September 17th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Chris picking

Up at 7 – the French pair had lent us their alarm clock.  We’d gone to bed early the night before, it seems to get dark so early here, and there doesn’t seem to be much point in doing anything else.  I’d slept well – Val had suffered the aches + pains of a day’s work.  Then to work.  The picking didn’t go too badly, tho’ it is very tiring.  First, and most important so far as I’m concerned, the legs.  They are constantly tensed when one is up the ladder, braced against the rungs, holding one position.  And even on the ground you can’t rest, since walking thro’ the long grass, either carrying a heavy bag or moving the ladder, is hard work too.

Secondly on the shoulders, mainly because of the weight of a heavy bag of apples pulling dow n on them, but partly, + this has a bad effect on the back too, all the awkward stretching + reaching that one has to do.  And then there are all the relatively minor annoyances – the scratches, bruises and scrapes caused by the branches.  Insects are annoying too, particularly since, perched on top of a ladder, one is hardly in a position to do anything about them.  A fly which persists in attacking the back of one’s leg seems to me to be one of the most annoying things possible, + dangerous, too, at times, because one is tempted into all sorts of quivers + shakes to throw him off.

However, on the plus side, one is out in the sunshine (and it’s been really hot + sunny), you’re relatively free to tackle the job the way you want to, and you are left alone to your own thoughts + fancies (though that can become rather overpowering at times.)  We had decided not to stop for lunch – just break for an apple – + this we did, working till about 5, filling 5 bins.  We had rather hoped for 6, but that must be for another day.

We then went down for a swim in the lake, with Rob – it was marvellous to wash all the grime + muck of a day’s work off the body… especially as we took shampoo and soap.  Then some shopping + home for an evening meal, soup ‘n sandwiches, before bed, before 9.

Well I certainly know how to moan.  Though it does give a pretty accurate depiction of the discomforts.  Mr Kuipers had given us a lesson in how to pick, which is cupping the fruit and turning it upside down, rather than pulling it downwards, and losing the stem… making it less valuable.  Best of all was “Extra fancy” which had the stem intact and a single leaf.  If this was in good condition, it could be used for display… and so was worth more.

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