Mackerel Fishing - a Memory of Newhaven.
Many's the time we wandered along the edge of the harbour and up and down the landing stages, studying the leathery faced fishermen's busy hands as they worked on the nets, or repaired lobster pots. We'd peep around, what seemed huge metal doors and gates clad in rusting wire mesh, to get a glimpse of the boat yards beyond, and if we'd enough in our pocket for a cup of tea, we stop at the cafe that looked across the harbour, and out towards the bridge on the left. The owners always had time for us, and if they had any stale bread and cake, they'd let us have it to feed the swans that swam among the boats just a few steps from their entrance, though needless to say, the swans only got what was left after we'd picked out all the edible bits.
It was from Newhaven that I had my first fishing trip. A family friend took us out in his small fishing boat, and the fact he'd lost a finger made an impression on me. He told us that basically he'd worn it away from many years of guiding the fishing line across the joint. We fished for mackerel with fishing lines that had lots of hooks in a row, and I think feathers attached to them. We caught a good many and in the evening fried them over an open fire, then enjoyed them with thick slices of wholemeal bread and butter and cups of sweet milky tea.
In the background of the photo you can still see the shearlegs, the long poles that form a triangle on the left, they were used to lift masts into place and manouvre boat engines before cranes were common place.
Things changed a great deal during the years around 1965. Much of the land around the harbour was bought up and fenced off to be 'upgraded' into a marina. Once commercialisation hit the small seaside town, for us it lost it's appeal, although that maybe because we grew up and could no longer see it with the naivety of a child.
A memory shared byon Apr 23rd, 2008.
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