The Waspie: Week One

The Boss poses for his profile shot, the new website required visuals.

Well, I’m back in Blighty where it’s wet, cold and miserable. I’ve been a pestie again for a week and it’s pretty quiet so far. Apart from the honey bee swarm on the day I landed, which the guy who called us was convinced was a wasps’ nest.

Now, it took me at least 20 minutes last year to learn the difference between a wasp and a honey bee, so one could forgive those who don’t watch insects for a living the error…unless we’re talking a massive swarm hanging from a tree.

This chap had even put a sign up next to it saying ‘Warning, Wasps Nest’. I wish I’d had the camera with me. He was gobsmacked when we said we’d take them  away and give them to a beekeeper, not kill them on the spot. I was dispatched to the van for the Mark 1 Swarm Removal Kit (a cardboard box and a blanket) and we conveyed them home to await collection.… Read on...

The Return of Mr Hotshot: B&B part 5

Well, it looks as though Trucking in English really will be about trucking again very shortly, as I have managed to produce a tolerable test drive and am almost employed again. The paperwork and other bits of admin begin next week, with an eta of the week after that for actually being back in the cab. 13 speed gearboxes and 75 foot trailers seem to be similar to bicycles in that it all comes flooding back. So, it would be timely to finish the tale of the end of my business career, it sort of explains a pressing need to drive off into the sunset for a living.
 
(If you missed the other posts in the B&B series, here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)
 

Mr Hotshot came back into our lives, by way of a bizarre phone call, six months after he was evicted.… Read on...

Mr Hollywood Hotshot: B&B part 4

Ok, back to the B&B for a while, and part one of the tale of Mornington Cresent’s ultimate nemesis…

 

(If you missed the other posts in the B&B series, here are links to Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 5.)

 
They arrived one Sunday afternoon in the depths of a miserable and empty winter. They checked out our pet-friendly room, with a view to an extended stay of about six weeks. She was quiet, with a friendly smile. He was large, loud, and faintly objectionable. But the dollar signs in my eyes overcame the warning signs in my belly and I chose to overlook the fact that the dog, a scruffily nice black Lab called Brodie, tended to flinch if you raised your hand to pat his nose. I quoted a slightly inflated price by way of compensation for putting up with them. They agreed instantly and asked to move in right away.… Read on...

Tree hugging for beginners

Well, the final shocking denouement which heralds the end of the B&B will have to wait, because I’ve been up to mad stuff again.

This escapade began with an email from my reporter pal Valerie. We met when she wrote a (surprisingly positive) review of my book for the local paper. Some wine, conversation and parties later, I am a frequent sidekick for any freebies she may be invited to write about.

The email was deceptive. Would I like to go ziplining and then on to an observatory? I had visions of a theme park somewhere, a bit Disneyish, with a little zip line and a big bouncy mattressy thing at the bottom. And I have liked a bit of stargazing ever since Ben had his astronomy phase as a kid; so I agreed to go along for a media day out and pretend I would be writing about the place for British Mensa.

Read on...

The Beginning of the End: B&B Part 3

Episode three of an exercise in trying to decide whether there’s a book to be had from the B&B days. If you missed the other posts in the B&B series, here are links to Part 1Part 2Part 4 and Part 5.
 

It wasn’t Fay who finished me off in the end though, it was the guests. You’d think that a nice little B&B tucked away in rural Ontario, where the tourist attractions have to do with Mennonite farmers’ markets, quilting extravaganzas and the world’s biggest Maple Syrup Festival (I kid you not) would attract people with manners and wholesome habits. But it turns out that quiet little tucked-away places are also where you go if you want to fly under the radar. Who in their right minds would book into a hotel chain with managers and security if you want a room from which to turn tricks on a rainy night?

Read on...

