Amazon Wednesday, Jun 8 2011 

A short post to let you know that my book is now available on Amazon – just search “Let Him Come Hither.” For e-book readers and those wanting to order in bulk (>10 copies), may I suggest you visit lulu.com (the printers’) where a digital format can be bought, as well as a way of saving by bulk orders. Note that at lulu.com you will pay P&P, but I think it still works out cheaper than Amazon in bulk.

Once again, my thanks for all your support since this venture began more than two years ago.

Joshua Bell

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Let Him Come Hither: the Book of the Blog Thursday, Mar 11 2010 

Dear readers, I know you’ve been patient, but rest assured, Let Him Come Hither is proceeding well. As you know, the  book will be based on this journal, but expanded, extended past the point wher I stopped blogging, and generally improved on.

Q: How far have you gotten and how much is there still to do?
A: I’d say I’m halfway there. I’m nearly finished on the first draft, which will be just the core text. The next thing to do is to go back and fix up the earlier sections, where I wrote very little, either because of my faltering memory or because I was in a hurry – though I’ve half been doing that all along so shouldn’t be much of a trial.

The next thing to do after that is to send out the manuscript to my proofreaders, a chapter at a time, to make sure everything’s correct and consistent. When this comes back, I have to cut the manuscript from documents holding one chapter (about a week) to just one day, so I can get the days and dates right. Then, I put it back together into chapter-length documents, and add in the chapter headings, maps and anything else that I think of.

After this comes the extra material. This will be in the form of reflections and discussions on various pilgrim-related themes. I’m intending to have one of these at the end of each chapter. This is probably the longest section left to do, as it means twelve pieces of material written from scratch! Again, this will then be sent out for proofreading. When they return, they’ll go into the chapter documents, which in turn will be combined with each other to make Act-length documents (three in all), with separate documents holding the foreword/introduction and the prologue.

The manuscript will then be proofread stylistically, to check not only that it’s all spelt correctly and whatnot, but also that it makes sense and runs nicely. While these are being done, Ill be writing the appendices, which will contain the practical information on the pilgrimage that would be jarring if put anywhere else – such as the kit I took, a rough breakdown of costs and so forth. These will go on the end. Finally, I’ll write and make ready the legal booky bit at the start, and combine it all into the final manuscript which I’ll upload.

Q: How long will it all take?
A: Good question! The writing is the longest part. Proofreading can be done very quickly – I’ve known people read through a piece of a fair length and get  it back to me with corrections in a matter of hours or less. I’m hesitant to put a definite time on its being ready, but if I had to guess I’d say around June-July wouldn’t be unrealistic.

Q: How long will it be when finished?
A: At the moment, with fifteen days still to write up, it’s just under 25,000 words. I’m expecting to reach 30,000 with the travel account on its own. The Extra Bits could weigh in at anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 – I think 12-15,000 would be a reasonable guess. So all in all, factoring in appendices and whatnot, I think we’re looking at a 45-60,000 worder. What that means in terms of pages I’m not sure, but it’s certainly not the longest book you’ll ever have read.

Q: When it comes out, how can I get it and what will it be like?
A: Let Him Come Hither will be available online. Hopefully I’ll be able to ship it via Amazon, but if not, the company I’m using to publish it, Lulu, sell books as well. I’m still fiddling with the format, but I’m thinking that a paperback copy will be definite, and a hardback probable – though Lulu’s hardbacks tend to be fairly expensive so you may not want to get that.

The Blue – Find out more here! Monday, Jan 18 2010 

Ok, if you’re reading this, I’m hoping you decided to read the few words about my pilgrimage in The Blue. If so, the way to find out more is to go to the first actual journal post, and read on from there (backwards to here). You’ll notice the story cuts off rather abruptly at Pavia around the second week of November – sorry about that.

From what I’ve got written down etc., the result will hopefully be a book, Let Him Come Hither, taking the blog and expanding it. When this is available, I’ll advertise it shamelessly via any medium I can. Except actual mediums, because I don’t think the dead are interested in reading.

For now, the next place to look is The Old Blue, due out in March, I think. This has a longer article written by me en-route, with more pictures and more info.

One last thing: there are two things I ought to point out about the article in The Blue:

– JDS is Mr. John Shippen, former Scout Leader and teacher at Christ’s Hospital, who was a great help to me in the pilgrimage.

Cara Hines, whose blog is listed in the piece, is not a pilgrim per se, but is planning to pilgrimate to Rome next year, filming a documentary. Go and look at her blog, it’s much fuller and probably higher quality than mine! And it has videos…

Peace and Love,
Josh

PS. If you did get a copy of the Blue and found my blog through it, please let me know at joshua.campana@yahoo.com, or leave a comment here. I just like hearing about how people have found out about tthis little adventure 🙂

Pilgrimage to Rome: An Exercise in Ecumenism Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

Note: If you are reading this on Facebook (as my blog automagically imports itself), STOP RIGHT NOW. Go to my notes and find the earlier copy of this, so if you want to comment you can comment on there 🙂

When I decided to carry out a pilgrimage to Rome, among my reasons for doing so, including the well-known ‘seeing the world’ and ‘finding oneself’, was a desire to investigate whether interdenominational ecumenism – a topic close to my heart – was a real possibility or merely an ideal to be sought. Even before I discovered the Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrims’ route to Rome, I had decided to travel from Canterbury, so that I might visit the centres of the world’s two most heavily established churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church.

Ultimately I began in the north of England and walked to and fro south through Britain before reaching Canterbury. However, it was at Canterbury that I began to tread the Via Francigena, and so Canterbury was a great milestone in the pilgrimage. In the first leg of my pilgrimage through Britain, during which I effectively warmed up, I visited a large number of churches of varying denominations, at no point attaching myself to any particular denomination. On this journey I shared worship in such diverse ways as an all-night prayer vigil at a Methodist Chapel in Yorkshire; a choral evensong at Cartmel Priory in Cumbria; Sunday worship with the Middlesbrough corps of the Salvation Army, and sharing fellowship with a youth camp from the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Durham.

After leaving the United Kingdom, I had expected to see nothing but Catholicism for the rest of my journey. For the most part this was true, and the majority of services in which I took part and churches I visited en route were in deed Roman Catholic. Yet ever and anon I discovered evidence of Protestantism on the continent. In Besançon, where postal delays held me back for a week, I was taken in most heartily by the Eglise Evangelique there, who on three occasions in the week accepted me despite my poor French and made me as one of their own. Switzerland has its own widespread protestant church in a similar fashion to Anglicanism in the United Kingdom. However, as well as this, in Lausanne, I discovered an Anglican church who invited me to share lunch with them after a service in such familiar settings that I scarcely remembered that I was in Switzerland at all, and in Aigle I was accommodated within a tiny Salvation Army hostel.

