My Barcelona Dream Part 17
So its Blackpool finished and gone for another year. For me it was only my second time going but I can tell you all it will not be my last. We all have a perception of what Blackpool is for us as fanciers. When I was growing up the perception I had was that it was a lads weekend. In this perception I am not wrong. There are a lot of lads and I am sure a few lasses that go with friends for the weekend. These may not even be fanciers but go for the weekend to have the craic with friends and let loose. On my first trip several years back this is most certainly what I experienced with a little looking around and a lot of other things happening. My second visit recently was so far removed from this that there is no comparison. I can actually give a good reason for this. On my first visit I have no real reason or intention to going I just went and met up with some lads I know and did a bit of drinking in the evening. While this was good the best part for me was doing it with my dad who hadn’t been there in years. We drove after the ferry to Blackpool and that in itself was worth the experience with him. We had a great weekend together with an big laugh the first night because he was freeing and only the next morning realised he was under a bed sheet and not the actual duvet. We laughed because he had both coats on the bed he was so cold. Sorry dad had to get that out. Your face the next morning when you realised was brilliant.
My second excursion January 2018 was full of intent as I had wanted to network and meet the people I have been in contact with over the last 3 years since I decided to have a go at Barcelona from Ireland. A feat in itself. That is not to say there was no alcohol involved I have to say the craic I had with my cousin Christopher Gannon and uncles Jimmy, Willie and Joe and their gang that I tagged with was brilliant. I had 3 others with me into the group and to say we all had a great time I think would not do justice to how it went.
Okay enough of the craic talk. I met a number of people I have wanted to meet for a very long time. What helps me is these articles because most of the time if I mention these articles people put face to who I am and full conversation can start without the necessary background. Firstly I met Mark Gilbert and have to say talked with him for about 15 mins and found him an absolute gent. Understanding where I am coming from and what I am doing in Ireland gets quite a bit of respect from the fancy and when it is achieved from Barcelona to Ireland the man and bird that do it will have great standing. So for us few here in Ireland having a go I would like to wish all the best to us all and keep going. Just remember I want to do it first after meeting Mark I have to say I was on a little high and I lasted well to now. I went to the Best of British Distance Auction on the Saturday in order to meet up with a few people and well I did. I had a little chat with Bob Besant what a gentleman. Bob thank you for your time and it was a pleasure meeting you. There I also met Mark Bulled and again a little chat and another gent of a similar age to myself. I handled the birds of these gentleman and I can tell you I thought they were exceptional especially the one 2yr old Bob had there for the auction. A credit to all fancier involved. I would have liked to have met Alwyn Hill and was told he was around however I couldn’t find him and so left without meeting him. Another time maybe??
In the Winter Gardens itself on the Saturday was one word ‘MANIC’. It was so busy it was difficult getting around. I suppose that is a good thing for us as fanciers that there are still places we go and things we can do to ‘rub shoulders’ such as great events like the one at Blackpool. Walking around I met greats such as the ‘Watford Wizard’ Terry Haley and met him, it happened because on seeing him I simply approached and introduced myself and had a brief chat. Then coincidentally when I told the gentleman I was with Paddy Nolan, the only man from Ireland to send to Barcelona International recently, that I met Terry he immediately did a U-turn and headed straight for him.
It turned out that they were old friends of some 40 years from when Paddy himself lived in the UK before returning to Ireland. What a pleasure listening to these 2 talking over old times and people for a scant moment in time. And it seems that the pigeon comraderies never dies between fanciers that have known each other over a lifetime and it certainly showed here for sure. Walking around like everyone I also met Les Parkinson, another great of the sport who still gives so much to it. I had to introduce myself here as in all fairness I think he does a great service to me by publishing my articles for you all to read online. So from me to you Les, Thank You, it was very nice to meet you at last after publishing these little snippets over the last 3 years now, I think. Wow how time flies 3 years.
Another of the true sportsmen of the pigeon world I had the absolute pleasure to meet was the scribe Chris Williams. Chris it was indeed a pleasure to meet and if you give me notice of your next trip to Ireland at the end of February I’ll do my best to meet up. I know we only got to chat briefly but it is clear the dedication you and your parents have to our feathered friends and to building relations within the pigeon world. Another thing that struck me was the humour you have and how nothing can deter you from your goals. I wish you all the best with racing this year and more so with the distance increase you are aiming for. Another I met was Aaron Haynes who I have been chatting with for 2 years as well on Facebook and although a brief meeting I think a better arrangement of time for next time Aaron and we can have a good old chin wag.
So after a great weekend it was time to get back to the birds. I can only say thank you to Martin for looking after the birds for the few days I was away. As always you do me great service by looking after them is I am away. And so it was back to the grindstone first thing Monday morning. The following week I ordered the material for the new nest-boxes I had planned to build in the stock section. I have been getting them done a bit at a time and finally have them done. All cocks are in the section settling in and I will probably hold off pairing until mid-march to give them time to pick their boxes and not be moving about. Then I know I will have no difficulty when it comes to mating. I am really looking forward to breeding again and have selected 10 yearlings to go with the stock. Again giving me the line breeding I am hoping to achieve with concentrating on the performance genes I hope are in the families am producing.
I will be operating a bull system this year again for one specific cock and he is the one from Nic Harvey out of Musgrove Persistent x Son of Musgrove Insanity. This cock is on loan and would grace any loft. He will be mated to all the birds from Nic Harvey and also those from Chris Booth(Booth & Shipley). I am planning to run him to all the Padfield hens also as I already know from Nic that this cross has already produced the goods for him out to over 500 miles.
So preparations are under way to get breeding and I am in no rush. I will work with the birds I have and will hopefully be good enough to produce something worth-while with the birds I have. I certainly think that with the birds I have I cannot go wrong and that it is a matter of time. The yearling cocks to the stock lofts are 2 from the Donaldson Line, 2 from Muleman which I had given to a friend and he bred 2 pair for me, 1 from the polish line and 5 from the Padfield line. These are absolute specimens and these yearlings will be out of the stock lofts by July. To these 10 cocks I will be bringing the same amount of hens out to go with the original cocks already in the stock section from the mentioned lines.
I will leave this article with the pictures I have of the new collapsible boxes I designed and made. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before and maybe it’s a first. But they have turned out a treat I can tell you and will suit my purpose. The pictures are seen of the boxes as I assembled them from left to right and you can see how they have the base of each box on a hinge that then lifts to sit on the opposite gable creating the nest box. The boxes are a standard widowhood width and the depth is 600mm. so all in all the size is almost the same only that the ate turned in depth rather than across. I designed them with a gap at the back of about 30mm. the reason for this is that it will allow air to flow. This means when birds are in the boxes an flap if trying to pick them up the air and dust you get in your face will be less than without the gap. Also it helps with cleaning as the shit can fall straight down the back to the bottom box and be easily cleaned out. The fronts have 2 settings. One at 40mm and the second at 200mm both from the front. The reason for the 40mm is that when hen and cock are locked in and galipot is on the outside that birds above cannot do poop in the water below. The second at 200mm is so the cock simply has a perch to defend and not get caught in a box with another cock where they may injure each other. You can also see how they are hinged and will collapse when finished breeding. So all in all I’d say I am extremely happy with how they turned out. And so that leaves me with leaving the cocks to settle and then pair in mid March. That gives a full month to settle in their new boxes before introducing the hens. I thought I would have been ready end of Feb but that’s not going to happen as I don’t want to rush the birds. It’s the long game I am here for so panic has to take a back seat.
Until next time
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