Veiculo Longo, (very longo)

Sunday 15th July

Hilton Derbyshire. 6.30 AM

After loading my fridge with goodies I did my vehicle checks and discovered 2 bulbs blown since friday. Strange that they were working when I parked up. I rely on the engine computer to check the oil but as this was a longer trip than Belgium I dipped the oil manually. If anything it was a bit higher than I like as I normally keep it between the 2 marks but it was only serviced last week on a formula one type pitstop. I pulled into the workshops to check my tyre pressures and Filipe and Johan jumped me and stole my old oil and filters. While in the garage I had 2 tyres fitted and stocked up my box of bulbs, fuses and tanker seals.

Today is St Swithins day and according to folklore if it rains today it will continue for 40 days. Its not looking good for my holidays next month.I had left the house full of hope in shorts and a T shirt with Turkish open toe safety sandals. Because it was Sunday morning the roads should be quiet so I took the A50 to the M1 / M69 and went down through Ryton and Southam to get to Banbury. I havent been past Ryton since it closed and now looks very deserted. As I left Hilton I checked my tank temperature and it was showing 13’C so I used my heat exchanger to get some heat into the tank. This runs from electric generated from the lorry when running or I can plug it in on board ferries or in factories when the engine is stopped. I arrived at Banbury at 9AM as planned and the tank temperature had risen to 26’C Perfect for loading chocolate.

The security here are quite pleasant and they use first names on the paperwork and security pass. He rang through to the loaders and they were not sure of loading point so he told me to park by the Roasting Department. I thought this was an office where you got your p45. 10 minutes later the shift foreman had come out and we discussed the loading plan. I had a 3 compartment tank split into 9500/7500/15500 litre and the load was 15T of milk chocolate and 6T of a different grade. We were going to have to load the 15t first and he asked if it was a problem to drive around the factory with it like this. I decided that as the site is level it would be ok, otherwise I would have to wait while another tank was loaded on the next point. So we were loading compartment 3 first and putting the 6t into compartment 1. By 9.30 I was on the point loading and took the opportunity to check all the tank couplings and pump were ok as once I am loaded the tank will be sealed and I cant gain access until the customer checks the unbroken seals at the other end.

While I was in Banbury I was hoping to catch site of our Scania young driver of the year crowd and Sally Traffic but only spotted an open day at Prodrive where the Subaru WRC team were in attendance along with David Brabham and Dave Richards. There were Subaru Impreza turbos and Aston Martins by the dozen tear arsing round the industrial estate. Apparently Prodrive do this event each year and any money raised goes to charity. I managed to sneak off and use the canteen because the lads here are well trained and all can drive trucks, so if they need to move mine, they can. Normally trailers are dropped and they load them with this dockspotter. Another one of our Belgian drivers came into the factory to load and was most put out that me, a mere Engels Chauffeur was going to Portugal and he had to do Germany. I joked that they needed someone with experience for the specialist jobs.

This morning when I put in my data cartridge to my Bord Computer I got a message that hovers round until you turn on the machine. I was now booked on the 19.15 ferry from Poole to Cherbourg that evening. We were not sure which way I was going on Friday so the girl in the office booked it after I had gone home and sent me a little message about that. So loaded with 2 products, My temperature is showing 40’C and I gross out at 37540kg I havent a clue what the weightlimit is in Portugal but it is academic anyway as the weight limit is 40 tonne in France. I left Banbury and made my way down the M40 to the 34 and headed off down to Poole. I pulled into Tot Hill to get my new Prince CD that was in the paper. I checked my tank temperature and found it had risen to 48’C so I turned off the heaters. While parked there I was trying to make other words out of the word “Coutances” the ferry I would use. The best I could do was 19 words, which didnt include bag of crap.

I didnt need to change any money here as there is a cash point in the terminal in Cherbourg. I normally carry a Mastercard, my debit card and have just applied for a French bank account which is undergoing Alquaeda checks at the moment, I had a few loose Euros so I could have a couple of Kir’s on board with Jean Christoffe whom I worked with at GBE. Brittany ferries have changed the way we are fed since my days at Transalliance when you ate for nothing and got a free bottle of wine,cider or beer. Now you must pay £7 or 10 Euros to eat on board and drinks are extra. The letter we got said that was because we had asked for it. I think our bosses had asked for a discount so they knocked some money off the ferry and now drivers subsidise them. This was brought about by the Bulgarians who were normally 3 to a truck and would make doggy bags for a week apparently.

