Time for some adventure…
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but the family we’re volunteering with not only live on a farm but also have their own adventure activity company. We’re mainly here to help on the farm, but a combination of being short staffed and extremely busy meant that we had our first call up! Time to get out there as activity staff.
Day 123 – Friday 23rd September 2016
Today we had to make sure that everything was ready for the tomorrow – a prep day if you like. First up Abbie and I had to clean a bouncy castle which had been left out in the rain, which sounds a lot easier that it actually was. We found ourselves wrestling the inflatable when getting the outside done which left our arms feeling like jelly, but getting the inside done was actually quite a laugh. Abbie perfected the art of laying down and washing the walls with her feet, and I found that holding my hand up and bouncing made it much easier to reach the roof which would have been a struggle otherwise. It took a couple of hours to get out of the way, but once finished we had a quick tea break and then moved on to the next couple of jobs.
I was tasked with cleaning the mobile rock climbing wall using a jet washer while Abbie was put on bouncy castle fixing duty. The rock climbing wall is obviously pretty big so took a while to get all cleaned and ready, and the bouncy castle had not only one but three holes in it, which left us both on track for another day of overtime. The work wasn’t particularly difficult and neither of us minded, so after a late lunch we carried on helping out because there was clearly loads left to do. In the end we worked through until around 18:00, repairing trailers, painting equipment and making sure that the trucks all looked presentable for the morning.
For dinner we had homemade chirozo sausage and halloumi burgers, then got an early night in anticipation of a bright and early start in the morning. The prep was done, but we had another big day ahead of us tomorrow on task.
Day 124 – Saturday 24th September 2016
It’s go time! Today was so busy for the adventure activity business that Abbie and I had to be separated and put on different jobs. I had to be up at 05:45 and Abbie got to stay in bed in until 07:00, but we both had pretty long shifts ahead of us.
On my event we had three inflatable units – a bouncy castle, a basketball challenge and a gladiator challenge. The venue was a Buckland Primary School, where we arrived at 07:00 and spent two hours getting everything rigged ahead of the 09:00 opening time. The bouncy castle and basketball challenge were manned by one of our hosts in the car park, and I was left in charge of the gladiator challenge in the playground. My job was simple, all I had to do was make sure that everybody took off their shoes, wore safety gear, waited for the whistle before they started, and didn’t hit their opponent in the head. Try telling that to a bunch of primary school kids though!
The event was only running for four hours until 13:00 and for me it was busy from start to finish. There was nearly always a queue and when there wasn’t I just let the kids play first to five instead of first to three because that way I didn’t have to just stand about looking bored on my own. After a couple of hours one of the event organisers brought me a lemonade, caramel slice, and chocolate cake, which saw me through until the end of the day.
I could probably write about my day for hours, so instead of doing that there’s a couple of talking point that definitely need mentioning. Firstly, I had a young girl (maybe ten years old) ask if she could face her little brother (maybe three years old), which I said was fine, assuming that she would give the guy a shot. Well I was completely wrong and she absolutely battered the poor bugger, which I obviously found hilarious but couldn’t let that show and had ask her to find a fairer opponent next time. Shortly after that I had to have words with a parent after he told his kids that they could disregard the no headshots rule. At first he tried to claim it would be fine and that they wouldn’t hurt each other, but then I played the health and safety card and he completely bottled it. It’s funny, telling a parent off for being irresponsible was actually quite satisfying! Lastly I have to give credit to one kid who was my very first and my very last customer. He was one of the older children (maybe eleven or twelve years old) and literally stood by my side for the entire day, placing hypothetical bets on who would win and cheering for whoever was on the blue side because blue is his favourtie colour. He was a great character, and even offered to look after the unit if I wanted to go and get something to eat, which I would have loved to do but obviously had to decline.
Packing away took half the time that it took to set up, mainly because we wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. We didn’t get back to the farm until around 16:30, when all I wanted to do was catch up with Abbie and find out how her day went, but ended up having to build a new barbed wire fence first as the cows had escaped, again! At the beginning of the day I thought it’d be a short burst of hard work, over and done with in maybe six hours, but by the time the fence was built and I had a chance to shower it was nearly 19:00 and I’d been at it for over double that.
Abbies event had no inflatable units but one massive mobile rock climbing wall. Her venue was Drury Primary School, which is a little closer to the farm, and meant that she got a bit more of a lay in than I did. She too had to work for four hours from 09:00 – 13:00, but had two other staff accompanying her because up to four children could use the wall at one time. Her day went really well too, and while she can walk away from today fully harness trained, I guess I’m just a bit better at blowing a whistle and telling parents to sort their children out. After nearly four months of spending every second of every day together, just a day apart left us both feeling like we hadn’t seen each other in forever.
Abbie’s job finished at the same time as mine but didn’t take as long to pack up, which meant that she had time for Chinese takeaway with her team mates between finishing work and getting home. She also blagged an invite to a babyshower, and spent the afternoon getting to know friends and family of our hosts, which was nice for her (I think) and kept her occupied until I got home.
The whole experience was completely different to life on the farm, and a great break from what we’re used to, but also very tiring. Thankfully we got to go to bed knowing that a day off was due tomorrow, so didn’t have to set any alarms, and knew that we could lay in until as late as we wanted. A well deserved break was in store, but I had no doubt in my mind that even on our day off we’d be getting up to something worth writing about – nothing seems to stop around here!