Friday, 28 June 2013

Playing Catch-Up: Sunshine on a Rainy Day

It's not all doom and gloom.

For one thing, not working means you have a great deal of freedom to do other stuff! And get paid for it! Small artwork commissions, the odd science workshop, a bit of admin and co-ord for other all adds up. I branched out into cards and postcards for sale (admittedly nothing much has come of this yet, but then I was always lousy at marketing!). Mum and I went back to Loch Awe. There was the long Xmas break - no need to rush back north despite the weather. The only problem is knowing what day of the week it is when you don't have some sort of structure to your life. I drift into a nocturnal kind of schedule if left to my own devices (definitely a night owl rather than a lark!) ...which isn't so bad in the depths of winter when you don't see much sun anyway, but I do have to keep an eye on my tendency to suffer from SAD.
And - to put it bluntly - I was bored!

So when Richard the Reserve Manager asked if I'd be interested in a part-time job as administrator for the local reserves, I nearly bit his hand off.

So it's official. I'm back at Strathbeg in a paid capacity for the third time in my (post-RAF) life, dealing with the bits of paperwork that otherwise would keep the rest of the staff from doing what they should be doing out in the field. Which suits me fine! The view from the office is better, for one thing - my 'birds seen from my window' list stands at 16, (it's a small window at the back of the building) including great spotted woodpecker and sparrowhawk. There is always something going on, and for the first time in ages, I'm not working on my own. At the end of the day, I can wander over to the Visitor Centre, do a bit of bird watching and admire the work the Konik ponies are doing controlling the rough grass (and watch the first of the foals galloping about).

It's pretty good, really.

Playing Catch-Up: The Times They Are A'Changing

Well, I've gone and done it again. Neglected the blog, I mean. So where were we?

Oh yes, just back from holiday last year.... which was a funny time all round. My job was all up in the air - managed to find a big chunk of the funding to keep it going until 2015, but was having problems finding the 'match-funding'. And if you don't get the match-funding, you don't get ANY funding. As a result, from the end of June, I wasn't getting paid. I reckoned we'd be ok, though, for a few months, just so we could find that elusive match-funding.

How wrong can you be?

No match-funding.

Add to that, our office was up for sale following the death of our landlady, so we really didn't know what was happening or where we were going to go...I have to admit, I was the least happy I have been for a long time.  The crunch finally came when the office was sold, and we were required to give up our lease. Short notice to move and thirteen years (and more) of stuff to get moved or disposed of. Books, games, equipment, furniture... there was only one thing to do - call in the Rangers!  With the knowledgeable eyes of the experienced packrats we all are, the environmental education community swept through the place like a swarm, not locusts.
Who else do you know gets excited about a dustbin liner full of yoghurt pots? Or a full-scale cardboard albatross?
Just about anything that could be salvaged for re-use was, and temporary storage was found for the stuff that was actually mine that I have no space for at home. Things that really were junk were taken away by the removal men to the tip. Freecycle took care of most of the furniture, and as the new owners moved in, we swept up the last of the dust and moved out.

So. No office. Vastly reduced income. There comes a point where you have to draw a line under it and say 'It can't go on like this', and move on. I haven't exactly parted company with my old job - there are bits of it I still do as a volunteer - but the days of school talks and outings are past. 

What now?