Biography of an ageing blob
To many people's surprise I have published seven books.
Four of them are autobiographical and comprise the 'At Large' series. Three relate to our boating adventures and one recounts my cycing escapades.
The remaining three are novels.
The latest of which is Twice Removed
I also write articles - or pieces! Some daft, some serious, others poignant. Occasionally they are vaguely comprehensible. I add new ones periodically. I've also recorded some 'audio tales'.
The truth is that it took till well into my sixth decade to have something worth writing about. Previously I could have written about all my business successes, but that could be covered in one sentence, phrase even.
I could rave on and on about my sporting achievements - that's another dozen words!
It was only when we took the ludicrous decision to take to the water that anything of vague interest surfaced.
In some respects, writing about our own adventures is more difficult than making something up from scratch. When you create characters and situations you are unrestrained, limited only by your imagination (which in my case is a bit of a problem). Writing about me and my wife I have to work within testing parameters, such as telling the truth.
We spent twelve years living on boats. On two narrowboats we trundled round the waterways in the UK and on our 110-year-old Dutch barge we did our best to destroy the infrastructure in Holland, France and Belgium. We saw some extraordinary places and met many wonderful people, some of whom were prepared to speak to us. In fact, looking back, the whole things seems like a warm and wonderful dream.
At school, frankly, studies didn't go too well. Stupidly I preferred to propel different shaped balls around with various implements, like hands and feet. An educational own goal if ever there was one.
I was a baker for ten years, then worked for a company organising sports events, mainly golf and cricket.
Jan and I both lived in Littleborough, Lancashire for thirty years but we'd never met till I ruined her chances at a quiz night when I joined her team – and the rest is history (or science and nature, or sport...).
We moved to Shropshire, to a hamlet just north of Shrewsbury, in 1995. It was a dark period in our lives when Jan was dangerously ill and we needed a positive change to make us look forward. The two of us, plus our new rescue dog, Bonny, hid ourselves away and worked like crazy while Jan fought her battle. Through her courage and maybe a slice of luck, she endured, thank goodness.
We renovated a house, sold it and moved onto our first narrowboat in 2003 having bought the shell and fitted all the inside out ourselves. I wrote monthly articles for Canal Boat Magazine while we travelled around the UK. After I was sacked for an 'editorial misunderstanding' I had to find another outlet for my itchy fingers.
The result is my books.
I'm lucky. The magazine editor's lack of judgement was wholly to my benefit. In fact not long after the books came out I was able to buy an island.
I'm now the proud owner of a roundabout in Rochdale!
Amazingly and humblingly (I'd be surprised if that word got past the editor.... oh, it has) people have said nice things about the books.
The three boat-related books are wonderful reminders of the times we've had – maybe they'll inspire you to try something different.
I've written a book on our return to our home town of Littleborough on the Lancashire / Yorkshire border in the Pennines. It's currently with the editor - watch out!
We give talks on our boating experiences and give the proceeds to a couple of charities close to our hearts.
Throughout our years living on boats we experienced much - some funny, some frightening, some humbling. If you want something different for your event or gathering, or just have a chat, or a moan, or learn which bank account to deposit money in (!), please... get in touch.
I am Type 2 Diabetic so have chronicled my diagnosis and treatment. Not for personal gain but as a warning about what can happen if you fail to look after yourelf, at least a little. I am no killjoy, I can reassure you of that. There's also a more unpleasant condition, also basically self-inflicted, that is mentioned too. Read at your peril...
At a wedding - not ours.
(Although it's probably the same jacket)
Renovating the bedroom on our old dutch barge
Having 'Braved The Shave'
for Macmillan Cancer
With my favourite lady