After months of research, and hours on the phone, Dee has finally managed to negotiate our attendance on a City and Guilds course that will certify us to climb trees. People may well wonder why we need a certificate to say we can climb trees (any more than we would to build a den or swing on a rope over a river). The short answer is insurance (if we are climbing trees in the line of work). The longer answer is in gaining competence and confidence with ropes and harnesses, and working at height.

So we went to Fife for the week. We stayed in a caravan at the Leven Beach Caravan Park, which was good practice for our other plans involving a life on the road. We spent our days in the grounds of the old Cameron Hospital, under the guidance of our tutor Alan, in the company of our classmates Bruce and Neil, climbing trees and walking branches and learning the health and safety rules.

The course was great, we learned a huge amount and had a grand time up an old oak tree that we got very fond of (we hugged it a lot). As Alan was prone to say, “It’s just all too relaxing”. The assessment on the final Saturday was not at all relaxing and was in fact extremely taxing – especially the part where we each had to climb a pole using spikes and bring one another down on our rope, which took far more time and energy than was expected. As Alan was also prone to say, “Oh Mammy”. But we both passed, with a commendation for our theoretical knowledge (that was the easy bit) and a recommendation that we go off and get a lot more experience. We left Fife exhausted but enthused, and with a renewed respect for vocational qualifications.

We’re going to speak to Pat who single-handedly and tirelessly works to keep Drumnadrochit in Bloom if we can gain the tree-climbing experience we need removing some of dead and damaged branches that overhang the pathways around Lewiston. That should keep us busy, there are at least four oaks, a couple of sycamores and some beeches needing attention.

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