27 September 2010

Milford Haven, Pembroke and Chevron

A second rest day in four is a real luxury but Milford is a major tanker port and I am keen to visit a ship. Fr JJ has a full programme for me. We enjoy a "Full Welsh" before heading to St Fancis of Assisi School and a talk to the children. This is the second occasion where I've had this opportunity and it's such a pleasure. I asked "How many of you have bikes?" Almost 100% of hands shot up. I follow "How many of you wear helmets?" The number of raised hands falls sharply. I sagely advised them to always wear helmets.

I've suffered the indignity of falling of on several occasions and each time, felt the impact of my helmet hitting the ground. On one occasion I was using my knobbly-tyred Marin through a nearby wood at home and hit a brick that resulted in a spectacular catapult over the handlebars and a painful landing into thick black mud. Again there was a crack on the helmet but my head felt fine. A pain in the chest, but all else seemed ok until I looked at my right hand and saw that the little finger on the right hand was lying at a 45 degree angle! I was able to slowly ride the couple of miles home. When Maria greeted me at the door, she saw the sight of my finger and let out a horrified squeal. She then looked at the mud that covered me, and said "I dont want to sound unsympathetic, but I just washed the floor. Will you take your shoes off!"

Fr JJ drove me to Pembroke where we met with Fr Noel who has been standing in at St Mary's for the resident preist, Fr Patrick, who is away. We had a really interesting meeting with PJ and Judy, who run the Charlton Hotel and which houses the AoS centre. These kindly people are 100% c9mmitted to offering seafarers a welcome respite from their ships and much of the conversation revolves around the rota for driving the AoS mini-bus to the Chevron terminal close to Angle. This is a 30 minute drive each way. Currently only two drivers regularly volunteer for this duty and I am in awe that they do this 24/7 and pretty much on demand f0r visiting seafarers. If there are seafarers reading this and who visit Chevron at Milford, you really do need to be grateful for such selfless commitment. For the rest of us, too it is another example of the work of AoS volunteers.
The afternoon concludes with a trip to a ship loading at Chevron. Such an interesting experience to be wearing an AoS reflective jacket and not to be acting in an oil company representative capacity!

The photo shows Fr Noel Mullen with Fr JJ and me.

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