Ibiza Weekender MAN??


Once again I got trumped on a bank holiday weekend by Mr Marsh! At the beginning of May Marshy spent the bank holiday on the delightful island of Guernsey In the English Channel and then last weekend for May’s 2nd bank holiday (UK bank holiday) he was back on the white isle in the Spanish Mediterranean…….Ibiza. 

As can often be the way with express work, the schedule was a tight one and relied heavily on catching the right ferries at the right time. If you need someone to meet such deadlines then Steve Marsh is your man, sorry MAN! Here’s the basic schedule;

– Load Sunday Evening Nr Spalding, GB.

– Catch the ferry Tuesday night from Barcelona to Ibiza. 

– Tip & ReLoad Ibiza Thursday. 

– Catch the ferry from Ibiza to Barcelona Friday daytime. 

– Deliver back to near Spalding, GB Sunday afternoon. 


Last August the little MAN delivered down in the south of Ibiza, This time around it was a tip and load in the North East of the island. Surely that is the mark of logistical excellence? Tip and load at the same place on a Mediterranean island? The stuff the romance of the road is made of! Although I have to say keeping an eye on Facebook there are a load of UK people out and about at the mo, Iceland, Ibiza and Sardinia to name a few destinations. Perhaps the UK transport scene is moving into the specialist market more and more, hence the more exotic locations?! 

I’m sure Marshy has definately spent nights in far less glamorous locations with far worse views! Oh life on the road, if ever a Destination Doha phrase should be applied it should be here; “The sun never sets on a long distance lorry driver” – Well if ever it did, that is the place for it. Look at me getting all romantic, hmmm more like missing life on the road to be fair. 8 years off the road and I still miss it, so please keep sending your pics and stories. If anyone else wants to write a diary piece or anything please feel free and then email me words and photos or like Marshy, you can send details and photos and I’ll do the words. My email; ben@truckblog.co.uk – come on get emailing you’ve all got a story to tell. 

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Guernsey MAN 

  

I haven’t seen my old pal Steve Marsh for a while now, so as I had a spare ticket for Truckfest I thought I’d ask him the question, being the generous type that I am! Now usually when Marshy tells me where he’s off too I get a little envious, but he’s reason for not coming to Peterborough turned my envy into more of a feeling of the big green eyed monster.

 “Sorry but I’ll be on the boat to Guernsey on Sunday morning.”

I could just leave the blog there but I’m not sure that’s utterly fair so I’ll go on for you my dear readers sake. Firstly I’d love to go back to driving a little 12 ton rigid around Europe this is the reason I enjoy Marshys reports so much and secondly I spent an awful lot of my teenage summers in Guernsey and I can’t think of a nice place to be heading for on a bank holiday weekend, let alone getting paid for it. Some of you will understand that in the world of hot-shot and express work, sometimes reloads can be some distance from deliveries but as long as the miles are paid who cares?? Here is the itinerary for smex.eu starting from  the Wednesday before last (remember Monday this week was a bank holiday in the UK); 

Wednesday: Load Weymouth – A Printing machine.

 Thursday:  Deliver Zundert NL

 Friday: Load 20 miles south of Strasbourg – Security Doors

 Sunday:  Ferry from Portsmouth to Guernsey via Jersey (Condor Ferries)

 Mon: Lounge around in St Peter Port

Tue: Deliver to Guernsey Airport with motorcycle outrider escort. 

The original plan was to catch the boat from St Malo but the load wasn’t ready in time near Strasbourg. Even though it sailed 3pm Saturday you have to check in at 8am and Steve couldn’t get there till 10:30.

  

Nice work if you can get it! Being some what of a Guernsey fan I suggested that as it was bank holiday then there was bound to be some Motorsport event on the island and much to Marshys enjoyment they had a hill climb race going on out of St Peter Port. This whiles away a few hours on bank holiday Monday. On Tuesday morning Steve was collected from the Port by his motorcycle escort to drive the 4 miles upto the islands airport and to make his delivery. The escort is required due to the little MAN being 2.5m wide and the width limit on Guernsey is a narrow 2.3m wide. 

  

The boat back to England wasn’t until Tuesday night so Steve had the rest of the day to mooch about. I suggested the delightful Petit Bot Bay just outside of St Peter Port. Judging by the photo below he took my tourist advice and enjoyed  one of the best little beaches on the Island. Anyway back to work, but still it’s always nice to get a little treat I guess! Beats the Bruxelles ring road any day. 

  

MAN Down on Shap (Nearly!)

