Category Archives: My Albergue is Cold

Thank you. The target is now £1,000!!!

The rough route Winchester to Bath

The rough route Winchester to Bath

Thank you to so many of you for donating to the charity Shelter in conjunction with my walk to Bath between 10-13 December. The approximate route is above – Google insists on roads even though I am walking over country – which offers an idea of where I shall be going. The original £500 target has been smashed and I have now doubled it to £1,000 so I still need you to give more. Please donate here!

Homelessness is a terrible scourge. I will “walk home for Christmas” from Winchester Cathedral to Bath Abbey to visit my daughter and to raise money in support of the UK charity for the homeless, Shelter.

I will be living out for three nights under a simple tarpaulin in the middle of a cold and damp British winter to try to experience something of what our homeless have to go through every day.

Whatever your location in the world, as long as you have a debit card, credit card or PayPal account you can contribute something to help.

We have beaten the first target; let’s beat the second one of £1,000. Please give as much as you can via my Just Giving site here, to help the homeless at this Christmas time. Thank you.

The plan is to arrive at Bath Abbey at midday on 13th December. I would be very happy to see any of you there if you can make it.

Tom

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Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim

One of the best travel books of the year has to be Like a Tramp, Like A Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome by former Coldstream Guards officer, and Blandford Forum’s premier travel writer, Harry Bucknall. Recounting his pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome, it is fresh, and full of good humour.

By Tom Sawford

This is Harry’s second book. His first, In the Dolphin’s Wake, recounted a journey from Venice to Istanbul,  which is quite surprisingly a journey of more than 5,500 miles across the Aegean that included …

“the glories of Mount Athos, 36 islands, and every island chain in the Greek Archipelago. It also involved 57 sea passages on 35 ferries, four landing craft, three hydrofoils, a fishing caique, a sea plane, 11 buses, two trains, an open-top Land Rover, and a duck egg blue 1961 Morris Oxford.”

Like a Tramp, Like A Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome demonstrates Harry’s  development as a writer since his Greek Odyssey. As a Santiago peregrino myself I instantly empathised with the motivations, the pains, the joys, and the surprises to be found on the solo journey of a pilgrim. Even when walking with others there is a solitary dimension to pilgrimage which permits the walker to observe with a detached eye the changing landscapes, the historical dimensions of the road, and the sometimes absurd characters one meets on the way: Harry very successfully brings us a gently unfolding list of observations, anecdotes and stories of friendship.

The 1,500 mile route from Canterbury to Rome is an ancient and well travelled path. Our Anglo-Saxon chronicler Bede often sent his acolytes off to borrow books from the Vatican library but never made the journey himself. One has to ask if they managed to return them in time and how big the fines may have been.

It is a long journey and one much less well-known than other pilgrim routes such as the one to Santiago de Compostela. Only a handful of pilgrims start out each day, compared to sometimes hundreds in Spain. This makes Harry’s journey all the more interesting for his readers as he encounters things new, and brings a wryly observed perspective to others more familiar.

For me the second half of the journey was the most enjoyable. As Harry enters Italy the pace and temperament changes.  Less history.  More humour.  Rather like Nick Hunt and Paddy entering Slovakia there is some invisible border on such a journey.  One of the mind or the spirit. It may be related to something physical but it is more than this. From my own experience on the Camino it is clear that a long journey has many phases each with their own character. It is in Italy that Harry finds hilarious situations despite his tiredness. He reveals to us, and calmly copes with, the frustrations encountered in a country that does not function particularly well, whilst journeying with an ever growing band of assorted and garrulous pilgrims from many nations. 

As with all good travel books the tale ends with the enticing possibility of a further journey: a next phase. I look forward to that, but in the meantime I will recall with pleasure this enjoyable book. One for the Christmas list to help stave off (or possibly encourage?) wanderlust. It is potentially dangerous contraband.

Now, where did he get that title from? 🙂

Buy Like a Tramp, Like A Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome

Buy In the Dolphin’s Wake

As I will walk out one December morning

DSC01639Many thousands visit this blog every month, and have done since I started it all in 2010. I know that you all enjoy different sections and themes. The Paddy blog is, and will remain, free at the point of reading, but I do want to ask you for something quite important at this time.

Homelessness is a terrible scourge, and between 10-13 December I will walk from Winchester Cathedral to Bath Abbey to visit my daughter and to raise money in support of the UK charity for the homeless, Shelter.

Below I tell you why I want to do this at this time, and how you can donate. This applies to anyone whatever your location in the world, as long as you have a debit card, credit card or PayPal account.

I have set myself a modest target which I want to smash, so please give as much as you can via my Just Giving site here, to help the homeless at this Christmas time. Please give.

Tom

For all sorts of reasons, people in our great country, men and women, and sometimes entire families, end up without a home, have no bed of their own, without warmth, and don’t get to eat simple, wholesome food.

All of you reading this have these things and more: a job; friends and family to share your happy times with; money; and perhaps more than this, a future.

We have all passed these people in our towns and cities, perhaps feeling guilty that we have not given them a pound. But also maybe thinking that if we did they would only spend it on booze. You may be right.

The charity Shelter aims at long term solutions for homeless people, giving them chances not just for a roof over their head, but also to help them make a future. To get a job and to rebuild their lives.

I have a friend who lives on the streets around my train station in Winchester. He is called Paul. He is an ex-soldier, and served his country well, but for reasons that I don’t understand he now has problems with alcohol and lives on the streets. He is about my own age.

I met Paul in May and wrote about him, contrasting his life with someone more privileged, also a brave soldier, in this poem.

It would be good to help Paul and others like him at this time of year when the nights are painfully long, and damp and cold.

My daughter Harriet finishes her term at Bath University on 14 December and for some time I have wanted to walk to Bath. So at this Christmas-tide I am going to do that. It is not so far, only about 60 miles but I will probably end up walking further. I thought that maybe I could combine my walk with raising money for the work of Shelter.

I will have some modern clothing and kit and will try to keep as dry and warm as I can. But I will live outside under meagre cover, with a simple shelter and may experience some of the cold and damp that is the daily lot of people like Paul.

This walk will not change anything, but it may help some good people who have fallen on hard times and who are really just like you and me. The people who we so often turn away from and walk on by. My walk may however make a small difference.

It will soon be Christmas and we will spend an awful lot of money on ephemeral things. Please consider giving some of what you may spend to help the work of Shelter with homeless people in this country; give some of your hard earned cash to the cause which I am supporting.

Thank you from me. And thank you from Paul.

You can donate now very easily on my Just Giving page. Please help.