I get thinking time breaks at my work on the M27 motorway services. Between frequent bouts of hard work we have time to sit down, (or stand up) whilst we wait for the next lorry to come along to be washed.
On a break yesterday I was thinking about my nephew who had just worked some of his passage on a boat trip up the Amazon. I was impressed. And he had a great time.
It made me think. How many jobs have I had during my twenty five (ish) years of on/off travelling abroad?
I made a quick list and soon reached the fifty mark. And that wasn’t counting the numerous cabinet making commissions I was able to find. Four kitchens in the British Virgin Islands, a kitchen, bed and rack of cupboards for a friend in Mallorca. I sculpted a cross from local wood for my Grandmother on El Hierro, the furthest West of the Spanish Canary Islands, where I also built someone the top of half of a dresser, another person a door, and another person I help build a roof. The list for furniture and woodwork commissions goes on.
I recount six separate jobs in France, four in Mallorca, two in mainland Spain, eight different jobs in Thailand, three in Hong Kong.
I have washed dishes in the ski resort of Chamonix, on the party island of Ibiza, on what at the time was known as the gay capital of Europe, Gran Canaria, and also on the Greek side of the island of Cyprus.
I managed to teach English twice in Hong Kong, twice in Thailand.
I starred in a Japanese advert in Thailand earning £450 for a days work. I did have to shave all the hair off my head to earn it though! I was also an extra in three films, all war films, all horrible films.
I restored farmhouses in France for two months, getting the job through a Freead paper. When applying for the carpentry job I told my prospective employer that I had just sold all my tools. He was so desperate though he took the risk and said come anyway.
It worked out. I returned twice in the years to come. Both times for another two months. I helped restore a chalet in the French Alps and a Chateau near Lille. I oiled some benches and tables for the monks in the monastery of St.Bernard in the Swiss Alps. I helped restore a hostel in Mallorca for many months and made repairs in a hotel for a few weeks.
I spent five months helping restore a World War Two minesweeper in Ibiza, four months in Martinique redecking a sailboat. Spent many months fitting out charter boats in mainland Spain and Mallorca, with additional boat building jobs in Turkey, Cyprus, the South of France, Gran Canaria and Martinique.
I picked oranges in Sparta, Greece for a day. I picked olives in Crete for a day before I cracked my rib slipping on the roof of a pick up. I also had to stop a job in Mallorca for the same reason. I managed to crack another rib whilst wrestling with a glue joint for a bed on a super yacht.
I spent ten days working on a campsite close to Mont St Michel in France. I cleaned bungalows on a beach resort on the island of Koh Samet in Thailand.
I waited tables in the Roof restaurant in Bangkok, served breakfasts in a café in Gran Canaria.
I worked for the fire brigade in El Hierro for a couple of months until I quit following a disagreement with the boss. The next day there was a fire. It was nothing to do with me.
I picked litter on a building site in Gibraltar. (We all got fired on day two, all fourteen of us). I spent two days picking up plastic off a beach in Crete.
I proof read in Hong Kong and was also a bouncer in a nightclub for one night. (Not to be repeated).
I did some night time shop fitting in Munich and some serious sign writing for a store in Martinique.
A lot of these jobs I came across through shear good fortune. Most of the jobs came along when I needed good fortune.
I have my brother to thank for a year and a halves work as manager of a resort in the British Virgin Islands. I left that job because it was too good.
I am sure there are more jobs that I shall remember about tomorrow but these are the ones that just jumped out at me in one of my thinking breaks, at work, at the M27 services, in the UK.