I was born some 42 years ago in Bloxwich, a small town (some say village) in the Midlands of England on the edge of rural Staffordshire, where I still live. Bloxwich is over 1000 years old, and my maternal ancestors have been here since at least 1738. It is part of the Borough of Walsall, birthplace of Jerome K. Jerome, and on the edge of The Black Country, on which Tolkien's land of Mordor (Lord of the Rings) is based!
In the late 1970's I studied Professional Photography at college, and for the past 16 years have been in charge of the Photographic Unit of a Borough Record Office (a local history centre). The work involves location record photography, reprographics, publications, exhibitions, printing and processing, audio-visual work, advising the public and lecturing to local groups as well as managing a collection of many thousands of historic photographs.
I have had many hobbies over the years - photography, naturally (using Canon EOS gear currently); astronomy and its history, plus space science (as a volunteer for The Planetary Society and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society); geology; computers; reading; and latterly using fountain pens. I also enjoy country walking and museums. I am presently involved in founding a new national 'Society for the History of Astronomy' in the UK.
As far as reading is concerned, my first love was science fiction and fantasy from H.G. Wells and Jules Verne to the latest authors from the UK and US. Having said that, I have been getting deeply hooked on historical and period crime novels lately, most notably the Sherlock Holmes canon, Agatha Christie's Poirot and the Ramses historical novels of Ancient Egypt. I also enjoy English military historical novels - Sharpe and Hornblower especially - plus Shakespeare!
I had not really considered pen collecting until I discovered Pentrace, so this has opened up something of a new world to me! Until recently I owned mainly modern pens - my big favourite being my trusty fine-nibbed Waterman Phileas! I am now getting into vintage pens, and own a Parker Vacumatic (1930's) and a Conway Stewart 75 (c1951). My favourite ink is the discontinued Parker Penman Mocha brown, a small stock of which I am carefully hoarding for special occasions. I also find the Sheaffer Skrip inks - especially the brown and green - very good. Everything else goes through my Hewlett Packard Pavilion PC (Athlon 650), Word XP, Epson A3 Stylus Photo EX and Brother laser printer!
I have greatly enjoyed corresponding with fellow members of the Pentrace SnailMail group, and Pentrace.com seems a particularly pleasant place to hang out on the Net, so here I am!
To sum up with a Holmesian literary quote:
"I am a batchelor," said he, "and being of a sociable turn I cultivate a large number of friends."
- Mr. John Scott Eccles, 'The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle