It is the dawn of a new era, this Roman Centurion has completed the long and wearisome journey to Rome, cart loaded down with all worldly possessions and friends bid farewell, the great city at the heart of the empire shines on the horizon… Journey triumphantly complete, unpacking finished and fresh toga donned, it is time to get to work – The Blonde Forester has arrived at National Office!
I started work in the Bristol office last week and am the new girl all over again, visitor pass and all! The office here is modern and open plan, so rather different from the historic Queen’s House, but on the plus side the internet connection is faster and I have a much bigger desk! The office is a little out of town and so rather perfectly has a little wood nearby which I can’t wait to explore. There is a group of volunteers, partly made up of FC staff, who manage it and I hope to get involved with it later in the year once I have settled into my new role. What is also lovely is that the office is encircled by blissful greenery and so I am still able to indulge in a little stroll looking at trees in my lunch break – though I do now have to ignore the traffic sounds from a nearby motorway!
All the normal challenges involved in a house and job move apply to moving on the graduate scheme – oh the stresses of packing, unpacking, losing things along the way, not being able to work out where the hot water switch is in the new flat, not knowing where the stationary cupboard is at work, arriving too late to claim a parking space… But with the practicalities largely attended to I am now able to simply get stuck into work and enjoy the new city and all the changes being here brings. I already adore Bristol and know I will be very happy here for the year, and though the office is new to me (I really feel it should have a cool name like the FC in Scotland Headquarters which are rather aptly named Silvan House but alas it is just known as FC Office in Bristol…) the FC is such a friendly welcoming organisation to work for that you soon feel like one of the team very quickly after starting a new role. Because I am not quite new, having been in the Forestry Commission for a year already and met some colleagues from National Office before it feels more like I have started the second in a series of books, rather than a new one altogether. In leaving the South I did rather feel that horrible tug of the heart I always get when I finish a truly wonderful book for the first time… knowing that even if you were to re-read it you would never be able to conjure up the same emotions. Happily for me the sequel was waiting patiently for me in Bristol and I am now working my way through the always slightly tricky initial chapters as I start to immerse myself in this whole new tale of suspense, new information and adventure. One can only guess at what the third book in the sequence will bring, detailing as it will the further tales of Ruth Wilson The Blonde Forester as she takes up her first post in the FC after the graduate scheme… The first book could have been ‘The Graduate Scheme Welcomes The Blonde Forester’, we are now onto ‘The Blonde Forester in Bristol’, the title of future instalments currently residing in the lap of the Roman god Silvanus who was the god of forests.
This year I will be working on various projects concurrently at National Office, each involving a different set of colleagues and stakeholders. As a result I won’t be a fixed member of any department as I was during my placements in the South District, but since my new boss is the Head of Information Services I have been made to feel especially welcome by that team. I am also very happy to be working on an exciting FC wide project led by Dominic Robinson who started his FC career on the grad scheme too. It is great to be working alongside a fellow grad schemer, for not only is the project in question really significant due to its huge scope across the FC, but Dom is full of tips and advice relating to the commission and the graduate scheme in particular.
Moving may be stressful in parts but it is also so good and energising. I have moved often before and now find myself chalking up Bristol as the fifth city I have made my home. A move always inspires great energy as there are always so many new things to explore, people to meet, local history to learn and activities to pursue. And moving is a crucial aspect to the graduate scheme as well since it is intrinsically framed around a year in district followed by a year at National Office, and then of course after the two years applying for a permanent role which could be anywhere in the country. I think this is a very important aspect for future applicants to the scheme to be aware of, for while personally I am very strongly in favour of regular change and a steady supply of fresh placements and challenges, I am aware that this lifestyle would not be so appealing to everyone. But for me it is time to sally forth and make inroads into the mound of research papers spread across my desk, before venturing out to explore and befriend my new city, the heart and capital of the Forestry Commission England’s Empire.