Thursday, April 26, 2012

First week of April and James Birthday

THe first week of April was mostly spent getting ready for James Birthday party. On Tuesday a friend of James who worked as a carpender came by to construct a bar for the cafe. He arrived at eight in the morning to talk with them and determine what materials he would need. I spent the morning weeding gardens closest to the house where people would be gathering during the party. I was mostly digging clusters of celondine and dandilion sprouts. I kept leaving my task to help carry furniture and materials to the gallery as things were delivered. After lunch I helped arrange cabinets and shelves around the bar that had already been completed. I was asked to start scraping spots of dirt and paint off the stone floor that had been dropped as the walls and windows were painted. It wasn't an easy job and I couldnt get most of the spots up without heavy work with a wire brush. I spent the rest of the day doing this, but I didn't get far. There was still scafolding in the gallery so I felt like any progress I had made would be wasted when it was moved after the ceiling was finished. Yet the next morning I went back to the same thing scraping with a razor blade, wire brush and steel wool. Clara and I moved outside that afternoon luckily to trim the edges of the lawn and rake out some more of the lawn behing Wendys house. Thursday was the same routine, but with painting. We were to paint just about everything in the gallery including windows walls shelves, bar, and furniture. Four of us including James and a friend named Shane that would be sharing the birthday party. It again was not hard work, just monotonous and simple. As we finished the bar, Kegs arrived for the new gas tap which would be used for pints. James had ordered two kegs of Guiness and two of Carlsburg which would be expected to disappear by the second night. Clara and I offered to help some more that evening since there was still a lot of remaining work and the party was to start the next afternoon. ovr a hundred and fifty people we meaning to stop in for the party so naturally the idea of anything going wrong terrified James. That evening family arrived and everyone joined for whiskey and wine in the main kitchen. We all stayed up chatting and listening to music as James caught up with his sisters and in laws and shared stories about travel with Shane who had just arrived back from trips so several different countries. The next day was hectic ofcourse as James began to think of all the jobs that needed done sending me and Clara off on new tasks before we could properly finish the previous. Some of the jobs felt pointless, such as wiping down the fences and signs around the garden and raking the gravel paths out smooth so you couldn't see and indentions from walking. I made a quick run around the garden and green houses to water everything since I had not been doing anything out there at all since monday due to party preparations. Tension had been building up over the week, and nerves were shot from the fast paced multitasking and tidying up of evry part of the property. Then the crowd began to arrive and pints started going around. within an hour music was up, people were immersed in loud conversation and empty glasses were bulking up by the twenties. Almost all of the guests had travelled from LOndon or Spain and were obviously very high class. Many came in with fur coats and very fancy suits, talking with a very arrogant and annoying accent. Not many of the guests carried on much conversation with me or Clara often turning away after saying were we had travelled from. Anyone that did care to chat would have something to boast to us about like a two million dollar home in Barcelona or theyer own next big event that would be all of the best things to see. I met screen writers and artists from London as well as well known musicians, producers and a number of Lords and Ladies. I spoke to the manager of Slane Castle as well as a few other high class venues which accepted Woofers. The music went on through the night even with a couple amps being blown by spilled beer, thy were quickly replaced by another by James. James kept asking me to tend to fires and help people find drinks when ever needed while Clara and Lindsay were asked to walk around with two bottles of wine available for any one looking for some. Lindsay went around being curdious and obedient to James request pouring glasses for anyone that motioned. CLara and I didn't pay much attention to the idea of serving since most of the crowd had become very pompous and rude about want more drinks and more fun. Any time the music would stop of the keg would need changed guests would start wanting to leave claiming the party wasnt good enough. People passed out in chairs and hallways for short periods and then jumping back into the crowd with a fresh pint from the bar. A fifteen year old boy was in charge of bartending until ten in the morning, only getting a break from me of Clara who didn't know enough about tending to hold of the pushy crowd asking for all typs of cocktails and continuous pints. At ten the next morning when the bar shut down and people started to thin I headed for a bed and slept for a few hours before being awoken for more cocktails on the patio with everyone that stayed over. We drank through the day, with little to eat and got together agian that evening for whiskey and music in the main kitchen with the extended family. The next day I was starting to feel ill which I assumed was a rough hangover, but lasted the entire day together with weakness and being sick. Clara felt the same way and was sick as well, so we became suspicious that we might have gotten some sort of bug.Lindsay left that morning, over a month earlier than she had planned. She told me before she set off that I should reconsider my own plans and move on before I began to see the home the way she had. The same morning, the maid of the house who came in a few days a week waled out and quit, saying that cleaning up after the out of control party was the last straw and it was no longer worth the payment. Two new wwoofers arrived that night, but I was not up for being too social. James and the family kept hounding Clara and I to join them for a fifth keg and music with the new guests as a way to kill the hangover, but we both passed it up. The next day it became obvious we had gotten some type of stomach virus. We both had fevers and could not hold down any food. Luckily it was a bank holiday and we did not have to work. James had the two new girls clean galsses, organize the kitchen and clean the floors for a few hours which me and Clara saw as taking advantage of them. Natasha, a thirty year old experienced wwoofer from New Zeland was unhappy with the way she had been welcomed because James had appearently sat around drinking while he gave her cleaning tasks around the house and everyone else was resting. I could tell James and Jo both talked to her and treated her less curtiously than me or Clara for some reason, which was bothersom to us all. The other new wwoofer is an eighteen year old from Germany named Kirsten who was looking for experience with the English language and sustainable lifestyles. She was assigned to take care of the three children rather than Natasha who had experience as a nanny and more confidence with kids. Ofcourse the two girls were very unhappy with having a new au pair and began to throw tantrums and making messes which she had little ability to control. At one point during lunch one of the girls threw a plate of food because she had been asked to eat something she didn't like and when Kirsten asked why she did such a thing she replied in a loud voice "Because I can and you can't stop me" and ran away. After a rough first few hours as an Au pair, Clara was told to help out and explain how to handle the children. There was little difference in the behavior as they ran around screaming and making messes for the rest of the day. James was aggrivated with them both for not having more control while guests were still around. I don't understand myself how someone could do the job of looking after the children with James and Jos rules about no discipline or punishment for any bad behavior. We were told that we can tell them "No" as firmly as we could, but to never raise our voices, and if they disobeyed and did something wrong anyway, we were not to do anything but explain it was wrong and clean up after them. They did not want any of the children to be put in a time out, have things taken away or yelled at in any way for misbehaviors. The au pairs were to only offer rewards to the kids if they would listen and behave. So naturally, the kids became very hard to take care of and would only behave or listen when they wanted candy or rewards, otherwise they would ignor the rules and the wwoofers watching them often causing stress for everyone around. The tantrums lasted through the eveningand the next morning when the Gardens opened to the public. All three girls were eventually assigned to handle the three kids while James left for a holiday in Dublin and Jo managed the Garden walks and Gallery Cafe. Tuesday evening the four of us sat together and discussed the situation. We all agreed we each had plans to leave soon as the environment was getting very tense and stressful. Natasha was feeling unwelcome in the home and had also picked up a bug which was making it hard for her to keep up with James buisy work. Clara and I were fighting a virus and were taking turns resting or being sick while the other was working in the garden. I had decided to leave with the others within a week or so, but had no plans or idea how to go about it. I wrote my previous host, and my next host looking for new arrangements and started to get my bags together and ready for a quick departure when the time came. The weekend parties and opening of the Gardens had brought a lot of stress and completely changed the calm and peacful environment we had enjoyed for the past few weeks.   

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