Old man winter..

 Well it’s fair to say that we’re all feeling a drawn longing and remembrance of the summer months.
Last night while in Westbury dairy we were sitting around talking about last winter, with roads getting closed due to snow and sheet ice and of course why the hell did the person in charge of buying our tractor units neglect to buy them with diff-locks and steering tag-axles.
Bulkers, these are what we call the ‘Ex-Farm’ rigids, that 4 axle trucks like WKD drives. They come with all this stuff as standard and with being able to just about offer steering and drive to any wheel that touches the ground, they fare much better – but then they have to actually go where most of our trucks can’t.
All this doesn’t even take into account a moving liquid load in tanks that have no baffles.
We laughed a lot, we grumbled a whole lot more and we decided that this winter would be a harder one than the last.
I simply don’t know a driver who does not enjoy the challenge, yeah, we wish they would give us chains for bad weather, have a greater support system and so on, but we love that challenge.
Yet you only have to go and see what North60Star drives in to realise that what we do is little more than a joke.
But never the less, living in a part of the UK that never gets snow, I’ll always remember the panicked voice on the phone from the night supervisor with the words “THEY’RE PLOUGHING THE M5!!!!”
Then there are our friends left of the pond, who are already getting the snow. The lady truckers of this and their own blogs- and of course BigDog who lives with snow for a good part of the year. He’s been putting down some serious mileage himself these last few weeks after the very sad loss of his sister. But Dave (BigDog) is the type of guy who’ll always step up to the plate no matter what the situation, so while these are not the best times just after (some weird ritual called) thanksgiving and the run up to Christmas, I worry little about him because he always knows what to do, and will always do the right thing – and ladies, he’s single!

Now…. as a little treat for our US friends, they’ll be pleased to know that if they’re anywhere near NYC, there is an event for which they’ll be most welcome; I was thinking of going myself, but it’s little short notice. 

 
 

Yeah, baby, yeah. It’s international talk with a fake British accent day…


On Thursday 17th December
7pm kick-off upstairs at Slatterys Midtown Pub,
36th Street btwn 5th & Madison.

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Come and try out a different accent for the evening and have some fun for the festive season! 

Come dressed in Red, White and Blue, something British or even in costume for your British character for some extra fun. Additional raffle tickets will be given out for all who play. 

We have 150 people already confirmed and it’s sure to be a comedy value evening. A great mixture of nationalities and other Brits who are going to give a different accent a go for the night. We will have some fun phrases for all to try out, outstanding British tunes and the dance floor warming up for later on in the evening.

If you are also game for “two minutes of fame” we will also be recording some funnies which will be broadcast on our new online TV channel BigAppleBrits.TV and on Big Apple Brits Radio. 
$5 entry will get you:
  • Extended happy hour until 10pm
  • Cake
  • Free shot with your first drink
  • Sherlock Holmes Merch! t-shirts, cups, keyrings and other goodies.
  • 5 raffle tickets for your chance to win a pair of pre-screening passes to see the fantastic new  “Sherlock Holmes” with Robert Downey Jr & Jude Law.  Check out the Trailer Here!
  • Mingle opportunities with some fabulous people and have a right old laugh!

Check out the facebook event page Here!

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Published in: on 15 December, 2009 at 19:47  Comments (6)  
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Odd stuff

 So a guy is driving around the M25 London orbital motorway when he sees debris is the fast lane in front of him, he moves to avoid it and just as he getstortoise to it he sees its moving and has a head… Pulling over and running back he finds a Tortoise that has succeeded in travelling across 5 lanes of this, one of the busiest sections of motorway in the UK – in rush hour!! He takes it home, stopping off to give it a slap up meal of lettuce, and takes it on to his local vet. The vet scans the little hero in a half shell to find it’s micro chipped. It was micro chipped in the US! They are presently trying to find out if this little globe trotter actually stowed away on a plane or came with a family moving to or through the UK. The tortoise has now been given the temporary name of ‘Freeway’

