Monday 30th June – Sunday 6th July
Some of my blog readers commented on the photograph of the German converted Fire Engine that I published in a recent post, they seemed surprised that the ‘Caravan Club’ would allow such vehicles onto their sites !! Well, here’s another that spent a night on our site just recently……………….
Some of our club sites are for ‘members only’ but here at Morvich we also take ‘non-members’, of all descriptions…
Lots of reasons to get excited this week, first and foremost this particular week marks the half way point in our current and first year’s contract as Assistant Wardens here at Morvich in the Scottish Highlands, every week that now passes is one week closer to boarding our ‘pre-booked’ ferry to Northern Spain for our second Winter trip. We also have a big decision to make as on Wednesday, as I may have mentioned in a previous post, is the day that our Regional Manager would be visiting the site and during that visit, as part of our one-to-one performance reviews, would be wanting to know our choice of ‘Region‘ that we wanted to work on next season. Shazza and I have discussed this several times over recent weeks and it was either a choice of staying in Scotland or selecting a different region ‘South’ of the Border. However, we would be leaving Scotland at the end of our current contract before ‘they’ actually take their ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘ vote on breaking away from being part of the ‘United Kingdom‘ and becoming an ‘Independent‘ country in their own right. If they vote ‘Yes’ then, initially at least, they will not be part of the ‘European Union’ so the question is, if we elected to return to Scotland in 2015 would we need to apply for a ‘Work Permit‘ ? On a serious note however, I guess the really important thing in this decision would actually be whether he, our Regional Manager’ wanted us to remain on his region !! If he were to suggest for example that for ‘our‘ wider experience he felt it important for us to try ‘other‘ regions then we would have our answer.
The weather on Tuesday had been scorching, from early morning to late in the evening and with the site now being less than half full we had a great opportunity to get out and service lots of the empty pitches. Sometimes I wish that I had all day to spend doing the groundwork, however, it was Terry & Ennyd’s day off so the morning, up until 2pm, was taken up with ‘Bin Run’, then cleaning of the Laundry Block and then the Toilets & Showers and then lunch. This only gave us around three hours to do groundwork in the afternoon before returning and cleaning the equipment. Shazza also likes to get out onto site so whilst she took off on ‘Freddie’ with the Hedge trimmer, rake and leaf blower, I set about tidying up the outside of the office and the equipment compound. When she returned we had a quick cuppa and then we locked the office and we both went to the front of the site entrance and strimmed down the grass that was just beginning to make the entrance look a bit shabby and untidy. Whilst I took the trailer full of grass and hedge trimmings to the grass dump Shazza cleaned, re-fuelled and put away the equipment. We closed the office at 6pm and went to get our evening meal, which, true to form meant that just as we sat down to eat the bell sounded, all of our pre-booked guests had already checked in so this meant that it was un-booked ‘drop ins’, oh well it’s all part of the variety of the job I suppose !!
Wednesday arrived and the anticipated visit by our Regional Manager. Weather wise it was a cloudy overcast day with a very strong wind blowing but we just got on with our normal routines. We had to wait until after lunch for our one-to-one with him and he stated that Terry & Ennyd were both really pleased with our performances to date. We were really chuffed when he commented that we were much more advanced in our site knowledge and procedures and our level of practical skills than the majority of his other ‘first season Assistants’. Then the moment of truth, we were both really pleased when he said that he would be more than happy for us to remain on his region, however, we had yet to inform him that we didn’t actually want to work on the majority of the other sites on the Western or Northern areas of his region !! However, we explained our reasoning and we did suggest three sites on the South East of his region that we would be more than happy to be contracted to, he said that he was happy to take away our ‘preferred’ choices, so although we do know that we are very likely to get one of those sites get we have a sneaky suspicion that he will ask us to go to the one in Edinburgh. The reason we think that this may be the case is that he already knows that unlike a lot of Assistant Wardens, who want or need to be working the majority of the year, we do not want or need a long contract, in fact we would be happy with just another four-month summer contract like this one, unfortunately there are very few of these across the whole of the club network, the majority are eight months summer contracts. There are sites that are ‘Open all Year’ so those who want or need the income generally do an eight month summer contract, two month winter contract and two months off. However, he knows that once we finish at the end of the