Category Archives: work

Changing perspectives

The newest piece of news is that I have been offered a permanent job with Natural England! Each time I’ve thought I might blog this something has changed, either in real terms or at least in our thinking about it, which has complicated things. I applied for two jobs, one where I am now (East region) which I would do from Cambridge still, and one in the South East where I would work from Reading, and in the end the one we have gone for isn’t the one we started off thinking we wanted. Funny how perspectives change.

I was offered the South East job before Christmas, told them I’d think about it, and then interviewed for the other one. Having really disliked the second interview, to the extent that I wasn’t sure I wanted that job anymore, we began re-evaluating our previous assumptions, looking at the logistics again. It’s interesting when something happens that changes your perspective, you see all the possibilities which you were blind to before. When we’d thought about it previously, we had pre-conceived ideas of what would be the best, and therefore saw all the problems with the other. This one small change allowed us to look more carefully a second time, and see that the South East was possible, indeed in some ways preferable.

What was to start with awkward and annoying (that the first interview was for the job I didn’t think I wanted, so I had to wait for the second interview) was actually quite fortunate. When I returned to work I found out I hadn’t been offered the other job anyway, which was fine, I didn’t want it by then. But if I had been told that beforehand, then the South East would have felt like a second best, even if we later saw the positives in it. Or, if I’d been offered both, then we might have stuck with the East region, and not have seen what we had missed. As it is, I’ve never been less upset by being turned down for a job, I’m looking forward to starting the new one and having some new challenges (my current job has stagnated a bit of late) and to moving into a nicer, larger flat with a spare room for visitors! Not so much looking forward to the actual moving bit though!

I don’t start till early March, so I can finish my current contract, and so we have time to find a new place, pack up everything and move across London. At least this time we’re only going down the road in comparison to the last move! One of the big advantages to this move is that we will stay in London and therefore keep the connection to our church which we have begun to feel at home in, and also where we will be getting married (in fact, we’ll end up closer to the reception venue after we’ve moved, which is handy!). This opens up all sorts of cans of worms in terms about wanting to stay versus wanting to leave, how long we need to stay, when and how we want to move away etc etc. But as I keep being told, we can only worry about so much at a time. This doesn’t stop me worrying, but I can at least try!

PS Responses to comments on the previous post will follow, lots more to think about there!


Today I got offered a job, working for Natural England, the countryside conservation agency who are the advisers to government on matters of conservation. These are the people I have been wanting to work for for a long time. And while this is only temporary, its a really good start, and a very exciting job.

Technically the job is doing condition assessments of Sites of Special Scientific Interest. These sites are protected as the best examples of certain habitats in the UK, and are monitored on a regular basis to see if they are meeting their targets. However, as the field season will be on its way out soonish, I could be doing all sorts of other stuff as well. All in all, very exciting indeed. I think I’m going to be based in the Cambridge office, which is easily commutable from London, and a lovely place it is too.

In the last 6 months I’ve had an interesting relationship with Natural England recruitment. I applied for, and was interviewed for, a job back in March which I didn’t get. I asked for some feedback, which I got about 2 weeks ago. Yes, about 4 months later. After not getting this one, I applied for the same post in another region, had a telephone interview in May, and had heard nothing (except many promises that I would be ‘kept in touch’ and would ‘hear soon’) until today (yes everything happens at once) when I got home to an email thanking me for my patience, but they would ‘not be running any more assessment events for this campaign’. Not only very bad to keep people waiting this long and then ditch them all, but also the lack of contact and information the whole way through was pretty shocking.

If they hadn’t just given me a job I might be even more unimpressed 😉

The beginning of the end

Things have progressed since my last post, although not really in the way I might have liked. Things are now more or less resolved in one way or another, in that I at least have answers to some of the uncertainties.

In the last week, I;

  • submitted my application for voluntary redundancy and was told it had been received
  • found out (the same day) that I hadn’t got the other job I had been waiting to hear about
  • had my application for voluntary redundancy accepted
  • was told I will probably finish work on the 17th (this Friday)

In exactly that order.

This left me with around a week left of one job, and yet no other job to go to. Unsurprisingly this led to a night or two of complete despair, worry, and so on. These feelings aren’t gone, but they’re more under control now. I know we’ll be ok, and I just have to hope that as well as that, I will be able to get back into this career I was trying to build at some point.

So now, almost a year to the day after I started this job, I am facing my last four days of work. The day I finish will be three weeks to the day since we got the email saying the process was starting. Fast just doesn’t cover it.

I’m now left with a bizarre mixture of emotions. Sadness at not really having anything meaningful to do, worry about not being able to get something else, and disappointment at things not working out properly (we’ll probably have to look for a smaller cheaper flat than we’d like due to me not working). These are balanced with excitement at the challenges and opportunities that this might bring, the new things I will experience and the different possibilities before me, relief that I won’t have to endure another season of newt and bat surveys, and unbelievable, indescribable happiness that sometime very soon we might actually not be many miles apart. There are no words for this, but its that which keeps me going.

