Poor little Fishguard. Like a new kid at school, it must have fallen over and scraped both its knees just before we arrived, so was therefore looking a bit scruffy, out-of-sorts and definitely feeling sorry for itself. More pointedly, it was clear its Mummy wasn’t going to be picking it up until much later so it was going to remain surly and miserable for the rest of the day, despite the fact that we’d made a special effort to visit it. Even the Knumptywagen seemed a bit concerned to be left on its own, despite the fact we’d just forked out a minimum of £4.00 protection money for it to stay in the town-centre playground while we wandered the streets in search of breakfast and a spot of enlightenment.
Neither was sadly forthcoming. Maybe our expectations had been set too high when we’d heard about the charming-sounding lower & upper town: the former was just a small and unimpressive quayside (the Rosslare ferry port belonging to a separate part of the town altogether) while the upper town also really couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be, with its fair share of empty retail outlets. A few brave shops imparted a degree of soul but even these seemed a little confused about their purpose so had filled their windows with a peculiar mix of disparate items such as silk scarves, hats, optical instruments and electrical domestic appliances – which combination just confounded us even further.
Even the Tourist Office seemed embarrassed by its own existence, hiding unremarked and unsigned within the cheerful-looking exterior of the flower-bedecked Town Hall. Two gallant ladies lifted their heads tentatively above a high desk in response to our entry and did their best for the town they represented, despite having so little raw material on which to draw. One dear soul – with possibly imagined nervous glances towards her colleague – attempted to furnish us with details about the key tourist attractions in Fishguard. These seemingly consisted of a café down by the lower town quay, where a short estuarial walk could also be taken; a café in the upper town or a home-grown tapestry of an unexplained Final Invasion (which subsequent research determined took place in 1797 and represented the very last foreign invasion of mainland Britain, by a team of crack French infiltrators who fortuitously chose a location three miles west of Fishguard, thus establishing the town in the annals of international history.)
Needless to say we chose to forego a visit to these major attractions, electing instead to seek out a well-hidden Co-op food store (to which we were directed in a lilting Welsh accent by the accolade: “It’s not brrillllli-ant, but it’s all we’ve got”). Here we discovered we could have parked the Knumptywagen for free (and spent the £4.00 parking fee on a souvenir optical appliance instead) so to raise ourselves from Fishguard-induced despondency, we embarked on an uplifting bout of grocery replenishment. Late breakfast provisions thus acquired, we liberated the Knumptywagen from an unfriendly corner of the playground and parked up instead overlooking the ferry port, where a recently-arrived Rosslare car ferry was disgorging a stream of presumably Irish trucks and cars to provide a spot of visual stimulation and delight with which to accompany our simple in-van breakfast.
Poor little Fishguard. We hope it gets over its grazed knees and perhaps its Mummy might give it fishfingers for tea to cheer it up a little when it gets home. It needs it.
Footnote: If you do happen to visit Fishguard, please make the effort to patronise restaurant ‘JT at 3 Main Street’. It sadly wasn’t open while we were there but we were lucky enough instead to experience their outside catering barbecue the day before at the Newport Boat Club. Their pulled- pork and beef-brisket burgers – with imaginative and artful salad accompaniments – were to die for. In fact, it’s their food photograph which I’ve unashamedly purloined to illustrate this post (sorry guys!) but for some reason we didn’t seem to have any worthwhile photos from Fishguard.