12 Days of a Tudor Christmas – Part 1

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.

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