Friday, 2 March 2012

The view from my cab...

I knew I should have pulled my finger out and got updating my blog as now there is so much to tell you all that I am not sure where to start. Lets begin by sitting beside Scotland's busiest road with two horses on the back of my broken down lorry. Yes that was a day I will remember for a long time. I was on my way to the Clyde Vet Group with Amelie and Garth loaded up when there was an almighty explosion under my lorry. I stopped at once and saw clouds of black smoke billowing out from the back. I got out, had a look underneath and was alarmed to see that the truck was nearly on fire. Both of my back brake discs were glowing orange like mini suns. Panic swept over me as I was just at the end of a slipway joining the motorway so I had three lanes of traffic roaring past me, plus the two lanes on the other side and a steel barrier on the left of me - there was no where to let the horses off if fire caught hold - I would have caused a pile-up. I went and got my phone and kept an eye on everything while I called my horsebox breakdown number.

Luckily the bang of my two back tyres exploding (caused by the heat) seemed to have stopped me in time to avert fire, as the smoke died down so I calmed down a bit.

Thankfully Big Brother was watching me..
Now I have never been a fan of CCTV cameras everywhere but I was very grateful that they run the length of the M8 because someone monitoring them had seen my lorry stop with smoke puring out, the me peering ineffectually under it and they alerted Peter and Stevie, two great guys who work for BEAR Scotland. They turned up in their yellow van within 15 minutes. They then turned on their huge flashing yellow arrow which made sure that other drivers gave the truck more room. This settled the horses down, as the big HGV's flying past were making it sway and Ams was finding that unnerving. Peter and Stevie then sat there with me all day and were excellent company when it was all getting very cold and boring!

The view from my cab - Jim's massive tow truck waiting to take me away!
To cut a long story short getting me and the horses safely off the road eventually involved a cast of 8 people roadside, including two policemen, plus a lovely lady making various phone calls on my behalf. As everything took so long it was decided that shutting the M8 while I offloaded the horses was no longer an option as we were now well into rush hour, so it was decided that the safest thing to do was to tow the truck, with the horses still in it, to a quiet place where they could be loaded onto a rescue lorry. By this time it was after 5pm and Garth and Ams had been patiently standing munching haynets in the truck since 11am. They were fantastic though - it was as if they wanted to get home too - they loaded straight onto the other lorry and eventually we arrived back home at around 6.30pm. My lorry was towed by the cheery Jim with his huge tow truck back to my mechanics.

I make sure that my horse transport is always well maintained and in all the years that I have been driving horseboxes and trailers around that's the first time that I have ever had a major breakdown. I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to get me and my horses home safely - it was a pretty Herculean operation.

Check your cover
Just a word to the wise though for everyone that has horsebox breakdown cover - double check your policy. A few weeks ago before this a friend of mine broke down in her truck and duly called her horsebox breakdown assist, only to be told that it covered the recovery of the lorry but NOT the horses. She then had to pay a fortune for the horsebox that took her horses home. Now I always assumed that my cover took care of the horses as well but I thought I should double check. When I called the NFU they told me that my breakdown package also only covered the lorry and not the cost of getting the horses home but that they could add this for a very minimal fee which I asked them to do. So if you aren't sure exactly what your policy covers it might be worth that quick phonecall.

I am also really glad that I opt to pay slightly more for a policy that covers the whole incident rather than a pay-per-use policy as I happen to know that my bill for that day for mechanics and tow trucks etc came to a staggering £1600.

Onwards and upwards..
Anyway my truck is now fixed plus has a shiny new fire extinguisher (I will never again leave home without one) and the least said about the bill for mending that the better however, on the plus side, two weeks later when I reloaded Ams to try to get to the vets again she walked on with no problems so the trip obviously didn't faze her too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment