Volunteering with The Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Last year I spent about six months volunteering with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. It was one of my more pleasant volunteering experiences.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust is a small charity which has nature reserves all over Suffolk. I volunteered at Lackford Lakes which is a few miles from Bury St Edmunds. It is largely a reserve for birdwatching though there were also rare orchids and moths and butterflies to be seen.

My role was to greet visitors and explain the work of the Centre to them. I also served tea and coffee and refreshments. My favourite task was actually filling up the bird feeders which could be seen from the picture window. It was also good when I got to refill the leaflet boxes as I could then walk all around the reserve taking in the view from each hide.

Lackford Lakes was absolutely beautiful. The habitat was largely wetland with man made lakes though there was some planting of shrubs and trees. Walking around on a sunny day was as near to Paradise as it’s possible to get. There were many birds to be seen including kingfishers, hobbies, herons and cormorants.

The volunteers were lovely and mostly retired. I enjoyed their company and they were friendly and welcoming as well as really knowledgeable about birds. We had some good chats and laughs together. The manager was also really nice. There was only one paid member of staff I didn’t really like as she seemed to like to boss people around and throw her weight around but she was the only fly in the ointment.

In the end I left for another opportunity. I used to feel a bit of a fraud as I wasn’t an expert on birds and I couldn’t really see my role developing into anything unless I wanted to take some kind of ecology course. It was possible to volunteer to be more hands on helping with the practical tasks on the reserve. I kind of regret leaving as I miss it very much but I felt the need to build into something else.

I would recommend volunteering for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust to anyone with some time on their hands and an interest in birds or if you are looking for work experience.

Lackford Lakes truly is a magical place.


The Miniaturist Jessie Burton Book Review

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a much hyped book. In my temporary Christmas job at Waterstone’s I was told to push it at every customer who came to the till. Is it worthy of such hype? Not exactly. It is a beautifully presented hardback; the ideal Christmas gift.

The novel is a sweet and light confection like the delights one finds in the bakers of Amsterdam. The story is set in the seventeenth century. Nella, just eighteen, arrives from the country to marry a rich Amsterdam merchant, Johaness, who ignores her completely. The household consists of Johaness’ bitter and cold sister, Marin, a female servant and a black manservant, Otto, from the tropics. Nella is given a dollhouse to amuse herself. The mysterious miniaturist sends pieces to fill the dollhouse whose fashioning suggests a rather too intimate knowledge with the goings on of the house. Nella becomes intrigued and endeavours to find out the identity of the miniaturist. Johanness’ dark secret is revealed to all and tragedy befalls the household.

The book is delicately written, Nella is a likeable and relatable heroine and the characters are well drawn, However, I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing. The historical details of seventeenth century Amsterdam were fascinating and this was the main interest of the book to me. More could have been made of this. The story had the feel of a Victorian melodrama and was perhaps too flimsy a tale for the hype the book received. I yearned for more depth. The novel felt slow to start but did involve me in the maelstrom from the middle onwards.

Worth reading but I am puzzled by the five star reviews and glowing publicity.

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