27 March 2015

Down the wrong trouser leg of time.*

If you have the special little widget you'll see that CJS has added a GNU to the web server headers.  
It looks like this (the little lit up lantern) 
 or even this (little domino):

No, we've not gone completely stark raving bonkers (although I sometimes wonder), with several Terry Pratchett fans in the office we've joined the global memorial of keeping him name alive forever, for as he himself wrote
"A man is not dead while his name is still spoken." - Going Postal, Chapter 4 prologue.
So it's not really a wildebeest running around the website, just a special little message.
Find out more about our small piece of crackpottery here: http://www.gnuterrypratchett.com/ or get your own little widget from the links.

Fire, fire, fetch the water...
Leaving Discworld behind things are not much more sensible here on earth, our latest lot of IT gremlins are running amok and hanging their washing out to dry on the computer network.  A lengthy list of minor bugs, glitches and general IT annoyances to be fixed was given to our IT consultant and we arranged that he'd come to make a start on Tuesday however at quarter to four we received an email that said "Sending this from back of the fire engine". You see he's also a retained fireman and there was a moor fire that required crews from several stations to attend. Real fire takes precedence over our gremlins.

It sometimes feels that our trousers of time belong to the office dogs (ie have four legs to get lost in), I felt like I was down maybe the third leg one day this week when a particularly aggressive telemarketer was trying to sign us up for health insurance. She'd tried a few months ago and was put off but on the third phone call this week it was easier to let her get on with her spiel and as I was in the middle of boring paperwork and filing for end of year accounts it was a, I'm not going to say pleasant or even welcome, distraction.  Despite saying right at the start that we didn't have or want health insurance I was 'treated' to the whole performance.   With this particular insurance company you get cash back and benefits, she was most adamant that we'd feel the benefits of gym membership and we could get reduced or even free membership of a certain group, so after a quick google later when I find that our nearest one is 40 miles away, I asked if it was really worth travelling for an hour to spend 30 minutes in a spin class before getting showered and an hour back home when it's so much easier to walk out of the door and exercise the dogs across the wonderful rolling North York Moors for an hour or two.  Ah but that's not free (which is news to me) but she could get me reduced membership of the National Trust (some confusion over National PARK and TRUST there I think) and then I wouldn't need to pay the entry fee! Um...  No, no deal. So she tried "how do you relax?" and before I could even offer an opinion launched into an offer of free cinema tickets once a month or more, when I informed her that our nearest cinema in their chosen chain was over 30 miles away I was actually met with stunned silence - the first time she'd shut up since I answered the phone 15 minutes previously - before a stuttered "but that's not possible; everyone has a local cinema." which allowed me to get a word in edgeways and asked if she actually knew where we were? I didn't get an answer before she launched into the benefits of their treatment plans when she finally ground to a halt I said, as I had the beginning, that we're weren't interested and would not be taking out health insurance with them or anyone else come to that.  At that point she slammed the phone down - and good riddance say I as I exited the trousers at the ankle and waded onward into the mire of end of year accounts.

By the way, if you fancy joining us on our journeys around the trousers of time, the right or wrong legs, we're looking for a new Team Member, find out more here.
(and if you understood even half of today's waffle you'll be well on the way to fitting in!)

*A typically Prachett way of describing parallel universes or even multiverses.

23 March 2015

It's International Puppy Day!

If you weren't happy on Friday on International Happiness Day then have some photos of puppies for International Puppy Day which are sure to put a smile on your face.  

But seriously, there is a reason behind the apparent silliness, in the US (where this originated of course) it's a day to highlight the horror of puppy mills / farms and encourage people to adopt dogs from shelters or only to buy puppies from reputable breeders like the three pups in our collage - meet office dogs, Hebe (gets in twice, typical), Hester and Dido.  All from local breeders of working dogs so not only are they from reputable breeders they're of sound stock too. Our old timer, Maia, will be 15 in two weeks proving it's a good policy, we don't have digital puppy pictures of her.
Here in the UK Dogs Trust does something similar and have just launched their Be Dog Smart campaign helping families understand more about how to behave around dogs in order to keep themselves safe. Find out more about the campaign here, www.learnwithdogstrust.org.uk  and the reason behind it here.

20 March 2015

Are you happy?

