Wednesday 23rd December
I’ve never parked up with a frozen load on so the fridge is starting up much more frequently than on any fridge work I have done before. Not being that used to it I’ve had a pretty bad nights sleep and am feeling very tired this morning, but nevertheless I am up bright and early after a nine hour break ready to get going. I have over 500 miles to cover today. My only concern was getting around Bordeaux, which I manage easily enough before 0730. From there on it’s a fairly straightforward day to the port until I arrive to be told I was booked on last night‘s boat. This panics me to begin with, as I am worried that tonight‘s boat could be fully booked and I’ll be stuck here. As it turns out it is like a ghost town. I am able to make a reservation without any hassle and I am ready to catch the 2345 boat back to Portsmouth.
Thursday 24th December
I arrive at Portsmouth at 0645 to disembark and mercifully it’s nice and quick and I’m out of the port within 20 minutes, which most will know is very quick for Portsmouth. All that is left to do now is head back to the yard to give the truck a quick rinse off and I’m done. The reload isn’t due delivery until the 28th of December, so I’m off to enjoy Christmas with the Mrs and my little girl. Merry Christmas everyone and happy new year 🥳.
Tudor Services Limited
Telephone: +44 77 65 38 4004
Timo Com ID: 348540
Monday 21st December
I’m up and keen to start work at 0800 hours only to find out the delivery is not until 1200 so the waiting game begins. I eventually get onto a bay and I’m unloaded by 1400. It’s 4 hours and 45 minutes drive to my delivery in Portugal so it’s going to be another late one today. As I’m heading into Portugal I am glad that 12,500kg of the load has already been delivered and all I am left with is 650 kg for the next drop as the hills here are brutal and I wouldn’t of fancied carrying any extra weight up and down them especially in the dark and foggy conditions that we have tonight. I make it to the delivery at 1830 and within 10 minutes I’m unloaded and on my way back to Spain to collect a reload from Valladolid the next afternoon. I find a nice truckstop that is open 24 hours that I am able to get food at when I arrive at 2200. I’m going to bed a happy man not having to eat a microwave meal in the cab for my tea.
Tuesday 22nd December
I wake up to the news that the French have closed the border for trucks coming back from the UK. This turns out to be good news for me, as a lot of the boats have been fully booked going back to the UK for weeks and getting a reservation has been near impossible. A lot of people from the continent started cancelling their bookings as they would not be able to return after making deliveries in the UK. I set off at 0900 and arrive in Valladolid at 12:00 for my reload of meat free meatballs…..what a grim thought!! The loading is fairly quick and I am back on my way by 1330 heading for Caen. I make it to Irun for the night where I park in one of my customers yards. The lockdown rules changed here this morning so I just about managed to sit down for some food at 1900 and have a meal before they have to close for their new curfew at 2030.
Friday 18th December
I get to spend the morning with my girlfriend and daughter taking her to visit Father Christmas which was a nice bonus getting to do that before going back to work over the weekend. At 1830 I am back in the yard ready to head to Leigh Delamere services to meet Pete who has loaded the trailer for me with one of his trucks and take it off of him to head on down to Portsmouth ready to catch the 0800 crossing in the morning.
Saturday 19th December
Up at 0600 to get checked in for the boat. Once on board I go to the restaurant for some breakfast then back to my cabin and back to sleep for a few more hours to be rested ready for late drive that evening. The boat gets in at 1530 and I am clear to hit the road straight off of the boat I head to Castets to park up for the night and make good time I managed to make the drive in 8 hours 30 which I wasn’t expecting as I’m used to doing the drive in the day and losing the best part of an hour going around Bordeaux.
Sunday 20th December
I get up for 0800 for breakfast and a shower but much to my shock the restaurant is closed now for Christmas which seems a bit early to me given that there is almost a week until Christmas day. I have to settle with a McDonald’s breakfast from across the road and will have to stop for a shower en route when in Spain. I make a quick stop at the services in Oiartzun for fuel and a shower then get straight back on the road. I feel quite tired today for some reason and haven’t done this road going straight across the northern part of Spain before. I’m not sure whether it is just because I am tired but it just seems to go on and on and I began to get quite bored in the last couple of hours of the journey and cannot wait to park up for the night and get my head down. I eventually arrives La Coruna and park just around the corner from the delivery at 2000. The only thing open for food is a Burger King so that will have to do for this evening.
Sunday 13th December
Sat at our yard in Bristol patiently waiting for the clock to hit 1508 when my weekly rest is up and I can set off for Padborg in Denmark to check out some trailers I want to buy up there. Once my break is complete I set off solo to Harwich for the 2100 boat to Rotterdam the sat nav tells me it’s 4 hours 30 minutes to the port. I’m going to need to make it in one hit as there isn’t time for a 45 minute break on route. Predictably I get on the M4 and there are closures from J8 to J6. I’m feeling up against it but luckily enough I make good time anyway and arrive at the port at 1955 and check in. What I didn’t realise when I booked this crossing was that it’s a freighter which was a disappointment as I’d been looking forward to a nice draft pint and a good feed once aboard. Also I paid the same price as it would have been on the Hook of Holland boat so lesson learned there for next time! Still there’s always the Autohof tomorrow to look forward to.
