Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Relief Brings Job To Abrupt End

Hi Folks

Since my last post I managed to get four weeks work from the plumbing supplies place. The trucks I was driving all had trackers on them and my speed was constantly monitored. I didn’t really believe it was real until I got pulled up by a manager during the second week to be told I was still speeding and causing lots of problems for him. That was the first I had heard of it and was then given a lecture by another manager with a blow by blow account of where I had been caught speeding. There were nine infringements in all and each one listed where I was at the time, the permitted speed and my actual speed. In most cases I was only a couple of mph over so 32 in a 30 zone triggered an infringement and so on.  Imagine bombing along a rural country road at 50mph and then you enter a village where the limit drops to 30, well in the time it’s took you to decelerate and reach 30mph you may have already broken the speed limit and incurred yet another infringement. I found the whole experience depressing and it took the enjoyment out of the job. By the end of the fourth week I was glad I’d be moving onto something new.

 My next job was delivering solid oak furniture with a drivers mate to homes around Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. It was a 6am start at a depot 42 miles away from my house so 84 miles there and back each day x 5 = 420 miles per week which worked out to approximately £70 in fuel so not an ideal job for me but it paid better than recent jobs and there was also the possibility of receiving tips.   During the first week I worked as both  driver and mate. We were on the same money so I actually preferred not to have the responsibility of being the driver. Most of the furniture was easily manageable between two of us but there were two or three items such as electric reclining settees and large wardrobes which posed a challenge.  We used to look at the run sheet, see what big items we were delivering and hope every house we delivered to was a bungalow but inevitably there were houses with two or three floors which the furniture needed to be taken to and I often came close to having a heart attack from the exertions we had to make. The job came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the second week. Let me explain. On the Friday of the first week we were delivering to a big house in Norfolk. We were an hour ahead of the allotted time but there was no one home so we had to wait. I decided I needed a toilet break but there was nowhere really discreet enough other than a corner of the front garden of the house we were waiting at so, as there was nobody home, I had a crafty wee there against a massive hedge. I got back in the truck to wait with the driver and he advised me to take care as a lot of these houses had CCTV. Nothing more was said. The home owner arrived and we delivered his items and went on our way. The shift ended at the depot and I went home. On the Monday I went to work, spoke to the boss and was sent to work with a different drivers mate.   Half way through the shift the truck phone rang and the depot boss asked to speak to me. He said there had been a complaint that I’d been seen weeing in a customer’s garden and wondered if there was any truth in it? I denied it totally and after pressing me further he seemed to accept my denial. My drivers mate asked me what all that was about and I told him the truth explaining that the house was empty and I couldn’t possibly have been spotted. He laughed it off saying it was a storm in a tea cup. We continued the shift and finished up at the depot. I saw the boss and he said no more about it. I said I’d see him in the morning and he acknowledged that. Five minutes after leaving the depot my phone rang. It was my agency asking me if I had wee’d in the garden last Friday. I denied it to them too but they said both drivers mates had grassed me up saying I had admitted it to them. Some mates huh? Anyway the upshot of it all was that they didn’t want me back. I look at it as a blessing in disguise. The heavy lifting would have taken its toll on me eventually and the mileage per week would have finished off my thirteen year old Astra so all in all I wasn’t overly bothered I just hope it never put a black mark against my name and it’s definitely taught me not to trust anyone. There’s nobody lower than a grass in my book.

I was worried I would find it hard to get any more work but as it turned out I was offered work with one of my other agencies almost immediately. I haven’t worked nights for years but I accepted a few weeks work driving for Parcelforce out of Ipswich depot starting at midnight and finishing at eight in the morning. My first run was a 7.5 tonne Man truck filled with Yorks (Royal Mail speak for cages!!) which were filled with parcels and mail. I had to take them to the Bury St Edmunds depot, unload them myself and return for further instructions to Ipswich. I would eventually load up again with up to 21 yorks and take them to the Foxtail Depot on Ransomes Europark. After unloading there I would bring yorks back to Ipswich depot and shuttle backwards and forward until my break at around 5am. The roads throughout the night were deserted and I was able to poodle along the empty streets admiring all the Christmas decorations many homes had on display. I did enjoy my few weeks work there but don’t know if I could do that permanently as the body clock switch around has played havoc with my sleeping habits.

