My Dad

I would just like to say a few words about my father, who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago after a long fight with dementia and was laid to rest today.

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My dad on one of our many field trips to Cumbria, this one in early 1976. He’d always wanted to try black pudding. That’s me aged 11 looking decidedly unsure about the strange sausage.

I have to say I think my dad did a pretty good job as a father to me and I certainly didn’t always make it easy for him and my mother. He always tried to help me with joining sports clubs and I was out doing one sport or another literally everyday, often more than one. I particularly enjoyed the Royal Lifesaving Society and when the local branch was going to close he took over the organising it just so I could carry on. He enjoyed it too for sure but it shows the lengths he was prepared to go to for his kids.

Along with mum we went on some truly fantastic holidays. For a young boy having parents that dragged you down caves or ancient mines in search of amazing crystals, or off digging in the mud at Folkestone for fossils, it was just incredible and I loved every minute of it.

Nenthhead Mine in Cumbria stands out as my most memorable trip. We spent something like 10 hours underground. First we had to dig out the mine entrance, which you could normally have walked into. This was one of the coldest Aprils on record in the UK with several feet of snow. We dug a hole in the top and had to slide down into knee deep icy water. After that we walked, crawled and climbed for hours to reach the spot the mineral club people wanted to visit. This included a VERY dangerous walk across a bit of railway track to get across a shaft hundreds of feet deep. We were tied on but by the time you reached the other side, there was only room for 1 person to hold the other end of the rope. I am convinced had someone fallen the rope would have done nothing. It really was Indiana Jones stuff, especially as a 12 or 13 year old boy.

Those trips meant s much to me and I went back to many spots with friends. Clearwell Mine is one such place. It’s a labyrinth of caves and tunnels and you enter the ancient iron mine through a hole in the roots of an old Oak tree. Very Tolkien.

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Mum and dad having tea in Chiddingstone a few years back. Sadly I was not able to make the funeral today, but I will be traveling with my son to the UK in early 2017.

I also greatly appreciated the freedom I had. To be crossing London on my own to watch Arsenal at 13 years old was fine with mum and dad, as it was when I went to Brussels to watch a European football cup final aged 15. Today it seems kids don’t get any freedom like that, but I for one will encourage my son to be the same.

Dad, I don’t think I turned out too bad and that is down to you and mum, so thanks for everything.

With love from your son, RIP

Allan

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About Allan Michaud

English Wildlife Photographer/Environmental Filmmaker based in Cambodia
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