"The government has relinquished control over the offshore areas of our industry. Norway was tough regarding oil companies from the start. You now have an almost embarrassingly large pension fund. The situation for Irish communities, however, is as in Ogoniland in Nigeria - oil is a curse,”
Up at silly o'clock. 6 to be precise. bananas and more falafels for breakfast (I didn't tell you how good the food was last night!). Then we head off in groups of about 6 or 7. Seems safer that way on the roads, and less group faffing potential. I quickly feel like i have six best buddies. Even at 8 am the sun is hot, and we're all in 't' shirts. We have 2 trailers in our group. They feel like they're loaded with bricks as we pull up out of Merthyr. My god, Wales has some hills. Thankfully we mostly have to go down them. I think we descend 900ft in all to Swansea. Its only 35 miles on our carefully chosen route of mostly B roads. First day teething troubles beset us to begin with. A puncture, and wonky wheel, and a few other bits a bobs. We pass a number of deceased collieries, and then down into and along the bottom of the Neath valley. We criss cross the river, the main road, and the canal, on our beautiful quiet B road. Before long it seems to be lunchtime. Our group stops in a quiet spot, where the canal crosses the river on a small aqueduct. It is crystal clear, and teems with tiny fish (young trout?), sticklebacks, and tadpoles. Canopies of green leaves dapple the strong sunlight. It is too tempting, and soon most of us are in the water. It is blissfully cool after the sticky ride. Then sandwiches. We speak to a passing walker, a friendly old fellow who used to work at the local pit. He is very interested by what we are doing, and avidly takes our paper. He tells one us a little about his socialism, and offers to send us some of his pamphlets. Bizarrely we are passed by two men in a blow up canoe.
Off again after a short rest, and before long (just one monster hill) we are hitting Swansea. It is very very hot. We see some of the gentrified dock area, and decide to look for a park to rest in before going to the ferry terminal. Whilst looking for a park we stumble across the most beautiful beach. Sorry if I have over used that adjective already, but it is. A wide arc of fine sand, right by the city. It is flat calm, and once again, we take a plunge. This is my kind of campaigning! With remarkable promptness, we all arrive at the ferry terminal at 5pm. The border police had me worried as they pulled on their latex gloves, but all went smoothly. Soon we are moving over the mill pond that is the Irish Sea. More falafels, and comfy seats, and enthusiastic conversation. I am reminded what an astute and informed bunch of people I am with.
Conversation is of Copenhagen, violence vs non-violence, gender politics in Afghanistan..... Later we have a meeting near the cheap seats we have booked on deck 9. The door is propped open, and even on the open sea the air is balmy, the sea like a mirror reflecting the pinks and reds of the sunset we are heading into. The discussion is full of purpose, but light of heart. We are 27 or so strong now, but have a lot of work ahead, and will swell to 50 or 60 over the coming days. We will keep you posted.......