Have Aliens heard about Aberdare?
It hurts terribly to admit this but yesterday, in Wales, it rained. It was quite torrential and I was on the morning watch with John, our second watch together. We knew the causeway would be flooded until 1.00pm, that and the fact that it was a wet and misty day meant there was no likelihood of any great excitement. As we were carrying a new supply of drinking water with us we had permission to take the car all the way to the lookout and for that, considering the weather, we were very grateful.
But we didn’t stay dry for long. My first job was to hoist the station flag which is not a long job but nevertheless was of sufficient duration to render me totally soaked. Needless to say I did not pause for the customary salute, I plead for forgiveness! John didn’t get away with it either for his job was to prepare the outdoor sign that displays the safe times for crossing. By the time he returned he was in much the same state as I was. So there we were, soaking wet, in a lookout embracing us in a rather chillier atmosphere than we had been enjoying of late. I did not argue when John suggested that we should light the stove, mid-August it may well be but we were being reminded of winter!
Soon the atmosphere became mildly Turkish with the interior of the lookout assuming the same condition as the misty world outside. I looked from the doorway towards the village and saw not one human being and decided that the world indeed does contain sensible people after all. The station log had its first entry, it said “10.00 – Station opened” we didn’t expect, nor as it transpired did we get, a full page.
Then he appeared.
Walking towards us through the mist and the rain was a fisherman who wanted to know the best places to fish. We had a brief conversation which included my comment that today was not the best kind of day for fishing. His reply was that, even in this weather, fishing is more enjoyable than watching 17 different soaps a day on television. I did not mention it but I thought if I were to have been in his shoes I would quickly have realised that there were other options available! Anyway he disappeared down the path.
We had few visitors, a couple from abroad who seemed totally undeterred by the weather, a young family all sensibly dressed with wellingtons and waterproofs and smiling. They were staying in a caravan at Three Cliffs and stated that even this was better than being in a caravan all day – well done that family! The next group were greater in number and U3A members from Radnorshire studying Geology with an expert – also unfazed by the weather. We had to admire them all.
It was about mid-day when the fisherman reappeared and we had a second conversation. He had caught a bass, but only temporarily, he said he was reeling it in and could see that it was a good size when suddenly a black head popped out of the water and soon his prize was slipping down the throat of a seal. Clearly a cad and a bounder! Where else could he fish, somewhere more sheltered? he asked. I tried to explain to him where the Ledges were but in order to do that properly I had to leave the shelter of the doorway. Soaked again – but ‘If you can help somebody’ as they say.
The causeway cleared at 1.10pm but we doubted that anyone would be much interested, anyway all that would be the responsibility of the next watch who would be relieving us at 2.00pm. I must admit I was looking forward to getting back home to some warmth and comfort, it had been an unusually uneventful watch. At least that is what I thought.
At 1.40pm a head bobbed into view over at the top of the path and a split second later a pair of handlebars, then a front wheel and then a whole bike with panniers. We hadn’t seen him going down and I began to feel guilty that we had not been paying enough attention. I went to the doorway to greet him. In jest I asked him:-
“Have you just cycled over from the island?”
“Yes,” he said “they told me yesterday that I could stay overnight if I was fishing, so I caught a crab. That’s alright isn’t it?”
“Oh yes,” I said “are you really serious, did you take the bike over?” The causeway is quite difficult to cross with the surface rocky and involving a bit of scrambling in places.
“Yes,” he said “there are a lot of edible plants over there and I had the crab, of course. Are there wild animals over there?”
“Not much apart from birds, I don’t think,” I said “why?”
“Well, at half past one in the morning I heard this tremendous roar, a bit like a lion.” He said.
“There are no lions, were you anywhere near the blowhole?” I asked, suddenly inspired.
“I was on the green, near the bell.” He said
“No, that’s far away from the blowhole.” I said.
“Well it frightened the life out of me, can you imagine it, being woken up in the middle of the night like that, I was terrified!”
He then asked for directions back to Swansea which surprised me because there is only one way in and one way out of Rhossili. I began to wonder how he had got here, was he an alien from another planet maybe. No, I doubted that really because he had already told me that he was from Aberdare and surely Aberdare is not familiar to visitors from outer space – or is it?
I pointed his way towards the village and off he went and as I watched him go I saw a little blue car approaching. The cavalry was arriving and our watch would soon be over. It had been eventful after all. I was still worried about the lion though.
Christine and Penny arrive and they want to know if we’d had a good watch and we told them about our cyclist and the lion’s roar.
“Oh, that would have been the Helwick buoy.” They said “The fog horn would have sounded automatically.”
Well, of course, I should have thought of that - no doubt I would have done had my brain not been waterlogged!
Just one last thing. Yesterday’s watch was John’s last and today is the first day of his retirement, no pension rights I’m afraid but I hope he takes with him many happy memories of his work at Worms Head. His service goes back to the very beginning having volunteered within the first few months of the station being established. His presence on watch over these long years has transmitted a very responsible attitude into the minds of our sightseers, only twice did his power fail resulting in incidents. A brilliant record, quite unlike mine – I just seem to have a youthful irresponsibility and attract trouble a little bit too often. Still, it gives me something to write about! I have enjoyed my two watches with John, he has a lovely, quiet sense of humour and I’m sure that all our watchkeepers join me in wishing him well for the future and hope he will ‘come up and see us again sometime!’