17 September 2010

Teignmouth to Saltash

Ann took me to the Teignmouth Seafarers Centre at Teignmouth on Thursday evening. Small it is, but it's just like going into your living room and is just as homely. It is easy to see why seafarers enjoy this respite from the confines of their ships. Newspapers of many languages are stacked in orderly piles and a clothes rack providing all sorts of attire offers a "If it fits and you need it, take it" policy. Ann tells me that seafarers, particularly from Asia, are often to be seeen in the depths of winter wearing completely inappropriate clothes and really welcome these. Of course no seafarers centre is complete without the essential wooly hats - knitting product of so many kind volunteers!

It's good to be back on the road on Friday and even more so as its another warm and sunny day in Devon, Glorious Devon! What a pleasure to again have company. Ann Donnelly and shipping agent, Dave (? sorry Dave, I missed your family name) come along and steer me through narrow lanes and hidden villages that are a delight. As on Wednesday, the hills are many and some are steep, but they are fairly short and, as Ann, a very fit marathon runner tells me, hills need to be embraced! Dave, another extremely fit athlete, biker and surfer is generous enough not to leave me in the dirt, and Ann, concerned to tell us that "I might not make it to Plymouth" frequently leaves us both behind. We rode to the Cattedown terminal, operated by James Fisher, whose name is very familiar to me in the tanker world and met manager Mark Landry whose enthusiasm for Seawheeling is infectious. Unfortunately no tankers were alongside as it would have been great to have a chance to meet the crew and get their take on ship inspectors! We rounded the port via the SW Coastal path enjoying the spectacular views. A visit to Victoria Dock and to the AOS Centre follows where we meet the terminal manager and enjoy a welcome cuppa. The sign on the office door still holds the name of former SW Region port chaplain, Louise Carter and current AoS trustee, who is clearly held in great affection by all I meet around these parts. It is wonderful that the Victoria Docks Management make these excellent premises available to visiting seafarers.
In view of the wonderful weather, we decide to push for a few miles as far as Saltash and make progress across the border into Cornwall. The Taymar and Brunel Bridges are so impressive and we concluded the ride with a glass of juice at a riverside pub. Ann drove us back to Teignmouth for yet another fine meal. Ann and Peter, you have been so generous in permitting me to stay with you for three nights. You will certainly be glad to see me go tomorrow. Many, many thanks for your grreat hospitality.

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