Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats And Dogs !!

I had stated in one of my latter ‘posts’ that I would not be writing about our ‘Elf & Elfette’ duties in this our second season. However, it would appear, from some Emails that I have received from some readers of my ramblings, that there are others contemplating a similar part-time ‘seasonal’ lifestyle. Whilst I still do not intend repeating the ‘general’ day to day stuff, we didn’t work a full season last year, so there are some things that we didn’t get an opportunity to do, namely ‘Opening’ a site in preparation for the new season, so for those who are interested, this particular post will give a brief overview of what is involved on all sites that are not ‘Open All Year’.

We had arrived on site one week earlier than the Campers so that we could ‘Open’ the site after the ‘Winter’ close down period. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that ‘all’ the facilities within the two buildings on site needed cleaning, the main Office, Reception, Information Room and of course the ‘Utilities Block’, Ladies and Gents Toilets & Showers, Chemical Disposal Point, Baby & Toddlers Room, Dishwashing Area, Disabled Facilities and Laundry Room. This was no ‘Lick and a Spit’ clean and ‘Avril and Shazza’ spent three full days deep cleaning everything, including washing walls, doors, pipework and all windows as well as the normal stuff, showers, toilets and sinks. Of course, Dougie and I were only there to supervise so we sat on the tractor and scrutinised there every move, pointing out bits that they had missed. Yeah right, as if…………. !!

We ‘boys’ had all the external groundwork to do, fortunately, as Dougie and Avril had arrived before us, he had managed to get all of the grass cut, however, there was a little matter of removing all of the window boards that had been screwed or bolted in place and return them to the store, remove all the drainage boards on the ‘Service Points’, re-fit all the taps to the service points, put all the Dustbins out onto each Service point and then cleaning all the white ceramic drain points at each Service Point. Then it was putting out the Fire Bells, Fire Boxes ‘and Fire Extinguishers before finally finishing off the Service Points by re-fitting all the appropriate signage. Next job was checking all the Electric Points were switched on and working on each EHU around the site, including the mandatory check of each ‘trip switch’. Then it was putting out all the numbered ‘Pitch Markers’ which have to be placed to comply with the 6 metre ‘spacing’ between Units, again Dougie had done some pre-work and had already left ‘markers’ so that it made the job quite easy. Then it was put out all the ‘general’ site signage before conducting a site ‘litter sweep’, I don’t know where it all came from, it had obviously been blown in on the strong winds that batter this Coastline, there was loads of it, much of it plastic carrier bags that had been snagged on the thorny hedgerows or tree branches. By the end of the week the site was looking good and ready for the arrival of our first guests, the ‘girls’ had worked their little socks off and all the buildings and facilities were gleaming, now, we just had a little matter of keeping them all that way !!

This ‘pre-opening’ week had a number of distinct advantages for us though, we still had our ‘Training Records’ to complete, a 2-3 season process, we must give credit to our first seasons Wardens who actually enabled us to complete around Ninety per cent of this in our very first year !! However, as we had not done a ‘full’ season in our first year, only four months, we could not complete either an ‘Opening’ or ‘Close-Down’ of a site, so at least now we had another part of our training that could be signed off.

Once the season has started, with us being just a two couple site and it having to be covered between us for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we would not get a chance to work alongside Dougie and Avril very often, so this had been a good opportunity to work together for a concerted period of time, for Dougie to familiarise me with the site, the ground equipment and their particular routines and ways of doing things and for Avril and Shazza to get to know each other and get Shazza familiar with the ‘Office’ related procedures. However, and more importantly, it was a chance to get to know each other. It was good right from the start, there was lots of ‘banter’ and good humour, and although I won’t go into too much detail, to protect the ‘guilty’, a couple of pranks were pulled, on both sides, and it served to set our second season off perfectly. whilst the working days will be long and very physically demanding, there will be opportunities for the four of us to socialise at various points during the week and so, a hard but very productive week saw us ready and on Friday 13th our ‘Campers’ started arriving.

The view from our Wardens Compound !! But the majority of the 'pitches' on site have this view as well, truly wonderful !!

The view from our Wardens Compound !! But the majority of the ‘pitches’ on site have this view as well, truly wonderful !!

