European Boat-MAN – Part 1

I think it started on Instagram and the rest is history! My love of the #littlebigcabclub trucks, is becoming the stuff of legend, so when asked by another member of the club if he could send in a guest blog, what else could I say but yes. George Turner or @european_lorryist as he’s know on Instagram spends a lot of his time driving an LX cabbed MAN TGL collecting house boats from Poland for his business in Portugal. To good a story to miss right?? Over to George for Part 1, Part 2 will follow in due course.

Wednesday 6th January – The truck is always at home with me which is a nice little bonus with this job. I pop out to the little MAN and fire the night heater up, its the first time since living in Portugal its cold enough for an iced over windscreen. Card goes in at 9am and I head off in the direction of Lisbon. A quick pit-stop in Torres Novas to exchange a drop link for my own van, and onwards down the A1 to the capital. My company franchise & transport house boats, and I arrive in the marina in good time without issue. I’m only here to pick-up some paperwork and a few interior fixtures for return to Poland. All this only amounts to around 20 minutes and I’m back up the road and home by half past 1, just a little food prep and laundry to do for the off in the morning. 283Km today.

Thursday 7th. January – Not a particularly early start, loaded the last of my bits and bobs into the truck and I’m on the road at 08:30. Its always quiet on the A23 heading up to the Spanish border at Vilar Formosa, just a quick stop to drop in 50 euros of diesel to last me to the AS24 at Salamanca, AS24 are a bit thin on the ground in PT. Arriving in Salamanca I fill up with 250L worth of diesel, which is not far off what it holds, running a bit close to the wire here! I carry on another hour or so and pull in on 4h29, half way to Tordesillas. A quick bite to eat and back on the road, N/E direction, Burgos, Vitoria-Gasteiz, AP 1, AP 8. Plenty of snow over the hills at Miranda de Ebro, but its all running smoothly thankfully. A few days before this they had been over run with snow and shut the motorway, as they do in Spain. On 8h48 driving and at a quarter past 7, I pull into Itziar Services just before San Sebastian and make use of the empty car park as all truck spaces are occupied. One thing about being in a little truck is not needing to worry about parking, one can manage to find something suitable regardless! 757Km today.

Friday 8th January – 11h off and on I’m the road by 06:30. Cross the ESP/FR border at Irun still in darkness and not bothered by the Gendarmes this time. Usually they’re quite perplexed why an Italian truck with an English driver with Portuguese Documents is heading for Poland empty. I’m usually asked 3-4 times if I’m carrying more than 10k in cash, and then subsequently searched for the said non-existent cash! Carrying on I feel a bit tired, putting it down to having a month out the saddle and a relatively early start, I stopped just after castets for a quick 15 minute snooze. Still dark at this point, but the gendarmes are set up in this particular aire and doing checks on unsuspecting drivers, fortunately again, they left me alone. I clear a traffic free Bordeaux nicely by 10am and head east for Clermont Ferrand. Pick up some more diesel at Perigueux, then over the hills of the a89, snowing at points but all good and keeping at 90ks for the duration! I have to make a bit of a detour to avoid the closed N79 west of Moulins, but then rejoin the n79 for a frustrating 70kmh drive through the road works. I pull in on 10h03 at the last aire before the A6. Loads of space here, but then I suppose its friday night in the middle of france. 833Km today.

Saturday 9th January – Another 11 hours off and card in and I’m away by 05:30. It seems like what trucks are here, are all leaving as well, quite a busy rest area for the time. I crack on for an hour and a half along the A36 heading for Germany, when again like yesterday, i’m feeling pretty tired! I pull in for a 45 minute snooze this time, by which time its daylight again, albeit still white and frosty. Its a fairly long and boring road the a36, but I eventually cross the non existent border and head up the 5 towards Heidelberg. Another road with not much to see on it, as well as being a quieter than normal saturday morning. At Rastatt I pull up for a supermarket sweep, I just end up buying mostly alcohol for home and the lads in Poland though. The supermarket is quiet and i’m back on the road in 20 minutes. A quick AS24 diesel stop at Karlsruhe, then up to the 6 and heading east for Nuremberg. Fairly uneventful drive apart from a small detour north of Nuremberg to avoid an accident. Parked up at half 5, pitch black and again i’m pushing the boundaries on 10h 02. I’m about an hour south of Leipzig. Living the dream on a saturday night so cook some super noodles, hot dogs and had a can or two of Desperados. 856Km today.

Sunday 10th January – Its a half past 4 start on a Sunday, but i’ve only just over 600km to do, so it wont be a particularly strenuous day. 1H30 drive down, I top up the tanks again, plus remember to fill the separate night heater tank this time, its been working over time the last few nights! Onwards and up to Berlin, then east across the border into Poland at Frankfurt-Oder, never any police or problems here. 20Km along the A2, a quick interval for a ticket at the toll booth, then onto the hugely uninteresting drive to Poznan. A little snow in the air again, but solid KM covered, I head north after Poznan on the S5 and stop at Marathon Int. Transport for a final diesel top up, then just 1hr30 left up to Bydgoszcz. A little detour for the new motorway roadworks and I’m outside the boatyard nice and comfortably at 13:30. I Start my 24h rest and immediately set about changing the drivers front wheel as a previous small crack in the alloy has developed into a crack across two of the wheel nuts! Its a quick 30 minute job with the use of a long bar, it takes longer to get the spare wheel off its hanger! I stay put for the evening, cook some more dinner, a few cans and an early night ready for loading in the morning. 662Km, 7h48 drive today.

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