I was 22 years old and drove a new 4 wheeled Dodge Kew, it had a 6 cylinder Chrysler petrol engine, there was no cab heater and no warmth from the engine which was out front.
The cargo was straw, baled straw, destination 200 miles away at Cardiff. The owner strove to load it with 8 tons, he was satisfied if he achieved that weight, it was almost impossible to do without making the journey perilous in the extreme. The lorry was extended at the front, at the back and foot overhang each side. It was top heavy and would sway alarmingly....even in wind.
I would be required to leave at midnight from Peterborough irrespective of weather conditions. My pay was £7 per week with £1 added for every load delivered to Cardiff. (3 loads each week)
Every mile of the journey was on A roads, there were no M/Ways in the early 50's.
Village after village, with pubs still open in the early hours and bikes leaning against the roadside, I was envious of them.
Occasionally, other straw loads eased past me, some with multi axles and much more stable to drive, some not loaded so greedily and able to move along without concentrating on balance. I envied them too.
I overtook none and was overtaken by all. I didn't mind, I was driving, I had responsibility and I was earning my living that is all that mattered. That sort of thinking was prevalent at that time. We had only recently emerged from the horrors of 6 years of world war 2.
I would press on until at times I would hallucinate through extreme tiredness and concentration. My attempts at sleep prior to the trip were always interrupted by thoughts of what lay ahead.
Through the centre of Northampton, a short stop at Little John's cafe then on again, Towecester, Brackley, on to Witney and the A40. A policeman stops me....'You cannot travel on the A40, conditions are too bad' I told him I would travel on it as other routes were far too dangerous. I will wait here until it is safe or you leave, one way or another I will use it. I did use it.
I once spent 4 hours at the West End cafe in Gloucester waiting for the wind to drop before I dare enter Wales.
Even the I had to go the long way round, via Monmouth as the Chepstow arch was too low to go under.
Each trip was an adventure and one I would not undertake today if I was given all the money in the world.