Dad (John) and his sister Mary were born and raised in Winchester.
When the war came Dad trained as a wireless operator and initially plied the North Sea in a minesweeper. Here, since he was in charge of the wireless at all times and needed quiet, he had the only cabin to himself apart from the captain.
In 1944 he learned Japanese and was posted overseas so that he could listen in on the Japanese pilots trying to determine any useful information. Initially he was in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) before moving on to Australia somewhere close to Sydney Harbour Bridge. During this period he wrote a number of war poems.
When he returned he trained as a teacher and married Margaret, the best friend of his sister. Initially living in a caravan at the bottom of a field, they eventually moved on having 4 children in the process. After a post in Cornwall they moved to Exmouth in Devon in the late 50s where he took up the position of headmaster at Littleham Junior School. He stayed as headmaster for 27 years until his retirement (1984?) but during that period moved out to an old cob cottage (actually 3 very small joined ones) with a couple of acres, 3 miles outside Ottery St Mary where he could pursue his love of gardening.
His main interests during this period were Botany, Photography and French. He ran Botany courses at Slapton Sands most years, was secretary of the Exmouth Camera Club and president of the Exmouth twinning committee. Each year he would spend 3 weeks camping in France with his family though they eventually all drifted away as they grew up until in the end it was just him and his trusty Renault 4 stripped down and fitted out to sleep in. His French was fluent and we were treated to lunch with the mayor of Dinan, Exmouth twin town, when we passed through. Littleham Junior school benefitted from this as he gave French lessons to the children along with top set maths.
During his time in Exmouth and Ottery, evenings were spent looking down a microscope at plants. For years he catalogued and drew wild flowers, lichens and mosses—garden flowers held little interest. This culminated in his first book "A New Key to Wild Flowers" which uses an easily followed structure to enable anyone to identify what they were looking at. Fortunately flowers don't change quickly and the book is still used by various colleges to this day.
He also loved Mecanno and for many years provided the toy/hardware shop on Albion Hill in Exmouth with a huge Christmas machine. This would inevitably be about 3' across and varied from a circus roundabout to a dock crane to a machine which did everything but accomplished nothing as ping pong balls flew around, springs sprung, wheels whizzed and gyroscopes gyred.
Whilst at Exmouth the family would take trips up to Dartmoor. We even once had pasties on the moor on Christmas day, a tradition that our family carries on to this day—albeit on the Jurassic Coast.
In retirement, with more time on his hands, he managed to put the time into many of his hobbies that had been hiding in the background: heraldry, geology, decoupage, travelling the world and drawing. He collected stamps: bookmarks (!), histories of people, places and things and wrote detailed diaries of every holiday he took. In 2000 he moved a few miles down the road to Tipton St John where he spent his last years. His study there comprised one small desk, a table full of stuff and three walls floor to ceiling with books. The Dartmoor trips became more frequent and led him into letterboxing and another few books; there are still some letterboxes on the Moor though I suspect that geocaching has mainly taken over. During this time he put together several books including his last Dartmoor 365.
John with his father
John and Margaret 2003