John the Viking

By some happenstance, I fell in with a National Trust volunteer group after leaving university.

It was totally alien to me because I wasn’t in the business of working for nothing, but I met new people, got out of the (parental) house and the social life was a totally different network.

This pic was the Bransdale weekend, showing our classy stone cottage accommodation. Not sure about hot water though. Absolutely no idea what we were doing there but we were staying there for a weekend, rather than the usual Sunday in Sheffield, dry stone walling. All the volunteers, except me of course, had spent the previous month making delicious food, and dished up the most excellent spread on that first evening. I was pretty new to the group. (excuses, excuses)

The table was full of home-made quiches, pies, salads, potatoes – it was wonderful. We sat down and stuffed ourselves, and as we weren’t going anywhere maybe we had a couple of glasses of wine. I’d been given a lift by Nicky and Partner whose name I have totally forgotten.

There was some talk about whether or not John would turn up or whether he would have to work.

‘You’ll like him,’ they said. ‘We all do, he’s really nice and great fun.’ I decided I wouldn’t like him.

Just before midnight they had all sadly given him up. I was mildly disappointed too. It would have been more interesting to see someone I had decided not to like.

Vroom! Vroom! went the motor bike pulling up outside. The door clattered open, and in walked a blond Viking.

Everyone jumped up and fawned all over him. (Who was this guy I wondered?) He said hello to everyone in the room who he knew, taking his time to greet them all personally, and then turned to me. ‘How do lass?’ or something like that. ‘You must be t’ new un.’

Smell up nose (mine). ‘Hello.’

I can’t remember the weekend. The building was basic but functional, and we obviously did some volunteer work somewhere. Dry stone walls, or paths, or some such slog.

After a couple more volunteering weekends the attraction of getting covered in mud, getting back ache, and rubbing my hands raw, paled somewhat. I spent most of my Saturdays and Sundays with John. Yes, I know. Don’t say anything. He was really nice after all.

We lost touch as you do. I went on my big trip around the world and to Aus (partly inspired by a couple of teachers in the NT group who had already been), and I came back married.

Apparently really nice John had got in touch though, and rung my parents, saying he was going out to Aus. They told him I was already there. They didn’t give him my contact details (er parents? my ‘phone in Aus?, my address?) and they didn’t tell me for years afterwards that he had got in touch.

Honestly! What is it with parents? Wasn’t I allowed any male friends?

Hello John! Greenkeeper from Sheffield! Where are you now?

Other info: Taken in June 1981. At least I put info on the back of the photos 30 years ago.


4 comments on “John the Viking”

  1. Memories. And what-if’s.
    I suspect the next visit could have been a disappointment, and this could have been a very different post. As it is, you have a warm story to go along with an interesting old building. It all worked out after all šŸ™‚
    1981? That was a lifetime ago for me too. If memory serves me correctly, that was about the time I discovered the joy of Linguistics – and had yet to be bitten by the travel bug. I had travelled but it was the means to an end. The discovery of the joy of travel was still a few years in the making. Memories. šŸ™‚


    • The visit to Bransdale was a one-off for the weekend, normally we just did Sunday stuff on historic estates in Yorkshire. It was a nice weekend though as I remember.

      It was the year after I had graduated and I guess I was wondering in what direction to go …..


  2. Whst a fab story to that pic, and you can dry stone wall too?
    I’ve always believed things happen in life for a reason, would you have met A if the Viking had followed you out to Oz? Would you have ended up living where you are now? Would Pippa have found you?
    It always amazes me how some act by someone else can change the whole direction we think you’re travelling, another day a different path!!


  3. Well, I have dry stone walled, whether or not I am remotely proficient at it is another matter.

    Whoa! The Viking didn’t ‘follow me’ out to Aus! He went out after me, not quite the same thing. Although he may have been doing. Who knows? I’d already met A long before then though šŸ™‚

    Just as well I grabbed hold of A though in Aus, with my parents casually forgetting to mention contact from other men at the family home asking for me – this was by no means the first incident šŸ˜¦


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