If you are away on holiday this month, then congratulations, you’ve deserved it. And if you’ve gone abroad then I hope the under-staffed airlines and ferry companies didn’t make life too difficult for you.
And I hope you remembered to take some tools with you. Because almost every hotel room I’ve ever stayed in has required some kind of running repairs to keep it up to scratch.
Of course, this might just say something about the price range that Mrs Wise Howell and I pitch at for our holiday budget. After all, if you’re paying five star prices, then you wouldn’t expect to have to get the Swiss Army Knife out to adjust the shower head, would you? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never stayed in a five star hotel. No, we prefer to spend our money on the finer things in life – otherwise known as good food and drink.
Which means our accommodation often requires an occasional tweak with the pen knife, or even the travelling multi-tool, with its handy selection of screwdriver heads and little spanners.
Aside from fixing the plumbing and the creaky furniture in my budget hotel accommodation, I do tend to quickly get bored on holiday. Lazing around the pool, or on the beach, is OK for the first couple of days, but then I’ve usually had enough. I get restless just hanging about.
So when I see local builders doing stuff, I often feel the urge to join in. The Plaster-of-Paris cornice carvers in Morocco was a real treat, although I wasn’t actually allowed to have a go myself. But the lime plasterers in Sicily graciously let me do a bit of spreading.
In India, I got so fed up with the sand blowing in from the beach and forming dunes on the patio, that I grabbed a shovel and started clearing it up. This led to great hilarity amongst the locals, one of whom filmed me on his phone. They had never seen a European man doing physical work before!
But I also love seeing the different ways that builders work around the world. The variations in materials, and the working practices. Italian tradesmen drinking coffee and shots of spirits at 7am (not sure how that goes with the H&S rules over there!)
In Malaysia I watched a gang of carpenters fitting out a shop front with ornate carvings. None of them seemed to have a tape measure. If a piece wouldn’t fit, the chippie would toss it down to his mate on the ground, who would chop a bit off with a chisel and toss it back up to him. I’m guessing that’s how it used to be done everywhere.