On top of Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons, Sept. 97

As an introduction, here's a little information about myself:
I was born in Whitehaven, in the north-west of England, in 1970. I have three younger sisters: Gail, Susan and Rhona.

From 1989 to 1993 I attended Salford University, where I studied Electronic Engineering with German. As part of my course I spent a year living in Friedrichshafen, SW Germany, and working for Dornier.

A lot of my free time whilst at university was taken up with the activities of the Hiking Club. After I graduated I played a major part in setting up SHOT, the "Salford Hiking Old Timers" ex-members' group. This group is still going strong and now has over 60 members - but the credit for our website belongs to Mark Hows, not me!

After graduating from Salford I moved down to Birmingham, where, until the end of June 1999, I was working for Lucas Aerospace in various capacities. However, I always fancied doing a stint of TEFLing (teaching English as a foreign language), and following a visit to Japan in 1997, I came to the decision that it was now or never! So I applied for, and got, a place on the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) programme, and on July 18th 1999 I arrived in Japan to spend a year - which subsequently extended to two years - working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at two high schools in Shiga prefecture. This website was updated regularly with accounts of my experiences in Japan, though that stopped after I returned to the UK in summer 2001. I've added various bits and pieces of information which I hope will prove useful for anyone contemplating a trip to Japan, whether for just a few days or for several years. A selection of links to other sites of interest to Japanophiles is also available here.

There are also sections on my March 2000 trip to Hong Kong and southern China with Intrepid Travel, and my trip to Singapore and Malaysia over Christmas 2000 / New Year 2001.

I returned to the UK in August 2001; you can find my more recent news here and also a selection of recent photos here.

Another of my interests is the National Trust; I'm not actually a member but I usually spend at least one week a year leading a volunteers' working holiday. (That link will take you to another part of this site; the Trust now also has an excellent Volunteers' website at http://nationaltrust.org.uk/volunteering/.) "What - you're mad enough to pay for the privilege of working for someone?" I hear you say. That's what I thought to begin with too, but give me a chance to explain...

My home is a 1930s 3-bedroom semi in Hall Green, Birmingham, and since moving in in 1995 I've redecorated every room. My handiwork hardly ranks alongside the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but I'm proud of it nevertheless. For this reason I'm including some pictures on a separate page - you never know, someone out there might be interested!

So choose a link of interest and read on!

Japan Ring

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This page last edited 7th November 2002