Evening Meal: Hache Parmentier avec Petit Pois. (Cottage Pie and Peas). 3 Kir and 1/4 bottle of red wine.

5h 08minutes today. 337 km.

Monday 16th July.
Cherbourg 0900

Woke up after a bad nights sleep with a couple of visits to the little boys room. The food on the Coutances is to blame methinks. Anyway I made a cup of tea and had a couple of Weetabix to help me through the day. I left Cherbourg and went towards ST Lo on the way to Rennes, This is a bit of a 6 and 2 three’s route as the shortest distance is probably through Coutances village and onto Avranches. However I was at the roundabout in Rennes in exactly 3 hours driving and at the Peage south of Nantes on 4h30. I had stopped for a 45 before that and was bought a coffee by the driver of this, As I pointed out to him on the road earlier that his airlines were dragging on the road under the dolly and chucking sparks up. I use to load Stainless steel coils from just under this bridge and thought it looked a long way up. As you drive over it you realise it is a lot further down.

Since leaving Home the temperature on the cab display had risen steadily from a dull and miserable 13’C to a nice 22’C as I drove through occasional rain showers. I have had a bad dose of cold or flu and have been avoiding using the air con till I need it for real. The problem is that with the changing weather the windows soon steam up. I notice this more on a Volvo than any other truck. My next break was about 60km North of Bordeaux in the Avia station. No other reason except I was going to do a full shift today and use every available minute of my first 10 hours. I arrived here at 7h 40m drivetime used and as it was around teatime I thought I would leave fighting with the traffic till it had died down a little. I am still trying to adjust my new cab fridge as I now have frozen milk and a bag of apples I may need a chainsaw to eat them. No problem though, the Heineken is at the top and that will be welcome when I reach my 10 hours later tonight. I manage to get to Castets with a minute to spare and bump into a couple of lads who were on the same ferry. Because I had left later they got stuck in some heavy traffic through Bordeaux and I only caught the tail end so we arrived around the same time although they all said they were between 15 and 20 minutes over a 10 hour drive. After a couple of Kir at the bar where an irate Dutchman was shouting about his steak being raw. The girl didnt argue, just gave him his money back and told him to go. He was last seen on the steps telling everyone who would listen that the food was crap.

I went into eat with Jim and ordered Steack Tartare with green beans. The girl came back and said she was sorry but the Tartare was finished so I had to reorder. Whilst eating, old Jim was telling me some tales. He had been an owner driver for many years and now retired does holiday relief for anyone who will pay him in cash. The conversation switched to Yugoslavia and we were reminiscing about the (Hotels) we used where you would be enjoying a meal while some old trout would be sat next to you with her hand on your knee or elsewhere. “Leave me alone Im hungry” we said in unison. “Later”, “maybe”, but they were persistant to the point where many hotels stopped them coming inside. Jim was one of these who enjoyed Italy and Spain but hated the Eastern Bloc where I had done Communist countries for 5 years before venturing to Spain. T Forms scared me to death the first time I went to Irun.

We finished our meal and he went to bed while I had a coffee at the bar. I was talking about Rugby to a Frenchman when we realised we were talking about a different game. League and Union. He drove for the Spanish company San Jose and did a lot of work in the UK loading from Rolls Royce at Derby, Case tractors and Michelin. While there yet another Dutch driver came to the bar ranting, he wanted a shower but the toilets were closed for cleaning. It was 11.30 by now and he had been in the bar since 7pm. It must be something in the Dutch water tonight.

Evening Meal: Steack Hache avec haricot verts. (Minced beef cake with string beans) 2 Kir, 1 Litre of Red wine, (shared) and 2 GET Vingt Sept (27) Creme de Menthe.