Today is apparently International Day of Happiness
I like to think we are all relatively happy in the office, aided by frothy coffee, dogs and laughter.
National Trust for Scotland has some interesting news; details of which we included in our headlines today ‘The first ever study of happiness amongst its volunteers has found that they are roughly seven per cent happier than the average person’  - best get ourselves up to Scotland then!
We are all the more happy here because the CJS Weekly is now printed and online, running to 24 pages it includes details of a large number of training courses in May. 53 paid adverts 2 for paid training posts and 11 for volunteers. Have a very happy weekend.

19 March 2015

Fair and proper jobs and adverts.

It seems that there is unrest across the sector, there have been several instances lately of people not happy with job adverts, for several reasons (low response, strange locations, job not actually available yet, odd requirements) but the most worrying are those claiming that the jobs are unfair, exploitative, illegal, too lowly paid.  CJS can only publish what we're sent. I know that sounds like a weak excuse but it's true, we don't set the wages, the work to be done, the skills required, or the hours any more than we can choose where the jobs are based.  We'd love the jobs to be where you want them and for them all to be paid top dollar but we can't (sorry).  What we do do is check that they're not breaking any laws and where guidance exists try to persuade advertisers that they should follow it.  Over the years we have refused a few adverts that don't seem 'right', or are from employers readvertising jobs when we've received complaints about the job / employer.  After over twenty years I'm pleased that those few instances can be counted on one hand.

I understand the concerns about pay scales.
When does 'low pay' become exploitation?
It's a difficult one, young graduates (and older careers changers) need to learn the practical skills of what's entailed and is it fair to pay them the same as someone coming in already skilled? But they're doing the same job. But maybe not as fast (or I hesitate to say it maybe not as well) and possibly requiring greater guidance from other staff who perhaps should be doing things elsewhere. But why should one organisation be able to offer lower wages whilst another offers double for what appear to be the same job? Maybe the one with the lower pay rate has significant additional benefits or includes a large amount of certified training whilst the higher paid one has no support. Or maybe there is no difference between the two roles at all except the salary rates or location. You can go round in circles all day. 

Like many of you I've been on both sides.
When I graduated I struggled to find work as an Ecologist, eventually getting a training scheme placement with a government executive agency, I got dole money plus £10 a week and (here's the big thing) expenses. Because I was travelling big distances between sites and offices some weeks my 'expenses' were more than the proper wages of the field staff! For insurance purposes I was a 'volunteer', I worked hard, I learnt on the job (no training courses for me just hundred of books and a helping hand from the rest of the staff when they could), days were long and 'days off' spent learning and reading up on areas where I needed to expand my knowledge.  Some of the projects I helped are still going and sometimes I read things and remember that I started that (or occasionally I wrote that!).  However, as one placement ran into another with no chance of a proper job I became disillusioned and quit the whole sorry affair striking out on my own and here we are.
Now I'm on the other side, running CJS as a commercial business.  We try to be as fair and responsible as possible (please see our statement about being a social enterprise) but we still have bills to pay (including wages) to make sure that CJS is still here publishing job ads and information. The commercial climate is difficult and I can see why wages are often low and jobs ever more demanding.

Ultimately it's between employee and employer (and yes, I am aware that's an uneven relationship) to set the terms and occasionally the employee has to be brave enough to say "I'm not doing that for that" despite the line behind them ready to step into their shoes (I did once and it turned out to be the best job I ever had). And sometimes the employer needs to stop and think about what their employees deserve now, not how they did it back in the day.

And after all that I have no idea what the answer is.
Until then CJS will continue to publish the adverts we're sent, and be an ethical small business publishing free & low cost information to promote countryside careers in the UK & environmental conservation worldwide.

12 March 2015

CJS Professional: March edition (41 pages!)

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
North Sea Marine Advocacy Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (HQ in York)
Senior Ranger, Bewl Water (Lamberhurst, Kent)
Gardener / Groundskeeper, Denbighshire County Council
Membership Recruitment Officer, Friends of the Peak District
Lecturer -  Fish Management and Aquaculture, maternity cover, Shuttleworth College (part of Bedford College)
Technician - Countryside and Fisheries, Shuttleworth College (part of Bedford College)
Welsh Regional Project Officer, Freshwater Habitats Trust
Ecologist, IKM Consulting (Grangemouth)
Senior Ecologist, IKM Consulting (Grangemouth)
Catchment Sensitive Farming Advisor (Temporary), Devon Wildlife Trust
Freshwater Pearl Mussel Officer (Temporary,) Devon Wildlife Trust
Seasonal Field Surveyors (Herpetofauna & Mammals) , Ecology Solutions (working nationwide)

CJS Notices
Please note next month's edition will be published one week later usual on Thursday 16 April.  This is because of the Easter break, copy deadline will be Tuesday 14 April.

