When I mentioned to my colleagues on the IT “Helldesk” here in Spalding that I was taking Friday 2nd May off as holiday there were expressions of surprise and comments that may be merged together and summarised as follows:
“Didn’t you have 2 days off last November and another one during the Christmas break? Why would you want MORE time off?”
I should explain at this point that the Company I am working for is not as Dickensian in its attitude to staff holidays as that question would seem to suggest – the problem lies with my relationship to them!
As some of my regular readers will know this job, along with everything else I’ve done since MBM Produce went into Administration in July 2009, has been on a “daily paid” contract of anything from 8 weeks to 14 months duration. And that “daily paid” means exactly what it says – you get paid for the days you work; no more, no less! So, while I can have more or less as much “holiday” as I want, nobody pays me for it – hence only those aforementioned three days off (two of them for my 30th consecutive Barclays Inter-District Sea Angling match) since I started here in mid-June last year.
This also explains why I don’t enjoy all these bloody Bank Holidays which are of course written into the contracts of my full-time colleagues. I don’t have the option of working Good Friday, Easter Monday, and the TWO May Bank Holidays that all occur around this time of year and so have to forego the cash for them! PLUS, to make things worse there have also been (at this same time of year) additional days off for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Bill ‘n Kate’s nuptials, all of which have hit my earnings.
But I didn’t come here just to rant on about THAT!
No, I was going to tell you WHY I needed that extra day off.
My dear wife (and I do NOT call her that because she has expensive tastes!) decided that our need for income was outweighed by our need for a holiday and had booked us into a lodge in some woods in deepest Oxfordshire for Friday 2nd May and the duration of the May Bank Holiday weekend.
And what a lodge it was!
It had a hot tub out on our own veranda and while we have stayed at places with one of those before and it would have been a pleasant enough feature on its own, this place also boasts a Jacuzzi bath AND a Sauna (which we didn’t know we were getting and which we thought at first was a rather deep wardrobe!
However, there was only so much time we could spend either sweating, showering or soaking during a three night break and as this was an area we didn’t know at all well our days were mostly spent out and about exploring the Cotswolds.
I’m not going to bore you with a full diary of everywhere we went but want to make an observation about the names of the towns and villages around the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border.
Within a 10 mile circle of our base near the boringly mono-nominal village of Kingham we found (in no particular order): Chipping Norton; Moreton-in-Marsh; Bourton-on-the-Hill; Bourton-on-the-Water; Upper Slaughter; Lower Slaughter; Clapton-on-the-Hill; Little Rissington; Great Rissington; Upper Rissington; Great Barrington; Little Barrington; Nether Westcott; Milton-under-Wychwood; Shipton-under-Wychwood; Ascott-under-Wychwood and, of course, Stow-on-the-Wold.
I’ve missed some smaller ones out but you get the idea! They just don’t like having one (or even two) names down there! Oh, and before my friend Vincent in Thailand mentions it, “Pogworthy-on-the-Scrunt” remains missing, presumed made up!
We didn’t go to (or even see signs for) all of those places but of the ones we did visit our favourite was Moreton-in-Marsh. This is a traditional old English market town with a broad main street, old yellow stone buildings and a satisfactory absence of shops belonging to national chains. There were a couple of small versions of national supermarkets (Tesco Metro etc.) but by and large it was a thoroughly nice place.
Faith and I were strolling aimlessly past the shops on Saturday morning and heard someone asking for directions from a local trader.
“It’s near Budgens on the corner” was his response to the question.
“Budgens-on-the-Corner?” I whispered to Faith. “Didn’t we drive through there just after Stow-on-the-Wold?”
Quick as a flash I am sometimes!