Archive for December, 2009

A Cool Christmas by Sarah Wilkinson

Monday, December 21st, 2009

It’s been so cold in our office this week,that you might be forgiven for asking “What does a Climate Change Officer actually do?” Well my role is all about interpretation and communication.

At the moment I’m working on interpretation for several Forestry Commission sites, including Grizedale up in the north of the country and Haldon down in the south in Devon! I’m trying to do lots of the work remotely, as I don’t think it’s a good thing for a Climate Change Officer to be travelling all over the country!
I visited Forest Research at Alice Holt last week to discuss how we can work together more to communicate the findings of their Climate Change Centre. I always find it really interesting going to Alice Holt as it is so different from any of our Forestry Commission sites, and there is so much cutting edge research going on that people just don’t know about. The best thing I think is that when the lunch bell goes, all of the scientists get together in the canteen, and its a real hive of discussion.

In the next few months I’ll be doing more work at Westonbirt, particularly on the Westonbirt Project, helping the Project Team think about interpretation for some of the new buildings, and out in the collection itself. I spend so much of my time working on other sites, that it will be nice to do some work at Westonbirt itself! 

Jam For Timesheets by Miranda Winram

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Timesheets have been rather a big preoccupation for me recently, it’s been like drawing blood from a stone to get my Steering Group members to tell me how much time they’ve been spending on Westonbirt Project business.

The context to this is that they’re mostly volunteers – either Trustees of FOWA or HoWT – and as part of our HLF development funding we promised to contribute a certain amount of volunteer time. In fact, all our volunteers are giving far more time than we ever suggested to HLF, which is fabulous, but if we don’t document it then HLF has no proof.  Hence my nattering on at the Members about what they see as a tedious and unnecessary admin task. In desperation, last month I promised a jar of home made plum jam in return for co-operation, and lo and behold, yesterday’s Steering Group meeting delivered a bunch of neatly filled out forms. I only hope that my ‘Jam for Timesheets’ deal doesn’t contravene public sector bribery rules.

On the plus side, (and a good thing given that I’m now out of jam), I reckon that the time logged to date is almost enough to tick the HLF box – give it another month and I hope that I’ll be able to stop collecting them.

On the capital works front, we had a meeting with our consultants this week to look at some initial ideas for how the new entrance and car park might work, and the potential layout of new tree team and propagation facilities. It sparked lots of very constructive internal debate, and a consequent reshuffling of some of the functions. I now just need to find the words to tell the architects that it’s all changed…

All in The Christmas Spirit By Miranda Winram

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009


The last couple of weeks have found me in a rubbish skip; tracking down a 5 foot blue fairy and trying to eject Father Christmas as a trespasser.  

The skip was totally my fault. I’m rather a Womble at heart, and when I’m out and about round the Arb I pick up litter as I go, merrily chucking the bag I’ve collected into the skip on my way back into the office. On this occasion, I had my rather snazzy new camera in the same hand as the rubbish bag. I realised as soon as it left my hand and sailed merrily into the heart of the black bin bags. Cue frantic belt over to the main office, nabbing the nearest bloke to hand, and then back to the skip for a leg up into it. And then a calm saunter into the next meeting with the Canopy Walkway architects in the hope that no-one had seen me rooting around in the rubbish (or would notice the faint whiff on my wellies).

The fairy is easier to explain – the Enchanted Christmas is now up and running on weekend evenings, and the launch night saw my office hosting the changing space for the Fairy and Christmas Tree actors. What they didn’t explain was that Mr Claus is a semi permanent fixture, he actually stays on site whilst he’s working here. He was appropriately jolly about it when I flagged him down and rather frostily demanded what he was doing wandering around the site after dark.

Slightly more mundanely I’ve also been interviewing Project Support Officers, it’s a role that is going to make a big difference to my capacity, as I’ll finally have someone to delegate tasks to! Can’t wait, and I’m already storing up jobs for them when they arrive. We’re working through the civil service paperwork at the moment, and very much hope that we’ll get the preferred candidate in post in early Jan.

Contracts for the architects and consultants we’ve recently appointed to draw up plans for all the new and replacement buildings are the next thing on my to do list…