About Me

I've been working with kids ever since I left Uni. My goal is to become a teacher one day but not quite yet. I feel I have a lot to learn and the outdoors is the environment to learn from. Many people have become detached from nature and the outdoors and I want to immerse myself into nature to learn from it and then pass on what I've learnt to others.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Early mornings!!

I've had a very busy start to the week.

On Tuesday we left camp at 7am to catch the train to Exeter to meet a man with a dog. Luckily we knew the dog which came bounding over to us. So we assumed we could get in a car with the man with the dog. (By the way my arse hurts today!!). This man, Simon, took up to some woodlands, (this story is sounding very odd now). Oh, the part I forgot to mention is that we were off to check dormouse boxes. 50 in total. All apart from one were occupied by birds nests or nothing at all. The one that was occupied was one of the best things I've ever seen. The lid was opened slowly and suddenly a baby dormouse, probably adolescent, leaped from it onto the floor but immediately started climbing the tree back to the nest. Inside the nest was the mum and 4 young. They're the cutest thing I've ever seen; much bigger than I thought they'd be. It made my day seeing them and I hope the species increases as they're currently on the endangered list.

Today we set off at 7 again but this time to go to Taunton. We were publicising the Somerset Space Walk relaunch day. The space walk runs along the canal between Taunton and Bridgewater with a scaled model of the solar system, size of planets and distances. We were putting up flyers at either end and cycling the 22km route. Would have helped if we'd followed the canal and not the river :-D. We went across farmers fields, which were very bumpy, hence the soar arse. We managed to find the canal again after knocking on a friendly old mans house. It's quite an impressive thing to see and should look even better once we've touched it up a bit next week.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Apple day fun run

One of the projects I'm working on while I'm here is to organise a fun run to co-inside with the Sharpham Apple Day where the public can bring their apples from the garden and bring them to Sharpham where they can help press them into apple juice to take home. (And leave for a couple of weeks to get cider!). The fun run will encourage to people to ditch their cars and walk along the footpath along the river with their apples. Then they can get to the start of the race where they can try and run as many apples along a 2.5km route into Sharpham. I've spent the day with Emily walking around town trying to get sponsorship from local businesses to go to charity. It's amazing how difficult it is to get any money out of any one. Hopefully it'll all work out in the end. If anything I've made an amazing poster which will be going up all around town!

It rained pretty much all of yesterday and the insides of the yurt are pretty damp. However, the plus side is I managed to light a fire in the wood burning stove which kept going all night! Toastie warm.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Crap Job

On site we've got some composting toilets. However another massive container full of crap is full (probably half a ton). We're trying to construct a new one now that makes it easier to empty and use the compost by using wheelie bins. We're pretty much there now but there's still the problem of how to move this massive box of poo from the site of the new compost toilet. If you know of anyone who wants lots of poo send them down my way.

I seem to be slicing up and stinging every part of my hand. While sawing wood for the new toilet it slipped and I have a gouge missing in my thumb. Every so often it weeps more blood, nice.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Chop chop chop

It's been a few days since my last post so I'll try and remember what I've been up to.

On Thursday we spent a few hours in the tool shed being taught how to care for your tools. It was a great day, and Stu who came in to teach us is incredible. He's full of knowledge. We sharpened lots of tools from knives and chisels to spades and drill bits. It really showed us how wasteful we are as a nation, throwing away drill bits cos we think they're rubbish when it takes 5 seconds to sharpen it so it does the job properly again. I now need to get into a good habit of looking after tools properly and passing on the knowledge I gained onto others.

That evening I worked with the kids again who were camping on site. It was a lovely evening. We went badger watching. Unfortunately we saw none, the kids were too noisy and kept shining their torches into the badger holes. I think it's amazing though that all it took was for one kid to say 'I saw three badgers' for then everyone to claim they saw badgers. The amazing thing is these kids will probably go home saying they saw them and will always believe they saw them too! We made pizzas with the kids in the clay oven and I taught them a few things you can do in the dark. I wish I could have been working with those kids all week. Anna and Beth who run the activity days want to get me on board with planning the Forest Schools for September.

