Published: August 14th 2010July 23rd 2010
Let me see, where to start! Hello to all and apologies for the mass update. For those of you who have got hand written letters in the last few weeks, count yourself lucky!! My hand is tired and I’ve run out of stamps!!
It’s been a hectic 3 weeks since I arrived here in Somerset. I’m starting to settle into how things work with the National Trust and AONB crew out at Fyne Court. I spend 4 days a week with the NT team and one day a week with the AONB team.
The NT are responsible for taking care of a number of different sites/properties within the area, Fyne Court being one of them (where the “office” is based) and some other properties which are a little further away. The properties are a mix of different habitats from woodland, both broadleaf and coniferous to heath and grassland areas. There are a number of different paths which allow the public access to the sites which need to be maintained. This can involved putting gravel on the surfaces, building steps, putting up handrails, strimming back any overgrown vegetation or cutting down branches of trees which may cause access problems. The
AONB are slightly different as they operate over a larger area, and don’t actually own the area but have responsibility for it under certain laws and acts. I am going to be involved in some smaller projects working alongside one of the rangers for the AONB, which all sounds very exciting.
At the moment, I’m a spare pair of hands with the NT mainly. I help out with the full time rangers where ever I can and I’m constantly being trained up along the way and I’m starting to understand how things operate. I have been thrown in at the deep end, but I’m really enjoying every minute of it. There is so much to learn and it’s all outdoors and practical. At the end of the day you do truly deserve to chill out in front of the tv and sleeping is not a problem!
Another part of my role which spans across the NT and AONB is as a volunteer co-ordinator. I keep track of which volunteers are coming along on which tasks through phone and e-mails. I’m acting as a central point of contact for the volunteers if they have any questions. All the volunteers
are really interesting characters and a lot of them know a lot more than me about the work of the national trust, so sometimes is seems like they’re telling me what to do!
This week we’re having a volunteer BBQ which is organised by the NT and AONB to say thank you to all the volunteers for their hard work! I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, when we’re not up to our ears in mud or nettles!
I’ve found a place to live, surprisingly enough! I’m sharing a house with one guy and 2 girls. They are all locals and quiet friendly but keep to them selves a bit. I don’t see them very often, and most evenings have the tv to myself (and the kitchen, for making flapjacks!). The area I’m in seems quiet nice, I’m opposite a large green area where children are constantly playing and people are out with their dogs. The neighbours seems quiet friendly and I’ve been caught chatting to this one guy a few times, he likes to talk and used to paddle, so when ever I’m putting my boat on the car he catches me!
I’ve been out exploring the
area quiet a bit already, not much of a surprise to most of you! With work I get to see quiet a lot as we’re constantly doing tasks all over the Quantocks (the local set of hills). The first weekend I spent out in Exmoor National Park on a national trust “wild camping” weekend. Over here they like to put the word “wild” in front of lots of things! Wild camping means camping outside of a traditional camp site. The weekend involved exploring the hills and valleys (or combes as they’re called over here!) of the national park and learning about butterflys and bats from one of the NT rangers. We camped by a small stream and walked out the following day to have cream tea (tea with scones with jam and cream - very nice!!) as a celebration to mark our achievements! I have noticed the English do love their tea, and have specific ways of drinking it and call it different thing if you drink it at different times of the day, or serve it with different accompaniments!
Last week I also hooked up with the Taunton Canoe Club and some local climbers. The TCC meet a
couple of times a week down along the river and do some flat water paddling. They have some open nights for beginners and sometimes do some polo. There is also a small bouldering wall here in Taunton and a group who do a bit of climbing either there, or in the many climbing walls located within an hour’s drive of Taunton. There is also quiet a lot of trad climbing locally. I managed to pick up a guide book in the local library to have a look through - the library has quiet a collection of interesting climbing books, I forgot how useful libraries are! Last weekend I got the chance to go down to Dartmoor National Park to do some trad climbing with one of the local climbers, it was a lovely day and a lovely friendly crag to help me get back on track!
That’s really all my news so far. I haven’t really had the opportunity to sample any of the local cider, but I’m sure it won’t be long before I start getting into the social scene properly - there’s no need to rush these things!
I’m off to France on Saturday for 3
A wooded combe
What we would possibly call a valley!
weeks, to do some climbing with a gang from the club in UL. Hopefully I’ll get back in one piece and will get the chance to fill everyone in on my adventures. For anyone who is considering visiting, Bristol is probably the closest airport, about an hours drive from here, or an hour on the train/bus. It seems to be very well serviced from Taunton (my home town!). If your considering driving, ferries to Fishguard or Pembroke are an option, with about a 3 hour drive from either port to Taunton.
For anyone with post to send me (snail mail is back) my address is 2 Leslie Avenue, Taunton, TA2 6JL. Also if you need to phone me, I have my Irish and English phones here with me. Where I’m working usually is in the middle of nowhere, so best time to get me is in the evenings. Hopefully I’ll have my internet connection sorted out properly when I get back (we’re getting broadband into the house!) and I’ll be available for some skype/chat sessions for proper catch ups!
Now that you know I’m alive and well on this side of the world, you can rest easy! I
made my first UK batch of flapjacks tonight, so I’m really settling in quiet well. Now to try and stop myself from sampling them all before the morning!!
There are more photos below