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for  May 2015 Click here to read

If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.com  or feel free to recommend providers and we'll contact them to include their courses (you're not committing yourself or them to anything, and like most things with CJS it's free!)

06 March 2015

Some of our Facebook posts are missing!

Do you like us on Facebook? 
How many of our posts are you actually seeing, our stats suggest probably not many, this week we've posted around 30 updates on our two pages (3 on /CountrysideJobsService and the rest on/CJSJobs)

Facebook have tinkered with the algorithm* again but this one has a bigger impact. They are now looking at your interests and interactions with pages to decide which posts they will show you on your timeline. So to make sure you see all the details of all the job adverts with CJS you need to like, share, comment on our posts.  This way Facebook knows you actively 'Like' our page and post and will keep showing our posts on your timeline.
Why are they doing this? The official  reasoning is so that you only see things you're genuinely interested in; which seems like a good idea but surely if you weren't interested you wouldn't have 'liked' in the first place?  However, the geeky blogs are suggesting that it is an attempt to make people with pages (not personal profiles) pay to advertise their page or to Boost their posts.

How to tell and what to do.  So if you look at our page and compare it with your timeline and find that you're missing some/many/all of our posts please start interacting; alternatively if you don't already you can follow us on twitter (@CountrysideJobs) or sign up for our daily email bulletin.

 *the behind the scenes techy bit that decides what and how to display things on the network.

05 March 2015

Which book would you take to your Desert Island?

"World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world."

We read thousands if not hundred of thousands of words each week, job adverts, news items, press releases etc but most of us still find time to enjoy a chapter two of a good book.  
We love listening to Desert Islands Discs and like most people try to to work out which records we'd take with us.  Now for us that isn't as hard as picking which book to take along with the bible (or other religious tome) and the complete works of shakespeare.  
AW reads enough at work and will admit to being a slow reader, so she'd like to catch up on her backlog of Smallholder magazines! However, she reads a bedtime story to her two littlies every night and their current favourites involve frogs and frogs eating things, they are: Beware of the Frog by William Bee  (Is really good and a great surprising ending) also Tadpole's Promise by Jean Willis and Tony Ross (which again has a real surprise at the end, obviously it's not surprising when you've read it lots of times but great books). Both very apt for the next generation of CJS we thought! She says, "we would really miss books in general, can't do without the bed time story, how people don't read to their kids baffles me."
CMH decided to be a bear of very little brain but much courage and opted for the complete works of Winnie the Pooh, including Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus. Pooh can take her on expotitions and teach her all his hums whilst she digs into the philosophy of it all.
HB went down the tried and tested route of "I'll have loads of time so I'll finally get on with one I've never got on with before" and for her that's Lord of the Rings. She says, "as I've started it at least half a dozen times and never got past the first few pages, so if I'm alone on an Island I'd have a good chance of finishing it - or at least getting to the second chapter! I'm not one for re-reading books (other than children's and cookery books) so yes, that's my choice." She is the only person I know who read and cooks / irons at the same time, rattling through novels at an incredible rate!
TB in contrast takes her time and savours every single word, enjoying the pages of description and skill involved in putting together strings of words in poetic harmony.  Again she's thinking of time so has gone for a long book, one that by the time she's finished it she'll have forgotten the beginning and it's Sarum by Edward Rutherford (we both recommend this one, even if you only read the beginning (like I did - too many words for me) it's an incredible story).
My list started with ten, grew to over twenty and then was narrowed down to two and unlike everyone else mine are not works of fiction, I struggled between the complete Encyclopedia Britannica and the Annotated Ultimate Alphabet.  After much consideration (along with a bit of ribbing that I have enough useless information in my head) I went with the picture book, it's called the Annotated Ultimate Alphabet by Mike Wilks  and is a series of wonderful drawings, one for each letter of the alphabet with over 300 As alone. It's another one we'd all recommend, having left mine in the office to be poured over The Team coffee breaks have been filled with "What's that breed of horse then?" and "Why is there a tight-rope walker on the E page?" (Equilibrist  was the answer).

Which one book would you love to have the time to enjoy or simply couldn't bear to leave behind? - it's harder than you think!

