If you like what I write, I hope you’ll become a regular reader – or, better still, subscribe to my RSS feed and tell all your friends. I’m not going to make a special effort to present myself as an invented persona – what you see is the way I am, including any inconsistencies you may notice. Perhaps it will help you to understand me if I tell you a little about myself.
I like to have space
I’m a British Colonial. I was born in Dar-es-Salaam in 1939, in what was then the Mandated Territory of Tanganyika. My father, Derek Kingdom-Hockings, was a teacher of native African children (by the time he left the country after independence, he had risen to the post of Assistant Director of Education). My mother, Elysée, (née le Hégarat) was French by birth, also a qualified teacher.
We would stay in Africa for two and a half years at a time, returning by boat to the UK for six months’ “home leave” before returning to a different town for the next two and a half years. The normal route was through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, but once we travelled down the Nile and once we went round the Cape and up the west coast of Africa. From the age of 8, I went to boarding schools – and thoroughly enjoyed it, including the long, unsupervised train journeys. The one to my secondary school – Duke of York in Nairobi – took two days and once included crossing a flood-damaged bridge where the top of the centre pillar had been repaired with a stack of sleepers (rail ties to US English speakers). The loco was too heavy to cross – It just gave the carriages a shove one at a time and let them free-wheel across to the other side.
In 1952 my parents divorced, so I gave up this life of adventure and wide open spaces for a council house and a southern English grammar school. I’d been to English primary schools during home leave periods, so it was less of a culture shock than it might have been, but I still prefer to have plenty of room around me.
That’s how the elephant got his trunk – ‘satiable curtiosity’. All kinds of different things pique my interest. In a blogger, this may not be entirely a good thing – it leads to variety, but it may also lead to posts that don’t interest some readers. The challenge for me is to write in a way that makes you want to read on in spite of that. Which leads us to…
I like challenges
Life gets boring if it’s too predictable. My wife Phyllis and I started 2008 with a number of challenges – mostly to do with continuing to repair and renovate our stone farm cottage and its 2.67 hectares of land in the Limousin region of France, while coping with increasing age and the collapse of the pound sterling (source of our pensions) against the euro.
Being a 10% owner and founder member of Lookatourwebsite.com Ltd, whose online espadrille and beret retail site RopeySoles made a small profit in its first year, will help. But I need a lot more supplementary income. The company has another site on the stocks, of which the Blog section Travellers’ Tales is alive but not making any noticeable revenue. Again, as a minority shareholder, I won’t get rich in a hurry from the involvement, but it’s great to have a partner with capital and the experience of running successful businesses.
However, I need to get my own act together, and work out how to earn money that’s all mine. I hope this blog will manage that one day, but I’m hedging my bets a little with niche activities like Tarot Stuff.
I made one big step forward at the end of the summer of 2008. I knew that a successful blog site needed focus, and that its subject should be one about which I was both passionate and knowledgeable. I also realised that neither travel nor France and the French met those criteria. It has taken a surprisingly long time, but I have at last remembered that for twenty years there was an activity that did meet the criteria, and one in which I was keen to re-immerse myself now that my children are adults living their own lives.
That subject is sailing. All wind-powered craft, the people who sail and build sailing boats, the races, adventures and commercial ventures that involve sailing craft, new and old sailing technology – absolutely anything to do with sailing craft. I am no longer a ship without a rudder.