Wednesday 23rd September (Day 195 of 236)
Here we are, now into Autumn, the mornings and evenings have that tell-tale seasonal chill in the air, the dark nights are already beginning to draw in and yet our site is still packed to the gunnels !! The families with their ‘little darlings’ have all returned to their homes with children now back at school and parents back at work, and it is now the turn of the childless couples, and those of a certain age group, to come back out of hiding, and they have and continue to arrive in their droves, so whilst we were very much hoping for some well-earned respite it would appear that that is just not going to happen, well not yet anyway !!
With just forty-one days of our second seasons duties to go, it was time for us (well just me actually) to get stuck into a bit of forward planning. Okay, so we had already pre-booked, and paid in full, our ferry crossing to Spain. We knew that we would have fifteen weeks in our new apartment to look forward to and had already got all our holiday funds sorted in both our Spanish Bank Account and on our Caxton FX ‘Euro Cash Card’, all that was left to do was to Email Chris, the estate agent in Spain, to advise him of our arrival date so that he would have the keys ready for our collection. Although we would arrive at his offices after closing time he had already told us that he would place our keys in his night safe, outside the office, and he would provide us with the access code. So there was little else to do on that score other than catch the ferry, drive down from the top end of Spain to the bottom end, in one journey, then get into our new Winter ‘Bolt Hole’. Once there though we would have things to do, we were not sure what we would find when we turned the key in the lock of the apartment door, the metal window roller shutters would have plunged the place into complete darkness for what would have been nearly seven months. Although on the two occasions when we had viewed the property, prior to the purchase, the then owners had obviously had it looking at its best, but we knew that they were taking all of the pictures off the walls so perhaps there would be some holes to fill and then a spit of redecoration to undertake but who knows what else we would discover, however, there was no point dwelling on too much of that right now, I had other more pressing matters to consider.
I knew that I was getting close to running out of space on this current WordPress blog and I thought that I only had two options, pay an annual fee to upgrade and thereby get additional space on my existing ramblings or look for an alternative blog provider. I wasn’t keen on adding more expense to our budget but was a little ‘miffed’ at the thought of having to get to grips with the quirks associated with using an unfamiliar blog. However, after pondering for a while and playing around inside my blog settings pages, I realised that I could stay with ‘WordPress’ and just add a new blog with another free 3Mb of space. I had got used to using this blog provider and the formatting, loading of photographs etc but there would be a downside, the new blog would be just that, so any of my existing 205 subscribers, who want to continue following our adventures, would have to re-subscribe to the new blog. But then again, that would be true if I changed blog provider anyway, so I am now working on building a new blog with ‘WordPress’ and once it is ready I will provide the link or address, so watch this space as they say.
Earlier in the season we had to put in our requests for areas we wanted to be in for next seasons ‘Elf & Elfette’ duties. We had spent our first two seasons on the Scottish Region, yes I know, Berwick-upon-Tweed is in England, but to be fair, it is literally spitting distance from the Scottish Border. However, this is still too far North from family, especially now that we have twin Granddaughters to visit and spoil, so we requested a change, hoping to be midway between Doncaster and Swindon, we identified a few desirable locations in and around the ‘Peak District‘.
The advantage of staying on the same region is that your Regional Manager, who has already got to know you and your work ethic, is going to give you priority on your ‘choices of site‘ over those he doesn’t know and who are coming from another site outside of his area. We were in that predicament so all we could do was wait until the 2016 site allocations list was issued. The system is this, you get allocated to a site and then have the option to accept or decline it. If you decline you wait until all other Assistant Wardens have accepted or declined then, from all the sites that have been declined, you are allocated a second site. Now this site may be better than the original one offered, there again it may not, if you decline the second offer then you have no contract for the following year !!
The list was published and we began trawling through the Alphabetical listings. We didn’t have to trawl for too long, in fact only as far as the list of sites that began with the letter ‘B’, for there were our names against ‘Burrs Country Park‘. We didn’t know where this site was so went to our sites listings on the Internet to locate it and discovered that it was at ‘Bury’, which is in Lancashire, around thirty-minutes North of Manchester !! Now, having travelled the UK a fair bit in my life, I knew that Manchester, let alone Bury, was not between Doncaster and Swindon, our hearts sunk. We had a bit of time before we would have to ‘formally’ accept or decline this offer so decided to sit back and consider our options. In that ‘Consideration’ time we looked on ‘Google Earth’ satellite mapping, a great application as it enabled us to not only locate the actual Campsite and surrounding area, but it enabled us to ‘Zoom’ right in so that we could visually inspect the site. We were looking with two sets of eyes, the first was work related, the layout of the site, the facilities, the amount of grass and hedges to be cut and strimmed, the terrain etc. We were actually quite impressed with these aspects and so moved on with our second set of eyes where we started to visually explore the immediate surrounding area, the local town, which we discovered was within walking distance, and then wider afield, including road links. The more we looked the more we started to warm to this location, it was within a large Country Park on the edge of the town, with a very handy Pub/Restaurant a stones throw away from the site entrance. The River Irwell was also just a stones throw away in the Park which had a conveniently located ‘Canoe Club’, the website of which indicated that it was possible to paddle stretches of the river in ‘Kevin’ (our Kayak), on our days off, if of course we so desired. There was also a Tramlink from the local town direct to Manchester, only a thirty-minute ride away and there were absolutely dozens of walks in the area. We would also be right on the Motorway Network which, subject to road works, traffic congestion, accidents and weather conditions, could see us arriving in Swindon in just three and a half hours. Okay, let me cut to the chase, having given the offer due consideration, we have accepted the offer and, as some of you may have already guessed, I have already started to compile a list of ‘Things to do‘, ‘Places to Visit‘ and ‘Walks to be Walked‘ !! We have booked onto the site on our next upcoming and extended period of ‘time off’, in a couple of weeks, to take a closer look at the site and the local town, so I will have a few more ramblings to pen yet, before bringing this particular blog to its natural end.