summer season we go straight across to Europe in the Motorhome to spend the Winter over there and the earlier our contract finishes the better. So when ‘he‘ put the suggestion to us that ‘if he were‘ to allocate us to Edinburgh he could change the contract so that we finished in September, rather than November, as it was a three couple site, it seemed as if he had already decided where he wanted to put us !! Our other two alternative choice of sites were only two couple sites which he said he was unable to change the start and finish dates, March to November. So whilst Edinburgh was not our ‘first choice’ of preferred sites, I think we can safely put money on where we will be working next season !! Shazza is actually getting quite excited at the prospect of spending six months living and working in the city of Edinburgh. We have enjoyed short touring holidays there in the past and know both the site and also where all the essential off site facilities are located, like the big Morrissons superstore !! We have already enjoyed the festival atmosphere of the ‘Fringe‘ but as yet we have never managed to book to see the ‘Royal Military Tatoo‘ at Edinburgh Castle so that would be another first. We would also have the luxury of ‘Wuxly’ to travel about in, previously we only had a Motorhome which tended to restrict us to more localised travel on public transport and also, it was a direct route on the A1 from Doncaster to Edinburgh so handy for Shazza to get back home in a hurry if the situation arose. So all in all, Edinburgh would make a good second location for us as Assistant Wardens and with a September finish we would then get another extended winter trip in Europe. I think I may just have sold myself on the idea !! But it’s no point trying to second guess his decision, after all he has a lot of people on his region, some who also may want to remain in Scotland and who may have their own preferences, so he will have to try to accommodate their wishes as well. Whatever will happen will happen and any one of the three locations we have put forward will still be new for us, new explorations to be conducted and yet another new adventure so for us it really is a ‘Win Win’ situation !!
However, back to the here and now and if I get my hands on the person who has flicked the weather switch !! After a mainly dry, if somewhat gloomy and breezy day on Wednesday, it was quite a different story on Thursday as we awoke to heavy rain and strong, and I mean really strong, winds !! I was getting a little concerned because at the end of the day we only had a ‘wind blocker’ which isn’t actually really meant for strong winds, more like strong breezes. Although I was pleased that it was holding up quite well, it was taking a pretty hefty beating and the fabric is not as thick as that used on proper awnings. The problem that I had was that there was probably more risk of damaging the roll out part of the Motorhome awning if I tried to put it away in these conditions, right now it was firmly secured to the ground with two steel rock pegs through each of the two adjustable corner supports, then there were two storm straps to the front and a storm strap across the awning which was more to stop the awning ‘slap’ when the wind lifted the fabric, then the wind blocker itself was pegged down at ground level at numerous strategic points, so in its current position it would be more likely that it would be the ‘wind blocker‘ material that would rip rather than any damage caused to the actual roll out part of the Awning. We decided to leave it as it was, for the time being at least and so just inspected the rock pegs to ensure that all were still well secured in the ground. We got through the day on Thursday without incident, the wind had eased considerably, however later during the early hours of Friday morning we were woken up, twice, by the noise of the Gale Force wind and torrential rain pounding on the roof and windows of ‘Big Momma’. The frantic flapping of the ‘wind blocker’ fabric and the rattling of poles had me really worried, I had visions of the ‘wind blocker‘ fabric being in shreds and that the roof poles would be twisted and bent or broken, so I had to get up and check it out. The clock reflected that it was 03:15am and after pulling on a pair of shorts and my fleeced hoodie I stepped outside into the morning light, I had quite forgotten that we only have around four and a half hours of darkness up here at this time of year. I did a quick visual inspection and apart from the noise created by the very strong gusts of wind as it hit the very flimsy fabric, everything looked to be in order, the roof poles were still in position, albeit that they too were rattling in the wind. Outside the storm straps were still in place and all but one of the rock pegs were still secure in the ground so basically it was just very, very noisy !! We knew that at the weekend we would have to take the ‘wind blocker’ down and roll in the awning anyway, as on Monday we would be taking ‘Big Momma’ off site to Inverness to have a new electric heating element installed in the Truma Combi Boiler. We took the decision to take down the Wind Blocker and roll in the Awning on Friday, when we would have an afternoon off and we hoped that the rain would stop and the gale force wind would have eased.