Sat-Nav…

Now, there are things people need to know about this; 1. It’s a back up system and not accurate at all (unless you’re going to war and want your bombs to drop in the vicinity of somewhere) 2. The GPS saSat Navtellites are creaking under the strain of over use 3. It only takes a solar storm to make them worthless 4. They rarely consider the size of vehicle and weight (think bridge heights and road width) 5. They generally work on major routes – therefore they’re  somewhere between bad and useless in more rural locations. 6. Most truckers don’t use them – they buy a map. So this week, the HUA award goes to this guy in his BMW… Who said, ‘it didn’t look right, but I just trusted it’!

HUA

Don’t be a moron – buy a map!! They’re cheaper too and never lie.  Never EVER rely on a GPS device if hill walking in poor visibility!!!! (however, if you do want reliability – get a Sat-naG).

Last nights work;

What a simple and straight forward relaxed evening – if not a little too relaxed. Everything went well, albeit the cushion in the driving seaOakthorpe milk intaket back was almost none existent on the left hand side, which in turn twisted my back out and led to me ‘defecting’ the truck upon my return. Today (as stated in an earlier article) I head for Oakthorpe in north London again. I start at 4pm and that’s about the time that the end-of-weekend commute back to London starts – so I’m in for a lot of sitting in traffic. Normally I’d head up the M5 to Bristol, but seeing as they’re doing roadworks on a major bridge up there – I’ll be using the A303 and M3 all the way in.

Oakthorpe 303

Published in: on 20 September, 2009 at 14:07  Leave a Comment  
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Work and Molly

quiet motorway

Yesterday I did a Friday run into Oakthorpe at Palmers Green, London. What a traffic nightmare?! It does seem to me that while the mayhem never gets any less, it never stays the same – it just keeps getting worse! lol
Today I start at 16:30 and on the cards is a run into Bridgwater followed by a single run to Westbury. That is a nice evenings work and if all goes well, it’ll be completed in under 10 hours.
Tomorrow is another 16:00 run to Oakthorpe, delivery time 22:00… however, this is the other end of the weekend with what seems like the world trying to rush back to London!
But oddly, I’m not complaining!

rocketboom_logo-copyMeme Molly has finally returned to Rocketboom! She had to return to the UK earlier this year to obtain a US residency visa / green card. All is now apparently sorted and she’s back in New York City to kick in to the daily news from Monday.

Published in: on 19 September, 2009 at 14:49  Leave a Comment  
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Hmmm… not the best operation

Starting work at 4am Sunday morning with the usual banter and laughter, the job was to take an empty milk trailer to a new milk depot just north of Bristol – drop that there, pick up a full one and drive on to Cadbury’s.
This depot (Old Sodbury) is ‘new’ in terms of its use for milk, the greater company has used the site for many years and early this year it was to be closed.
I know the site well, and on my last visit, there was a skeleton staff running refrigerated cheese deliveries from there and the rest of the place was cluttered up with old trailers and trucks for sale.

Arriving at 6am, the place was a mess!! The the new areas for CIP (washing tanks out) and where milk was loaded were obvious, but there was no where to drop off an empty tank. In fact, there was barely enough space to turn the truck around.Old Sodbury Here is a very old photo of the place when it had some room.
I did turn it around, stopped and headed into the office. Apart from two ex-farm drivers (new to the job), there was no one. I looked around for job sheets and various other things that would normally be ready – but nothing!
An hour and a half later I could get back underway.

All sorted out, I got back on the road heading north on the A46 towards Stonehouse. I chose this route because it was now sunrise cotswoldbecomming daylight and it took me over the bottom of the Cotswold hills – which is the most majestic run at dawn.

Cadbury’s was a hassle in so much a I screwed up the CIP process and had to drain the tank and start all over again, before heading home in glorious air conditioned sunshine through Hereford, Monmouth and down to the M4 at Newport.