Also, their were enough of us that opted for voluntary redundancy that no one else is going to have to leave without choosing to, which makes a big difference to how I feel about leaving and what will happen afterwards.


So the meeting on Wednesday went as well as these things can do. There was at least a reasonably cheerful atmosphere among the team members there, and a kind of nervous humour which was better than everyone being glum or grumpy. The end result of it all though, is that of the number of us being reviewed, they’re looking to lose two thirds to a half, which is no small amount. And we were told we had untill tomorrow at 5 to apply for voluntary redundancy, or reduced working hours etc. 

So I’ve done it, I put in my application for voluntary redundancy this afternoon, after having mentioned it to my collegues last week, and then told my boss that I definately was going to do it just before I did. So there we have it,by the end of this week I’ll probably have a leaving date agreed, and very soon I won’t work there anymore.

The thing thats getting me down now, prompted by being about to go out to do my first newt survey of this season, and feeling tired to start with and having no idea when I’m going to get back, is that I still have to do all this, for I don’t know how long. Now that I’ve done it I just want out. Having been told at the meeting last week that the timescale for voluntary redundancy was likely to be measured in a number of days rather than weeks, my boss is now saying he’d want me to stay around for longer than that, which means more of this. Although on the other hand means more money which is not a bad thing either considering.

Add to all this that I’m still waiting on that job, and apparently will hear this week sometime. Thats definately not helping the frayed nerves.


A little while back I wrote about a friend of mine at work who had gone through a not very nice redundancy process.

Well, on Friday I found out that I am now essentially going to go through the same process. Our team is being ‘reviewed’, which is a nice way of saying they can’t afford to keep us all on, and so something (or someone) has to give. Not a very nice thing to read on a Friday lunchtime, but then, when is a good time come to that?

Having had a weekend to let it settle in, to talk about our options and to work out as much of a strategy as is possible with this many unknowns, I feel at least a little more prepared, and a little more able to think and talk about it.

Firstly, we don’t know if it’ll be me or not, but looking at the criteria that they use to decide, I think I can make a pretty safe guess that it will. Then there’s what ‘options’ I get given, which I’ll find out on Wednesday at the consultation meeting. Yes, its all that quick. They reckon three weeks and it’ll be pretty much there.

Secondly, there’s other jobs. The one I had the interview for the other week is not lost yet. I was told at the time it would be a few weeks, so still waiting on that one. Was trying not to pin too many hopes on it, but I think now thats gone out the window. If I get that one, all will be well, or at least, it will be a lot sooner. If not, there’ll be others. And meanwhile we’ll manage for a bit on a combination of payoffs and savings, I’ll blitz temping agencies and whatever else in London, and keep at it with the ‘real jobs’ till I get somewhere.

Also, one thing that struck me straight away with this is that, even though its pretty crappy, I’m in a far better position than many of the others. Among this group of people many have mortgages, children, one has a child on the way in the summer, and another, my colleague here, is getting married on Saturday and then off on honeymoon for two weeks. Not to mention being settled here where his wife-to-be has a steady job and where both their families live. And if the jobs market isn’t great at the moment, its probably none existant round this way.

I think I’ll be ok, at least, at the moment I’m not too worried. This may well change if I find out tomorrow that I didn’t get the job and on Wednesday that the situation is worse than I thought. And last thing at night when I can’t sleep it doesn’t seem so easy. But it’ll be ok, and I know I’m not doing this on my own, this is a ‘we’ rather than a ‘me’ thing, and just that makes it all seem a whole lot less scary.

Although I am of course terribly disappointed that I may miss out on a whole lot of newting 😉


Well thank you very much for all the comments/text messages/facebook messages etc, t’is one of the things I love about this little community, is feeling like you’ve got people around you even when many of them are far far away.

Anyway, the interview went either very well or not very well, depending on which bit you look at. There were tricky techy questions on the bits I didn’t think I knew enough about (turns out I was right!) which weren’t so great. I haven’t heard anything from them yet but I kinda knew when I walked out of there. But it wasn’t one of those ‘dammit I should have said such and such’ or ‘if I’d just read up on that first’ moments, if I don’t know it, I don’t know it, end of story. I have, with the exception of a couple of moments last night, been fairly ok with it. It wasn’t *the* ideal job, I learnt more about it during the interview and maybe it wasn’t right for me as well as me not being right for it. Its more the fact that it was a job, in the right place.

Ho hum, there’ll be others, and we’ll get there, eventually.


This may be a surprise to some and an even bigger surprise to others, but today I have a job interview. Some readers know of The Plan, but those that don’t may have to bear with me.

Chris started his new Grown Up Job in the city on Monday, after a rather hectic weekend of moving him and all his stuff down the M4 (but thats another story that I may come back to..). And I didn’t think it was going to be quite this soon that the big scary job-hunting machinery would clunk into motion, getting me a step closer to joining him. But last week I put in an application. A job I didn’t think I stood much chance of getting, but why not? Useful application practice if nothing else. And then I managed to get an interview. So after some interesting juggling (and confessions) at work, I got the day free and I’m about to go and get my train.

