Diary (W/e friday 13th)

Monday 2nd — Friday 7th October 2006

Last week it was more no wheels than 8 wheels, the management had decided that I was to provide holiday cover for my boss and provided an agency driver to do my job. It was a weird sight to see the lorry being driven off by someone else each day, having been it’s sole driver for the last 9 months I felt lost without it.

Now I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this, as I’ve never been shown what he actually does so I spent most of the time being a glorified caretaker. I managed to undertake a few repairs to the yard using an old dumper that I unearthed next door and cranked into life (with handle).

Also I had a tidy up and disposed of some old pallets, however I spent most of the time wondering where the driver had got to. Most of the jobs that he went to I gave him a street map, often a sketch map and told him what to look out for and the best way to lift certain things and to secure them. This I hoped would make his day easier, mine shorter and keep him from injuring himself or someone else or damaging something. No damage or injuries but he just seemed to disappear between jobs meaning that I still ended up seeing the sun go up or down.

Monday 9th October 2006

0700 Start. The good news was that the boss was back today, the bad news was that on Friday Mr.Agency told me that he had been booked for Monday as well (1st I’d heard of it). Today was a fairly straightforward day for him, after strapping everything I had loaded on Friday he was to trundle off to Chelmsford to take off 1 auger and collect another from the yard where they are refurbished. He had been here last week so that should pose no problem before trailing down to Lemon steel at Wickford where he had worked as an agency driver. After picking up some steel he was to head to Shoot Up Hill, Cricklewood and tip the steel, the augers, and a dumpy bag. Finally from there a short hop up the A5 to Stanmore to clear a site of 6 or 7 stillages and return to base. He left at 0745 and I calculate that I’d have it done and back in the yard by about 1530 or 1600 latest. I spent most of the morning hanging around explaining bits from last week when something didn’t make sense to the boss. He also seemed to be unable to unravel the times for some of last weeks jobs, but hey it just makes me look good. Finally I was released at about 1130 to run some bits to a site in St.Ives in the van, Oh the freedom of the open road (well M11). On site it was a quick tip off and turn around for base. Apparently Mr.Agency was sloooooow at unloading too, but in fairness that’s probably better than having someone launching things off at warp speed. I’m just about to off the M11 at Harlow when the driver calls me just to check on the exact location of the Stanmore job as he’s almost there, its 1400 so he’s not doing too badly today. Back at the yard it’s more of the same, and I call it a day about 1730 and head for home. I pass the lorry on the way out of Harlow and he’ll be back in the yard by about 1800.

Tuesday 10th October 2006

0645 Start. First job this morning is to unstrap and unload yesterdays site clearance with the forklift. This takes until about 0730 and I’m out at last and headed back down the A414 to Chelmsford where I’ve just come from. Today is going to be an easy one, so I stop and pick up a new marker light lens to replace one that had fallen out of its housing on the ramp and disappeared. On to Boreham to collect 2x 3m x 300mm CFA augers from the yard that refurbishes them. These ones haven’t been done, but we are scraping the bottom of the barrel to get another set together for a hired machine. I’m off up the A12 to the M25 and that grinds to a halt between J26 & J25 just short of the Holmesdale Tunnel. I’m sat there for a while so end up cleaning the glass and mirrors and end up cleaning out the empty socket on the ramp, fitting a new bulb and replacing the lens. Whilst we are stopped two guys wandered up and removed one of the roadwork signs from the hard shoulder and proceeded to drive through the gap they had created. I saw a couple of minutes later their car at right angles to everyone else squeezing through a gap presumably heading for lane 3 which was closed a bit further up. Unbelievable. I’m stuck for about 2 hours until we get moving again, but it picks up quick and we soon see the broken down that had caused the delay, a TMC 8 wheel tipper is being dragged slowly on towards J24. A quick blast down the A1 / A41 to the NCR and onto site at Shoot Up Hill to drop the two augers. After a quick tip off I retrace my steps to the M25 where I run into stationary traffic at the top of the slip road, this clears as soon as I get there but stops again by J24. It’s probably nothing much, but after this mornings delay I can’t be arsed to sit in another jam for an hour or more so take the country route through Potters Bar & Cuffley to the A10 and back onto my usual route back to Roydon. A couple of months ago on an easy day I drove back that way just to see if it was a suitable diversion, it’s a bit out of the way but sometimes I’d rather know that I can get back in a few extra minutes rather than face the unknown. Back at the yard at 1400 and after a brew I restock the cab with my maps and wet weather gear. Although I try and keep everything clean, the textured plastic round the footwell and door gets ingrained with mud and the dimpled anti slip covering over the engine hump is impossible to keep dust free. After a bit of effort with the washing up brush from the kitchen things are looking much better (although not for the brush). Spurred on I decide to give the cab a wash down outside as it’s pretty grubby, as a rule I haven’t bothered too much since moving to this yard. When we were based at the plant department at Basildon we had use of their pressure washer, but since moving the company has been dragging its heels to buy us one and I refuse to wash the body by hand. I do however hose the recesses for the D rings out as they are thick with mud and difficult to use. All in all it was a job well done. Caked in dirt and wet through I squelch off home just after 1600.