Yet if anybody reading this believes that I received no hospitality from the Roman Catholic church, let them be corrected. Time and again the Church and its associated organisations gave me hospitality in the warmest fashion. In France I was attacked by a group of youths. I was not harmed seriously and I escaped without being robbed, but the police who came to the house to which I had fled took me to the Fraternity of St. Bernard in Clairvaulx, who hosted me for free for two nights, feeding me and giving me provisions when I left. As well as this, there are countless occasions where I was in a pilgrims’ hostel in one village or another, and the parish priest, who often played a part in the administration of the hostel, invited me to dinner.

On several occasions I was asked on my pilgrimage, “Are you a Christian?” and when I answered that I was, I was asked what kind I was. On the continent my basic French and very basic Italian allowed me to say merely, “I’m just a Christian”, or in my first days in Italy, “tutti” – meaning all or everything. I learnt on my pilgrimage that as a member of “one holy, catholic and apostolic church”, one really can be a part of every church: for had I had the linguistic ability, my answer to the denominational question would have been that “wherever people worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, I am one of them”. It is true that the varying denominations differ in their practices, and there are of course elements of each with which one may have issues. However, the key principle to which one should hold fast, and which those in ecclesiastical and ecumenical authority might do well to remember, is that first clause of the Nicene Creed: “We all believe in one God.”

Radio Silence Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

Hi all. For those of you who have been following this and seen it go silent, I am REALLY sorry. I got to Rome on December 1st and have returned safely etc etc etc. I’m now working on Let Him Come Hither: the book, which will be this blog, expanded with extra info, maps and other exciting stuff, as well as some theological things.

As I got so much pilgrimage info for free, I’m going to keep this blog online, and onto it I’ll add all the basic travel information (what I took, what I spent etc) so other pilgrims can find this out for free. If you want to buy a copy of Let Him Come Hither, please do.

Anyway. Read the more recent article that I’m about to put up: it’s a report I wrote for the Templars’ Pilgrim Trust.

The Pilgrim’s Progress Friday, Nov 6 2009 

At Besancon I stayed in the Youth Hostel for 4 days. On the Wednesday, I went to an “Eglise Evangelique” that I had been alerted to by one Mike James (Father of Hannah in Act II), which was quite nice. I understood none of the sermon, but did sing “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” in French, which was quite nice, as I sang it in English so got to do it without hacking my way through the words.

Come Friday, when my time there had run out, the parcel had not arrived with the things I needed. This put me in a bit of a fix, but fortunately a priest gave me the details of the Diocesenal Centre, where I saved cash by sleeping on the floor. This was thus free and I still got breakfast! The next day I returned to the post office, but still no parcel, so sadly I returned to the Youth Hostel and booked in for 2 more nights. On Saturday evening I went to church, getting lost and drenched in the rain and arriving late. The people were very happy to see me, especially the pastor who had been overjoyed on Friday when I told him I was going to study Theology. Because I knew it, they played Lord I Lift Your Name On High (Je loue Ton Nom Eternel) for me, as well as a French hymn to the tune of God Save The Queen! On which note, we do it with Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken to the tune of the German National Anthem – though quite why is beyond me as Abbot’s Leigh is a far grander tune. The guy who had driven me back to the hostel on Wednesday did so again, and in his CD player was a praise CD with some good tunes, which he agreed to burn for me.

Sunday I returned to the Church at 9 for an 8-hour service – actually 2 services with a lunch break in the middle, which I enjoyed for free! Twas very good. After lunch the youth group went to the upper room to practice their play for Christmas, and I watched with very little comprehension of what was going on, but oh well.

On Monday the parcel finally arrived! So I took it and shoving the contents into various sections of the rucksack, left Besancon. However, my late departure meant I was unable to do the full section that day, so I did half of it, bedding down behind a church in Mamirolle. The next day I did the other half of that day and the first half of the next, sleeping that night in the porch of the Mairie in Hautepierre-le-Chatelet. The next day, Wednesday, I finally made up the distance, doing a day and a half to take me to Pontarlier. I took half an hour out that afternoon to go up “Mont Calvaire” – a winding path up a hill with the Passion story recreated via the Stations of the Cross placed at intervals on the path, and culminating with the cross and the tomb at the summit. Eventually, at half past 8 I reached the campsite. However, the rain was awful and even though I was semi under shelter (in a semi-hut as my tent was useless), I and my things got rather damp. Before I went to this hut I used the phone box there, and saw the donkey that had been tethered at one of the pitches wandering past me!

The next day I left early (before reception opened :D) and got on my way. I had breakfast at about 9 on a bench by the side of a road under a bridge, and as it was Founder’s Day, I stood up and raised my hot chocolate to the Housey Toast:

The Religious, Royal and Ancient Foundation of Christ’s Hospital. May those prosper who love it, and may God increase their number. HOUSEY!

At one point en route I was given a choice between a long, steep section or the flat road. I unusually took the long road, and at several points was certain I had gone the wrong way (the Via Wronga being now as familiar to me as the Via Francigena), but at last I was rewarded with the view I had sought, of Castle Joux from above. I descended to the road route and continued up into the first of the mountains, crossing the French-Swiss border around mid-afternoon, I arrived in Ste. Croix and went to the hostel listed in the book, but it was closed. Fortunately, the church I then scouted out turned out to have the details of its pastors (that’s right, Pastors – this is Protestantism here!) and they not only lived in the village, but on the same road as the hostel – and were a married couple! So I went along and fortunately they were able to put me up. Even better, I arrived in time for dinner (getting rather good at this trick!) and we had potato – something I had, and have, been missing greatly.

The next day I went to Orbe, and got very lost en route, but this turned out to be a boon as it cut my distance rather dramatically. Nonetheless, my feet were in poor condition and very wrinkly when I arrived in Orbe. That evening I was met by John Turner, a physicist who had taught at CH until July and now worked at the international school in Rolle. After some crossed wires (I thought he was hunting me and he thought I was settled for the night), we made contact and he agreed to come and and meet me. He was on duty in house but was allowed out on a mission of mercy, partly since it was half term there and only a few students were still there. When he met me I had a Coke Zero and Mars bar in his Mini, as I had only had a hot chocolate since I stopped, and when we reached Rolle, he got out one of his emergency pizzas for me to eat. My stomach seemed to have shrunk, however, as I only managed half of it! So I put the other half in the fridge, together with the leftover chocolate mousse from the house dinner that evening which he insisted I ate. We then looked up Google directions from Orbe to my next destination, Vufflens-la-Ville, and saved them ready to print the next day. By this time it was after midnight and JT was driving to England the next day, so we turned in.

