I remember distinctly as a child having a romantic image of being a RSPB warden; protecting thousands of birds in some wild, wind swept place miles from anywhere. It's funny how life does not quite deal you the hand you were expecting and today I had one of those moments of contemplation.
There I was, covered in protective overalls with a bottle of herbicide in one hand and a pair of secateurs in the other trying to reach a particular nasty patch of Japanese knotweed. All around me were brambles and nettles and no matter which way I went I was doomed to be stung and prickled. 'What on earth am I doing here' I thought to myself as I pulled another reaching arm of briar from my trousers, surely there must be something better that I could be doing?
Then I looked around, the volunteer I was with was in a similar predicament , but as I watched another eight-foot stem of Japanese Knotweed came crashing down. Above me I could see where the contractors I had hired the week before had cleared a cliff that had been smoothered in knotweed and beyond that, through the trees was another glade where the voilunteers and I had spent two days solid fighting this invasive, evil weed.
As this moment of doubt passed I could see that this whole thing was bigger than my bleeding knees and I was just a cog in a bigger machine, with one simple aim to make Cwm Clydach a great place for wildlife and if that meant ridding the reserve of this exotic weed I had to carry on. I set off again through the undergrowth with new vigour; got stung terribly, but this time I managed not to swear!