  

Back when I were a lad and a fairly infant owner driver, I remember a time that certainly put hairs on my chest if nothing else. When we all start out as young drivers we are entrusted with a truck and asked to set out on our own across the UK or where ever. Naturally there is a learning process, somethings are common sense, some things are taught by others, some taught by making mistakes and some taught by Mother Nature! I’ve always been one to listen to older drivers as in my experience what they have to say is worth listening too. Most older drivers have been there and done it and I think they have nearly always been in a situation that the younger generation will learn from. I’m all for learning and all for taking advice and it’s only natural that as inquisitive beingswe might not always make the right decision when faced with a situation we have not encounter before. It’s called thinking on your feet. 

 

Having delivered another load of new sunbeds to Larkhall, Scotland there was a single unpacked, salon ready sunbed to return to Braintree. I strapped it against the headboard and headed south. Just enough time to get back Penrith Truckstop for the night. Overnight the wind got up. When I say it got up I mean it was howling! The buzz around the Truckstop was a couple of trucks had gone over on the A66 and drivers were trying to decide whether to wait it out or head off into the wind. Now here’s the decision for a 19 year old owner driver. I had to get back to Braintree that day to get my next job loaded, but I had to go via Manchester to collect some parts. Penrith to Manchester is a beautiful drive on a lovely day but for those who don’t know the UK, driving the M6 motorway between these two places involved probably the windiest section of motorway in the UK. Near the town of Shap the motorway claims no end of trucks during the year, with high winds, ice, snow and what ever else comes out of mother natures purse! So I had on an expensive piece of electrical machinery that couldn’t get wet, I had to get back to base to load, I also had to go over Shap to get my second collection on. Should I go or should I stay?? I decided I’d give it a go.   

If my curtains had been like this and I wasn’t loaded, the worst would have been losing the fibreglass sheet roof, but as I was loaded the curtains were shut. Off I set out of Penrith Truckstop and south onto the M6. A mile or two south and I was already thinking I had made the wrong decision, the wind was strong, stronger than I’d felt before and it seemed to be directly side on. A 7.5 tonner with closed curtains might as well be described as a kite. A couple more miles passed and I passed some over turned trucks. I have to say not many vehicles were on the motorway at all, I slowed right down and was struggling along at 20-30 mph at most. I caught up with another 7.5 tonner that had lost its roof and was taking shelter under a large bridge over the motorway. Perhaps that’s were experience should have taken over. I carried on and was virtually at Shap and the worst weather I had encountered, howling wind and rain straight from my right had side. A few gusts really knocked my sideways and I was on the hard shoulder, managing to get back to the main carriageway another strong gust caught me so I eased off the throttle and then a second huge huge gust hit and put me up on just two wheels. You know the saying “time stands still”, that must have been the longest few seconds of my life!! Luckily for me the gust passed and I managed to get the little MAN back on all fours, so close to being blown over is a feeling I won’t forget and in someways I don’t like to think would could have happened. Anyway there was no shelter what so ever, so I carried on trying to get my heart rate back down to normalish and work out what I should do. Just then I noticed in my mirrors a truck catching me up. It turned out to be a couple of Irish fridges. Known for running at full legal weight these two were obviously not as affected by the wind as I was in m my little German kite. I grabbed my CB in the hope these two may be on channel 19. My luck was in, truck 2 replied and asked if I was alright. I noticed when they were passing I was clearly in the safe zone and taking the brunt of wind, lightbulb moment!! “Can you stay in the middle lane and I stay on your inside until we get further south?” I asked. The reply was “of course” so off we went. Me in my little truck being chaperoned by these two big Irish fridge trucks taking the wind on my behalf. I stayed there for the 35 miles or so to Lancaster and I was more than grateful to the two Irish drivers whose names I can’t remember. Thank you. 

Anyway it just goes to show that driving trucks is a permanent learning curve no matter what your age. Yes I was young at the time and perhaps a few years later I would have made the other decision and stayed put at Penrith for a few hours til the wind dropped, but without a bit of comradeship the job can be a lot harder. It saddens me to think that  my friends who still drive say there is no comradeship in the UK anymore. Just remember if you see a driver struggling and your thinking “what a plonker why doesn’t he/she just do that?” Perhaps take five minutes to help them or pass on what you probably learned from someone else. There are enough pressures and deadlines to make the job of driving trucks theses days hard enough, perhaps if more drivers helped in other out it would make your day or there just that little bit easier. 

Oh look a step down off this soapbox…..

Not Just a Van-MAN

  

Can’t beat a little truck with a big cab! I’ve long been a fan of a Space cabbed 7.5 – 12 tonner, whether it’s an Atego, a DAF or the delightful MAN TGL. Having run both a MAN and a Mercedes myself, it’s very difficult to pick a winner between the two, they are both great trucks and full of big truck feel. The likes of DAF don’t do their own big cab but the Hatcher Components  conversion is very good but isn’t factory finish and then there’s the Iveco. Anyway back to the little truck in the photo, you’ve probably seen it at one of many Truck Shows last year where owner Brian Hill picked up more than a couple of decent trophies including a number of 1sts. I’ve been trying to get to see the truck for a wee while now and of course meet Brian. The truck is used by Harrison Commercials to collect and deliver vans to and from auction houses and the like and their Newark base. 

