Well it has been almost a year after all…
I honestly cannot remember what I did after my previous update last summer. I don’t actually know where the last year has went to if I’m honest. So where to start?
In July we got a new pet. Buddy the border collie came to live with us and he’s loved every minute of staying here. We’ve had a few heath scares with him though and I don’t think we’ll ever stop getting funny looks from other dog owners until we’ve told everyone about his kidney issues. Trying to find low protein dog treats is next to impossible by the way!
My brother also married Carla in July and we all had a great day as well as it being great to see all the family, old and new, in one place.
We also had Vonnie officially graduating from college.
We also had another wedding to go to with Ross and Pauline getting married on Arran. This was a great day only tempered by the fact the day after we had to pack up the tent in the pouring rain and then spend the entire day in the ferry terminal because the weather was that bad no ferries ran. Thankfully Ross’ parents put us up overnight and we got off the island the next morning on the only ferry that ran. The bride and groom also made that ferry which meant they actually made their honeymoon flight.
Back in August or there abouts Vonnie convinced me that I should go back to college. I’d spent way to long on job seekers allowance with only one interview to show for it and even that was only for 6 months maternity cover at a college in Paisley. When asked why I wanted the job I said I needed to get myself back into a routine having been out of work so long and with wanting to go back to college actually working in one would be the kick up the backside I needed. I didn’t get the job btw…
So I started applying for places at my local college to do an HND in Computing Science. I’d been doing the HNC as distance learning to try and update my modules from my previous attempts and decided just to go at it full time. It was something that comes easy to me but not necessarily something I enjoy. I was looking for something that would stand me in good stead for getting work at the end of it and not looking any further past that point. And then Vonnie pointed out that if I’m going to effectively retrain I could do anything and should probably find something to do that I was passionate about. I’d been wanting to do a course at the Scottish Agricultural College for years along the lines of Countryside Management or Rural Land Use but never thought of it as an option.
Just before the kids went back to school they were in the drama schools productions of Annie and The Gingerbread Man. Erica loved it so much she went back after the holidays to the weekly classes.
Findlay won himself a scholarship to a local independent secondary school so he started there and seems to be thriving.
In September I started at the newly renamed Scottish Rural College (SRUC) studying towards an Enviromental Management HND.
I knew it was going to be hard going. Having been through the wringer at college and university before I sort of knew what was expected of me but having since found out about my dyslexia I had no idea how that would change things. It took the whole of the first term to sort out my equipment and help and the hoops I had to jump through we’re stupidly arranged but the last few days of term one I had a new laptop fully stocked with almost every piece of software id need to help me.
The first year of the course I’m on is shared with the Countryside Management class with a few exceptions so apparently it was strange to have a class as big as ours in the college. With about twenty-two students it felt tiny but then there were only seven of us doing the environmental management side of things.
The first term set us up for what the rest of the year would be like though. Fascinating classes like Ecology tempered by classes like Environmental Awareness and then all the hard science classes where I struggled to remember what I’d learned in school. I only ever studied Physics so I had a grip of that but Biology and Chemistry were tough.
The Conservation Society opened my eyes a little in that it made me wish I was on the other side of the class studying to be a park ranger. Still not going to change over but I think it was this sort of stuff that made me choose SRUC over Clyde College. I didn’t manage along to much after term one but we were cutting down trees, making bat boxes with a local school, who incidentally went on to win an award for that sort of stuff, and dry stone wall building in Galloway Forest. We did feel a little like a work crew for hire at times but it was all good fun as well as educational.
With Vonnie’s involvement with the National Union of Students I started to take an interest. Nothing major or anything like that but I’s put myself forward as class rep unless others really wanted it, they did, and had started trying to get involved in the campuses student council. By term two it turned out that we didn’t have one and despite my best efforts I still havent managed to attend a council meeting. In fact I don’t think there was a meeting during term three and only one if our lucky during term two. Anyway, my involvement with the piloting of the change100 internship scheme at the beginning of the year got me angry about the lack of a disabled students campaign this year which ultimately led to me being voted on to the campaign committee for next year.
Then we had Shona and Dave’s wedding which was fantastic. Being up on Loch Lomond and Loch Awe for the weekend was just what we needed even if the beds were too short for me.
All this political activity also had me putting myself forward for student president as well. All I’m going to say about that is I loved how much I got into it but it was severely dampened by the apathy present in the student body. Almost noone votes unless they know the candidate beforehand and the fact our six campuses are spread all over the country makes it hard to involve everyone in the process. I didn’t win although apparently going into the last day it was virtually neck and neck with only a couple of votes in it until the eventual winner pulled away. I’ll still be involved somehow but that apathy and lack of understanding how the students association works from all over the student body has made me question just how feasible it is to get enough people engaged to make it work the way it should.
One of the students on my course decided that being part of a work gang for hire wasn’t her idea of extra-curricular work experience so we’ve also spent some time helping her start up a new society with the idea being to work on short and long term projects using all the skills we learn in class. The plan I think is to eventually get stewardship of our own bit of land but in the meantime we’re working to get it established for next year. So far we’ve looked at a woodland survey and had a weekend trip to Ben Lomond to learn a bit of fencebuilding and path maintenance.
We also rounded the year off with a trip to Ailsa Craig. An hour or so each way by boat and we got to spend some time on the island before doing a trip round it to see the gannets and puffins.
I have however had next to no social life this last year. I’ve not managed to get any gaming in at all other than a few games of Malifaux with the boys and my painting has taken a back seat to studying. Hopefully I’ll get to give both of them a go over the summer though.
There were loads of other things we did like go to the ice hockey, take part in a CND protest, and the Halloween procession but I could go on and on.