So, the last shift ended on Friday morning and I have now been idle for four days with no clue as to when I will be working again. Hopefully it will be soon so watch this space.

I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to an amazing New Year 2017

Take Care Out There.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Got Two Weeks Work!!

Hi Folks

So, the one day of agency work turned out to be a 7.5 tonne job for Bacton Transportation.

I've worked for them before and it is really enjoyable work. Basically you get a truck full of palletised goods and you get sent out to deliver them to homes and businesses alike. Most of the drops are relatively and around Suffolk but I have been as far as Norfolk in the past.  Unloading the truck is either done by fork lift or in the case of private homes by myself with the use of the on board pump truck and tail lift.  The platform of the tail lift on this particular truck is slightly faulty in a way that instead of being level actually slopes downwards ever so slightly. This makes getting heavy pallets off the truck pretty hair raising as the load tends to run away from you. On one of my other assignments with this company I was delivering a pallet of coffee beans to a coffee shop in Woodbridge. As I was steering the pallet on to the tail lift it started rolling away from me and before I knew it it had fallen off the tail lift and into the road taking the pump truck with it. Luckily no one was walking behind the truck at the time otherwise it could have been catastrophic. A passer by sarcastically commented "well that's one way of getting it off!" Since that day I have always taken extra care and at the first sign of the pallet running away from me I press the lever on the pump truck which quickly lowers the pallet stopping it dead in its tracks.

Once all the deliveries are done I am then given collection jobs where the lorry is re-filled with pallets of goods at various locations to go back to the depot for onward transportation.

On my return to the yard one of the managers was asking me how I'd got on and I said I wouldn't mind doing this job full time permanently. He said that I would need to wait till after Christmas and then give him a call and he might be in a position to offer me a job. The only thing putting me off is the 30 miles there and 30 miles back every day...300 miles per week. Don't know if I fancy that.

So to this week. One of the other agencies I am registered with offered me two solid weeks work driving a 7.5 tonner for a plumbers merchant on Ransomes Europark.

I turned up at 7.30am on Monday morning and was shown the ropes by one of the old hands called Mal. The vehicle's compulsory safety check is done via a hand held device (ePod) and is quite comprehensive. As a lot of the deliveries are to building sites, I have to have a hard hat. There's one in the truck but they also gave me a baseball cap with company logo and a built in hard hat. Quite nifty actually and I don't mind wearing it all day even though I am having the mickey taken  by my so-called mates.

The work is delivering plumbing supplies all over Suffolk and part of Norfolk. Nine out of ten times it's to a house where a plumber is at work and the stuff I deliver is for that particular job. Complete heating systems including radiators, copper pipes and the boiler are a daily occurence as are toilets and sinks but I am yet to deliver a bath tub.

Today was the toughest day out of the three I've done so far as some of the orders got mixed up and I drove away from places not having delivered the full order because of my inexperience on the job. The last delivery I did to a building site in Haughley was a bit of a disaster. I missed the turning and automatically took the next one which was partially blocked by cars and vans. While squeezing through a gap with a van on one side and a tree on the other the tree lost the battle and lost several large branches.

As I arrived at the site there was no sign of the plumbers I needed to deliver to so I had to ring their company who in turn called them out to me. There were two fully loaded pallets of 500kg worth of plumbing kit each. The tail lift on this truck, an Iveco Eurocargo, is half as wide again as the Bacton truck and is also level so manoeuvering these oversized pallets onto it is not a problem at all. Once both pallets were off the plumbers started dismantling them in order to check all the goods were there and in good condition. They discovered two sinks were cracked and promptly put them back on the truck and also gave me a lot of other odds and ends that they said were not the right parts. I'm supposed to enter all these problems into the ePod but I haven't really been showed the finer points of working them so I just say that I'm an agency driver and don't know how they work...that generally gets me out of any pickles!

Tomorrow is day 4 at this job and I actually look forward to getting up at 6.30 every morning to see if I can do a better job than the day before.