Thirty Seven years ago, Brian & Michael had a No. 3 chart hit with a song, ‘Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs‘, it was a tribute to the artist ‘Lowry‘. Now anyone who knows the song, or indeed the Artist himself, will know that he was famous for his paintings of street scenes and factories in and around the Salford area, so what on Earth has this got to do with Berwick-upon-Tweed, some 208 miles North East of Salford ?

imageWell I guess that answers that question !! but why is this relevant to these particular ramblings ? It all started when we got our first half day off, we were ready to venture from the safety of our fenced compound and we knew that a short walk down the hill into ‘Spittal’ would bring us to the seafront and to a Promenade and a beach, it had to be done.

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They say that ‘Timing’ is important and I guess we had been lucky with the timing of our walk. As we headed along the beach towards the Promenade the ‘Berwick-upon-Tweed Lifeboat’ were out doing a spot of training……………

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I was hoping to see one of the crew getting thrown overboard so that they could go around and practice their technique for pulling people out of the sea, but I think the sea was a bit too calm for them !! We carried on and that is when we started to come across the ‘Information Boards’ and accounts about ‘Lowry’ and his love of Berwick, I hadn’t realised until now that many of his paintings were of scenes around here.

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We came upon a ‘numbered’ map that showed a ‘Lowry Trail’ but we decided that that would be another one to add to the list for another day, along with the walk around the old walled town of Berwick, just across the river from us. For now, we had a Promenade to walk, to people watch, including those flying kites on the beach, those with young children, dog walkers and the now more popular scene of joggers and cycle riders.

Maybe not on the scale of some other Promenades we had recently meandered along, but at least this is somewhere within a short walking distance just when we need a 'stroll'

Maybe not on the scale of some other Promenades we had recently meandered along, but at least this is somewhere within a short walking distance just when we need a ‘stroll’

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It's a 'breaker', but not like the ones we have seen a bit further South !!

It’s a ‘breaker’, but not like the ones we have seen a bit further South !!

We could have just walked back along the Promenade and followed our route back to the site, however, being nosey individuals like we are, we decided to take a peek down the back streets of this very small but quaint town. It was a bit like going back in time with old stone built houses and cottages, even the Church had a certain charm about it, and I am not really into churches.

I know, it's just a church !!

I know, it’s just a church !!

I expect we will be seeing a lot more of these in the next eight months !!

I expect we will be seeing a lot more of these in the next eight months !!

It hadn’t been a long walk, perhaps an hour or so but it had been good to get out and explore our immediate environment. We were just walking back up to the entrance of the site when Shazza announced “That looks like my Uncle Joe” !! Sure enough, her Aunty Linda (One of Shazza’s mums two sisters) and Joe, who were doing a brief tour of the area, had called in on the off-chance to see us. Their timing was perfect, first, they had no way of knowing whether or not we would have been on duty and secondly, they had literally just arrived. We spent a bit of time just chatting and then we decided to go out for another walk so returned back to the Seafront.

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Well that was a lovely surprise, it was really nice of them to take the time to come and see us and it rounded off a lovely day. “So Shazza, where to next ?” I asked…………………………..

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16 Responses to Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats And Dogs !!

  1. anteater says:

    Hello again folks! I’ve been catching up with your last seven posts this past week as we have now returned from our 2 week holiday in the Languedoc. We can assure you that down here on the south-east coast, it has also gone very cold, and indeed temperatures in the Languedoc have also fallen from around 18-20C to 10-12C. We were very lucky to get such wonderful sunny and warm weather almost the entire time we were away – now it has gone to below average where we had above average temps!
    We had only been back 3 days exactly when we bought….a caravan!! Lol! Spent most of the holiday talking about this idea (which we have had before but not totally considered), which is to take the caravan back down to the Languedoc in late November (when Steve can take some more holiday following our already planned trip to Italy in late Aug-Sept for 2 weeks) and leave it there in storage for future trips/long weekends.
    Have we given up on the idea of motorhoming? No! That will hopefully come later when Steve has more time to be away.
    Have to say have always been so envious of Shazza able to do such long trips at her young age! Just had my 58th and still not doing it! So the caravan is a sort of intermediate solution to our wanderlust.
    Am assuming your picture of the wonderful view was a bit of a joke Eric??? I know you can see the sea, but it isn’t quite one of the stunning views that you have posted in Spain and Portugal!!! Lol!!
    Anyway, would like to wish you all the best in your new jobs. Carry on posting please! Don’t forget to get your arm checked out. I had my second bit of surgery late Feb and stitches out in France!!