9h 59 minutes today. 835km

Tuesday 17th July
Castets.France. 0800

Slept a lot better last night and woke early to bag a clean shower and grabbed a coffee in the restaurant. Leaving Castets through the 3 short sections of peage takes just over an hour to the Spanish border. I had dipped my fuel at Castets and decided that I had enough to get into Spain. We use Shell and AS24 cards but they only like us to use AS24 cards in France as the fuel is dearer than Shell elsewhere. I misjudged though and having passed the AS24 at the first services I was then struggling to find a Shell garage. There were none on the Autopista between Irun and Burgos so I resorted to using my mastercard and got 103.20liters for 100 Euros. That gave me a little breathing space and would let me find somewhere later. It was the first time I had put fuel in since leaving France last Thursday. Now with a little peace of mind I could enjoy the scenery for a while and came down the peaje from Bilbao to Miranda de Ebro where like an oasis in the desert a sparkling Shell station appeared. The problem was that it was on the opposite carriageway and due to roadworks I had to go about 13 kilometres to turn around and come back to it. Never mind, I took my card inside and it refused to be read twice. The 3rd time it worked and so I put in 650 litres of golden diesel. It is so cheap you could bathe virgins in it. I sent my mate a text to see if he had a shell book and he replied just after I found this one. I told him that I sent the text 3 days ago and was now walking with a can. Then he rang me to see if I was joking. Thanks Howard. Anyway.fueled up for another 2500 kilometres. I then stopped for lunch and a siesta. When in Rome do as the Spaniards do.

Due to my earlier stupidity and lack of planning I had to eat into my last 10 hours today. I am parked up on the IP2 at a little services near Guarda. I came through the border at Vilar Formoso into a land that time forgot, actually it didnt forget it as it put the clock back one hour. Portugal lies on the same longitude as Greenwich so it is UK time again. This is the first time I have driven a truck to Portugal, My first and last visit was on 2 wheels and I cheated then and used a paraffin budgie to get here. I still have the scars to prove it as I fell off the motorcycle wearing safety shorts when the exhaust burnt my leg.

As I have headed south on this trip the outside temperature has climbed steadily and it reached 29’C today in Spain. Im parked up now with the engine running the aircon & typing this at 21.30. I cant get Radio 4 or Talk Sport and the Prince CD is garbage

I have only got about 300 clicks to do tomorrow but as there is no delivery time on the paperwork I want to arrive before lunch to give me chance of cleaning if possible. No mention of the reload or cleaning procedure yet.

Evening Meal: Spaghetti Bolognese,(self explanatory)beer and another beer from my fridge.

9h 54 minutes today. 793 kilometres

Wednesday 18th July
Guarda Portugal.

I left the service area in the dark and headed off down towards Lisbon, as dawn broke I could see the attraction of Portugal again, I drove for about 3h.30 minutes before hitting the industrial areas and saw a sign at the last minute for St Iria de Azoia at the peaje. I actually came off one junction too early as I had to fight with a bit of morning traffic. With only one slight mistake as I saw the factory over some railway lines. I couldnt work out how to cross them and had to do a u turn. I parked outside the factory and walked in rather than just pull straight on the weighbridge. The man who spoke like Jose Mourihnio checked my passport and paperwork then asked me to weigh in. I had done it right for him. First you go left and then you dont go left till the second street. “OK”, “I think!”

Tanker work is quite repetitive and you learn what you are looking for. I saw some stainless steel pipework and some drain covers so realised I am in the right area of the factory. I wandered off with papers and samples in hand looking for someone. Than I was met by a bloke who could only speak Spanish or Portugese. I speak neither, so thrust the papers at him and pointed at the sample as I took the lid off. He pointed to the discharge pipe and made me understand that I had to turn the truck round. By now he was my best friend and he took samples from the top of the tank with me and checked the temperature with a digital thermometer. Since loading I had maintained the chocolate between 40’C and 44’C and he booked me in at 42 degrees. Perfect again.

Because I am loaded with 2 grades of chocolate my friend double checked many times over that we were tipping the right grade into the right tank. I found out the real reason that Wheelnut is in Portugal. The last driver, a Dutchman from another company put 16 tonne of plain chocolate into the white chocolate tank. It cost them 6 days of lost production and they had to scrap all the chocolate. I have my own system which involves the operator signing my paperwork and recording the seal numbers on that compartment. Even so you have to be careful to check. When I had tipped pot 3 I then weighed out and back in to unload pot 1. By then the guy had set up his next tank and was waiting for me to back in. Once tipping he brought me my signed CMR’s and we then had a conversation about football, I think. He is certainly not a lover of Jose Mourinio and spit on the ground when I mentioned him. He said mourinio’s boss is mafiose and spit on the floor again,but he likes Cristian Ronaldo who may be his love child.

