Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
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I had my first boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads in 1953, the year I had my tenth birthday, then two holidays on the River Thames in 1957 and 1961. From the first I was hooked on boating although it was not a passion that I had very many opportunities to indulge. In 1963 as a family we took our first canal trip around the midlands on a small cruiser. These were still early days for boat hire on the English canals and on many days we saw no other pleasure boats on the move. We went on more canal holidays in 1965, 1968 and 1969. For more details of these trips see my article Canal Cruising in the Sixties.
In the meantime I had started work, in 1959, and joined the Post Office in early 1960, a move that was to lead in directions I could not foresee. When I joined the Post Office was part of the Civil Service, in 1969 it became a nationalised industry and in the seventies the Postal and Telecommunications business were split. 1984 was the year of British Telecommunications privatisation and I found that, in 24 years, I had been transformed from a Civil Servant to a member of one of Britainís largest public companies without ever leaving my employer. 1968 was a pivotal point in my life for not only did I get engaged to Beryl (we married in 1969) but I also was promoted from working behind the Post Office counter to designing computer systems. I have now been using computers for over forty years, although when I started the idea of having a powerful (or any) computer on the desktop was pure science fiction. Over the years I have lived in London, Chatham, St Albans and Cardiff while working in London, St Albans and Cardiff. I have two daughters, Angela and Rosemary.
In 1993 I had the chance to take my company pension ten years early as part of BT’s efforts to reduce the number of people it employed. This enabled me to buy a boat and do some serious boating. As soon as I left BT, in November 1993, we ordered a new narrowboat to be built for us. This was delivered in June 1994, for more details see my article Launching Lorna Ann. My plan was to combine boating with another of my favourite hobbies, photography. I had bought my first camera in 1956 and have never been without one since. In the years since retiring Beryl and I have cruised over 1,000 miles each year on the canals and rivers of England and Wales.
For over 40 plus years my work was almost entirely on 35mm colour transparencies and I now have a collection of 12,000 slides. In 2006 I bought a Canon EOS 5D digital SLR and have now stopped using film completely. In recent years I have concentrated on waterways photography and have had over 100 pictures published. When I wasusing A Minolta Dynax 9xi I recorded full exposure and lens details for each shot using the data cards that are part of the Dynax system. I also use a Canon Powershot S60 digital camera. The most recent 6,000 shots are recorded on a database and cross referenced to the place and/or waterway photographed.
My first published article was The Neath and Tennant Canals published in Waterways World in October 1992. Since then I have written a number of articles for waterways publications, mainly Waterways World (see the articles list). I am willing to undertake commissions to write books or articles, for more details see my Freelance Page.
This is what was once called computing or even Automatic Data Processing when I first came into the profession in 1968. In my career I have been a Systems Analyst, a Senior Programmer/Analyst, a Data Administrator and an IT Manager. I have written programs in assembler language and COBOL as well as BASIC and Object PAL. At present I use a laptop at home that I also take boating. My main software is MS Windows XP, MS Office, Apache web server, PHP sripts and both Paradox 7 and MySQL database systems.
In addition to my extensive boating trips I also take part in non-boating waterway activities. I am a member of the Inland Waterways Association and have been involved in committes at Local and National Level. In 2002 became a member of the Enviroment Agency Anglian Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee. I am also a member of several other waterway related organizations.
I have been webmaster to the following: The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterways Trust, The IWA Peterborough Branch, The Association of Nene River Clubs and the Railway & Canal Historical Society.
When people mispronounce my name, I don't see red
For they may think that Sheed sounds more well bred
I don't upbraid them for what the've said
Or make it an issue but instead
Point out I'm just, from toe to head,
A plain old common or garden Shead.