Wageningen, Holland

During the 1960 vacation there were various opportunities to graduates to get more research experience. One such opportunity was to go to Holland to work at the Research Institute for plant pathology. I took that and went to Holland staying in a Hall of Residence at Nobelweg. The work was to do with potato viruses. I had to weed out infected ones. I also met up with the Colorado beetle. I had been fascinated by plant pathology and wanted to ascertain whether I should go for that or animal production. Social life was rather boring in Holland but there were fellow students from other parts of the world. I saw the new polders, land gained from the North Sea and visited the small farms built on these areas. I also visited laboratories and actually found work in one laboratory explaining problems in another and the professors gave me a good recommendation on my work.

At the end of that experience in Holland I went to Andrew Smiths wedding in Glasgow. I had promised to manage Broompark Farm while he was away on his honeymoon. This was a nice time. Mrs. Smith fed me and talked a lot. Jean helped with milking but I fell out with her badly  and the worker did not like me. I might have been a bit arrogant, but he would not accept that I was in charge -maybe Andrew had not explained. In any case after an exciting summer I went back to serious work to complete the last year at University.

I knew by now I had a taste for further study but what and where? I had finally decided concentrate on animals in general and ruminants in particular. I decided against plant pathology largely because I felt it would lock me into a laboratory all my life. Professor Jakobsen, who was professor both in animal nutrition and in animal production, offered me a job at the National Research Laboratory in Copenhagen. I accepted it but wanted this as a basis for further studies. At that time there was a newly introduced study called Licentiate,( MSc) a two year course with a fair amount of course work. I had of course the travel bug and thought of getting a grant to study abroad. A well known Professor Clausen had something to do with grants, I went to see him and clearly remember him saying “why do you want to study abroad, is this because your grade is too low for study in Denmark.?” The minimum grade for that was 6.3. I told him my grade was 7.55. He sat up in his chair and said I must be clever. I told him I had been lucky in my subjects. He said  that could not be so in 35 subjects! And he promised to support me, asking where I wanted to go. When I told him  England he told me to go ahead and apply. I applied for funds and was given a two year very good grant to study abroad conditional on a placement. I wrote to Reading University having heard of it firstly  from the soldiers I drove around and also from a Dr. J. Taylor whom I met on a visit he made to Denmark that year. My job in the Research Laboratory during the Summer proved very boring from a work point of view. In fact I almost concluded that perhaps research was not my future. I was given to summarise and analyse old experiments. Here I must explain that while the Research Laboratory was next to the University in the city centre, all the animals were kept 30 km outside the city and hardly ever did the researchers see the animals. At the time there was a big discussion about moving the University and the Research Laboratories outside the city. The government or Ministry of Agriculture wanted both facilities to be closer but the professors and students wanted to stay for cultural reasons.

When I returned from Holland where the University and Research Laboratories were in the village of Wageningen I wrote in the University Newspaper that from a research point of view it should be moved out. This was quoted by others to indicate that not all students wanted to stay. I had become something of a rebel. In any case that summer certainly reinforced my belief. It was a ridiculous place for true animal research and the lack of enthusiasm in the in the lab reflected this lack of contact. However, I was soon to go to UK . Dr. Brolund-Larsen advised me against going abroad until I had established myself in Denmark but I just could not stand  that boredom any longer. Despite that it was a lovely summer in Copenhagen  socially  . The work I was asked to do required no more than the course at an agricultural school. I stayed on during the summer in Kollegiet. I was further encouraged to pursue studies in England by a another trip to Scotland after I finished.  

All went well but before I could go to England I had to do a 3 weeks refresher period, in the army. It was a complete waste of time but I did get to drive my old Bedford lorry again. We were stationed on a small farm in Zealand to await orders. The farmer was a nice chap who enjoyed drinking with the soldier so I took on looking after his pigs. I also fell out with the corporal. I cannot remember for what. I think I had become a bit arrogant after my last army time, and I did not feel I should obey a stupid corporal! This was, in effect, the end of my life as a resident in Denmark. Next stop University of Reading.