Saturday 25 February 2012: Pigeons and pegs
Harbour Village in Goodwick is a small windswept community perched high above the ferry and railways terminals that provided its livelihood a century ago. The workers' houses enjoy stupendous views across the whole of Fishguard Bay, and maximum exposure to the weather too. Many of the residents have been here for years and seem to appreciate living on the edge, close to the rough coastal moorland that provides opportunities for grazing ponies, keeping livestock and running allotments.
On our way back from a cliftop scramble, I dodged up an alley to show Guinea Pig Zero a backyard pigeon loft I'd noticed on a previous visit. Harbour Village has long been a resort of pigeon fanciers; Fishguard, at the end of the railway line and ferry crossing, being a popular destination for racing/homing pigeons dispatched in crates and baskets for release here.
As we peered at the cooing flock an old man emerged with a wheelbarrow. Feeling a little embarrassed by our nosiness I greeted him and asked if he owned the pigeons. Oh yes, he said, he's been keeping them for 63 years. It soon emerged that there was nothing John didn't know about homing pigeons, and much else besides. At the age of 75 he was off to plant potatoes. He showed us a stack of trays of chitting tubers, ten times the quantity needed by a single man (judging from his washing line), and he invited us to admire his sheds all made from waste materials he'd salvaged from the tip.
As we chatted a neighbour passed by with another Jack Russell that growled at Casey. Nasty dog that, said John. Nasty man too, he added, I haven't spoken to him for 30 years!
I vowed to return and spend more time talking to this engaging man: he's a fount of knowledge and a real character. Next time I'll blip him but for today his birds and his laundry will have to suffice.