Monday 14th December
A fairly straight forward and uneventful day off the boat at 0730 straight to Germany via the border at Meppen into the Hoyer autohof at Cloppenburg to top up with some nice cheap German diesel and back to it up through Hamburg before calling it a night at an autohof in Busdorf 40 km’s from the Danish border. It’s good to see in Germany that during the Covid pandemic drivers are still being treated well as we’re still allowed to come sit in the restaurant to eat on an evening and the showers have been made available to us free of charge.
Tuesday 15th December
I arrive at the trailer sales site at 0800 to begin checking over the trailers. There’s always a slight worry when buying second hand especially when you’ve had to travel 700 miles just to come look at it as it’s a long way if it turns out to be no good. The first thing I noticed is although the trailers are 9 years old they all have full sets of Michelin tyres so I get the impression the previous owners we’re happy to spend proper money maintaining them. After a couple of hours thoroughly looking over the trailers I pick out the one that I want and pay the invoice ready to get back on the road. It may seem a bit extreme to be going all the way to Denmark to buy a trailer but the reason for this is the bespoke nature of the equipment we need. The trailer I have chosen is a Krone mega coil-liner. Mega trailers are very few and far between secondhand in the UK so your best bet is usually to buy from abroad and with the current situation with Brexit and not knowing if we will get a trade deal I had to make the decision to just get on and buy one as I don’t know if I will be able to just head off into Europe and buy a trailer without any tariffs etc next year. Once the invoice is paid I set off back to Germany heading for Nettetal to collect big bags of plastic to bring back to Lydney. I head down the A7 towards Hambug and the satnav tells me there is a 19 minute delay on route and after three hours sitting in the traffic I start to question whether the satnav might be lying to me! I eventually managed to divert off of the motorway and bypass the traffic finally making it to an autohof in Bremen for the night at 2200 where I am very glad to put the handbrake on for the evening after sitting in standstill traffic for so long.
Wednesday 16th December
Up at 0600 for a quick shower then hit the road to go and collect the reload. I arrive at my reload at 1330 where they were ready and waiting for me. I was on my way by 1430 heading for the Hook of Holland to get the correct boat this time and redeem my meal I had been salivating over a couple of days before. This boat costs quite a bit extra compared to Calais and others but there are currently 30 km long queues at Calais to get onto boats and trains so it is a no-brainer to go this way as I’m keen to get the load back and delivered.
Thursday 17th December
Off the boat at 0500 and I was very lucky that I was positioned right at the front of the boat so I was out of the port within 20 minutes. I plan to pull in to South Mimms services to send off some emails and make calls to arrange work for myself and our other trucks for next week. Just before I arrive I receive a message from Pete White of Whites Transport to ask if I can do a load to La Coruna and Porto for him, leaving early on Saturday morning. After a quick look at the diary I see that I can do it on the basis someone loads the trailer and brings it to me. This way I can take a 24 hour break on Friday and with that the job is confirmed, so it is straight back to Lydney drop the trailer to the customer and back to our yard to begin my break.
Hopefully I’m going to pass you all a little one of Jaimes Golden Nuggets that has taken me 23 years in the industry to come across and quite frankly I think it is spot on! You know how it is, we all have a good knowledge of our day to day jobs and we all have own thoughts on what current fashions and styles suit our favourite trucks. Some trucks suit a tag axle, some suit 4x air horns, some suit a bull bar and more and more need to be painted over and above factory paint to hide the increased of plastics that help with air flow and fuel returns. So if we dwell a little on that last point, this is where the Golden Nugget comes in and I’m hoping some of you will go “oh yea, I never thought about that” or perhaps “I knew that already you bell….”.
This week I was chatting to Nipper MacClean from MTS Restorations and he be the font of this little gem of info. Well he is having spoken to wise Dutchman a few years ago and we all know the Dutch know how to style a good looking truck. Over to Nipper;
“As the wise Dutch man who I spoke to in Holland a few times said, something we all perhaps look at but never notice, is that a truck really works well with 3 paint colours. Anymore usually looks cluttered, but he did say that on an odd occasion 4 works, but when it does black will usually be one of the 4 colours.”
The more I think about it, the more it seems to be bang on. 1 or 2 paint colours would be classed as less is more these days which is still mega smart, but when you look at the 4 trucks above they are all sticking to the 3 colour rule and look just plain awesome! All that said I can also see the 4 colour rule as long as it includes black as one of the 4. A few example below easily back it up, 3 bright colours and black works pretty well don’t you agree?!
The Danish Globetrotter is worthy of another photo as I thought it was one of the best looking trucks at Truckstar 2019 and it is clearly the rule of black 4. Red, white and blue with a hefty amount of black but I think it looks fine and I’m not the biggest Volvo fan.
