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Tour Guiding

by Jane Baltzars.

1st September 1998.

Having fallen in love with the island of Flat Holm two years ago, I was delighted to be asked if I would like to train as a guide. The first lesson began with a very interesting and informative talk and slide show about the island with its flora, fauna and immense history. The afternoon session should have been a visit to the island but bad weather prevented this.

The next stage was a visit “shadowing” a trained guide on two occasions to the island. Listening and gaining valuable insight into ways to inform the general public on different aspects of the island.

Then I should have been giving my guided tour under supervision, with feedback on my performance. Well, the day arrived and to say I was nervous was an understatement. Luckily, Kevin noticed my anxiousness on the boat journey over to the island and asked how I felt about “going it alone”.

At this point I had to admit to being extremely apprehensive. So I was given the options of either going around once again observing with a trained person, giving my talk at strategic points I felt happy with, such as the history of the lighthouse or giving the complete tour, but if I went blank help would be at hand. I decided to do the sections I felt confident about.

This enabled me to gain confidence and I felt a lot happier. I was introduced to the visitors at the beginning of the tour as a trainee and it gave me a lovely warm feeling when they said “Well Done” and “Good Luck” with the remainder of my tuition at the end of the day.

The next two visits followed, with me having longer periods instructing the visitors which gave me further confidence.

Finally, the day arrived when I was “on my own”. It was a lovely sunny day and the visitors were very patient with me. The gods, possibly Cadoc or Baruc were with me, and I felt quietly confident. I know I had a few “blank” moments, but I remembered Kevin’s words that we were providing entertainment as well as information, so I went into theatrical mode and provided a few laughs for the visitors.

I’ve still got a lot to learn, however I am becoming more confident with each visit. It is a lovely feeling being thanked at the end of each visit and sharing what I’ve learnt with others. I hope one day I will be as good as those that have helped in my training. They say practice makes perfect, so I am looking forward to a lot of practice.

Jane Baltzars