Wednesday 11th October 2006

0700 Start. Arrive at the yard to find the Basildon lorry in, to collect their Mait Baby Drill which I had brought back from Portsmouth in July. We couldn’t get it started so he had to lift it from where it stood. I left them to it and headed off in the van to drop some supplies off to our CFA rigs. The M25 was particularly bad this morning and it was a slow grind round to the M40 where things improved. The weather did not improve and as I sat in the queue for the roundabout at Headington, Oxford there was a big old storm raging, thunder, lightning and torrential rain. This eased off past Witney and improved to just plain miserable. I stopped at the layby near Windrush for spot of breakfast, I’m not generally one for stopping for food but I stopped here a while back and couldn’t pass. Half a French stick with jumbo sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato and black pudding with a fork in the top, and a cup of tea for £3.50 will keep me going for quite some time and I head back out after about 20 minutes. Previous visits to our site at Winchcombe have all been in the lorry and all involved going into Cheltenham, however a look at the map had shown a load of little unclassified roads that’d cut the corner. I dusted off the TomTom and let it have free reign, these were roads that I’d definitely not want to take the lorry down but were fine in the van and I arrived on site at 1100. I unloaded their bits into the container but couldn’t find any of them so made a quick escape off to go and drop the rest of the gear at the other machine.

Casagrande B125 CFA rig

Again I let the SatNav do it’s thing taking me through decent roads to the M5 and down to Dursley. Although I had no proper address I found the site and dropped the rest of the gear off, although nearly went arse over ■■■, skating across the mud. Don’t think I’d have been popular returning the van with mud caked all over the seats. Down from Dursley to the M4 and back through more horrendous rain to the M25 where the sun was trying to poke through. Back at the yard by 1545 and sorted out tomorrows bits before getting away about 1630. Just before I left a lorry turned up to collect the Mait rig that had been taken to Basildon, he wasn’t best pleased at the extra 1½ hours it would add.

Thursday 12th October 2006

0700 Start. Out and on to the M11 headed for Aldwincle near Kettering, I’m running as good as empty but even flat out it seems be slooooow compared to yesterdays tearing around as white van man. A fairly good run up the M11 and across the A14 and I’m on site at 0900.

Straight in to get bits with crane.

Turn round in the lane

Back in and load up

Site ready for departure

Space is a bit limited here so I ended up poking my nose in the gate and picking up the augers, toolbox and diesel drums before reversing out and trying to turn round without churning up the verge. Somehow I manage and line up with the Klemm which is backed up as far as they can get it, the tracks have got a sticky mud coating about 2” thick so we set to with shovel and remove the worst. Drop the ramps, lower the suspension and keep out of the way whilst it’s tracked up. No problems today, and I fold the ramps today as I have got some materials to move with it. The materials are 40x plastic heave sleeves each 3m long x 250mm diameter, we eventually get them on and strapped down mega tight. We’re done by 1030 and set off for Worcester Park, nr Sutton. From the A14 we take the A45 through to the M1 and round the M25 to the A3. As we come through Worcester Park I take the turning I need to find it’s heavily residential, the road I want is first on the left and as soon as I turn in I find that due to the cars parked either side I can’t squeeze through. The second man from the rig is behind me so he stops the traffic whilst I back out and go to the bottom to come round and in from the other direction. Just at the bottom there is an Unsuitable for HGV sign, which is fairly accurate as it too is blocked by cars. Reverse round the bend, uphill and into side road on a side slope. The poor tyres are taking a caning due to the way the weight is sitting on them. An old bloke in a Cavalier has driven around my banksman and is now right in the way and he doesn’t seem to get it. Eventually he gets out of my way and I can escape this hell, leaving behind a bit of a clutchy smell, oops. Back to the main road and in from the other end, I stop and have a wander down before committing myself and decide to try and reverse down the road and hopefully get it into the site entrance at right angles to the road. Luckily there are no cars directly opposite and it’s just possible to get in, at the expense of some 20 minute old tarmac. All the tubes and bits off the back and its ramps down, Klemm off, drums down the ramps, some more bits off with gravity assistance. Two lifts with the crane and a quick sweep up before heading back to the M25 and back to the yard by 1600. Although it is probably the dirtiest job, and today’s was not the easiest due to access problems I always enjoy moving this machine. There is always someone to help and it seems much more worthwhile than moving a few bits and pieces. Our piling chief is wanting to buy another similar size machine in the new year, this will have to be moved by me as well so it could shift the type of work slightly this way. He also reckons that we are going to go and collect it from Italy, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Friday 13th October 2006

