After 15months on the road, it was time to get a job, well lets be honest it was a good run, even by my standards. We bought Kiwi Kenny, our campervan in Christchurch and headed north to the wine growing region of Marlborough where I had lined up a job grape picking with Jeeti, an Indian guy. After meeting up with him,I was far from convinced he was a genuine employer and so the job ended before it began, but good news arrived next day in email form. I'd written to several of the regions wineries and Cloudy Bay replied offering me a job as bird scarer! I didn't know what to make of this at first and checked it wasn't 1st April, no, still March. Excitement grew as I pictured myself as Worzel Gummidge chasing birds(the feathery kind) between vines. That afternoon I made my way to the vineyard and met up with Erika, I was offered and accepted the job which involved chasing birds on a quad bike but scarecrow attire was not neccessary.
It's 7am the following morning and there is an icy chill in the air as I climb from my toastie warm bed and step outside of Kenny. The warm glow of the sun is near but the surrounding hills block out the horizon to the east. To the west the stars melt away into the blue sky and what stars they were, I'm not sure I have seen such an impressive sky. I quickly heat some water for my weetabix and then drive the short distance to Cloudy Bay's Mustang vineyard, one of about eight of theirs in the area. I meet 'Kithy'(Kathy), read about health and safety and by 8am I'm sat on my quad bike ready to bird scare. I'm so overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the area that I have to pinch myself, this isn't work at all, this is pleasure. I set off on patrol up and down the long rows of vines, scaring a few birds but not many, the cold hits me again as between vines the sun's warmth is absent. Lunch time arrives in no time, I wonder if time will pass so quickly after a week of this.
Mid afternoon, and I sense trouble, I'm right the magpies have invaded, upto forty of them and I'm not talking about the polite, well mannered magpies we know and love, only interested in shiny stuff. No, white backed magpies are notorous grape killers and I break out into a sweat. Foot to the floor I give chase but, I get to within 20metres and startle them, one of them stays low between the same vines as me, its like a scene from Star Wars, honestly it is, I can almost touch him. Sensing my breath on his feathers and at high speed, he pulls off a Luke Skywalker style manoevre weaving between vines and is gone. Behind me, the gang have re-gathered and are laughing at me and making murderous swoops on the helpless grapes below. At the end of my first day, I have mastered driving at full speed whilst standing up, waving, clapping, whistling and barking like a dog, I believe if Alan Sugar witnessed this type of multi-tasking, he'd be saying 'you're hired!'. As I type this on my laptop, sitting in Kenny, a magpie has just landed on a wooden post, looked at me, took a shit and left. It's as though they know what my day job is...
Well, 4 weeks have passed and the bird scaring is over, for the past week I have been walking up and down the rows of vines looking for and removing broken posts. I finish the job tomorrow, I think. My boss Jeff, has less personality than a than a turd and I have had longer conversations with the grapes. Infact one day I was chatting to a grape and he couldnt contain himself, he thought today was the day he'd be picked, crushed, fermented, bottled and shipped somewhere far and wide and when drunk he lives life through the eyes of the drinker for a few days before he is no more. This particular grape believed in reincarnation and told me about his previous lives. He fondly remembered the good old days when he regularly found himself himself on a country estate in Europe and spent his final days viewing fine art, dining out and galloping around the paddocks. Then he sighed and reflected on more recent years, bright lights, loud music and often the inside of the toilet, followed by more drinking. He sighed and regretted the increasing trendiness of wine with the younger generation maybe this year would be different he told me, I wished him luck.
So, I have now bird scared on the dancefloors of the UK and the vineyards of New Zealand, regrettably I feel I was more successful on the dancefloors, much more.