Who Is Poddys?
About Me - Who Is Tony Payne
I always wanted to travel, but my life ended up being fairly uneventful until I reached my early 30's. This page is the story of my life, and it was written partly for other people to learn more about me, and partly as a personal project to write down who I am for future generations.
I was born in England and spent most of my life there, until 1987 when I spent a year on the other side of the world in New Zealand. I returned to London, and then in 1994 I moved to the USA, spending 12 years in Indiana, and then relocated to South Florida. In July 2009 I returned home to England, for reasons that those of you who know me will understand, and for those of you who don't, well then you will have to read on to find out.
In a nutshell, I am a person who always wanted to travel, but didn't have the opportunity until I was in my late 20's, and then the travel bug hit me. I hope you enjoy the stories about my life and travels as they unravel.
However, there is far more to me than that. I hope you will read on, enjoy learning a bit more about me, my life, my ups and downs, my hobbies and interests, and of course my lenses on Squidoo.
THIS PAGE IS GOING TO BE A WORK IN PROGRESS FOR A WHILE AS I GRADUALLY ALLOW THE STORY OF MY LIFE TO UNRAVEL. I HOPE YOU ENJOY LEARNING MORE ABOUT ME.
I Am A Giant Squid - I have been a Giant Squid since July 2008.
I joined Squidoo in January 2008 and in July 2008 I was awarded a great honour, being made a GIANT SQUID. To be a Giant Squid, you need to have created at least 50 quality lenses. Having worked very hard to get more than 50 lenses created, I was really over the moon when I received the award. Thanks so much to the Giant Squid Organisers for the t-shirt and for their support in reaching my goal.
So Why Do I Use The Name "Poddys"?
When I wanted to create my first website, my ex-wife and I thought that we were like two peas in a pod, so we decided to call it "poddys". Those times are long gone though, and we ended up more like chalk and cheese, very different in too many ways. But the web site remains, the domain poddys.com is now 14 years old, and I still use "poddys" as my login for a number of sites.
I Was A "Bigfoot" On Tagfoot
My Early Years
Gimme 5 Stars Or I'll Fill Yer Full Of Lead
Introduction To Where I Grew Up
In case you were wondering, Yes, that is me in the picture above, taken in our front garden many moons ago.
Back then Poole was a fairly quiet town, with a port that hadn't changed for a while, busy with ships carrying in timber and coal and other goods from Europe. Now of course things have changed, the coal powered power station with it's impressive chimneys that could be seen for miles has gone, it's not a container port so it doesn't get the large modern ships, but it does now have a daily ferry crossing to Cherbourg in Normandy, which has let to a lot of road traffic between Southern England and Europe, as well as holiday traffic to France.
Poole Harbour (English spelling - this is MY HERITAGE so I'm going to spell it the English way...) is the 2nd largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney in Australia. It has a number of islands, is very popular with both yachting and powerboating, and more recently with windsurfers and kite-surfers. The largest island in the harbour is Brownsea, and was the site of the first Boy Scout camp in the 1920's. It also has a castle that faces the harbor entrance, which makes for great views.
The southern part of the harbour entrance is a mile long peninsular called Sandbanks, which back in the 50's and 60's had some nice houses, but it wasn't as exclusive as it is now. My family had 2 houses there, plus my grandmother used to live there, until she got sick in the early 60's, when she stayed with us until the cancer took her away. Sad thing is that her money disappeared with socializing and gambling etc, so we never really ended up with anything.
Today of course, although barely known in the USA, Sandbanks is the 4th most expensive place to live in the world, with houses being sold for up to $20 Million! Rumour has it also that back in the 1930's when it was mostly just fishermen's huts and sand dunes, my grandmother could have bought Sandbanks for a few thousand pounds... Oh well... I might have been extremely wealthy, but would I have been happy? I wonder...
So this is a background to where I grew up, right in the middle of the South Coast of England, a very nice area to live, away from the troubles of inner-city dwelling etc.
Brownsea Island At The Entrance To Poole Harbour
My Early Years
Apart from Poole being a small town, my parents lived in a small village at the end of Sandbanks called Lilliput of all things. Now as many people know, Lilliput was the land of the little people in Dean Swift's book Gullivers Travels. So being not the smallest of children, I used to have the mickey taken out of me when I was young... I lived on Lilliput Road, just off that was Gulliver's Close, then Dean Swift Crescent, lots of connections with the book. However, the only real connection with Gulliver is that in the 1600's there was a well known smuggler called Gulliver, who used to frequent the area. There is actually no real connection to the book or the author. Such is life...
