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A Box Rat's journey

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:28 am
by Greater Orcadia


This follows the life of Ryan Mc.Laine, a transport driver working containers across Europe from Greater Orcadia,
A bit about Ryan.

Born in the middle of May back in 1992, Ryan is married to Louise Lombard, captain of a ferry that does a regular service between Greater Orcadia and Denmark then up to Iceland nefore returning back to Denmark then Aberdeen. They met whilst at a yacht club as both Louise and Ryan are keen recreational sailers with Ryan owning a small 36ft sailing boat similar to Louise's boss's boat "Luna Mysteria", Louise however is of a higher social caste than Ryan as her mother owns Ocean Concepts and in turn married to Sonja Harwell who is at the head of the Polar Foundation which owns Pulse Airlines. Ryan's parents on the otherhand, though equally hard working running a lawyers business out of a busy office block in Glasgow, Greater Orcadia.

With his work, Ryan goes all over Europe meaning he is away from his wife a lot, though with her career in the maritime indusry that is a given, so what about Louise..

Louise was raised with 3 other sisters, these being Claire and Rachael ( the twins ) and Martyne Lombard who is a little bit punk styled with a large scorpion tattooed on her face, this however did not go down too well with Nikki but it was likely a cry for attention. Relationship between Louise and her siblings has at some points been strained, especially with Martyne but that has settled now and they seem to get on well together. Aged 18 Louise started on her own journey to the sea when she was accepted into a marine accademy where she studied to become an officer and yet despite the fact that she is missing half of her right leg thanks to a gunman in the United States, Louise proved herself to be competitive in the accademy yacht club as when some fellow students said that she was not able to do something, time and time again she proved them wrong, a belief of unfounded superiority was also going around the accademy as many of her fellow students were sponsored by major maritime corporations yet here was Louise from the little known company called Ocean Concepts however Louise's group sought to work on the strengths of its members rather than compete against eachother within the group and so this little known Orcadian was able to prove her doubters wrong.

Eventually Louise returned to Greater Orcadia and settled near Felixstowe docks and joined the yacht club where she and Ryan met eachother and the relationship started to bloom.

So on with the journey. Some posts are written as a journal and so in the first position as if coming from from Ryan. Others may be written in the third person.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:51 am
by Greater Orcadia
Monday, 01:00 hours
Collect: Box Container - Aberdeen to Geneva
Location : Container port, Felixstowe

The weather was very unseasonal, what was meant to be a warm summers night was in fact wet as a summer storm had been rumbling away since about nineteen hundred, Louise had packed her bags ready and was all ready to go, her ship was due to sail soon from Aberdeen, however we were in Felixstowe and Aberdeen was 10 hours away so we would have to get moving soon, the truck at the container port an hours drive from were we live.

Louise, attired in her whites stood looking at me as she adjusted her tie and then glanced at her watch giving me that look.
"well?" she said "its time to get moving"

Looking across with a smile, Ryan nodded,
"Aye" I said, picking up an ex-Army surplus rucksack before giving a squeak call.

From the sofa upon hearing the squeak call, a small cat made his way across to the door and started to paw at the leash, yes he knows what is coming so Louise made her way over to the afore mentioned fleine and grabbed the leash only to have the cat roll over however it was no use, Louise grabbed the collar with one hand and clipped the leash with the other before getting back to her feet from a semi squat position and grabbing a suitcase shortly after as I picked up the keys to the car, a Skoda Octavia 1.8 diesel and pressing the unlock button as I followed Louise and the boss out, yes Louise may think she's the boss but the real boss is Sandy, just dont tell Louise that otherwise i might be sleeping in the engine room next trip.

The door was closed and locked as louise opened the boot of the Skoda and put her case in trunk. This was soon followed by my own bag as Louise opened passenger door and plonked Sandy on the back seat as I myself took my place in the driving seat and put the key into the ignition and starting the engine. With the diesel engine purring it was times to go and so off we set, slipping the car into reverse to get off the driveway then into drive to make our way to Felixstowe docks. My phone beeped

Pickup Felixstowe - deliver Geneva
MSRU 654833 (9)

"Container details, Ryan" commented Louise

"Hope its the right container" I replied,

It took about an hour to get to Felixstowe where the security guard had a waiting treat for the boss, waving a packet of kitty bits at me, well at least at my car anyway which was now filthy and yes, it was still raining, so hard that the giant cointainer cranes that moved the containers between the ship and the quay could hadly be seen despite them having enough lights to give a sense of daylight when standing near them whether on the ship or the hard standing, I chose to park the Skoda as close to the truck as I could then turned to louise and reached over to give her a good bye kiss, and yes the studs we have in our tongues clicked for a moment

"Have a good trip" said Louise,

"Yeah, the Geneva run is nice though I have to get a container" i replied as Louise reached over and hit the trunk release button whilst I got the keys to the Volvo FH750 out of my jacket and pressed the unlock.

The LED headlights came on along with the interior light and with that I got out of the Skoda and made my way to the now open trunk before grabbing my suit backpack and dashing to the truck. Opening the door I threw my backpack in and closed the door and returned to the car to close the trunk and get Sandy the cat as Louise ran around the car to get into the drivers seat.

"Have a good run north, Text me when you get there" I said

"As always" replied Louise, handing me my phone and PDA as I cradled Sandy

Opening the drivers door of the truck I placed the PDA and my phone in the door pocket before grabbing the hand rail and climbing in before closing the door as louise spun the car around before driving off getting a wave off one of the fork lift drivers. It wasn't long before my dear wife was out of sight as she made her way to Aberdeen to take her ship over as I took control of my own landschiff. Once in my own helmseat Sandy was unclipped and his first reaction was to rub himself on the bunk, ruffling the bedding up before jumping onto the dashboard where he soon settled down to sleeping as I put my card i the tachograph and began the process of starting my shift before climbing out of the truck to do my pre-shift, getting soaked in the process!

