Over a period, on and off, over many years, I have been paid handsomely while combining my full-time job as an Instrument Engineer in the Oil and Gas and Power Supply industries and pursuing my part-time interest of scuba diving.
Allan Cartlidge – Abu Dhabi, June 2015
I started working at 15 in the University of Keele Science Workshops, Staffordshire, England, as a Technician. I also attended, part-time,at the then North Staffordshire College of Technology, in Stoke on Trent, studying for a Higher National Certificate.
After 8 incredibly interesting but low paid years, I moved over to a slightly higher paid and equally interesting job as a technician in a ceramics research laboratory in Stoke. But the low money bugged me, especially as my younger and less-qualified brother earned more than me! By this time, age 26, I had never been away from home for a holiday – anywhere! So when I was tempted at the chance of more money and travelling around, I grabbed it!!
My next job was as a Service Engineer, working from home, but travelling all over the English Midlands, repairing temperature controllers, on brickworks, steel works, power stations, potteries. More interesting, met far more people, saw more places, a different one every day! And the money was brilliant. Even managed my first holiday, Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales. Sun, sea, sex and sand! Amazing!
So when the opportunity came up to transfer from my job in Stoke to move to a long-term power station job in Pembrokeshire: guess what? I took it! No problem!
I had always imagined myself as a James Bond, Buster Crabbe type and there was a scuba diving school just around the corner from where I was staying in Tenby. So I immediately trained-up for that in my spare time and pretty soon was enjoying the underwater delights around Caldey and Skomer Islands and meeting some amazing people from all over the UK and locally!
I became the Diving Officer of the Haverfordwest, Milford Haven and Pembroke Power Station clubs, at different time, helped with underwater scientific surveys, at Orielton Field Centre, and also dived in Ireland, Devon and Somerset.
Then…… This is where the story really starts! I moved to a job in Saudi Arabia for three years as an Instrument Engineer and again in my spare time explored the underwater world of the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Mediterranean (Malta) and Atlantic Ocean (Canary Isles).
During this period, I was also able to visit, France and Italy whilst travelling to home and back, on vacations.
After that I went to work for a short time in Holland, and visited Belgium and Germany from there. I was still getting paid all this time folks!
And then! Next job – of all places –Aberdeen, Scotland. First of all travelling back and forth between Wales and Scotland every two weeks and flying by plane and helicopter to offshore oil platforms and eventually moving to Aberdeen and working onshore. Meanwhile, I still somehow managed to keep diving in Wales and Scotland.
Some of my most exciting dives were with dolphins and basking sharks in Wert Wales and with reef sharks in The Red Sea.
Eventually when to work offshore again and broke the diving habit which had become an addiction!
Scotland is a beautiful country, but very cold in winter. But guess what? Lots of lovely snow falls on the hills and mountains and downhill skiing became a new pursuit. Even skied and dived some weekends! But not at the same time!
I have not always worked full-time but did manage to earn enough cash to afford overseas trips in between jobs. Canary Isles, (three times), Spain, Paris (three times), Nice, French Alps (skiing – four times), Bulgaria, Turkey, Canada (three times), Indonesia, (three times), Sri Lanka (diving) , Malaysia, Sharm El Sheikh (more diving).
While in Canada and the USA, did an all-round trip on Greyhound buses from Montreal and back, via New York, New Orleans, (stayed 3 months in Houston), on to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Reno, Salt Lake City, Chicago and Albany.
Spent nearly 14 of the last 15 years as a Training Instructor at Aberdeen College, worked with them for three months in Kuwait, lots of touring around, visits abroad, travelling between Aberdeen, Stoke and Pembrokeshire. Went to Vietnam for three weeks early this year, where I was shown around the country by a young friend I had met on Facebook who kindly became my tour guide. Met many of her wonderful friends and family as well as visiting some amazing historical and cultural sites in Hanoi, Sapa (near to the Chinese border), Ha Long, Ninh Binh, Thai Binh and Da Lat. One Highlight was the tomb of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi City. Was even invited (no, persuaded!) to give talks to three English classes of high school children in Thai Binh. I did exactly the same thing in Jakarta three years earlier at my brother’s schools there.
And where am I now? You may well ask!. Sitting writing this, in my hotel room in Abu Dhabi, because I am still working, now as a Training Instructor again, many years after most people have stopped, because I still love travelling, meeting new people, from all over the world. My colleagues are mostly Indians, my boss is English, and another workmate is Croation.
I fly back to Scotland for two weeks leave at the beginning of July!