Sunshine

shadows-on-the-camino

The lights had snapped on without warning in the dormitory. I had been awake for an hour or two, serenaded by an orchestra of snoring, grunting and farting.

The Duck had not been awake.

“Pu**** de m****.” He greeted the artificial dawn. “You do this in France…you die.”

We walked the first half an hour guided by Stu’s head torch. We may have passed through the Garden of Eden – I don’t know. It was dark.

An hour down the road, after a fortifying breakfast of omelette sandwiches and milky coffee, our mood improved. Sunshine appeared. We walked together, even made conversation.

The Duck provided a running commentary on the flora and fauna that we passed on the farm-path. Seriously. Who knew? The Duck is a short, foul-mouthed, Basque version of David Attenborough. Together with Stuart ‘Bill Oddie’ Smith, it was a twitcher’s segment on Autumn Watch.

After the steep gradients of day one in the Pyrenees, this was much more the ticket. There may even have been a jaunty whistle or two.

His artistic side awakened by the sunshine and wildlife, the Duck produced a massive digital SLR and started taking stunning photos.

“Is there no end to your talents?” I asked.

“F*** off.”

Back in the real world

Weary, both from the walk, and a long wait at Bilbao, I was ready for a lie-down.

As I emerged into the arrivals hall at Heathrow, I was met by the four ladies in the picture and their banner. The grown ups are Kate and my wife Margaret. The wee ones are Kate’s daughter Jessica and her friend Ivy.

For Barbarians – Kate was known to us all as Bob (merci, Rowan Atkinson), and is part of the Dexter-Smith clan. The banner, it must be said, is a work of art, entirely completed by Jessica and Ivy and now a prized-possession.

What a fantastic surprise! A huge thank you.

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The camino.

What can I say?

It will come as no great shock to you that I can, in fact, say quite a lot.

Add in the reflections on the Tight Head and the Talonneur, and it might run to a book…

That’s the plan. I am going to put together a short e-book, which will go on sale through Amazon. All royalties from the sales will go to Our Lady’s Hospice.

The book will not be expensive, nor will it be War and Peace. It will however be funny. Believe me when I say, that in a month of Sundays, I could not have dreamed up some of the stuff that happened. I am hoping to bully my extremely talented and busy writing-buddy Amanda Fleet into editing it for us, which will increase the quality ten-fold.

This is where you come in.

Can you persuade/cajole/bully/beat your friends into buying a copy?

We really appreciate that many of you have already donated and we are grateful for your generosity.

Naturally – I will publish some posts here. The Duck took some stunning pictures for a start, but as he says,

“Buy the book. It’s the real stuff.”