27 February 2015

Normal service resumes.

Half term is over and the office is as busy as ever.
Plenty of training course information is pouring in and the Training Directory is gradually being updated. Job adverts continue to keep arriving and the Jobs Online section is constantly changing and this week's edition of CJS Weekly is 22 pages including the Work Days calendar for next month plus 45 adverts for paid posts and an additional 33 for voluntary roles.  We see many unusual ways of describing roles or attributes of the person being sought but this week one advert (for a Recreation Manager) has a new one - the applicant requires the "ability to 'pull a rabbit out of a hat'", budding prestidigitators should get their applications in now!

Lots and lots of enquiries by phone and email as well as contact forms from the website and yesterday we took part in the careers fair at Writtle College, they are the opposite end of the country from us so our presence was a virtual one and long conversations about starting your careers and useful skills were held via twitter.  The Focus information provided for Student Volunteering Week was also popular. Our web stats have some Himalayan type peaks over the past couple of days!

AW's family had a lovely time on their visit to The Big Smoke. Elder daughter met 'her' penguin, here he is: Ricky the Rockhopper, with a Humboldt for company and two fish-steelers aka a black-headed gull and grey heron
Ricky the Rockhopper at ZSL London
 And the younger was all agog over Dippy.
Dippy in the Central Hall at NHM
Although Mum and Dad were slightly concerned about the crush of people (it does seem a bit of a scrum in there!) and hands were very firmly held the whole time they were away.

Fairtrade Fortnight, runs 23 February - 8 March

Let me start with a shocking statement:
I don't always buy Fairtrade products.
This is usually met with disbelief, shock, horror, downright amazement. However, there are some very valid reasons behind that statement, it's not just there for the shock value.

Fairtrade is wonderful, the organisation has fantastic aims and has made an incredible difference to thousands of people's lives.

But I have mixed views about Fairtrade or to be more precise I have problems with some of the retailers of Fairtrade. Despite how wonderful Fairtrade is I believe 'charity' begins at home. When something is produced in the UK as well as overseas I will always buy British especially when that something comes from our agricultural industry. My problems with Fairtrade began when our only local supermarket at the time (the Co-op) began selling Fairtrade above all other products, including British produced ones. For example Silver Spoon sugar disappeared from the shelves to be replaced with Fairtrade sugar, similar cost, not really any difference in quality or flavour so what's the problem? I prefer to support British farmers and choose to buy produce with the Red Tractor symbol. Our farmers play a vital role in keeping our countryside the green and pleasant patchwork we know and love (they don't do it alone, I work at CJS so I know just how many people, organisations, volunteers, funds, agencies etc., etc., are involved!). It's not an idyllic playground but a working factory and the managers of that factory are frequently struggling and I want to support them and in so doing keep the familiar diverse landscape and all that it supports - from people to beetles and everything in between. I fear that sometimes we can get caught up in the feel good factor of organisations such as Fairtrade at the expense of homegrown. It's human nature to like the positive glow of feeling "I've done something good" by supporting this cause or that charity but unfortunately sometimes we are unaware of the impact of that elsewhere; we automatically assume that supporting a good cause is the end of it, that something like Fairtrade is only competing with nasty big exploitative business, but sometimes, just sometimes it's not.

Having said all that and torn apart the system I'll put it back together!
Support your local producers first. The more local to you the better, go back on the high street and buy meat from known sources, swap veggies with your neighbour, support your milkman (a rarity these days - we are so fortunate), buy British seasonal flowers for Mother's Day instead of hothoused ones from overseas, in the supermarket look for the Red Tractor and RSPCA freedom food labels to support British farmers or the MCS ecolabel for certified sustainable fish. And when it comes time for pineapples and bananas (or chocolate or cotton or coffee or tea or....) then look for the Fairtrade label and support this excellent cause.

But, please,

let fair trade begin at home.

20 February 2015

Phone call for a scarecrow...

Last week we had a phone call, nothing unusual there, we have lots everyday.  The person at the other end wanted to talk about careers in rural areas, also not so unusual. What was different was that she was a journalist from The Times writing a piece for their Graduate Careers special and wanted a few insights about jobs in the countryside.  Details were taken, an outline was emailed and an interview arranged for a few days later.  The results were in Thursday's edition.
So why a scarecrow? When this was relayed to Niall (who was overjoyed) he claimed it was only to be expected as CJS is obviously 'out standing in the field'. Boom Boom!
Some things never change (which is actually really rather nice).