A security guard came over to me

"Ryan, got something for Sandy" she says,

"oh right" I replied, paying admittedly more attention to the truck than the guard "what ya got?" I asked

"a box of cat biccies" she replied, "bacon flavour ones" handing me a packet of cat treats which were put in my pocket

"nice, they wont last long, he loves them, Thanks Tomara, cheeky swine ate my own dinner the other day, lou cooks up some cottage pie and whilst I sort something out, he jumps on the table and laps up the gravy"

With the truck checked, certified safe and signed off it was time to go and find my container so I went through the PDA menu, tapping screen to navigate through the menus and a message came through telling me to make my way to the pickup bay so the engine was started, Sandy twitched his ears as the truck began to vibrate in harmony with the power pulses from the 16 litre 6 cylinder diesel engine, and so having put the beacons on I made my way to the collection area, a straddle rider came driving by then began to drive over my trailer, so i gave the horn a quick sounding, then gestured to the driver to be gentle.

The container was thankfully lowered gently down onto the chassis and so I had now to put on my yellow jacket and white hard hat and climbed down to secure the container to the trailer, I also grabbed my gopro and clipped it to my hard hat and tapped its record button

"Good morning, as you can see its tipping it down here in Flick, and this..." I tapped the container " my load for the next few days, its destination, Geneva in Switzerland"
I walked around the trailer, securing and locking the individual twist locks as well as checking that the container number matched the documents, and that the seal also matched, it did
"These are the twist locks, there are eight locking points on each container, four at the top, four at the bottom and these are used to secure the containers to a ship and in this case to a trailer, and each one can go in from above or below, the side and the ends, once locked to the trailer, you could actually pick up the trailer by the container so its imperitive when you arrive to drop a container otherwise you will get into a bit of bother with the boss"
Once back in the truck, its cabin now nice and warm the I noticed the container cranes above the MS OOCL Hamburg were pulling back, and so the horn from the ship was sounded as I made my way along the hard standing so I gave my trucks horns a sounding and waited, From the container ship its horn was sounded, so I sounded again, this was replied from the continer ship. I then gave 2 short blasts and a long blast followed by a short blast. The container ship replied with 2 short, a long and a short blast, This was then replied by the tugboat that had come alongside the container ship as I made my way to the hard exit.

Throughout this, Sandy just twitched his ears, he was used to the air horns and as the truck had no sudden movement he was not bothered in the slightest, however it was time to head to the ferry from Dover to Calais, but first the exit gates.....

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:04 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Felixstowe to Dover
Making my way through the maze of roads that is Felixstowe container port I reach forward and tap the record button on the gopro that is pointing out of the window, "Good morning and welcome to Studio Foxtrot Hotel one six, As you can see I am just leaving the port and yes this time the destination is Switzerland with this squeaky box on the back, I have just said good bye to my dear wife and by now my wife is hopefully well on the way to Aberdeen and her ship, not sure which way she has chosen to go but Myself it would be the A14 then the A1 and then A90 north of Edinburgh, should take her around 9, maybe 10 hours, but this is Louise, she doesnt rush so by the time she gets to Aberdeen, I will probably be somewhere in Switzerland, presuming that is, the Dover to Calais sailings are on time"

I reach forward and press pause on the camera as I roll up to the gates, Sandy still sleeping on the dashboard as Mitch comes out of the security office before tapping the window button

"hey Mitch, Hows you doing, and whats this about your lady, congrats matey" I say,

"Yeah Ryan, six pounds nine ounces, baby girl and doing well, anyway ya got ya carnet?" he asks

Handing the paperwork over, I fold the wheel back and wait, tapping the hand brake button, watching Mitch go through the carnet I reach over and give Sandy a stroke, Sandy stretches out and curls his paws
"All in order Ryan, have a safe trip" Mitch says, handing the paperwork back

Taking the paperwork off Mitch I place it on the passenger seat for the time being before sending the window up, once the barrier goes up I begin to accellerate out of giving a blast on the air horns as I go. The 16 litre engine begins to purr, putting the 750hp to the road. By now it was beginning to get light however though it was still raining. And so on it goes, the motorway soon comes and as expected it was relatively quiet so it was easy to make progress.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 3:42 pm
by Greater Orcadia
The queue to get into the port was long, nothing for it but to sit it out, pulling up behind the LKW Logistik truck and following him down the access road but evetually I was able to get into the port complex. Yard Donkeys were driving around shuttling trailers between the boat and the trailer park as I made my way through the maze of roads towards the ferry, the Pride of Dunkirque. It looks like it could be a busy crossing as well as I reached over to the phone and tapped its screen
"Call Louise" I say,
The phone dials Louise and the a few seconds later the phone connects
"Just a quick one Lou, Ive just pulled into Dover, hows you getting on?" I asked, grabbing my flask from the rucksack as Sandy looks at me giving a look

There was a short pause, "going good, should be there in around ten I think, i heard that theres something up at the top end of the A1m so may get held up there" she replied,

"aye, take it easy, have a safe trip. Ciao" I reply, before hanging up, mindful that As Louise is on the move and despite being hands free I dont want to distract her too much

I take the flask and pour a coffee then sit back and wait, not a lot for it other than to sit and wait to be called on board, Sandy however has his eyes on my drink however coffee is not really good for cats, he meows so rather than a coffee I get him a small kitty bit to which he sniffs, looks at me then meows again before taking the small cat snack as I put my feet onto the dashboard as its time to relax, Louise hates it when I do that but i dont care, its MY truck, not the companies, theirs are grey and blue, Mine has a pirate paint job on it. Sandy looks at me and gives me another meow

"Whats up Sandy?" I ask as if the cat can understand, he just Meows, "Want a walk?"
he again just meows
"oh alright then"
I take the keys out of the ignition and grab the leash the leash, clipping it to Sandy's collar then after picking Sandy up, climb down from the truck and place Sandy on the floor, closing the door monents later before walking around the truck, Sandy walks along side, stopping momentarily to sniff the tyres however he walks well on a leash and a few other drivers lining up stop and look, not so much at me but at Sandy as its not very often you see a cat on a leash.