Check back soon for more updates.

Take Care out there.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

I Broke The Truck!!

Hi Folks
Since my last post where I was waiting for my next driving job I have been back to London to drive my cab since the beginning of August. I think the reason I never got any more work was because I broke the last truck I drove. Let me explain.....!
I had been assigned an evening shift for a logistics company on Ransomes Europark in Ipswich. I was to take a load of nuts to the Waitrose RDC in Bracknell. That all passed off uneventfully. As I would not be getting back to the yard until 1am they entrusted me with the gate key and alarm fob. Being a Friday I was told to keep the key and fob until Monday where I would get another shift from them and also return the key. So, on the Monday morning my truck was loaded with eight pallets of various goods going to several destinations, the first being a private house in Saxmundham. On arrival at the front of the house I took the pallet off the truck and dragged it to the front gate. The customer said it was needed round the back door which would mean re-loading the pallet and driving around the block. the customer said he'd show me the way so he got in the truck. As it was only a short drive I decided to keep the back doors clipped open and the tail lift only half raised. As I pulled away from the parking space and straightened up, the offside door became unclipped and as I turned right it bounced off a wall. "Only a wall" thought I "Should be ok" and I carefully continued on my way round to the rear entrance keeping well away from anything else I might hit. The pallet came off, the customer signed the paperwork and all that was left for me to do was to close the back doors, raise the tail lift and get on my way. The only problem was that the off side door that had hit the wall had split in two and the bottom hinge was all distorted. I tried my best to get it shut by using bits of  wood to lever the hinge straight but it was no use. I knew then I was in trouble. I rang the fork lift driver who had loaded me first but it was too big a problem for him to sort out....he would have to talk to the boss man. The boss man called me up to get my story. In all fairness he remained calm and instructed me what to do next. I was to take it to a body-shop just off the A12 where they would have a look at it. The body shop guys managed to straighten out the hinge but the fibreglass door was still split in two....but in my opinion safe to continue my deliveries. The boss man disagreed and I was told to return to base immediately. My load was transferred to an 18 tonner and the driver told to do their best to access the drop offs which were probably only accessible by a 7.5 tonner. When I got to the yard the boss man came out to look at the damage. I was grovelling like an idiot as I didn't want this all to go against my chances of getting any more work. He then asked me to go to the office with him and show him on Google Street View exactly what wall I hit which I did.....and that was the premature end of my shift. I called the agency to inform them what had happened and that I was available for any other work straight away. Over the next two weeks I waited for the phone to ring but it never did. It had obviously gone against me. I had a funeral to attend in Manchester during the two weeks I waited and also went camping with the wife and still no work. Nothing for it but to go back cabbying in London.
I did two months of taxi work, returning at weekends to see my wife but she was getting peed off with it so last Sunday I gave the rented taxi back and came back to Ipswich in search of meaningful work. It is now Wednesday and I have had no work offers but have been busy signing up to three other agencies which are in the process of getting clearance for me to work. Ironically, the agency that has been blanking me has just offered me a 7.5 tonne job for Friday which I've said yes to so things might be looking up for me.
Watch this space.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Agency Driving

Hi Folks
Well, here I am sitting at my laptop with yet another unwanted day off. Being an agency worker means you have to wait for the phone to ring on a regular basis for your next job. A Class 2 licence, which would allow me to drive the larger 18 tonne trucks, is really the way forward as there seems to be endless work for drivers with that licence but for now I’ll just have to persevere with my wee little 7.5t one and hope more of my type of work becomes available.

I did post that the bed factory had booked me solid for 13 weeks but that petered out due to trucks being off the road and what I believe to be a drop in orders because every time I drive past the place the two 7.5 tonners are just sitting there redundant.

The last few stints I did with them before the work dried up took me on a night out up to Scotland and several one-dayers to Portsmouth, London and Sussex.

The run up to Scotland was the most driving I’ve ever done and extremely enjoyable.