Our mention in The Times Graduate Careers special amounted to one paragraph in a short article covering the breadth of working in rural areas, not specifically countryside jobs.  I think the journalist was quite disappointed when I explained exactly what CJS does especially when I said that we were publishers and not a recruitment agency, she did seem surprised that countryside jobs could be in inner city areas (didn't fit the article profile I assume).  However, despite that we're still chuffed that she contacted us for information.
For some more in depth useful information have a look at our Helpful Hints page, it's currently being rewritten so if you have any suggestions or requests please send them across.

Maybe we should have mentioned more about the joys of rural life! (aka anyone got a tow rope?)
Wednesday morning there's a knock on the office door, "I'm a little bit stuck can you pull me out?" said a visiting friend, after a lovely evening catching up the family had stayed overnight in a local BnB but it turns out that on their way home they decided to check out 'Hogsmeade' station (their words, without its dressing it doesn't look like anything from Harry Potter, but there's some info and pictures here) and pulled into the lane end to park.  They're not really country folk and parked - or rather tried to - on the verge only to get well and truly stuck.  Although I have a 4x4 I don't actually have a tow rope (must have left it in the old landie when it went to pastures new and I never got round to getting another one) or a tow bar, but HB (to the rescue again) has both. So she nipped home and arrived back only to discover that in their last towing adventure the tow rope had snapped, so we're all standing around looking at bits of rope when a friend goes sailing past, reverses up and quickly solves the problem with a series of splices and knots.  After which the bogged down car was gently tugged from the mire and everyone can get on with their day.
Made for an interesting start to the day...

Talking about day break, the dawn chorus has got into full swing in the last couple of days.  This morning there was a beautiful song thrush at the top of the ash tree singing his heart out, a robin blasting away at the top of the Christmas tree, blackbirds on the shed and greenhouse roofs and a starling with inflated throat burble-chattering away on the telephone wires as a gaggle of geese flew overhead heading north gabbling away to each other.

PS Thursday was the start of the Year of The Sheep according to Chinese astrology. Goathland has more sheep than people, with ratios akin to Australia so that makes us a little interested in how sheep impact our daily lives.  Apparently after the energetic Horse this coming year is going to be a smooth year, a time to relax and make peace with oneself (um, not sure I'll have the time for that....), a year of harmony and tranquility. It sounds wonderful.  And then we looked a little further: I'm an ox (strong willed and stubborn), we also have a couple of snakes (wily deep thinkers), a rooster (stands on top of their midden and crows) and a monkey (quick witted and intelligent) amongst others.

13 February 2015

Is it bedtime yet?

Normally we're not in the least bit bothered by triskaidekaphobia even on a Friday, it's just another day.
But this week?
That's turning out to be a whole different story...

I knew it was not going to be a good day when I got up to discover the aga had gone out and wood stove had only a few embers left - which fortunately flared into life with a little paper and kindling to warm everything up.  It's been an odd, busy week.  Monday saw the latest edition of CJS Focus published. Thursday it was the turn of just about THE biggest edition of CJS Professional we've ever published, that kept us occupied for several days.  HB's computer is suffering from a multiple personality disorder with internal temperatures ranging from-55 to a fiery +50 all at the same time.  It's either that or (more likely) it can't count, however the little fire symbols were rather worrying, but IT say it's fine, for now, but will change some pieces of hardware soon....  The fire extinguisher is on standby by the corner of her desk.

In the mean time there have been all sorts of odd little niggles - a recalibration of Facebook pages designs and the frequency of feeding posts out to personal profiles, google changing things again (600ish pages to be tweaked), the back room bits on the daily email going haywire and as we roll with the punches we become progressively more amazed at events both in and out of the office.  By mid-morning on Friday the bouts of slightly manic laughter were increasing in frequency and the desire for a duvet, a mug of something warming and a good book were getting ever harder to resist, but resist we did and despite it all our third publication of the week has gone to press.  At 21 pages this week's edition of CJS Weekly is slightly smaller but still significantly larger than last year's average size. It has 67 adverts for paid posts plus 11 voluntary roles.