Over in the distance, a man is walking over, dressed in a set of overalls and wearing a hard hat, gesturing at me as I walk around my trailer, he's shouting something but he's that far away I cant hear him. Walking around the truck I get back to the front again, and by this time he has come closer

"Whats up?" I ask

"MacLaine?, Meridian??" he asks

"yeah" I reply

"You need will be going on in fifteen mins, head over to the second stage holding area, we're putting you on deck two" he says,

"Okay, great" I reply before looking down at Sandy, "we're going to France" Sandy doesnt care much

Opening the cab door again I place Sandy on the floor and close the passenger door before walking around to the drivers side, open the door and climb in before closing the door again although Sandy gets to keep his leash on as I set the 16 litre engine into motion and begin to move slowly towards the second stage parking area as a car pulls up, its a yellow and red Ford with a sign on the roof, it flashes up my registration plate and an instruction to follow it, so carefully I do and soon I am heading to closer to the Pride of Dunkirque, its arc lights shine down onto the roadway as dawn had yet to come. As I get closer, a man with illuminated batons waves me onto the ship and soon the big Volvo is inside the ship, its engine turned off and brakes on

"well Sandy, you coming with me or not?" I ask, Sandy just meows, again

Around the vehicle deck, the sound of referees whistles can be heard as deck hands hand out instructions as I climb down with Sandy, locking the truck behind before making my way to the passenger decks and so its time to sit back on one of the seats and relax, the crossing is only about an hour and a half.

half an hour later
The hard standing drifts by past the window as I sit back and relax, its not Sandy's first time aboard a ferry, however the pitching of the ship is having an affect on him, so we make our way to the aft deck to look out over the stern, a few others are doing the same under the glare of the arc lamps it was here that Sandy decides to deposit his lunch, all over the deck. yes Sandy is sea sick. At least he didnt do it in the passenger area or my cab but instead on a steel deck.

I sat down on the bench overlooking the stern of the ship, but outside the only noise that was ever present was the sound of the ships propulsion plant and the propeller wash and slowly Dover got smaller on the horizon as we drew ever closer to France

PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:35 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Calais, France
The harbour was busy with traffic as the Pride of Dunkirk makes its way to the ramp anf the awaiting longshoremen who go about the business of tying the vessel to the quay with out verbal communication as everyone of the team knows what to do, when to do it and how to do it, just nods of heads signalling to the next person, then the ship falls silent, the rumbling stops and the water at the stern is now still.

We're docked.

Passengers start to queue at the top of the stair well to the car deck and the central passenger lobby where foot passengers embark and disembark the vessel with an atmosphere that is electric, there is a buzz as some passengers are starting a holiday and others are coming home, whilst a few passengers like myself are doing neither, we're part of the supply chain and so are working and i have a few hundred kilometers to push out before the tacho runs out. I hope to get to close to Saint Gertrude tonight but we can see, however Sandy is getting some attention as he holds onto my jacket with his claws with people wanting to stroke him, however Sandy seems quite content with the fussing and petting off random strangers as I make my way to the truck down in the vehice bay.

It takes about half an hour to get from the lobby to the vehicle deck which is a hive of activity as cars are being escorted off, Pulling out my key I press the unlock and open the passenger door to Place Sandy on the cab floor then close the door before walking around to the drivers side, as I do so Sandy leaps onto the dash and watches me walk around before leaping onto the drivers seat as I open the door, only to look at me before letting out a meow.

Back in the cab now, Sandy gets a stroke before jumping across onto the passenger seat where he curls up whilst I place the key in the ignition and get the truck fired up, all i got to do now is wait, as I do the deck hands begin to unchain the truck, the sound of chains and shackles landing on the deck and being dragged away is a normal thing, Sandy doesnt even bat an eyelid but then it comes, a whistle is blown to attract my attention a d a man in bright orange overalls gives me the thumbs up so its into drive and slowly I feed in the power and the truck is rolling slowly behind the truck in front as I make my way to the ramp and the hard standing.

Of course due to the pallet carrier I have to take it easy when coming down off the ferry, so I stop momentarily to climb down and raise the trailer air suspension to give a bit more room off the floor for the pallet carrier before climbing back into the cabin and raising the truck suspension and then driving down the ramp with the trailer clearing the sill by around 8 inches. Once down on the port I pull over and reset the suspension before driving on again, and its here I clear customs and head out onto the Port Aproach road.

Some Illegals are on the other side of the highway being dealt with by police, I push on regardless but soon the approach road merges with the auto route and its flowing nicely for the time of morning however its stil raining so Im sitting at 75km/h with a wall of spray behind me making it virtually impossible to see anything behind the truck, and by the time I get to circle Paris, the truck is going to be filty

"Call Louise" I say, giving a command to the phone - it calls my wife

"Heya babe" I say with more than a hint of joviality, "just letting you know, Im in France and south of Calais"

"Good Good" she replies, " its flowing well too,whats the weather like?" she asks

"wet, i think the ocean is falling from the sky, either that or god has sprung a leak" I say, reffering to the near biblical rain I am driving in

"oh dear, well its not that great here, Ive had to pull over anyway for a drink and the services at South Mimms are under a few inches of water, power went out as well there"

"you didnt stop at South Grimms did ya, oh dear"

"Aye Ryan, anyway babes, Have a safe trip and speak to you later, love ya!" she says,

"you too sweet heart" I reply before ending the call

And so it is, My dear wife heading north, and I am heading south and I know full well she's going to be in Aberdeen before I get to Switzerland, she's due to take her helm tomorrow however I am in my landschiff right now, behind me some box containing some worldy goods, I take a glance at the manifest, it was loaded in Akita, Japan so who knows whats in it, all i know is its not covered by hazardous materials regulations, so I press on into the ever present rain, the whipers doing their best to keep the windscreen clear and the suspension doing a good job at smoothing out the bumps in the French Autoroute as an old 2CV cruises by, its driver wrapped up in a jacket whilst the little Citroen he is driving is on old style French Plates and despite its age is in excellent condition.