On Friday we went to Labrador Bay, an RSPB nature reserve. We were doing some habitat management to help the Cirl Bunting bird population. We pulled out two tractor trailers full of ragwort. Cirl Bunting like areas of varied lengths of meadows. By removing the ragwort, which is poisonous to mammals, they can get some Dartmoor ponies to graze the land allowing for more variety in grasses for the cirl bunting.

I was up until about 4 last night. We went out for a ska and reggae night in Totnes. Was a fantastic night and when we got back Rich and I could hear music I the distance so trekked across farms fields and down country lanes but never found where it was coming from.

I killed my first chicken today. It was the younger cockerel. Hopefully the mornings will be quieter. I was told that one of the most humane ways is an axe to the neck. It does the job quickly and guarantees that it's actually dead instead of just paralyzing it. It's nuts how much it runs, jumps and flaps about without a head. last for a good minute or so. It's going to be dinner tonight Yum yum.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Walk and Talk and....

I went on another walk and talk today to help out with the tea making for the W.I (you'd think they could do it themselves, lazy). I had everything set out for them by the river and joined them on their walk, but the weather was against us. Tea and coffees were relocated to the house so I had to set everything out again and making the teas and coffees. (I know it doesn't sound much but the house staff aren't the most helpful). We carried on with the walk which another Steve leads and has done all the research for and got the funding to provide these free walks. Unfortunately he did slip up a little in front of a large group of old women. He was discussing one of the previous owners of the Sharpham Estate, Philemon Pownoll, and talked about how he captained a ship, HMS Favourite, and commandeered a Spanish treasure ship during the 7 years war. Instead of saying 'He searched her contents' he said something else unrepeatable. How he got away with it, I don't know but I struggled to hold in the laughing.

I'm really hoping I get to work with the kids tomorrow. Apparently they were all upset I wasn't there today. They kept asking 'Where's Super Steve!!' Tomorrow night they're all camping so I'm probably going to join them.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Summer Explorers

It stared off wet, drizzly, cold, windy but today has turned into a perfect day. The sun is shining and everyone is happy, especially me. I've been working for Anna and Beth today with their 'Summer Explorers' club. Pretty much playing with fire, cooking and games in the woods with kids. I'm hoping to work with them for the rest of the week, if the project leader lets me. It was great to see all of these kids who weren't scared about trying new things or getting dirty. We learnt how to pick stinging nettle leaves and prepare them to eat without hurting yourself. (I'm a novice so I sting got stung a couple of times). But these kids didn't cry when they got stung. Apparently the sting from the nettles releases endorphin's into your body so actually makes you feel happier. Beth rubs herself in stinging nettles every morning but I think that's a little far for me.

I'm probably going to pop down to the local pub for a few drinks while reading my book tonight. Try some local cider!

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Back in April I was camping in South Devon and went for a kayaking trip along the river Dart (the river that runs around the Sharpham Estate). When hiring the kayaks we were told that some seals had been spotted just up the river. After about 4 hours of search we saw nothing. However, today I decided to go for a bit of a wonder along the river, and within minutes of me being by the river a little nose popped out of the water. Not for long though. It took me a while to realise what it was but I decided to chill out by the river for the next few hours and happily watch as this seal kept bobbing up and down in the water.

Anyone have any tips on how to train a seal?

Friday, 12 August 2011


It's coming to the end of the first week (I have to work tonight and tomorrow morning), and I'm shattered. Today has been hard work. Spent the morning using hedge trimmers to cut brambles, nettles and grass to make path ways to tree saplings. We have a ground of monks coming in next week to look after the trees by putting mulch around the bases. Hedge trimmers get very heavy after using them for about 3 hours and lugging them up and down hills and over gates.

