I managed to time getting a job almost perfectly; only leaving Somerset a couple of weeks before the official end of the traineeship (one of which I was spending in Scotland anyway). Just because I was coming to the end of my time in Somerset didn’t mean I was any less busy!
One of my main jobs for my last couple of weeks in Somerset was to finish off and install the Nature Trail posts for Harridge Woods. I’d been given responsibility for making the posts; the timber had come from the Larch extracted from Black Rock and I had the job of de-barking them and turning them into posts. This meant I got to use a router for the first time – that was pretty tricky but I soon got the hang of it. After they were painted it was down to some hard working volunteers to install the posts. I took the East Mendip volunteer group out by myself and whilst a few cleared vegetation from the paths the rest got stuck in with their spades. We didn’t quite manage to get all of the posts in but we made a good start and I’ve now made a lasting mark on one of the Somerset reserves!
I also had a day with the West Mendip Volunteers, dry-stone walling at Chancellor’s. The weather was beautiful and we were treated to the sight of a Weasel dashing in and out of the holes in the wall whilst we were on our lunch break. As always I enjoyed my day with the volunteers, and was glad for a chance to say goodbye to them as they have taught me a lot over the last year.
A couple of days were spent giving guided walks to life members at Chacellor’s Farm. I did a recci with Pippa and Rosie a couple of days before to check we knew the route and could point out some interesting things. We couldn’t have asked for a better time for the walks to take place; one of Chancellor’s most unique features, the Bluebells that grow in the meadows, were still in flower and all the guests were delighted to see the spectacle. I seem to have made progress with my wildlflower ID and was confident in pointing out various plants to guests. It was the first time I’d led a guided walk for people that I don’t know and I enjoyed it even more then I expected!
We managed to fit in our last Trainee day into my final fortnight. The end of the traineeship was to be celebrated with a presentation lunch, but due to a holiday in Scotland I wasn’t able to make it. Each of the different counties Trainees were asked to make a presentation about their experiences to present at the lunch. As I wasn’t going to be there on the day to present, and Claire was working up North so couldn’t help us prepare for it we decided to make a video. We spent the morning out at Black Rock filming our various bits – it seemed fitting to do it there as that is where our selection day was held, and then spent the afternoon attempting to edit it together.
I wasn’t allowed to leave Somerset without a proper send off! On the Thursday of my last week I had goodbye drinks in Cheddar with staff from the Callow office and Chris and Olivia. We even managed to get in an authentic Mendip experience with my first ever game of Skittles! When Liz arrived she handed me a bag of presents! It contained a good luck card with lovely messages from all the staff and a whole collection of presents. There was a very distinct Cheddar theme to them!
My final day was spent with all of the Mendip Reserves Team; Liz, Neil and James. We visited a couple of different sites, brush-cutting bramble re-growth and even managing a visit to Priddy Farm Shop for lunch as Friday is Pie-day! Before I knew it we were done for the day and all there was left to do was say my thank you’s and goodbyes! I’ll admit I did shed a few tears!
And that was it. Exactly 12 months on from when I had sat on a plastic chair at Black Rock and convinced Somerset Wildlife Trust to take me on a trainee my time as a Wildlife Skills Trainee came to an end! It really has been the most incredible year and I know all the skills and knowledge I have learnt are going to be invaluable in the next steps of my career!