After getting back to the yard and swapping trailers I had to make a quick detour to Tesco at Ipswich for some extra pants! Being a full time office waller and a part time international driver I only had enough pants for 4 days not 5! Having stopped for some new under-crackers I was off, some perfect timing and I met up with Tom and we had about 2 hours before his tacho time ran out. Obligatory long queues at Dartford meant the M25 was back to the J28 side of J27 (check your maps!) so we opted for A12, A130, A13 and join the queue at the bottom of the Dartford bridge. We bang down the M20 and made Ashford Truckstop with 10 minutes left on Tom’s Tacho. We parked up (above), sun setting, good shower and good enough food, quick pint then off to bed, a good end to a short day. Not much in Ashford Truckstop and for the price you wonder if thats the reason. The place not being as busy as it used to be. I did come across this blue Mercedes Actros MP2 in exactly the same blue as my old MP2, the only other one i’ve ever seen in the same shade of blue. Coupled to a matching low height euroliner, she looked a pretty sight and very tidy with no livery. Any ideas who’s it is?? email me; firstname.lastname@example.org
If only Thursday started as well as Wednesday ended, I managed to read the new DFDS timetable wrong and got in the Dunkerque queue instead of the Calais queue, well at least it proves I’m human!! (I still feel like a prat! sorry Tom). We could have had another hour in bed, which almost proved costly by the end of the day. Anyway on the boat, which actually had a little swell on for the first time and I’m pleased to say that I am a good sailor, even with a belly full of breakie. Dear DFDS, how is it I was first in the queue for cooked breakfast, the eggs appeared from the kitchen and by the time I sat down my breakfast was already pretty cold?? A tip for DFDS truckers, use the microwave! Off the boat and away. A good run down and we even passed one of our subbies as we cruised along in the big DAF’s enjoying the French sun. Just for a minute I begin to think the day was getting better. After all I did spot Oakleaf European’s MAN TGL 12 ton fridge heading North as I headed South on France’s busy A1.
(In a Hannibal from the A-Team voice) Here’s the plan, when we load a trailer for Paris, we advise our customer of our arrival so they can arrange an unloading gang. This is supposedly to avoid any delays as it can take a couple of hours to tip. Our arrival takes priority over everything else, that is the deal…or not as the case may be. I was 10 minutes early, so I was chuffed, bearing in mind I had finally caught the sat-nav out! The road layout had changed and a classic piece of trucking history saved the day, for the younger readers it’s made of paper and it’s called a Street Map. I pulled in the delivery yard to find myself greeted by a Ying and Yang situation. A lovely blue Belgian V8 Scania, but unfortunately he had just opened his rear doors on the 40ft container and the delivery point ignored my arrival and got on with the Belgian. Oh well…..
….5 hours later and lots of emails and phone calls I was finally tipped. What a great day! My reload from the bread factory was surely off??…..No re-arranged for 11am Local time Friday. I needed to get as close as possible with the 2.5 hours I had left. No way was I going to make it to the factory, so I plumped for the services just South of Valenciennes on the A2. Once again I pulled in with a few minutes to spare. If I had had another hour I would have made it to the reload point, my own silly fault! I was 30 mins from the bread factory, so I had plenty of time off. You’d think these small services would be fairly quiet but oh no. I parked up and got the dinner ready. The photo you’ve all been waiting for is here, The Dinner Photo. Microwaved Pasta Carbonara, with a fresh ham and cheese salad and baguette from the shop, Deeeeeelicious!!
Now while I watching a film, I noticed the Bulgarian next door was having a pleasant meal and a drink at the front of his truck with who I naively thought was his wife/girlfriend. I happened to notice that they were getting quite fruity but purposefully left the drivers window open with the curtain open too. I also noticed there was a dodgy looking geezer in a car directly opposite whistling signals to the truck, well the woman actually. Are you working it out?? About 11pm and after much activity in the Bulgarian cab, the lady (or not) left our satisfied Bulgarian friend, jumped in the car with the dodgy geezer and drove off. I dare say a few hundred Euro’s better off! That not being enough I woke the next morning, opened my curtains only to find that all round the front of the truck and trailer I was surrounded by Danish pensioners. I decide a refreshing shower was required to bring me back into the real world….No the showers were buggered. Sod it, off to the load point on time for my loading slot. Will it be like the first trip? A few 3 hour delay before loading? It is Friday afternoon after all. No such inconvenience, I was there all of 42 minutes I think it was.
Sealed and off. This time I head back along the A2, A21, A26 and back to Calais. The last little cock up in this bizarre couple of days on the road was I took the wrong lane at the Peage and I was ushered off the A26 before you could say Garlic Bread and a bag of onions! Off, round the roundabout and back on. Back to Calais in the glorious, glorious Friday sun, fuel and adblue with no problems. Round to P&O and a UKBA check, all ok. Through to the lanes, a 1 hour wait and I was back on the sea. I had forgotten just how good a hot soapy shower can feel after 2 hot days a without a wash. ” platefuls of Bangers Mash and baked beans (due to an undercooked sausage) and I decided to go out and join everyone else on the out side decks to enjoy the early evening sun. The word mill pond springs to mind. Dover in view ahead;
Calais in view behind;
Off the boat into a busy Dover, straight out and up Jubilee Way, this time I remembered the bump. No problems up the A2/M2 through Dartford onto the A12. No V-Festival traffic at Chelmsford so straight back to Hadleigh. From arriving in Calais all had finally gone smoothly, meaning I had a nice end to my week on the road. Just over 2600km I think it was. I was the fleet of the fleet home and by 10pm I was back at my house, still with no wife and boy as their holiday didn’t finish til Saturday. Will I do it again? Oh yes, bring on next years summer holidays!!