M6 into Scotland

 I left Ipswich at around 6.45am and was delivering a single 3 foot mattress at a farm near Lockerbie at around 3.30pm. The lady was very friendly and offered to make me a “flask of something“ for the journey , which I politely declined seeing as I had brought with me enough food and drink to feed an army. I needed to get on with my next delivery which was about 35 pieces including double mattresses and divan bases. The place was called Friars Carse Country House Hotel and here was a prime example of why you just don’t drop off and set your satnav for the next delivery without at least doing a bit of research first.

Had I done my research I would have seen that this place was very easily accessible off the A76 but I let the satnav take me all over the place, down roads I had no right to be on. I met other cars on country lanes where no one could pass, it was a complete nightmare. I was finally pointed in the right direction and pulled over to study the paper map (remember them?). I could see where I’d gone wrong and vowed to check whenever delivering out in “the sticks”. I arrived at the hotel at 16.58 and the guy wasn’t too happy as he was just about to go home. I apologised and we got to work unloading (I never mentioned to him that I was supposed to unload the stuff myself). He effed and blinded the whole time, not at me but just in general but we finally finished half an hour later and I set off to find a spot to bed down for the night.

I decided to cross back into England and look for a service area. I found most of the northerly services on the M6 had limited space for lorries and as per usual all of the spaces were already occupied so I couldn’t get on. I was in need of a second 45 minute break so came off the M6 onto the A7 and got to a layby just in time. In fact the tacho clicked onto 4hours 30mins as I set it on “rest” so I was in breach of the rules by one minute as was indicated by the dashboard display.
DashBoard Warning
As it looked reasonably safe and there were several other lorries already settling in for the night I decided to stay there as well. I got out and padlocked the rear shutter in case somebody came looking to steal a new bed for themselves.  Out came my little stove for a nice fresh cup of tea and then out came the frying pan to cook my sausages, I could get used to this, it was one level up from camping really. I had loads of time to potter about and watch a bit of tv (luckily I had parked in an area with 4G, there must have been a mast nearby) and finally bedded down around 9pm until 6am.
I pulled away from the layby at 6.15am heading for my next drop at the Holiday Inn in Bolton where I was to deliver a proper heavy sofa bed. I arrived two and a half hours later and really struggled to keep the sofa bed on the barrow as took it up to the third floor in the lift and navigated through the maze of corridors. When I got to the room there was a similar one there which needed disposing of. As there was nothing mentioned on my delivery notes I had to call the bed factory who instructed me to take it away with me. So I had another difficult reverse journey back to the lorry which left me sweating buckets. I got the sofa bed into the truck and sat on it recuperating for ten minutes before commencing to my last drop in Macclesfield.

It was now peak time rush hour in Greater Manchester and the journey was slow to say the least. I again let the satnav take me the “best” route and got stuck in Eccles for about an hour. I finally arrived at the last drop off at an out of the way furniture warehouse where I had to deliver a six foot Ottoman which weighed a ton. An extremely “anally retentive” guy came out to help and started getting aeriated because my end was dragging on the ground. He checked it for damage when we got it inside as I just stood behind him pulling faces and shaking my head.

I eventually got away and headed for the long journey back to Ipswich. The truck was due a service at Mercedes in Martleshem. I arrived there at 1620 and swapped for the other 7.5tonner that was awaiting collection and took it back to the factory.

My next agency assignment was four days later where I was sent to work for a company called Lumberjacks in Sproughton. It was to drive a drop-sider truck delivering timber and sheds to the surrounding areas. It was certainly very physical work but I really enjoyed it and was hoping to be assigned there for longer but alas it was only for that day.

Next up was a regular job I’ve done a few times before for the big logistics company called Magnus at Great Blakenham. They regularly deliver air conditioning parts to sites in and around London so on this day I had drops in Walthamstow, Slough, Merton and Swanley. On my way back to the yard I was called to say I had to take the truck in for a service at Mercedes in Colchester. As I’d already passed the turn off by several exits I came off the A12 at Dedham and made my way to Colchester. I was given a courtesy van to drive back to Great Blakenham. 20 minutes down the road I realised I’d left my tacho card in the truck so had to turn around and go back for it, I do that quite a lot!

That brought to an end a week where I’d only been given two days work. No good to man nor beast that!

