England Days

One day, while playing the photographer with my Nikon F, I met a girl in a Derbyshire pub.

Little did I know then that the girl who modelled for me that day would later become my wife.

Three years later, I married Angie in Derbyshire and we set up home in a caravan in the tiny hamlet of Wilson while we renovated an old stone barn. Matthew, our first son, was born in the caravan. Winters were cold, but fortunately there was a pub near by, where we could huddle in front of a wood fire, nursing a half pint of lager until it was time to go home. It was all we could afford in those early days. Two years later James was born, but at least by then we had completed the first phase of our grand design.

Our days were simple, living the ‘good life’ in the English countryside, and we wanted for little. I was self-employed, and although building houses from reclaimed materials was hard work and financially difficult at times, Angie managed to keep the ship afloat by working for a local airline. The job also gave us free travel, which allowed for the occasional return visit to Africa.

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After several years of living hand to mouth my house-building skills found recognition. All of a sudden there was a demand for my work, and for the first time in our lives we had a little money. But still travel beckoned, and when the kids left for university and then married, Angie and I put rucksacks on our backs and departed for distant countries, travelling for months overland on local buses, across much of South America and Asia.

And wherever we would go, I would spend the evening with a glass of wine, writing my Traveller’s Tales.

Sometime later, as I sat with my mother in Cape Town before she died, I broached the question: ‘Why is my middle name Anthony?’ There was no hesitation in her answer. ‘Because when you were a child, I knew you would write and that you would call yourself Michael Anthony.’

The sadness of it all is that she never got to read my first novel.