Good times, a lovely group of friends, living the dream, parties, freedom and independence, and the discovery of the delights of home brew beer. Gallons of the stuff foaming away, ready to lubricate the next gathering, all just for a few pence a pint, perfect! I was living alone in my parents house while they were away in West Africa. On several occasions awash with home brewed beer, dim lights, smoke filled air, and sometimes a rock band playing in the living room , the legendary parties were born.
These were lovely times, school was fun, and of course I had a lovely girlfriend.
On Saturdays I would go to my job as a gardener on my motorbike, and I picked up some holiday work painting and building.
Maybe I was a bit different, now 17, I saved up my money to buy a plywood kit Canadian canoe that I constructed in the living room. Gradually the sections were sewn together, the pile of flat sections and lengths of timber took shape into a fine craft, which was finished off with coats of varnish. Many a trip out to sea and down the river Wye followed. Loaded on the roof of my bright green ford escort estate, inexperienced and badly equipped we had a lot of fun exploring new places in that boat.
I also saved up for fine mountain camping gear. Helen and I both loved the outdoors and had great hiking adventures in Snowdonia and the Western Highlands of Scotland. The simplicity of carrying all we needed on our backs, and heading off into the wild scenery really appealed.
Sadly also in this time our great friend Nick Battersby died of Leukaemia. This was a terrible wrench and shook me badly. This was my first encounter with a close friend dying. In his memory and to raise money for a Leukaemia charity we built a raft and spent four days paddling the River Medway.
Nick was a great collector and always managing to make a few quid from buying and selling odd things.
I was reminded of Nick the other day. Well in 1982 he gave me a glass petrol pump top, can’t really remember why, I think we were going to put a light in it. The other day I found this in my parents loft and decided to sell it. Gosh it went for over £2000! The money is going towards our next big trip cycling from Calcutta to China, and we will think of Nick, who sadly never had the chance to live a full life. Thanks Nick.