Me and the missus had decided we wanted to start camping so we bought a tent and all the other stuff needed and set off for a site we’d booked a pitch on in Kessingland on the A12 near Lowestoft.
We only did one night to start us off but thoroughly enjoyed it and are looking to go again next week.

Check back soon for more stories.

Take Care out there and keep them doors locked at night.

Night Out - The Midlands

Hi Folks

I did two “nights out” last week. I turned up at my usual time but there was a delay with some of the products (several 5 foot headboards) which actually had to be made before they could be put on the lorry. The delay was ridiculous and the manager kept appearing and commenting “are you still here? What you waiting for?” then he would disappear as if he was going to kick some ass only for the wait to drag on. 
So from 6am to 10.45am I waited and waited. My tacho card had been inserted into the lorry at 6am so I was on “other work” but after six hours of driving and other work I would have to take a compulsory 45 minute break which would seriously affect the time I had left to complete my deliveries.
I finally got away and managed six deliveries of mattresses, headboards and divan bases. I delivered to B&B’s, hotels, houses and a convent in areas such as Ware, Welwyn, Hitchin, Milton Keynes and
Bedford. This took me up to 6pm and it was time to find a place to park up and sleep. 
Being new to this night out malarkey I was none the wiser as to where best to go. I knew all the motorways had services so from Bedford I flew down the A421 to the Newport Pagnell Services. On my arrival I could see it was already rammed, in fact, there wasn’t one space. Nothing for it but to go north on the M1 to the next one.
Northampton services looked full but I could see a few spaces here and there so managed to get in between a fully loaded car transporter and an Eddie Stobarts truck. I was in no rush to walk across the
car park to pay for the nights parking so decided to organise my bunk with a sheet, a pillow and my brand new sleeping bag (£10 at Tesco). I’d also been shopping with the missus the night before and bought myself a stove, a kettle, a cooler box and filled it with “stuff to eat”. 
It felt like a home from home in my cozy truck and once I’d pulled the curtains round I was in my own little world. I got my tablet out and tethered it to my iPhone and was able to watch an episode of The X Files (I’ve started watching the whole lot of them from the beginning on Amazon Prime). At around 8pm I strolled over to WH Smiths to pay for the nights parking. £25 without or £27 with a food voucher. I’d already eaten but decided to go for the one with voucher and I would start collecting them. I’d also learned that the company prefer you to park the truck safe (or safer) at night and are happy for you to enjoy a meal on them. How many drivers can say that about who they work for?
I slept well that night and pulled out of the car park at 7.10am heading for Leicester to deliver those headboards I’d had to wait for. I followed my satnav and actually drove straight past where I had to be, got flustered and called the place up. A Chinese woman answered and asked me how I could of missed it. When I managed to find a place to turn and got back to the hotel I asked myself the same question. Satnav alone isn’t always the answer. I’ve been finding out that a bit of research is often quite helpful. Google and Google Maps more often than not has most business premises I said earlier I’m still learning.
From Leicester I had three more drops. Two in Brum and the last one in Kidderminster.
The last one was the bulk of the lorry. About 45 pieces, both mattresses and bases. As I arrived and made myself known a couple of guys started to help me unload but they soon disappeared and left me to unload the rest. There was bit of a steward’s inquiry when the numbers didn’t match up and the guy in charge went into “Old Tart Mode” and had to ring his boss to see if the order was right and why there were possibly too many beds. Then we started counting the mattresses and bases to find one short so I made him take me to every bedroom (there were 19) to physically view the mattresses myself. You had to be there to appreciate the stress. Then as if that wasn’t enough they had paid to have all the old mattresses disposed of… yours truly. I had to hump 25 mattresses which I later found out were six years old (so, six years’ worth of skin contained in them) into the lorry. It dam near finished me off. I had no help at all and everyone was off doing their own thing as I fought with every one of those beastly matts.
I did eventually get them on and set off for the long drive back to Ipswich. It was an uneventful drive but I did have to stop in a layby for a 45 break so out came the stove and I made myself a nice cuppa as the passing lorries rocked me from side to side. I pulled into the car park at the bed factory just as the work force were knocking off for the night but the manager came out to greet me and to tell me what a great job I was doing (which is always nice when you’re shown some appreciation) and that he’d see me tomorrow.
I was going to write about the next night out which took me right up to Lockerbie in Scotland but I’ll post it later on.
I’ve got a trip to the Southampton area to look forward to tomorrow so I’ll bid you good night.