A few hours later
My timer had stopped when I got onto the ferry and restarted again once I got rolling again, and now it comes on with a beep. I have covered 4 hours driving since leaving Felixstowe so its now time to pull off the Autoroute and have a brake at one of the many rest areas and 10 minutes later one comes into view so thats the one I take. The carpark is busy. trampers from all over Europe, Spain, Germany, even as far afield as Uklraine are parked here, some are on their 45 minute, others are on a longer overnight break so its time to park up and relax for an hour. I find a parking slot and pull in before shutting the truck down and as expected Sandy feels the truck shut off so soon jumps down off the seat and come over to me, leaping on my lap and start to nose me for attention, however I have to get a few things first so put Sandy on the bed and unclip his leash before opening the door and getting my shoes from the step and climbing out of the cab to go and get dinner and it has to be said French motorway service food is better than the stuff We Orcadians have to suffer

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:42 am
by Greater Orcadia
Rest area, south of Calais, Lunch time according to hours of service
Making my way to the cafe that had a view over the carpark I browsed the menu then grabbed a take out box and began to load the food in to it, Bacon, Hash Browns, boiled egg, some beans and a couple of sausages and then I grabbed a cup of coffee before making my way to the till to pay. It came to 6 Euros which was expensive compared to the independent places. Food paid for I made my way back to the truck and Sandy, and yes it was raining so I had to run.

Once back in the truck I placed the food box on the dashboard by the passenger seat, then reach forward and pressed record on the gopro in the windscreen.

"Good morning, Im sat at a rest area just outside Calais, so right now My wife is still heading north towards her ship, So far its been raining and ive been under the rain since I left Felixstowe, however theres another four hours to go then its an overnight, hopefully at Saint Gertrude, and yes the boss is travelling again..."

Sandy sits at my feet looking at me so I cut up a piece of sausage and reach down to Sandy who sniffs it before taking it as I turn back to face the windscreen again

"...It has to be said, the service areas are better than the ones back home but it has to be said, it comes with a price, So why boxes? Well I used to do fridges and yes I still have the fridge trailer which I keep at the yard, but working boxes means I get a quieter life until someone with a fridge van pulls along side with the thermo unit rumbling, and its something I dont i dont miss. It does have its downsides as I dont know how the load in the box is lying, it has a customs seal which cant be opened, however I dont regret switching from fridge to boxes. however there looks to be a break in the rain so I'll be walking Sandy shorty...."

I continue to eat the meal, sharing some of it with Sandy but then comes the break in the clouds and with the food finished its time to tidy up and walk the cat so I grab the leash and clip it to Sandy who goes straight to the door and starts to meow, he knows whats coming, however I have to clean up first so put everything into a bag, finish off my coffee before putting that in the bag too, placing the bag on the floor and taking the gopro off its mount before exiting the cabin and walking around to the other door which is opened to the sight of a waiting cat. I grab the bag and close the door and start recording with the gopro in one hand, bag in the other

"...just before i do walk Sandy, theres one thing that annoys me, its drivers who dump trash, this bag... "[/i] I pan the camera to the bag "...belongs in here, And for the other waste, please dont dump it on the street, use a services. nothing worse than trying to take a break on a hot summers day with the smell of pee hanging in the air...."
I drop the bag in the bin before making my way back to the truck

"...and now, its the boss's turn..."

back at the truck, I open the door and grab the leash, Sandy jumps down with confidence and so the door is closed and locked behind me and I begin to walk to a grassy area across from the service area, Sandy taking in everything, sniffing, rubbing himself against posts in a way only a cat does and as he does this he gets filmed. He walks well on a leash as I walk and film

"...just a short walk, see those dark clouds over there, well thats the next rain band coming through, and they're flashing so a thunder storm is coming through and I dont want to be driving completely soaked, it ruins the upholstery as denim is not colour fast"

Im back at the truck in time, the sky has gone dark but suddenly lights up as a lightning discharge arcs up across the sky, followed by a loud thunderclap which just goes on, the sound seemingly rolling across the parking lot so quickly unlock the truck, grab Sandy and climb in, closing the door behind me, placing the gopro back in its mount before unclipping Sandy's leash and taking my jacket off before taking my seat in the drivers seat and put the key into the ignition, removing my shoes I open the door again and put them on the step just below the door, closing the door with a solid, quality sounding thud. They won't go anywhere due to the door covering the step and it makes for useful storage given that quite often my shoes are sometimes muddy, I dont want the floor to be covered in muddy boot prints. Boots off, I then put on a pair of soft soled slippers before glancing up at the tacho to see 0:59 become 1:00, one hour done time to move

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:56 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Leaving the rest area
Behind me, the sky flashes with lightning and the rain lashes down but I have a way to go, sad news is I dont think I can make it to Saint Gertrude, so its Fresnoy-le-Château tonight, Sandy has curled up on the bed, or rather IN the bed, its his comfort space so its okay, ever since he was a kitten he's done that, in fact i think he prefers human company at night although he makes a god awful alarm clock. 3rd gear, 4th 5th 6th come and go in a breeze as the truck accellerates to allow me to merge with traffic, a quick mirror check and I am in, slipping in behind a white and red Curtain sided truck, in the distance 4 hours of French Autoroute lie ahead, behind me Calais slowly blends into the gloom.

Further on down the road a car is on the hard shoulder, its lights flashing. Its that old Citroen so I do what is right and pull in behind it and set my beacons on, if someone hits that little car its game over for the car, especially if its something like what I am driving, however if they hit me, the car is safe, and with that I press the record on the gopro that is sat in the windscreen, grab my high viz jacket and climb down.