Have you seen the advert that begins "Mum, there are penguins in my bedroom"?  It's been on the radio regularly but it was only the other night I actually saw it on TV and it's cruel!  Evicting all those lovely penguins, very nicely (I must admit) being ushered out by the boiler repair man - BUT, poor penguins, they're homeless again.  After being so popular over Christmas and welcomed into everyone's homes only to be turned out once it gets a little bit chilly.
To borrow from Dog's Trust: "A penguin is for life, not just for Christmas".  
So saying AW's elder daughter is going to meet her adopted penguin at the zoo over half term and is very excited, her younger sister is almost as excited about seeing Dippy (Natural History Museum's diplodocus) before he moves.

12 February 2015

CJS Professional: February 2015

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.
It's another big one, this month running to 89 pages!

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
Principal Ecologist, amec foster wheeler (Edinburgh, Penicuik)
Seasonal Field Surveyors , Ecology Solutions (Hertfordshire office base, surveys UK wide)
Assistant Ecologist, amec foster wheeler (Edinburgh, Penicuik)
Ecological Clerk of Works and Field Ornithologist, Energised Environments Ltd (Glasgow)
Graduate Trainee: Seed Research, Procurement & Treatment, Maelor Forest Nurseries Limited (Welsh/Shropshire border)
Papay Heritage Ranger Harnessing Papay’s Rich Heritage project, funded by the Coastal Community Fund (Papa Westray, Orkney)
Ranger, Crowborough Town Council (East Sussex)
Ecologist, Aspect Ecology (Oxfordshire)
Wildlife Records Inter, Exmoor National Park
Director, Woodland Heritage (flexible location)
Local Wildlife Sites Surveyor, West Yorkshire Ecology
Head of Conservation & Development, the Chiltern Society (Chesham, Buckinghamshire)
Forestry Manager, Treelands Limited (Stirling)
Ecological Project Officer Five Rivers Environmental Contracting (Salisbury)

Other adverts:
Do you work in the countryside sector?  The Countryside Management Association (CMA) is the professional body in England and Wales for rangers and managers of countryside and any green spaces, whether urban or rural.  CMA is running a survey of people across the profession, you don't have to be a member to take part, more details in the edition.

CJS Notices
CJS Focus on Volunteering
This edition includes CJS Focus on Volunteering in full.
NCVO provide a lead article on volunteering and diversity, with lots of tips on how best to attract, motivate and retain volunteers. CNP detail their Mosaic project and how volunteers can get involved. CSA provides some information on how to use social media to best effect and how to involve volunteers in the process. Find out why there’s never been a better time to employ an Apprentice. Steve Rogers analyses some very interesting data on toad patrols he has helped to organise in North Yorkshire. This edition also includes 111 specific volunteer positions most included only in the Focus and many adverts for projects, websites, work days & volunteering offers. Read it here

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for  April 2015 Click here to read
The Species Recovery Trust is immensely excited to unveil the Golden Ticket 2015.  
As part of our commitment to fostering the next generation of aspiring conservationists, this year we are offering one individual a free place on ten of our training courses, normally worth £750.

If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.com  or feel free to recommend providers and we'll contact them to include their courses (you're not committing yourself or them to anything, and like most things with CJS it's free!)

09 February 2015

Now published: CJS Focus on Volunteering in association with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Our first look at Volunteering for 2015 runs to 39 pages in total. The lead article is from National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and they discuss volunteering and diversity also provide lots of tips on how best to attract, motivate and retain volunteers whilst ensuring diversity within a volunteer work force. The Campaign for National Parks has been running their Mosaic project since 2001, the project aims to introduce new people to national parks and the countryside, the Project Manager gives some details about what Mosaic does and how volunteers can get involved. Social media is now a main tool in any organisations promotional activity, Community Supported Agriculture provides some information on how to use social media to best effect and how to involve volunteers in the process. There’s never been a better time to employ an Apprentice.. so say the National Apprenticeship Service, how easy is it and why should you look to this form of employment to train future employees. They also provide some case studies from the Lake District National Park Authority. Toads will soon be making the perilous journey to their breeding grounds; Steve Rogers, Co-ordinator of Osmotherley Toad Rescue in North Yorkshire analyses some very interesting data on toad patrols, in a bid to answer the question ‘Can toad patrols make a difference?’  This edition also includes 111 specific volunteer positions most included only in the Focus and many adverts for projects, websites, work days & volunteering offers. Read it here 

06 February 2015

Doodle Day

Do you doodle?
Most people do at sometime or another: on the phone while on hold listening to another round of canned muzak, in meetings, in lectures, waiting for computers to unfreeze, install more updates.... plenty of opportunity.
Today (Friday 5 February) is National Doodle Day so I had the brainwave of putting together a little gallery of our artistic meanderings and fired off this email:

But then the problems began - you see I just don't doodle!  I didn't realise until I began looking for scribblings. I draw with a purpose. I scrawl words.  I make notes.  But nowhere in any of my plentiful note books could I find pictures or even sweeping lines.
Other pieces of paper in the office are adorned with flags, little round blotchy swirls, feathery birdy things, blocked in letters.  A few preliminary squiggles made it up onto my pictures / ideas wall above my desk at home.

