Ian and Julie
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How to get started in 'hobbies'….

Take one small boy and turn him loose on the world….


I've been into 'hobbies' ever since I can remember. First came simply 'Magic' which started at about the age of  6 and went on until I was 11 or 12 and I was always spending my pocket money on magic tricks which I would practice religiously. I even appeared' as ‚head of the bill' (and only performer) at one or two children's parties (well I was cheap!).

From about 8 I took up bird watching and learnt to recognise every bird in the 'Observers book of birds' this has resulted in a strange effect, if you ask me today to describe a bird I probably can't do it, but if I see it I immediately know which species it is even if I don't remember ever having seen it before. I also took up stamp collecting, I couldn't spend my pocket money every week on birds (I was 15 or 16 before I started doing that!!) so my stamp collection grew at a steady rate and I earned free stamps by selling from a stamp catalogue every month to my friends at school. Sadly I later sold the whole collection I think for about 10 bob (about 50p) to my Aunt Daph. Years later I saw one of the sets I had had in a dealers window…..sob…I nearly keeled over when I saw the price……

 I was fanatical about wild life and especially pond life which meant I spent quite a lot of my childhood standing around in water in Wellington boots, an interest which still remains with me today (though in the interest of my aging joints I don't stand around in it any more) though we do have a pond and a colony of slow-worms which live in a sand box in our garden. I was also crazy about cacti and spent my half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) pocket money on one nearly every week. Why I was interested in so many things I do not know and mum was less than appreciative of prickly plants, pond beetles flying round my bedroom, or the grass snake on the landing or the mice I used to breed and sell or …. Well you get the picture!.

I seemed to be a glutton for hobbies in my pre-teenage years (only your pre-teenage years! – says Julie ) and also started taking an interest in electronics and radio, again I have no idea why as no-one else in the family was interested. I used to twiddle around on the family radio and a 1 valve medium wave receiver kit which had been a Christmas present, getting the 'Home service' and 'Light programme' as radio's 4 and 2 were called in those days and I would try to strangle myself on the lead from the headphones, by falling asleep with them on every night. At some time while I was twiddling around on what is called the short-wave bands I heard what sounded like ordinary people talking to each other…. I had discovered amateur radio… I was in awe, this was the days when most people didn't even have a telephone and these people had their own 'transmitters' at home and could talk around the world…. I was hooked….. I would connect two tins with a bit of taunt string and Colin and I would talk via the tins, I knew little brothers were useful for something… I went on to discover that if you connected a short aerial to a morse key and buzzer it would transmit a signal and it could be received by connecting a diode across a pair of headphones and adding a wire aerial. I then shanghaied my brother and friends and built 'stations' in several different rooms and we would send messages to each other. Colin and my friends soon tired of it and I was left talking to myself…. Marconi managed the Atlantic, well I did nearly as well and managed 20 feet. Whether I knew it or not this interest was going to shape my future career in communications and later computers……..

Did I ever transmit further than 20 feet ? Well yes just a tad further….

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