 

The truck was once a boggo standard TGL LX with a matching black box body. Fancing a new challenge and a change from the Italians Brian bought the truck and soon set to the bodywork. A local chap put together a fag-packet proposal for the beavertail bodywork and feeling brave Brian said yes! If you get a chance to look at the body it is a masterpiece in cutting and welding. As for the rest of the outside, a whole host of marker lights, spotlights, home made half shaft covers and some custom made graphics. The full set of light bars down the down and round both the top and bottom of the can were custom built by Jimbars. A small one man band is Jimbars but he does seem to be a favourite with the owner drivers, having even supplied a few bars to other MAN TGL ambassador, Steve Marsh Express.  I have to say the exterior of Brian’s little MAN is one thing but oh the interior is something else. My photos are rubbish and just don’t do any justice whatsoever to the one off,  cosy black leather lining that luxuriate the little German. 

   

 

You’ve got to see it for yourself! Door cards, quarter lights behind the main Windows, the seats, the fridge, the engine tunnel, etc etc have all being given a very gentle covering of black leather to match the outside. Wanting something different a shoe maker friend of Brian’s suggested just straight diamond padded panels rather than the big button leather interiour that is fairly common place in custom trucks. I have to say once again the subtle approach wins my vote. I know it was dark and wet when I met Brian but not only did sitting in the pilots seat make me want my own Tonko Toy again but it just gave up that classy cosy, could-drive-all-night feeling. The whole thing edged a lovely set of Tartan curtains with blackout insides, perfect a for night out now and again. The engine tunnel that is pictured above was stitched free hand by the afore mentioned show maker and what a unique job he has done, Brian is rightfully well chuffed! 

  

Great bloke and great truck. The more time I spent round the both truck and driver the more I liked them, so I had to leave Brian to his cosy night out in the leather luxury of N8 BPH. There might not be quite as many show appearances this year but if you get the chance, this truck is as good as any of its big brothers on the show circuit. It’s individual, unique not to mention very subtle and you definitely won’t find a better polished cab in the UK!

  

Swedish SnowMAN – Days 3 & 4

  
Day 2 ended after a long wait for a ferry and a break, day three continued through yesterday (Monday) and into the evening. Rødbyhavn, DK upto the final destination at Lyeskil North West of Gothenburg is around 350 miles or so, a mere skip of a trip for the little SnowMAN. Without any drama and the clear roads of Scandinavia, Marshy reached his destination last night, parked up on the doorstep ready to unload this morning.  

Up this morning to a grey sky with a scattering of snow on the ground (no time for a proper Snowman!), a quick tip of the IBC load and another CMR signed and another happy customer, by all accounts from what I hear and have experienced very, very few Steve Marsh Express customers are dissatisfied with the service that is provided. It’s just a huge shame that even the world of hot shot light haulage is at the mercy of cheap Eastern European companies. Over Christmas there is a big need for UK operators like Steve Marsh as more often than not the cheap competition have gone home over the festive period so the original and the best get called in. Anyway I digress. If you were to look on the map at Lysekil you will see a little ferry from Finnsbo to Skår on the 161. There was me thinking this must be the way to go to and from Gothenburg when I get this picture from Marshy……  

“Pole position on the little ferry” he said! So now the long run back to Rotterdam to load on Thursday for the UK. The wonderful world of express light haulage means there is always a job, even if it’s a trek back to a reload, the beauty being that all miles are paid if your a decent (and business minded) owner driver and with Steve’s experience it’s fair to say he is both. Enough Marsh worship. I’m just jealous and forever bugged we (Steve & myself) only ever waved as we passed and never had the chance to meet in my former life! Hopefully we will get the chance to follow Marshy on some more trips through 2016.   

Swedish SnowMAN – Day 2

  

 

So day 2 ended up in the early hours of this morning at the Rødbyhavn ferry terminal in Denmark. Not too many miles due to the ferry, approx 380 miles by my reckoning. Having arrived at Puttgarden hoping to get the 0200hrs ferry, poor old Marshy had to to wait til 0545hrs this morning for the a crossing due to ADR restrictions. Hence the reason for no photo today as I’m guessing the pilot is catching up on his beauty sleep!

Swedish SnowMAN – Day 1

  
Having caught up with Marshy last night on his way to Sweden here is the first update. Having left Warrington on Boxing Day morning (yesterday morning) Steve and the little MAN came down to Dover for a ferry and then plodded on northbound. After a quick crossing and clear roads Steve managed to make it as far as Utrecht before parking up in the early hours of this morning. Judinging by the photo of the motorway services there wasn’t many others out and about in Hollland and not many ADR trucks on the ferry either! More updates to follow.