Take care out there and keep them doors locked.

Trucking Week 2

Hi Folks

What a week I’ve had.

Leading on from the last post I did the Friday at the plumbers place. It was a total doddle and the guy sorting out the load said it was actually embarrassing because there was only 7 drops.

The company was called Grahams which is a plumbers merchants based at Whitehouse Trading Estate in the north part of Ipswich. I got there at 7.30 and saw I was to drive a transit van for the day. There were, as I said, only 7 drops mostly comprising of bags with plumbing supplies such as pipe joints, taps, Yorkshire Elbows. There was also a couple of heavy shower bases and about six sheets of hardboard so all in all an easy day for me. They gave me my paperwork, a fuel card and pin and a mobile phone/scanner and off I went. The delivery areas were Ipswich, Felixstowe, Brightlingsea, Clacton and Holbrook. It was pretty uneventful apart from one drop which was on a building site and I had to wear my hi-viz and a hard hat. As I trudged through thick mud in search of the plumber who’d ordered the goods I was attacked by loads of small insects which seemed to be drawn to the bright yellow hi-viz. They were in my ears, my mouth, absolutely everywhere and as soon as I’d located the plumber and got his signature I got the hell out of there lively! I drove back to base and was done by 2pm. Probably the easiest day I’ll ever have.

So, to my week with the bed factory.

I arrived at 6am on Monday and the lorry was almost loaded. My run this day would take me into the heart of London via a drop in Maldon, Essex first.

The Maldon drop was a place called Vaulty Manor and was some sort of health Spa. A barrier was raised and I was met by the caretaker. I had 14 mattresses to deliver here and they were all of the 5 foot expensive variety so a full workout for me. After dragging about 8 mattresses into the clubhouse another worker emerged from somewhere and helped me with the rest. With the papers signed I headed for the Smoke.

Knowing London as well as I do I could practically picture every drop-off I had to do and could foresee problems where others wouldn’t. The St Giles Hotel in Bedford Avenue was going to be my first London drop and I knew drop-off space would be severely limited. As I arrived at the scene there were Taxis on the rank, chauffeur cars aplenty. Opposite the hotel there was a building site with several lorries waiting to unload. This was going to be a nightmare! I drove slowly through all the chaos taking in all the possible stopping points. The goods-in bay was busy and the chauffeur cars were partially blocking the entrance. I decided to drive round the block, stop where I could and go and have a word with the goods-in guys. They had been waiting for my delivery of 45 assorted mattresses and there was a team of helpers waiting to unload, the only problem was I was nowhere near close enough and would have to wait. I had to fight to get the lorry outside the goods-in bay as the building site guys needed the space for their lorries to unload but the team of helpers literally had the 45 mattresses off in about 5 minutes and I was on my way to the Indian YMCA a few streets away. There were only 3 mattresses for here and I was in and out in 5 minutes. Next stop was one of the hundreds of small B&B’s in the Bayswater area. As a cabby I could use most of the London bus lanes but as a trucker I had to wait with all the other motorists in the ridiculous traffic. So, the journey from Fitzrovia to Bayswater took forever. The Kings Hotel was located on Queensborough Terrace and I was able to stop right outside. I had 6 five foot mattresses for here and a guy leaning on a Mercedes instructed me to “go and call Igor, he will help you”. Igor (I was picturing The Hunchback of Notre Dame) was an ageing guy with a strong Eastern European accent. He helped me carry one mattress off then tried to carry it up the stairs as I went back for the other five. As I brought the next one in he was only four steps up the flight and seemed to be struggling. By the time I’d bought the last one in he was rounding the corner on the first landing. I thought to myself that in the course of this job I’m going to come across all types of people. Helpful, useless, well-meaning and complete wastes of space, Igor would have to fall into the second category! The guy leaning on the Merc signed the paper work and off I went to deliver a five foot mattress to the Reem Hotel in Princes Square which was easy and I was off on my last drop in Herne Hill south London.

