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Friday, 25 January 2013


I was driving from the farm into Port Alfred this morning, reminiscing, when I decided on the subject of this blog - recollections of some of the things I have achieved during my life, and of some of the mistakes I have made. I have reached that age where a person starts wondering how many more birthdays they are going to enjoy - if one can enjoy birthdays in this day and age. I am still told from time to time that I do not look my age, so maybe there's hope for me yet. So what can I brag about ? What can I tell my grandchildren? And what can I not  tell them?

I suppose that one achievement I can chalk up on the board would be my close to 300 each carrier catapult shots and deck landings. I spent 8 years flying off aircraft carriers, and during this time qualified as a 'top gun'. My flying career was not without incident, my having survived a mid-air collision between two Hawker Hunter jet fighters as well as a crash landing after an engine failure at 24,000 ft. The latter hit the headlines of the national press.

The one I walked away from

I had become very apprehensive with the complacency of the British people during my days as a naval aviator, and on their completion decided to 'emigrate' to Africa - to Rhodesia to be precise. The Fleet Air Arm and its carriers were being juggled about like  yo-yos by various politicians in those days. I had become a particular admirer of Enoch Powell, a Conservative politician whose predictions of Britain's future have proved so true. I also admired Ian Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister, whom I was to meet several times during my nine years in the country. It was in Rhodesia that I became heavily involved in the theater, serving on the Executive Committee of Salisbury Repertory Players and treading the boards in more than a dozen plays under the direction of their resident professional director.

The writer as Dronio in You must be Joking (Four plays for Coarse Actors)
After that joker Mugabe came into power and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, I left the country with my new family for Britain, where I had been appointed Senior Air Traffic Controller at Biggin Hill Airport.  I slotted into the job very well, and was soon deputizing for the Airport Manager as well as running Air Traffic Control. Unfortunately the narrow minded politics of Britain's Civil Aviation Authority refused to recognize my Rhodesian ATC qualifications, in spite of my obvious experience, which is what brought me and my family to South Africa. I remained in ATC for a number of years before becoming involved in computers, and it was during this time that I was honored to have shaken hands with Nelson Mandela - I consider this, if not an achievement, at least something I can brag about.

In retrospect my first marriage was my first big mistake, although even from mistakes can come good. In this case in the shape of my daughter Julie and later my three grandchildren. They are very special to me and I just cannot wait to get to New Hampshire again to see them - and without doubt to spoil them. My first visit to sub-Saharan Africa had been to Mombasa whilst embarked on HMS Eagle. I had spent a week staying on a farm at Nyali Beach, the guest of Andy Pape and his two teenage daughters. This was to influence my original decision to move to Africa, and eventually to another achievement - to own a farm in Africa.

The main farmhouse and Katie

Martindale Farm is an 18 acre smallholding about 10 miles from Bathurst in South Africa's Eastern Cape. The village is home to South Africa's oldest pub, the Pig & Whistle. We bought the farm in 2005, and loved it and cherished it, but the time came to move on. I met Liz, my present wife, on the Internet, and we've been together for 15 years - 15 years without a single argument or fight.We are true soul mates. Liz has returned to America in 2012 and I followed her 2 years later. I am now able to coin the phrase "I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Kaprivier Hills".

Today I am relocated in New England and the owner of several websites, and spend much of my time writing content for the Internet. My most successful personal sites are  info-nc and info-nh . My latest achievement is a website for a veterinary clinic in the Northeast Kingdom. I never thought of myself as a writer ten years ago, but since 2006 I have had more than 6,500 articles published on websites - this I do consider as an achievement. What's more the Internet has made it possible for me to continue writing wherever I am located.