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Sunday, 12 May 2013

what must they all make of it?

I am referring to my readers from other countries, what does this volunteering mean to them? In the last month there have been readers from Malaysia and Indonesia in the far east, France and Canada, ( who I think are friends of mine, loyally doing their bit for an old friend) and a large number from Russia, Romania and the United States. A few months ago, after the UK, Latvia topped the list! Some of these countries do have a history of volunteering, I am fairly sure that others don't. So, tell me, what do you all make of it?

Over the last fortnight I have been outdoors in the sunshine (now gone again) and indoors on the phone and a lovely Fairtrade meal in York.

Coasties, www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/ were doing work on a bridleway near Harwood Dale, it was perfect; sunny, but not too hot, quiet except for a very noisy chiffchaff and as usual a sense of a job well done at the end of the afternoon. As we ate lunch I looked up at the trees and the blue sky and realised how lucky I am. I have travelled thousands of miles for a scene like this and here it is on my doorstep (well nearly).

As usual these days Short Stop lassn.org.uk, goes smoothly. Two referrals, one from Iran the other from Pakistan the first week and just one, another man from Iran, the second week. I email some suggestions round to my colleagues about tweaking the system to make it even better. For example we need to know which hosts are perhaps being over used? I know I tended to start at the beginning of my list, now each week I try to phone different people first. Providers in the small society need a break like everyone else. As usual I have chat with some of the hosts, and then realise that I am using up the 'free' minutes on my phone and it is only the beginning of my phone month.

I was at Farndale for the daffodil information unit on Bank Holiday Monday, it was so warm we were all in just our regulation polo shirts, a first this year for me. I have to tell a lovely family picnicking amongst the flowers that really they are trespassing on the private land in the field next to the path. Most visitors think that National Parks are like parks in towns and that the land is in common ownership. Alas this is not so, the path is a public right of way, but almost all the land is in private ownership and so should not be picnicked on. There is Open Access land that we can all walk over and a quick picnic there is OK, but these fields are not in that category. They are very apologetic and offer to go immediately, but stay and finish your lunch I tell them.

We have also been recipients of other volunteers' activities this month. A fascinating evening walk organised by the Leeds Civic Trust, www.leedscivictrust.org.uk, around what remains of medieval Leeds, more than you would have imagined, if you include current street layouts. Then another history walk, this time round Appleton in the Moors, a planned Abbey village again from the Middle Ages. Led on this occasion by one of my North York Moors volunteer colleagues. Both walks which might sound a little dry were far from it; enlivened by the enthusiasm of the volunteer walk leaders. Tales of good and bad deeds and in Leeds a form of medieval tax evasion, nothing changes! As I said to a passer by, the modern Starbucks.


Then last night an evening of singing, drumming and eating to celebrate World Fair Trade day, organised by York Fair Trade Forum, www.fairtradeyorkshire.org.uk . As you can see from the empty Fair Trade wine bottles a good time was had by all, my small society is fun as well as good for the soul. Yes we did go on the train!

My friend in Leeds is still in her temporary accommodation. She has once again had to clean up a place that was deemed fit for her and her baby by the housing providers, but not by her. I thought the cooker was new, but no it was now shiny and white, where it had been grimy and blackened. Elbow grease, rather than cooking grease.

So, if you my overseas visitors to this blog need an explanation, please leave a comment and I will do what I can to explain the vagaries of the British volunteering scene.