28 September 2010

Milford Haven to Cardigan

Over breakfast Fr JJ talks of his life as a priest in Manila and of how he was asked to come to the UK. I'm struck that here he is serving both as parish priest and AoS Port Chaplain among a culture so far removed from his own and yet being at ease and successful with it. Noting the size of his congregation on Sunday, it's a testament to the high regard in which he is so obviously held. Being a Filipino has to be a tremendous asset to AoS when so many seafarers are from his country. I set off to Cardigan feeling invgored at having met such a fine man.
Light drizzle was around on departure so it was the first outing for the rain jacket. The road to Haverfordwest is slightly undulating and I covered the 10 miles or so in good time. Approaching the town, I take to the well laid out cycle tracks and notice a cyclist ahead on what looks to be a serious tourer. Catching up wasn't easy but when I eventually pull alongside at a crossing, I see that this is a lady of some mature years. I comment that it looks as if she is on a long journey. She replies that she is just going to the shops! We rode together for no more than five minutes, but she had the time to tell me that she and her husband just completed a ride aoround Spain and Portugal. She asks too if I have done the Trans-America or the Seattle to Fairbanls rides, saying how much she enjoyed them. Hmmmm... these are not good seeds to be sowing!
As on Sunday, the 60 odd kl ride isn't all that long but I enjoyed the lovely coastal scenery from time to time when the rain stopped and bright sunshine made a brief appearance. There were some decent hills but also greater descents. I arrived at Cardigan a little after 1400 and don't want to interfere with the schedule of Rector and PP Fr Jason Jones of Our Lady of the Taper Church. After a cruise around this lovely town, where 73% of the population speak Welsh as their first language, I escape from the misty rain and indulge in a comfort-food lunch - steak and kidney pie at a cafe that brings happy memories of the Laughing Halibut, one of the best fish n chip shops I know, but one that is just a five minute walk from Westminster! Midway through the meal, a chap comes up and says "You made it as far as Cardigan then?" This turns out to be Patrick Flower who was at mass on Sunday evening in Milford! Small world!
Our Lady of the Taper is the National Shrine of Wales and I'm privileged to be staying here tonight. I meet Fr Jones with Fr JJ and Also Martin Foley, AoS National Director who is taking driving duties for the next day or so. Fr Jones invites us to have a photo taken at the shrine and includes the bike as well. This has to be the most spiritually enriched pushbike ever built - which probably explains why it is just so comfortable!
Many thanks Fr Jason for such a warm welcome.

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