While unloading my computer bleeped and I got a string of messages. The main one was my reload. Im loading tomorrow from Cadaval to Germany so they will try to find a cleaning station that can cope with chocolate.

The address I am given is not on Microsoft autoroute but I head off in the general direction of Camarate Secavem looking for Gomez & Severino, a cleaning station. Eventually I found it behind a Renault garage at the end of Lisbon airport main runway. As I arrived a bloke asked me what I had on, when I told him, he whistled and 3 old krones dressed in black descended on the tank. They had dozens of tupperware boxes and dishes so maybe Wednesday is always chocolate delivery day in Lisbon.

The place was a bit vintage to say the least. Once the dust had settled the actual cleaning equipment was very good. It was driven by 3 steam cleaners and a hot hose pipe. 2 lads from Guinea Bissau did the work while the pimp was an obnoxious porky who was ranting and raving because I wasnt paying cash. To be fair it was a good clean and he only wanted 85 Euros. That would have been 3 times that in the UK and 5 times more in Europe. Eventually my people sent his people a fax and a woman who may have been his wife brought me the papers.

I am now parked at the vineyard and finishing these pages with the help of a small Heineken. I havent had an evening meal yet and no sight of a bar but today I have driven 5h 53 minutes and done 403 kilometres.

Thursday 19th July
Cadaval Vilar. Portugal.

Last night I was a cab rat and decided to use some stuff from my fridge as that would give me room to top it up again in Spain on the way back. Im thinking drink. I did a stocktake on my fridge and food boxes and have got 5 yoghurts, some beef spread, butter, eggs and cheese. In the drinks department there is only 3 bottles of Heineken, 2 pints of milk and half a bottle of red wine. My bread is beginning to turn the corners up and it is too hot to cook anything from tins. It seems that I parked at the right place and I am actually loading direct from the vineyard with Rose for the Mosel. The ingenieur came out and told me that I couldnt load until he had been payed from his agent in Germany and would go to the bank in the morning. He then invited me into the weighbridge office where he had a secret supply of wine and Porto Branco. I retired to bed and raided my fridge that night.

One of my introductions to tank work was with wine from Spain and Portugal although I only collected it from the docks in those days in lift tanks. It always annoyed me that the customs would spoil any residues with soapy water when you were empty. This time I am prepared and will fill my bottles before I get to the customer in Germany. When eventually it was my time to load, the boss came and knocked on the cab holding a piece of paper. It must have been a bankers draft because all of a sudden there was a lot of activity and people coming out of vans & little sun shelters on the hillside. Very soon a pump appeared and lengths of delivery hose. I started to load about 3 in the afternoon and had spent the morning nursing a bad head, gingerly cleaning the cab. I had worked out precisely where and how much wine I wanted in each compartment. Here they have different ideas and just fill 2 compartments to overflowing. I had been to the sample valve and was filling my 2 plastic bottles when someone shouted something. Thinking I was in trouble, I stopped to be greeted with a small child presenting me with a gift box of 3 bottles in a presentation case. Well thats the christmas shopping done then! I did manage to fill the plastic bottles too and they will see me through this weekend.

While loading I was talking to one of the workers, he was 25 and asked about driving trucks in Europe. He was interested in the wages and how much time away from home. I told him that 2 or 3 weeks away is quite common and he was amazed. He thought that Portugese drivers who only did Spain could earn about 2000 euros per month. Where do I put my name down? To live here with its slow pace of life must be preferable to battling round the M25 for 3000 Euros. It was actually 6pm before I had my papers so it looked like I would be working nights for the rest of this week. Depending on how far I get in France will dictate whether I have to also start at 10pm on Sunday evening. This is the most common reason for truck accidents in Europe as the mad rush starts at the borders. When the borders were controlled many drivers were paid extra to clear customs so every border they crossed was another payment. This practice is still in force for many of our continental cousins.

