Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pre-Season Mania

Things are in the manic phase as we approach the last few days before re-opening the house for the 2008 season.

While most things are on schedule and going to plan, I do have a slight concern, with just over a week until opening, at not having found anyone to run the tea room by this stage.

Who's good at making scones?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wellies, you say?

From the letter I sent in November:

"After the meeting there will be an opportunity to join Lovely Warden for a guided walk along the new nature trail. Please be aware that the terrain will be muddy and uneven so suitable footwear is essential!"

From the Christmas get together in December:

"And don't forget, after our pre-season meeting there'll be a chance to see the new nature trail. It's a bit rough and ready at the moment, so do bring your wellies."

On the morning of the pre-season meeting:

"The trail is particularly muddy at the moment, so if you are joining us this afternoon wellies are a must."

After lunch:

"Right, those of you coming on the walk, please gather in the courtyard. Can I just re-emphasise, the walk is exceptionally boggy in parts, so if you haven't brought wellies or walking boots I wouldn't attempt it."

On the walk:

"Ok, this is where it starts to get really muddy and churned up. I can't stress enough just how muddy it gets. Those of you in ordinary shoes, bail out now!"

"Is it muddy then?"

"Yes, very."

"Will it come over the tops of my shoes?"

"Most likely."

"I'll risk it." And with that, she rolled up her trouser legs and strode on.

I have to say, I am proud of my volunteers. I had wellies on, and I carried a stout stick to assist me through the worst of the slippery, boggy parts of the track. Yet I had a couple of older ladies with me who managed to traverse the entire swamp in their sensible shoes and whilst carrying handbags. It had to be seen to be believed. This is the kind of can-do attitude that makes Britain great.

Our volunteers are a formidable crew. I do love them.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And Smile!

I had sent out numerous press releases, not expecting there to be much, if anything, in the way of a response.

Volunteer recruitment days are never terribly newsworthy. Each year I have an open day or a coffee morning where I try to lure people in so I can persuade them to volunteer with us. Each year I sit there, surrounded by plates of biscuits and volunteering brochures and no one turns up. If I'm exceptionally lucky a rambler may stray past, and I'll drag them in and give them a leaflet, but that's about it really.

McColleague was setting up the room, putting out an optimistically large number of cups and saucers, while I finished up in the office. The phone rang. It was the local press photographer!

"Can I come out and get some shots of your volunteer coffee morning?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes!" I exclaimed. "Though, I must warn you, I may not actually have any volunteers to photograph."

He was undeterred by this. "I'll be there at 11," he said.

I hurried over to the volunteer room and McColleague. "The photographer from the local paper is coming!" I explained.

"What will he make you hold aloft this time?" she wondered.

"A volunteer?"

The coffee morning offically began at 10am. By 11 am McColleague and I were still the only people in the room. The photographer arrived.

"Hello," I smiled. "I'm afraid we're having a bit of a lull at the moment."

"No problem," he said. "Let's just have a picture of you, Doris, in front of the house."

And so another photo for my collection is taken. Me, in front of the house, holding aloft a Volunteer Welcome Pack, the sun in my eyes, my hair blowing over my face. I await the torrent of calls to flood in as people all over the county flock to volunteer for me.

I really look like I need help.