Well, this is it, my last weekend off until November. And I use the term "off" in the loosest possible sense. I spent today trying to rearrange the chaos that is my office into a comfortable and non-hazardous area for me to work and volunteers to take tea. The mops and buckets do spoil the ambience though. The long-awaited and oft-promised volunteer room has not been completed in time to get them out of my office for the start of the season. In fact, it is fair to say that work has not, as yet, even commenced on the volunteer room. Unless you count the arrival of a skip a couple of months ago.
It is all rather manic at the moment, trying to put everything in place for re-opening next weekend. There are still fallen branches all over the car park which need removing. The heavy oak furniture needs putting back in place in the house. I have interviewed and selected staff for the role of Kiosk Attendant but the kiosk itself is not yet built. We had to stand on the grass with our interviewees, sketching the kiosk in the air and asking them how they feel about outdoor work.
The Family Room was still set up as Santa's Grotto until two days ago. I have been studiously ignoring it since December, as it Is Not My Room. It is the province of the Learning Officer. During the open season it is set up with various activities for children to enjoy. At Christmas is was transformed into a Grotto, where children could visit Father Christmas. McColleague and I were not involved with the setting up of this room as a Winter Wonderland. Our warden cohorts were banned from putting so much as a bauble on the tree. Only certain members of the team were to be trusted with such a key role. McColleague and I watched with great interest, as we lugged trestle tables from the broken marquees and carried folding chairs into the house, as boxes of lights and cuddly toys were taken into the room. "Flipping heck, " we said, full of festive spirit, "how can it take three people three days to hang a couple of stockings on the wall and spray some fake snow about?"
As is often the case, those who love the pretty, nice, fun side of events - like putting up Christmas decorations - are not as keen when it comes to the clean up. They disappear. After the Christmas events McColleague and I had taken all the foliage out of the house, carried out the trestle tables and chairs, and noted that the Grotto was still as it was, waiting, in stasis, for the clean-up fairies to work their magic. And so it remained throughout January and most of February. Every time I saw the icicle lights above the door I would itch to take them down myself, but this year I have decided to be a bloody-minded Doris. When it got to two weeks to open day I sent an email, appealing to my colleagues to dismantle the Grotto.
Glory be, the Learning Officer and her volunteer arrived to spend a day doing just that. Hooray! They're a good bunch, really. McColleague and I got on with our numerous jobs in the house and at the end of the afternoon we wandered over to see how much had been done. As far as I can make out, two people working for an entire day, in a small room, has led to a small, denuded Christmas tree being left outside the door. "Flipping heck," we said, the spirit of the season descending upon us again.
I am not chucking that tree in the skip for them. I am NOT.