There’s not much I wouldn’t do for a good cup of tea.

The Youngest was going to nursery three mornings a week and I hated it. I was so miserable without her, I had no idea what to do with myself so I panicked as that seemed the best thing to do at the time.

When The Eldest was wee I was at work, I left work because it didn’t fit in with him once he’d started school and besides I wanted to go to all the assemblies, school plays and woodland walks with the school, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that if I’d been at work now would I? The hilarious thing is that The Eldest wouldn’t let me go in to school, on the rare occasion I did go in it would result in a panic attack of monumental proportions so I stayed home. Except that time I snuck in at the end of a Christmas play, shhh.

Anyhoo, although I had only worked three days a week when The Eldest was wee, I hadn’t spent three whole years with just him as I had with the youngest. It had been just she and me at home for three years then off she went, without so much as a “Cheerio”

What an absolute arse!

Two years she’s been at school now and still doesn’t look back. Other children hug their parents, some will even part with a kiss, not mine though. This may sound like I’m whining, I’m not, this is exactly how things should be. I love that she loves school, long may it continue.

Right, back to me.

I decided that I’d volunteer somewhere. Why not eh? It’d keep me out of trouble if nout else. Where though? Where would I like to go for no reason at all other than I quite fancied it?

Enter: The Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth.

We, The Husband and I, were wedded at Swiss, it’s lovely there. Yup, that was the place. I signed myself up and, despite my not knowing a weed from a geranium, they took me on. That was Wednesdays sorted for the foreseeable. I’d wander aimlessly around the garden with a hand fork pretending I knew what I was doing. I fooled no one, they knew I was only there for the tea and biscuits.

The point is they didn’t seem to mind, in fact I’d go as far as to say they welcomed my not even slightly green fingers with an open tea pot.

Volunteers are treated like the bonus that they are. The Swiss team are always pleased to see us and, without fail, will thank us as we leave. It’s fabulous. I thought that they must all be slightly deranged until I arrived at my first volunteer dinner. Yup, they treat us to dinner too. Crazy huh?

I arrived at the allotted time but couldn’t find any of my gardening chums, I was beginning to think I’d got the wrong day when I spotted amongst the throng a table of six familiar faces. Phew. But who were all these other folks? There were gazillions of people there, none of which I knew.

The mystery persons were all volunteers. Wall to wall volunteers. It transpired that the much of the staff at The Shuttleworth Collection to which my, yes my, garden is attached are volunteers. Pilots, engineers, tour guides, meeters and greeters, gardeners and my good self, who happens to be none of the above, were all volunteers. It was then that I realised why the Swiss team were always so pleased to see us, it’s because we’re blooming marvellous.

The world runs on volunteers. Who knew?

Now I’m not above working for nothing, I used to work for a company that ceased paying overtime. I don’t want to name any names but we posties would still deliver the mail long after our time had run out because we didn’t want to let our customers down but I’d never really considered not getting paid at all until I became bored enough to.

But here’s the thing, volunteers aren’t silly buggers with nothing better to do, oh no, volunteers are wise beyond their years. Volunteers have felt the warm fuzzy glow of appreciation, the kind you don’t always feel when in paid employ and volunteers get to feel good for no other reason than they’ve done a little something for someone just for the joy of doing a little something for someone.

People will volunteer for a variety of reasons, the panic of being home alone long enough to feel the urge to do housework for one. Some volunteer at places connected to their past careers just to keep the old cogs a turning, some to learn something new or to test out a change of career before they jump and some just for the company and conversation. However, the bottom line is we volunteer because we like to feel useful, it feels good does being useful.

We like to feel good and we like tea and biscuits.