Saturday, 20 March 2010

Work Party (Two words that do not belong in the same sentence)

The first real signs of spring occurred this week and I could feel my spirits lift. The sun has appeared every day this week and you can smell spring in the air and I'm not just talking about the shit that the farmers have already started spreading on their fields.

My mind inevitably turned to fishing as it always does at this time of year. I'm looking forward to getting some lake and river time in France fishing for carp in between jobs that need doing. I'm also a member of the biggest fishing club in Europe -  Prince Albert and I was excited to learn that they have acquired three more lakes in the Midlands including one which has not been fished for 30 years. The only problem is that all three lakes are out of bounds for the next two years unless you undertake a 'work party' which will give you a special permit.

In my old fishing club a work party was a doddle, half a day of cutting branches, clearing paths and drinking coffee whilst talking about cutting branches and clearing paths. They were almost enjoyable.

Armed with that experience I booked myself in last week for a work party near Chorley in Lancashire. I was the first to arrive at 8am and my spider sense began to tingle when I spotted three huge mounds in the car park. One was sand, another gravel and the third ballast which is basically rubble.

One by one, other members arrived. Each face wore the same troubled expression as their visions of a pleasant day in the country evaporated into thin air and were replaced by the reality of a day of hard labour.

Eventually the work party organiser arrived. Wheel barrows and shovels were issued and instructions given including the inevitable health and safety demonstration.

The next six hours were tortuous beyond words as I carried barrow after barrow of each pile around to the other side of the lake to assist in the reconstruction of new fishing pegs. Everyone was feeling the same way and a mutinous atmosphere began to develop. Tempers were frayed, people accused of slacking and just as chaos was about to break out the organiser eventually allowed everyone to leave with their precious stamp in the book.

The drive home was horrific as my arms struggled to grip the wheel and my feet strained to push the pedals. I knew I would be in trouble the day after. As a man who is used to pushing a mouse around a desk, I began to appreciate just how out of shape I was and wondered how people do manual jobs day after day.

Sure enough, I spent the next two days walking like John Wayne though it has spurred me into getting into better shape. (which will be my third 'new start' this year)

My in-laws Fred and Pat have made huge progress in France. The central heating boiler has been replaced, electricians organised and the plumber starts on Monday as we turn the shell of a building next to our house into a  luxury holiday home that will boost our income in the short-term and in the long term provide a basis for semi-retirement in order that I can pursue my writing ambitions. Fred is working really hard each day, though he has kindly saved a number of jobs for me. I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting back involved in the ever increasing list of jobs that need to be completed.

In France, the weather is even better than here and with less than two weeks to go until we set off for our ten day trip the countdown has begun. Mel and I are both well overdue a break even if it will be a working one.

No comments:

Post a Comment