But I digress... I'm still rambling on about where I grew up and not about me... I'm known to ramble a bit, so if you catch me drifting off topic, just give me a gentle nudge ok...
Ok, back on topic.........
Since it was fairly quiet where I grew up, most of the other boys I went to school with (not a mixed school) used to live in another part of town. Subsequently I didn't have many friends to play with, few toys in those days too compared to nowadays, and only 2 channels on the television. Television was a joy - there was a 15 minute (at most) program for the young children around midday, then more children's tv form 5pm to 6pm, then off to bed... Kids today don't know how lucky they are in many ways!
My favourite phrase while growing up was "I'M BORED", and I know my Mum got so fed up with this, but unless either of my 2 friends were around to play with, it was just me, and being an only child does have it's drawbacks sometimes.
I didn't know then, but now I know just how lucky I was in some ways. My Dad worked as an Electronics Engineer, repairing Televisions and then later Electronic Organs (keyboards to you youngsters), but my Mum didn't work, so I spent every find day of my childhood summers down at the beach.
Of course we only lived a mile from the beach, and because my Grandmother had bought a flat (more like an American Condominium) before she got taken ill, and this had beach-huts underneath it, we got to use one of the nicest beach-huts at Sandbanks. The beach there was rarely too crowded, I spent maybe 5 hours a day in the water, and then in my early teens my Dad bought us a dinghy, the next year one a bit bigger, and finally when I was 14 we had a 16 foot cabin cruiser. Boy did I feel great when I took that out on my own, untying it from it's mooring, motoring it through the channel out of the harbour to the beach, which was busy enough in those days with cargo ships and sailboats.
But times change, as you will see as you read on...
Sandbanks In The 1950's From The Sandacres Hotel
Sandbanks In The 1950's Looking Across Poole HarbourTo Brownsea Island
My Teenage Years
My Dad had always struggled to earn enough to give us a comfortable lifestyle. He was a brilliant man, bless him, a very skilled and innovative electronics engineer, but repairing electronic organs for a living is not the best of jobs, and he wanted something more.
My Great-Grandfather had passed away in my early teens and left us a little money, and my Dad, despite my Mum's protesting, went into partnership with 3 other people and set up a company that made amplifiers and speakers. Well needless to say, like me my Dad didn;t have a great deal of success at business, and things went bad, resulting in us losing all the money we had.
My Mum, who had grown up in a small village in the 1920's and had gone through really hard times, both with my Grandfather having been invalided out of WWI and never being able to work again, and with the depression years, which hit the UK as well as the USA, tried to live a very frugal lifestyle. So when my Dad wanted to invest all this money inn a business venture, she was dead against it.
Well, after months and years of constant "I told you so's" every time he came home from work, looking back I couldn't really blame him for finding comfort with someone else, and eventually leaving home. My Mum, as sweet and dear as she was, never understood how much she could nag about things. I know because she constantly nagged me too, but that was just her way.
So at the age of 15 my Dad left home, and I was left with a Mum who constantly cried, and who for the first time since I was born was forced to go out to work to help keep herself.
My Dad ended up moving away from the area, down to Cornwall, and I didn't see him for several years. He did some odd jobs, removal man, electronic repairs, but struggled to make ends meet down there, and subsequently my Mum was left with a 3 bedroomed house to keep up, and a son in school.
But we managed ok, with my working several nights a week, at the weekend and also most of the school holidays at The Pavilion in Bournemouth, which had a Theatre, 7 Bars, a Ballroom, and a Restaurant / Nightclub, all of which I worked in from the age of 16 through to 18.
Bournemouth Pavilion - Theatre, Ballroom, Seven Bars and a Restaurant / Night Club
The year before I finished high school, I worked at The Pavilion through the summer. I worked 2 shifts a day, stocking up the 7 bars, humping crates and kegs, then washing up glasses. I would start at 9am, then apart from a 3 hour break in the afternoon work until close to midnight, collecting glasses, washing them up, and restocking the bars. On a Saturday night, I would end up at the nightclub until 3am. One week I worked 80 hours at 25p/hour (50cents) and took home Â£20 ($40).
My University Years
Up to the point where I left high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Several good friends were going to university to study mathematics, and it wasn't quite what I wanted to do, but I had done a bit of computer programming while at school and thought that Computer Science would be a good choice.