"Bonjour, what is the problem?" I ask,

The driver looks at me, "The battery, it is not charging so i run out of spark and engine die"

Trucks fly by, some honking their horns, and I feel somewhat concerned, however I have a tool kit in the locker so return to the truck and pull open the side locker to get it out then return to the car.

"Monseiur, pop the bonnet for me please" I ask, in relatively fluent French, "Maybe I can get you going, but If I can not I will stay here until your help arrives, I would be ashamed to see this car get hit. How old is she" I ask

The driver looks at me, "She was made in nineteen fourty nine, one of the first ones they made" he says "she is older than my mother!"

"looking good for her age" I say, examining the cars electrics, looking for a wire that has come off "I think water is your problem, the belt is slipping"

It isnt just the belt, as I discover one of the wires that comes from the battery to the engine has rusted, rusted through so there is no return, however i have a possible fix for that and make my way back to the truck and take the earth lead off the auxiliary batteries that I normally use when the engine is turned off, rather than draining the main batteries, not an major problem but something I will need to replace on my way down, it was at that point the man's recovery van arrives, and with a new earth strap fitted to the elderly Citroen and the belt tightenned, the recovery agent couples some jump leads to the car and soon the little Citroen jumps into life again, then comes a surprise

"Monseiur, something for you" says the driver, he hands me 50 euros

"Oh wow, Merci Monseiur, have a safe trip" I reply, before packing my tools up

"you too" he replies as I make my way back to the truck, putting the tools back in the locker.

At that point, the sky lights up as a streak of lightning arcs across the sky as I close the side locker and climb into the cab, soaked through again! The batteries that I have disconnected are not a major problem as they are not connected to the trucks main system but instead are there to provide booster power when parked up, starting the Volvo up again is not an issue so I turn the key and get the truck fired up again. First the recovery van drives off, then the old Citroen starts to move then I follow behind, once I see a gap I move right but keep pace behind the Citroen, I flash the headlights and gesture and so the driver of the Citroen 2cv that is the best part of 72 years of age moves into the lane and begins to accellerate then safe in the knowledge that I can pass I pull out and overtake, and with the gopro still recording its time for some notes to be put in the clip[/i]

"Well, that's made his day, water got into his electrics and well a car that old I couldnt simply sit there and have him at the mercy of the traffic. Im about an hour behind now but there's still time on the trip. That old car is seventy two years old, although I need to get a new secondary earth strap for the auxiliary batteries now as his one broke, Not to worry there's a place I know on the way down so I will be popping in there later on, but for now sit back and enjoy the view" I say, carefully, methodically, almost newscaster like.

Paris comes, and goes however rather than go right through Paris, I swing around the outskirts, a right steer truck and Paris's crazy traffic dont mix too well, worse than London or Edinburgh, but still it brings me ever closer to the end point, and after around 10 minutes of motorway I end the recording for the clip just after the gopro catches another lightning flash.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:17 am
by Greater Orcadia
The motorway, heading south
Eventually the thunderstorm dies out, leaving a glistening road, and so for the next few hours the drive is somewhat relaxing, a few other classic cars go by, some on trailers, other under their own power so maybe that old Citroen is going that way too but alas I will never know but I hope he gets there. As toll booths come and go the Autoroute flows well, even the music is good too although Sandy sleeps through most of the trip. A bit later I mute the stereo and press record, time for another clip

"well the storm is behind ups now, Paris is across to our right, the roads are flowing well too, although we won't make Saint Gertrude tonight, we will however be sleeping at a service area, thats about twenty euros, and at this rate we should be arriving in Geneva sometime tomorrow, there is however no need to rush" i say,

South of Paris and the scenery is flatter, a TGV races by, it could be the Paris - Lyon service, Paris to Montpellier service, but its soon out of sight at 180mph

"Thats something we need back home, a good high speed rail system, make my job a lot easier when all the commuters have a reliable service to use, what you think Sandy?" I ask, he just twitches his ears, I let the go pro record a bit more before turning it off

PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:34 am
by Greater Orcadia
road to Fresnoy-le-Château
As the road south lay ahead, I set the cruise at 80km/h, able to wind it up a bit now that the rain had eased, the 16 litre straight 6 diesel engine purred sweetly and the gearboox sat in 12th, top gear for this truck, even the traffic news was good, so I was able to press on swiftly to southern France and with a tag in the window, I didnt even have to stop for the toll booths, paying for them would be a but awkward as my steering is on the right of the cabin, not the left as is usual here in France, My truck has 750hp, but there is no badge that says that, it just says FH16 on the front so as a hill appears I take over manual gear control and tap it down 2 cogs, 12th becomes 10th and the revs climb soon Sandy and I are charging up a hill, a rigid DAF in lane 1 is struggling up the hill, barely getting to 60km/h, his load of steel I-beams weighing him down yet for us its onward and upward. I press record on the gopro

"Good afternoon, and for all you flat earthers out there as you can see the earth has hills and its far from flat, unless that is you are in holland where there are no hills", I say, gently making fun of the flat earth lobby as well as the dutch, living in a flat country which has just one high point, Vaalserberg.

" you can see here, this guy to my right is loaded, probably tipping out at twenty five tonnes, thats about as much as in the box on the trailer and yes we're passing him..." I say, giving a toot on the air horns "...and tomorrow the scenery gets beautiful" I say, interrupted by a meow

Eventually the selected rest area appears on the GPS, time to ease off the cruise control and let the truck slow down, its also still relatively, and so I turn off the motorway and then the phone starts to ring, a quick press of the button and its answered, revealing Louise's voice

"hey babe, hows the drive?" I answer, steering the truck into its parking slot

"Aye, not so bad. checking into the cabin for the next two weeks, its nice to be back at sea..." she replies " about you?"