0700 Start. No jobs to do first thing, only a site clearance for this afternoon in High Wycombe. I kept out of the cold with a cup of tea for a while and then dragged my self out to clean the lights and mirrors and generally have a tidy up. One job has come up, a site clearance in Hamstreet, Kent but I hang around until 0830 to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Harlow is solid for no reason other than it’s foggy but the M11/M25 are clearer both in traffic and fog. The Dartford Crossing is completely clear and it’s like that all the way down to Ashford. There is an occasional patch of fog but the sun has come out and things are looking up. The site it Hamstreet is a new build house, where you have to park outside and crane stuff in and out, there is an overhead power cable which is making things difficult so I end up loading stuff here and there to keep the crane low. It’s a bit of a jumble and I leave the crane unstowed as I have just been given another collection in nearby Headcorn, I don’t like working like this but to get it loaded up properly would just take far too long.

It’s quite a nice drive through places like Tenterden and Biddenden to Headcorn which itself is a nice little village. The site is a community centre just behind the church. Apparently they had cleared some stuff this morning and discovered two pallets of our stuff tucked away in the corner.

The agent was amazed to see me as he had only rang the office about it this morning. They were stacked behind a tall hedge and had to be lifted right over the top. It was simple enough and they were slotted around the other stuff tidying things up somewhat.

Just behind that gate

Is our stuff

Down there somewhere

The collection in High Wycombe had been cancelled so it was straight back to the yard to unload. There was a heap of stuff and paperwork waiting for me for next weeks work. At the last count, the plan was for West Bromwich (0730) to tip some steel, onto Glossop to drop some steel tube, something (not sure what) in York, collect 2x stillage and a drill rig from our Huddersfield office. Find somewhere to overnight (Just get a hotel with space for the lorry) and on Tuesday back down to Basildon to tip the rig before nipping into Wickford to collect some steel for Winchcombe, find somewhere else to overnight and go on to do whatever else on Wednesday. Now considering I am employed on a no night out basis, my feelings were towards this were fairly negative and my mood foul. Walking around kicking things in the yard, throwing things and generally swearing lots did not much to help. I have explained by text that as always on a Monday I am unable to be at work before 0600 and that I will accept one night out, but think two unacceptable and suggested that I return to the yard (or home) on Tuesday and hit Winchcombe first thing Wednesday. I am still waiting for a reply. Just to put things into context I do not think I am being unreasonable, when they overnighted me before they covered my expenses but refused to give me anything for doing it. I am not bothered about the money, but the principle is what bothers me.

Loaded up ready for Monday.

thanks a nice read with great pictures

another great read with brilliant pictures, waiting for next weeks installment

Another good read and pics :smiley:

Good stuff ‘no wheels’ ! :wink:

8wheels You should seriously think about a career in photo journalism. Good stuff.

good read & pics once again

8wheels anothergood read and pics,if you ever think about euro-work I’ve got a good username-“Craneaholic”?
regards derek

Photojournalism would be sort of full circle. I trained as a photographer but packed in the industry as digital started to make deeper inroads, now i do use a digital camera but can’t be bothered with the technology that goes with it.

I do these diaries as i have enjoyed other Coffee’s and others and gives me a chance to air a slightly different angle on things. It also is a good way of letting off steam about things rather than taking it out on the family.

And whilst I would do the Italian job as a one off for the experience, I have no desire to seek work that takes me away from home and my family. Although some days I see them hardly at all, they are at least there.