I went to Lanchester Polytechnic in Rugby, Warwickshire in the English Midlands, which was away from home, yet only a handful of miles from my Mum's family, so I was still "safe" although learning to be on my own.
The main campus (as it is now) was in Coventry, with our satellite campus only covering Engineering and Computer Science and accomodating maybe 400 students.
Needless to say, the majority of the student body was male, the only females being either already taken or just ugly... It was frustrating at times, especially as English girls in the area had no fashion sense. It was the mid 70's - girls wore dull brown midi skirts that did little to make them look attractive. On a pub crawl (bar hop) through town we would call out ratings for any girls that we saw on a scale from 1 to 10. On a good night we might get as high as -1. Yes it really was that bad!
In my final year a group of us became friends with girls from the local catholic teacher training college 10 miles away and would hang out there most weekends. Since it was run by nuns, the girls had to be careful, and I remember more than once in the early hours of the morning being one of many guys being led through the dorms to avoid the nuns who were doing a search. Ah those were the days.
Well back to computer science... My studies went well, I found that I enjoyed programming, and it's kept me employed ever since.
My 20's And 30's
Starting My Career
After I graduated, I did what any good Computer Professional ought to do - I moved to the big city, namely London. I got a job with one of the top Audit companies, worked with some big clients, and gradually got to know the computer industry.
London was exciting back in 1977. Star Wars had just been released, the Commodore Pet was in the stores, arcade games were the craze with the advent of Space Invaders and Asteroid... Things were buzzing...
I had only been in London a month when I met the girl who was to be my wife. We met in a pub (sounds like a country song) and were both very shy and naive. But we thought we knew what we were doing, and 8 months later we were married.
Life was ok for a while, we lived with her parents for a year in Islington in North London, then bought our first house, then my son came along, and my wife somehow lost what confidence she did have and never went back to work.
My computing career was going well. I moved to a software house in London that specialised in IBM Midrange computers (if you don't know - don't ask) and who developed one-off systems for their clients. After a couple of years I broke away and set up on my own as a consultant.
This went well at first, until I got to thinking about how to make money without having to work an hour for an hours pay (sounds like today's entrepreneurs doesn't it). So, I started selling computer supplies - floppy disks, paper, printer ribbons etc, and although money did come in, more money went out. That's when I decided to employ a salesman, to get more business it, since I had to keep inventory to sell, and needed more customers to turn the product over so I could make a profit.
All Goes Horribly Wrong
This salesman seemed to be doing pretty good, we moved into a larger office, he got new important clients for us, and then just before Christmas 1986 he got married and went off to the USA on honeymoon.
Well, that's when my troubles began...
I had given him more and more responsibility, invoicing, opening the mail etc, so he could run the office while I spent more time consulting. The day after he left the phone calls and demands for money started to come in. Our vendors were chasing us for money, so I had to chase up our new clients to get them to pay up. And that's when I found out they had never heard of us...
Seems he had been purchasing products from my suppliers on my credit, and selling them to persons unknown for cash, making up phony companies and orders. The demands for money just came in daily, and after several months there was really no solution but to liquidate. Since I had personal guarantees on the company debts, and a lot of the new business hadn't really come in after all, and new things were coming to light every day, I had to call a halt.
And so I ended up remortgaging my house, worked harder and harder at consulting to make ends meet, and about 6 months later was out of debt, other than now having twice the mortgage I did before.
It was at this point that being free of the company, a noose around my neck for years, I decided it was time to seek adventure, and to spend a year in New Zealand.
I always wanted to travel, but until the age of 18 I had only been to Rugby to see the family, and when I was 5 I went to Belfast to see my Uncle and Aunt (flew on a DC3 Dakota and threw up all the way).
The family took a trip to Majorca in 1973, where I fell for a Danish girl.
On the last day my Mum looked turned to the family and said "Look at those two over there kissing".
A few seconds later...
"Oh my God, it's our Tony".
Took me a while to live that down...
A World Traveller
A World Traveller
The Desire To Travel
My cousin had moved to Auckland, in New Zealand to get married in the early 70's, and I had wanted to out there for years. After all, my Mum had been, my Gran and Uncle and Aunt had been, but to date apart from having been to Majorca when I was 18, Normandy and Brittany in Northern France when I was at university, and Corfu in Greece for my honeymoon, I had never been anywhere else.
From Dreams To Realities
Sure I had dreamed of exotic travel, but the closest I had come when I was younger was collecting postcards from around the world. I wish I knew where they were now, there were thousands of them. They were ones the family had collected since the 1940's, newer ones that people had sent to us or to the family, others that friends and friends of friends gave to me. I had been everywhere - but only in my dreams. Now those dreams were about to become a reality.