(there's a distinct labrador and hare theme there, I wonder why!!)
TB gave me her doodle, in her words "I scribbled this representation of my deepest longings on the bottom of a job ad."
Where's the sunshine?

So I thought if we can't have sunshine the next best thing has to be wine... So into the gallery went my winey wordart from the wall.
And here is the gallery of some of our collected doodles:

No, it's not just an excuse to waste some time and scribble away it's all in aid of a very good cause: National Doodle Day supports the work of Epilepsy Action which is the working name of British Epilepsy Association.  Epilepsy Action is the UK’s leading epilepsy organisation and exists to improve the lives of everyone affected by the condition. As a member-led association, we are led by and represent people with epilepsy, their friends, families and healthcare professionals.Epilepsy can affect anyone at any age and from any walk of life, and globally over 50 million people have the condition. Epilepsy Action is here to support people every step of the way through living with the condition.

This week's CJS editions

We've not been wasting all our time this week scribbling away, we have been busy putting together a couple of very large CJS editions.
Over the past two weeks sub-ed TB has edited and typed up over 200 job adverts.  Wow, we are all in awe (and dreading when she goes away on a well deserved holiday next month....)
CJS Weekly has gone to print with 27 pages and this week includes a monster 39 page CJS Focus on Volunteering - more on that next week when it's published online.

 Stop press - I did a doodle! 
The winey wordart obviously inspired (if that's the right word) so here's a CJS-y one...


05 February 2015

Stories of apples.

"Never again would sweethearts be separated by that river."
Tall tales, fantastic fables and local legends....
This week is National Storytelling Week.

Years ago both Niall and I used to offer story telling as part of our freelance education ranger services. Telling not so tall tales of ghosts, ghouls, hobs and witches from our rich local folklore mainly to school children to but also to adult community groups. Niall took his own portable witches post to repel 'witch' Anthea's unexpected entrance half way through, I relied on a large very dribbly, guttering church candle and a flair for the dramatic to get the audience gasping. It obviously worked and we both got lots of repeat bookings! Maybe one day we'll write them all down….
 "And remember, never go hunting with a black dog"
(quotes from the stories of Beggar's Bridge in Glaisdale and Nanny P in Goathland)

It's been a busy week with what with story telling, Candlemas day on Monday (it was dull and drear so winter should have gone for another year… um not sure about that it's snowed all week), World Wetland Day (that one was in the news headlines, more here) and the launch of this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards (that was in Monday's blog, read it here and watch out for more updates in the coming months). As it that wasn't enough it's also been Bramley Apple Week.

blossom on the bramleys - hopefully it will be just as beautiful this year
The bramley is a venerable old variety, first grown from pips planted in 1809 by Ann Brailsford, in her garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The house changed hands and while local butcher Matthew Bramley lived there a a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather, asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apple. Bramley agreed, but insisted the apple should bear his name - hence 'Bramley's Seedling'
For me a cooking apple just has to be a bramley. The house we lived in when I was a small child had three large bramleys in the garden, there have to be three because they're odd plants having a triploid chromosal pattern meaning they require not one but two other pollinating trees. We made chutney, apple pies, apple crumbles, stored a few and froze a lot. When we moved the new house had lots of cordoned eating apples but no cookers, but the trees were not doing well and eventually were felled leaving the victoria plum standing alone. However a few years ago having done a little bit of a redesign we had space for apple trees again and of course top of the list was a bramley, not having as much space as the previous garden we've got a crab apple as a pollinator. They did well for a few years but I fear we're not meant to have apples here, the house next door changed hands and they took down the garage totally altering the wind patterns. Both trees got thrown and although have been heavily pruned and pulled back up right they are struggling and we've not had a crop from either for a couple of years.

And we're not done, we're scribbling along tomorrow...