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BBC Wales's Gilbert John reports
"Bad weather meant one year the boat could not sail"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 14:13 GMT
Islanders stock up for Christmas
Caldey Island boat
The Tenby boat is a festive lifeline for Caldey Island
Residents on Caldey Island have completed their Christmas shopping days early - to catch the boat home.

The festive trip to Tenby is an essential part of the Caldey calendar, with the organised islanders stocking up on items in advance of Christmas Day.

Bad weather one year meant that no boat could sail, which resulted in residents going without fresh vegetables.

But this year, the journey passed without a hitch.

For those that may have forgotten the odd item, they will have to fall back on stocks at the island's post office, which is only open for 30 minutes a day.

Islander Cath Scullion
Islander Cath Scullion: Well prepared
There are no supermarket or chain store luxuries on sale, with chocolate being the most indulgent item on the shelves.

The island's monks have endured years without luxuries and only recently started to partake of festive roast turkey, explained Brother Robert.

"When I was a young man here, we used to have cauliflower and other vegetables and cranberry sauce, but no turkey," he said.

"Now we have a little bit of that and our own beef."

Islander Cath Scullion said: "For us, it is the last trip away.

"We have all our presents and the turkey, this trip is for the bits and pieces."

Earlier this year, islanders sadly bid farewell to the school, with falling roll numbers meaning children will have to be taught on the mainland.

Throughout its history, the school, which has one classroom, has frequently shut when numbers dwindled.

The island has a population of just 55 and, at its peak, the school had 11 pupils.

The islanders have yet to decide what to do with the school building.

Caldey's economy relies on summer tourists visiting the Cistercian monastery where the monks make chocolate and perfume.

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