Northern Lights by Nick Ireland – Part 1

Blondie Scandinavia (137)

Back in 2008 I had only done two jobs for Edwin Shirley Trucking, albeit both to Russia, so was pleased to get a call asking if I could do another double manning trip, this time to Sweden. Never having been to Sweden at the time (I have since made up for that many times over!) I jumped at the chance, and was told to be at Excel in London to meet the truck one evening. I duly made my way there on the train, and after a bit of searching found where the truck was parked, and awaited the drivers return. The concert was still on, Blondie no less, and as I waited back stage I enjoyed a couple of the last songs in the set. Loud cheering and applause told me it was all over, and suddenly I was surrounded by the band and accompanying crew members/hangers on! Feeling like a groupie I went and stood at the back of the truck, and after a short time the driver appeared to load his truck. I introduced myself to Steve, stuck my digi card in then watched the loading take place, not really enough room in the little 7.5 tonner for any more helpers! When loaded we didn’t waste much time in hitting the A2 with Steve at the wheel and headed for Dover. The passenger seat in the DAF wasn’t the most comfortable I have experienced, so I was quite looking forward to getting behind the wheel! After a quick stop for supplies in Ashford we reached Dover, and were loaded pretty quickly onto a boat to Calais. I quizzed Steve over dinner/breakfast about the tour he was on, and it seemed a nice little number. One 7.5 tonner to load only, one tour bus, nice quick loading and unloading, and he had got to know the band and crew very well. When we landed in France it was my turn to take the wheel. The truck was so easy to drive, almost too easy, and I had to keep reminding myself I was in a truck, not a car. Steve warned me to watch my speed as for some reason the limiter wasn’t working, he mumbled something about it being a new truck and they had not had time to get it set properly, which I gladly accepted as an excuse, vowed to keep it around the 60mph mark but was grateful of a little extra in case I needed it to get me out of trouble. The run up into Belgium was as usual uneventful, and Steve plumped for heading through Breda and into Germany through northern Holland. We had a good run, and made good time, stopping briefly for fuel in Holland. In Germany we hit a bit of ‘rush hour’ traffic, but were soon around Hamburg and heading for the ferry at Puttgarden.

Blondie Scandinavia (8)

Blondie Scandinavia (10)

Blondie Scandinavia (7)

We topped up with fuel before crossing the Baltic Sea on an impressive bridge and soon arrived in Puttgarden. Booking on the ferry we parked in the ranks and awaited the ferry which arrived rather promptly. As we pulled onto the ferry we were joined alongside by a passenger train, quite a shock! As Steve did a bit of shopping on the boat I watched the quayside disappear then joined him in the shop. We spent so much time choosing our wine we were soon nearing Rodby, the 45 minute crossing flew by, and we hadn’t even had any dinner! Steve piloted us off the boat and into Denmark, giving me a chance to take some photos of my first visit there. I found it a pleasant and green place, and was able to quickly indulge in a spot of Scandinavian truck spotting as plenty of Danish trucks were making their way down to the ferry in the fading evening sunshine.

Blondie Scandinavia (21)

Blondie Scandinavia (20)

A pleasant drive in light traffic soon saw us approaching Copenhagen where we were to stop for the night. I had a budget hotel booked while Steve was sleeping in the spacious high roof cab. The hotel was near the airport, which is right next to the Malmo bridge leading to Sweden, but in the morning we were to head off around the other side of Copenhagen and take the ferry instead. I didn’t sleep particularly well, the hotel was basic and the room tiny. Steve used my room’s shower while I stood at the busy junction nearby and did my sad truck spotting bit! (not sad – TB).

Blondie Scandinavia (29)

Blondie Scandinavia (33)

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Then after a cuppa we headed off in the direction of Helsingor. Standing on the quay soaking up the sunshine while Steve booked us in I was surprised to see Sweden across the bay so close. Steve said it was only a 15 minute crossing but after a tiny breakfast in the hotel we were determined to get something to eat on the boat. After a short wait while the boat disgorged it’s cargo of mostly cars we boarded, and rapidly found our way to the tiny driver’s restaurant. I think the chef was surprised to get two orders for hot food, but he had them in front of us after around 10 minutes, which just left us enough time to bolt the meal down and get downstairs in time for disembarking. No sooner had we turned the ignition key we were waved forward, hounded off by an impatient Actros driver behind, and we rolled off into bright sunlight and the town of Helsinborg. So here I was, in Sweden for the first time.

Blondie Scandinavia (48)

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