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The Shack
Thank you for visiting this page. As you have probably read in one of my other pages, I have been associated with the Territorial Army in the United Kingdom for many years and it was through my first posting as an Officer Cadet to the Signals Platoon of the 5 Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers that I first got the "bug" for radio Communications. As a young subaltern, I was most impressed at how Radio Communications played such an important part in the running of the unit; how you could communicate with someone unseen and at a great distance; how easy it was to talk to that person you couldn't see, without the aid of wires; how secure was the system of operating. And to speak to someone 80 miles away by what I then termed a Skywave Aerial was just unbelievable to me. I decided there and then in the late 1950s that, come the proper time, I would learn the secrets of this mode of communication.
Little did I know then that I would not have time to get into this hobby until I was just about to retire. Family, work, the TA and other interests such as Gliding, Golf and Gardening took up an inordinate amount of time. But when I saw retirement looming, I decided that if it was a rainy or snowy winter's day and I couldn't get out into the garden or go off for a round of Golf, I needed some indoor hobby to get me out of my wife's hair during the retirement years!     
But it was was not until 1987 that I was eventually able to get down and study for the Radio Communication Agency's examinations and learn the dreaded Morse Code. However, buckle down I did, and obtained my full UK Amateur Radio Licence in 1988 with the Scottish call GM0HZM.  
From this it was a natural progression to computing which I now also enjoy sometimes separately and sometimes together with the amateur radio hobby. So from those early days of Military Radio Communications I now have the pleasure of chatting and contacting other amateur radio operators all over the world. Contacts with Australia, New Zealand are common place and you can't get further than that from Scotland. I have also many friends to whom I chat on a regular basis in Europe, United States of America and Canada.
Here I am in my "Shack" operating on the HF Band (below left) probably talking to my  good French friend Jacques, F6AWW. I now operate on the 2 metre band both from my home and Mobile in the car, the HF bands, as shown in the photograph, and via the computer by ECHOLINK. From this it was a natural progression to Computing which I now also enjoy .
This Tennamast and TB3 aerial (shown right)  were erected in 1990 when I moved into my home in Kirkpatrick Irongray Parish,  Dumfries and Galloway. Immediately prior to this I had a small vertical aerial which didn't really do the job. I couldn't wait to get the larger aerial in place. A neighbour and friend Alastair, who lived in the adjoining farm, saw all my efforts and indeed along with a further neighbour, they helped me to erect the new system. Unbeknown to me Alastair had carefully watched all that was happening and wrote the details down in verse, finally reciting it at a formal housewarming party some weeks later. Here, with his permission, are his lines:-  
The Quiet o' the parish is aw but gone away
Since a man called Jimmy Aitken came to Irongray
With his long spikey aerial set up on the roof
When Jimmy spoke through forket tongue he really stood aloof.
Now bouncin' off the Isle of Man
To speak to folk in Amsterdam
Was hardly what this big man had in mind
A new and bigger system he must find.
For to send his signals roon aboot
He'ed have to get things sorted oot
His messages' must sound both loud and clear
To get doon to the Southern Hemisphere
So Jim dug a yard square hole
Got himself a totem pole
Set it up to point both south and west
Then found the north-east corner far the best.
Edith says "come on noo Jim the gardens oh tae plant"
"Oh mercy me can you no see at the moment a jest can't"
"the carrots, leek and onions will a jest have to wait"
"I've got it gan it's running strong I'll have to modulate!"
Noo' sittin' doon at the fire on a cald dreach winters night
When switchin' on the telly, mighty what a fright!!!
Instead of Peter Sissons reading the news
All we hear is Totem Jim's "CQ CQ CQues"
People noo frae far and wide hear the wisdom o' this man
Fae Mexico to Canada, New Zealand and Japan
Now when you hear his call sign echo's through the air
We all can hear Totem Jim (Is their anybody there?!!)
The Tennamast and TB3  Aerial in my  garden
The computer end of the Shack
Operating a friend’s equipment at Annan in his shack