Long time, no see…
I have been absent from “blogging” for a few months now, but I have a good excuse!! I have had a very busy few weeks… I had a week in Swindon working on a vintage steam railway, a week on holiday in Scarborough and two consecutive weeks’ work experience. Unfortunately, all these activities occurred over 100 miles from home, so I have been physically seperated from my beloved “blog”!! Thankfully, we recently made it up, and we’re both very happy.
I want to talk about all these things, but I’m going to discuss them in separate posts otherwise this could get confusing. First, my week on the railway. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I work as a volunteer every weekend at the Swindon & Cricklade Heritage Railway, at Blunsdon, West Swindon, (Google it, we need the money!!). The railway is currently in celebration of the opening of our new station at Taw Hill, in the middle of the beautiful Moulden Hill Country Park. This southern extension of the line has increased the length of our line to three and a half miles, and the presence of our rare visitor engine, the very pretty little former Great Western prairie tank, number 5521, has brought in even more visitors.
“Wait!”, I hear you cry, “This is all well and good, but this is a vet student blog, who gives a toss about some obnoxious little rattler in the middle of rural Wiltshire?” I’ll tell you. As the railway runs through a National Country Park, we need (and have) the services of a very good Wildlife Manager. And every good Wildlife Manager needs an Assistant Wildlife Manager… I think you can see where this is going. As the Assistant Wildlife Manager, I’m basically responsible for looking after and keeping track of the local wildlife. This includes feeding and keeping records of the wild bird populations, keeping the area on and around the railway free of pollution and litter, and looking after the station cat!
As well as this, I am also involved in some engineering projects on the railway; I am currently a trainee fireman (fire stoker – one rung below train driver!!), I’m involved in restoring a British Rail Mark. 1 carriage, a former Great Western Siphon G, a British Rail Diesel Multiple Unit and the general restoration and maintenance of all our working engines and rolling stock.
Working at the railway has helped to develop my skills in teamwork, lateral thinking, problem solving and time management. I have also had the opportunity to do things that not many other young people these days have ever or will ever get to do, but that can be very rewarding and useful later in life, such as rewiring the control panel of a BR-DMU, replacing the wooden floor paneling of a vintage carriage, driven both a steam and a diesel locomotive, performed a boiler washout, painted a 30′ railway coach, worked on stalls in fundraising events, laid down and taken up track on the permanent way and helped out in repairing the sewage system and dig the new cesspit. . . nice!!
Photos on the way!!