I often ask mysef the same question!

After a childhood spent in post-war, heavy industrial Lancashire, my parents moved us to the island of Anglesey, off the north coast of Wales. I thought I had gone to heaven and fell in love with that wild and craggy place where the wind, ever restless, seemed to blow , often with huge ferocity, for a lot of the time. The wildlife was fascinating, with a great variety of birds, the fishing tempted me away from school on many a day, and the woodwork teacher in school refused to let me "have a go" on the lathe because, as he put it so gently, "you are 'opeless with wood, Mercer!" He was a South Walian, and those damning words he uttered shaped my view of South Walians for a very long time indeed.....

For family reasons, the planned career in medicine never happened, and instead I became a Research Ornithologist at Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in the Camargue, southern France. After a while in that wonderful paradise, I came back to Britain to work as a government scientist, studying the breeding biology of Oystercatchers - a job which had many interesting spin-offs and took me to many countries. Eventually, I began to miss Anglesey and its unique mystery, and returned to become a teacher with a burning desire to get children to appreciate the wonderful world around them. That swallowed a thirty-year chunk of my life, and culminated in me fracturing my spine in a fall at home (something I had failed to do in thirty years of mountain-climbing!). This meant that my career as (by now) head teacher was over. Shortly after that, my wife of over twenty years, Liz,died of cancer after a brief, but cruel, illness - leaving me with our son of 12 years old, Llyr, to sort ourselves out. Life does that sort of thing occasionally!

Somewhere along the way I had managed to pick up a Batchelor's degree in Statistics, and Masters' degrees in both Science and Education, and also became a Chartered Biologist ....but always, the lathe eluded me - even though I yearned to try my hand at wood-turning. Somehow there was never enough time.....or money.....or space (or a combination of all three) until one day in the summer of 2003, when I saw a small lathe offered on the Ebay auction site and thought "What the heck!" ...........and bought it.

Within weeks of starting to use the lathe, I found a remarkable affinity with it, and I found so much more too. Like the sheer bliss of watching a chunk of rough wood turning into something beautiful as the shavings slowly buried my the smell of wood freshly cut into .....and like the thrill of watching people pick up a piece that I have made, and watching them almost caress it because they, too, can sense the beauty of it. I was accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners of the Worshipful Company of Turners of London in the summer of 2007. This gave me more satisfaction and more of a sense of fulfilment than all my academic qualifications put together....and I would love to see my old woodwork teacher's face if I could tell him!

So, after a turbulent final few years on the island of Anglesey,not helped by a long bout of a very frustrating and debilitating illness, I made the decision to relocate to West Berkshire, in the heart of England, where I found my soulmate.....and discovered all the Oak and Ash I could ever wish for. Now I can turn some of that wonderful old wood into pieces which express exactly how I feel about MY world.......Life can be good - very good!

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