"Didnt make Saint Gerts, Im at the services at Fresnoy le Chateau for tonight and a little behind the plan but nothing serious, plus the weather has eased too so now time to cook some dinner. When you sailing?" I ask

"tonight twenty three forty five, Esbjerg, then its up to Iceland..." louise replies, pausing a moment because of a tannoy message in the background "...ah nothing important, ships T/M wants to speak to a lower rating, And right now Im going to have a look around see if there are any issues that I need to be made aware of. When you getting to Geneva?" asks Louise

"im scheduled to be in there at beteen zero nine hundred and mid day, so looks like Im going to be there at around two, Im having my eleven here" I reply, drawing the curtains of the cab, however there's a square of light shining down into the bunk from the sunroof prompting Sandy to relocate himself to that square "however its been a good run so far" I reply as Louise is interrupted by a knocking on her door, "anyways babe, loves ya but sounds like you got work to do"

"yep, loves ya too Ryan, Its the other captain who I am taking over for his shore leave" she replies before ending the call to attend to work issues aboard the Meridian Atlantic.

With the call to my wife over I sit on the bunk next to Sandy who thinks it funny to bat me with his claw so I scriff him and relocate him to the other side of the bed, but he's having none of it, instantly running back to me and pouncing me!

"oh its like that is it cat, you want to play" I say,

I grab a flash light and aim it at the floor and turn it on, needless to say Sandy pounces the circle of light on the floor and then chases it around as I move it around, although I have to stop and put on my shoes, its time to go and get something but before I do i check the local camping and caravan repair stores and give a call as one has what I am looking for in stock

"Bonjour, I am looking for an earth bonding for a battery to chassis, it says you have a couple in stock, Can you get them to me, I am at the southbound services at Fresnoy-le-chateau?" I ask,

"oui monseiur, we can twenty euros" he replies

"I will take two, how long"" I ask

"about an hour" replies the clerk

"Perfect, See you shortly, I am in a truck with a pirate paint job on the sides and a container on it, give me a call when you get to the service area"

"Okay, we will be on our way once the van gets back"

It takes a few hours before the van gets to me, but soon I have my earth tails so set about putting the second set of batteries back into the circuit before getting the stove out, placing it on the pallet carrier and begin to cook a meal. I see a lot of drivers cooking in the cabin, not me I preffer to cook on the outside that way my truck doesn't smell like a restaurant. Eggs cracked, bacon and sliced ham and some beans quickly get turned into a meal which is downed quicky, after which the stove is put back in the storage box and then its time to relax and walk Sandy

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:08 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Fresnoy - Le - Chateau

After cooking dinner by the side of the container, a bit of a novelty in Greater Orcadia but quite common with our continental friends, and then eating the meal which wasnt bad, I will however need a new gas cylinder sometime between Geneva and Felixstowe as its pressure is beginning to get low now and its taking longer to cook, however thats another matter. Sandy is looking at me hopefully as I stand by the truck with the passenger door open, he lets out a small meow.

"Whats up Sandy?" I say, he just meows, "want a walk?" I ask, he again just meows
"Well let me in cat, it is my truck"

I climbing back into my truck I grab Sandy's leash and clip it to Sandy's collar before picking up Sandy and climbing back down to the ground where I then place Sandy on the floor and close the door, locking it with the remote key, Sandy sniffs the wheel before asserting his territorial claim, then once that is done I begin to walk over to the grassy area his eyes focused and his tail high in excitement, yes he's loving being in new areas, however like any cat he is curious so stops to sniff and study everything, as well as make territorial claims. I spend an hour or so walking with Sandy however getting back to the truck and unlocking the door I lift Sandy into the cabin and climb in before taking my shoes off and placing them back on the step and closing the door to keep the shoes in place. With the leisure batteries for now disconnected I have to run the engine to keep the batteries topped off for the inverter, however about 20 mins after getting back into the cab, the phone starts to ring

"Hello" I say,

"Monseiur MacLaine?" asks a voice on the other end

"Oui, that is me" I reply

"AAH good, I am at the service area, where are you?" asks the person on the other end of the call

"I am in the truck parking, pirate paint truck and a grey container" I reply.

"Oh yes, I see you. give me a few minutes"

"Okay" I reply, reaching for the door to get my shoes on again

Sandy by this time is curled up on the bed as i climb down, wallet in hand to meet the man with the part, We make the transaction, he gives me the earth straps and I hand over the few Euros it cost, then set about the job of refitting the strap which takes around 10 minutes and so with that done, tools packed away its time again to get back in and get some sleep, I have to be on the road again in a few hours.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:40 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Fresnoy - Le - Chateau

After 9 hours sleep I was awoken by the four legged furry alarm clock that is Sandy, he had decided to tap me with his paws, obviously in a previous life he must have been a boxer, also surrounding me was the patter of rain on the roof, yes its raining again however its time to get up and try to get to the border, as I sit on the on the bed I glance over at the clock which is still on London time. - Despite the capital being Edinburgh, the time zone is still noted as being London time, it says 00:45, my wife is now an hour out of Aberdeen so I check the Vessel tracking service and yep she's cruising at twenty knots across the North Sea, I then check the weather for the North Sea, turns out my wife has better weather than me, I glance at Sandy as I get dressed again

"I suppose you want ya dinner then I take it?" I say,

Sandy just meows as I lift up the bed and get small packet of Kittybits and shake them, prompting more meowing, he knows whats coming!

Reaching into the box I take a handful of kittybits and hold them out in front of Sandy and carefully he takes his food from my hand, after which he then gets given a small bowl of milk and cereal, yes weetabix! he soon laps it up and before I go anywhere its time to wash the bowl, however that can wait till I have had my own breakfast so grabbing another bowl I then make my own breakfast and yes Sandy begs in vain. The rain starts to come down even harder now as I make my way over to the services to wash the bowls. However once that is done I make my way over to the truck again and set about the task of starting my shift, setting the tacho to other work from its rest setting before putting the bowls away with Sandy watching intently however its time to do the pretrip so its back outside again in the wet.