So, for those I hadn’t told really about this yet, apologies, it all kinda happened rather quickly. But thoughts/prayers/crossed fingers (delete as appropriate) would be appreciated about 1.30 this afternoon.

Thank you.

Farewell, farewell

So its nearly October already, with the usual talk of summer having gone too fast, nights drawing in, and “how many days till Christmas?” I saw crackers in a supermarket this weekend. Sigh.

But the end of September this year is another milestone- the end of the bat survey season! The big cheeses in the environmental world have to assign an arbitrary end point to the warmer summer months and the start of cooler weather and lower bat activity, and that end point is today. So with the beginning of October, the bats are out less and less, and, thankfully, so are we ecologists. As much as the bat watching is interesting, I won’t be sorry to not have to set my alarm for 3.30am any more!!

The other thing that this next month will bring will be the start of my local preaching in my new home town. At the beginning of September I went to my first preachers meeting here, and apart from lowering the average age by a good 20 or 30 years, it still felt good to be involved, and getting back into the things I used to do before I moved made me feel like I’m still me, even if I am somewhere else! So I now have 3 dates between now and Christmas, and even some ideas for them! Having spent a good while trying to get this sorted, it all seemed to fall into place in no time at all. The whole thing still makes me more than a little nervous, but also quite excited at the thought of being able to get stuck in again, which I’m taking to be a good combination.

Learning curves

So this week I had a course from work. It was kinda full on, including the weekend and evenings, and one all nighter with the bats (that I thought I’d got away from), but I learnt lots of new stuff, I got to go up into the hills and explore the heather moorland (this is fun in the books of a geeky botanist),

This week reminded me of the reasons I want to do this, and the fact that this is still what I want to spend my time doing, what I want to aim for. To play an active role in the way we look after the habitats and species around us, to be involved in the decisions which are made about how these declining habitats are managed, to know each day that I believe in what I’m doing. And at the same time, to be able to spend my days mucking about on hillsides recording plants. Yes, I already mentioned the geek thing.

The other thing about this week was that I met new people. It sounds a bit exaggerated to say I made friends with them, since it was only a week and I may very well never see most of them again, but for that week, they were friends. There are friends you’ve known for years, and you know each other inside out, and know you can ring them any time or just show up and they’ll put the kettle on. But then when you’re used to that, when everyone you know fits that category, you start to wonder if its possible to start that again with complete strangers. Which is part of the scariness of moving away.

This week, I spent time with a group of fun, interesting, good humoured (and satisfyingly sarcastic!) people, and had a really good time learning about them and telling them about me. We went to the pub one night, one I picked since I know the area, and over a couple of beers we chatted. I can’t remember the last time I went to a pub with a group of people I barely know. It was kinda scary. But it was good. Really good. And in a way its sad, cos these were people who, if they lived nearby, I could see myself spending lots of time with, and yet they’re scattered over the whole country. But in another way, they showed me that it is possible to find new friends, to meet people you click with, people who can someday become those you know so well. Which was kinda important.


Ok, so its been a while, and I’ve been not very good about the positivity in a public blogging sense. The positive things which happened, which at the time I didn’t want to blog about, were in the shape of interviews. But I wasn’t really wanting to make any of this public.

However, I now have actual positive news, in that I got a job! The first interview, which was for a proper real job, the kind that I want, I got it. A job, a real permanent one. Its ecology, using the skills I have, and its paid. I spent a good 20 mins fairly speechless (which I think Chris found fairly amusing) when I got a letter in the post Saturday morning, having had no phone call or anything else. I think its still only just sinking in. But its real.

Its just not *quite* near home. In fact I have to move all the way to England. Which is Scary. With a capital S. I have a home here, its not just where I came to uni, its home. My friends are here, which is easy to say but so much harder to describe, and to replace. This is where my church family is, who have supported me in the various stages of my ‘calling’ to preach. The people and the friendships I have here will be impossible to replace, even in time. I really believe this is a special place, and I know this even more as I prepare to leave. There’s something about this ugly lovely city, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

But now I have to force myself to take those steps towards leaving. I’ve been ringing estate agents, trying to find suitable flats I can afford, trying to to this from a distance, knowing I’ve got one day to see as many places as I can there. Then I have to think about buying cars, learning my way around a new place, getting used to a new job, and hoping I can do it. And so on and so on. And doing all this on my own. I wish it was both of us, but thats not possible just yet. Even though there are many people helping out, and offering to do so, I still have to do all this myself. And I will, I just need to remember that, and remember that I can. Maybe this is an exercise in positivity in itself, even though it seems like the best thing to have happened in a long time.

Overall, this is a good thing. Its what I’ve been waiting for, its a step in the right direction, its good timing in terms of all the rubbish stuff at work. Its just going to take some time to work out the details, and when that starts to happen I’ll feel better. Till then, and probably after aswell, prayers appreciated.

For all those facing change and uncertainty, for those separated from the ones they love, for those feeling lonely and disconnected from their surroundings. God who during this holy week knew loneliness and isolation, place your hand upon them.