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.
Tip right next to the Corinth Canal on Tuesday. Another full strip out but hopefully not another new phone required! Young Matt did say that although it was only 15’c he was still breaking a sweat so just imagine the full Middle East heat that the haulage elders had to put up with! Unloading went without a hitch and it was straight back to the boat to Italy as now the pressure is on to get home before the weekend.
Back on the boat once empty and head up to Modena to load the dreaded tiles. As it is Matt does have a pressing engagement that he has to get home for. On and off the boat on Wednesday, back into Ancona and up the road a little to Rimini for Wednesday night supper. A true retro job like this wouldn’t be complete without a little bribery and corruption. This came in the form of an over confident parking attendant at Rimini Nord trying to charge Matt €10 for the pleasure of free parking. To save any injuries or hospital visits Matt settled on €5 to get a quiet night!
So into Modena on Thursday morning for what turned out to be a quick load up of tiles for three drops in the south east of England. The rates on times have always been horrendous whether they are from Italy or Spain but as with most backloads they serve a purpose and get you home with diesel paid for. In this case as tilts of a certain age aren’t necessarily the driest then a load of tiles was a safe bet and there are plenty of loads available. Once again open up both sides of the tilt, this is a lot easier as tile pallets are low so you only need to pull the TIR cord, open either up half way up and then drop the sides. I’d still give most of us a quick workout and a moist brow but simple enough for an experienced hand.
I have no doubt that once load MJC was off and into a foot down Friday although it’s still early Thursday. The old DAF would have been puffing a bit up through the mountains but once down and into France it’s a straight run back to the UK.
Yet another good trip for the man from Delmonte Essex. For those wanting to run your own truck then there is a huge element of making your own luck. Put the hard work in and with the right contacts it can be a very enjoyable way of life. With a supportive and understanding family behind you, the only restriction is how long you are happy to be away for and those who know, this too is in the hands of the rates and your customers.
Hopefully a new long distance diary to come next week as I have a new volunteer. I say volunteer as I didn’t pester for it like I do with Matt and Marshy!
Arrived at Border to a fairly long queue. Must try and do 8 hours if I am to be home tomorrow…………
My guess is Uncle Dick made it back which is why the last entry was rather short and there was no arrival entry.
I have to say I always enjoy reading Uncle Dicks diaries, over and over. I feel a luck man to have two of them, 1984 and 1968. The ’84 one is very different and perhaps suggests Dick was getting tired of the job. That said the detail and notes in both diaries is what I love, the phone numbers, the names and everything else. If you’ve all enjoyed this series I will find another complete trip, which there aren’t many, and do another series for you. Perhaps the 1968 diary next time. One of my favourite photos of Uncle Dick and AOO 68X, the truck most likely to have been driven during this trip.
(Sunday – TB) Had a very lazy day. Didn’t get up until 1330hrs. Cleaned cabin, secured load AGAIN. Adjusted trailer brakes AGAIN. Had a nice shower, washed underwear, had lunch and watched winter sports only Austrian tele. Hope to move off at 2145hrs for home. There is bound to be a long queue at Salzburg border.
Once again I’m not going to say to much about Part 2 of the lads holiday journey to Greece as Matts words will be fine and to be fair there’s only one or two ways of saying some things and diary details aren’t very easy to fluff up!
“Steady run down from Calais. I Took the national road from Tournus down past Jayat. Then back on motorway briefly at Bourg-en-Bresse. I came back off at Point de Ain to run the national again down past the resistance memorial.”
“Back on motorway at Nantes and called it a night just through the other side of Mont Blanc at Courmayeur.”
“Set of late as I got up late got all day to do just 400KM. I called in at Carisio for a shower and lunch and I also bumped into Leroy from Fly By Nite.”
“I was away after a couple of hours off and steady on down to the ristorante at Modena sud.”
“I head down to Ancona and park up. I am due to ship on the Sunday ferry as it’s cheaper and not tipping in Greece till Tuesday. I’m not a fan of Ancona port but as there is no Sunday running I had to get there for Saturday to get parked and ready for the boat.”
Started at 0700hrs this morning and ran into heavy snow just before the Austrian border. Left Spielfeld and going good. Thought I would have made it to the border but had trouble with rangechange and trailer brakes hanging, had to stop at 3pm. 75km short of the border.
Met Roger Hayward and other English at the Belgrade customs. Spent all morning getting ready for the off. Managed to get away at 1430hrs so will definitely have to spend the weekend in Europe, never mind should be home for the following one. Tea at 1800/1900hrs, I tend on having an early night, there’s no rush now.
Started to load at 0830hrs and finished at 1330hrs but to late for customs today. Load was tractor tyres and a very dirty place to load. Everywhere was covered in carbon black. I can imagine what it is like in the summer. They certainly did have a lot of snow, there is till plenty about and very cold indeed. Night heater ON.
I put the clock back 2 hours last night. Up at 0530hrs but blocked in car park. Never mind but must be in Belgrade tonight (today is Wednesday – TB) for loading on Thursday for England. Arrived Yugoslavia 1200hrs, long time at customs. Proceeded to Belgrade to load tyres for the UK. Met 2 Falcongates who told me John Jones had returned to Sofia with alternator trouble, pity I could have helped him.
Left again at 0445hrs for Istanbul & Kapicule. Had to wait til 1000hrs to cross the bridge. Arrived Kapicule, bathed, washed clothes. Take on 650 litres diesel and 800DM (Deutchmarks) from Young Turk. I arrived Kapikule at 1430hrs and eventually got away from the Bulgarian side at 2215hrs. Nearly 8 hours in the queue – absolutely knackered!