This vineyard doesn’t bottle its own wine it sends that out to another company but runs its own wine tankers. Many of the smaller wine growers transport their grapes to the local co-op which is probably an amalgamation of the larger growers pooling resources to keep prices stable and keep the smaller growers from getting too big. One thing different about here was that they also kept pigs, they fed them slops from the wine and grape skins. Generally they were quiet nursing hangovers, but occasionally you would hear some squeeling. I imagine pigs with an attitude problem, or tasty pork au vin.

After weighing out I headed for the border at Vilar Formoso again. Here I had to post a copy of the invoice through an agents door. I dont understand why the local post office were not used except maybe to prove I had left Portugal. This must be the idea as the girl in the office had shown me a photograph of an agents office. Agence Transitaires and pointed out a post box with the vineyard name on it. What she didn,t say was that I must park in the TIR Terminal parking and walk. I sailed straight into the border area and the agent was there as she had shown me. I popped the envelope in the box and followed a bus through the border. Then there was some confusion as Guardia Civil members ran everywhere pointing their illuminated lollypops that made them look like something silly from Starwars. One said Vino? “yes” another said Vino? I said “Ja” and the third one who spoke English said wine? “Yes” I replied. I could have been clever and said “Si” but that is about the end of my spanish languages. I can only ask for Dos Cerveza and it gives me a bad head drinking 2 beers every time. Anyway the policeman said I should go to the TIR terminal. I said that I only had to post the documents. He agreed that next time I should park in the terminal and after checking the trailer registration against the papers, he said good night. Very civil I thought. The other one who had learned English very quickly asked me for a sample and laughed. I left, smiling too. That night I drove up to Burgos and parked up at the Shell station.

Evening meal: Sopa and Bifana with a Bock beer. Vegetable soup and a grilled pork sandwich washed down with Belgian beer, all for 4.80 Euros.

8h 45 minutes driving and 672 kilometres.

Friday 20th July.

Today was my last day so I had to make it count, but I also had to be careful where I end up in France as many Routiers and restaurants are closed on a weekend. I will make a decision when I reach the border at Irun. I got to the border and through with only a few delays. Friday afternoon and heavy traffic. Signs warning that it was Interdit for Poids Lourds on Saturday between 7am and 1900 because of the holidays. I drove up to Vivonne on the Route National 10 and settled into my Porto Branco. On the way up I received my reload details for Monday afternoon so decided to cheat a little by driving Sunday up to the border. I decided that if I get stopped the worse they will do is park me on the motorway services. At the moment I have a fridge full of beer, some bread you could cobble cats with and several tins of emergency supplies.

Evening Meal: Steack Tartare and frites. (Raw Mince, raw egg and chips)

8h 55minutes. 690 kilometres today.

Saturday 21st July.
Vivonne France.

Day off, testing the beer. I even cleaned my cab as well.

Sunday 22nd July.
Vivonne. Vienne. France

I left Vivonne around 11am and crept out of the parking are to finger wagging from a couple of Spaniards who I had seen that morning. They were not there Saturday so they could not wag fingers at me!

I only came up the N10 as far as Poitiers and headed onto the A10 towards Tours. I kept on the A10 until Orleans before heading off towards Troyes on the N60. This would let me avoid the main peage outside Paris. If I was going to get a pull it would be here. Although we can get away with carrying food products on holidays and driving bans, Wine is not classed as food, especially Portugese wine in France. I cut across country before joining the A26 towards Reims. When I headed off along the A4 towards Metz I was busy calculating my hours. I didnt want to get stuck at the border so decided that as long as I could make Luxembourg, that would do me again. As the A4 met the A31 there was a deviation and I had to go to the next junction and double back for Thionville. Coming underneath me was another one of our trucks so I waved at him but didnt realise who it was. I drove up towards the Luxembourg border and into the Shell station not being able to catch the identical truck. I fueled up with 450 litres at 0.93cents per litre and drove into the parking area and there was my colleague blocking 2 spaces. When he saw me he pulled forward letting me park and I saw it was small Andreas, one of our East German drivers. We have Fat Andreas, Long Andreas and Small Andreas. I parked alongside and was met with a cold beer and a packet of something that looked like cigarettes but tasted of cow muck. I havent seen him for a few months so after a few pleasantries we went off for a coffee. He had loaded from Barcelona and was going home next weekend, he had the same plan as me and had urgent temperature controlled soya bean oil!!! loaded for Rotterdam he would go home on Thursday evening on a special bus that runs between our depots. Andreas comes from Cottbus and the work he does for us pays better than what he can get in Germany, plus he gets a week at home every three. We were talking about the job, having a good moan, and he showed me his new navigation system. He had downloaded a copy of Map & Guide from a Harry Vos driver in Spain. He said that the system costs 3500 euros but he got it for free as did the Vos driver. I use Microsoft Autoroute and his system is especially designed for trucks, it even works out the best route taking into account, peage, maut, vignettes and tunnel costs. At that we decided it was bed time, he was leaving at 05.30am but as I was only an hour away from my delivery I said goodnight till next time.

