Manchester Evening News

How love blossomed on Bobby’s epic drive

Former business owner met soulmate during 10,000-mile road trip

- By TOM CAMPBELL & CHRIS SLATER

A MAN from Wigan who started driving to Australia in a truck with only his dog for company found love just a fortnight into his trip.

Bobby Bolton, 31, fell ‘head over heels’ after meeting a French woman on a hilltop in Saint-Tropez.

The equally smitten Marie Deleval, 28, dropped everything to join him on his epic 10,000-mile journey, and the pair have now reached the Bosnian border.

Bobby has spent the past four months driving across Europe in his expedition truck, an 18-tonne HGV, which he has transforme­d into a ‘bougie home on wheels.’

He decided he wanted to see the world after handing over his company RNB Constructi­on to his business partner and selling almost all his belongings.

So far Bobby has crossed through France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Croatia and is currently parked on the Bosnia-Montenegro border, near the town of Foca.

When Bobby started his world tour last autumn, he was a single man with his seven-year-old fox red Labrador, Red, his only companion, after separating from his fiancée in March 2022. However, it took only two weeks for Cupid’s arrow to strike.

He met Marie on a hilltop overlookin­g the bay of Saint Tropez and the pair have been travelling together ever since with Marie’s pet Rubia, a three-year-old Swiss shepherd dog, also joining them.

It has not all been fun, however, and the pair have had to overcome serious challenges along the way, including getting stuck in the Bosnian mountains after the fuel in Bobby’s overland expedition truck froze.

Luckily, they were able to warm up the tank with a hairdryer and escape the sub-zero temperatur­es. “Experience­s are better off shared, in my opinion,” Bobby said. “Being able to overcome these challenges together and having someone to bounce off is so much better. The highs are higher and the lows are lower.

“The best bits are the daily adventures, climbing mountains, skiing, paddle boarding ... we’re on turbocharg­e with adventures. But travelling during the winter is really difficult because it’s been -10°C or below for the past two weeks.”

Bobby left the UK on October 1 2023 after selling almost all his belongings and buying an 18-tonne truck which he converted into an amazing mobile home, which boasts a king-size bed, air conditioni­ng, a standing fridge, a bathroom and fullsize grill and oven.

He headed straight for France’s Mediterran­ean coast and spent a couple of days relaxing and exploring the region.

“I made a pit stop there because packing your life up and starting a big trip is actually exhausting,” he said. “So I got to the south of France and just chilled in the sun fto recharge my batteries, ready for what was coming.” It was here that Bobby met Marie after climbing San Peire to admire the sunset.

“I was a sucker because it was like week two of the trip,” said Bobby. “I stood there, overlookin­g the bay of Saint-Tropez and then suddenly there was a rustle in the trees. When I turned around, a good-looking French girl with her dog had just run up to the top of the mountain.

“I plucked up the courage to say, ‘hello, do you speak English?’ A few awkward sentences later she ran off but managed to take the Instagram of the truck door. She sent me a message and we organised a beach date with the dogs the next day, which went well.”

Marie, who was at the point of buying a house and was studying for her sports diploma, decided she could not miss out on the “opportunit­y of a lifetime”.

She said: “If you had told me that

I feel like meeting Marie on top of the mountain is part of the story, and so I’m letting it play out Bobby Bolton

one day I would meet Bobby on top of a mountain, I would never have believed it. Now I’m travelling to Australia in a truck, which I’ve always dreamed of, but I had stopped thinking about it, and was doing other things.

“I was studying and was about to buy an apartment and now I’m here in a truck with Bobby and our two dogs, who get on really well. It’s a dream come true.”

Bobby said the journey has so far been ‘eye-opening’ and that people should not jump to conclusion­s about countries without visiting them first.

“It’s great to debunk the myths about some of the countries,” he said. “You read about countries in the media and it puts you off. For example, Bosnia, all I ever had heard about was the war and now I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the country.”

Driving across Europe during the winter has been challengin­g for the couple and their pet pooches. “Yesterday, all of our water froze and we’re inside the truck from about half four every evening, so you go mad,” Bobby said.

“The boiler has frozen three times. I got stuck badly in the mountains around Lake Como and I crashed into an ancient Italian archway near Turin in Italy.”

But the hairiest situation happened a few days ago when temperatur­es in the Bosnian mountains dropped below -13°C.

“That was the hardest thing, because we were on top of the mountain, at like 2,000m, on a paved mountain track, but there was about 10 or 12 inches of snow on the ground,” Bobby said.

“The fuel froze because I did not have any additive, there was no way of getting any sort of rescue and I was

worried about running the battery flat by trying to start it up. So we had to use a hairdryer to try and warm it up.”

He also snapped the truck’s chassis while off-roading in France and spent two days fixing it on the side of the road after having a metal plate specially welded.

Despite these nail-biting moments, Labrador Red has remained unfazed. “He’s a legend, always wagging his tail no matter what we do,” said Bobby.

The couple are planning on crossing the border into Montenegro next, before heading further east. “So far, travelling around Europe has been pretty straightfo­rward,” he said.

“But we are just starting our proper visa applicatio­ns for places like Kazakhstan, Afghanista­n and Myanmar. They are three complicate­d ones that we need to go to embassies for.”

Bobby is looking forward to his father Mark, 60, a truck driver, coming to visit them in Turkey so that he can use his expertise. “There are already a few things that I want him to fix,” he said.

“As soon as he lands, it won’t be to a beach, it will be straight to a car park and we’ll be underneath the truck and getting the tools out.”

While Bobby had initially planned on driving the 10,500-plus miles from Wigan to Australia alone, he is glad to have company.

“It felt like fate because I was trying to decide whether this was a solo trip or whether meeting her was part of the story,” he said. “I feel like meeting Marie on top of the mountain is part of the story and so I’m letting it play out.”

To find out more, follow Bobby on Instagram at @one.life. truck.it.

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 ?? ?? Bobby’s truck has encountere­d numerous problems along the way
Bobby’s truck has encountere­d numerous problems along the way
 ?? ?? Bobby and Marie met at the top of a mountain in southern France
Bobby and Marie met at the top of a mountain in southern France

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