The New Job
It’s not everyday you get to start a new job, something unlike anything you’ve ever done before, with your partner. Yet here we are, doing just that. We’re all set up, settling in, and now it’s time to start work.
Of course, we know about the job. We know what it is on paper, we even know a little bit about it from our training weekend at Graffham campsite last year. Still, it is a completely new experience.
Canterbury Camping & Caravanning club site is a big and busy site, as it’s close to the ports and Canterbury is a first/last stop for many travellers. It’s got two large facility buildings, a shop/reception & information room, some 200 pitches, a play park, Ready Camp tents and a LOT of grass. As holiday site assistants, it is our job to work on all of that. The facilities have to clean, tidy and presentable, the grass has to be cut, everything has to be maintained; from fences and signs to grass and hedges to waterpoints and electrical points. The customers receive a warm welcome, get checked in and taken to their choice of pitch.
We start off being shown the facilities and what goes into keeping them clean and presentable, and we get stuck in with the cleaning. Crickey! That is hard work! Soon enough, there are two ‘sweaty mess’ flip-flops coming out of a sparkling facility block. Everyone assures us we will get the hang of it; we will get a routine, we will have enough time and we will be fitter. Well….. we’ll see….
Next we get involved in the office and we start checking in customers, getting to grips with the computer system and the office processes. We also start helping customers choose their pitch. You may know that club sites have specific guidelines about how people are set up on their pitches, with a 6 meter gap in between, and facing a certain way with cars parked in a certain place. Well, we have to learn all this and make sure the customers set up their units correctly.
We work different shifts. Stuart has worked shifts before, but I’ve really only ever done the 9 to 5, so even this is new. There is an early shift, which involves unlocking the gates first thing, checking the campsite over in case anything has happened overnight, before having a breakfast break and starting again at 9am to open to office for the normal day to begin. There is also a later shift, from 11am with a break in the evening before locking the campsite at 11pm after another check around the campsite to make sure everything is ok. We also find out we will have Saturday/Sunday as our days off for the season.
As we get to grips with the normal campsite routines, we start training on using the equipment that we’ll be using around the campsite for maintenance. We start simple, with a lawnmower. Health & Safety comes first, so we don our steel-toe-cap boots, our ear-defenders and our protective glasses as we start mowing. We learn to use the strimmers, the different types of hedge-cutters and the tractor. Stuart is soon an old pro, but for me, the one time I even had a garden, I paved it straight away, so I have a bit more learning to do.
Soon we’re involved in all aspects of the job. First impressions? A bit of a shock to the system perhaps, not because it’s difficult or complicated, but because it’s hard physical work, very different from what we did before. By the end of the first week, which ended up being a long 8-day week due to the need to swap shifts in the team, we were totally knackered. Time for a rest, then onward and upward!