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Another perfect picnic in the Park

Our friends in Swansea live like they are in an open prison – in small rooms with little money and with little ability to venture far. They often eat very little and have no money for treats. These days out can be a lifeline. They allow them to have something to look forward to, to participate in with enjoyment and to look back on with joy. ‘ A volunteer from Swansea

Another lovely day out in the beautiful surroundings of Craig y Nos with our friends from Criw Craggy and Swansea. It was lovely that so many people were keen to come that with  all the places on the coach full,  N elected to travel on the service bus with about 10  friends and 17 children. N said she’d enjoyed her previous trips  to the park   and wanted her friends to have a chance to join in.

Lawrence at his table

Criw Craggy turned out in force to help with activities and when we arrived had already opened the pavilion, brought tables and chairs and put the urn on and filled the fridge with bottles of water. Steve and Lawrence set to with Jackie, Norma, Simon,Eleanor, Anne  and Marj to erect the marquee and Ailsa unpacked the equipment and food from the store into the pavilion. Margaret and Pat arrived with more food and the PAVO trophy awarded to HBTSR earlier in the week.  She started making the coffee and learning how to cope with our cafetieres whilst Pat walked the dog. It was lovely to be able to show off the trophy during the day.  Lawrence set up the welcomer’s table and was joined by Brenda who’d brought some extra food. Rebecca, Amanda and Leanne arrived to provide artistic opportunities for the children. Two new recruits John and Kathy arrived and helped to set up the tables and sort out what had arrived. Alex and Cathy and family  arrived to set up the bakery. Wayne’s phone call came through to say the coach was on its way but where was Melrose with the milk, loans from the Hall  and most of the food? She was busy cooking pizza and making salads at home and the time had passed…a few panicky moments occurred as the coach pulled into the car park and Jackie dashed off to buy some milk from the cafe just as Melrose and Robert arrived!  Provisions were quickly sorted and biscuits put onto plates and we were ready to serve some of the endless cups of tea, coffee and juice that a day out like this needs.

The pavilion and people , a jug that had been missing since the last picnic, Alex getting ready, Rebecca likewise .

We were delighted to make the acquaintance of  Vicky North who visited from Newport Pembs having previously seen one of Alex’s post on Instagram. She wanted to join with us to welcome people and to see how we made bread in the open air.  Vicky used to run a cafe in Newport but now runs cooking, baking and catering courses. Alex says he was delighted to be able to step back and watch Vic, a Kurdish lady and an Egyptian man take over the baking and during the day new and varied breads were made. Others  also had a go. The flatbreads were both delicious and plentiful. A new sweet bread was made and eaten very quickly!

Steve took over front of house, setting out foods  with John and Melrose coordinated the preparation and washing up with the help of Margaret, Pat , Robert and Kathy. Ailsa wandered between activities and tried not to get in the way.  Lawrence and Phil played football and Maggie arrived with the service bus  and joined in with food serving. Sam  came and helped with chatting, playing  and food serving.

Criw Craggy provided Badminton equipment which also turned into Volley ball nets and various other games. One of their group, Jo, had sorted out toys that were played with during the day and were able to go home with people. On this occasion the Croquet set seemed to be used to play croquet rather than as weapons. Football started quickly and went on throughout the day. A walk around the beautiful grounds with pushchairs and dogs was a popular activity and kept us occupied until lunch.  One lady was delighted to think she could return on any weekend with her family  by the free weekend T6 bus and rang her husband who was fasting at home to tell him how lovely it was and to plan a return visit.

Sam demonstrating the Rhododendrons, Football, a well earned rest and a smiley tree.

Rebecca’s clay proved a great hit again with people of all ages joining in the the large group Sculpture that started as a hare and turned into a unicorn.  By later some more individual clay modelling went on and Rebecca was delighted by O who conducted scientific experiments with mud and clay and a young boy who showed real skill in carving the clay. Another boy found the hand washing water a source of intense amusement.  Other artistic activities  provided by Amanda and Leanne were also much enjoyed with paper models  and drawings being proudly displayed.


Falafel making team

this is what 200 Falafel looks like!

Lunch was a delicious mixture of eggs, cheese, salads, hummus, Falafel [ Made by Ailsa and Martin from PGL] and the lovely flatbreads. There was plenty of fruit and and chocolate for afters and many people took the opportunity to pack some take away boxes for husbands who were fasting.  There seemed to be only a brief pause before tea and cakes appeared and suddenly the day was drawing to an end.  Many men did not come on this trip because of fasting for Ramadan and many of the Muslim women who did come allowed themselves to eat and drink. It was lovely to see so many women and children relaxing and playing.

Tidying up seemed to be remarkably quick and a delightful day in wonderful company was over.

