Throughout my life I have had many interests, some of which occupy my time at the moment and some which are on the back burner waiting to re-emerge. It's all a matter of time. The problem with each one is that I can become totally immersed at the expense of all else and so it is a constant battle trying to ensure that no single interest takes over.
My hobbies are as follows:-
Astronomy, fishing, shooting, nature, DIY, car boots, keep fit, painting, bottle collecting, gardening, photography, holidays.
My knowledge of the various constellations in the sky is fairly limited but nevertheless the size of the Universe never ceases to amaze me. The last thing I do every night is to spend several minutes looking at the stars from the bedroom window. I also stand out in the garden from time to time having a serious look at the night sky. To assist me I have a good pair of Pentax binoculars, a small Russian telescope and an 8 inch Meade Schmidt Cassegrain reflector telescope which automatically sets itself up and identifies the various celestial objects for me.
This was a passion in my teens and early twenties and one to which I returned in 2015. I recently stopped at my old fishing haunt, Bradmoor Lakes in Narborough, after a trip to Sheffield. Everything had changed as the trees are bigger and the site is much more managed with lots of carp anglers in attendance but the magic of the place is still there. I am now a member of The Wroxham & District Angling Club which has several waters close by to my home. The nearest of these is only two fields away. I had forgotten just how enjoyable sitting by a lakeside can be and what good company other anglers can be. I was told that the only things that get caught when angling are anglers in the amount of equipment they feel they need to take with them. It is true. My hoard of tackle continues to grow week by week and whilst I initially carried all my equipment on a sortie, now I have to employ the use of a trolley.
I had my first airgun for Christmas when I was eleven and this still holds as the best Christmas present I have ever had. It was a Diana Model 16 and not much more powerful than a pea shooter. I had to buy Milbro hollow pellets as the gun wasn't powerful enough to discharge normal .177 pellets. I got my first shotgun when I was twenty one and still have this. It has been a trusty weapon and the downfall of many pigeons. I still love having guns and occasionally spend time sitting on the side of a field in a hide with a flock of decoys in front of me waiting for that rush of wings and flash of grey and white. Just like fishing, it gives one the opportunity to observe nature in close proximity and relax, thinking about nothing of importance.
I have a keen interest in nature and it is something that can be practised wherever you are. This is one of the things that I enjoy on holidays abroad as everthing is different. As a boy I used to trek over the fields to a four mile radius from my house and I knew every pond, wood and hedgerow. I could tell you where to find a tawny owl's nest, who had the best apple tree on their allotment and which place to go to make the best bow and arrows. My knowledge of birds and animals is quite extensive and I have a fairly good knowledge of plants.
This is one of those hobbies that came about as a necessity as in our early married life we couldn't afford to get a man in. The habit stuck and I derive a great deal of pleasure from looking at the culmination of my efforts. I hate the anticipation of starting a new project but once this is started I really enjoy doing everything to a good standard. It pays to be exact as you are looking at the results for a long time. Before I left my parents home I used to help my father with DIY jobs and it was great bonding with him. Today I try to involve my children in this as I know it will put them in good stead for the future. My second son who is very practical by nature is always keen to help where he can and I love passing on little tips to him. Lately my oldest son has taken on the task of extending into the roof of his bungalow. Although he has employed builders, he is project managing the scheme and he also is now taking a great interest in DIY. Just the daughter to go now.
Car Boot Sales
My great grandfather was a general dealer and it seems that I have inherited his genes in this respect. Sunday mornings and most wednesday mornings will find me either walking around one or more car boot sales looking for a bargain or setting up my stall in a bid to clear my garage of any amount of accumulated treasures (my wife calls it rubbish). Having done this for many years, I have built up a large circle of like minded acquaintances and it is always a pleasure to swap stories of the latest fantastic find, some of which have come my way. The best find was an old bottle that I bought for £1 and sold the same day for £350.
Normally on four days a week, me and my wife go to the local gym for a workout. This is the first activity of the day and gets the body ready to tackle everything else. We generally meet the same crowd and talk our way around all the machines and weights. When we are there, it is not full of beautiful people but mainly retired or middle aged. There is no doubt of the benefits the exercise gives as the drop in fitness when on holiday is really noticeable although this could also being something to do with too much alcohol and food.
