Transam Trucking Summer 2018 – P1

Video

It might not turn out to be the summer of love but I’m sure it will be trucking good one. My good buddy Mat Ireland is once again going to have a busy summer keeping all of our favourite music artists, moving about Europe, keeping us all entertained and giving us those summer songs and experiences we all crave during the long dark months of winter. Mat has promised me that he will keep the video diaries coming this year, so I thought it was only fair to post his first video for you all to see. I don’t need to say anything about it other than it seems a long way down down to the bottom deck of the Stena boat! I’ve been aboard many times but I have never been down to the bottom. Anyway it’s a cracking start to the season Mat, so please keep them coming……sorry about the plonker you met in Colchester on your way to Harwich.

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The Only Way is Hellas – Part 2

When we left Mr Matthew Campbell of MJC European fame, he was parking up at Modena Sud for a dinner last Tuesday evening. We pick up the Essex Express Wednesday morning leaving Modena Sud around 7am for Ancona. A nice little 250km wander down through the Italian countryside on a grey Wednesday morning, arriving in Ancona around 10am. Ancona Port hasn’t hosted MJC for 5 years or so, but Matt found the right place to be and got himself booked on the Anek Lines sailing, luckily Matt managed to get his own cabin away from all the pesky kids off on their holibobs. With time to spare there’s time to pop into Ancona town for a wander. Tough old job this international driving!

Off the ferry around 0930hrs Thursday morning in Igoumenitsa and then southbound and down towards Preveza. It makes a change to take some of the smaller routes or national routes as opposed to always banging out the big KM’s on the autoroutes. Coming out of Igoumenitsa Matt picks up the 18 and points the big DAF to Preveza. See the map I’ve crudely added in below. Nothing like Trucking International’s Long Distance diary maps that’s for sure!!

From Preveza our perma-tanned driver carries on through a newly built tunnel, out and round the airport just south of Preveza, over a dodgy metal bridge and into Lefkada. Having made it this far, it’s further south still and the roads are a little smaller and the towns a little tighter. Then after Lefkada it’s again down a coast road to the tiny port of Nydri. All these coast roads must be much the same as the many Saturday nights our man in the pilots seat has spent cruising up and down Southend seafront. Preveza down to the island of Meganisi is only 50km or so but there’s plenty to take in and plenty to keep even the most experienced European driver on their twinkle toes. As you can imagine the ferry (if you can call it that) from Nydri to Meganisi is barely more than a motor boat with a ramp, it makes the Woolwich ferry look like a cruise liner! Encouraged onto the boat by the crew Matt, has to empty all the air out of the suspension on both truck and trailer to fit on, even then the roof of the trailer grazes the lights in boats roof. In the UK I think most drivers call this snug. A snug fit is enough!

Once arrived on Meganisi it’s off the ferry, turn left and then follow pretty well the only main road, main unmade road for a kilometre or so to the building site destination. All in a days work for Essex’s best. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling when you’ve gone so far and are virtually at the delivery point but you still have that feeling things could go wrong, with roads/tracks like this I’m sure Matt had the same thought just around the next bend below!

Arriving on site, things slowly start to happen. The crane lorry arrives to help with the unloading. As you can imagine in this part of the world there was no hurry and luckily no health and safety to worry about. Some 2700km from door to door and as you’d expect the cargo was in immaculate condition and although slower than some would like unloading went without a hitch. A few hours later and with an empty trailer it was time to head back to the little port to wait for the ferry back to Nydri. One small problem, Matt wasn’t expecting to have to put in some decent reversing practice……

You can hear them now; “we’ve had bigger than that down here driver!” – no you haven’t, we all know that. Unable to turn round it was a 1.5km reverse out of site and most of the way back to town before MJC could turn around. Now international driving is a thankless task in most cases but having a cream little job like this definitely makes a change and also epitomises both the “can-do” attitude and exploratory instinct of one of the UK’s best. We bred drivers like Mr Campbell constantly during the pioneering years of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but these days they are few and far between. I can see the sat-nav RDC drivers having a minor coronary when they can’t find Meganisi in their “regular destinations” list, but a true international truck driver just loads up and gets on with it. Nicely done MJC, but as we all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry driver, back to Italia to load back to the UK.