The next morning I awoke early and set aside a number of things to go home with JT, as his parents lived in the same town as me, and he had agreed to drive them home for me. After breakfast we went to the local hypermarket (a Co-op!) and went shopping – and I bought socks! At Vufflens-la-Ville, a family who had found my blog had offered to host me. They had opened a Pilgrim Hostel in their house after seeing the sign erected in town, and so I slept there. For dinner we had a traditional swiss dinner, of a huge sausage with cabbage and potato and STUFF. I like Stuff. After dinner, I used their internet, and managed to get carried away, zobbing away til 1am doing important things!#

The next day I was due to take a train to Lausanne at half past 9 to get to Church for 10. When I woke up it was 8 o’clock, when the the family had said they would have breakfast. So I lay in bed for a while, waiting for them to get up. My watch said 9 and still nothing, and I panicked. At half 9, they got up, and we had breakfast. It was then that they reminded me that the clocks had gone back, and it was really only half past 8! After breakfast they drove me into town and to Church – with some difficulty as the Lausanne Marathon had shut half the roads. We sang some pretty good hymns, like “Alleluia, Sing To Jesus” (to the Hyfrydol tune, which just makes it a shame that it hadn’t been “Ye That Know The Lord Is Gracious” which is a better set of words), and “Thou Whose Almighty Word”, which is just a tune, and brings back memories of CH hymn practice, singing the ultra-low line “And took their flight” over and over again. Unfortunately I missed a good deal of the sermon as my 11 o’clock walking alarm went off in the middle and I scurried out to shut it up! Afterwards, it turned out I had arrrived on the last Sunday in the month, when the church had a bring and share lunch. So I ate there, too! Then I went off walking, and as I was going along the promenade of Lake Leman, a man on the pavement beside me said to his children, in English, “Look, that man’s got a big pack on; he’s going on a very long walk.” I decided to talk to him, and got chatting about it. It turned out that this man lives about 3 miles away from me! As we were talking, I mentioned how I had “just finished school”, and was taking a Gap Year. He asked me, “Oh, where did you go to school?” I replied, certain he wouldn’t have heard of it or if he had would have only slightly, “Oh, Christ’s Hospital in Horsham.” At no point did I expect his response: “No way – I went there too – love the Brotherhood and all that.” It turned out that I was talking to one Guy Rhodes, Leigh Hunt B and Peele A! I had been wanting to meet an Old Blue by fluke since the pilgrimage started, and now I had! That night I slept in a phone box, as again I had started very late (2pm after lunch).  The next day I got to Aigle, and found a tiny Salvation Army hostel and ate “Salvo Soup” – Salvation Army-branded cup-a-soup. The next day, armed with more Salvo Soup, I set off for Martigny. I arrived in town around mid-afternoon but after spending an hour in the internet cafe, arrived at the hostel after it had shut. Fortunately a lady came to the local Catholic church while I was there and spotted me, and drove me to a rectory apartment where I stayed, eating the food she had given me. This meant that in the entirety of Switzerland I hadn’t paid for accommodation once! The next day the lady drove me to the railway station, where I picked up the first of two coaches that would take me through the Grand St. Bernard Tunnel and into Aosta. Warm when I left, when we changed at Bourg-St. Pierre halfway up the mountain it was mighty cold! We arrived in Aosta and I walked most of the way to Aosta. I slept in a church porch, with the door slightly ajar so I didn’t unwittingly get locked in. The next day I went to Hone – a very good distance. I slept that night in the presbytery, as the hostel in the book didn’t exist – something I have noticed a number of times en route, where a “hostel” turns out simply to be the church. If other pilgrims are reading this, take heed. The next day, I went to Ivrea, and began Kemping it – a term named after the late Clive Kemp and his manner of walking very quickly. I slept in a hostel at a canoe club. It was rather expensive – fifteen Euros for not very much, rather like the campsite as Suzy, but oh well. I ate the last of my food, thinking that the supermarket would be open Sunday Morning. As it turned out, it was only open every other Sunday! Fortunately I was kemping it so I arrived at Ropollo, my destination, at lunchtime, where some nuns, who didn’t know of the Casa Francigena hostel in the village (seemingly because it’s not real), fed me. A lady whose friend had interpreted for me knew of a hostel in the next village, and gave me the details. When I arrived I found the lady and her husband, and they came and got the key for me. The husband then went to the hostel with me, and after settling me in, gave me the five euro donation for the night, as well as some food from his wife’s mother, including a mighty chicken and tomato sandwich and chocolate cake! I went to get a takeaway for dinner, but it was shut, so I ate the food I had been given. The next day I walked 10km to Santhia, where there was a hostel, making that my rest day. I laid in til 8.30 before leaving. I arrived just after 1pm, and buying food, went to the estate agents to collect the key. I then plowed my way through nine rashers of bacon between four rolls! Then I went and used the internet at the estate agent. That evening, I went to go to the cafe across the road which did a specially cheap pilgrim menu, but it was shut on Mondays! So I went and found a pizza takeaway, and using my phrasebook, I studied the menu and found something that sounded nice – beginning with B and topped with ham, mushrooms and onions, and managed to order it. I had a coke with it and got to watch it being made, which thus counts as authentic Italian cuisine. As it turned out, it was cheaper than the cafe anyway! Again I could only eat half, so put the rest aside for breakfast. The next day I dropped the keys off and left. My destination was Vercelli, where the third volume of the Lightfood Trilogy began. About mid-afternoon, in a village, a lady stopped me and drove me to her house where she gave me a cheese sandwich and cake. It turned out that the very Dean who had blessed my pilgrimage in Canterbury had sat where I was now two years before when he had cycled to Rome! After that, I arrived in Vercelli where I found the hostel. It was ten Euros but did include a dinner of potatoes, rice-soup, peppers, mushrooms, salami and bread. After this it was late and so I went to bed. The next day I rose early and made some hot chocolate before leaving. In the town I bought supplies for the day, as well as milk and two yoghurts. These, with the last of the Choco Rocks I had bought in Santhia, were my breakfast. Mortara was 33.9km away, continuing between the rice fields I had begun to encounter a few days before. However, by half past 4 I had only done 20km and it was gathering dusk. By concentrated Kemping I managed to arrive at the abbey by seven o’clock, situated on the other side of town, meaning my total distance for the day was in fact nigh on 36km. When I arrived a sign told me that pilgrims were only accepted with a reservation; however, I decided to try my luck and rang the bell. Nobody answered so I waited, thinking perhaps they were in Vespers or Compline, and rang again after 8. Again there was no answer, so in a slight huff I bedded down. At half past ten I was awakened – if I had been asleep – by a man, who told me the hostel was shut for winter. He still let me in, however, and I went to sleep indoors. At half 7 the next day I was awakened by him, and he prepared breakfast for me. I ate this with gusto as I had had a fairly sleepless night. When he learnt my age he was astonished that I was walking alone. Another man – I’m not sure either of them were monks as they lacked habits or dog collars – slipped me 4 Euros on my way out (I thought I donated to them, not the other way round!) and the first man took a picture of me with both his and my cameras for the pilgrim collection. Then I left, but seemed to have the back end of food poisoning, probably caused by undercooked bacon or ham. So I got a lift to the Abbey, but was taken instead to a B&B, where I was given a room for 40 Euros. I said I couldn’t pay that so I left, and off I went. As it was dark, I stopped by the canal path to sleep rough. Unfortunately the rain was very heavy and even in my (actually rather useless) bivvy bag, I got soaking wet.

