Full Circle

by Tez Watson for Storytelling Week 2020

By Tez from Iolaire

Tez runs Iolaire the Design, Edit & Print business at Logie Steading. Today's story is Tez's personal history of where he came from and how he ended up here. Read on to find out more about him!...


Full Circle (more or less)

Growing Up in Rural Yorkshire

I’m amazed I’ve done so much and been involved in so many different things in my sixty years. I was born on the farm in the West Riding of Yorkshire where my father was as a farm labourer. My parents moved about a mile away to a tied cottage on a small country estate soon after I was born. With five farms in the small village of Campsall I grew up immersed in the ways of agriculture and country living.

Harvest time is always a favourite with long summer days, eating in the field, riding on the combine and hopefully little rain. Bringing back the straw bales to stack in the yard – a great opportunity for boys to make dens.

When there was nothing for us to do we ranged over the land amusing ourselves – damming streams, picking mushrooms, blackberries, watercress and anything else that grew (wild or otherwise) to feed ourselves. I know it’s an old cliché but we left after breakfast and came home at lighting-up time.

Aged 12 I found a ‘Saturday’ job delivering bread I worked Saturday (6.30am until 6.00pm) plus Wednesday and Friday evenings for £1 10s (£1.50) a week, in the holidays I worked six days a week. The round took us out into surrounding villages and as it turned out many of the farming folk knew my parents, they’d give me stuff to take home – eggs, produce, pickles, etc and good tips at Christmas!

At thirteen, along with three school friends, I cycled to Scotland and back during the Whitsuntide holiday week. And this adventure opened my eyes to a wider world. At first my fascination with maps led me to apply to Ordnance Survey and I needed a pass at Geography ‘O’ Level. I passed at the second attempt but already had a clutch of qualifications in the bag – Physics, English, Maths, French and History. The Royal Air Force had started to figure in my plans and they wanted a Physics certificate.

I submitted my application to Ordnance Survey, meanwhile I started labouring for a local builder and at the same time took the RAF aptitude tests. Neither seemed to be in a hurry to take me on so I went back to school for a year and did extra studies including Home Economics which was great fun and I learned some very useful skills. The following summer after two separate accidents at work (I fell three storeys through a large manor house and a wall collapsed on top of me) the RAF insisted on a second medical examination and deferred my proposed entry by six months. I’d still heard nothing from Ordnance Survey.

Tez of Iolaire as a child for Storytelling Week
Tez & Sandra of Iolaire for Storytelling Week
Young Tez of Iolaire Cycling for Storytelling Week
Tez of Iolaire in the RAF

Life in the RAF

Giving up on the surveying career I joined the RAF in February 1976 and finished my training as a aircraft radio fitter in August 1977. I arrived home on leave to find a letter dated late July from the OS offering me a four-year apprenticeship as a Field Surveyor. Too late, that boat had already sailed – I was now a Junior Technician earning great money. During the Firemen’s Strike after the briefest of training I did a stint of duty on the Green Goddesses around Liverpool. My career saw me move swiftly promoted to Corporal and subsequently a posting to RAF Kinloss. I was living in Scotland as I’d promised myself in 1971.

I worked on the Nimrod flight line, this became one of the most enjoyable periods of my life – working hard, playing hard, becoming more confident, self-reliant and being recognized for my talents. Sandra and I married in June 1981, our daughter, Kimberley was born in October of the following year. Shortly afterwards we were posted overseas to Germany. There we toured by bicycle around the local area, meeting and mixing with local people. Bruce, our son, was born in Monchengladbach in 1984 and about a year later we returned to Scotland to take up a differing post at RAF Kinloss.

The thirteen years I served on the Nimrod Software Team – as an engineer, as an instructor and as a quality assurance auditor - all proved to consolidate my professional skills and character. For most of those years I was a Scout Leader another thing that helped my personal development. I took the Troop camping at every opportunity and we hiked, sang and cooked/ate our way through those years including at a camp with over 6000 other Scouts in Germany.

Life After the RAF: Graphic Design & Photography 

Leaving the Air Force in 1997 was a bit of a wrench but I’d decided the time was right, I was still under forty and felt I could carve out a new career – as a graphic designer, having self-taught myself. After a lengthy interview process I landed a position at Gordonstoun School. Inside six years I had launched the School onto the internet, created their corporate branding and made a significant impact to their marketing efforts. During rationalization my job was cut but I bounced back six months later as manager of a professional photo lab in Nairn, this meant dealing with customers in a more direct sense.  I learned a great deal in the four years at C S Boyne. The buyout by Jessops was traumatic, I left before they crashed, they settled my grievance out of court and thus began my freelance career.

I realised that I couldn’t make enough of a living to start with so I looked for something part-time to supplement my income. Very soon I found myself helping Derek Laing at The Warehouse Theatre in Lossiemouth.

Working from home initially seemed like a good idea but there were many distractions so I found premises and moved out of the house. I got the chance to relocate to Nairn, the unit at the railway station was good but after a couple of years some changes forced me out and Sandra joined the business. We found a small shop by the harbour and traded from there for seven years until various external factors forced us to close up. In September 2014 Bruce and I cycled the Camino de Santiago rekindling my love of cycling despite covering 625 miles and climbing 41,000 feet in nine days – life-changing indeed.

Finally Back to a Rural Setting

Fortuitously, I received an email from Panny Laing asking if I’d fancy moving my business to Logie Steading and the timing could not have been any better. We closed the Harbour Street shop whilst Sandra ventured into bed and breakfast.

Now into my third year at Logie I’ve almost come full circle – based in an agricultural setting albeit much different to where my life started but there’s a comfort in the knowledge that whatever we face as we grow older that things can turn out well given determination, hard work, sound relationships and a bit of luck.

BTW I’m based behind the bookshop, next to the Fisheries Office and offer numerous graphic and photographic services/advice. Always happy to talk about projects and possibilities…

Tez Watson