After the hard graft in the fields I went up to work on a small farm for adults with learning difficulties. It's a fantastic scheme to get these people into the outdoors, growing their own veg and looking after the live stock. They're a pleasure to work along side too. They give great banter and always wanting to chat. I'll be working with them every week hopefully. One of them you can't say the words overalls or bus as he'll get over excited!!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

51 Jars of jam sitting on the wall

This morning I spent 4 hours making blackberry and apple jam and plum jam from the fruits gathered when we went foraging the other day. 51 jars of lovely scrummy jam. 12Kg of sugar though!!!! I didn't think it'd take that much at all. The afternoon was spent talking over projects for the next few weeks, not particularly interesting though so wont go into that.

Had a bit of fun chasing chickens after work. Someone hadn't closed the gate properly so we had chickens all over the camp. Didn't take too long but it was a bit of fun. I even pushed one off a fence. Felt kinda bad as she was clearly happy minding her own business when along came me knocking her off the fence into the enclosure. Chickens have wings for eating and not for flying.

Heading into Totnes this evening to visit a pub. 3 mile walk though next to a river. Should make the walk back entertaining.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Can't have asked for a nicer day

Today's been perfect. I worked with some volunteers from a mental health care home building a large compost site today. The guys were great and could have such a laugh with them. I was gutted when I had to leave that little project to go on a 'walk and talk around Sharpham House and some of the grounds. I was tagged on to a group of old people who'd booked to go on this talk so I can learn some of the history too. The history of Sharpham is amazing and the guide was brilliant. Even the old people were great to chat to. They organise trips like this every week and also go on 5 mile hikes on the last Friday of every month. I met some amazing people today and loved every story they told me.
I cooked my first meal for the group today, lasagna. And I've not cooked in about 2 years. Everyone seemed to really like it and I was well chuffed. I'm feeling so happy inside at the mo.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I miss Croydon so much

Despite all the crap which is going on around the country at he moment, I'm having a great time down here. I spent the day today on a Mental Health First Aid course down in Plymouth today. Was a very interesting course which taught me a huge amount. (I missed the first day but will still get a certificate to say I did it!!).

My arm and knuckles have swollen up quite badly from the stupid horse fly bites. Instead of separate knuckles I have one single one. My elbow stretches from half way up my forearm to about 5cm above the elbow. I'm looking around this hippy town for a magic potion to make it feel better. I do feel like I'm walking round with Quasimodo on my hand.

Tomorrow I'll be working with a volunteer group to build a giant compost bin. Should be fun meeting some of the volunteers.

The scenery here is stunning. When I get round to taking lots of photos I'll up load them so you can see how stunning it is. I've seen a deer, lots of buzzards and swallows, loads of bats (some very rare but the Sharpham Estate pretty much has all the native species). Can't wait to go exploring to find plenty more. The mornings are still very light so will hopefully do some running in the mornings which should get me round the site.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Home Sweet Home

For those of you that don't know, this is a yurt!. My bunk is the top one. I've had my first night in it and was surprisingly comfortable. Despite being woken at 4,5 and 6 by the rooster. I'm hoping to get my hands round it's neck fairly soon.
Just finished my first day at work. Spent the morning in the allotment doing some weeding, then went fruit picking for jam making on Thursday. (I'll save a jar for those that want to try it). We then spent a few hours with a hedge trimmer and a strimmer to try and cut a path way to get to some trees. I've been stung by stinging nettles, cut up by brambles and bitten by bloody horse flies. I suppose I'll just have to get used to it.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The night before

I'm all packed and ready to head down to Devon tomorrow morning. Looking forward to the exciting opportunities I'll be experiencing. I have a lovely new sleeping bag courtesy of the staff at Moor House School (Many thanks!!). I don't know if I'll have internet access while I'm down there but will try and update this blog as much as possible, so this could be my one and only post!!

If you'd like to see where I'm working take at look at the website. Sharpham Trust. You can also take a look at some photos of my accommodation Pictures.