Ready To See The World
It took a lot of courage to leave our little house in North London, but we managed to find a company to rent it out, did a lot of research for our trip (and you have no idea how much harder that was without the internet), and in October 1987 we were ready to go.
I had some stocks that I was going to sell to help finance the trip to New Zealand, but a month before we left, the Stock Market crashed (story of my life). The stocks dived so badly that I had to leave the money behind, I couldn't afford to sell them at such a loss. And so we had precious little money to live on out there.
And to cap it all, a week before leaving the famous Storm Of 1987 hit. This horrible hurricane hit England hard. One in ten of all the big old trees came down. I was panicking - thought my car, which I needed to sell would be wrecked, thought the house would suffer a lot of damage, but fortunately, we survived unscathed.
Off We Go
I managed to sell my car with no trouble thankfully. We rented out the house while we were away, so we had to pack up our valuables and store them. Said goodbye to the family and friends, and then headed out to Heathrow early in the morning to begin our big adventure.
First Stop - Los Angeles, California
We had booked most of our flights and some hotels in advance, heading out from London to Los Angeles, where we were to spend 3 days at Disneyland, visit Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, The Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose, and of course Hollywood.
My first trip to the USA was quite daunting. After a 12 hour flight, we arrived in LAX, tired, it was pouring with rain, the Pan Am 747 parked off the end of the furthest terminal from civilization, so we had to be bussed to the terminal, walked for miles, spent forever going through immigration (and this was 1987!), had a nightmare trying to get to the hotel, but finally we got there and it was a nice hotel too.
It seems strange now to think that despite my first impressions, I have spent the last 14 years in the USA, something I would never have imagined back then.
Second Stop - Tahiti
Having spent 6 days in Los Angeles, we then headed out to Tahiti for several days, where we enjoyed the beauty of the island, and visited the Gauguin Museum.
I would say that Tahiti is beautiful, but as my first port of call outside of Europe and LA, I found it quite dirty. However, years later, having been to a number of other islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, it's not really any different to the rest, and the beaches and clear waters are quite spectacular.
I do remember getting off the plane in Tahiti at 5:30am, and as soon as I stepped out of the door into the open I was hit by what I can only describe as a wall of steam. It was incredibly humid there, as sticky as any steam room I have ever been in, and very hard to breath. In fact it never changed the whole of the 3 days that we were there, despite being right next to the ocean.
Well pretty soon we were off again, the final leg of our outbound journey, and we finally arrived in New Zealand.
Life In New Zealand
We arrived in Auckland to more reasonable temperatures, and a world that was closer to the England that we knew, although as time went on we would find many differences between the two.
The large sign as you leave the airport sums it up - Kia Ora which is Maori for "Welcome". That struck me as funny, since in England growing up, when you went to the cinema, they sold containers of Orange Juice called "Kia Ora".
The people of this great country are so incredibly friendly, many of them will do anything for you, as I was to find out later.
LIVING IN NEW ZEALAND
Things may be different now, but back in 1987 New Zealand was years behind England as far as progress in many ways.
The shops back then opened and shut like the ones in England used to in the 60's and before. They shut at 5 o'clock during the week, and at lunch times, and there was one day during the week when stores would close for the afternoon. On Saturdays they would open at 10am, and close by 2pm. This included most of the supermarkets as well as the department stores downtown. So it took a bit of getting used to.
My cousin had moved out to Auckland to get married in the mid 70's, and her in-laws had moved form England in the 50's. Walking into their house was like going into a house in England in the 50's, it was like a museum in a lot of ways.
The cost of living was higher than in England, and cars were twice the price. For a number of the new friends that we made there, taking the kids to McDonald's once a month was a big treat.
Having less money than we anticipated, plus despite my cousin running an employment agency, it still took me a month to get work. I borrowed a car from her for a while, but then had to buy one of my own, which as well as paying rent on a bungalow took most of our money.
I was lucky to get the job that I did. In those days I would calss myself as an ACE. I had worked on IBM System/34 and System/36 Minicomputers for 7 years, these being the biggest selling minicomputers in the world at the time, and selling faster than you could train people to work on them. I had worked with a very innovative software house in London, then on my own as a consultant for 5 years, so I was very much an expert. In New Zealand by comparison, most of the programmers were home-grown, with very naive skills. So when the largest consultancy in Auckland interviewed me, they said that they would hire me, provided they could get a week of work for me with a client, and during that week they would try to find more work. Well, I worked for the client for the 9 months that I was there, plus 5 other clients as well, so I think I fulfilled the requirements for them.
