These cooler autumn mornings bring back memories of setting our clockwork ‘Westclock Big Ben’ alarm clocks for 4.30am to go gathering mushrooms with dad. There used to be some good mushrooming fields up Llanfair Road, not far from the Waterloo filling station.
‘The early bird catches the worm’ … or so the old saying goes; in the case of the mushroom gatherer, the later you leave it, the more likely you are to return with non-vegetarian, grub-riddled field mushrooms.
We’d skim across dew touched green fields, our boot leather getting heavier with every step. There’s no better time of day to admire the beauty of the place we’re lucky enough to live in than at that time when the sun has started to peep over the hills. That predawn light
has a mystical, other-world, feel to it.
On a good morning, you could be sure of filling the frying pan to overflowing and turning the sizzling bacon fat black with the spores. There’s no taste on earth like freshly picked, fried wild field mushrooms. But, mushrooms being mushrooms, you could never
be sure what sort of crop you’d come home with.
There was one man who always knew which fields to pick: Bertie Babs. He sold some of the mushrooms he picked. I remember Bertie as one of those Abergele characters – like Harold – who’d be seen on Market Day standing on the corner of Market Street outside the
George. He wore a long brown raincoat, his silver hair under a farmer’s tweed cap and his chin – as my five year old niece Catrin would say – ‘crispy’, (with stubble).
No, we were never too worried if we came home from a mushroom picking trip with an empty basket. We knew we could always buy a basket from Bertie Babs.