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We lived halfway between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye ('in the middle of nowhere' as far as the children were concerned). The two older children were bussed into Hereford every school day and, consequently, did not have the opportunity to see much of their friends outside school hours during their first few months at senior school. Well, I knew that countryside life would be a big bonus for them as far as their future memories were concerned, but totally depriving them of their friends company except during school hours would have been too much of an imposition (having children brings back memories for all parents – no matter from how long ago).

But the solution was in my own hands. We had the 'luxury' of living in a very large old country house (and the more refurbishment I had done, the more 'luxurious' it became). And so, one of the first few things I did was to have the upper floor converted (to comprise two large bedrooms, a sitting/games room and a toilet/shower room) – with its own private staircase, completely separated from the rest of the house. The refurbishment of this area became 'the teenager's apartments', and so the problem of Mike and Sarah's isolation from their new-found friends was solved. It was so popular that we had an extra dozen (or even more on occasion) weekend guests at least once a month (sometimes once a fortnight in the summer months). This turned out to be a very popular arrangement: the 'townie' teenagers spending regular weekends with us in the countryside.

And I made sure that their time wasn't all spent indoors (though, of course many hours were spent up there during the evenings listening to their records, playing their computer games and – in their terminology – just 'chilling out'). During the spring and summer months I often took them outside for more energetic activities (like riding our little moped around the fields, and driving (learning how to drive) the old car I bought especially for this purpose, plus feeding the chickens, taking the dogs for a walk, visiting my in-laws nearby farm, etc.

Mike and Sarah still keep in touch with some of these old school friends 25 years later – even though Mike lives in Canada and Sarah lives in America nowadays.

Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books ( include:

My Blog...

ONE WRONG TURN: The amazing story of how one single bullet started The First World War

Are You Still Quizzical Joan?: How to run successful quiz nights and raise money for charity

SatNav Rules, OK?: A humorous novel of how modern technology can affect modern society

Fancy a Game of Darts Our Youth? A step-by-step guide on how to play (including humorous personal anecdotes)

Kick out the Brits!: A real-life family ‘US road trip of-a-lifetime’

To Death and Beyond: Short stories of real near-death experiences


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A 3-book fictional story of a serial killer

The Last Scrap: Factual account from turbulent teenage years to a caring father-figure to the next generation.

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