Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Remembering 1989

Hello. Let's do something different tonight. I've been looking through my diaries to see what I was doing on this day, sometime in the past. So, going back to the 9th of February 1989, it was a Thursday. On this night I was sleeping on a ferry boat crossing the channel from Felixstowe to Europort. 
The entry in my diary reads......Start work at 7am. I went to Cliff Hill Quarry which is near the new service area at the junction of the A50 and M1. It wasn't far to go. I had to move a crusher, then I had to take a 50 foot conveyor to Thurmaston, and bring another one back. I finished this by 2.45pm so I went back to the yard to get the lorry ready for the Rotterdam job. 
I was booked on the 10.30pm ferry so I left as soon as I was ready, and arrived at Felixstowe at 7.10pm. While I was waiting for boarding to start I chatted to the driver parked next to me, and he was helpful. Once on board I found my cabin and had a shower. Then I met the driver, Brian, and his mates in the bar. All the food was included and we chatted and played cards. I went to bed just after midnight. We are due to land at Europort at 7am. 
Friday 10th February. I got up at 5.30 am our time and put my clock forward one hour. I had breakfast and got off the boat and headed for Rotterdam. I found the centre OK but then had to park and ask the way, and found the place. 
It was difficult to back inside the building and get under the crane. Loading took all day. It was printing press machinery which was covered in black ink. I had to keep shunting the trailer backwards and forwards to get under the crane. After sheeting my load I eventually got away at 6 pm and found my way back to Europort quite easily. I retraced my route and went out of the city the same way as I went in. 
Back at the port I met up with the same gang and we crammed into Brian's cab to play cards while we waited for loading. We boarded at 10 pm and sailed at 11pm. Shower, drink, and dinner again. I am pleased to be on my way home, all I have to do is get through customs tomorrow. They say it could take ages, we will see. 
Saturday 11th February. Breakfast then disembark at 7.10 am. It took two hours to clear customs. The paperwork was ready from the clearing agents. I saw Ginger on his way out while I was waiting. I drove straight back to the depot at Ellistown Coalville, without stopping, 3 hours 45 minutes. After I parked my lorry I drove home and walked in the door at 3pm. I felt tired so I had a nap on the settee, then went to the paper shop. I stopped in tonight. 
This is the lorry I was driving, but not the load I was carrying. I picked this water filtration plant up from Gloucestershire and took it to Goole docks where it was loaded onto a boat. It was 13 feet wide, 17 feet high, and the total weight was 70 tonnes. The lorry is plated for 75 tonnes gross weight. I had a mate with me and it was a Police escort all the way.

I remember it well, my first trip across the channel in a lorry. I was very nervous about driving on the other side of the road and when I got off the boat I went very slowly so as not to make a mistake. A convoy soon formed behind me, I hope they weren't mad at getting stuck behind a nervous driver.

We went over with empty trailers as we were picking up loads for a British company, to bring them back to Preston. I say we because there was a lot of loads, they stripped the print works bare and removed every last nut and bolt. We were spread out at intervals and went one at a time because there was only room for one lorry under the crane at a time.

The camaraderie at the docks was great, the other drivers treated me as one of them. They knew it was my first time and they gave me lots of useful information. I went back several times for more loads, and also went to Amsterdam and  later on to Germany. By the end of it I was feeling great, now I could say I'm a continental driver. More experience to add to my CV.

Aaaaah, they were good times, Leicester Heavy Haulage was the best job I ever had. It was a brilliant time to be a lorry driver.

Thanks for popping in. Catch you soon. Toodle pip.
PS, don't forget the Jeremy Vine Show Radio 2,  tomorrow at 12.30pm.

25 comments:

  1. Absolutely incredible post! What driving skills, Ilona. What an achievement to drive those huge lorries abroad as well as up and down the UK. When did you pass your HGV Class 1? What was the test like? It must have been harder to do it as a female in those days - even now, I wonder how many women are driving these huge vehicles? Fascinating.

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    1. Hi Anna. I passed my HGV class 1 test in 1976. The biggest vehicle I had driven up to then was a Commer van. I enjoyed the test. It was at Derby test centre at Raynesway, and started at 8.45, on a Monday morning. There was a group of men standing around watching me because it was a vehicle test station as well. They thought it was amazing that a woman was driving. I didn't find the test hard because I had previously been a driving instructor in a car, and I knew what the examiners were looking for. I don't know how many female lorry drivers there are now, but I believe I was one of the longest to stick at it, at 32 years.

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    2. You should be so proud... fantastic.

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  2. that was really interesting,, you had a career to be proud of in a what is mainly a mans world you did brilliantly!!!

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  3. Agree you must have been and still are an amazing driver. You couldn't pay me enough to attempt to drive a lorry.

    I didn't know that the lorries were leaving from Felixstowe on the ferry with their driver. I think the ferries all go from Harwich now but of course Felixstowe remains a huge if not the biggest container port.

    Hopeful to hear you on the radio tomorrow allowing for the time difference.

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  4. You are an amazing woman Iliona not just In your choice of career but also because of the choices you make in the way you live your life.

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  5. What wonderful experiences you have had! Who say females aren't good drivers, I think you are brilliant to have managed all this! I have so enjoyed reading this.
    Margaret P

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  6. I'm impressed. I'm around the same age as you, 67, and live a similar lifestyle and still have lots of adventures and travel.

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  7. Absolutely awesome Ilona. You really do rock. Someone should make a film about you and I really think you should write a book about your lorry driving days. I believe publishing on kindle is not difficult or expensive. Kristel

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  8. What a woman, this is an amazing post. You must be so proud of what you did and to drive something like is just incredible, and on the Continent too.
    I`ve always had a love for trucks...I worked for 15 years at Leyland DAY (that should be F but keeps changing to Y) in Leyland, many of them ordering in the parts, but also in the Goods Inward Department booking in the lorries. I wonder did you ever deliver there. I can remember only one lady driver, her name was Jean. She would sometimes walk into the office cracking her bullwhip on the floor and saying the most outlandish things, she made even the forklift drivers blush, I wonder if you ever met up with her. But what a great bunch the drivers were, loved that job.
    You have certainly had a career to be proud of Ilona. x

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    1. Hi. I can't remember going to your particular building, but I did visit the Leyland Transport Museum. I loved those old lorries.

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    2. PS. The name Jean, doesn't ring a bell, and I knew lots of Lady Truckers at that time.

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  9. http://www.mamamia.com.au/the-worlds-thriftiest-woman-money-saving-tips/
    an article about you!

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    1. Hi. Thank you for that. I have been on their Facebook page and said my piece.

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    2. Yes, I saw that and I gave you support. Good on you.

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  10. Sounds like you have lots of good memories. So glad that you were able to do work that you enjoyed.

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  11. I admire you for your lorry driving. I don't think I could manage it. A VW camper was my limit and I felt out of control in that! I'm glad the men treated you OK.

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  12. this is funny.we live round europoort.I am a dutch woman

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    1. Ha ha, I've just noticed, I didn't spell it correctly.

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  13. What a girl! Love this post and am so impressed. You are amazing.

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  14. Kudos for your driving profession...you go girl!

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  15. Wow, brilliant post. Would love to have seen you trucking. I don't know why but I'm always really chuffed when I see a woman driving a huge truck or lorry. Girl power and all that! Toot toot. X

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  16. Ps. You won't remember but you got me off the fags via your blog. Still smoke free, we both are!

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  17. Hate when pensioners spend heating allowance not on heating, glad you are now using it!.

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