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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Reminiscience (Picture Blog)

As Christmas is only a few days away, I thought this time of posting my story in pictures rather than go into the normal wordy discussion.

In my last blog, I discussed how a lifeguard rescued me out of difficulties in the summer of 1966. My original intention was to post a vintage pic of the swimming pool where I went to everyday in that year. Well, here it is, library photo taken in 1970 not long before closure and demolition in the mid 70s to make way for a residential estate. The fountain was removed in the late 1960s.

Six years later, in 1972, I joined the Reading Life Saving club which still meets here at Arthur Hill Baths, where I qualified as a Lifeguard by Christmas of that year.

How I looked in the summer of 1972, then aged 19, just before joining the Life Saving Club.

This is the good old furniture factory, A.G. Clarke & Sons, where I worked between 1968, after leaving school, to 1973 when I was offered a full time post as a poolside lifeguard in Reading. In this factory, I was meant to learn the full skills of a wood finisher. Much of my time instead was that of a dogsbody, as all school-leavers were in those days. The firm went out of business in the early 1980s and the building demolished soon afterwards, to make way for an office block.

By 1976, travel as a backpacker was well underway, with the first of four visits to the Middle East, the other three visits were in 1993, then a year later in 1994, as a volunteer at a Christian Conference Centre near Haifa, and once again in the year 2000 with my wife Alex. The above pic was taken inside Hezekiah's Tunnel, under the site of the City of David, Jerusalem, in 1976.
More pics of Israel:

On the Ramparts Walk, Jerusalem Old City, 1993.
Israel's most famous icon, the Wailing Wall, taken in 1994.
The trips to Israel were not all about pilgrimage, education or worship, but fun too. Nothing better than a thorough soaking under the hot summer sunshine! So, in 1993, just wearing a shirt over a pair of swimming trunks, I stood under the waterfall of En Gedi...

When young prince David hid in one of these caves to hide from the wrath of King Saul, he and his men must have had a great holiday!

Wet! Wet! Wet! Great stuff!
Back home, I attended Bracknell Baptist Church between 1975 and 1989, when this building was demolished in the 1990s to make way for the present Kerith Centre:

Between 1981 and 1986, I was a member of the Friday evening Hospital Radio crew, where I presented an hour's entertainment to the inpatients at Heatherwood Hospital, Ascot, which was a thriving NHS general hospital before Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley ripped out its guts in the mid to late 1980s, leaving only a shadow of what it used to be...
And yes, I do wear a tie at some occasions. Reminiscence of my schooldays.
During the five years as a hospital radio presenter, I did a bit of running - half marathons mainly, but triathlons as well. This was after finishing the 1986 Half Marathon to raise funds for Radio Heatherwood:

As one who loves backpacking, I did not neglect destinations here in the UK. In 1992, a best mate and I did a bit of Fell walking in the Lake District in Cumbria, in the north of England. So the August weather was typical - a fierce gale with driven rain on the summit of Helvellyn, one of the higher peaks in the national park:

Although I'm not averse to the cold, (well perhaps a little!) - give me warmth and sunshine any day. North America offered this, along with backpacking adventures too. Like this occasion in 1977:

This was taken at a bridge over Niagara Falls, where it crosses the Canadian/American border. I believe things had changed since then, making such photography unlikely. But my all time favourite American destination can only be the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, where in 1995 I hiked from South Rim to the Colorado River at the bottom:

Then this unforgettable experience of Zoroaster Butt dominating the evening river scene:

By contrast, Cactus grows naturally at Scottsdale, near Phoenix, South Arizona:

Then Southern California: San Diego, taken 1997:
Actually, the above is La Jolla, just north of San Diego. Here is the city harbour:

And I couldn't resist this one: perfect stone balancing - and before you ask - no, I did not do this:
And this one is now a treasure, taken before the 9/11 disaster, in 1998:
Then the Round-the-World trip completed in 1997, again as a lone backpacker, visiting Singapore, Australia and California, or the Travel Triathlon, as I call it. This is of Singapore;

The Merlion at Santosa Island is fantastic:

Then the coral cays off the Australian coast of north Queensland. I'm about to snorkel over the reef at Low Isles. The shirt is required to deter sunburn while in the water: 

This is a classic one at Cairns:

Mangroves! How I was fascinated with this vegetation, so foreign to the UK:

Then the dramatic nature of Blue Mountains N.P. near Sydney, means more to me than most man-made structures:

But we leave Australia with one of the most famous views; of nature and man blending to form this scene at Sydney Harbour:

Then Alex, then my girlfriend, started courting, while at my late forties I was rapidly gaining weight.

Our Wedding day, October 1999.

After this I went on a vigorous weight loss programme, which included a about-turn in eating habits, daily floor exercises, weekly visits to the gym and going out for a run with a friend. After three years of a changed lifestyle, I lost nearly five stone, and so managed to keep my weight off to this day.

And finally:



  1. It is always good to think about happy times Frank, as life goes by so quickly. My husband and myself have always been people who did what we wanted to do if possible, and there have been no regrets. Is that a recent pic of you and Alex since she has come out of hospital, If so, she is looking really well. God bless you both and have a lovely Christmas and new year.

    1. Dear Brenda,
      The final pic of Alex and myself was taken in July 2011, some two years before she was admitted to hospital.
      For the record, Alex is now out of hospital, and now has limited mobility, but she still have a long way to go before fully recovery.
      God bless.

  2. Awesome memories, Frank! Thanks so much for sharing. I live on the west coast of Florida where mangroves are the dominant vegetation on most of our inlets and bays.
    May you and Alex have a most blessed Christmas and the best of health, joy and peace in 2014 and until He comes again!

  3. Your memories give you a solid base on which to continue to follow the Lord. Thanks for sharing them, Merry Christmas.

  4. Great pix Frank, and no doubt great memories for you. Hope Alex is on the mend!

  5. Happy new year, just stumbled on your great blog. God bless both of you in abundance. N

  6. Hi Frank. Was that outdoor swimming pool at Reading or Bracknell?