TBHQ now decorated

It’s only taken two years, well if it wasn’t for the weather and the house we moved into needing more work than we knew about the. It would have been here a lot sooner. I have to say that I love it! If it wasn’t for my 72 year old Dad and his e expertise then it may well have taken another two years who knows!! Still need 4 x bar stools, a beer fridge and a tv but other than that. If anyone knows of any truck stools of any kind I’d be interested and for our friends in the USA one of those Peterbilt floor mats would look a treat. Seriously if you do have any donations to the cause then they will be well looked after. Next I’ll have to find a suitable person with a huge pair of scissors to come and cut the ribbon to officially open the new TBHQ.

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Wanted: Ex Sally Line Employees

Wanted: Ex Sally Line Employees. I’m on the hunt for ex Dover or Ramsgate employees who may well be still in touch with and who knew lots of the other employees during the 1980’s and 1990’s. If you know anyone please ask them to make contact with me please. You can leave a comment below or message me how ever you wish but I have a new of enquiry I want your help with please.

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.

Non-UK Truckers Required

No I’m not being a casual racist, I’m after a little fun and an experiment. The chap on the right is Gurdeep Singh, the latest driver to take on a TB sticker and his friend of course, both of whom drive for Menabetz. These were handed out by blog regular Matt Ireland who has a small stash of TB stickers to hand out on his travels far and wide. Saying that by far and wide in this case, it was Lymm Truckstop here in England that this little sticker swap took place. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Gurdeep and his sticker.

Since I started with the stickers, it’s always fascinated me for some reason as to how far I could get stickers on trucks, of course the internet shrinks the world everyday so, I have sent stickers to Australia and the United States already but I was wondering how many more I can send out. On the main page website you will see a section called “TB on the move“, there are a few photos on there of TB stickers on the move on the back of various trucks around the world. So prompted by the above photos and also the photo below, here’s comes the offer. To all those outside the UK who read this and drive a truck, if you send me your address I will happily post you a sticker to put on your truck. No matter where you are in the world all you then have to do is send me a photo of your truck wearing the TB sticker. Easy Peasy!

I know the stickers get about europa a bit, what with Steve Marsh and his little MAN sporting a sticker and others such as Richard Warren spotted this week in Dover on his way to Switzerland sporting a TB sticker on the back on his low height Volvo (look carefully!). Yet another great photo taken by Neil Jarrold. Here’s a reminder of what you need to do to get your free sticker;

1) Do you live outside the UK?

2) Do you drive a truck / big rig / road train / camion / vragmotor / شاحنة / 卡車 / lorry?

3) Message me your address and I’ll post/mail you a sticker.

4) You send me a photo of the sticker on your truck.

South West England to South West Australia

You’re young, You’re truck mad, your dad’s truck mad, you drive a truck, your dad drives a truck, but you live in Taunton. Not exactly the home of UK trucking or indeed road train trucking, so what do you do??……. Yep that’s right, head off to warmer climbs where big trucks roam free across the endless expanse of dirt tracks, tarmac, desert, rainforest and what ever else is in between, you guessed it, Bristol sorry, sorry I meant Australia of course! If you want to see some big trucks and get to work with big trucks why not do as our man in Kangaroo country has done and sign up for a farming team in Oz. Young Jack Rigby is truck mad, having an owner driver for a dad, did Jack ever stand a chance of having a career doing anything else? No of course not, every Owner Drivers child wants to grow up like their dad don’t they???

Not scared of a gear stick like many new/young drivers are, or indeed hardwork, Jack has been hard at it with his team harvesting Australia’s crops and getting to ride and also drive some absolute beauties. As is the case these days in Oz, there seems to be a real mishmash of American type and European type trucks. Luckily for Jack he’s tried all of them and none better than the triple trailered Kenworth above. The beauty of this all is that Jack can utilise both his agricultural skills and truck driver skills all in one. Just listen to that engine grumble away, you can virtually feel the ground shaking as she picks up speed. Time to give Jack a pat on the back with those gear changes, as you may have noticed he’s not using a clutch pedal. As Jack is at an age of post gear lever trucks here in the UK it’s nice to see a young whipper snapper with such great skill. I think just one little missed gear is perfectly acceptable considering.

Lots of European trucks over in Oz these days. Traditionally big American trucks have always been most popular but these days it seems to be much more of an even split between American and European trucks. The team Jack is working with are clearly fans of European trucks as they have a good number of Volvo’s and some ageing Scania’s still in use. If I know Jack a little then he’ll be keen to try as many as he can and hopefully he’ll collect enough photos and tales of the Australian roads and farming that he’ll write some blogs himself when he is back in Blighty. Due to licensing the tidy Volvo below with a single trailer is one of Jacks regular seats.