By the end of 1992 I had acquired enough knowledge of the computer to be able to start a small business working from the converted garage. My biggest help along the way came from a friend at church called Steve, who had started a marketing company in Telford. Most of his clients were agricultural companies and most of my work consisted of producing adverts about bull’s semen! (the quantity of which is apparently is measured in ‘straws’). But it was a start and I managed to scrape up a living from this and some contacts I had in Birmingham (some fifty miles away – that’s how remote we felt in Shrewsbury). Eventually it seemed a better proposition to rent a room in the office Steve was working in, which was based in Telford, about ten miles away so that I could be on hand.
Despite my best efforts, I knew in my heart that my business was very vulnerable and I was desperate to find permanent employment, and was prepared to move anywhere in the country if it meant a secure job. The problem was that the economy was only just coming out of recession and besides, I still had only a small amount of experience using ‘desk top publishing’ as it was known at that point.
Eventually towards the end of 1993, I met a designer called Tony Brooks who was an associate of Steve the marketing friend. Tony ran a small design company in Shrewsbury. I was fortunate that neither he nor his colleague could use a computer nor did they own one, so he often used to give me work. After a few months I was working more for him than for my Steve, my original client, and it again made sense for me to move into his office in Shrewsbury. I remained self employed, but invoiced him every month for the work I undertook.
Once again that year we went to Lawrence and Eileen’s caravan in Wales for our holiday. A great ‘family’ time, where we could forget for a while the pressure we felt we were under back in Shrewsbury, with a young family and a small business. Here are a selection of photos from that period.
Donna and I continued to take every opportunity to show the children around Shropshire, which is very rural and very beautiful. There can’t have been a ruined Abbey or falling down castle that we didn’t go to. It was one way of amusing them when we had very little money, and also (naturally!) a learning experience for them. Here is a clip of a visit to Stokesay Castle, a 700 year old fortified manor house. Our friends from church, the Scotts came with us.