More Mornington Crescent: B&B Part 2

So, the interview went well but from 25 applicants there is a shortlist of four for one driving post. This really shows what a hit the road haulage industry must have taken last year, since all us truckerly grads had jobs before the ink was dry on our licences the first time around. Leaving Challenger when I did was clearly a big mistake, but I didn’t have a lot of choice at the time. I am taking my mind off worrying about it by continuing the tale of the B&B years. Those of you who held my hand through it all will know a lot of this and anyone following Birds on the Blog will have read it already…really hoping to have more tales of 18 wheeled mishaps for you soon.

After an initial post about buying the B&B for the Birds (who are, after all, a blog circle for women in business) they were kind enough to ask me ‘what happened next?’ which led to a spot more writing…
 
(If you missed the other posts in the B&B series, here are links to Part 1Part 3Part 4 and Part 5.)
 
The first thing that happened was that I mentally retraced my steps and re-evaluated every piece of advice I’d been given.… Read on...

Entrepreneur? B&B Part 1

Well, there’s an interview for a trucking job on the horizon, so it’s just possible that Trucking in English might be about trucking again sometime this decade. In the meantime, I have been guest blogging for the peerless Birds on the Blog about the haplessly bizarre B&B days. It appears that enough time has passed, the experience is passing from trauma to farce, and there’s a story sort of emerging. So, I’ll reproduce here part of how it all started. A small series might follow.
 
(Indeed it did, you can follow the rest of the series with links to Part 2, Part 3Part 4 and Part 5.)
 
I wasn’t expecting a life filled with drunks, prostitutes, cocaine addicts and murderers to be honest. I just wanted to be a legal Landed Immigrant in Canada. Ben and I had spent 18 months here in the ‘90s, on temporary visas, and decided we liked it enough to move permanently.… Read on...

Don’t they know it’s Saturday?

Lifeline. A part-time job that can take over your life and suck out your soul if you let it. Mostly I love it, and if it just brought a small amount more money in, I’d probably not still be seeking the open road. There are days when I actually do ‘make a difference’ and days when I happily revisit favourite people. Like the young lady from Bosnia, who arrived in Canada as a refugee and is the sunniest, most dancing-about-for-joy person I have ever met. She narrowly escaped the Srebrenica massacre and spent most of the war in a refugee camp. As a Type 1 diabetic, she faced more challenges than most. “It’s hard to manage diabetes in a camp” and she giggled as she told me this. That was when she went blind. Deeper damage was done then too, but it is only now that we know she needs a kidney transplant.… Read on...

Hurry up and wait…

Yes, I know, no news.

To my eternal shame, I failed the Schneider fitness test, on the very last exercise. I did all the waving 30lbs over your head and hoisting baskets full of weights all over the place, but couldn’t quite push 80lbs with a stupid bar attached to a couple of ropes. Apparently the ability to push a mere 78lbs makes one a dodgy trucker. There was much grumpy licking of wounds and ranting about the unfairness of things in general, and a major sulk. Especially since I had kitted myself out with a natty new flashlight thingumybob that sits on the brim of a baseball cap…all ready for those midnight vehicle checks. So, the applications still flow out, a couple of nibbles from companies who ‘might be hiring soon’ but nothing in the long-haul line just yet.

In the meantime, it’s back to Lifeline, the standby that always seems to be pleased to have me back.… Read on...

Have you heard the one about the woman driver?

A friend joked recently, via Facebook, about women and parking. My knee-jerk reaction surprised no-one who knows me, I issued an immediate challenge to a ‘reverse-off’ next time we meet. Which I will naturally win. I have parked ambulances in London, stretch limos in Toronto and 18 wheeled tractor-trailers in Texas. So why am I so touchy around the ‘women drivers’ gag genre?

This little spat led me to ponder attitudes to women drivers over the years. I was twenty-five when, seeking a little more excitement in my life, I ditched postgrad research to become an ambulance driver. This was 1980ish. Feminism had gone a long way towards ensuring that women had equal opportunities in male-dominated professions, but those opportunities only really existed at recruitment level. We were entitled to be interviewed and aptitude-tested. We were entitled to be trained and examined. Instructors were, quite rightly, tasked with making zero allowances for our stature and limited upper body strength.… Read on...