15 November 2010

Berwick on Tweed

Although it is a rest day, being Sunday and invited to speak at both the 09:00 mand 10:30 masses means that we are up an about early. Again, it is a lovely fine day and I am secretly thinking that I should be taking advantage of this by heading south instead of hanging around here, since the forecast for Monday is poor. However, it is true to describe Berwick as being one of the most welcoming towns on my trip and we are treated to a great stay.
There is no lack of humour from the pulpit as before Mass, Fr Kelly instructs me NOT to mention him when I thank everyone for their kindness. He uses this at the end to wryly point out that he'd noted all the glowing praise that I'd lavished on the AOS contingent, and to Maura and the parishioners, but not mentioned a word about the kind hospitaility of the priest who'd given me his last tin of soup when I arrived on Saturday, cold and hungry! A funny, generous and kind-hearted man.
A further chuckle was raised when I noted in my presentations that in the first reading, the words "savage torture" were used with reference to brothers who refused to renounce God and were killed. I offered a short description of savage torture of a different sort!
To describe Maura Flanagan as a human dynamo does her a disservice. She runs her newagants and general shop, starting work at five in the morning and probably doesn't stop until ten at night. Attending all three masses with us ensures that all runs smoothly. She then shows us her AOS domain - a 6ft x 4ft B&Q garden shed that sits inside the secure area of Berwick Docks! Berwick is a port seldom used these days and sees a ship perhaps only once in four or more weeks. Thus there can be no justification for any seafarers drop-in centre. Maura however is an obvious charity magnet and receives a lot of clothing, which, as I have mentioned before, is so welcomed by seafarers who arrive in the UK dressed only in jeans and tee shirts.
In spite of the demands of family and this also being her own day off, she insists that she takes us to see Holy Island. "It's just down the road" she says. Unfortunately the tides are wrong and so we aren't able to make it. Evidently barely a week passes where foolish motorists fail to take notice of the fact that the causeway floods at high tides and require to be rescued.
Not to be beaten, Maura shows us the sights of this picturesque little town and it is mid afternoon before she drops us off at the CC site then rushes home to make lunch! Another example of how well the Caravan Club runs its site, it is immaculately maintained and there are wonderful views across Tweedmouth and to the harbour entrance. I need to plug again, the fact that the Caravan Club has provided us with free accommodation at their sites. It might be thought that off-season, they would be empty anyway, but it is surprising that even in the middle of November, plenty of caravanners are still out and about. Maura caps the Berwick welcome by inviting us to the Jazz concert at the St Cuthbert Parish Hall. It is a great success with a fantastic atmosphere generated by a large crowd. Maura, thanks for being so kind to us.

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