Maggie’s from Wiltshire

I’ll never get bored of doing the blog as long as I keep receiving the odd email, once in a while that contains an absolute gem! I’ve always asked and I will keep asking for you to send in anything truck related and thankfully some of you still do, please keep doing so. This particular email came from Francis Whiting who previously has driven for H.T. Transport from Westbury in Wiltshire (GB). Having received the above photo from Francis of an amazing line up of Maquirus Deutz trucks parked up in the yard around 1980ish I asked a little more and got a little more back. Francis said;

Hi Ben, I worked for  H.T. throughout the 70s and early 80s, it was my first driving job, starting on a 7.5T box van. After passing my HGV I progressed on to artics and general haulage. This is a very grainy photo of the first sleeper cab I drove, taken in Rotterdam in 1978, happy days! Francis.”

Grainy or not, I’ve said it before, I’m not sure these photos would create or suggest such a nostalgic feeling if they were crystal clear digital photos that we all take today. Agree or disagree??

Anyway, thank you Francis it’s always a pleasure to see and hear of firms that are new to me. The beauty of the blog or perhaps I should say, the romance of the road is the amount of hauliers we used to have here in the UK turning a wheel with a great looking fleet. Probably talk of Wiltshire with a fleet of Maggie Deutz’s but may be not so familiar to those elsewhere. If you have any little snippets to share, hopefully with a grainy photo or two, please do email me. Most of you silver surfers can manage an email these days so don’t be shy, my email is; ben@truckblog.co.uk

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The Week in Trucks

Not such a dodgy title trust me. I was sent some photos from Gurdeep Singh on his travels around Sweden and as you can see his Actros is somewhat dirty. From this I thought I’d just ask you lot for some similar shots. I had a few come through but not so dirty for most, I’m guessing that could be down to us here in the UK having a slightly drier week than we’ve had for months! Any way next up is Graham Wilson with a nice shot of a couple of grubby toppers sitting in the sun. Almost a little artistic this one Graham.

More dirty tippers from Paul Wheatley and DE Contracting. I know what it’s like doing landfill work in an 8 wheelers and it would appear that spending your working week going in and out of Calvert Landfill is no different. By landfill we mean landfill sites, no roads just tracks, plenty of mud, dirt, water and what ever else. Landfill really does test the best of 8 wheelers and it’s hard graft on any make of truck.

The 143 might not look to dirty to most of you but if you’ve ever seen it at a show then you’ll know it is usually absolutely spotless. Owner Ian Maclean spotted here out on a road run with the big V8 and by his own admission it was filthy!

Mark Hunsley just wanted a little bit of fame for his new steed I think and I’m happy to honour him with some blog space. Marks just moved out of another German truck into the GigaSpace Actros and with a full, full white paint job she’s looks delightful. I’m sure she is dirty down either side so that earns the place on the blog!

So just a few dirty trucks but it’s a bit of fun. I have to say that I think Gurdeep Singh gets top marks as he is now wearing a TB sticker on his trailer and even through the dirt of Scandinavia he managed to get the sticker wiped clean, top work Gurdeep!!

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.

Small Town Southern MAN

Once again our man Steve Marsh has been celebrating the seasons festivities with a run to the sun. I knew Marshy was heading south between Christmas and new year as most years the cheaper Eastern European competition goes home but the jobs still need doing. The destination was Marbella, Spain and the delivery date was December 29th. Honk honk lets go Christmas trucking! As ever, Steve Marsh or as I like to think of him, the original Logistical Magician, started the New Year run by reloading on December the 22nd in Deeside on his way back from Holyhead and a trip to Ireland. This gave Marshy the chance to enjoy some roast turkey with the family before setting off on Boxing Day (avoiding turkey overload) for Douvres and then southbound and down for Marbella.

Above, the number 1 member of the #littlebigcabclub is unloading in the glorious Spanish sunshine on Friday 29th December, the little MAN may only be a 12 tonner but she regularly clocks up the same miles as her bigger brothers. Having tipped the logistical magician loaded 1/3 of a load from Marbella itself before starting to head north. Being the new year weekend a driving ban was due to kick in in France at 10pm on the 30th for 48 hours, so having made good progress The Marsh MAN got all the way up to Haute-Garonne just south of Toulouse before running out of time. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were spent in the services before running up to a small village 80 miles north of Toulouse to load two farm machines for Lydney in Gloucestershire, UK. I say this even though, Steve sent me the below photo asking “Notice anything slightly unusual about my reload?” I don’t think it’s worth me asking you to put your answers on a postcard, your right the reload dims were clearly lost in translation. Never mind, where there’s a Steve there’s a way! Loaded in Morlon-le-Haut on the 2nd January. Deliver first drop the farm machines to Lydney on Thursday 4th January. Back North on Friday to deliver 2nd drop to Warrington. Empty Warrington back home to……Warrington. Change of pants and socks, weekend at home, load at Bromborough Monday then onward to tip Amsterdam today (Tuesday 8th January). Who knows where the reload will be, but knowing Marshy it’s not likely to be any further from Amsterdam than Schipol!

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!