One thing I went out and did while I was in new Zealand was to learn to scuba dive. I took a basic PADI Class, and also an Advanced Class, and managed to take a few wonderful trips to some unique places.
This didn't come without some problems, however, as combined with sitting in a bad chair for weeks at work and the weight of the tanks and other gear on my first dive, I slipped a disc and ended up crippled for over a month, including over Christmas. My back did get better with time, but even now, 20 years later, I still have problems with it. So if you ever suffer with back pain, I feel for you...
Diving took me to some cool places, the most amazing being to a little deserted bay north of The Bay Of Islands, on Maori land, where we camped for 3 crazy nights. This trip was to dive on The Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship that had been sunk in Auckland Harbour the year before by the French. We had 2 inflatables, and pushed them out through form the beach and through the surf, one of them having a lot of problems making it, but finally we did. Skipped over the waves, passing baby penguins, which surprised me as it's sub-tropical up there. Finally we reached the spot, anchored, and started our descent. The Rainbow Warrior lies 60 feet down, and as we descended you could see a dark outline ahead, then make out that it was a ship, then the dove and olive branch on the funnel, it was eerie and awesome at the same time. It was fantastic going through cabins and watching the air bubbles fighting to make their way out again to the surface. I felt just like Jacques Cousteau.
I did another amazing trip, out to Great Barrier Island, a deserted island 30 or more miles off Auckland. We did a night dive there, while anchored in a calm inlet. After, we fished and drank beers, while watching a moonless cloudless sky, the myriad of stars reflected in the water, which was as smooth as a mill pond, except for the occasional Sprat which was being chased by s King Fish and leapt out of the water. Just an amazing night.
Well that's enough about my scuba diving - I guess you are here to learn about New Zealand, but I digressed, which you will find I do very well at times.
More to come... lots more...
THE BAY OF ISLANDS
THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA
FAREWELL NEW ZEALAND
Headed Back Home
It's A Small World
In Thailand we went on a trip to the Bridge On The River Kwai and the cemetery and museum.
In the museum was a section about Geoffrey Adams, who was a friend of my Grandmother - I used to play with his son. He had written a book about his imprisonment by the Japanese, I have a signed copy.
Back In London
cold, grey gloomy...
the saga continues...
Out Of The Mouths Of Babies...
Back in London and having made several trips overseas on business, my son turned to me one day and said:
"You are so lucky Daddy to do all this travelling"
I replied to him "But you have been around the world and you are only 8"
He added, "Yes, but only once"
I will never forget that...
Living In The USA
Moving To The USA
It's a work in progress...
Back In The UK
Today - The Next Phase
It's a work in progress...
Things I Like
It's a work in progress...
Things I Have Done
It's a work in progress...
Things I Still Want To Do
It's a work in progress...
My Hobbies - Genealogy
It's a work in progress...
A Lensography is a page on Squidoo which lists all your lenses by category.
This Is Mine
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Other Places Where You Can Find Me - As well as being a lensmaster and Giant Squid, I have other web sites and write in other blogs. If you would like to connec
- Off The Record With Debbie & Tony
This is my personal blog along with Debbie
- The Poddyland News
Poddys blog at Squidtop. Here you will find postings about my lens updates, as well as snippets about my daily life.
- The Poddys Directory - something different from your average directory - come on in and take a look
The Poddys Directory is a Family Friendly directory that covers UFO's, extraterrestrials, jokes, ancient civilizations, travel, collectables, antiques, photography, music, movies, pets, computers, space and more...
- The Michiana Directory
The Michiana Directory - Michiana is Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan including South Bend Mishawaka Elkhart and Notre Dame University.
- The Laughline
A free daily jokes mailing list with over 6,000 members, it's hosted at Yahoo and been running since 1999.
- Poddys On Blogger
A new blog that has updates on my lenses.
- Rocking The Squid
A bulletin board where I have links to a number of my lenses, in particular my Song Lyrics lenses. Thanks to Rock The Ice for creating this great resource.
- Poddys on MySpace
I can't pretend I understand My Space yet. It just seems like a load of adverts so far.
My account on Facebook
- Poddys on Twitter
My Twitter account
- Poddys on Wordpress
This is my blog on Wordpress.com
- Poddys on Gather
You can also find me on Gather.