Bertie Babs

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.

7 thoughts on “Bertie Babs

  1. John Bowman:

    Yes Bertie Babs & Harold, how can we forget those characters.
    I once remember them both sitting watching a film in the Luxer, Abergele’s cinema. It must have been exiting they were getting quite animated at the front and I think I remember Bertie clapping his hands in excitment.

    My favourite Harold story involved my aunty Sarah who owned Browns Holliday camp and lived with us in Towyn. We had cesspits in the days before mains sewerage and they had to be emptied usually I think by the council.
    One day there was a knock at the door and Harold was standing there, he was unknown to my aunt and said he had come to empty the cesspit but the wagon had not arrived. He also said that he had not had his dinner, now my aunty who was very kind took pity on him and offered him some refreshment. He said he would make a start whilst she prepared him a meal of egg and chips. The meal was ready and aunty went out into the garden to look for Harold, she found him sitting beside the cesspit with a baked bean tin filling it up and emptying it on the garden.
    “What are you doing/” She exclaimed. “Well” said Harold” I thought I would make a start while waiting for the truck”
    Needless to say the truck did not come and once fed Harold made a hasty retreat.
    We laughed about that incident for years.

    Happy days indeed
    John B

  2. melyn:

    Thanks for this John and welcome to AbergelePost. You’re obviously someone with fantastic Abergele stories and a natural gift for telling them. That baked bean tin story’s a gem. Thanks.

  3. David Hughes:

    Hi John, welcome aboard. We all remember Harold and Bert. Do you remember Christmas Rush, Dafydd was his christian name and was a peer of the other two. Think I remember him working for Bob the coal, as he was known. Happy memories of the old cinema, as kids we eagerly anticipated the arrival of a new western film. The animation of Bert in the front rows generally exceeded the entertainment value provided by the film.

  4. John Bowman:

    Yes I do remember Dai Rush, I can see him now in a brown tweed jacket and dark hair, stooping slightly,unless I am imagining that bit.
    I must admit to having forgotten about him until I read your post.

    John B

    1. David Hughes:


      Your memory serves you well. He did have a slight stoop. He was a real character.

  5. Iris:

    Yes Bertie was ,Bertie Edwards who lived in High street next door to Ivy Cottage (cottages pulled down long ago to make way for new houses ) Bertie worked very hard as a coal man for Bob Roberts , he was a real character Bertie …and I had the honour of knowing him ,he could be real animated at times ,but was a good hearted soul , and that was Bertie who used to stand out side the George watching the world go by ….he was a loving son to his mother Gwen Edwards ,who I had always known as Auntie Gwen

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