Michael Nicholson – Head of The Family, King of The Castle
NAME: Michael Nicholson
LOCATION: Somerset, UK
Affected by the Second World War
Influenced by the British Empire
Bound by Tradition
Disciplined by work
Discovering that I can be a True Man
And Now Just Me
I was born into a Naval family and my earliest recollections were of being in Kenya and being looked after by some wonderful people whilst my parents did what Naval people do. I loved that family life with my elder brother who had cerebral palsy, and I quickly learnt that I was the responsible one so we became very close.
Back in the UK, we had a caravan on the west coast of Scotland; it was fun. I used to read for hours on end and was obsessed by cricket. Home life was always busy; I remember bacon sandwiches carefully made by my mother. There was plenty of work when we moved to the farm and I was always doing something.
Although this seemed unfair at the time it provided tremendous opportunities – a secondment back to Kenya where my wife and I fell in love with the smell and the red soil; an introduction to commercial property at BP, which meant that my family subsequently asked me to be a director of a large London Estate; a short time in China in 1980 looking for oil; my own insurance business, creating and offering various types of insurance to the Army, Royal Navy, RAF and Royal Marines, filling a gap that made a difference to many servicemen and women, and improving the compensation available for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was a brilliant rider and owned a number of horses, winning rosettes at events and show jumping. I fulfilled a dream of riding in Australia in the outback for a month. I grew up outside and loved the country sports of hunting and shooting, quickly falling in with all the rituals and beliefs – but always remained a bit of a rebel. The big thing, however, was that sense of responsibility, that I would be the head of the family.
I was sent away to school at an early age and excelled, winning a place at Cambridge University where I studied Modern Languages – German and French. I loved the idea of being able to speak another language and immersed myself in the amazing literature. I can’t say that I enjoyed school and I experienced many injustices that I never felt comfortable with. At a junior level I played in all the first teams and captained most of them and at a senior level represented my college at cricket.
I became an accountant – largely because my family never seemed to have any money and my father insisted on a career.
My wife and I are naturally drawn to the country although we both spent a few years in London. We live 10 miles South of Bath in the West of England and have a large farmhouse with a number of cottages and 35 acres including 6 acres of woodland. It’s been a home for our two boys and the joy is that they still live close by. We found the place when it was completely derelict and have been converting and building for 25 years. We now have a number of self-catering units and it’s a joy to welcome our visitors and friends and share what we have with them.
I love the rain and the sun equally and we have 2 log fires in the house where we can sit with the dogs and enjoy the early morning and evenings when it’s cold. Lots of animals ~ rare breed sheep, pygmy goats, hens and ducks and the ducks have their own castle to live in.