The Race to The Finnish Line – Days 11 & 12

Day 11 – Tuesday 12th of March 

Up at 0530 for a wash and hit the road before 0600. My toll box give me a red X when I tested i,so I stop at a garage and get it reactivated while I grab coffee and a French hot dog. Nothing much to report on today fairly boring. I arrive at Port 2000 truck stop near Swiebodzin at 1730 and get the truck washed a top job and only £18 a thousand times better than the dirty water washes in the UK!

Then into the restaurant for the Polish special … pork and potatoes! Then off to bed ready for an early start before loading in the morning.

Day 12 – Wednesday 13th of March 

I think this will be where I finish the diary as I predicted the best is behind me now sadly. 😢

I’m up at 0400 for shower and breakfast and out the door at 0540 my first port of call is the AS24 at Słubice to top off on the cheaper diesel. I arrived at my pick up in Luckau for 0755 just as they’re opening up to load a section of a crane for Sheffield. Another truck arrives to collect another section for the same destination and to my surprise it’s a Cypriot in an ex Waberers unit pulling a Dutch trailer! Makes a nice change from it being a Bulgarian unit stealing the western work I suppose!

I’m booked on the Thursday night boat from the Hook of Holland to Killingholme, so have plenty of time to get there. I call it a day at 1330 at BS-OST autohof on the A2 near Brunswick where I can enjoy a leisurely afternoon with a beer and a truckerpfanne for my tea.

Thank you to everyone who had read he diary hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and thank you to Ben for choosing it to feature on truckblog.co.uk for the past couple of weeks.

TB – Awesome Long Distance Diary Luke. Loved every day, especially the snowy bit! Badge earned.

The Race to The Finnish Line – Day 8

Saturday 9th of March 

My alarm goes off at 0630 and there are some aching joints after yesterday’s action in the cold! I get dressed and do a quick walk around check and head to security to get checked in to tip the load. I pull up where I’m tipping and get everything unstrapped and ready. The forklift driver takes the front two crates off with a small tele-handler and I then wonder how he’s getting the main machine of seeing as it weighs 16 ton. An enormous forklift arrives to take the last piece off, the paperwork is signed and I’m free to go, job done!! Before leaving I get my airline out to pump up the tyres that I deflated yesterday to get out of the snow and then I’m ready to rock.


I receive a picture from my driver Steve who is delivering to a cruise ship in Cadiz, Spain. We are separated by 3149 miles and 30 degrees celsius with Steve being the lucky one enjoying a nice 26 in his shorts!

I decided to head back the route my sat nav originally wanted me to take yesterday to see if it’s any better. I’ve still got the chains on from yesterday just in case but after a few kms the surface seem better than it was yesterday and the noise is driving me mad so I stop and remove them and set back off again. Within 2 minutes I’m driving into a blizzard of snow and wishing I’d kept the chains on! The road isn’t any better than the one I took yesterday and got stuck on so don’t know why the sat nav chose it especially with it being 100 kms longer.

I’ve been getting a lot of flashes and a wave or a thumbs up from a lot of the Finnish trucks which I wonder if it’s because of the truck. There aren’t a lot of DAF’s here and any you do see are white beaten up eastern block motors. Maybe it’s because they’re spotting the GB plates which I’d assume is a very rare site up hear too, especially in the north. (There’s the possibility they follow Truckblog and it’s like seeing a celebrity! But if that was the case I doubt I’d be getting a thumbs up more likely a p*** off! 😂) – ((of course they follow TB!! – TB))

I eventually make it back onto the main drag and can get a bit of a move on. I’m reloading in Luckau, Germany on Wednesday morning so will be heading back to Helsinki to catch the ferry to Tallinn. I arrive in Helsinki at 1730 and get checked in for the 2030 sailing. I’m starving so go to the hotel just outside the port that I’ve stayed in whilst working on a conference here a few years ago. I know they serve reindeer steaks, so I go stuff myself before the boat arrives. I get off the boat in Tallinn at 2300 and park up in the port where I will take my 24 hours off and set of again early on Monday morning.

The Only Way is Full Tilt! – Part 3

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!

The Only Way is Full Tilt! – Part 2

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.”

Friday

“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.”

Saturday

“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.”

The Only Way is Full Tilt!

So I got a WhatsApp a few days ago with a few photos on, nothing unusual about that as my driver pals often send me photos of their travels. But, but when I saw it was from Mr Essex himself, Matt Campbell, I knew it’d be good but not that good! Just look, beautiful white stilettos DAF with matching yellow and red miniskirt trailer. Not just any trailer mind, it’s a Middle East tilt from the Astran subbie fleet, a full, bona-fide intercontinental, sand stained Middle East tilt. How does MJC do it, he’s a lucky fella living the life of a 1970’s GB owner driver!

Matts biggest worry was stripping the tilt when he got to the load point. Now drivers of my age and younger than me (39) wont get the chance to use a tilt anymore as they just aren’t Health and Safety. I will use the word “luckily”, for me when I was a little younger I have worked and stripped tilts out in the line of duty and I have to admit they are hard work to say the least! And yes Karl I did break a nail. I know Matt is far more capable than me, so I said don’t worry you’ll be fine. Loading was due in Cheltenham yesterday (Tuesday).

Now I’ll pass you over to Matts own words, sorry Matt, word for word as it’s spot on;

“You’ll have to edit my words a bit as I have the writing skills of a turnip!

Tuesday – Head up to Cheltenham ready to load. I was going to have a practice stripping the tilt but it all looked self explanatory, so didn’t see the value in doing any more than necessary.

Arrived at 10.30am. Had trailer stripped out just before midday although the trailer had claimed its first victim, my phone fell out and cracked in amongst all the excitement (70’s and &0’s truckers were of course not attached to a mobile phone at all times – TB). The second victim as I was to find out the next day was all my joints and my back, reminding me I’m no spring chicken anymore. Took us till 5pm to load the cargo, the container only just fitted inside the the frame. Then took me till 6.30 to put the trailer back together. Just had enough time to make it back home for the night and to a well earned shower (Another modern luxury – TB).”

Well done! I’d love to hear from ex tilt drivers, I mean proper ones, not like me. Don’t come on moaning and groaning about them, just tell me/us honest truths and tales please. I have to say Matt reminded me of the closing up of a tilt. I always used to feel a good sense of achievement putting the TIR cord back through the eyes and tying them off at the back end. I have to also say, no matter how much of a bugger or how many trapped fingers I probably had, but I love a tilt! I have even wondered whether you could do a tilt stripping competition at a truck show?! Anyway that trainer, why the tilt? Why the Astran tilt? Matt is good pals with Middle East trucker Karl Skilton (owner of the Esteppe roofed 143) and owner of said tilt. I asked Matt why use the tilt and he gave the best answer which just shows he’s such a trucker it’s unbelievable “Well it would go in my trailer but where’s the fun in that?!”

So leave southern Essex this morning (Wednesday) and head down to Folkestone for the night boat to Oostende, sorry I was reminiscing about some documentary or another! Douvres today with a three hour wait for a boat to France and then head East. Greece here we come! If you see Matt on his way, please please please send me a photo, it’s not like he can be inconspicuous with that trailer on the back can he!

LowRider Friday

Do you drive a low height tractor unit??

There seems to be more than ever about at the moment. I want to do a Lowrider Friday tomorrow so get sending over your photos please. You can get me on all the normal channels, Facebook, Twitter, Instagramme or good old fashioned email! Come on LowRiders let’s see your trucks, I’m guessing most will be 4×2’s but extra points for 6×2’s!

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.