Evening Meal: Cab rat.All day breakfast from a tin. Yuk!

8h 47 minutes driving and 725 kilometres.

Monday 23rd July.
Berchem Luxembourg.

I left here for my delivery in the Mosel valley just after 6.30 and arrived at the client for 8am, although there was no delivery time I had to reload in France that afternoon after cleaning in Reims. Yesterday Andreas and I compared the computer software and my autoroute wanted to send me straight over the Ardennes on twisty National roads while his map & guide worked out that the road was unsuitable for trucks and worked out a better route for me. When I got to my customer in the Mosel, there were already a lot of tankers who had come in from Italy over the weekend. I met the bloke with the best job in the world. He came out to meet me with a plastic sandcastle bucket and a bottle. He then took a wineglass out of his pocket and had a swig of my wine out of both compartments. I would think after an 8 hour shift he is hardly safe to climb up a tanker ladder anymore. I wonder what he does when he goes home, probably beats the wife and drinks coffee. This is quite a relaxed factory, no-one seems stressed and drivers just wait in the cab or imbiss until called to the unloading point next door.

The unloading point was marked out into 5 bays and there was already one container (bag in a box) unloading. The 4 Italians were next. It looked like a small family with Father and 3 sons, Capo Papa reversed into the bay and then got out directing the others. One of them was straight onto the next bay while the other 2 made a pigs ear of it. By then Papa was waving his arms and shouting at the youngest one while older brother tried to help the other driver.Eventually the old man threw his hat on the floor and said something to the oldest boy. He got in his brothers truck and reversed it into the bay. The young one was being directed by his dad but just oversteering all the time. I imagine the conversation went like this. “When I getta backa home Im a gonna smacka your Mama in the mouth”. “No way is that lad mine”. The youngest one was then sent off to make breakfast for them all.

Unloading only took about 40 minutes and then it was my turn along with a couple of Spaniards. By the time I left there were about another 15 tanks arrived from all over Europe. The Mosel area is beautiful with old houses and vineyards along the route of the river. High up the hillsides all you can see are vines. River boats cruise the Mosel with tourists stopping off at restaurants and wine cellars to taste & buy the wines.

Next stop was the cleaning station in Reims. Anyone who has driven through Reims on the A4 will have seen Transport Durand on the side of the road. There is always at least 50 trucks parked up but they seem to be very busy when you visit the depot. Its an old place but the cleaning was spot on and done to the customer specification. Normally our customer pays the cleaning direct, any problem, they dont get paid and cannot argue. This means that we know it is correct, the loaders know it is correct so dont have to pick fault with the tanks. They are sealed and all outlets are then covered with sterile bags so the customer can see they have been checked. The loading place was a new collection for me but I had no problems as there was a driver who used to work for us in there. He showed me the layout and how to use the computer loading system. Quickly loaded with 2 products I took the scenic route and parked at the Belgium border at Hirson.

Evening Meal. Belgian Frites with Mayonaise and Bami Hap. Beer from fridge again.

8h 51 minutes today. 623 kilometres.

Tuesday 24th July. Hirson, Charleroi Belgium.