And that’s where I am now. Less wet, about to take a train to Santa Cristina. Stay tuned…

Sponsorship Saturday, Oct 17 2009 

Hi all. Recently, with the winter coming in, costs have been driven up as many campsites have been shut for the winter. I would wild camp, but after Bar-Sur-Aube I’m very hesitant about doing this in all but the smallest of places. In addition, I’ve been forced to stay in a youth hostel for six nights as the Lightfood books for the second and third part of the VF haven’t arrived – thus driving my costs up further. To be frank, I’m rather concerned that my funds won’t last me to Rome.

Thus, no matter how much I hate to actually ask, I have no choice but to ask for some help. If everyone who reads this, either on the blog itself or on Facebook, sponsored me £1 (or other currency), that would allow me to get all the way to Rome, and possibly back again (though that’s lower on the priority list).

All those who sponsor will, as a gesture of thanks, get their name in the book as a sponsor or benefactor or something like that.

If you want to sponsor me, either email me (joshua.campana@yahoo.com) for my details; CH Forum members, Kerren Simmonds has them, or alternatively, go to the “Sponsor the Ferret Stick on its Way to Rome” group on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61002191&ref=ts#/group.php?gid=11740255748.

As I say, I do hate to ask, but at this rate there is a real chance I may not have enough to reach Rome.

Act Two: The Via Francigena Wednesday, Oct 14 2009 

12th September
I took the train to Victoria and left. Along my way, I walked the entirety of Old Kent Road! I arrived at the Vicarage in Welling, whose church was dedicated to my old friend Bishop Ridley, at around 5pm, but the Vicar was clearly out. I waited till 9pm and then gave up and looked for somewhere else. Evenually I found a Methodist Church with a wide alley and bedded down there out of sight.

13th September
I was half awake at 9pm when a steward came to unlock the church. She made me a cup of tea and while I waited for the service to start, I persused the magazines and journals at the back of the church. Among them was the latest issue of the Cliff College newsletter! I had read the articles online already, but seeing familiar faces brought a smile to my face. At the end of the service I joined them for tea and a man named Paul invited me to his flat for lunch. I accepted his offer and off we went. While I used his shower he went shopping, and when he returned an hour later he made some sandwiches and we had lunch. We laughed at who should be more wary of the other: I who had gone alone to a stranger’s flat, or him for leaving a stranger in his flat alone for an hour!
As a boy, Paul had had a strong faith, built from the traditional Bible stories. However he had wavered under intense bullying in his teens. Recently however his mother had passed away andthis had brought him back to the church, where he was now preparing for confirmation. Before I left for Canterbury, Paul gave me three sets of sandwiches, decanted some ribena into a water bottle, filled my other two with water and finally gave me a massive bar of chocolate!

So I then took two trains and two replacement busses to Canterbury, arriving just in time for the evening service at the Methodist Church. As part of the music before the service the Organist played Scipio! Wow. At the end of the service one of the congregation who was part of the council said there was a hostel in the Cathedral grounds and the minister said if I couldn’t stay there to come back and she would put me up. It turned out the hostel was actually a hotel, so back I tramped and the minister drove me back to her house. There I had a sandwich and a cup of tea and we talked Theology, Ecclesiology, Ecumenism and my pilgrimage for a while before I went to sleep.

14/9 Via Francigena 1

The next morning the minister gave me a big cooked breakfast before I left and I sorted out my mp3 player which wasn’t working. Then she drove me from her house in Faversham to Canterbury and I walked to the Cathedral, where my pilgrim pass was stamped and I was allowed in for free! Score. I walked to the Chapter House where the people got a clergyman in to bless me. The Chaplain who normally did it was out so a Canon came across. We went into the Cathedral but the St. Anselm Chapel, which holds a special significance for pilgrims, was full of tourists so we went up to the cordoned-off high altar, stepped over the rope and knelt there. I was expecting the traditional “Father Son and Holy Ghost” blessing but he took his time over it and prayed for safety and lodging and all good things like that! On our way back to the chapter house where I had left my things he told me that he had recently taken the VF to Rome by bike, and it had taken him a fortnight. However it seemed he had trained beforehand, unlike me (my training was taking trains).

The rest of the day passed relatively uneventful. I arrived at Shepherdswell at about 5pm and went to the Church, which was open and had a wonderfully large porch. So I sat down and prepared to set up camp in the church. Eventually a lady came along with a key for the church. I explained I was a pilgrim and could I stay in the church overnight. She agreed to phone the vicar and brought me a cup of tea and filled my water bottles. She said it was ok so I cooked dinner and went to sleep.

15/9 VF 2 – Dover

Today was shorter than yesterday but felt longer, partly because I got rather lost en route. The Key Lady brought me a banana, a cup of tea and two biscuits for breakfast and wished me well. En route I found a redundant church which had a pair of interesting stained glass windows depicting the Baptism and Transfiguration – the two occasions on which God says of Jesus “This is my beloved son”. When I arrived in Dover I was met by James Foreman, who had been in West with me. We drove to his house and put the kettle on. Then he got dinner on. While it simmered we went to the church his Dad was rector of to hunt for a stamp for my pass and then went to Tesco for a supplies dash for me and for James to get his Jaffa Cake fix. We got back in time for dinner to be ready and rolled a D6 for the grace. How exciting. After dinner, we watched the Two Towers and translated the letter of introduction which Father Ian had written for me (and which I have now unfortunately lost!) into French and Italian.

