mushroomman wrote:Hi Ron, I can't remember The Jubilee Way being there in the early seventies but wait a minute when was The Queens Jubilee Year was it 1977.
I am sure that every body can remember their first trip over the water so come on lets hear them .
B.T.W. does anybody know if K.W. has arrived home from that Greek trip yet as were are all still waiting to hear about it.
My dad died on the 27/10/1977. About 10 years later I had taken my truck for a service and got a lift home. I went to the pub and got ratted for posterity. Unfortunately the next day I was breathalysed positive while in my car This is the beginning of the story as I arranged to sell my lovely DAF 3300 and GP Tank Barrel. I bought an old 141 Scania and used it on round timber haulage after the storms of October 1987. Me and a friend were earning £400 per load from Box Hill and we worked Sunday to Thursday. It was a good job and apart from fuel it was all profit.
The 141 was rotten, the engine used as much oil as fuel but it was fast enough to roundtrip Hull - Dorking everyday before the pub closed. Several times we were pulled up either at Sandy or Crick and the guys on the weighbridge couldn't believe we were running these pieces of garbage, my mate had a Ford which would catch pigeons. I did try to swap my Scania for a Volvo, which let me down on the first day when the turbo pipe split letting all the oil out, a new pipe, some oil and a callout from Volvo almost took that days profit. I took it back and reclaimed my Scania. The timber job began to dry up and we were looking for a change. My drink drive hearing was looming and I needed to do something. I took the Scania to auction and failed miserably as a truck dealer, the scrap value offered was an insult.
On the way home we called in to see Chris Brearley and I was looking round one of his Leyland Roadtrains that had just returned from Turkey. I was impressed by all the mud stuck to the cab, looked like it hadn't been washed since it was built and the tilt was a similar colour. A plan was formed. I would get banned inevitably but only in the UK I figured. On the way back from Chris brearley's yard I nipped into Assetwell, a well known Mercedes Benz exporter. I knew Ian Hepworth as he hunts with my Uncle and shook hands on a deal, he took the Scania. I drove out in an ex Burtons the Tailor Saviem. I took it for a service, fitted a headlight bulb and chiseled the brass plate of the fifth wheel (This vehicle has been downplated to 24tonne) I did a test run to Dorking and although slower it performed well enough. During that week I was due at court and I asked another mate to drive my Saviem. Andy loved this truck as he used to pretend he was French to chat up the ladies.
I got a 12 month ban and £200 fine and paid him about 30 quid. After visiting Chris Brearley I had sown a seed and got a call from George Brooke who had worked for Chris, he had started up his own business and had a load out of ICI Yalding for Athens, my best mate had a step frame tilt and I said I would do a trip for him. Andy was going to drive the Saviem in England and we would then share the driving in Europe. I got a green card from my insurance broker that was uncrossed apart from Iran I think. On the due day of loading I was told that they would only load a straightframe trailer and it was ADR 6.1. Both Andy and myself had our ADR and I used my contacts to rent a trailer from TIP in Maidstone and set off bobtail the following morning. We had both been to Yalding with the tankers so we were familiar with that. We were less familiar with the next part of the job and arrived in Dover to meet George at Uniex office. He gave me a ferry ticket, a bag of money and an envelope with some phone numbers on it. We went down the lanes and ended up stood on some stairs with loads of other drivers, listening intently to many stories of distant places. We shipped that evening with P&O to Calais and parked near Fontainbleu early the next day. After about 4 hours sleep we set off towards Lyon and on towards Italy. The next stop was at an AGIP station just through the tunnel. I cant remember which but think it was the Blanc. I remember going into the cafe and having a couple of pints when a policeman came in and though it was rather strange to see two Englishmen on the beer about 5am. He seemed happy enough when we climbed in the lorry and closed the curtains and slept while lunchtime.