The Only Way is Hellas

Sunday afternoon in Essex and any normal Essex-ite like myself is recovering from a hangover and a few too many glasses of Lambrini, but over in the Costa-del-Essex, or Southend-on-Sea as outsiders call it, MJC European are winding up the big DAF ready for a trip to a little Greek island called Meganisi……..no me either! If you have a removal job from the Magaluf of Essex to holiday home on a Greek island there is only one way to do, the only way is Mr Essex himself, the blonde hair and blue eyed boy that is Owner Driver Matthew Campbell. I’ve know Matt for a few years now and I know he is one of the old school owner drivers. Go any where, do anything as long as it pays. A regular to Italy and Spain and last year a trip well into Morroco to notch up continent number two. Matt is born and bred a lorry driver as his dad is real old school. If you need reliability and a can do attitude then Matt is one of the UK’s best. Matt left not so sunny Southend at 15.30 Sunday, ran down to Dover and onto the 18.35 P&O ferry to Calais. A few hours down the quiet French motorway Sunday evening, finally finishing for the night at Mont-de-Nizy just above Reims. Not a bad start for a Sunday and always best to get out to get ahead of the morning rush that seems to be everywhere, town, city or Port.

After the week I’ve had this week I long to be back out there, pounding the highways and autoroutes of Europa…….sorry I digress. Monday is upon us so it’s fake tan on, vajazzle (Essex phrase!) done and foot down. Off over the National Route to Saint Dizzier and then back onto the Autoroute at Chaumont. Carry on straight down to Bourg-en-Bresse and then turn onto the A40 and climb up the Cerdon. Another good run and plenty of KM’s chalked up, finally finishing for the day in the parking area at the bottom of Mont-Blanc as the tunnel is closed for the night due to road works.

Tuesday. A change in the weather cold, misty and plenty of snow about. MJC has a little lie in and opts for a late start as there is no rush. Having made good progress thus far and not being booked on the ferry at Ancona till Wednesday PM, meant Matt could wait for his hair straighteners to cool down first. A slow stroll along stopping at Carisio for a douche and a mooch around the infamous old Carisio. Matt says it’s in a sad state now, nothing like it’s former self that so many drivers from all over Europe would remember. A little 40km diversion to get the truck washed at Autoparco Brescia Est. Finishing up for the day at the ristorante at Modena Sud. A first for Matt as he usually stops at Campogalliaino or Modena Nord, but having heard nothing but good reports of Modena Sud, he decided to give it a go.

The next part of the trip will be along in a day or two as Matt has to do the tricky bit of actually getting onto the little island and I know the ferry to Meganisi really isn’t much more than a large motor yacht with a ramp, it may be a little tight getting on board. I look forward to next instalment myself as it’s these driver tales that keep my need for the road under a decent span set or three. Looking forward to Part 2 The Difficult Bit.

Русский йойо

Here he is again, our man Mat or as he is now known at work and at home, the Russian specialist. Since we last heard from Mat at the beginning of November he has managed to slip in another trip to Mockba just to finish the year off. Such is the mad world of showbiz, Mat was off to do two dates for one of the UK’s biggest pop/rock stars and a performer that is well known world wide. I guess with such a celebrity at the top of the tree there is the purse available to fund such a trip. This time Mat loaded half a load in London then out to Switzerland to load the second half. Having loaded he travelled up to Hamburg for the first of two performances. From the Hamburg arena it was over to Hamburg airport where Mats load was flown out to a gig in Libya. While that was going on Mat had to hot foot it up to Moscow (empty) to meet the plane to reload and take the equipment on to a venue and Mats final venue of the year in Moscow. As they say their in no business like show-business!! After the Moscow gig all there was for Mat to do before he could finish for the year was to run back. Oh yea, run back from Moscow to London via Switzerland. All in a few days work for Mat and in all honesty as we could all predict the only difficulties with the weather and conditions was once he was back here in the UK. In fact the mud on the trailer was mostly from a visit to J26 Truckstop on the M25 on the way home to Suffolk. It is fair to say that Mat is beginning to make this international lorry driving game look some what easy. Russia is but a motorway trip away for those with know how and those who aren’t phased by bad drivers, poor roads, bandits and winter weather. Perhaps as Transam Trucking use Mat for most Russian trips and also as Mat has made Moscow a regular run this year, has led to Mat getting his second Russian number plate in his windscreen. What I want you all to tell me is what the number plate says. Please leave your answers in the comments box. Here it is…..In fact those of you who leave the best suggestions will be in the running for a TB sticker! So that’s it now for Mat until the new year, where he starts at the end of January on a UK tour for a comic Druid! As is the way with real drivers, those who love the job, Mats eyes lit up when he told me the longest leg of the tour is a run from Glasgow to Truro. As we both agreed, unless you are a fish truck or ex Brian Harris driver, there aren’t many who have done this particular route. I for one look forward to more trips and tales around Europe and beyond in the big black DAF next year. I think Mat said he had visited 24 countries this year. This includes Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, all of Scandinavia and of course Western Europe, bring on 2018 is what I say!