I left the border about 9am to get to my next customer in Roosendaal in Holland and struggled to find it as my address was The Kandijfabrik and it turned out to be the old name and the new company was a sugar factory that we partly own. My reply from the computer was that “everybody knows it” well they do now! I unloaded the 2 products here in just under 2 hours having to disconnect and clear up between weighing each time. This is a factory where we are not allowed to use engine driven hydraulics so we have an electric motor driving the hydraulics on the tractor and take power from the customer. I had just about finished tipping when an oil rag came out and told me that I must wear white overalls and a hairnet. I actually had open toe sandals and shorts on when I went to the office each time. Oh well, next time I will know better. From Roosendaal I was loading at Sas van Gent which is actually in Holland near Terneuzen but the quickest way is back into Belgium and through the Leifkenshoek tunnel in Antwerp. I arrived at the nearest cleaning station to my load as they are certified cleaners for my next customer where I have to load 3 different grades for 3 seperate customers tomorrow.

I cleaned out and the operator was Russian. He showed me a picture of the flooding in the UK and told me it was the politicians fault. He said Tony Blair was to blame because he invaded Iraq. I told him he was stupid Ruskie and was talking out of his arski. I signed up and reported to the factory for loading. This factory is fully automated and you are given a credit card badge for entry and then a key ring with an embedded chip for the weighbridge. I was given 3 of these for my loads. I reported to the office up 5 flights of stairs to give in my paperwork. They told me the loading point to use and which order I wanted to load first. I went round to the load station and parked underneath the pipework. Then you must put full safety gear on and use a hydraulic platform to access the top of the tanker. You hang the badge on a hook and it reads the code then allows you to lower the pipe inside the tank. When all is ready I can push the start button. It takes about 7 minutes to load 20 tonne so my first load of 4100kg was finished in seconds. I repeated the process twice more weighing out each time using my key rings. Within an hour I had 3 products loaded, tanker sealed and sampled and the CMR’s printed by security.

On the loading instruction I noticed that I needed a Los Pistool, (drumming gun) so I called the workshop and asked him to leave me one out near the fuel pump. I drove over to our depot, fueled and downloaded my data cartridge for the wages. took the advantage of washing my truck and trailer, had a few beers with the cleaning staff and drivers and went to bed.

Evening Meal: Beer.

4h 27 minutes driving. 346 kilometres

Wednesday 25th July

My anniversary today, well its a year since I got it together with the present mr’s Wheelnut. she once asked me if I could see the fish when I go on the channel tunnel. (bless)

Any way for our anniversary & being a Yorkshire man I sent her a text making sure it was less than 160 letters or spaces and then I left the depot for my first delivery near Charleroi in Belgium. The buyer was an Apiary in France who sold glucose on to other bee keepers. I have done these deliveries before and they are either private houses or little sheds in woods or forests. They are all helpful and seem to get unpaid labour from all the neighbours when a tanker is due. This causes its own problems because they park cars and vans all over the place and then I appear with a 40 tonne tanker. This time with a post office employee leading the way on a moped because I couldn’t find the delivery address. I emptied 11050kg here using my los pistool. This is a small valve with a 90 degree bend that connects to my hose and allows me to tip without touching my tanker controls. Some of the deliveries mean climbing into lofts or through windows with 20 metres of hose. For this delivery I earnt 50 euros, the next 2 were similar but in private residential streets in the Ardennes. No tips here but one offered wine and the other offered beer or water. I went for the water this time.

An early finish for me here and Im parked at Wanlin services waiting to do a trailer change in the morning. I parked up and booked off, spoke to the other driver who was loading in Breda for France and told him where to meet me. I dropped the trailer and went to bed.

Evening Meal: Cab rat

4h 11 minutes driving today. 310 kilometres.

Thursday 26th July. Wanlin Wallonie.

