Sorry; it's been a while hasn't it!
Firstly, to give some explanation to the long period of silence: just a few days after I last posted on the blog I had a job interview, and to cut a long story short, I got the job. Now I am just a few days away from starting that new role. Between winding down my current employment, preparing for my new job and getting some other loose ends tied up so I can focus on my new role without distractions, my blog writing simply slipped down the priority scale. Hopefully I'm back to a point where I can be writing more regularly again.
My new role is with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, an organisation I've volunteered for in the past and done some seasonal work for too. The full job title is quite a mouthful - "ERDF Sunrise Senior Biodiversity Project Officer"... I think, something like that anyway. I'll be quite happy to go by Biodiversity Officer to be honest.
I'll be working on a new Project, the "SUNRISE" Project, funded by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and with the remit to restore, enhance and improve urban green space habitats, with a focus on river corridors in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. SUNRISE stands for: "Stoke and Urban Newcastle; Restoring its Secret Environment"; as acronyms go I think that's pretty cool actually. No doubt more details of what I will be doing will filter through my blogs and pictures over time, as they have done with my other work previously, but I better get my own head around what I'm doing first.
As my current job has been a pretty common source of images and stories of exciting landscapes and successful conservation you may wonder why I am leaving - the simple answer is distance. No job is perfect, and there are things which I would have changed had the opportunity presented itself. None of them were big enough on their own provoke a change, BUT... my office is 35 miles away! That's 70 miles of commuting a day when I work from the office. Certainly as long commutes go mine was pretty scenic, right through the heart of the Peak District National Park. I'll probably put a post up just about that commute soon. But the time away from family and the fuel cost killed it and had me looking for other opportunities. I wasn't ready to jump ship for just anything, it had to be something worthwhile and relevant, something that allowed me to continue to do what I enjoy, not to mention something which had a shorter commute. I'm fairly confident that's what I've found - fingers crossed! The commute element is certainly going to be significantly improved, my longest commute should be half of my current one, and some days it will be just a few miles each way.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Moors for the Future Partnership and would encourage anyone looking for work in the conservation sector to consider a role there (hint hint - there will be a few coming up in the near future; by coincidence I'm not the only one leaving over the next few weeks). The work they (I suppose I can justifiable claim 'we' for the last few years) have achieved is nothing short of remarkable, and the benefits of their success wide ranging. They got some interesting years ahead in the sheer scale of works they are going to be delivering and I wish the team there all the best. They have been a great bunch of colleagues.
The other fairly significant update is that the other 'work' I've been involved with over the last few years as Project Manager over at The Riddy Wood Project has also come to an end. Sadly the financial side of the operation was proving to be unsustainable and so we had to make the sad decision earlier this year not to renew the lease. We've not done any woodland management there in 2018 and after we've finished removing the last few bits and pieces (which we delayed until the summer simply so the grass track into the wood was dry and firm) we will be finished with our involvement there.
This is a real shame, both Geoff (check out his blog over at www.bushcrafteducation.co.uk) and I really enjoyed our work there. We were starting to see some real differences in the areas that we had coppiced and thinned, the wildlife there was great, and the groups and individuals we had hosted and taught there had enjoyed the experience and the setting. But it just wasn't working the way it needed to and we weren't in a position to control enough of the limitations to make it work better. We will both be looking for other opportunities to replace The Riddy Wood Project with something else which still meets the aims of giving people an opportunity to connect with and learn about the natural world - watch this space.
That then brings us more or less up to speed - as I said, there's been a fair bit going on, and this is just the employment side of things. I'll leave other bits and pieces for another post - this one is too long already. More normal service will hopefully be resumed soon, with more interesting things to write about that changes in circumstances!
And don't worry, I'll be finishing my account of my trip to the Outer Hebrides at some point!