A couple have completed the adventure of a lifetime by travelling for 127 days across 16 countries in a classic car they bought for £500 on eBay.
They visited France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore - arriving back home via India in October.
‘(It) allowed us to go off the beaten track. If we didn't like a hotel we just moved on. If we loved somewhere, we stayed put for a little longer. We did what we wanted, when we wanted.’
Mr Raven, a self-employed diesel plant fitter, bought the Triumph for £500 on eBay and restored it himself in preparation for their adventure.
He said: ‘People thought we were mad. They said we would never make it. They kept asking me if we were worried about breaking down or getting injured.
The wide variety of environments they travelled through brought particular challenges. Mr Raven said: ‘In the Gobi desert we had a bit of a problem with fuel evaporating because it was so hot.
‘People saw the car and wanted to engage with us, coming over to shake our hands. Being in an old car, rather than a modern vehicle, we felt more connected with the world outside.’
Mr Raven said: ‘In China we were required to stick to an agreed route and we were needed an official guide with us in the back seat the whole time.
‘The forests of Laos were stunning and the people were lovely. They had very little but were happy. The sun setting over the Gobi desert is an experience I will never forget.’
Mr Raven estimated the trip cost £10,000. At one point the couple encountered some stick-wielding men, whom they took to be bandits, while travelling through India.
‘We were the only ones on the road. Suddenly, I saw a road block of piles of tyres in the way. As we got nearer I saw it was manned by several men with sticks.
‘I just put my foot down and drove straight through. The men hit the car with their sticks, but I did not stop.
‘When you take on a big challenge you can't help but unite,’ said Mrs Raven. ‘We took it in turns driving and reading the map and we just worked as a team - people won't believe us but we didn't fight at all.’
The couple are planning on making a similar journey next year, and hope to raise money for charity on their next drive.
Mr Raven said: ‘I am already missing it and I would love to go on a similar journey again - I could go again tomorrow.’