During the night my computer had bleeped and my trailer change was cancelled. I have only just sussed out how to turn the audible bleep off the previous day otherwise I would have been woken from a beauty sleep around 9pm that night. Instead I have woken up at 0300 to find my job has changed again,instead of getting up at this unearthly burglers hour I could have woken up at the more respectable hour of 05.30. The driver in Breda was still loading at 10 pm last night. I knew he would be, but the planners know better eh? So I left there to go to Ninove for the cleaning station to carry on with my original job. Im loading liquid sugar from Brussels for France to tip the same day. Im loaded by 11am but my delivery is not until 1500 and they are quite strict. So Im off for coffee and a gehachtstaaf in the bar opposite. While loading another of our Belgian drivers came in and was upset that he had to go to Germany on a Thursday when he could have had my load. I still have to learn the flemish word for “Tough Tittie”. I went to the delivery near Lille which is a Cadbury factory and the rotweiler ■■■■■ on the gate turned me away to park on the street for an hour. Why they dont let you in till the actual tipping time is stupid because once I’m inside I have to call the lab rat to come and take a sample to test. This sugar is very thick and takes around 2 hours to pump off so that will be about me done today, finished before 6pm twice in a row. I am parked at the depot again tonight. I managed to get the 100 euros I spent on diesel in Spain back, normally we would have to wait for a month or more but this was exceptional circumstances. Im off to the pub now, a restaurant next door where we have an account for drivers!!!. Yes it does get abused sometimes. While Im away my favourite cleaning operator Swen is cleaning my tank. Normally I would have to drop it off and they clean them on the night shift but it saves me dropping it and Swen having to use one of the shunt motors. I have just bumped into a new English driver in the yard. He asked me for 50 Euros. funnily enough another English driver asked me yesterday if I knew this guy as he is owed 50 too. My name is Billy not silly! Apparently he had his cards stolen 3 weeks ago and he hastnt been home yet. The other driver told me his card had been snatched by the cash machine. You just can’t help some people. If you are going to lie, at least be consistent.

Evening Meal: Moules Frites. (Boiled mussels in white wine sauce and chips)

4h 30 minutes today. 310 kilometres.

Friday 27th July. Tielt Belgium.

My last day on this 2 week tramp of 8 different countries. Ok I visited some of them 2 or 3 times. Today I am loading close to the depot in Belgium for Burton on Trent on Monday, so the sooner I get loaded the sooner I get home. Im on liquid sugar again with 2 deliveries in Burton. Well I hope some of you enjoy my latest ramblings, it has been quite a chore to keep up with this diary every day and the last time I did a word count it was over 6000 words.

Finish Mileage: 611421

Start Mileage: 604745

Total over a 2 week trip = 6676km

nice one malc :wink: that were a good read cheers

It is always interesting to read about something different, Nut … am jealous of you being down in Portugal (great country and attitudes, eh?)
Thanks very much for the time and effort you put in.

great diary malc - maybe a little lacking in detail :wink: I do find food tanker work interesting, maybe because i’ve never done any, or maybe cos i’m a bit of a greedy git :laughing:

Great read Malc, very interesting.

Thanks for writing all that up malc. Very interesting.

that was a great diary mate , i enjoyed that .

great diary malc - maybe a little lacking in detail :wink: I do find food tanker work interesting, maybe because i’ve never done any, or maybe cos i’m a bit of a greedy git :laughing:

mmm, chocolate!

It was interesting to do jj. I actually parked at the Belgium border where Bob and I had to use doing the pods for the BA wheel. I looked for Danny the voiture pilote as this border and Hirson seem to be the main ones for Convoi Exceptional loads

Excellent read and I thought the mention of the evening meal menu to close each day’s diary was a really nice touch but I must say I would prefer bigger photos next time. :sunglasses:

Harry Monk:
Excellent read and I thought the mention of the evening meal menu to close each day’s diary was a really nice touch but I must say I would prefer bigger photos next time. :sunglasses:

Yes, I dont know whats wrong with the pictures. I used photobucket uploader and they all came out like that. Somebody has been faffing with my settings I think :stuck_out_tongue:

Any help will be welcomed

Wheel Nut:

great diary malc - maybe a little lacking in detail :wink: I do find food tanker work interesting, maybe because i’ve never done any, or maybe cos i’m a bit of a greedy git :laughing:

mmm, chocolate!

It was interesting to do jj. I actually parked at the Belgium border where Bob and I had to use doing the pods for the BA wheel. I looked for Danny the voiture pilote as this border and Hirson seem to be the main ones for Convoi Exceptional loads

yep most big stuff gets routed through Bruly still - and Danny still often takes the lads home for dinner with his family and a shower if needed, nice lad