    • We remember 18-20 degrees !! Now we are lucky if we reach 9 degrees 😱 A caravan is a great idea, it has the same liveability as a Motorhome but you will have the advantage of having a car to get to places a Motorhome may not be able to take you 👍 It doesn’t matter what sort of Unit you have, the benefit is being able to get away and see places and enjoy them 😎 I know what you mean about the views in Spain & Portugal but I wasn’t joking when I mentioned the views here. A big part of having these jobs, outside of the actual work, is having the benefit of being able to see parts of the UK that we probably otherwise would not have considered touring. We are here for 8 months and we wake up each day to these wonderful sea views and it isn’t costing us a penny, to buy a house with such views would cost a fortune so we are enjoying this ‘temporary’ period of luxury. Some Club sites do not have views like this so it is a big bonus. The marks that I had on my arms have gone, I think that they must have just been patches of dry skin so no worries there 👍 We have lots to do around here on our days off so hopefully some good material for writing a few ‘brief’ posts 😂😂

  2. Debs says:

    Looks a lovely place…I hope that you are settling in well 😊

    • Hi Debs, yes we are well settled already, Berwick is a gem of a place in itself, let alone the beautiful places yet to explore a bit further afield, Holy Island, Farne Island, Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick, Seahouses etc. etc. so I think we shall be having a lot of new ‘Shazza Expeditions’ to write about 😄

  3. Graham Baines says:

    Glad that you both have got settled and are getting back into the “work mode” without too many problems. The site and surrounding area look very pleasant and I am sure that you will begin to familiarize yourselves with what the area has to offer by way of those “little expeditions” in the not too distant future, which I and I am sure many others look forwards to hearing about as and when you get the time to update us mere house-dwellers on your latest adventures and ramblings.

    On another note many thanks for your PM’s to my recent queries i found the information very helpful and i am sure that I will be pestering yo further as time goes by (hey there’s one of those song title lines without even trying to think about it – maybe there’s a future for my own ramblings)!!!

    Since we last “spoke” things have moved on a great step towards our own early retirement, and we have now put our house on the market. Hopefully the sale will not take too long; but who knows. However once the house is sold we will then be buying a smaller property where our kids will always have somewhere to live before they finally fly the coop (god how we hope that’s sooner than later) and we will then have the funds available to purchase our future home on wheels. I have even resurrected my Ebay account and have started to divest myself of old unwanted “pieces of Tat”.

    Once again hope you are both well and enjoy your latest work experience

    Graham (and Sue)

    • Hi Graham (and Sue 😄), thank you for continuing to read my ramblings but hey ! What’s all this about pinching my ‘song title’ ditties 😂😂😂 I am in the process of updating another post on yet another ‘little’ expedition undertaken, so another one for you to look forward to, although the previous ones should have cured your insomnia by now 😄😄 No need to thank me for answering any questions that you have had, most people who have done this, or who are still doing it, will usually be only too willing to offer advice, opinion, guidance or ‘tips’ to others. So please feel free to ask as many questions as you like 👍 It is never too soon to start the ‘de-cluttering’ process, the sooner the better 😉 Hope you don’t have to wait too long for the sale of your house. Kindest regards Eric & Shazza

  4. Baxterbus says:

    Be it Spain, Morocco or Berwick it matters not, its all seeing the world. We spent 18 months seeing the UK and were amazed at some of the beautiful places, the North East is so under-rated. I am actually slightly envious, even though we are a bit further afield I would have no problem being where you are – Lindisfarne is one of my all time favourites. Happy Elfing to you both – from the Yardsticks! 🙂

    • Thanks Sandra, still have lots of explorations to complete but we really like Berwick Town, it’s unspoilt, a typical old looking town but with a lot of charm. If only the temperatures would climb sooner rather than sooner 😄

  5. John Strange says:

    Hello both, looks like a lovely place, let’s hope the clientele are as nice!

  6. Ste T says:

    After your working week all that pottering around Southern Europe in your flip flops must seem a dream by now! Still, only another 7 months 3 weeks before you can set off again! Ha! 😉

  7. Thomas Hope says:

    Hi, pleased that you seem to be settling well in that lovely part of the world that is The North East. Jo and I are starting to settle in after our first week but Christ are we knackard lol.

    • I wish I could tell you that you will stop being knackered, but that would be a lie. However, it does get easier once you are familiar with all the routines as you will find ways to make things easier for yourselves. The main thing is to keep remembering what you left behind and compare that to your lifestyles now. The working outside, often on your own, can be wonderful, I love it. Chatting with the ‘Customers’ etc. then the enjoyment of days off 😄

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