I was born in Bournemouth in 1967 to young parents. I enjoyed an idyllic childhood of endless summers, ponds, trees, meadows, dogs and my own menagerie. This was in the days when kids roamed at will in feral gangs, waging war against other gangs and eating mud.
I was rather small with glasses and the wrong coloured blazer so I smoked to gain acceptance from bigger, cooler kids. It seemed to work as I rather enjoyed school and despite going to one that was regarded as a bit crap did pretty good.
I turned down a place at 6th Form Grammar School to go to the local College to be close to my girlfriend who was studying to be a hairdresser, this was not a great idea.
Only one other kid opted to do zoology and botany so they dropped them at the last minute and offered just biology instead, leaving me to find a tricky 3rd A Level to go with chemistry.
I found the beach irresistable and missed too many lessons to get decent grades.
Instead of going to university to read Zoology I met a Danish student on the beach and, falling head over heels for her, followed her back to Copenhagen. Whilst our romance soon withered when faced with the reality of life in Copenhagen with no job, money, home or plan, a new love blossomed within and I discovered the joy of travel, hitch-hiking out of Denmark and through Germany, Switzerland and France.
On my return to Bournemouth with the doors to more further education pretty well closed to me I decided that a vehicle would be useful and got a job at a concrete company as a 'cubee'. Basically I took samples for testing on concrete pours. It wasnt a bad job - I had an orange van that I lined in carpet with a curtain across the back window. Fitted a decent stereo and ensured a selection of tunes for all occasions. I had a lot of fun in that van.
I took time out and travelled around America spending almost twice what I earned in a year on credit cards. This prompted a swift change of career when I returned.
Who got given a car and made loads of easy money?
I spent 4 years as an estate agent. Buying a large 3 bed maisonette aged about 20 with a mate was just perfect for a lad intent on endless parties and losing money.
A rather horrid end to a relationship prompted a review of life goals and I quit everything for a one way ticket to Australia with a year working visa.
For the next 3 years I hitched around Oz, working summers in Melbourne as a marquee erecter and winters in Broome as the caretaker of a backpackers hostel. In between I did just about anything to keep me in beer.
I was allowed to leave with nothing worse than a 3 year ban.
When I got back to Pomgolia my Dad asked me if I fancied helping him out on a big hotel refurbishment and I became a plumber.
I spent the next few years plumbing to pay for raving. When I wasnt raving I carried on travelling to places like India and Nepal.
Then I met my wife to be and stopped raving and travelling. Built a business and settled down to raising a family of 3 kids and a spaniel.
Ive been plumbing for over 25 years and have got pretty good at it. For the last 10 years or so I've been building extensions, refurbishing properties, carrying out all manner of building works and all sorts of plumbing under my firm - RPH Construction Co. Ltd.
In 2017 I took over the lease of a 2650 sq ft workshop in Wareham, engaged a full-time Design Engineer and started the 1st company to build brand new Showman's Wagons for about 50 years - The Dorset Wagon Co Ltd. With a 1st floor design studio at the workshop we also design and build timber framed buildings, windows, doors and furniture.
I also opened a 1000sq ft studio with a photographer who really knew his stuff and had a few years almost making it work as a decent job in parallel to my building type stuff.
Additionally I did a stint as a paid contributer to a printed magazine - 'Marine Habitat' writing articles about British marine life. This is the closest I've got to being any kind of professional zoologist.
I still take a lot of photographs - only I dont try to earn money at it any more. I will do the occasional job that sparks my interest, but have accepted that I need to stay building to keep my wife in the manner she wants to be acccustomed to.
I am a lifelong and very keen amateur naturalist and have just about always have binoculars and a camera with me in the hope that I can get a decent photo of wildlife. I love walking, and always insist our holidays are somewhere rich in fauna, destroying our baggage allowance with heavy lenses and tripods so I can disappear to some Godforsaken swamp in search of an elusive small bird or lizard. Luckily my family have the patience and understanding to indulge me.