There nothing enjoyable about doing a pretrip in the wet however it has to be done so carefully i go around the truck, the same routine time and time again but with that out of the way I can get back inside and get rolling and once inside my wet jacket gets placed over the passenger seat as I set about getting my papers sorted prior to heading to Switzerland, then once that is done its time to get the truck rolling so I turn the key. Moments later the 16 litre straight 6 is purring and Sandy is asleep in his favourite place, between the seats, curled up in a little ball however I hear behind me the sound of a reversing beeper so I glance in the mirror and see someone backing up so give the horn a sounding, there is a hiss of air from the truck behind me. The driver gets out and comes to see what the fuss is about, he looks a bit shocked but not as shocked as he would have been had he reversed another meter judging by his reaction, and so I put the truck into drive, turn the headlights back on and release the brakes then slowly ease out of the rest area.

For now, its a steady run down to the Swiss border

PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:23 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Leaving the rest area - heading to the border
Heading through the rest area carpark I can now sit back and relax, this time of the morning the roads are empty, many trucks are sat parked up for the night but me, Im on the road heading for the Swiss border and once past the exit signs I floor it, allowing all 750hp to get to work and briskly accellerate the truck upto 80km/h, the dual clutch box doing its thing hopping through the gears with no loss of momentum as the truck pulls hard, signalling left i merge into traffic, glancing in the mirror to see if its clea before committing myself, then merging into lane 1.

Sandy by this stage has curled up again on my bed and I tap the record button on the gopro sitting in the windscreen

"Good morning, Yes its me again and I'm heading south again, its [checking the tacho clock] dark o'clock and welcome to the autoroute. Yesterday I left my wife to go to sea, she's now at sea heading to Esbjerg then off to Iceland whilst I head to Switzerland, its a few hours to the border and I have my papers in order Sandy is lying down behind me in the bed, he's done his thing so is time to get a move on" I say in a near newscaster style
"Then from the border its a run to Geneva, and it looks like it might just be a good day, so I will let the camera film some of the night roads before pausing this clip."

At 80km/h its a fair run but its relaxing, and after a few minutes I pause the gopro and turn the stereo on, tuning into a relaxing radio station as I cruise down the highway towards the border with the first rays of the morning sun starting to appear. The station plays some pop music, French style which certainly helps the miles pass by, after all this far south, OBC Radio2 is not going to be picked up so no chance to listen to popmaster with Ken!

I glance in the mirror, 2 lights coming up behind me, then with a roar from an exhaust, its a blur past the truck as what ever it was, looked like some hot hatch, probably a Golf i think goes whizzing by like my truck was in reverse, I hit the insta capture button on the dashboard for the dashcam, then later on hit record on the gopro as the traffic slows down, 2 young guys standing looking very sheepish by the side of a somewhat wrecked VW Golf...

"Are we there yet? NO! however we wil be getting there, unlike these two guys here, they came flying by a while ago and now look, their car has ripped up some crash barrier, kicked up a load of gravel which is lethal for motorbikers, and for what, all to get somewhere a little earlier, well now they're going to have to do some explaining to do, and that car didnt look that old either so his premiums are going up"

I pause the gopro and continue on, and by now its getting light and soon i pick up signs for the Swiss border...

The journey continues

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:59 pm
by Greater Orcadia
Heading to Switzerland
Heading down the motorway now, Its a relaxing drive with the straight 6 purring below, though it could easily be Sandy, he likes to purr, as the sun begins to rise, casting shadows across the Autoroute I lean forward and press resume on the gopro.

"Good Morning, We have a few miles to go then its a border area, and yes its that time of day when I need to get my papers stamped, the transit carnet is ready and waiting, my passport and Sandy's passport, yes a passport for a cat are in the drawer so all i need to do is reach over and grab them. Now, you have seen Sandy in the videos on numerous occasions, and probably seen the video where I found him, however for those who don't know much about him, go back a few months and you will see the video, however for those who dont want to, and if you have watched this long you have done well, REALLY well, so let me tell you about him and how he came to be part of the family" I pause momentarily, glancing in the left mirror, "...Well he was adopted, I think his mother abandonned him as when I was in a parking lot a while ago I was walking around doing a post trip and there he was, curled up in a ball covered in sand so picked him up and put him inside the truck, he was shivvering, his eyes had just opened as well so he was really young and the beach is no place for a lone kitten. From there it was a case of I had to play the part of the mother cat and now I have a cute ball of fur as a travelling companion"

Heading down the road a bit further, the sign for the border soon appears, Switzerland 20km so I pull into a rest area for a moment and go through the papers, making sure that all the carnets are there however the stop was only a brief one so I dont even turn off the engine however I do pour some water for Sandy and hand him a kitty bit whilst I make myself a cup of tea before proceeding on with the trip, the gopro catching most of what goes on, then its time to roll again, papers in a folder next to the passports, next stop - Swiss border...

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:17 am
by Greater Orcadia
Swiss Border
As I head down the Autoroute the speed limit starts to drop, this brings me down to a queue of trucks heading to or through Switzerland, containers, box trucks, curtain trucks flat beds and small vans of all types, however my Volvo was just one of a number of trucks. I glance over to Sandy, he's asleep on the passenger seat now, so I return my eyes to facing ahead as by now we are not so much cruising but crawling, barely 5km/h, a glance in the mirror reveals a view of a small motorcycle filtering through the traffic, so I tap the record button on the gopro

"Aaaah here we are, the majestic swiss border, My papers are easily accessible and waiting for the border guard's inspection"

Eventually I reach the inspection station, a borderguard points to my truck then points to a lane that was empty so with a flash of the high beam headlights I follow his instructions and park up in the lane assigned to me, set the park brake and turn the engine off as a man comes to the door just as I open the window and lean out of it.

