Muriel's journey with a goddess
WHEN Muriel Kilvert decided to set off on a solo trip around the world in a Green Goddess, bets were laid on whether she would ever make it back.Thirty-one years on, the doughty adventurer is about to publish a book about her remarkable 18 month journey of discovery.
WHEN Muriel Kilvert decided to set off on a solo trip around the world in a Green Goddess, bets were laid on whether she would ever make it back.
Thirty-one years on, the doughty adventurer is about to publish a book about her remarkable 18 month journey of discovery.
Now aged 86, Miss Kilvert, of Saxtead, near Framlingham, spotted an advertisement in the East Anglian Daily Times for the Green Goddess, which she bought for £200, minus the hose and paraphernalia.
She named it Peregrine, after her family motto 'peregrinamur' - we wander.
"The reaction was that people were taking bets on whether I would return at all and whether I would return with the vehicle or without it," she recalled.
Many doubted she could even drive such a large vehicle.
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But adventure was in her genes. Captain Cook is among her forebears, as is the Reverend Francis Kilvert, her great uncle. He was a celebrated diarist and curate in the Radnorshire and central Wales, who wrote about country life in the 1870s.
"I had done quite a bit of travelling and I got itchy feet," she explained.
Although accompanied by a variety of people she knew or met along the way, this was very much her own expedition.
Highly organised as a former administrator and head of schools in Sudan, Ceylon and Norfolk, Miss Kilvert, an Oxford University graduate in politics, philosophy and economics, set about converting her new vehicle ready for the journey.
As a driver with the WRENS, she had driven three ton vehicles before and knew how to handle them.
She started with her niece and travelled first to Canada, then the United States and Mexico, before crossing the Pacific to Hong Kong.
The then 55-year-old's journey would take her almost 28,000 miles around the globe.
Along the way she took in Afghanistan, India and Iran, and places like the Taj Mahal and the Khyber Pass, before reaching Europe, arriving home on December 31, 1973.
Throughout her journey, she kept a neatly-written diary of her exploits, and sketched some of the sights she saw.
She had retired from work in order to make her journey, she explained.
She travelled on a shoe-string, and stopped off when funds ran low to earn enough for the next stage. Her jobs included lecturing, teaching, upholstery and giving cordon bleu cookery demonstrations.
She talks casually of picking up people along the way, then dropping them off somewhere before meeting up with someone else and eventually parting company.
Of course, along the way, she suffered the usual round of setbacks you would expect on such an ambitious project.
But she always found a willing helping hand or a solution - a kindly Mexican even washed her vehicle.
She recalled one occasion when she lost her keys.
"Peregrine was practically impregnable and unfortunately I dropped the keys down a what I call a 'squatty loo', so I had to break in. It took me about half an hour," she said.
Then in Afghanistan, she was run at with a fixed bayonet. Luckily, she managed to withdraw unharmed.
On another occasion, the Goddess got stuck in a double row of railway lines.
"I was awfully afraid we would cause an accident," she said. They tried pushing without success. Luckily, a good Samaritan towed it off - just before a huge train came by.
"People always just turned up," she said. "People were wonderful."
Despite the many perilous regions she visited, she did not worry about her personal safety, she said.
"I think you court danger if you worry about it," she said.
Round the World in a Green Goddess is published by Wright Bros of Ipswich. It is set to be launched on Wednesday, April 21, at 5pm at Walpole Chapel, near Halesworth. All are welcome to attend.