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.

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New RHD Range T High Demo’s are here!

Finally the long awaited Magnum replacement has arrived here in the UK. Up until now you could only get hold of a 4×2 LHD version but after much demand (so its said) Renault have launch a RHD 6×2 version. Here’s the press release from Renault Trucks UK;

The first ten Range T High dealer demonstrator vehicles have arrived in the UK!  Featuring the striking livery based on a design theme by Daniel Beddoes, winner of Renault Trucks’ #X-Tractor social media competition. Each of the ten tractor units has its own unique identity that links it to the Renault Trucks dealer that it will call home.

“Daniel’s livery theme of the Union Jack flag, combined with UK motorways and landmarks, was a stand-out winner for the #X-Tractor judges, which included industry professionals and journalists as well as colleagues from Renault Trucks,” commented Alex Williams, Marketing Communications Manager, Renault Trucks. “We have transformed Daniel’s original idea into a stunning suite of head-turning vehicle liveries that perfectly sets off the new flagship model to the Renault Trucks range.”

The ten Range T Highs were officially launched at Renault Trucks’ recent Dealer Conference, where each dealer was given the keys to their demonstrator vehicle to drive home.

Supporting the arrival of the first Range T High demonstrators to the UK, Renault Trucks will be running a series of social media competitions based around the trucks in addition to the landmarks and motorways that make up their distinctive liveries.

For more information about the new Range T High visit :  www.range-t-high.co.uk

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.

City & Surburban

A very few of you may know my idol, the retired Mr Martin Beverley. When he called in at the office last week he very kindly bought an envelope of photos with him. Martin worked for Leyland back in the 1970’s and this little selection of photos was awesome. As is the way with Martin he told me plenty of info about each truck and as ever his knowledge still knows no bounds. This lovely Leyland Marathon stood out for me. The colours of City & Surburban Truck are quite distinctive but I have to say that I’ve never seen one before and I don’t know anything about the company. Martin seemed to remember they could well have been south Essex of East London based.

The big Leyland had a TL12 Mandata engine in it fitted with a turbo to give it that little extra to help it stand up to the Swedish invasion! I’m told that partners with the TL12 was a 9 speed Fuller Road Ranger gearbox with a cable shift. Martin also pointed out the additional spare wheel. This was an option so it may point at a bit of distance work along with the big sleeper cab.

If you can tell us anymore please do. I can’t quite see the address or phone number on the side of the cab but I’m sure one of you will know plenty. Please leave comments below.

SCOOP!! Actros UK Special Edition???

Is this the face of a new Mercedes-Benz Actros Special edition???? As far as I know MBUK are one of the only nations in Europa not to have released a special edition and now the “new” Actros has been in the UK for just over 5 years so the time may be upon us! Yesterday I spotted these sister trucks at a well known UK body builder. Me being the Actros fan I am I couldn’t resist taking a couple of snaps. They are GigaSpace 6×2 tractors wearing the big 630hp badge with, side skirts, painted cat walks and some fancy livery. I can’t imagine they are for an operator so hopefully we’ll be seeing something about it in the press very soon. I’ll have one please, although I can’t decide between the black or silver!!

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.