Job Tips for Campsite Couriers 7 : The Maggiore Rules

Click on the link below for Part 1 of the series.

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Job Tips for Campsite Couriers 7 : The Maggiore Rules

After the Easter weekend we were off again in the vans.

This time we went further afield to Lake Maggiore ( pronounced 'Madjy-ohray')

It was a 2 hour drive north-west past Brescia and right through the heart of Milan.

Not that you could tell it was Milan as there's nothing to view from the Autostrada apart from roadside walls behind which you could see the upper floors of various ordinary buildings and factories. Not a glimpse of the famous Duomo or the San Siro Stadium. That would be for another day.

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Maggiore is smaller than Lake Garda but a beautiful lake it is with scenic surroundings and actually extends over the Swiss border further north. No surprise that it's surrounded by hillside country.

With glistening waters like that it would take a lot to move a mountain. Who said glaciers were unstoppable? It is slightly scarred by quarrying but I suppose the stone has got to come from somewhere and doesn't spoil the landscape too much.

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This place was full of Germans too and I kept watching the skies for a surprise Spitfire attack from Captain Clarkson.

I should have known that there were Germans here when I saw artificial woodland as we were coming in.

All the trees lined up straight in perfect ranks. Hitler would have been proud.

I didn't really care much for the site when we got there as it had a dusty track running through it which was brought home to me when I was sitting out on a terrace and I got a mouthful of grit flung up by a passing lorry.

We were working around the back where our tents would be situated, right next to a swamp by the looks of things. There was hundreds of square yards of long reeds amidst lots of water, a breeding ground surely for mosquitos and rats in high summer no doubt.

Tip: Don't expect everything to run according to plan. Or anything even.

In the meantime we were hanging around doing nothing because all the tents and equipment were being delivered by truck, which was running late of course. A crucial dilemma as we needed the tents to sleep in tonight and the weather wasn't too good.

We ate lunch in the camp restaurant courtesy of the company. I had the worst lasagne of my life in there.

We eventually booked into a mobile home, all 6 of us, courtesy of the company again as it was getting too late to expect us to build our own tents for the night. At least the job was having it's perks today, business lunches and overnight accomodation in the Shoebox Hilton.

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At last the truck arrived about 7.30pm, several hours late.

It was an Italian lorry driven by a long-haired Czech who conversed in Italian with one of our guys who was Dutch.

I felt like I was working for the United Nations delivering supplies to under-nourished tourists on their Easter break.

We got the equipment, and the fridges off the lorry and piled it all up under groundsheets to stop the rain getting at them and soaking all the blankets, curtains and foam mattresses.

Tip: Take that pack of cards with you or some other communal pastime.

That done we all crammed into our mobile for the night, had a few beers and played cards. I had brought a 'Simpsons' pack of cards with me. With Homer being the 'King', Madge the 'Queen' and the rest of the cast on other cards which I can't remember.

Although I think the 'Neighbour from Hell', Ned Flanders was the 'Knave', or maybe even the black-hearted 'Ace of Spades' if I recall. Whichever title it was would've been merited for Mr "Howdy-doodee!!!"

I'm not very good at cards I'm afraid to say as I can never remember the rules or keep my concentration long enough to follow what's going on. A good excuse to become poor so I usually avoid them

Apart from pontoon but I still never gamble my cash on hopeless expectations. Unless, that is, there's handily placed mirrors around the room or handily placed idiots around the table with even worse mental agility or tactical know-how than me.

To be honest there's probably not enough of them in the world to fit into a campsite mobile home. I would've said a telephone box but I think they're mostly open plan these days. I got a rollicking for my obvious thickery at 'Trumps' after I had asked for the umpteenth time:

"Oh! is it my Turn?" or..

"What do I do now?" or..

"Can I play this one?" and..

"Does Bart Simpson beat Mr Smithers if the Pakistani shopkeeper has just been played?"

"What's this game called again?"

I won.

Call it beginners luck, call it a million to one fluke, but I won the first game.

Read 'em and Weep!! Book me on that Mississippi Riverboat.

It was quite a dark night outside and before going to bed I was trying to figure out which star constellation I was looking at over to the south-west. Then I slowly realised it was a collection of lights way up near the top of a hill. Well! How was I to know they built their houses in plough formations.

Tip: Expect lots of thunderstorms

I had a comfortable nights sleep until the thunderstorm broke about 2am in the morning. I usually like to watch thunderstorms, not al fresco you understand especially not out on the golf course playing a 5-iron out of a stream with an umbrella stuck down my back.

But certainly from behind the safe comfortable confines of a non-conductive window. However, not tonight. I was that tired I decided to stay in bed and couldn't even be bothered opening the curtains to watch the lightning flashes.

"Away and blast 'Hitlerwood' will ye!!" I thought to myself

Tip: Take ear-plugs

As I hinted it wasn't ideal living conditions with all of of us crammed in there on a cold, wet night. The air-conditioning woke folk up too. Ear-plugs are a must on campsites despite the night-time curfew.

If it's not aircon units humming away it'll be nocturnal creatures or drunken couriers who think they're in a summer camp for the profoundly deaf. But remember your live-tent for the season may be in the worst location on the site. Next to a main road, beside the bottle-bank or at the back of a disco.

We then set about building the tents, of which there were nine, and had to actually lift two completed tents and relocate them. The first one was at the wrong end of the line and had to be taken to the other end replacing a staff tent which was then moved about 300 yards away.

As all the other tents were brand new this was a blessing as his tatty old tent was bringing down the neighbourhood. Into the bargain, this new home was moved even closer to the 'swamp' so the staff might need that mosquito net and perhaps an industrial flame thrower for high season.

Tip: Health and Safety rules are country specific

The second move was a bit tricky since the exit to our patch was a little too narrow.

The tent couldn't get through because of small fences and walls either side.

This meant we had to lift the thing up to clear the obstructions causing me to walk along the left hand wall and come to earth with a crash as the top boulders gave way.

The bricklayers must have ran out of cement. Trust me to find out the hard way with a skinned heel to add to my collection of injuries.

Bear that in mind as Health and Safety may not be as stringent in the country you work in. I once saw a gas-pipe installer walking around with a lighted cigarette hanging from his mouth. I saw him from a distance of course.

Tip: Never hold on to a complete tent if the wind kicks up

But luckily a wind didn't suddenly gust from nowhere as we were carrying that huge tent. It wouldn't be unusual as there was a long valley behind us just waiting to blow us off our feet.

Full tents have been known to end up in the trees after a gusty session. Standard operational procedure is just to let the monster go in case you end up soaring away with it. Frequent flyer points are not applicable.

But then the folk all go too, which is one of the saddest parts of Montage as you can quickly build friendships over a couple of weeks and then people start leaving as they are scattered all over the country.

It can't be helped as it's in the nature of the job, but it's a shame nonetheless.

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