The street I was to deliver to was tight. It would be hell getting out. I only had 2 three foot mattresses for here so I probably should’ve anticipated problems and parked where it was easier and barrowed them to the front door, I’m still learning. After several rings of the bell a guy answered. He looked rough. He asked if I could take them upstairs I said I wasn’t allowed to. He begged me to as he was ill and had cut a holiday in Spain short due to contracting a virus. I felt sorry for him (that’s probably gonna be my downfall in this job) and carried them up. No tip! Job done. Now to return to base. As I said it was tight. My way out was tighter than my way in and with such a long overhang at the back I almost relieved several cars of their wing mirrors. I know I definitely bent one back but I finally got away and headed eastwards. It took me four hours to get from Herne Hill to Ipswich. England were playing Iceland at 8 (let’s not go there!!) so I had hoped to get back in time for it. Traffic was rubbish. I had rush hour to contend with and road work problems at the A13/M25 junction which I was later told had been there for ages. I finally pulled into the yard at 8.01pm and rushed home to watch the game…as we all know now, I needn’t have bothered.

The next four days saw me do a night out job to the Midlands and another one to Scotland but I’ll leave them for the next post as the missus wants to go out.

Take care out there and keep them doors locked at night!!

The Day After The Night Out

Hi Folks

I turned up at the bed factory early (5.45am) to make sure I could park ok.

I met a couple of workers who started to explain the whys and wherefores of the job. I basically had to drive a large 7.5 tonne truck full to the brim with beds and mattresses and I had to deliver to 5 different counties namely Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Due to the amount of mileage involved it would be legally impossible to do all the deliveries in one working day so it would have to be spread over two shifts with an 11 hour break in between. The vehicle would need to be equipped with somewhere for the driver to sleep.

The vehicle I was to drive was a Mercedes Atego and was indeed equipped with a bunk in a very big and roomy cab. In fact I thought it impossible that this huge vehicle could legally be classed as a 7.5 tonner but I was assured it was.

The following is what I and any driver is legally obliged to do every time he's to drive an LGV, the modern name for a HGV. He must get into the cab, turn on the ignition, insert his digital tacho card into the tachograph and do a manual entry to account for other work done when the card was last removed. Then set the machine to "other work" which has a crossed hammers icon whereby then he can commence the all important vehicle safety check. Everything must be checked such as tyres, loose panels, lights, oil, water, fuel, Adblue ( a fuel additive that reduces emissions) and basically everything relating to the safety of the vehicle. Only then are you ready to commence driving.

The truck had been pre loaded with the cargo so after a few last words of advice from the guys I set off for the first destination which was Oundle in Northamptonshire The place was called the Talbot Hotel and parking outside was difficult but there was only two mattresses to deliver and I was away in minutes.

From there I had to drive for 86 miles to get to The Pegasus School in Swadlincote in Derbyshire. This was located down some of the tightest country lanes I've ever been down ( not to mention several low bridges) and I would often meet something coming the other way when everything would come to a halt whilst one of us decided who was going to reverse. More often than not it was them but sometimes I would reverse if I'd just gone by a passing place. I got called a few names yesterday I can tell you . Delivering another double mattress at the school was a doddle and I was soon on my way to the third drop elsewhere in Derbyshire.

This place was called Borrowash and I had to call the guy on the phone because the postcode I had was incorrect. When I arrived and opened the back up I saw that his double mattress was of better quality and thus it was heavier. He asked if I would help him upstairs with it and although they told me I had to leave it downstairs I felt I had to help. Well we struggled with this five foot beast of a mattress as we dragged it from the lorry to the house then up the stairs. I was out of breath and sweating, boy was I unfit. 26 years of sitting in a London Taxi will do that to a man. He thanked me and I thought to myself "this is the bit where he bungs me a fiver" chance.

Off I went again. It was time for a 45 minute tacho break so I found a suitable layby where I had a cup of coffee from a flask and a banana and watched the traffic race by. I certainly needed the break because the next delivery was gonna really drain my energy.

