1 to 4 April 2015
The first week of April was also the first week of my change to the early shift. It felt a little strange to be getting up at five fifteen on a Wednesday morning, rather than six thirty, more like my Saturday shift which has been an early start for a while now. Combined with the change of the clocks it threw me out all day.
As I was putting my boots on getting ready to leave the house I was surprised to see a beautiful dawn sky outside. Until now my early walks to work have started in darkness. Then I remembered the clocks ‘springing forward’ and realised I’d be walking as the sun came up. The thought of dawn breaking over the river made me chose the route over the Big Bridge to maximise my chance of seeing it. It felt really strange to be leaving the house before Commando had got in from work and I missed our early morning conversation, even if it usually consists of Commando telling me things I forget later because I’m still half asleep.
The rush hour hadn’t really started so the road was still quiet as I made my way to the bridge. As I rounded the bend by the big rocks two black swans were digging about in the shallows along with a couple of the usual residents. Quite where these black swans have been all winter is a mystery but they seem to be everywhere I go at the moment.
At first I thought I’d missed the best of the sunrise because there was nothing more than a hint of peachy pink on the horizon adding a slight rosy tinge to the water. As I strolled along the boardwalk though things got prettier and prettier and, by the time I got to the other end, there were pastel pink clouds above and the river was a confection of pink and blue stripes. What a start to the week.
It it felt like a Saturday, so, for a moment, I was surprised not to be alone in the office when I got there. There wasn’t much time to think about it though as the phones got busy pretty quickly, mostly with queries about the Bank Holiday bus services. This became wearing fairly soon after the second call. Despite having posters on all the buses and notices on our website and social media pages, every man and his dog wanted to know if their bus would be running over the Easter weekend. If I said, “Good Friday will be a Sunday service, Saturday will be a normal Saturday service and Sunday and Monday will be Sunday service,” once I said it a thousand times.
One woman actually said, “how can it be a Sunday service if it’s a Friday?” So I had to explain this meant the buses would be running at the same time as they would on Sunday although it wouldn’t actually be a Sunday. “But my bus doesn’t run on a Sunday, so when will my bus be running?” She asked, still not understanding. She wasn’t very impressed when I told her it wouldn’t be running. “But I need to get to the shops. I always go shopping on Friday,” she grumbled.
“The shops won’t be open on Friday either,” I explained, wishing someone would shoot me and put me out of my misery.
“Well, that’s not very good is it?” she said. “Why aren’t the shops open?”
“Because it’s Good Friday, so it’s a bank holiday.”
“I’m going to write to my MP about this,” she said.
At least all the calls made the day go quickly and, when five o’clock came round, I almost forgot to go home. Leaving work in daylight was fairly novel too and it meant I could go back across the boardwalk, which is actually the quickest route home. The black swans were still there, although a little further along. The mute swans don’t make a great deal of noise normally, just the odd hiss, but the black swans were calling to each other, a haunting bugle like sound. It made me smile as I carried on to the bridge.
Although I’d missed Commando in the morning. The change of shift meant I got home before he left for work which was novel. We had a whole quarter of an hour to talk to each other and I was actually awake for all of it. This will be the pattern of our days from now on. It’s going to take some getting used to but I like it better than the late evening finishes, even if it does mean I have to be strict with myself and go to bed early.
Thursday morning was darker, mostly because it was drizzling with rain. Even so, I took the Big Bridge route again in the hope of seeing the black swans. They were nowhere in sight though and the few white swans there were were asleep with their heads tucked under their downy wings. Right about then I felt as if I could have happily joined them. The early starts were already beginning to catch up with me.
In the office the calls about Bank Holiday times continued. The mood was getting a little fraught as everyone was fed up with saying the same thing over and over. At lunchtime I took a walk to the nearest supermarket and came back with a bag full of little Easter eggs to cheer everyone up. They were well received. In fact they disappeared rather quickly.
Thankfully I didn’t have to work on Good Friday. We have a system of skeleton staff on most Bank Holidays meaning each of us has to work one a year. Mine is not until August, when I’m sure I will be cursing about being at work when everyone else isn’t. As everything was closed and the weather was appaling, I decided to make it my rest day and spent the day cleaning and doing nothing much with Commando. No chocolate of any kind was consumed.
In the afternoon, while we sat watching rubbish Bank Holiday TV and drinking coffee I decided to check out Facebook. The very first thing I saw was a message from Mr Bumble. with all the mad thungs she’s done I honestly thought there was nothing she could do to shock me anymore. I was wrong. She has signed up for the Marathon Des Sable, a six day, one hundred and fifty six mile ultra marathon across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco . The longest single stage is fifty seven miles!
This is the toughest ultra marathon in the world, the heat alone is bad enoigh but the chances of getting lost in the desert, having to carry all your own supplies and all that sand make it a Herculean task for even the fittest athletes. This year Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Arctic explorer, is the oldest man running. The oldest woman is Mr Bumble and she will be walking so she’ll be out in that heat twice as long as most people. She’s doing all this for the Walk The Walk charity that runs the Moonwalk, so all the money she raises will go to breast cancer charities. That woman is a legend!
On Saturday morning I decided walk to work over Cobden Bridge, just in case it thought I was neglecting it. It was another grey day but at least there wasn’t any rain. The tree that blossomed way too early back in winter was having another go at it as I made my way towards Monks Path. It was doing quite well, despite my worries that it would have used up all its energy on those winter flowers.
A mass of tiny birds were flying over the river filling the air with song when I got there. Disappointingly there were no pink clouds or pretty coloured water. In fact, everything was very grey and quiet, apart from the birds. The curtains were drawn on the houseboat and I guessed, like the rest of the world, the occupants were all still asleep. I’d have quite liked to be asleep myself. By the slipway even the swans were sleeping.
Most of the calls were still about the Bank Holiday. Now though some were people complaining that their bus hadn’t arrived on Friday when they expected it, then getting angry when they found out we’d run a Sunday service. Variations on a theme. Mia was the provider of chocolate this time, she arrived with several bags of mini sized treats including teeny Oreos the size of pennies. There is way too much food in our office for my liking and its all way too tempting. This did not stop me eating them.
By mid afternoon my eyes were feeling decidedly heavy. A week of early starts was catching up with me. Still, I can’t complain, at least I don’t have miles and miles of desert ahead of me, just Commando waiting to pick me up at five. Hopefully I will be more acclimatised by the end of next week.