Many thanks to all who provided food and drink [Brenda, Margaret, Janet, Penny, Barbara, Mike, Ellen, Carola, Sue, Virginia, Kathy, John, Ailsa,Vicky and Melrose], To Melrose for coordinating this and to all who came. Thanks to Martin and Steve at PGL for help in making the Falafel at the end of a busy day.Thanks to Rebecca Buck, Amanda Dagg and Leanne Vaughan Phillips for provision of artistic  activities. To Criw Craggy’s Jackie Thomas, Eleanor Flaherty, Anne and Simon Amatt, Norma Thomas, Marj Joplin for all their help and support. You are a lovely team and we work well together.It was a lovely day. Thanks also for the insect repellent-  those of us using it are not as itchy as those who didn’t!

We’d also like to thank our visitors whose wholehearted participation and enthusiasm makes every visit such fun to be part of. No matter how tired anyone is , the energy and joy is infectious and life affirming.

Thanks from C and family- We really want to say thank you. We really enjoyed the  trip on last Saturday, my kids were so happy .Thank you give me happy time with my family. Thank you so much.

Message from Jackie – It was a great day, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, including us.
You are all such a well oiled machine these days, it’s brilliant the days out you put on, well done.

Message from Alex– You really don’t need to thank me, I really enjoy doing it  and my family love being involved too. It was a really special moment for me to be able to step back and let Vic, the Kurdish lady and the Egyptian guy just get on and bake.

Thanks from Maria.

Craig y Nos country park was the latest venue for a ‘ Respite ‘ day for asylum seekers and refugees from Swansea, hosted by HBTSR. Every one of these monthly respite days offers the same generous hospitality, welcome and friendship but each day also has a unique‘ flavour’. This can depend on the mix of people, the venue and the activities on offer.
We were revisiting the park after several previous successful trips. The weather was kind to us, cloudy and some sunshine as the afternoon went on. We were so fortunate to be welcomed not only by several members of HBTSR but by the volunteers at Craig y Nos park, some of whom are now familiar faces. What a wonderful team- helpful,friendly, supportive and all helped to make the day enjoyable.
We thought that maybe , because this trip was during Ramadan ( when Muslims fast from Sunrise to sunset, including no water) that we may be short on numbers. But no, these trips are so popular that the bus was full. Not to be deterred, a group of about 20, led by a Muslim lady N, caught the T6 service bus from Swansea to the park to join us. This was possible because this service is free to all at weekends. She informed the group in advance and as usual, there was plenty of delicious, nutritious food of all kinds, organised by, and attractively presented by Melrose , Steve, Kathy, John, Ailsa and the team. This must have been quite a task, catering for around 75 people outdoors as well as clearing and washing up afterwards with limited facilities. Thanks to Melrose and her hard working team, who have the skill to make something look effortless when it surely can not have been. In addition, many thanks to all those kindhearted supporters, not all present on the day who make generous donations of large quantities of homemade food or provide cash for other necessities.
A marquee had been erected by 9.30 am I am told, volley ball, croquet and badminton were provided by our kind friends from Craig y Nos, and enjoyed by many. As usual, there was football and walks around the park, led by the kind staff who seemed experienced with young, old and even dogs. There were art and craft activities , including clay modelling, for all ages. These activities are perfect times for people to ‘ share’ and chat in a relaxed, positive atmosphere and we are most appreciative of the time these artists donate to help our cause. Thank you Alex for the wonderful flatbreads- our lady from Kurdistan, took great delight in showing us all how expertly to roll them. Her smile will stay in our hearts for a long time.
There were lots of smiles yesterday which is so heartening and uplifting to see. For those of us who interact with our friends on a weekly basis, we often see the hardship, grief, trauma, anxiety and depression on their often tired faces. What a joy it is to watch them ‘ forget’ for a short while and play games, eat outdoors and chat with friends in a beautiful, peaceful location where they feel welcome and safe.
One picture will stay in my mind for a long time( and was commented on by other volunteers)- an Albanian lady who is seriously depressed and had the previous day been inconsolable at our drop in, joined in the volleyball. She was skillful and proactive, she laughed and relaxed. She told us she used to play volleyball at school. We had never seen her like this before – she said how much she had enjoyed the day. Maybe this lady will realise that there is hope, that one day she may regain some enjoyment in the small pleasures of life.
Many parents spoke of how they loved to see their children play safely outdoors. Most live in accommodation with either no outside area or an outside area that is unsuitable. Thanks to Steve, there were metres upon metres of outdoor fabric laid on the grass. Toys and games were fell on by the children and a good time was had by all.
These days are also excellent opportunities for networking between volunteers. We are not backwards in coming forwards to take advantage of any skills, contacts or information that are on offer. We are all in it for the same purpose- to try to ease the burden of those who now find themselves in position less fortunate than ourselves.
How do I thank everyone- I can’t because I am bound to miss out someone.Thank you each and every person who contributed towards the success of this day.
Before I sign off, I would like to mention the highly deserved PAVO award granted to HBTSR of Nature and Nurture group winner 2018. What an amazing group of generous spirited, generous pocketed, wise, capable, non judgemental, humble human beings. You make a difference to the lives of so many. We are so fortunate to have your support.
Here’s to next time….
From all of us from Swansea who enjoyed a wonderful day at Craig y Nos on Saturday 9 th June 2018