My Life


The Early Years

I was born  in July 1949 in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, of parents who both worked at the I.C.I. Ardeer explosives factory, my mother as a secretary, and my father as a draughtsman.  Before finding work at Ardeer, my father had served his apprenticeship at the Ardrossan Dockyard.

My grandfather on my father's side had brought his family from Sunderland to Ardrossan in the early years of the last century to be close to the point of annual departure of the ships of the Hudson's Bay Company, for which he worked.  Some of his adventures in that employment are described elsewhere in this website.

This photograph shows me, aged about 5, with my sister in the garden of the house in Stevenston where I was to spend most of the first 32 years of my life. alan and linda, cuninghame drive
The back garden was quite a large one - large enough for my father to indulge to the full in his passion for growing roses.   cuninghame drive house, back garden
Most of my education was at the High School in Stevenston, and in this photograph dating from about 1960, I am standing at 5th from the left in the top row. stevenston high, class of 1960
Here, the family is assembled by the side of Loch Trool, which remains one of my favourite beauty spots. family at loch trool

The last two years of my school education were completed at Ardrossan Academy and were followed by two years of study at Glasgow University.  During the summer vacation of 1970,  I spent two months as part of a group studying the geology of a central area of Finland.  The return trip via Leningrad, Moscow, Warsaw and divided Berlin was a memorable experience.



The Middle Years

My first full time employment was with  Laporte Industries in the lab at their Ayrshire Bauxitic Clay mine in Kilwinning, but  I was there only a few weeks, in 1971.   Following this, I found employment  as a laboratory assistant at the Roche vitamins factory in Dalry, earning just £965 per annum!  During my four years there, I was able to add an H.N.C. in Chemistry to my list of qualifications.

In 1975, I was lucky enough to find a much improved position within the Chemical Services section of the South of Scotland Electricity Board at their Hunterston "A" and "B" Nuclear Power Stations on the Ayrshire coast.  When the "A" Station closed, my employment continued with Scottish Nuclear and with British Energy at "B" Station.  I retired at the end of March 2006.

My leisure time interests include cycling, walking and listening to classical music.  My many cycling trips include two visits to Corsica,with the CTC in 1985 and with friends in 1987 (this is the Corsican village of Evisa).................. evisa, corsica
......................while a round-the-island cycle trip to Majorca in 1986 (over 10 days!) was one of many visits I have made to that island, often based in the lovely village of Puerto Pollensa.  The spectacular cliff scenery on the nearby peninsula of Formentor includes one of my favourite viewpoints........ formentor peninsula scenery
In the 1980's, I became very interested in cycling and in promoting the aims of Sustrans, the cycle route construction company, and I still support that organisation today - even if at a more modest level than in the past.  This photograph shows me cycling on the former rail route north of Kilbirnie before the surface was tarred. sustrans path, kilbirnie
A favourite, and convenient, walking area is the island of Arran, and in this photo, I can be seen on the top of Goatfell on Arran, in rather unwelcoming weather conditions. goatfell summit
Also on Arran, the Auchrannie Spa Resort in Brodick has been the venue for many a good day out for several decades now, and it continues to be so.  Use of the superb gym and pool facilities always gives me a boost! auchrannie spa resort

In more recent years, I have revived an old interest in the French language, and in 2003, I gained the qualification of Bachelor of Arts (French) from the Open University.  I have attended many French courses, both in Britain and abroad, in such places as Provence, Montpellier and Paris. 

I have made two visits to Paris, the first in October 1992, when I took many photographs, including this one of the Palais de Chaillot from the Eiffel Tower, and a second visit in May 1999 during which I survived a tornado which killed three people in the city -  in an otherwise perfect week of weather. palais de chaillot, paris




Recent Years


In the last few years, I have revived my interest in geology which initially developed in my younger student days.  Elsewhere in this website can be found a list of geological field trips that I have attended with various organisations and below is a list of Open University geology and other courses that I have completed in recent years:


Recent Open University courses:
TU170     Learning online: computing with confidence  2001
TT280 Web Basics         May-July 2003   
L224       Horizons   (French)           Dec 2003  
Bachelor of Arts    [B.A. (Open)]     Dec 2003
T189     Digital Photography    Oct. 2008
Completed geology courses:
S260     Geology.        Feb.-Oct. 2005
SXR260 Geology of the British Isles (Durham) 2006   
S193    Fossils and the History of Life            2006   
S278       Earth's physical resources.      Feb.-Oct. 2007
SXR208      Observing the Universe (Majorca)   Mar. 2007  
S186      Volcanoes, earthquakes & tsunamis Nov. 2007 - Jan. 2008
S104            Exploring Science         Jan.- Oct. 2008
SXR103           Science residential course (Herriot-Watt) July 2008
S196    Planets: an introduction    Nov. 2008
S369         Geological record of environmental change Feb.-Oct. 2009
SXR369      Residential course for S369   (Durham) July 2009
S279    Our Dynamic Planet: Earth and Life   Feb.- Oct. 2010
S339 Understanding the Continents Nov. 2011 - Jun. 2012
SXR339 Residential course for S339   (Kindrogan) July 2012
Open Bachelor of Science     [B.Sc.(Open)] Dec 2012
Here endeth the lessons!