Rotary and guests visit to South West Wales Friday 10th to Sunday 12th May 2013

Written by Rotarian Graham Thomas

….“There’s lovely”…..

An early morning 8am start and a scramble for seats saw our usual 53 seater Trumans Coach set off to the magic country of Wales. Dedicated driver Ray, chosen from a cast of thousands delicately saw us safely on our way. Our leader, President Pam sat quietly as a back bencher.

The occasional comfort stops saw us firstly, over the old Severn Bridge into the streets of Chepstow and a welcome lunch and tour of the lanes of antique shops and some shopping. Farnborough Rotarians Visit Wales

Cardiff was next with many seeking to find the Millennium Stadium, recent site of the welsh victory over England in the Six Nations Rugby. The local populace seemed happy to greet us.

Throughout our journey we were entertained brilliantly by our illustrious Tour Director Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow Roy Sharpe. His wife Elaine sat quietly by to pick up the pieces if all went awry.

On the road to Fishguard, we had a description by former engineer Graham, of their earlier life in Wales. He described that, in addition to Tom Jones, Richard Burton and Hannibal Lecter, Port Talbot was more famous for the Steel Company of Wales longest rolling mill. He indicated, through the heavy mist, the three large cranes erected on the deep water jetty, in which he was involved in the 60’s. The happiest times of Delia’s and his life.

Mist and rain continued as we arrived at our destination at Fishguard Bay Hotel. The Victorian Hotel was owned by a philanthropic German and redecorated into hospitable and Rotarian approved  accommodation. Excellent food and friendly staff were a welome asset for our stay.

The following day after an excellent breakfast, we were advised that, our boat trip was cancelled to Caldey Islant. A cautious decision which proved more than sensible after hearing the following week that there was a serious capsize in the bay. We could ill afford to lose our Rotarian Tour Guide at this stage, particularly as he still had some anecdotes and close to the bone stories tucked away in his brain.

Notwithstanding, the tour continued to the lovely City of St David’s with many guests venturing down steep steps into the magnificent Cathedral.

Then onto our guided tour of the Pembrokeshire Coast and a reminder of the welsh base of the Sunderland Flying Boat in WW2. The town of Tenby was a welcome sight where more retail therapy was at hand and delightful tea rooms and views across the bay.

I personally did not remember too much of the return to Fishguard, as I dreamt of the sound of Male Voice Choirs and the possibility of better weather for the following day.

I have not mentioned the weather which, to be fair, was rather mixed. Our last day saw us on our way back through Camarthen with a stop to travel on the Gwilli Mountain Railway on the edge of one of the massive reservoirs. This one reputably feeds the English midland towns but we do tell the locals that some water does go into the welsh bathrooms as well. The highlight of the railway was the tearoom consisting of a railway wagon whict attempted to accommodate our 50 visitors who wished to keep dry. We lost some guests in the mist but returned to our base where we took the goup picture. Graham’s attempts to get every one into the frame failed and his joined up pictures await development.

The highlight of the trip was our visit to thw Botanic Gardens of Wales. A truly spectacular place but rather limited by the continual poor weather. Graham chatted up one of the WI ladies who sold him a rather special cake which is yet to be eaten from the fridge.

The result of THE QUIZ was not unexpected. This year, many of the questions were in welsh and in the form of ‘consequences’ i.e What did Stella say to Pervez on the holiday etc.

Guests were bemused with a few Rotary anagrams which were a little unfair in hindsight. But Rtn Roy had purchased some very expensive prizes. This compares with the clean sweep by guests in 2012. The winner was, this year , a resourceful Rotarian who, under the excuse of buying presents for his wife, interviewed a large number of welsh shopkeepers to seek out the answers. Tim,s score was 19 correct out of 20 !!

The return home across the Beacon Becons was happily uneventful. Our driver Ray , through mist and rain returned us safely to Farnborough. We are most grateful to him for his care and attention.

Yet another feather in Tour Director Roy’s cap.

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