The pub was going nowhere and our family were all sick of living in the city, so the next move was to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, Southwest Wales.
We had somehow bought a house near the Strumble Head lighthouse overlooking the Irish Sea. The green rolling hills and winding laneways with blackberry hedgerows was a breath of fresh air to our clogged up city lungs.
I had to travel with all our furniture in an old van with George Proudman, a workmate of my fathers and stay there on my own for 3 weeks until they had finalised the sale of the pub.
It was a lonely isolated place and the nearest shop was a 5 mile walk.
My parents seemed to favour isolated places and often discussed “getting away from it all”. I think they wanted to get away from themselves as they didn’t seem to like other people and when visitors came round, they were always glad to see them go and heaved a sigh of relief when the left.
I also discovered there was an abandoned chapel behind our house with a disused cemetery. Most of the gravestones were overgrown and broken.
In the night the light of Strumble Head flashed its warning far and wide. I had a little money and did the long walk to the shops, passing farms, opening and closing gates and stopping to stare at the wild sea. Once there was a ferry boat heading to Cork or Rosslare in Ireland, the white water streaming off its bows.
I had a small telescope and could see people on the deck and the sailors going about their jobs, hauling ropes and stowing things away. It gave me a sense that I was getting closer to my dream of going to sea and travelling the world.
When my family arrived at Strumble Head, we settled into unpacking everything but it wasn’t long before the deal fell through and we were on the move again. I don’t know if it was money or what but the next thing we had moved to a caravan in Goodwick, near Fishguard. This was to be our temporary home, my father informed us but it was 2 years before they moved to Llwynon.
Pembrokeshire was a holiday destination for tourists so it seemed like we were always on holiday. The beach and the ferry terminal was also very close. My sister went to school in Fishgurd on the school bus and I just hung around waiting for a letter to be offered a job at sea.
After a while I became sick of waiting and applied for a job on a local farm. The farmer, Mr Phillips came round to our caravan to interview me and seemed impressed as I got the job. Mr Phillips told me he wanted a permanent employee not one who would up and away in a couple of weeks. I assured him I was reliable, but I didn’t mention to him that I was on a waiting list for a better position.
The job entailed living at the farm which was located about 5 miles from Fishguard. We would rise at the crack of dawn to bring in the cows for milking and escort them back to the fields afterwards. Then it was mucking out the cow sheds, heaving the manure into the muck spreader and driving the tractor out to the fields and spreading it.
There was always work to do on the farm and now I was 18, I was strong and fit. We had home cooked food as much as you could eat and homebrewed beer. The family would speak Welsh to each other so (again) I felt like a foreigner not being able to join in the conversation.
Of course there would be rugby on the television at weekends. How the Welsh love their rugby!
On Saturday afternoons I was allowed to go into Fishguard on the bus and meet my parents in the Fishguard Arms for an hour or two. We would have a couple of drinks and a snack, then I would catch the bus back to the farm again. I would give my parents half of my pay to supplement their meagre pension.
The Fishguard Arms was where the last invasion of Britian peace treaty was signed between Britain and France. There is an historic plaque on the wall outside commemorating the event.
My parents moved from the caravan park to a beautiful small rented cottage on the Haverfordwest Road called Llywynon in the village of Scleddau. (for the uninitiated, it is pronounced Clue-wee-non, Sklethee).
This routine continued for about three months, then one day, I received a letter in the mail from The Marconi International Marine Company, Chelmsford, Essex.
The letter invited me to come to their Chelmsford office for an interview for a seagoing position as a junior radio officer.
So I had a dilemma as I now had to pluck up the courage to tell Mr Phillips. However he was quite nice about it and gave me his blessing and good wishes so I left the Phillips farm the following week and started excitedly getting ready to travel to Chelmsford.