STANDING in a queue at Wormelow Post Office to collect your first old-age pension concentrates the mind wonderfully on the passing of time.

Way back when I was in my twenties I spent a few years as a commercial diver. Always surrounded by cold, dark, dismal waters clutching an oxy-arc gun or inspecting the bottom of boats, I had longed for the freedom of scuba diving in exotic waters. At 65 it was fast becoming a case of now or never.

First stop was PADI certification. I discussed the matter with my 36-year-old son, Gareth, and received an enthusiastic response. Two phone calls and we were both booked on an intensive five-day open-water course.

Teign Diving Centre is a five-star PADI establishment in Devon. Upon arrival we were plunged into comprehensive classroom modules followed by practical pool sessions.

Jamie Hewitt, a very professional diving instructor, conducted our open-water sessions in Babbacombe Bay at the end of which we headed for home clutching our newly-acquired open water diving certificates.

The pros and cons of diving sites is a matter of passionate discussion among divers. Much depends on personal preference; shallow reef dives, fast drift dives, wreck dives and so on.

What we wanted was unspoiled coral reefs and a profusion of marine life, preferably off the beaten track.

It was while surfing the net that we hit gold - Diving from Arab Dhows in the Indian Ocean reeked of adventure; we were hooked.

A few e-mails later we had booked a nine-day Kenyan diving safari - 12 dives from various locations plus an afternoon's game viewing and an overnight stay in a tented camp.

As we gazed from the plane at the peak of Kilimanjaro, en route to Mombasa, the weeks of preparation faded into the past.

Steve and Sally Mullens, directors, met us at the Adventure Centre. Steve is immensely practical, he can build and repair anything ; while Sally could easily reorganise the United Nations before breakfast.

Shimoni lies close to the Tanzanian border and takes its name from coral caves, reputed to have been used for storing slaves.

With a sea temperature of 28 C and visibility in excess of 20 metres, our first dive was breathtaking. Among the pink and lavender soft coral were giant sweetlips, emperor anglefish, pufferfish, large white snappers and thousands of small tropical fish.

But even this amazing scene was eclipsed when on our next dive, at Kisite point, we were joined by a family of dolphins, five adults and a baby. They paused to inspect us quizzically, about three metres away, before their chatter faded away as they accelerated into the blue.

The food was magnificent. Beneath the shade of the veranda, still on an adrenaline high, we were served with whole crab steamed in ginger followed by whole barbecued fish and coconut rice.

Throughout our holiday Gareth and I were extremely impressed by the safety arrangements. All five dhows and accompanying rescue RIBs were fully insured and equipped with VHF radio.

The diving team were well qualified and were excellent underwater guides, often pointing out things we would have missed.

Upon our reluctant return we unpacked, checked and serviced our kit. Mine went straight back into the dive bag ready for a return trip in three months time. After all there were all those missed photo opportunities. That shark whale, the ever-present dolphins, Tyson the trigger fish and the possibility of hump back whales. Not to mention the spectacular African sunsets, friendly helpful people, Tusker beer, crab and ginger...