Despite the fact that Outward Bound didn’t make any difference to my academic prowess, somehow, I managed to scrape enough A Levels to get a place at university, reading Commercial Horticulture. Plants and how they worked and fed us had been an absolute passion of mine since the age of 12 - I’ve no idea why - survival instinct?
But it was a four year course and I really wanted to get on with life. So, liking sciences I wrote (yes, pen-on-paper) to 17 scientific establishments and within a week I was moving down to Royal Berkshire to start my new career as an Assistant Scientific Officer at the Grasslands Research Institute (GRI).
The people were fabulous and so was the place, set in a quintessentially English red-brick-and-flint village called Hurley, by the river Thames, 30 miles west of London. I was so glad I chose this route. It was the “university” that I wanted, with a young, extremely active social life…. and you got paid for it!
My first week was very interesting but I was put to work analysing what seemed like millions of dried grass samples in the soil science laboratory. Although the experimentation was explained, I didn’t really know where they came from or where they were “going to” but it was obvious this process was key to success of the work.
This was when my second Moses Moment struck me. Suddenly, whilst I was feeding the grass samples through the photo-spectrometer, a wave of cold fear swept over me. I realised I could be doing this - exactly this - for the rest of my life! And at the tender age of 19 this was the last thing I wanted to imagine.
My immediate reaction and resolve was simple - to achieve the best I possibly could at what I was doing and once I had done that, I would never be afraid of changing paths - complete change, if necessary.
I had realised that the only real fear I had in life (as corny as it sounds) was to waste it.