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My placement was with a company called Oliver Lintotts Tree Surgery. I have known Oliver for about 2 years as he is my boss’s son. When I heard that my placement would be with him I was thrilled as I had worked with him before and tree surgery is a very exciting profession. I knew I could expect hard work and a good laugh. The last time I worked for him, Andy, one of Olivers employees, and I had to dig a trench to drain a field. Towards the end of the day it started to rain and I ended up almost waist-deep in a trench which was quickly filling with water and we laughed so hard we barely noticed.
I already own lots of work clothes as I have had experience in tree surgery, carpentry, roofing, plumbing and mixing concrete among other areas but Oliver usually lends me some work boots with steel toe-caps as they are what I am supposed to wear. The night before my first day of work experience I made my lunch, consisting of 4 sandwiches, 3 packets of crisps and 3 chocolate bars, and left it in the fridge. Then I made sure I had clean jeans, t-shirt and jumper for the next day. I got an early night that night as I had to be up at 6:30 to be at work at 7:00.
Having woken up at 6:30 I left the house at 6:45 to walk to Heath End launderette where Oliver would pick me up and drive me to where we were working that day. He picked me up at the launderette because his dad, my boss, owns it and Oliver used to live above it. I found out I would be working with a Polish man named Tomak for the week. Which was fine by me but, unfortunately, Tomak didn’t speak much English. It was a very cold morning so I put on two t-shirts and a jumper as well as my fleece.
That day, we were working in Godalming felling some conifers. Olivers job was to cut them down bit by bit and Tomak and I had to put the branches and logs into the chipper. The chipper is a very powerful machine. You feed the branch into the hopper and once the first bit reaches the teeth it pulls the rest in and spits woodchip into the trailer we were filling. Then we had lunch which was about 45 minutes long as we were very tired and hungry. Fortunately, Oliver had brought a flask of hot tea for us all to enjoy.
When we had finished cutting down the trees and ‘chipping’ all of the branches, it was my job to take a pair of secateurs, which are like big scissors, and cut down all the little bits which were too small for Olivers powerful chainsaw. We finished clearing up at about 4:30 and then Oliver drove us back to the launderette and I walked home from there. I arrived home at about 5:15, very tired and dirty. The next day I woke at the same time to be at work at 7. It wasn’t quite as cold as the previous day so I only wore one t-shirt and a jumper.
That day Tomak and I had to clear logs which Oliver had cut down the previous week in a woodland. It was on the same site as the previous day but, as it is a very big site, was about 10 minutes walk from where we felled the conifers. As Tomak was a lot bigger and stronger than me, I lifted the smaller, dryer logs and Tomak carried the larger, wetter ones as they were heavier. He picked one up and, as he was walking along, suddenly threw the log about 4 feet away from him and fell to the floor. I dropped the log I was picking up at the time and ran to see what had happened.
He had twisted his ankle and remained on the floor rubbing and stretching it for about 5 minutes then just got up and carried on working. Over the next three days we were at the same site in Godalming. Tomak and I had to stack hay bails on the Wednesday, split logs on Thursday and dig a trench to drain a field on Friday. Although on Friday we were assisted by Andy. Although I only worked with Tomak, Andy and Oliver I had a great time. I have always got on well with Andy and Oliver as I had worked with them before but Tomak and I got on surprisingly well despite his bad English.
I had a bit of a sore neck by the end of the week though because Oliver is about 6 foot 4 inches and Andy is about 6 foot 6 and I had to keep looking up at them! My only low point was having to stack hay bails on Wednesday. I suffer from hayfever so I started sneezing and my eyes semi-closed plus it was really hot as well. Hay bails aren’t that light, they’re actually quite heavy so we got all hot and sweaty and I didn’t know that if you’re not used to hay then it can give you a rash.
I only had shorts and a t-shirt and I got little itchy, white spots all over my arms and legs which was made worse by the sweat. Then we had a very long lunch break which meant I had to sit there itching for about an hour. The best part was on Friday. Oliver brought down his air rifle and we set up some targets on a nearby tree and we all had a go at shooting. As it turns out I have quite good aim and got more targets than everyone. Looking back it was a good experience and I think it showed me that, although I enjoyed the week, a career in tree surgery isn’t for me. I’m just not tall enough!