COIMBRA – CONCLUSION AND CONTEMPLATION

A few years ago I stood on the path of a labyrinth marked out in a friend’s garden and, looking up at a benevolent full moon, asked the universe what was to become of me. Did I have the courage, resources and wherewithal to give up work, follow a dream and charge out of the … Continue reading

WHEN AN END CAN BE A BEGINNING

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA A group of men in crimson robes adorned with golden scallop shells emerged from the cathedral sacristy and made their way to the altar. There they unhooked a rope attached to a pulley and hoisted up the huge silver “botafumeiro”, the largest incense burner in the world and a famous symbol of … Continue reading

TRAVELLING LIGHT

On the coast just to the East of Santiago de Compostela I crossed some dunes on a long wooden boardwalk and found Carnota Beach stretching out lazily in the sun. It was unlike any other beach I had visited and a day there felt like a day spent in Heaven. The curved beach was wide … Continue reading

ONE DAY, TWO TEACHERS

I  head south-west through Poitou-Charentes, the Cognac, region and decide to make a convenient stop-over at Saint-Hilaire-de-Villefranche.   On the way I call in at Saint-Jean-d’Angély because the name sounds so pretty. I park near some splendid civic buildings then enter the old town and stop by the ‘office de tourisme’ for some information. The lady … Continue reading

I come full circle

As I approach I can see Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral from miles away, standing completely alone on the skyline. Vézelay pilgrims saw Sainte Marie-Madeleine on the top of a far green hill, St Jacques pilgrims taking this route to Santiago see this important stage of their pilgrimage rising before them across a vast plain.   These … Continue reading

Serendipity strikes again

The night before I leave Bourges, heading for Chartres – a special destination for me – I look at the map and let fear into my heart.  It is clear that the autoroutes would be quicker and easier.   I would prefer a route nationale but I know I cannot drive for long periods due to … Continue reading

When does a traveller become a pilgrim?

When I started to dream, several years ago, of wanting to Journey I wondered what the experience should be called in my mind. Would it be an adventure? An odyssey? A pilgrimage? A quest? An expedition? Or would I simply be on a tour? I knew the word ‘holiday’ did not once enter my thoughts. … Continue reading

When a Journey is more than a trip . . .

My Journey is about to begin. I leave in a few days’ time. I have come to call it simply Journey in my head, rather than the journey, it has become a thing.  Journey. Perhaps because it encapsulates so much more than merely a ‘trip’ – It has more meaning than that to me. As … Continue reading