I spent Christmas at home apart from going to one of my sisters for Christmas day dinner with Jun being back in China and the evening I spent with friends at Ali's house in the village. I went to Throssel Buddhist Abbey for the New Year retreat which was really good and drove back home on New Years Day night in bad weather with a section of my exhaust hanging off, I think some of the villages I went through thought there was an invasion ha-ha. Got it fixed the next week followed by having to get two new tyres so that was a bit of an expensive start to the year.
I completed my Merchant Navy Ship Welfare Visitor training and exam and now have the ID and qualification and have been visiting ships on my own for last 3 weeks or more, as well as doing my training to drive the large mini bus, been on some lovely ships as well as one or two you wouldn't want to sail down the river in. It is great to be able to meet crews from all over the world and help them in such diverse ways, for example I was on a Polish ship last week and a young female cadet officer asked me how she could get to Middlesbrough for 11pm Tuesday night as she was leaving the ship to go back to University in Poland and had to get the bus to London at midnight followed by further buses all the way back to Poland as the shipping company wouldn't pay for her to fly back. We arranged for a taxi to collect her at the dock gates and for someone to watch out for her till the taxi arrived and Stella Maris paid for the taxi. Another time I had arranged to pick up some Vietnamese crew to take them in to Middlesbrough shopping and they asked me could I firstly take them to Middlesbrough Football ground to have a look around which I did and I was even talking to the wife of one them on his mobile back in Vietnam, then I dropped them off at the shopping centre and arranged to go back at 6pm to collect them. When I went back the same guy showed me some toiletries he had bought for his wife and I said was it expensive for you, and he said yes sir we don't get paid much and gave me a punnet of grapes he had bought for me as a thank you, I was really touched by that and on the night I was at our meditation group and Dave brought in some unwanted Xmas presents of which some were perfumes etc. So the next day I was back down the ship and gave them out to him and a couple of others as gifts for their wives, girlfriends.
I was at a meeting last Wed with Peter the Chaplain and Jerry the Harbour Master that I had arranged for them with the Interfaith group to let them know what we do and look for volunteers from other faiths as well as get names, addresses and other contact details from various religions for crew members. It was really good to be able to set all that up within a week of them talking to me about it. I have also arranged with Rev Adelin to take close to 20 people from the chaplaincy and ports up to Throssel for a day at the end of March.
Jun arrives back on the 30th of January and for her 50th birthday in March we are going to travel around Peru for 3 weeks, really looking forward to that as I have never been to South America before.
We start the Gainford meditation group in the village hall on Feb 8th so it will be interesting to see who comes and what they make of it, we did put a full page in the Parish news about it, I wonder what the local Vicar will make of it as she is starting a Christian meditation group at the same time, I am sure it will be fine as she is a lovely woman.
I went over to the Lakes with my friend Rob from next door to do a photography shoot specifically at a cave called Cathedral Quarry. Rob set a post code of a house on the sat-nav supposedly close by as we were not sure where it exactly was took us 2:5 hours to get there, we asked directions at the house and were told continue down the lane ( tractor trail more like) till we see some slate and a sty and if we reach the river we have gone to far. So we reached the river crossed it parked up ate some lunch then set off walking back the way we came and turned off at a field, we then trekked through water, bog and snow up and down hills in the rain for 2 hours with no sign of it. Eventually we made our way to a farmhouse and asked the lady if she knew it she said yes get back on the lane walk 200 yards and when you reach some slate there is a sty on your left just take that. So off we go again and found a footpath across hills with a wooden sty about 200 yards away...great this must be it we thought but after another 45 minutes we realized it wasn't and made our way back to the lane and asked a man at the next house we reached. He said yes I know it, continue down the lane "cross the river" continue on and when you come to a ford further along don't go over it but bear left and it is up there, and it was. We worked it out that the 200 yards the lady had told us was really close to a mile away and the sty was two very small steps in a slate wall. But it was certainly worth all the effort as we got some great landscape shots as well as some inside the cave.