It was to Nottinghamshire Golf and Country Club in Stragglethorpe on the east side of Nottingham. Here, I had to deliver 18 three foot wide single divan beds and 18 mattresses and also 2 double divan bases with mattresses. The golf club was mega busy and to complicate matters further there was major building works going on there and manoeuvring space was severely limited. I rang the contact number and the lady that answered sent four strapping young helpers out to assist me. Even with all the help it took the best part of thirty minutes to get all the stuff off and stored in a warehouse but there was some fierce banter with the guys and it helped pass the time.

My next delivery took me to "God's Own Country", the county of Yorkshire, home of my beloved Leeds United Football Club. I had to deliver to a place called Kingswood, Dearne Valley in Doncaster which was some sort of youth camp. Security here was tight and I was told to drive as slow as possible with my hazard lights on as there were kids just emerging from the dining hall. I was met at the deliveries area by two staff members who took delivery of the six single mattresses I had for them. With the paperwork signed I was again instructed to drive slowly all the way out.

The time was now 6pm and I had been driving and doing "other work" for the last 12 hours so it was now time to find a stopping place for the night. That proved harder than I'd imagined because most of the prime spots were taken up by lorries who knew the score and had already parked up to bed down for the night. I hadn't eaten all day, just a banana, so I was hoping to be able to park near some sort of eatery. I knew I could park at some of the many Moto services on the A1 but I also knew it would cost me. In the end that's what I had to do and finally parked up two hours later at the Grantham North services. After asking another driver what I had to do he instructed me to go into the W H Smiths to pay for a 24 hour parking permit. I duly did that and the guy in Smiths said I had two choices, just parking or parking plus a food voucher. I had the latter. "That'll be £23.50 please". Well, I nearly fainted!! But then again when he gave me the ticket and voucher I could see that £9 was for food, making the price for 24hours of safe parking only £14.50. So all in all not too bad. On future "Nights Out" I'll just pay for the parking and make sure I have a picnic with me or park where all the old hands park for free.....I'll just have to learn where all these places are first.

So, armed with my £9 voucher I had the choice of either Costa Coffee or Burger King...all the other establishments had already closed. Burger King it was then. A double Whopper with cheese meal and some apple pie sticks came to the exorbitant motorway services price of £10 so I had to add a quid to my voucher and I was good to go. I ate the food there and made my way back to the lorry. I was now grateful for all the fussing Jane had done last night. I soon had the bunk looking and feeling cosy and after a bit of reading I soon nodded off. I woke several times in the night as other lorries started their engines and drove away but went straight back to sleep. At 7 am I got up and went to the now open Greggs and had a bacon roll, coffee and a triple pack of jam doughnuts. The bacon roll was disgusting and I fed it to these great big black birds who were mooching about outside. They were either crows or rooks, I don't know the difference, but they certainly enjoyed it.

I set off at 8am for my final drop in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Just 2 three foot bed bases at the Carre Arms next to Aldi and then started making my way back home to Ipswich.

I didn't want to get back too quick so I poodled towards the A1 and maintained a steady 50mph all the way back.

I had been noticing a hissing noise every time I switched the engine off and as I parked up at the bed factory the manager noticed it too. One of the air lines had burst and I was lucky I hadn't lost my brakes. Apparently the truck was due out soon and this problem would have to be dealt with first. He called Mercedes in Martlesham and they told him to bring it straight round so as I still had a few hours left to work he got me to drive the truck, wait there whilst they fixed it and then drive it back.

On my return the bosses were all there discussing schedules and manning problems. I was asked if I knew London at all and I answered "yea I know my way around London". Apparently heavy storms overnight had caused widespread flooding in the south east and the guy delivering to London couldn't  get through so I might have to do it on Monday. They also hinted that I may be required for the next few months as someone was retiring aged 65 so I said I'd be happy to help.

I set of for home and my agency texted me with tomorrows job details which is another 7.5 tonne job delivering plumbing yet I don't know where.

I also received another text saying that the bed factory had booked me for the next thirteen weeks and my next job after the London run would be a run up to the Lake District which would require two "Nights Out". Interesting times are ahead for me. Follow all the news right here.

Goodnight folks.