REMEMBER as a child lying back on the grass, looking up at the sky and seeing all kinds of fascinating things in the clouds?
The forms those fluffy white shapes could take was only limited by your imagination.
Cloudspotting is a pastime which Ian Loxley and thousands like him never grew out of.
They are members of the Cloud Appreciation Society and are all the happier for having kept up that child-like fascination with what is above us.
“We have to be careful sometimes not to bump into things because we’re always looking up. It’s not a good idea to be cloud spotting while you’re driving,” laughed Ian, 63, of Lodge Lane, Upton.
“But when you think about it clouds are the first thing you see when you’re looking up from your pram and as children we see all sorts of things in clouds.”
He is the society’s photo editor, a role he took on in 2005 and which has so far involved identifying, filing and referencing around 7,500 photos sent in by members.
The CAS was founded by Gavin Pretor-Pinney in 2004 at a Cornish literary festival as a tongue-in-cheek response to the bad press clouds often receive.
“You hear people talking about clouds of doom, or living under a cloud so he wanted to challenge this ‘blue sky’ thinking and say that clouds are great,” said Ian, whose own fascination with clouds began in childhood.
This liking for clouds struck a chord with people across the world. The CAS currently has an astonishing 26,583 members in 89 countries, with 200 of those members in Lincolnshire.
“We’re lucky here because we do get some big skies that allow us to see some great cloud formations. We even have the cloud bar viewing platform at Anderby Creek.”
CAS membership costs £5 for life and includes a badge and certificate. Celebrity members include Hollywood star Bruce Willis and TV chef Ainsley Harriot.
Ian said hundreds of photos of ‘cloud-a-likes’ - clouds which look like other things - are sent into the CAS every month.
“We get photos from people from all walks of life. Airline pilots send great ones in that they’ve taken from the flight deck.”
“I’m not a meteorologist I’m just fascinated by weather in general and observing clouds, it’s something I’ve always been interested in since being a child.”
“It makes you look at things totally differently.”
He has had a number of his own cloud photos published in various books, including a stunning one called A Pig With Six Legs of a pink-hued cloud hanging over West Burton power station which looks just like it’s name.
“I was just lucky enough to spot it and be in the right place to get the picture there and then. A few minutes later and it would have been gone,” said Ian, who was a steel worker at Scunthorpe for 34 years.
Ian is married to Carol, 62, and they have a son and daughter, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all of whom Ian encourages to look at clouds.
To join the Cloud Appreciation Society or to find out more about cloud spotting go to www.cloudappreciationsociety.org.
Ian’s enthusiasm for the often breathtaking beauty of clouds is clear.
He said: “Our lives aren’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”