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It?s only February, but we?ve had 28 entries for this year?s first Gallery Rally already and it?s getting closer every day. In all the excitement we managed to pin down Tour de La Liberation veterans Garry Taylor and Mike Nolan for an interview, to find out what this year?s entrants have to look forward to.

1) So, you?re a rally veteran, what got you started?

Jan Dart, basically! She used to work at States Computer Services (where I now work) and as an entrant in the very first Tour in 1997, she happened to pop into work and was handing out flyers to recruit potential teams for the 1998 Tour. Having read the info, the idea of a drive around France on a treasure hunt whilst also raising money for charity seemed like a very good way of combining something we both enjoy immensely (i.e. driving on decent roads whilst seeing the beautiful scenery of France) . A phone call to Mike that evening, and that was us signed up!

2) How many times have you done the route?

We?ve taken part ever since the second Tour (if we had known about the first tour in 1997, we?d have been there too) ? so that?s now 9 & we?ve never looked back since. We?ve enjoyed every single moment of every year, and we were obviously at a loss as to what to do this year in its absence.

3) I?ve heard on the grapevine you?ve won before.. what did
you win!?

We have indeed won a few times ? 5 to be exact, not that we?re keeping count! 1998 (3rd), 1999 (2nd), 2000 (1st), 2001 (1st), 2002 (9th ? don?t ask!), 2003 (1st), 2004 (1st), 2005 (4th) and 2006 (1st). The prize was generally a silver salver and the coveted ?Dart Trophy? (named after Jan and Alan Dart who won the first year?s Tour and donated this as a prize for every year following) ? but basically it?s not the winning, it?s the taking part !

4) What is your best memory? I?m sure you have a few funny stories you can tell us . . .

One of the enjoyable parts of the tour is every evening back at the Hotel discussing the highlights of the day, the route, the fiendishly cunning questions that Chip sets, and also the misfortunes of other competitors? navigational skills over a nice cold beer or two! As the years have gone on, the technology?s got better ? i.e. Sat Nav became the gadget of choice , which often took us some rather curious routes (not always what we would call ?roads?) and had people laughing at us for our reliance on technology. There was one occasion where it took us to where it believed the town we were searching for was located, but it turned out to be nothing more than a public lavatory in the middle of nowhere!

5) And your worst?

Looking back, we can?t really think of any ?worst? memories as such, although nearly being taken out by a speeding lorry jack-knifing in a hail storm wasn?t one of the best memories. Failing to solve any of Chip?s clues is also extremely annoying, but knowing how proud it makes him feel when nobody gets the answer right makes it more acceptable! Generally, the final day when we arrive back at St Malo prior to the return to Jersey, knowing we won?t be doing it again for another year, is the low point of every trip.

6) What can people expect who?ve signed up?

Four days of excellent driving, fantastic scenery, lovely French towns, good company, and fine hotels ? not forgetting the questions, which are a cross between a road going version of the famous Channel 4 series hosted by Anneka Rice ? ?Treasure Hunt?, and a cryptic crossword. All that, and it?s for a good cause, so what more can anyone ask for?!

7) Any tips to help me win (or all the other treasure hunters out there)?

Tips to help people win; don?t follow us! We make it up as we go along and contrary to popular belief, it?s mostly luck! Chances are we?d lead you to the wrong town anyway! (not deliberately either!)