Who feels like they might just have learnt a little something that will probably be of any use??? You? You? And you? Yep I’ve got my hand up as well. I’ll leave you with a photo of Nipper’s own 4 series. This was painted specifically to test the rule of 3 and once again you can see that it works and works very well indeed!
Another great character and old school driver off to the big Truckstop in the sky – Trevor Dodwell.
Sadly another one gone to join some of the other names we all know and looked upto. If you were of my generation (I’m 41), then we were of the age where M.E. Opportunities were becoming a little thin on the ground, but hearing about and reading about those lucky enough to carry on doing the M.E. runs upto the end were what our driving dreams were made of. I was lucky enough to meet Mr Dodwell on one of my first trips across the water in my artic. Having tipped and reloaded in Meer, Belgium for Germany I had to call into Meer Truckstop to see what it was all about. While walking across the parking area what did I come across, yep, the above Volvo with Astran stickers on the doors. Of course I went over to have a closer look and Trevor appeared. To me Trevor was one of those proper truck driver types, a big man, looked like a tough old boy but he was more than happy to have a chat for 20 mins or so. Full of knowledge and he told me a few tips to help with my first trip to Germany, a local for him of course! As old school drivers become rarer and rarer to find I urge all you younger ones to glean as much info from our elders as you can. As the world of international transport continues to change quicker than you can say “what’s a tacho disc?”, tips and tales from those who have been doing the job since the golden years are truly invaluable and will be lost eventually. I could have stood and listened to Trevor talking about his travels for hours. A true Middle East regular he made loading from Gouda out to where ever it was, sound like a local, like my trip to Germany. After a while Trevor took me into the Truckstop showed me where everything was before getting me a coffee and giving me a couple of Astran stickers. I don’t drink coffee but how could a refuse, I was a little wrapped up in the moment. This happens a lot to me and I hope I’m not alone. I was at the Fox on the A1 with an old boy I shared a table with for dinner and he started talking about his M.E. Days until another gent came in and they hadn’t seen each other since 197? in somewhere east of Turkey, then again at the Astran weekend at Gaydon and I was stood in a ring of all the faces from Destination Doha, just awesome tales to take on board. Not to mention the Nick Bulls, Karl Skiltons and Graham Balls of this world, who were the last of the last on the Middle East run, that said I know Nick and Karl are both ready and waiting for the call!
Not to mention the tales of Uncle Dick Snow who Trevor knew as well. In a brief meeting in a Truckstop on the Dutch Belgian border I met one of the greats. Sad times as our elders get older, so rest in peace Trevor and for that matter Bob Headley who also recently passed away. Bob was also a well known face on the Middle East run.
For those who are interested the outfit Trevor had was know as a “seller”. Bought from UK customs I think he said, loading from NL to the Middle East, both truck and trailer would then be sold and left for a new life in the sun. If I remember rightly Trevor said the trailer had been impounded in the UK, as it was caught smuggling drugs, fags or both in the coil well under the main floor boards. I think the Globetrotter also came from the same source, a UK government auction having been impounded by HM Customs and abandoned after its dodgy crossing to the UK.
Condolences to Trevor’s family and friends.
It’s not often I blog at the moment and even less often do I genuinely get sent decent blog material at the moment. Bucking the trend is this awesome little restoration article I have been sent by Sophie Gower from Pickfords. Happy reading bloggers;
A rare heavy haulage vehicle from 1970 has been restored to its original Pickfords livery by Logistics Consultant David Batty. David currently works with road tanker specialist Abbey Logistics and this project has been completed in his spare time away from the company and his other commitments..
David spotted the vehicle in a scrap yard in Stoke on Trent seventeen years ago and realised that it was a rare find. There were only approximately 200 Atkinson View Line’s manufactured between 1968 and 1970 and Pickfords acquired twelve of these vehicles to add to its heavy haulage fleet between 1968 and 1970. The Atkinson View Line was, at the time, a revolutionary design, designed to work on heavy haulage fleets such as Pickfords.
The cab was the first of its kind and revolutionary at the time, as it featured a distinctive one piece front windscreen giving greater visibility and improved safety. One of the reasons Pickfords chose this lorry. As a driver at the time, the Atkinson View line stood out among other lorries and was a highly sought after vehicle among drivers and was seen as quite a status symbol at the time.
David acquired the View Line and spent seventeen years restoring the vehicle to as near as possible to its original specification. He researched and found the original build sheet from the Atkinson factory, sourced the distinctive Pickfords ‘Oxford Blue’ paint colour and matched the original Pickfords Clarendon font to complete the restoration.
The restoration consisted of a completely rebuilt cab, along with all the main mechanical items such as engine, gearbox and axles getting overhauled and now working as good as they did the day the lorry left the factory.
David shared the results of his work with Pickfords. Managing Director Mark Taylor said “This is an amazing piece of work, so much care has been taken to restore the vehicle faithfully and it’s a credit to David’s hard work and commitment”
The vehicle is fully road legal and David plans to exhibit it at shows and events across the U.K.in the coming years – so look out for one of the UK’s most iconic lorries back to its former glory, and on the road again!