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2007: Peking to Paris in an Austin Seven

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

One of the Austin Sevens crosses the Gobi Desert

Back in the 1970s Kip and Carmen Waistell lived opposite The Talbot Inn in Cuckfield. Kip was active in the Sealed Knot historical battle reenactment society as Commanding Officer of the Weald Dragoons - the the Parliamentary contingent based in Cuckfield.

During the week Kip ran a solicitor's practice based in the old bus station in Haywards Heath and his wife and young mum Carmen back then was coping with raising their family.

They have had some remarkable travels. In 2005 they rode two scooters home in the Welsh borders from Kazakstan having had some extraordinary adventures - they survived somersaulting over the handlebars, slept with brigands and danced with dervishes.

Carmen and Kip - End of the Golden Road to Samarkand

Two years later this whetted their appetite to do something even more outlandish - driving a 1930 Austin Seven from Peking, across the Gobi desert, then across Siberia to Moscow, St Petersburg, Warsaw and Berlin, ending up in Paris 8,000 miles and eight weeks later.

We attach the complete and fascinating diary of this trip entitled 'Brian the Snail' with this posting. But make yourself comfortable - because it's short book length of 35,000 words. This needs to be downloaded and read as a pdf file.

Brian the Snail 2007
Download PDF • 552KB

Kip took his bagpipes and played them in Peking, St Petersburg and at a Russian wedding party. The journey was full of challenges and excitement including having a tent blown away in a sandstorm in the Gobi, staying with foresters in their log cabin in Siberia, having nude saunas with the Russians … and somehow managing to drive the car nearly 2000 miles with a broken prop shaft! Some pictures for you below:

As added reward for their endeavours they raised enough to buy 5,000 mosquito nets for Kenyan children via Unicef. The friendship and generosity of everyone they met on these trips was 'just unbelievable'.

Enjoy a quite remarkable story.

Captions to the photos (click to enlarge) below:

Red Square, Moscow 6am

Gobi children

A Siberian Road

Our little car needs petrol near Peking

Contributed by Kip Waistell and Malcolm Davison.



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