Oh boy, this has been a struggle and not helped by the challenges of finding time, energy, working internet etc. that are all necessary in order to get a skeletal site up and running. But we are up and running at the end of my first rest day: a wonderful day in Chartres. It is appropriate in a way that it starts here because my jumbled memories of how this idea really took shape are that my “French aunt” (she wasn’t my aunt, more complicated than that, more perhaps on that in a later posting) said “Ah, c’est ton pelerinage!”. I think it must have been when I was explaining to her that I was about to hitchhike off to Chartres. I must have been 19 and sort of chaperoning my sister and some of her friends camping near tante Lucienne in Saint Servan in Brittany. I probably had to look up or ask her what “pelerinage” meant but I was very much amused by the idea of an agnostic doing a pilgrimage and knew she was right. That there was something oddly spiritual about my objective. That little pilgrimage went well and I spent a couple of days sleeping rough in a building under construction here and was deeply moved (not for the first time, we’d seen it on an earlier family holiday) by the cathedral.
A year or so later, on a holiday, hitchhiking again but now in the Loire, I started to pick up the references through the scallop shell and the knotted rope belts in architecture in the Loire chateaux and churches, to the pilgrimage to Santiago and it was then or soon after that I decided that when I retired (I was then a preclinical medical student or perhaps just into clinical) that I would cycle from the UK to Compostela. A year or so later I decided that I would also do a separate cycle ride: from the UK to Rome. However, I knew that would come after Compostela. Next year maybe?
OK. I’m here. It’s been an emotional day and I’ve been wrestling with technology for a few hours to get this started so I’ll stop here. Very best to anyone reading this.