I think the milk operation out of Old Sodbury is going to be very short lived at the present rate – unless someone shows a degree of leadership and flare and moves all the old trailers from all their depots to onSmeatharpee of hundreds of old wartime airfields where a farmer will happily take a base rent on the storage of such things – like this one 10 miles from the main Cullopmton operating base  .

Published in: on 14 September, 2009 at 12:49  Leave a Comment  
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This work lark…

Yesterday started typically, I was at work for 1pm and waited until well past 2.30pm until therefarmer was a truck available. It was a chilled wait, talking to the fluffy faced yard guy ‘S’, only to find he was a qualified farmerist too!!  There you go see, I didn’t know you qualified in such things…
During the wait, I even managed to nip around to the local supermarket and get some shopping in while avoiding the Battenberg cake shelf as too much excitement before work really isn’t good for you.

I was down for a double Westbury and as soon as truck became available – I was off!
It was a gloriously hot sunny day and even the traffic seemed to be behaving itself.
Returning to get the second run was however – different. I was asked if I wouldn’t mind going to Droitwich instead. Droitwich copyThere is nothing unusual in this, well not this week, but my hours would be pushed to the max.
I raced off to Droitwich and just as I pulled on to the industrial estate, my four and a half hours driving limit expired and I need to take a 45 minute break – 600 yards short of the dairy gates.
I finally made it back to the yard with 10 minutes to spare on my days duty and sorted everything out and completed all the paper work, 780kms achieved (484miles) and all was good.
Now at this point, an unusual and should I say, a very old school scruffy driver staggered into the office. He had never been to this place before and certainly never pulled a milk tanker.
The night supervisor asked if I would show him what is what and how to get to Honiton reload site. Now at this point we were all looking at each other – as though to say ‘this guy hasn’t got a prayer’.

TWO hours!!!! It took two hours to give him the information he needed!!
I have to ‘fess-up’ here and say that I do actually enjoy certain aspects of the communication with other people – but not today.
It was now 7 am and all I wanted was my bed!
I didn’t mind too much, though after hearing all these stories about what he had been doing before, when he finally pulled away – it was a relief.head
But here is the thing; firstly I wasn’t even sure he could read, secondly, he couldn’t add up really basic numbers and as he pulled away, the truck silhouette getting smaller, I thought – what’s betting that truck never comes back in one piece – and that is something I don’t like, as it invariably means others will be involved.

zombieI spoke to a couple of guys as I staggered to the TWB Car of Character as the time approached 7:30 and eventually drove home (in a fashion). It’s just that, well, after walking through my door and dropping my small rucksack and the shopping from earlier – I thought, I’d better go and check on him.
Back in the car, I headed to the reload site which was a couple of miles away and found him sitting there staring at the paperwork.
Eventually and after much story telling, he had completed the paper work correctly and was following me the easy way back out to the main road. I say following, I was driving at 20 mph (a speed I didn’t know my car could do, I was watching leaves change colour it’s so slow) yet he kept falling behind.
Finally he made it back on the main road, but not without having first tried playing just about every known classical music piece on the gearbox.

I truly hope he gets the job done ok and enjoys his day; after all, we all do have to learn at some point. But I think dropping people that far in the deep end with liquid loads is just darn dangerous.
I finally returned to home at 08:30 and to bed. The phone was ringing by 3 pm and work starts at 6pm.

I know this post is boring, but I just need to write it. I could have written about driving a Mercedes the other day that as I applied the brakes – my hands were violently thrown from the steering wheel due to warped discs, but that can wait lol.

Published in: on 12 August, 2009 at 17:38  Leave a Comment  
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Good grief… how much work?

