A portfolio career – is it for you?

Every so often, Fiona and I like to branch out and do something a little different. While Fiona never stops, whether she’s making a documentary, writing a column or advising on PR work, I find my other interests are in a very different direction. So here I am, fresh from having delivered my first gardening blog this weekend.

I think the days of a regular 9-5 job are long gone and the way forward for many people is a portfolio career. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking like this and would be curious to know what unusual combinations of jobs people put together in their working week. I’ve always been interested in lots of things and so to diversify my career makes sense. It also opens up your life to new people who have shared interests.

My family were supportive last year when I signed up for a one year course with the Garden Design School at the Botanic Gardens in Bristol, but I knew that secretly they were wondering, why? I’ve been an obsessive gardener for years, but became really hooked after helping out on a show garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show. It was so much fun that I came back and immediately investigated how I could develop this side of my life.

I found, at times, the course was very inconvenient as the workload meant that family life went out the window for days at a time. There I was, middle-aged with three young kids, working through the night to complete, of all things, a gardening course! Ask anyone, and they would expect such a course to be fun and relaxing, as you learn about a subject you are really interested in. I signed up in haste, but it was the right thing to do. I’ve learnt so much about design in the last year as it was a really well-taught course, even if I emerged rather pale and bedraggled from behind my drawing board on many days.

Having taken more than a few months to recover, I now find myself keen to use my new skills and to this end will be writing a weekly blog. At the moment it can be found at Birdsontheblog/food/strawberries in October, and I think the ‘Birds’ plan to set up a dedicated gardening section in time. Every two weeks I plan to write about jobs to do in the garden now, and every other week write a regular ‘Ask Sue’ section where I answer reader’s gardening queries. So if you have a question about plants, growing vegetables or best place to site a pergola, contact me.

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