"Bonjour Monseiur, how are you today?" I ask

"Good morning Sir I am well, and you?" replies the official "May I see your papers?"

"Sure, come on up, I'll open the door for your I reply, before reaching over to the door unlock button, triggering the passenger side lock, then I undo my seat belt and get to the passenger seat, scooping up a snoozing cat and placing him on the bed, Sandy protests with a meow before getting under the duvet.

The border guard opens the door and enters the cab, his eyes taking in the cabin
"Nice truck you have sir, your papers please?" he says.

"In the pocket there sir" I reply, pointing at the small pocket by the dashboard

The border guard picks up the papers, V5, Insurance, MOT for truck and trailer, cargo documents, my passport, Sandy's passport
"Sir, where is the cat?"

I thumb point to the bed, and a large lump under the quilt
"Sandy, SANDY, come here" I call

Sandy sticks his head out then jumps over to my lap as the border guard checks his passport then checks the documents,
"Sir can you show me the identity certificate for the truck please"

I put Sandy back on the bed then look at the border guard,
"Sure, its in the locker behind your seat" I reply, opening the door and climbing down to the ground, closing the door begind me and waking around to the passenger side as the border guard also climbs down, once on the passenger seat I pull the release cord and the hatch springs open revealing the certificate that gives the VIN and weights.

"Merci" replies the border guard, he checks the VIN against the V5 European identity documents "looks good sir" comments the guard as he stands back to admire the paint work "I like the paint scheme sir, I dont see many like this, especially working trucks. How much did it all cost? he asks,

"about ten thousand Euros on top of the base price with all the accessories like the bull bar, rear pipes, LED kit and rear lights, then my wife got me the reg plate this year for Christmas"

The border guard seemed impressed "now sir, back to business, I have to search the truck, is there anything that I may find that would be classed as contraband?" he asks

"No Sir, feel free to search" I reply, fully confident that there is nothing illegal on board.

The border guard calls over his partner and begin to search the cabin. starting with the trailer lockers, then the cabin, they do however put everything back in place
"can you hold your cat first please?" asks the border guard

"sure, just let me get his harness and lead" I reply, climbing back into the cabin to get the lead and clipping it to Sandy's harness and putting the harness onto Sandy before climbing down, this allows me to walk around the truck and give Sandy some time to stretch his legs as the guards search the cabin.

The guards search the cabin before exiting and making their way over to the office with the paperwork and return to check the seal, carrying with them a small rubber stamp, here they check the bolt seal against the paperwork before stamping the paperwork and handing it to me
"Welcome to Switzerland sir" comments the borderguard, handing me the documents back"Have a good trip"

"Thank you sir" I reply, placing Sandy in the cab before climbing back in.

Once inside, I close the door, release Sandy's harness and put that in the door pocket as Sandy makes himself comfortable again, and with that done, the paperwork is put back in its original housing and then with the paperwork in place, I put the key in the ignition again and get the engine started as the barrier goes up so then I reach around for the seatbelt and clip in before flicking the gears to drive on the seat mounted I-shift console and then gently pull out of the border station...

Blue text denotes French language

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:28 pm
by Greater Orcadia
The run to Geneva

The efficiency of the Swiss border guards is something to behold, no from the arrival to the departure took just thirty minutes and so pulling out of the border station its back onto the Swiss motorway network to make a the final push to Geneva, I ring the office...

"Planning Office, Claudia speaking" comes a voice from the other end of the line

"Hi Claudia, just checking in, I'm not far off the drop point now, can you plan me a reload please" I ask.

"Sure, where you dropping?"

"Geneva" I reply

"Okay, I will see what I can do, though there's nothing in that area of Switzerland at the moment, how does Italy sound?"

"Umm, Err Italian" I joke

"oh Ryan, you twat, you know what I mean"

Giggling, I can not help it, "sounds good" i reply

"Okay Ryan, leave it with me. Might have a good one for ya"

After which I hang up, reach forward and press [record] on the gopro and begin to film.
"Well yes I am now in Switzerland, Gods country, nothing but mountains, mountains and more mountains, oh and toblerone bars, the border guards were efficient, even the ever efficient Germans would struggle to have matched the guards I have, in and out in thirty minutes, and as you can expect, Sandy is missing all of this for he's sleeping again, So now you can sit back and enjoy the drive for we are about to go down one of my favourite roads however before we do, I want to show you the pass"

I leave the camera rolling for a bit as I turn off the main motorway and onto a local road which winds its way to a rest area with a stunning vista before stopping the truck. With the truck stopped I get a drone out, clip a go pro to it and set it to record before sending the drone up into the sky to get some panoramic shots of the rest area, the wining road and a waterfall, the footage taken is around 15 minutes in duration, though once the drone is safely stowed in the truck, its time to continue, the final push towards Geneva.

The road is a string of hair pin bends, as it clings to the side of the mountain as it drops in elevation down towards Geneva, providing some stunning scenery as it does so, and with the gopro in the windscreen recording, inevitably I come up behind a tourist in a car pulling a caravan, I dont blame them one bit for going slowly, the scenery is stunning, the slower they go, the more they see, however once they pull into a viewing area on the way down, I sieze the opportunity and accellerate past them, making my way towards Geneva. Once in Geneva, its time to find the drop point and once there, the guard on the gate checks the paperwork and points to the loading area so with little else its a case of pull into the spot and wait.

the Forklift driver comes over and soon the back doors are open and boxes are being moved as an efficient team of Polish and Slovakian labourers go to work, the Forklift comes up, lifts its pallet up and the 2 labourers stack produce onto the pallet which once full is driven off and another brought in its place, however due to the sheer number of boxes to hand ball off the back, it takes around 6 hours to unload, so once that is done and the paperwork signed, I then make my way out of the gates and park up for a bit more to wait for that call for the next load. - Picking up a printing machine to be delivered to Denmark from Italy.

Such is the life of a Box Rat!