I am back in Wakefield after a two-night sabbatical aboard Victor the Volkswagen campervan. Despite their best efforts to sully our odyssey, the weather gods were unable to break our spirit. It takes more than sporadic rainstorms and diminishing temperatures to crush the verve of my partner Sarah and me.
While Knaresborough campsite in situ, the pair of us and her dog Zella spent a brace of days/evenings within North Yorkshire’s enchanting boundaries. A place where King John first distributed Maundy Money in 1210.
When I write we were at a place where the Maundy Money was first handed to King John’s subjects, I am of course meaning the borough of Knaresborough… Not that, eight centuries ago, Henry II’s son scattered these pre-Easter bequests on land where Sarah and I camped last weekend.
Sadly, no such monarchic benevolence was on show last weekend, although in King Charles III’s defence we are some way off Easter.
Anyhow, among our temporary base’s more noteworthy sights were the iconic viaduct straddling the River Nidd, along with the nine century old ruins of Knaresborough Castle. The latter edifice built by the Normans… I’m unsure which ones but am assured it was not late comedian Norman Wisdom and ex-Leeds Utd defender Norman Hunter.
As I have started a part-time role working at a local supermarket, which incorporates quite a bit of physical work, I felt an urgent need to chill among this enchanting part of my home county.
The lugging of produce cages, along with constant standing on my feet, have proved a shock to the system for a fella who had never previously undertaken manual employment… Trust me start my role on the week the store introduced an anvil aisle!
Amongst my tasks, symmetrically stacking chiller shelves and aisle ends putting to use the skills I attained playing Jenga and Tetris when my kids were younger. Thankfully, though, no one has yet removed an item from halfway down a product pile I constructed, resulting in a Jenga-like stack tumble.
I would be lying if I said the role was not tiring. After all, not only is there a lifting element to the role but last Wednesday, during a six-hour shift, my watch highlights I walked more than 8km (10,000 steps) … A shock to this middle-aged fella’s system… Particularly as it isn’t even. a smart watch with step gauge functionality.
Still, GJ Strachan enjoys being back in a working environment. After months spending excessive time on my own, I am once again in a healthier situation of mixing with people on a regular(ish) basis.
This aforementioned isolation, in conjunction with my partner’s long work hours, leading to my decision to cut my full retirement short.
Anyhow, returning to employment has made me require/appreciate breaks in the campervan much more than when I was a man of full-time leisure. Likewise with my days at home between shifts.
Sadly, there are downsides to returning to work. Notably surrounding shift pattern clashes with writing workshops, negating my future participation in the groups. Get togethers which both emotionally and spiritually cleanse, especially during times of lower mood.
Another downside is finding out the adage ‘Women like men in a uniform’ does not extend to blokes in a supermarket t-shirt, trousers, and fleece… Well, not with my Ossett beau Sarah anyhow… Much to my chagrin, Brooky seems deeply underwhelmed when clocking me in my green and black work garb.
Anyhow, it is back at work for me later today. Seven hours wandering the chiller aisle, symmetrically stacking a food and drink smorgasbord for the good old Wakefield folk. Yours truly feeling refreshed from last weekend’s two-day odyssey north.
The rain, colder temperatures and lack of Maundy Money receipt not tarnishing the vigour our break imparted… God bless Victor, and the opportunities he affords.