16/9 VF 3 France 1: Dover-Calais-Guines

In the morning James and I went to Dover Castle where he was working to get a sticker for my pass and to do photos. Then we went to the ferry port and I bought a ticket, and after saying goodbye to James, waited for an hour and a half for my ferry. Yay. I don’t normally get seasick, but the sailing was pretty choppy. I did manage to get my free hot drink though, which was good. The book said I should follow the coast west before turning inland, which doubled my journey length just to get to the traditional landing point for Sigeric, but I decided to blow that and took the canal road to Guines. I arrived at about 8pm and found a campsite, but when I went to check it was the one in my book, there was no book! I searched my rucksack but it wasn’t there. I panicked a lot. I couldn’t go on without it, so leaving my kit out of sight I donned my Hiviz (but stupidly not my torch) and went in search of it. The last time I remembered having it was 5km away, so I returned there, keeping an eye out all the time, but to no avail, partly as I was looking for a bright white book when it was actually dark red. When I returned to the campsite I decided to return to Calais the next day and if I did not find the book en route I would return to England and reorder it from the website. So I bedded down out of sight in just my sleeping bag and went to sleep.

17/9 VF 4 Fr 2 Guines – Licques

The next morning I was up at dawn and walking back to Calais. About 3km up I spotted my book, lying where I had left it on a barrier support. So I turned around and returned to Guines, whence I left for Licques. However, in a forest clearing the roads went all over the place and it was not clear from my guidebook which way to go, especially as the Via Francigena signs I had seen thus far were pointing in the opposite direction. So I decided to go by road and navigate back to the VF later in the day. However, I left Boquehalt by the wrong road and consequently became very lost. Fortunately I flagged down a car which drove me to the campsite in Licques, where I bought meths and made dinner. I also discovered the other flavours of Jaffa Cakes in France!

18/9 VF 5 Fr 3 Licques – Wisques

I left Licques aftera fewfalse starts and a trip to the supermarket. A fairly uneventful day. I arrived late at the Abbey of St. Paul in Wisques which the book recommended. The monks had turned in for the night but I rang the bell and one of them came down to me. I showed him my letter from Fr. Ian and he tended to me, giving me a room and some food. Over dinner he and I spoke a little in French. There were only 15 monks there; when he had joined there had been 50. This came as a great surprise, as Ampleforth seemed to be thriving, and had sprouted a daughter house in the USA. I should note that both Abbeys were Benedictine; however, these did not eat Frosties but did have Nesquik on the shelf. Then I went to bed.

19/9 VF 6 Fr 4 – Wisques – Therouanne

I had for breakfast about 5 slices of bread and jam, and a bowl of tea. The other guest at the time was a dentish. I didn’t get his name but he looked like a John. He made the tea using powdered milk, which somehow wasn’t revolting! Miracles do happen. John the Dentist left and I packed up my bag and stamped my pass, then made to leave. Except the door was locked so I couldn’t. Eventually a monk came to open up and I left. I tried to give him some money for my stay but he refused it. So I went on to Therouanne, which my poor French pronounciation rendered as “Tehran”. I arrived around 5 and went to the church. Once the other visitors had left I got out my trangia and cooked dinner. Then a man came to lock up at around half 6 and said I couldn’t stay there. So he called the mayor who spoke English, and found someone who could help me. He was a man who had keys to a football club, and so I slept in a bathroom with a sink and toilet – perfect! The mayor gave me a loaf of bread and a bottle of water while I waited, and Mr. Football gave me some sweet wafer biscuits and apples. I was very tired so went to bed.

20/9 VF 7 Fr 5 Therouanne – Amettes

I left early and set of for Amettes. As I did I met Mr. Football who gave me a packed lunch. I decided to take the more direct road route, which also had the advantage of being one straight line, making it harder to get lost. I liked. Along my way I stopped to use the toilet at a house in Longhen, and the lady also filled my water bottles and gave me a banana! The day was going well. At half past four I had what I imagine is a stereotypical/traditional pilgrim experience: sitting in the afternoon sun by a dusty track with my trousers zipped off at the knees, drinking water, eating bread and listening to an interview with Rowan Williams on the World Service. How nice.

I arrived at Amettes at about half 5 and looked around the church. It was decorated with scenes of a local saint whose name I can’t remember off-hand (it’s in my book) who pilgrimated all his life, living as a “fool for Christ”. He died of malnutrition at the age of 35, a fate I’d like to avoid. His kneecaps were stored there but I couldn’t find them, which was a shame. I asked around for a place to camp and was led to an “Abri du Pelerin”, or pilgrim shelter, which looked like a church hall with a big green space and a toilet (indoor but with a door to the outside). I was given the key for the loo and left to my own devices. These included breaking a tent pole when pitching it…great. It still stands but not as well; it sags a lot and takes 6 times longer to pitch. GREAT.

21/9 VF 8 Fr 6 Amettes – Bruay-la-Brussiere

The next morning I struck camp and posting the key through the letter box, set off. I took the shorter of the two routes and arrived in Bruay at around 2. There was no campsite so I went to the only place marked in the book as B1 (0-20 Euros), but it was full. So I went to the local Mairie, and they phoned around for me, but to no avail. At last one of the people working there volunteered to put me up. His name was Jacques. After his meeting at 6 we drove to his house, which he was converting from a farm. He cooked me soup and pork stew for dinner, and let me sleep in his daughter’s room as she was studying in Paris. I felt a bit funny about using her bed as she was my age, but I decided to go with it as it was big and comfy “so neh”.

22/9 VF 9 Fr 7 Bruay – Arras. One week in France!

The next day I went shopping before being driven to another town to take a train to Arras, which was too far to walk. While I was in the Hypermarket, I caught sight of a man staring at me. It turned out he was looking at the Ferret Stick, and had noticed its woggle. He approached me and it turned out he was a Scout Leader himself! We got talking about what I was doing. I said I was going to Arras this evening and that I planned to stay at the maison diocesenal, and he said he knew it through his scouts. So he arranged for me to stay there for the night! That afternoon I sat in the sun and basked…and burnt my knees as the legs of my trousers were in the car with my pack and my sun cream. Ow. So in the evening I was driven off and put on a train (a double decker! I went on the top for the novelty.) to Arras. I arrived at the Maison and was greeted in perfect English by a young lady who asked me, “Are you the English Scout?” She and a group of others met there each week to pray and share a meal together. The reason her English was so good was that she had spent a year in England as a French Language Assistant, so over dinner she interpreted what the others were talking about and also we spoke in English between us. Which was refreshing, not needing the dictionary every other word. After dinner I was so tired I went to bed, even though I would have liked to have joined the others for fellowship.

23/9 VF 10 Fr 8 Arras – Bapaume

Today was rather uneventful. I arrived in Bapaume at around 9 and everywhere was full. One place I went to had a restaurant, however, and one of the diners took me in. I don’t even know his name.