Russian About 

My pal Mat Ireland derserves a little mention this week I think. I’m sure he does realise this, but Mat has now become one of those drivers that I know he loves and enjoys talking to and meeting. Mat is a proper full on International truck driver. No country to far and no border to difficult, everything taken in his stride and what’s more he always remembers his old buddy and brings me things for TBHQ! Mat has had a busy year with Transam Trucking, no fewer than 24 countries have been graced with the black DAF’s presence in the last 11 months. Two weeks ago Mat arrived back from yet another long tour of Europe only to asked if he would to go straight back to Russia. We all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry so off he went. One show in St Petersburg followed by one in Moscow and then home. Easy. Mat was treated to a Hoek Harwich ship on friday, so it gave me a chance to meet him on his way down to London Friday evening. Fresh as a daisy and clean as a whistle, were both driver and truck respectively. A little disappointed that the truck wasn’t  covered head to toe in Russian dirt but then I guess that’s a sign of the times, truck washes and easier journies. Any way there I stood chatting with Mat and the truck just sat there barely warmed up having only done 30 miles off the boat. I always find myself treating trucks like dogs, giving them a stroke (no jokes please!) and feeling the heat from the grille like the breath from it’s nose. There is still something about trucks that gets me, no idea what it is though. In years gone by when a truck returned from Russia, much like many of the Peterlee Trucking trucks I would see in Braintree when I was a boy, you would have known about it, the truck would have looked like it had been to Russia and back if you know what I mean. But Mats DAF was fresh out the box, even though it was last washed at the Nevada Centre in Polska on the way back. Is this a sign of the times? A sign of better trucks? Both? Or just the sign of a driver at the top of his game?! Mat has created another of his trucking great videos. The trip from the UK to Russia is one many of us will never undertake so it’s well worth spending just under 25 minutes of your time watching the Kilometres tick by. Please click HERE to go to the video. 

New Anglo Dutch DAF

Anglo Dutch Model Trucks are fast becoming the go to guys for top quality small run UK and European model trucks. Boss man Steve is passionate about truck models and what I like is that he is passionate about the small details that set his models off from the rest, bumper and GB stickers and the like. The latest model ready to pre-order is an ARGS DAF drawbar. It looks a real belter and looks so 1980’s it’s amazing. Get ordering as with all ADMT models it’s a small run of top quality trucks. Details as follows; 

Make: WSI Models Holland

UK Classics 200 series 

Country: UK London
Scale: 1/50
Quantity: Certificated 200 Pcs
Model Details: Diecast metal model of a Daf Spacecab Drawbar outfit in the livery of ARGS london England.
Estimated Release Price : £165  

Norwegian Holiday Snaps

It just goes to show we are a reflection of our parents. Everyone asks where I get my obvession with trucks from and I usually say my parents, most tend to think I’m joking. To prove my point this blog is made up of the holiday photos from my parents recent maiden voyage to one of the most beautiful countries in the world…..Norway. If any proof was needed any where my parents go they usually return with some truck photos. Even staying at their best friends holiday home in southern France, my old man happily sits in the town square listening to the old V8 Scania’s heading in and out the hills and quarries en Francais! Something I have noticed about Norwegian trucks is that everyone of them is painted. Even the new white Arocs tipper above has painted plastics and a painted grille. Also (may be not quite right) quite a few are painted a single solid colour as opposed to multicolours. The DAF at the top is black with a few red highlights, the breakdown trucks are solid reds and yellow, seems to be a slight pattern. Once again I think you can see a specific Norway style!Now, the big black DAF is a bit of a beast and I’m sure it sounded a real treat but Ma and Pa set me a challenge…..Can we find the owner or driver on social media within a few days of publishing this blog?? The photo was taken in Bergen and the truck has Bergen written on the sun visor. The company name is Hagebø Transport AS, so come on someone must know the driver……