I think that I have mentioned before that when the site isn’t full, we put a sign on the door that says “Arrivals after 8pm, find a pitch and book in and pay in the morning. Emergencies only Ring the Bell”. So when the bell rang at 9:15pm I went out to see what the ’emergency’ was, and found two ‘Chinese’ males who asked if they could stay the night on our site. It had been raining since tea-time and it was still drizzling and they both looked very tired. There was no sign of any vehicle, they were not carrying rucksacks so I enquired as to what sort of accommodation they were looking for. They said that they were in a Motorhome and, when asked, stated that they were not members. Non-members pay an additional ten pounds a night on the pitch fee. I asked how many people and they said six adults and one child !! I told them the non-members price and they were happy to pay. I think that looking at how tired they looked I could have quoted double the cost and they still would have been willing to pay it ! They disappeared and a couple of minutes later appeared in one of those ‘Motorhome Hire Vehicles’. After showing them were all the facilities were located they went off to find a pitch for the night. For some reason I could not settle, there was something about their manner that said to me that they didn’t appear to be seasoned campers or too knowledgable about this sort of camping. I went back out into the miserable damp night and located where they had pitched. Immediately I could see that they were not sure on how to hook up to the electric supply so I took the EHU cable from them and connected it, explaining what to do. I asked if they were now happy and the ‘driver’ asked me if I could show him how he turned the interior lights on !! He invited me inside the vehicle where I came face to face with the ‘family’, Grandma & Grandad, Mum & Dad (dad being the driver) and three children or relatives. I familiarised myself with the switches on the control panel above the door and then showed ‘the driver‘ how he confirmed that he was on ‘Mains‘ electric, then I pressed the ‘lighting power on‘ switch and when the internal lights came on they all clapped their hands, smiles beamed across their faces and they made one of those ‘Oooooh‘ sounds as if I was a magician that had just pulled a rabbit out of a hat !! Then ‘the driver’ asked how the water worked, I pressed another switch on the panel, the ‘Water Pump‘, and turned on the tap in the kitchen sink. When the water started to flow their was another round of applause, even bigger smiles on all their faces and another one of those ‘Oooooh’ sounds. I asked if they needed to know anything else and when they said no, and thanked me for the ‘umpteenth‘ time, I left them to it. On my walk back to ‘Big Momma’ I couldn’t help but wonder how long they had been ‘on the road’ without knowing, or working out for themselves, how everything worked. The ‘hire’ firm would have given them the usual handover instructions but to be honest this would have been done so quickly that they would not have remembered most of it before they even pulled off the forecourt. As I was going about my routine duties the following morning I saw our ‘Chinese’ Motorhomers at the Motor Van Service Point, emptying their Grey waste and filling their fresh water, ‘the driver’ beckoned me over and as I got near to the driver’s side window, six beaming smiling faces appeared at the ‘dinette/lounge‘ window and waved, they had obviously had a good nights sleep with ‘Mains’ power to provide lighting and power to operate the other on-board facilities, they would of course have had power through the leisure battery but if they didn’t know how to turn it all on at the control panel then how on earth had they been managing. At least now though they could enjoy the remainder of their holiday in a little more comfort. ‘The driver’ thanked me again and said that he would be back to see us next year.
It was a very wet and windy start to the day on Friday but the duties don’t stop because of the weather. I donned my bright orange wet weather jacket (the dry suit we were issued with on last weeks RIB adventure would have been better) and prayed that ‘Freddie’ wouldn’t let me down, he didn’t and off I went on the ‘Bin Run’ whilst Shazza looked after the office stuff. Bin run completed I donned my green ‘marigolds’ and went and cleaned the Laundry facilities building. Ennyd arrived at 10:45 and so after a quick cuppa Shazza and I went across to clean the Shower block and then that was it, our long-awaited day and a half off commenced. After a quick-lunch I then set about dismantling the ‘Wind Blocker’, it was still gusty but I had Shazza on stand-by in case it got a bit more ‘interesting’ when it came time to unsecure the corner supports on the roll out Awning ! Whether it was ‘divine intervention’ or just sheer good luck I don’t know but when it came time to ‘pull the rock pegs’ the rain stopped and the wind became a gentle breeze. The roll out awning was put away with no problems and with no assistance from Shazza required, she was able to get all our wet work gear into the washing machine.
So as we start Week 10 of 18 and bring this weeks blog post to its conclusion, I know that a lot of the regular followers of my ramblings will be disappointed at the absence of a ‘Shazza Adventure’, or more accurately, the lack of any photographs. Unfortunately, the change to our working rota this week has had a detrimental impact on our nomadic explorations, although to be honest the weather would also have prevented any travels even if our rota hadn’t changed. We had briefly discussed a day of ‘Kayaking‘ but our first priority is getting the van sorted ready for the work on the boiler. This is located under the hinged bed storage area so we have had to re-locate our worldly possessions from under the bed to another ‘temporary’ location, but hopefully, weather permitting, normal service on the ‘Adventure’ front will be resumed as soon as possible, after all, there are not too many days off remaining……………………………..