childhood micro adventures

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

After recently listening to an audio book called micro adventures by well known adventurer and author Alastair Humphreys, memories of my own childhood came flooding back. We had no electronic devices or social media to fill (WASTE) our time and any out of school hours were spent fishing from the Harbour wall or one of the small charter boats that operated from there, cycling or walking on the pathways that wind they’re way around the foot of North Hill in Minehead some of which form part of the Southwest coast path.

Minehead Harbour 1974

Childhood Fishing

The sea and fishing has been a part of my life from a very early age form the age of 3 or 4 my grandfather used to take me out on his fishing boat for short trips around the bay, he tied a rope around my waist one end secured to the boat to ensure I didn’t fall or jump overboard - which in todays health & safety conscious world would not be condoned - but it sufficed to keep me onboard and safe.

A very very young me helping to paint one of the family boats

These short trips around the bay progressed in to learning to fish, which I became hooked on (excuse the pun). It soon became all I wanted to do, and eventually after spending years fishing on my family’s boats my best childhood friend got his own boat at the age of 16 I was then 14 so we were kept ‘an eye on’ every time we left the mooring. We were off! exploring the sea & coastline between Dunster Beach and Lynmouth, every time we left the harbour was an adventure - the weather never seemed to put us off it could be pouring with rain or blowing hard and only when ‘the harbour elders’ told us that it was too bad today did we stay ashore (and we usually then fished from the beach so as to get our fix).

Our fishing exploits didn’t end at rod and line we also used to set ground lines and gill nets on the beach at low water especially in the winter months for cod. Many a time I would race home from school to get to the beach to set the nets in time for the next tide. One particularly memorable day against good advice we put the nets out when an easterly gale was forecast only to find it the next day rolled up and full of weed, we had to drag the net back to the harbour under the scornful eye of my Grandfather……Lesson learnt!

Early mountain biking

When fishing Wasn’t an option we used to ride our bikes along the coast path to Greenaleigh farm and beyond to Burgundy Chapel. Now to the bikes - they were built by ourselves from old bicycle parts that we would mostly buy from an old chap in Watchet and what he didn’t have we would buy from Mr. Hawkers cycle shop in the Mineheads Market House building. They often looked quite ramshackle but it didn’t matter because by the time we’d ridden along the rough tracks for a few hours they’d need repairing as wide tyres and suspension didn’t exist in the 1970’s. On one particularly adventurous day after riding to Burgundy Chapel we decided to push our bikes up Boars Hump, which is a small hill that rises at an ungodly near vertical angle and leads up to part of the Southwest Coast Path. That only happened once and on reaching home it was decided not to do it again (we slept very well that night!).

Bonfire Night

Every year the Quay kids, as we were known, would build a bonfire for Guy Fawkes night. The build would commence in late September with the procurement of any combustible materials we could lay our hands on. Many a time we would find old mattresses, tyres, scrap wood Etc kindly left at the build site at the far end of Quay west this was topped up by frequent foray’s to the nearby woods to collect and or cut down any wood we could find. One such operation involved us sawing down a half dead tree on the path to Greenaleigh, we didn’t put too much thought into it and the tree ended up suspended in the overhead telephone wires that went to the farm - After an hour of frantic cutting, dragging and keeping an eye out for any approaching walkers we managed to free the tree and transport it to the bonfire averting any loss of communications to and from the farmhouse in to the bargain!

Our bonfire building escapades attracted no small amount of attention from the local press and one year we won the competition for the biggest bonfire in Minehead with a huge pyre of 24 feet high…

These are just a few of the adventures of myself and my friends childhood days - its a shame that young people today don’t have the same experiences as I’m sure it would benefit them greatly.

I thoroughly recommend reading or listening to Micro Adventures by Alastair Humphreys it has certainly brought back a lot of cherished memories and inspired me to be more adventurous in my middle age…

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