Today has been the first really nice day we have had for quite a long time. Blue skies and sunshine, although there was a bitterly cold wind when my wife Katy and I went out for a short walk. But it's a lot better than the rain and fog - to say nothing of the snow - that has been our lot for the last six weeks or so. This was the view of our garden shortly before Christmas:
But now spring is coming - we have seen the first snowdrops and daffodils trying to force their way above the surface of the soil - and in two months we shall be off to the Caribbean!
As the title of this post says, this is my first blog, so it is probably appropriate to tell anyone out there who reads this a little about myself before I go any further.
My name is Miles Ratcliffe and I am fortunate enough to live on the edge of the Peak District National Park – Britain's first National Park. If you are not familiar with the Peak District then Wikipedia is as good a place to start finding out about it as anywhere. I don't come from here originally, though. I was born in Wigan, in Lancashire, and spent the first eighteen years of my life there before leaving to go to Cambridge University. After that I spent eight years working in the computer industry before moving to Sheffield University, where I taught computing for twelve years before moving to Oxford University, where I worked until I took early retirement at the tender age of 59. I hadn't planned to retire that early, but some major structural changes in the university made it a sensible thing to do. Shortly afterwards I moved to Derbyshire, where I have lived ever since.
During my time at Sheffield and Oxford I was fortunate enough to write several successful text-books, and also wrote, presented and directed a number of video programmes covering subjects from computer programming to 16th century warships. Since then I have turned my hand to other types of writing and, as well as publishing a detailed history of my direct male line back to the mid-17th century was fortunate enough to win a prize for one of my poems. More recently I have completed my first novel, but I shall have more to say about that another time.
That's probably all you want to know about me for now, but I shall certainly tell you more as this blog develops!