Sunday, 29 July 2012

Every which way but loose.

Walking up the Wrekin last summer (i.e. March 2012) I came across a delightful signpost offering the choice of "This Way ", "That Way " or " The Other Way". Loved it. Just enough hint that you were on a recognised route, but leaving scope for discoveries, mishaps and surprises. 

Coinciding with recent monsoon rains was our pre-booked caravan holiday in England. In good weather caravan holidays are great. No schedule; fresh air; immediate entertainment for visiting older grand-children (in the shapes of other children) and an excuse to wear comfortable old clothes and look faintly ridiculous. There is just one activity which causes mild anxiety - on a par with a dodgy lock on a toilet door or a parking meter that swallows £5 in coins then deliberates about whether or not to print a parking ticket. I refer of course to awnings.

Once erected caravan awnings are very useful. Once erected. The awning of one nearby caravan was so large it needed a separate hired van for the transport of fabric, poles zip-in extras and building tools plus the labour force. You could host a dinner-dance for 12 people in this awning and just use the anchoring caravan as a changing cubicle.

We put up our awning once a year. It has taken 5 years to evolve a system that works for the two of us. It is "Our Way". My anxiety stems from other caravanners,sitting inside their awnings, watching expectantly for new arrivals who will need their advice.
"If I was you I wouldn't start from there.."
"You're doing it that way when you should be doing it this way.."

One summer the ground was so hard (honest..) I needed a claw hammer to get pegs into the ground."Here; use my rubber hammer, you'll damage the pegs.." came the inevitable comment. So I obligingly hit a peg 20 times with the proffered rubber hammer then paused to make the observation that it was slow going. I then hit a stone. "How would the rubber hammer help in getting the peg out?" I ventured to ask. Still the unwanted help hung around - even when I removed the peg with my claw hammer and repositioned it with 4 hits.

True, we did have a phase over 3 years when an extra pair of hands was needed to hold a corner pole, just for a critical minute to avoid an implosion of poles, fabric  and guy ropes. That was the moment when "help" would arrive. Using "Our Way" G can politely but firmly refuse help. I am always underneath fabric at that moment, shouting muffled instructions for the next pole, dripping with perspiration and hoping small plastic wall brackets will last another year.

I don't offer to help put up awnings, unless asked.Even then I will only do exactly what is asked, with my mouth firmly shut but with the hint of a malicious grin. If anyone needs to know, then I will explain "Our Way".

But I will not help with dining table, chairs and dance floor - nor will I use a rubber hammer.

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