Happy New Year! In north Northumberland we have had hard frosts but, so far, have escaped snow except for a light dusting. This is in contrast to southern and western parts of Britain.
Looking back, we had some interesting trips during 2017. In September we had a week in Galloway when it rained every day but one. But it didn't stop us getting out to see the amazing number of historic and archaeological sites. This is a really interesting area.
In May we had a fantastic visit to Cyprus. In June we went on a National Trust for Scotland cruise to Orkney, Shetland and St Kilda. This was the third time we have landed on St Kilda and the second in warm, sunny weather. The passage out was very rough! I have put some photos on the Gallery page.
At the Borders Book Festival in June, I read an extract from my contribution to the Border Writers' Forum Anthology, Border Voices. This was at Melrose in the Scottish Borders and I was one of ten readers. The theme of the Anthology was 'Bridges' and my contribution was entitled 'Bridges to Heaven'.
A current project which is taking up much of my time is the inspection and recording of historic buildings in connection with the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project. This is a community project administered by the Till Valley Archaeological Society with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to the Historic Buildings Group, there are three other groups of volunteers dealing with archaeology, social history and oral history. There is more information on the TillVAS website—there is a link below.
My fourth book on local topics, Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed, is available for sale, published by the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS)(www.tillvas.com), ISBN 978-1-291-58938-2 Price £10. Net proceeds of sale go to the Society.
Information about this and other books, articles and poems can be seen on my Books & Books (cont.) pages and copies of some may be bought by clicking on the blue link at the top of the Books page and following the instructions.
I was born in Birmingham and was brought up and went to school there and in Croydon. I am a graduate of London University and of the Open University and a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. I lived and/or worked in Croydon, the City of London, Surrey and Hampshire before spending most of my working life in local government and in the oil industry in Aberdeen and north-east Scotland before moving to Lyme Regis in Dorset, then to the Scottish Borders and now just on the other side of the Border in Northumberland. The photograph shows more of the stunning scenery close by—this is a view in the upper Breamish valley amongst the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland. The main occupants of this landscape are the Blackface sheep.
For sixteen years I was a part-time, volunteer Warning Officer in Aberdeen with the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation which was concerned with home defence, especially against nuclear attack. In the past, I have been Chairman of an Abbeyfield Society sheltered home for elderly people, Chairman of Governors of a primary school and have been involved with other voluntary work. I am a member of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, a member of the Royal British Legion and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. I am now a writer and a member of the Till Valley Archaeological Society.
I am married to another writer and we have two married daughters and their families who live in Edinburgh and Cyprus. We have three granddaughters and one grandson, all apples of their
MY INTERESTS: history, local history, archaeology (actively), reading, hill-walking (particularly the Lake District and Scotland), old buildings and building techniques, trees and travel (particularly the Western Isles, Scandinavia and Australia). I belong to several national and local organisations in connection with these interests.
Music: classical music for strings, middle-of-the-road pop, folk, or whatever is on my iPod.
Films: Particular favourites are 'The Dish', 'The Castle' (two hilarious Australian films), 'Zulu' (a classic), but my taste is wide-ranging from thrillers to musicals to good war films to comedies to historical and contemporary dramas.
Books: For the desert island, an omnibus edition of the works of John Buchan. At home, again wide-ranging—classical, historical fiction and non-fiction, historical biography and anything to do with Australia.
My motto (the one that I strive to comply with!): DO IT NOW, NOT LATER!