In a little over a week the Psy Chi Mission begins. It's a pretty alarming prospect, to be honest, I can't say that I feel even vaguely ready. I've spent the last ten years of my life dealing with uncertainty by doing my best to remove it through research and organisation... and now I'm embarking on something where uncertainty is pretty much a fundamental principle. I'm still desperately trying to prepare in my usual fashion, but the enormity of the unknown defies my attempts to reduce it - I don't know where I'm staying, I have no idea how I'll find living in a camper van for 3 months, my route is known only in the sketchiest form. I just need to keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter, I don't need to be anywhere in particular!
That said the preparations are still pretty involved, and since I gave up work a little over a week ago I've been flat out. The van is great (we took it to Out to Graze festival, which was top) and I'm finding it harder and harder to imagine myself selling it when I'm finished....but it's not without a certain stress factor. I bought it from Gday Kombis, who are based near Oxford and specialise in importing rust-free vans from Oz. Inevitably, buying from somewhere like this (and there are plenty of people in the business of sourcing, restoring and selling high quality buses these days), you pay a premium, but (the theory goes) you get some level of reassurance that what you're buying is a) a good specimen in the first place and b) has been carefully overhauled. I can't fault Billy and his team for the quality of the buses and their willingness to go the extra mile to get you set up, but I have had a few mechanical wobbles already, which is slightly disappointing given that's what I was really hoping to avoid. I suspect that in large measure this is down to things being done in a bit more of rush than they perhaps should have been (new carb and electronic ignition installed relatively last minute before I set off). This is partly my responsibility for imposing a tight schedule but partly also I think a fairly hectic workload for those guys and some slightly over-ambitious promises on their part. I'd advise anyone going down the same route to allow a lot of extra time in your schedule for getting things shaken down after all of the work has been completed.
So anyway, I've had a slightly stressful few days of trying to sort out some serious sputtering and loss of power at the low end now I'm in Suffolk and not in a position to go back to Billy easily. The local garage had a go at fiddling with things but they didn't get very far, and I was beginning to get really quite worried until I found these people only a few miles away. Couldn't believe my luck! Went down to see them today and they seem pretty clued up and very straightforward - so I'm hoping that at the very least I'll get an honest and accurate assessment of the state of the engine. Really hoping that it's just a little bit of poor tuning rather than an indication of something more fundamentally wrong... sigh. At some point I'll get round to writing about the entertainment I've had trying to work things out for myself.... suffice it to say that the books don't really help when your engine has been put together out of lots of different parts and doesn't correspond to anything in a VW service manual!
Tomorrow: tie dying and bus decoration!