Now that I was in Italy I looked at the handwritten instructions, "when you get near Brindisi, give Justine a call on this number" Where the hell is Brindisi I asked as we were heading towards Milan. Andy found it on the map and passed it over. What you reckon he said. I don't know we will get a bit closer and ring the shipping agent where Justine worked. We drove all day and into the night and still seemed a long way from this little village on the coast. The Saviem had performed faultlessly and was amazing on fuel considering we were grossing about 37 tonne. We had taken all the stickers off the trailer in Calais and the orange boards were under the bunk after coming through the Blanc, we had declared the load then and were allowed through on our own. When we got near Bari we decided on calling it a day and pulled into a parking area to sleep. The next morning I woke up and called Frag Line and asked for Justine, she spoke perfect English but I may have spoken to her in Swahili, she didn't know anything about me, the trailer number or George Brooke. I seem to remember it was a lovely February morning as we approached Brindisi as I saw the silhouette of a policeman behind a tree, not one but two with a gun, a speed gun and the next half hour was spent discussing the price of cappuccino. I won and it cost me the price of a small cafetiere.
As we pulled into the town of Brindisi we saw a sign to the port and ferryboat, we drove up to the gate and waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually a uniform arrived and made me reverse onto some waste ground. "Parking, Parking." I never really understood what we should have done or where the ticket office was, but up the road was a Dutchman, now I had been abroad enough to know the Dutch drivers have the coffee on permanently and know everything. I showed him the phone number and said Frag Line and he just said taxi, frag line, taxi, pointing to the other side of the dock. So off we went with my money in a Midland Bank cotton bag, two passports and an envelope of invoices, t forms and a CMR to find a taxi. He knew the place and took us to an office that was locked but had Frag Line stickers on the windows. Opposite was an ice cream parlour, so when in Italy, eat Gelato. Maybe it was lunch time, maybe it was closed but we had arrived in one piece.
We ate gelato for what seemed hours and Andy had changed his allegiance from French to Italian now and we spent ages eyeing up the young beautiful talent. His Mother was half Italian so he probably looked the part but his conversation let him down, he sounded like Captain Alberto Bertorelli (Hello Hello) "What a mistake-a to make-a!" We saw some action across the port as a ferry was maneuvering and soon the office light came on and we went into see Justine. she too was beautiful, about 22 and fit as a butchers dog. She explained that we didn't have a ferry booking and should have made one on our departure from Calais, the next available sailing was 3 days away. I think the day we arrived was Saturday so we wouldn't be leaving until Tuesday. Andy immediately started to chat up Justine while the more serious one, me, was beginning to worry and imagine all sorts of problems with George. ICI and Hellas. It was then that she opened the envelope and saw that the load was pesticide and poisonous. Oh hold on, it is OK. I do have a ferry booking for you, it is next Thursday. this load must go on a freight ferry without passengers. I have your tickets. The ups and downs of haulage I decided, if we had loaded on the correct day, we may have been in time to see our ferry just leaving and would have had to wait a whole week, this way we were just a little early for our scheduled boat. Justine bade us a good trip and gave me a plan of the port area explaining about the capitania do porto and the protocol to get access. She said she would come to the parking area on Tuesday when her passenger ferry arrived back and make sure we were OK.
The next few nights were spent drinking expensive coffee or weak beer and eating ice cream, but a few more trucks arrived although our Dutchman had left. One English driver turned up who was a veteran on the Greek Run. He weighed about 22 stone and was called Ken, driving a 142 Scania that looked like it was once owned by Wm Mark Young. I met his cousin several years later who told me that Ken had died in his cab. Eventually we were getting closer to our sailing and Justine did as she promised and came to see "her boys" and brought Ken some paperwork and asked him to show us the ropes with the Capitan. It was a long drawn out process and I understood why she had called it protocol, this bloke dressed like a peacock could ruin your day and did so to a few drivers. Fortunately all my paperwork from ICI was spot on, Justine had arranged all my tickets into order and we were soon in and out and waited for Ken, he had a problem with one invoice and would need to go back to the office so we shared his taxi cab. It was soon sorted when they faxed him some amended invoices and were allowed to drive into the port. That was the eyeopener as this ferry pulled onto its berth and disgorged dozens of Greek wagon and drags, many of which were from a time warp. The port was getting busier and more of these vehicles arrived. In the UK a freighter has only enough berths for 12 drivers, not so between Italy and Greece, as long as you are not a tourist, they will pack you on a ferry with more of your ilk along with chemicals, livestock, fuel oil and food. Apparently this old rusty tub had been a cattle carrier in a previous life. We watched dozens of these excitable Greeks reversing these A frame lorry and trailers on board. Eventually it was time for Ken and I to reverse on along with a couple of Dutch artics right in the bow. This is it i decided, no mistakes now and we were on our way to Greece.