FOUNDER and creator of Hay-on-Wye's authentic fossil shop, The Hourglass Collection, David Pitt mined many avenues before he hung his hat in Hay.

Captain in the Army, Foreman Steeplejack for the RC Church, David was in his fifties when he came upon a shop in Kennebunkport, Maine that inspired a new direction.

"I obtained an interest in minerals and fossils," he said. "It's exciting, all about history," describing how a fossilised pigs skull, an Oreodont, can be between 26-37 million years old.

First he set up and ran the Rock Shop in Portland, Maine for 18 years (still a going concern) before returning to settle in the UK where his children live.

Taking over a small shop on Broad Street in Hay he realised there was a market for a special kind of shop there selling stock from around the world.

"It's a tiny shop with the history of the world in it," he said.

"It starts with the parents, who are more aware and interested, but kids absorb information really well...curiosity , touching, looking for the unknown...where did we all come from? The link is the lifespan of the shop."

For children, awakening interest is a window to a different world while more serious collectors may pop in looking for something special. The most expensive item he has sold was £2,000 although most stock is between £20-£40 and you can pick up a trinket for less.

"Older people bring things in from their own collections to share in a widening circle of interest," he said.

For the past decade he has travelled back and forth between Hay and Portland but celebrating his 88th birthday recently, David decided to stay on one continent. "It's a new phase," he said. "I may even retire in a few years!"

For now he is happy running his business, which is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.

In his spare time he has managed to invent a game, paint and write.

"Life should be lived and while I'm still alive I will keep going!" he said. "I'm not going to allow the opportunity to be bored."