24/9 VF 11 Fr 9 Bapaume – Peronne

Another uneventful day. I got into Peronne at 8 exactly, making my speed at around 5 k/h! I went to the Paroisse Peronne – a proper vicarage, as declared by the name on the gate! This vicar – I’m certain he was a vicar and not a priest for reasons I’ll explain in a minute – was a complete Anglophile – again, see in a minute! At the moment all I noticed was the traditional English gate sign. He showed me the church hall, where he brought me a matress and some dinner, and I set up camp in “my kingdom”, as he called it. I listened to the World Service, but after the reception went bad I gave up and went to sleep.

25/9 VF 12 Fr 10 Peronne – St. Quentin

Today I had breakfast in the Vicarage proper, and started assembling clues about the vicar. I had already noticed that the crosses in the hall were empty, but as i went past his office I saw what seemed to be a Vatican Wallpaper. Yet in his dining room I saw, as I ate, several books of note. They included the Book of Common Prayer (the pocket book one), the New English Hymnal, the modern Common Prayer, Common Worship and Hymns Ancient and Modern – Revised Anglican Version! I decided on the basis of this that the man must be a French Anglican Vicar, as the Common Worship – the Anglican worship book – was in French, making it more than mere Anglophilia. On which note, I also noticed on the piano the music to Jerusalem! What a tune, and one I’m going to be writing about soon. On his wall he also had a rack of mugs from various Cathedrals and suchlike in the UK. The man is a complete legend. Today I looked around Peronne, failed to find an internet place (it had shut) and wrote my log. Then in the evening I took a bus to St. Quentin, where I lost all that log on the bus. Great. So I went and bought a new notebook, except the French don’t seem to believe in lined paper, only squared! How odd. So I went off to the campsite. I was in a huff by the end of the day.

26/9 VF 13 Fr 11 St.Quentin – Montescourt-le-Lizerolle

I was still in a huff this morning and decided if I couldn’t give up (this was no longer an option as sponsors had just put money in my bank) I would do it as quickly as possible. So I went to a bike shop and went to buy a bike. It was only by ill fortune that I was stopped, for I could not take enough out of my account to do it. This was actually pretty lucky, as I’d really have regretted it, I think. Anyway, I started walking to Tergnier, and stopped that evening about 10k away, on a gravel path outside Montescourt, and wild camped there. A lovely clear night.

27/9 VF 14 Fr 12 Montescourt – Suzy

The next morning I was up early and reached Tergnier by 10. At 9 I got a call from JDS which cheered me up no end. He reminded me of the essential question for this pilgrimage: “How do you eat an Elephant?” The answer is, of course, “One mouthful at a time!” He suggested getting to Besancon, returning home and working for a few months, and then returning in the spring and continuing. I liked the idea, but decided against it because I worried that if I stopped I might not start again. So I decided to take a rest break every so often instead (which is how I’m writing this). I continued walking, and reached Suzy that evening. Suzy was a small village with an expensive yet poor quality campsite. The only water facilities were in the toilets which were ages away and the taps sprayed everywhere. Not impressed.

28/9 VF 15 Fr 13 Suzy – Laon

The next day I set off for Laon. I didn’t realise until it was too late that I had eaten the last of my lunch supplies the previous day, so I marched all day without stops for more than a cup of tea, arriving at Laon at 4. I booked into the campsite and went to the Carrefour Hypermarket to buy supplies. As I had reached one of the major cities I splashed out on a bag of M&Ms and some coke to enjoy myself, as well as a drastically overpriced can of beans and some eggs.

29/9 VF 16 Fr 14 Laon – Reims

The next day I went up to the Plateau of Reims, the old town. The book said it was reached by a steep climb and they were right! It was very steep but very rewarding. I met a British couple, whose name I don’t remember but one of whom I seem to remember being called Peter (If you’re reading this, please say!) who were driving to the Alps for a fortnight, and after looking around the Cathedral they bought me some lunch and drove me to Reims, thus cutting out three days of walking. It was one of my rules I had imposed that I would accept lifts, but not too big ones – i.e. not ones that cut out interesting things, so this was ok. In the car we talked churches and pilgrimming and Champagne. When we got to Reims we got lost in the city and just about found our way to the Centre-Ville where I went to the Tourist Office and then to the local Internet Cafe. I then went to a maison diocesenale, which was described as “Donation” in my book. Because of this, I treated myself to a dinner out in a local cafe, and had Bacon and Egg on toast.

30/9 VF 17 Fr 15 Reims – Trepail

I learnt the next morning it wasn’t donation after all, but was 18 Euros for the night. I winced but there was no getting round it, so I paid up and packed up. I walked to Trepail, the first half of which was spent following a canal towpath. I reached Trepail very late, as I had stopped about 5k before and talked to Mum on the public telephone for three hours. I arrived after midnight and found a green space where I wild camped.

1/10 VF 18 Fr 16 Trepail – Chalons-en-Champagne

Again I arrived late and with nowhere to go, was forced to sleep under a Cathedral. Fortunately I just looked like another homeless person so nobody bothered me.

2/10 VF 19 Fr 17 Chalons-en-Champagne – Vitry-le-Francois

I tried to take a train to Brienne-le-Chateau today, but it turned out the railway station had closed. So I took a train to Vitry in the hope of bussing it to Brienne. There was a bus, but it wasn’t until the evening and would arrive after the tourist office shut, meaning I could not use the pilgrim hostel there. So I sat around at the station all day and rewrote the log. When it got dark I got into my sleeping bag and roughed it again. I was woken at 10.30 by the Gendarmes, who after I had explained my situation and showed them my passport, advised me to go round the corner onto the platform, as it was quieter.

3/10 VF 20 Fr 18 Vitry-le-Francois – Clairvaulx

I took an early pair of busses to Brienne-le-Chateau via St. Dezier, and walked the 28.9km to Bar-Sur-Aube, where I planned to go to the presbytery. However, about 1k from the centre of town, in a housing estate on the outskirts, a group of youths approached me and one of them pepper sprayed me. Oddly enough they did not try to rob me but just stood there and laughed as I fled. I found a doorbell and rang it to no avail, and so tried the next one, where a family received me. In my panic I tried to explain what had happened, and to my shame uttered the one phrase I promised I wouldn’t: “Parlez-vous Anglais?” Fortunately their daughter did and I managed to explain what had happened, with a lot of acting out. They rang the hospital who told them it wasn’t an emergency but to rinse my face, which they did. When I could see again (I hadn’t been able to properly before) I opened my eyes and saw my saviours for the first time. They were a mother, father and two daughters. They invited me to sit down and eat something. However, as I did so, I caught sight of my face in the mirror, and it was all red. I sat down and tried to eat, but though the pain had died down mostly, the shock of it persisted and I could barely eat anything. I called home to let Mum know what was happening, and then the family called the police, who got some information from me and the family, and then took me to hospital so they could get a certificate of health for the complaints procedure. Then they took me to my next day’s destination, Clairvaulx, where I lodged with the sisters at the Fraternity (a bit of an oxymoron?). There the officers took a statement with the aid of the sergeant’s daughter, who spoke English. This finished at around 11, and after being given a carbon copy of the statement and a contact sheet with the details of the officers, the sergeant’s daughter and the family whose dinner I had interrupted, I went to bed.

