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Job Tips for Campsite Couriers 1 : Packing and Tracking
Job Tips for Campsite Couriers 1 : Packing and Tracking
This is the first instalment of a short 15 part series of articles into the triumphs, trials and tribulations of working as a campsite courier in Europe.
This series happens to take place in Italy but can be applied anywhere where there is sunshine, beaches, booze, dodgy electrics and leaky plumbing as well as irate customers.
If you ever decide to take the plunge and 'live the dream' working in the world of campsite couriership then you are welcome to read on. You may find it helpful, informative and a useful guide to the practicalities and pitfalls of that summer job. On the other hand you might discover this a complete waste of time. But as long as you enjoy the read I don't mind.
My adventure began on a Saturday arrived and it was my big day to bid farewell to Scotland. Hopefully for 6 months or so all things going well as I began my journey to Italy to work the summer as a Campsite Courier.
Tip: Don't upload your iPod at the last minute
In preparation I packed my things, including factor 30 sunblock and secret cardigan, the latter being a clandestine accomplice on cold nights on the rock festival circuit. I also spent over two and a half hours downloading 6,500 songs from the computer to my iPod, enough to keep me going till the next Ice-Age, which in Scotland should be around the end of November.
But then I discovered that the computer had totally wiped out my 6,500 songs from iTunes. Now, I'm not one to anthropomorphise soulless machinery but I'm sure the vindictive bastard did it deliberately right there and then just to spite me.
Tip: Take a laptop and a spare hard-drive
Another idea of course is to take a laptop with you as internet access may be problematic or expensive where you are going. You can buy a dongle when you reach your destination. A laptop can store lots of tunes too as well as movies.
An even better idea which many couriers do is to take a spare hard-drive with them which they can interchange. You can literally store hundreds of movies on that which means your laptop isn't overloaded with files.
I headed off on the local bus, in a stinking mood deprived of most of my iTunes back catalogue. I went to my favourite pub to say my final goodbyes to my friends there and had a few pints of Guinness. This is my favourite sleeping potion of an evening and certainly ideal for long road-trips as long as there's a toilet and good air-conditioning.
Tip: Travel in style. It's worth spending a bit extra on that plane flight but even better if the holiday company pay for it.
I caught the 'Megabus' red-eye at 11pm destined for London and joined a few dozen other cheapskates who couldn't afford the comfort and luxury of a one hour plane-flight down South. Unfortunately, I could only get an aisle seat which was second-class as far as the slumber stakes go because it's almost impossible for me to sleep on a bus at all never mind an outside seat.
In my attempts to snatch some shut-eye I tried every position outside of the Kama Sutra.
Maybe some that are in it too as I haven't read it all, but the pictures are nice.
I had a go at sitting with my head to the left and to the right.
I also tried it with my head tilted back in the classic but hugely unpopular 'snore' position with my acrylic beanie hat supporting my neck. Not recommended for communal snoozing.
I tried turning my whole body to the left and to the right, even 'Knees-up Mother Brown'. I had a go at stretching my legs right out into the aisle presenting a hazard to innocent passers-by heading to the back of the bus desperate for a pee, had a go at the 'brace' position with my head jammed against the seat in front.
So it's always better to fly I would say. And find out if the company will fly you out. Most will pay for the flight or at least repay your expense.
Tip: Always have spare headphones handy.
I contented myself with listening to the brilliant 'Chinese Democracy' once again on the iPod. Unfortunately only through one earphone as the other had gone on strike in protest at my build up of wax in the lugholes and refused to enter into negotiations. Once again I was defeated by modern technological wizardry. Well, that's one possible explanation as it could've easily been a loose wire in there somewhere, either in the earphone or in my cerebral cortex. It's a 50/50 shot.
So, I arrived into London at Victoria Station around 7am bleary-eyed but excited on my new travels. The bus station was a fitting tribute to the famous Queen. I'm sure she would have been proud of its electronic arrivals and departures screens and clearly printed timetable schedules perfectly positioned at strategic intervals. I thought I'd pay a visit to the present Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Tip: Always use your common sense and don't get lost
Only dilemma was in which direction to go as there appeared to be no obvious palaces in sight. Using my infinite common sense, which normally lets me down spectacularly, I reasoned that as the architecture at one end of the road got progressively grander and the other end looked like Birmingham after an inner-city riot then the former was the likely direction to go.
And surprisingly I was proved right as after a short walk Buck House hove into view. I'd been there before but it still struck me how ordinary the Palace is compared to other esteemed buildings around the world. It looks more like an up-market hotel than an eminently regal residence.
I didn't bother inviting myself for breakfast and I wasn't that hungry anyway but on the walk back to the station it struck me that Buckingham Palace sounds a bit like Bacon-Ham Salad so I knew I must have been a bit peckish after all. Particularly since it doesn't actually sound anything at all like it.
Tip: Pay attention to the sun when boarding the bus.
After a 'Full English' breakfast at a nearby cafe I was ready to roll. "Time to get on the bus to Dover", I hear you say, and you're probably right. Sleep deprivation and hunger really do strange things to the mind. I got on the bus, carefully choosing my seat according to my infinite common-sense by figuring that as we were heading east and the sun was now moving over the south side of the firmament then I should sit on the left side of the bus to avoid getting too hot.
Once again I got it right but I hadn't included the handy skylight in my calculations and the late morning sun came streaming down on top of me as I gradually broke into a warm sweat. We drove through the county of Kent, the 'Garden of England' as it's affectionately known.
Tip: Don't listen to the Beatles with one earphone
I listened to The Beatles on the iPod but gave up as I realised the songs, although legendary, had less sophisticated production values than the more sophisticated garbage that's spewed out the industrial record waste-plants nowadays.
With only one earphone I could hear John Lennon singing 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' in the foreground, occasional snatches of George Harrison on guitar, Ringo sounding like he was drumming from a hundred yards away from inside a barn.
I flicked through the menu for an alternative and after some deliberation finally picked some Neil Young. Superb choice, I don't care what Lynyrd Skynyrd think. It was stripped down and simple acoustic numbers with the added advantage that some songs with his worst singing sounded like instrumentals through one ear.
What better way to view the ancient glory of Canterbury Cathedral in the distance than by listening to some Neil Young with the sun baking you to a crisp.
Tip: Always be prepared for disappointment at famous attractions
The bus eventually came into Dover and some girls in the seats in front began chatting. They were Italian and as I had been practising the language for a couple of weeks in readiness, I eavesdropped on their conversation. Couldn't understand a word so I gave that up. After collecting my rucksack from below I noticed the same girls speaking to the driver on the pavement, it looked like they were asking directions.
They were, as it turned out, as I heard the driver say, "The White Cliffs? We just passed them a minute ago!" I think they were expecting a far more dazzling landmark, as to be fair the age-old cliffs were looking distinctly off-white with various patches of greenery dotted around them. Maybe time for a fresh coat of paint as they're certainly nothing much to get Vera Lynn excited about. Perhaps a light shade of salmon pink or even cherry blossom to catch the morning sunset, whichever side of the bus you're sitting on.
Part2 : The delights of Dover and the Channel crossing
- Job Tips for Campsite Couriers 2 : Things to do in Dover When it's Dead.
The odyssey continues as your adventurous protagonist leaves the shores of old Blighty. A seaborne invasion of the continent takes place across the shimmering waters of the English Channel. It's time to meet up with fellow couriers making that trip.
More variety of beans from Shinkicker
- Indoctrinated Beans
I thought I would share a recent experience with you that troubled me greatly. It was of a culinary nature involving an early morning breakfast order in a London cafe.