val de ree, val de raa…

By amy ~ January 17th, 2012 @ 1:46 am

A few days decompressing later (helped along in no small part by a big Sunday lie in only curtailed by an all-consuming craving for sausage sandwiches at 1pm) and the now usual unpack-launder-top up-and-repack of the work suitcase is done; likewise the accounts, including the painstaking conversion from € to £ of every receipt for a lowly paper cup of tea or mini Tesco shop (the eating out costs in Dublin making anything more than in-room jam sandwiches and Cup a Soup prohibitive, with even a KFC costing 20% more than a UK one) and I am almost back to my usual self. Belfast remains my new favourite place, being as fabulously warm, welcoming and hospitable as last time and I will be returning soon – current provisional dates will be the 27th February to the 1st of March and whilst nothing is ever cast in stone, I have spent that part of this afternoon which was not required for cooking, housework and Boring Paperwork (see above) scouting flights and it is as definite as it’s likely to be; after London, Jersey, Guernsey and a brief (but very necessary) decamp to Champneys taking up the first section of the month lest I get a bit bored…

I get asked about ‘touring’ (my inverted commas, because I still think it’s an odd use of a word more suited to stand-up comedians) a lot – in person, on my Formspring page, on SAAFE. Punters visiting me at home after a quick look on Google can’t understand how it works (How do people know you’re going to be there? Isn’t there enough work in Scarborough? How do you know where to go?) other ladies can think it’s a path paved with gold and a solution to all their financial woes (it can be lucrative, but it’s not a fix-all) and civvy folk are either envious at the idea of getting to circumnavigate the globe (or at least the country), stay in fancy hotels and eat takeaways every day (bwahahahaha) whilst being paid for it, or horrified at the admittedly sordid-sounding idea of a holing up in a hotel room servicing an endless queue of punters morning, noon and night. The buffet breakfast if it’s included (and the hotel is large and busy enough to feel comfortable partaking – not often) can be a bit of a high point, too.

The long and short of it is, working away in ordinary short stay accommodation is the easiest way I know to safely fit as much work in as I know how and more than I would ever dare try at home, whilst seeing a bit of the land (and even other lands) and stopping myself getting bored – meeting people who are different to me and most people I know is fun, and usually they are keen to meet me too! The possibilities are practically limitless, and whilst done properly it’s extremely hard work (in common with anything else with large potential returns), the return is pretty instant and a trip can form part of a mini break somewhere else, as well as a real head-down-and-graft cash boost for anybody who needs one. I can go wherever I like, work as much or as little as I wish and it means that the pressure at home is off, meaning that the fortunate folk who catch me when I am back in Scarborough find me far more relaxed as (and don’t take this the wrong way!) I don’t really need to see them – I can see the gentlemen I want to and turn the rest away.

As far as glamour goes (and I can obviously only speak for myself), the bulk of my days tour-wise are spent dashing in and out of the shower whilst praying that the towels I’ve stashed will last the course (and also that the CCTV didn’t spot me filching them from the trolley) whilst trying to catch up on messages and missed calls from during the last booking and getting ready for the next, and hoping that I’ll get something to eat other than biscuits within the next couple of hours. Everything has to be planned to the minutest detail, from deciding on the Landmark (a point within view where arriving punters are to be directed) and when I’m going to duck out for an hour so housekeeping can do the room (so at least in theory the uncomfortably conspicuous Do Not Disturb sign doesn’t have to be on all day) to where the nearest bank/food shop/emergency branch of Superdrug is and even then there are always the wild cards, such as those rooms which are the very model of contemporary comfort and prossie-friendliness in every way until you discover all too late that the air conditioning doesn’t work, the shower requires a City and Guilds to operate or the mobile signal is slightly worse than one would expect to receive in an underground car park in Krasnovodsk.

Travelling is boring and expensive to many but if you are somebody who doesn’t get enough peace and quiet, a three hour train (or even better, coach) journey to sit and peacefully read with headphones on is bliss, especially if there’s anything along the way to make it worth looking out of the window. Flights are horrible generally, and Manchester Airport in particular is one of the most appalling places on earth. Staying in nice hotels is lovely, although the idea that there is no housework is a bit optimistic when you’re flipping quilts and sheets, swapping pillowcases for clean (more filching) and washing out knickers and stockings for the nth time that day. Not to mention trying to sort out the bathroom disasters that some exuberant visitors create – on one occasion this involved my spending over an hour cleaning up Johnson’s Baby Powder after it was flung over every surface, following a lengthy shower which must have been angled somehow straight at the sink and mirror in order to catch and soak all the dry towels and toilet rolls on the ricochet. Thank God it was the end of an otherwise fairly pedestrian day (and I know I could have left it for the housekeeper, but would you?) but if it had been for the 5th, 6th, or even 10th time…

With regard to repetition, see again the point about showers – why there are people who fuss about having the ‘first appointment’ of the morning (when I can categorically state that by around 3pm I will have probably had five or six showers and be pretty much as clean and muck-free as it is physically possible for a human being to be outside an oxygen tent in an intensive care unit) is destined to remain a complete mystery as long as I live, especially bearing in mind that the first booking of the day is the one where I’m at my most grumbly, disorganised and generally rubbish, like most people when they have just got up and arrived at work. Bizarre indeed. Then again, early appointments (far earlier than I would attempt at home, when even having one eye open at nine am would be unlikely unless the place was on fire) are a lot of fun, and sending John Q Punter off to work with a spring in his step prior to smugly ringing housekeeping and requesting they get cracking with the room (while you wander along in your finest slobgear to Costa for tea and muffins and get all your banking done on the way) is a very fine way to start the day indeed.

This is of course assuming you’re busy. The not-busy work trip is no different to any other depressing, frustrating and expensive business endeavour, and surely every lady who has ever given it a go will have at least one woeful tale to tell! Mine have ranged from arriving at my ‘four star’ accommodation to find an oversized shed on an industrial estate with no digital TV or proper furniture, but enough dust to bring on an asthma attack (Coventry), the aforementioned Nice But No Mobile Signal (Liverpool) and the slightly-less-than-a-morning I lasted in Glasgow before switching my phone off and going out for the day instead. But these are stories for another day.

As some will remember, my birthday is fast approaching! Sunday will (as per) be off limits but all being well (and we are staying lucky with the weather, aren’t we?) it will be business as usual until the end of the month when I will be packing for my next Big Trip, starting with the first London visit of 2012 and ending with a long overdue return to Guernsey, by way of Jersey and another new venue! I do hope everything works.

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