4/10 VF 21 Fr 19

I woke up the next morning feeling better and went across to the Sisters’ house for breakfast, where I found the Gendarm sergeant. He had brought me some gifts from his daughter: chocolate, some biscuits, some gum and postcards of Clairvaulx, as I had said I wanted to send some home. Before he left, he took a picture of himself with one of the sisters and myself. After breakfast we drove to Mass. I followed it as best I could, but didn’t realise the Creed was the Creed until the final clauses (the ones about the resurrection of the dead), switched off during the sermon and hacked my way through the hymns, which didn’t even come with the music. Fortunately one of them had the tune to “Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace”, which I knew. It was my first mass in any language, and I watched with interest. Transsubstantiation seems to have caused a lot of rifts in the Ecumenical process, yet all I noticed was that during the blessing of the bread the congregation bowed their head, and that only priests drank the wine – though this was happening in England too as it helped counter the Swine Flu spread. I was also interested to note the absence of the Ave Maria in the service. The church was very ornate, with a decorated roof, stained glass and statues. After Mass, which I may say did not include coffere at the end (what kind of a church doesn’t do coffee at the end? Well, CH for one, but that’s a different matter) one of the sisters bought me an “Americain” for lunch: a burger in a baguette with a huge portion of chips, which I had with a can of coke and a yoghurt. Then I wrote a postcard, and went to bed and had a nap. In the evening I had dinner with the sisters, and then talked to Mum on the phone before turning in.

5/10 VF 22 Fr 20 Clairvaulx – Chateauvillain

The next morning the officer was there again, this time with copies of my statement and the photos he had taken at the hospital and the one taken with me and the sister. I packed up my bag and took photos with me and the sisters, and they took one for their pilgrim book, which I wrote in before leaving with more food which the sisters had given me. When I reached Chateauvillain, I sought out the Syndicat D’Initiatif, which had the key to a room with a toilet, a sink and 5 Z-Beds. It was shut so I went to the Mairie. They directed me to a B&B run by a British Couple, Steve & Maggie Tait. They had had the house for a holiday home for a few years, and when in March Steve had been made redundant, they had decided to move out here permanently. They certainly seemed to be enjoying it! It turned out the sisters (I assume) had paid for me to stay there that night! There were some very crossed wires, however, as they had been told someone was being brought here who had been beaten up, which I quite clearly had not. But it turned out that it was me after all, so I got a room and put my things down. Then I went across to the restaurant they owned for dinner, where I had a new experience: roast rabbit! It was delicious, and because of my Pilgrim Budget, Magggie gave it to me for a cut price, which was lovely. In the evening I returned to the B&B and met the other guests, a Scottish family whose daughter was spending 7 months in France as part of her degree course. However, there had been a mess-up with the accomodation and she was expected to live in the upper room of a church for 7 months – fine for a night such as I might have, but totally unsuitable for long-term living. We talked for a while and then all went to bed.

6/10 VF 23 Fr 21 Chateauvillain – Mormant

The next day I met the family again at breakfast. Before I left I signed the visitors’ book and noticed three pilgrims in their 60s, going slowly, a fortnight ahead of me! I decided to catch them if I could, but in case I couldn’t, left my own details in case others should come along. The road to Mormant was through a forest, and I lost the track. Resorting to navigating by bearing alone, I eventually found it and reached Mormant. The lady who owned the Gite de Group showed me to it, and gave me some food: Eggs, milk, orange juice and bread. I managed to get Radio 4 on Longwave and listened to some comedy for a while before going to bed. That said, the night, no matter how comfy, had set me back 20 Euros, though I did get food for that as well.

7/10 VF 24 Fr 22 Mormant – Langres

The next day I arrived late in Langres and after an unsuccessful encounter with a priest who refused to come to his door, went to a campsite. The weather was bad so I slept in the toilet block there. Not happy. Fortunately there was a phone box and I gave the number out on Facebook, and got a couple of calls.

8/10 VF 25 Fr 23 Langres – Champlitte

The next day I went to Champlitte, which was 39.4km away though I got a lift part of the way. This presbytery was empty, the hotel was expensive and full and the camping was shut, so I bedded down in a phone box and again left early.

9/10 VF 26 Fr 24 Champlitte-Dampierre-sur-Salon

The next day I went to Dampierre-sur-Salon, and finally a priest put me up. It was little more than a storeroom in his house,but it was dry and safe and free, and so I liked it.

10/10 VF 27 Fr 25 Dampierre-sur-Salon – Gy

The next day I left fairly early and went to Gy, where a woman stopped me as I was trekking uphill in search of a church and presbytery. It turned out she owned a pilgrim hostel, so I stayed there overnight. It was very comfortable, and for 15 Euros I got masses of food and a bed, so I was satisfied. Nonetheless, to make the most of it, I took the leftover food with me.

11/10 VF 28 Fr 26 Gy – Cussey

The next day was fairly fun. In the forests I saw parties of hunters, and while following a road I met a swiss man with whom I spoke some German, only I ended up lapsing into French occasionally! It used to happen the other way round, which was not good in French lessons. Whoops. I arrived in Cussey-sur-Ognon around late afternoon, and after finding nowhere to sleep, eventually decided on the church porch, which was out of the rather heavy rain, and out of sight of passers by. To be safe, though, I made sure I stayed in the lit phone box till it had quietened down.

12/10 VF 29 Fr 27 Cussey- Besancon

I arrived in Besancon in the early afternoon, and went to the tourist office. Then I went to each of the three “Donation” places in the book to find somewhere to stay, but the two nunneries were women-only, I think, and at the Franciscans nobody was in. So I booked into a Youth Hostel, which has the free internet with which I am blogging now. And here I stay at the cost of 20 euros/night. Still, it has a lovely view, breakfast, free internet and is ensuite, so it’s not that bad.

Total word count: 5341

More journal Tuesday, Oct 13 2009 

CONFESSION: This was written only about a week and a half ago as first I forgot to write and then I left my notebook on a bus, so sometimes details may be lacking.