Things do come in fits and starts around here. Last night I was brought up to speed with the forthcomidavidstow_airfieldng work load for the next couple of weeks. It’s seems as heavy, if not heavier than I anticipated several weeks ago. Davidstow, a village on the north coast of Cornwall has an old disused war time anti submarine air base next to it, on this site is a little place that makes a lot of cheese – a hell of a lot of cheese! Anyway, they’re going into shutdown this weekend so they can give the place a nice sparkling clean and as such we have to take theDavidstow Cheese Factory millions of gallons of milk elsewhere – i.e. Severnside!
On top of this, Swine flu and people taking time off for a holiday has left our agency ranks decimated, in so much that there is too much work and simply not enough drivers.
This global recession finished some months ago – really it did, you see what happens on the road with trucks is a very accurate indicator of what is happening to the economy. Last year there was a huge drop in goods being moved and that is when we were really suffering the onslaught of the downturn. This came to a head in Feb-March this year and the amount of goods being hauled has steadily increased ever since (even before bail out packages). This morning at 4am the M5 southbound was nose to tail with trucks!
My work today, as mentioned previously is from North Tawton, tomorrow is a 4pm start from Cullompton. I normally take Mondays off to re-adjust my sleep pattern, but as I did so little last week, I’ll be working through and return to Mondays of when the rush is over.

Driving home this morning I noticed my car was ‘hunting’, finally I get to the bottom of it – I need to clean the Idle Speed Control valve. So if I have to wait around for a truck again tonight – then I’ll give a clean then.

I don’t know if I’ll post from the road, either way, I’ll catch you later.

Published in: on 8 August, 2009 at 15:36  Comments (11)  
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An odd one again

cow

Having supposed to have started work at 00:30 this morning, I walked into work at 03:30. The reason for this is that I had spoken to the night supervisor earlier and had been informed that there were no trucks available and it was pointless coming in to wait around. So I enjoyed the extra time at home with my feet up – YAY!
Any way, as it happens, it turned out to be fortuitous! You see I dropped a good sized bo**ock! Instead of picking up trailer 4063, I picked up 4068 and took it to Westbury – DOH!!
Once I realised, I rang in to the office because I simply didn’t know what type of milk was onboard, how old it was, or if it had been rejected or anything.
Indeed my caution paid off, as the milk I was carrying was Skim, not Raw.

westbury-dairyAlso, I was directed to Westbury by mistake as the empty tank I would have had on my return, was desperately needed at a farm reload site.
Discussions were had and I was redirected to another depot to drop this trailer, pick up a clean empty tank and proceed to the reload site.
This actually took two hours off the time, so things were looking up.

I got to the reload site with 5 minutes of driving time left before needing a break and sorted everythingex-farm bulker out and sat back for my 45 minute rest. Well, I would have done, but the Ex-Farm bulker came in and it was non other than WKNR… Hold it, stop right here!! Our lady White Knuckle Rider had indeed come up with a slightly better acronym… WKD icon1She (the cat’s mother) is now referred to as WKD – which also makes good sense. I chatted with WKD for a few minutes and went on my way, realising that half the conversation I had with her, probably made no sense at all.

Arrival at the dairy ended with me joining a long queue and this is where the next part of the fortunate lack of planning came in. If I had started at 00:30, I would have run out of hours – but I hadn’t called this in, so the day staff didn’t know. So halfway through a snooze the cab phone rings and the first words were “what the hell are you doing?”
I explainHappyCowed that I was waiting the queue out and what time I actually started work. Also because I screwed up that morning, I wouldn’t be putting in my earlier time, the time I was sat at home with my feet up.
I think unfortunately they thought I was trying to book more hours, the reality is that I felt a little guilty for screwing up earlier and was trying to amend this by playing the team game and making sure I didn’t cause further inconvenience by requiring rescue, which means getting another driver, more time wasted and more money spent. A nice thought maybe, but human nature depicts that people normally think the worse. Looking on the bright side of this day – at least I didn’t take an empty trailer all the way to Oakthorpe, which someone did a few months ago.

So I’m sitting here trying my best to write this without falling asleep – ahhhh sleeeeeep, I remember you soooo well….
Time to go and hug this old body of lard and retire, good night all.

twb-button

Published in: on 8 July, 2009 at 19:45  Comments (1)  
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