I'm no John Constable but on a couple of occasions I have been commisioned to paint pictures for people. This is one of those hobbies that is currently on the back boiler because of lack of available time. Nevertheless it is a hobby I absolutely love. The excitement of making the brush stroke that suddenly brings life to your picture is breathtaking. From then on it is difficult to put the brush down and return to normal life. I paint with acrylics although I love the sensuality of oil paints. My early works were done with watercolours but I did not use these correctly and my pictures were overworked and muddy. The wonderful thing about painting is that it opens your eyes to everything around you. A tree ceases to be a tree but is a study in bark texture, branch forms and hues of many different colours. It's juxtaposition with it's surroundings is a matter of scale and perspective. Try it, it will change your outlook on life.
Blue Peter planted the idea but it took several years to burst into flower. The programme showed the team at the site of an old rubbish tip where in the late 1800's the refuse from London had been dumped. They were digging into a face of ash and looking for pot lids. These are the lids from pots containing such things as cold cream, anchovy paste, toothpaste etc' and are made from pottery decorated with an underglaze transfer advertising the contents. They are very decorative, collectable and in some cases very valuable. Some years later a friend told me about an old rubbish tip just outside Norwich and I made my way down there with my shovel and fork in hand intent on finding pot lids. The 32 acres of tip looked like the moon with craters everywhere where people had been digging into the ash of a million coal fires. In amongst the ash were the remains of other refuse but not anything rotten or smelly as in the 100 + years it had been there everything except pottery and glass had decayed. On the second day of digging I found two pot lids and more importantly lots of bottles some of which were very decorative pottery ginger beer bottles. This was in 1977 and I've been digging and collecting bottles ever since. It's a great hobby as the exercise and fresh air is wonderful, you build up a fascinating collection of all manner of objects and you meet lots of new friends. Oh by the way, my collection of pot lids is only about a dozen so that second day digging was a very lucky day.
If you live in a house with some space around it, you have to become a gardener. I enjoy gardening so much that when I was a fireman I did a part time job at a local hotel looking after the grounds. I always boast that I was the head gardener and as I was the only one, this was true. I still go to the hotel as this is where I work out in the gym four times a week. When I'm on the rower I look out over the grounds at some of the trees I planted. My own little plot is not quite the same challenge but it still keeps me busy, especially keeping the ivy in check which completely surrounds the garden on all the fences. This year we have expanded into growing vegetables albeit in a small way. Notable successes have been carrots, mange tout, tomatoes, parsnips and rhubarb. Those that have not done so well are beetroot, onions, rocquet and lettuces mainly because they were overcrowded and growing in north facing position. The broad beans were okay.
A professional photographer I am not but wherever I go my camera goes with me. I use a compact digital camera that produces some wonderful images. Prior to this I used an SLR with all the lenses. Once, being proud of some atmospheric shots I took on holiday I thought that I would show them to a friend of mine, Tom Mackie a professional photographer. To bring me down to earth all he had to say was "nice snaps". I suppose when you see the quality of his work it does put my efforts into perspective. Look him up on the internet and you'll see what I mean. Still I have taken thousands of snaps over the year and they enshrine so many memories of happy times and people who are sadly no longer with us. And some of the snaps are nice.
When I was a child, my parents introduced me to holidays in the UK all of which were based in a draughty tent on the cheapest campsite they could find. Money was tight so for months leading up to the holiday tinned food was put aside to sustain us for our week in the fresh air. My father's Vauxhall 10 would be stacked way above any safe limit and we would set off at 40 miles per hour to far flung corners of England. I always yearned to travel abroad and was envious of those rich kids at school whose parents could afford to take them to sunnier climes. It wasn't until I was in my mid forties that I took my first foreign holiday. This was to Tossa De Mar in Spain and I absolutely loved it. Prior to this me and my wife had decided to put our spare cash into bringing up children and paying for our house. From the first holiday I was hooked and now our holidays are a very important part of our lives. We usually manage to go abroad between 3 and 5 times per year. I love everything about it, the people, the food, the flora and fauna, the language, culture, shopping, weather and the fact that you can swim in the sea without getting hypothermia. Gradually we are venturing futher afield and one day I hope to take a trip up the Amazon. And by the way, I still love Spain.