite one or two minor hiccups it did survive the trip…just about…the clutch cable broke three miles from Lowestoft…so near, yet so far away!
We could not have completed this trip without massive help from many people. Firstly our magnificent sponsors. They have made the whole mission possible and it has been our privilege to carry your names and logos around Europe for all to see. Believe me, our car made a huge impact as it toured around, creating huge interest. We have to thank our families….those we left at home who kept our spirits up with their messages of love and support. We also thank our Mission family, for their prayers and good wishes, and especially the team at Head Office who went the extra mile to sort out insurance etc, post these blogs and generally check we were still alive. You’re all fantastic. Special thanks also to bemused Border Guards, puzzled customs officials, worried cyclists, and concerned fellow drivers who all enjoyed and eased our progress without having a clue what was going on.
This was of course just a journey, from one place to another. We were always very sure what we would face each day but had the security of good roads, a good car (sort of) good drivers and navigators, and the knowledge that should anything go wrong, just a few phone calls would see us sorted out fairly swiftly. I’m reminded that our UK fishermen make journeys every day also. For them it is always a journey into the unknown, on treacherous seas, with unpredictable weather and the knowledge that were anything to go wrong, help could be a long way away, probably to long away to make any difference, to save a life. They and their families face these journeys every day to bring us our fish. There is no other job like it anywhere, no other job were the threat of death and injury is a daily reality.
As we did our journey, as we travelled our miles, it was to support our fishermen in their journeys. To stand alongside their families, wives and children. And to recognise that all journeys do come to an end, the last mile is driven the last trip into harbour is made. The Fishermen’s Mission are there to support our fishermen in every journey they make and when the journeys come to an end we are there also.
Thanks again to all those who have supported the 3 Albert’s on tour.
And for one last time, one last opportunity, please visit www.justgiving.com/3albertsontour to donate and support the Fishermen’s Mission.