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.
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.