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.
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 ?
Well 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.
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……………
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…………………………..