Saturday, 6 June 2015

Before the Mast

This one of me is at HMS Conway, a naval school in Anglesey in the grounds of Plan Newydd, the Marquis of Anglesey's ancestral pile.

I was there from 1969 to 1971 and this must have been taken just before the summer holidays in 1970, when I was 15. From here I went straight to sea aged 16 after doing my O levels, much to father's annoyance. He wanted me to stay on to do A levels and then go on to university and join a profession. The problem was he forgot to tell me that, so I just assumed he wanted me to follow in his footsteps with a career at sea (which I what I really wanted anyway).

I have mentioned it before, but HMS Conway was a wooden-walled ship of the line with a long history, which had been turned into a pre-sea training school moored in the Mersey. During the war it was taken to the Menai Straits, but was wrecked in the '50s at the start of a trip back to Liverpool for a major refit. The decision was taken to move the establishment ashore in the marquis' grounds on the straits, initially as a tented and then hutted camp, until a permanent home was built as a minor public school under the auspices of Cheshire Education Authority, predominantly attended by sons of seafarers or military types. It was an idyllic 2 years, but I didn't realise it at the time.

This next photo is of me just after having left HMS Conway in '71 aged 16 and was the one used for my Seaman's Discharge Book - a kind of passport for seafarers.

A couple of years later, having grown up somewhat and embraced the beardy look of a real seafarer, but looking more like an angry trawlerman.

Even later as a young 2nd Mate, having been married for a couple of years.

And then some further years down the track, having matured considerably.

I take great delight in seeing where I'm getting page loads from. I regularly peruse the cookie stats and smile when I see the regulars - Calliano, Huddersfield, various places in Aquitaine (English from 1153 to 1453), the quaintly named Ballymoney, Thurles, Dunedin in New Zealand, Southampton, Mountain View California....

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