The bell tolls for us all, but for me it will soon toll for the last time… St Michael and All Angels Church in Lyndhurst is just over the garden wall from Queen’s House and we hear its bell every quarter hour. Or rather you do until you get used to it, at which point you miraculously stop hearing it. But for me the final peal will be sounding, the bells lie still and then it will be time for me to leave Queen’s House, the New Forest and indeed the South District itself. Bristol is calling and West I must go.
I have learnt so much in my year here, a great deal more ahead of me still to learn of course, but I feel I have built a very solid foundation of knowledge. I have been involved in such a wide field of work, everything from creating maps all the way through to actually planting trees. It has been a whirlwind of activity, hard work and wonderful days spent outdoors among the trees. The various placements have each provided additional facets to my knowledge, as I worked within two Beat Teams and currently I’m a member of the Planning Department. These last few weeks have been a jolly rush of activity as I have been working hard to get my various pieces of work ready to hand over to colleagues when I leave.
The Forestry Commission in England is divided up into six districts, with its Head Office in Bristol. I feel rather like a Roman general who has been stationed in one of the provinces, but has now been called to serve in Rome. Like Trajan who lived in the provinces but later made his way to Rome, so am I now making the journey to the headquarters of the commission, onwards to Rome! Trajan of course ended up becoming Emperor so who knows what adventures might await me in the future…
But before focusing on the next stage of the grad scheme I must first say goodbye to the South of England. I have had such a wonderful year here spent among splendid colleagues, and getting involved in such interesting projects. There are so many aspects I have enjoyed that it isn’t possible to make mention of them all here, but that is something I love about writing this blog: I am able to go back and read old entries to remind me of the huge range of activities I have been involved with. Of all the incredible sights, fascinating site visits and pieces of work I have been a part of throughout the year. I am really looking forward to the blog going on to discuss my work at Head Office, so that I can trace my development from those early days right at the beginning of last summer, when I knew so little, all the way to the end of the grad scheme next summer when I should be rather better informed about forestry in general and the Commission in particular.
The ever changing nature of the grad scheme and all the different projects it covers means that over the course of my year in the South I have met a very large group of FC colleagues from all parts of the district. So in order to say goodbye to as many as possible this afternoon I have arranged to throw a ‘Goodbye Scottish Afternoon Tea’. I have brought in the three big Scottish treats – shortbread, Irn Bru and Tunnocks Teacakes for everyone to enjoy and it will be a lovely opportunity to say thank you to my colleagues for such a wonderful year among the trees.
The things I will miss most are the little things. My work in forestry is continuing, just in a different location and though I will no longer be based in the South District, the FC often has staff from different districts coming together for meetings, site visits or training so I will still occasionally see my old colleagues again, and of course this blog will be continuing as well. What I will miss most are the special qualities and little pleasures; specific things like eating my lunch outdoors in the sunny churchyard next to Queen’s House, attending meetings of the Verderers’ Court, suddenly coming across New Forest ponies while out on a site visit, crossing the garden at Queen’s House and admiring the different flowers that bloom with each passing season and hearing the bells of St Michael and All Angels chime the quarter hour from the open window next to my desk.
Goodbye South Forest District and onwards to Bristol!