18th September 2009 at 01:00
From wild cats to top dogs

From wild cats .

Bad luck, Cherylin Huff, lecturer at Brooksby Melton College, who just missed out on winning a job in the BBC's natural history unit in the broadcaster's new reality show, Wildest Dreams.

The 40-year-old spent three months in Africa, tracking down animals (everything from crocodiles to cheetahs), abseiling down cliffs to film roosting birds and learning to free-dive without breathing equipment to capture marine life.

Some of the challenges would have FErret running a mile: clambering down a cliff face to film 30,000 killer bees or seeking out fruit bats in a cave filled with what the BBC delicately referred to as "guano". But the animal-care lecturer rose to the challenge and made it to the competition's final, where contestants had to make a film about big cats on the Masai Mara, although she was passed over for the top prize.

And while she's no doubt disappointed to be back in Leicestershire rather than travelling the world seeing weird and wonderful animals, FErret is sure that the classroom will offer its fair share of feral creatures.

. to top dogs

With the WorldSkills rankings published, now is the time to see how the UK has progressed against its international competitors before the competition comes to London in 2011.

Britain boosted its ranking from 11th to seventh, under the competition's arcane and esoteric system where there are at least four different ways of calculating the tables and certain unscrupulous countries pick whichever one makes them look best. Our friends from down under, for example, no doubt stung by the Ashes defeat, have been claiming a fifth-place finish.

Unfortunately, even on what FErret is assured is the standard measure used by all fair-minded countries like the UK, the Aussies still come out ahead, taking sixth. On the other hand, at least our team doesn't labour under a name like the Skillaroos and so, in a deeper sense, the UK is the winner here.

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