Recap: I had arrived at Hebden bridge and stayed for a bit.

I stayed at Hebden Bridge for a few days. On Friday morning two families arrived for a weekend break, and in the evening some Scouts arrived so I got to pay at last! On Saturday evening the people invited me to join them for a BBQ, which I did gladly.

On Sunday morning I rose early and made my way up to Heptonstall – a very steep climb – for the 9.30 eucharist. At the end I got talking and was reminded of Heptonstall Methodist church. I went down and arrived just in time for the 10.30 service there! The service was led by Glenn Cannon, a double minister. First ordained as a baptist minister, he had been seconded by the local Methodist circuit and toured it. He was also hoping to be ordained as an Anglican “Ecumenical Canon” – which would make him Canon Cannon! How could anyone refuse him this position.

Then I wandered around for a bit, before making my way to the Vicarage for lunch. Howard and his wife were there, with their daughter Sidonie and their other daughter whose name I also can’t remember. (If you’re reading this, please get in touch!) The meal was easily the best I had had since I left Cumbria, and more than filled me up. After lunch, Howard, Sidonie and I all sat down and talked Facebook with them on their laptops and me on my phone. Howard turned on the TV to check the cricket score, just in time to see us win! Eventually Howard drove me back to the campsite where I packed up as best I could despite the torrential rain and went to sleep.

The next morning (Monday 24th) I rose early and finished packing, before taking a train to Leeds and thence to Derby. The reason for this was that one of my friends whom I had met at Cliff, Hannah, was leaving for the States for a year the next day. She had no idea I was coming so when Lucy, her sister, picked me up the conspiracy was still intact. Oh the look on her face! I wish I had entered with a camera to preserve that expression. It was hilarious.

The next day Hannah left at 5.30am (if that mythical hour actually exists) and I took the train to Wakefield and was met by Chris Stevens and his wife Vicky. I had met Chris, a Deacon in the RC church, at Taize, and after dinner we met another person from that party, Stevie “9th time” Taylor – whose massive experience of Taize was becoming (in)famous. We went to a pub, and played pool, and then went to another pub, and cooked chips. I however fell asleep watching Steve and Chris’s eldest son playing Pro Evo Soccer, and woke up in bed! How bizarre.

The next day I took a train to Doncaster and hung around for the day. I was going to stay at Steve’s, but he wouldn’t get in til 10 and he said it was rough, so I decided not to hang around. So I went to the bus stop and phoned the local Canon in Retford, leaving a message. Some kids who got talking to me were impressed by my story and so all gave me a few pounds to cover my bus fare. The Canon, it turned out, had gotten my message on his way out but not told his wife, who was home alone. I showed her my JDS card and to be safe she rang him. He confirmed I was kosher and congratulated me via her on getting so far. She gave me some food and I pitched up in her garden. Later the Canon arrived and we talked for a bit, before looking up directions for the next day on Google Maps.

The next day I went to the library and emailed Christopher Laurence, an Old Blue who had offered to put me up in Lincoln, to tell him I would be arriving the next day. On arrival at Saxilby, I again hunted the vicar; however, he had moved house so could not put me up. He took me to the new vicarage and gave me some cake while he phoned Christopher, who said it was fine for me to turn up today. So the vicar dropped me in Lincoln, where Christopher gave me a pizza – one of the really nice ones with garlic dip! While I ate this I talked a little to Christopher and his wife (forgotten her name too – noticing a pattern?) and watched New Tricks on the TV. Then I went to bed.

28/8 The next day I went to the Cathedral, where Ben Chewter, another more recent Old Blue, was the assistant organist. After a slight encounter with a member of the Chapter staff who thought he was just entrance-fee dodging, he took me around. He then showed me to the Refrectory, where Christopher had given me some money for Lunch. In the afternoon the Laurences were out and I used their internet to blog a bit without worrying about time limits =) In the evening we watched George Gently on the TV , a rather good programme with Martin Shaw in the starring role.

29/9 Today we went to Waitrose for lunch and I had a Cumberland sausage in a roll. Then we went back and had tea and a chocolate bar. Christopher went off to sermonate at a wedding and I finished Dreams from my Father. That evening the Laurences didn’t have a hot meal so with the rest of the money Christopher had given me I went into Lincoln in search of food. I was rather taken by the idea of a Kangaroo Burger in Walkabout, but the bar was far too noisy. Eventually I went to McDonalds for “something simple, somewhere quiet”.

30/8 We went to the 10.30 service at Lincoln Cathedral. Christopher had phoned the Precentor and told him about me, and as part of the notices at the start of the service the Precentor blessed me. After the service we drove to David Close’s house for an Old Blue BBQ. This ultimately turned out to be a three-course sit down meal, for which all the males present were roped into carrying plates and serving. As the New Old Blue, I was called on to give my opinion of life under the Franklin Administration.

31/8 The next day David dropped me in Folkingham and I walked south until I reached a tiny little village called Welbourn. There was nowhere to camp and so I slept behind a church. Not impressed.

1/9 I walked most of the way to Peterborough todday. I was sat by a roundabout at about mid-morning, eating some peanuts when a police car drove up and stopped in front of me. Apparently someone had called and said that there was a 10-year old by the road going fishing on his own – i.e. me! The officer checked who I was (Bell Joshua 120791 IC1 male) and drove me into town, warning me to keep my wits about me as it was dangerous. So I decided not to hang about, and after hitting the library and Tesco I took the train to Huntingdon, where again I hunted the local vicar, Reverend David Busk in Godmanchester – arriving just in time for dinner! David lived there with his wife Yoko and their three children, who were delightful and also totally bilingual in English and Japanese. Howard had met Yoko in Japan and was
going out there shortly to interpret for Rowan Williams in a visit to celebrate 150 years of Anglican mission in Japan. To the delight and interest of the children I pitched my tent in the garden, watched keenly by them from a window.

2/9 I told David where I was headed and he called the local vicar in St. Neots, who said I could sleep in the upper room of the parish office. For some reason it took me 5 hours to do a mere 10k, partly as I was feeling under the weather. When I arrived I was taken upstairs and shown the room, and then more or less left to my own devices. So I cooked dinner, read Roaring Lion and made a bed of cushions from chairs, where I slept.

3/9 The next day I decided to return home as the one day I had planned for would not leave me nearly enough time to prepare for the continent. And so our journey ends its first act.

Exeunt.

Quick news Monday, Oct 12 2009 

I hate French Keyboards, but I’m at Besancon – 760km from Canterbury and 40% of the way from there to Rome. ETA is the first week of December!

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