Past Challenges,  Santiago 2018

Nearing the End

Dear Humphrey

One more day! It all seems a bit like a dream reflecting back on the last 78 days. Until now I have been careful to stay ‘in the moment’ as they say not daring to look back or very far forward. But now with just 30 kms or so to go and all limbs still functioning I dare to allow myself to be a little introspective.  Forgive me if it is a little ‘over the top’!

What amazing support I have received from the send off in Lynn, the hospitality of family and friends on my journey through England, the companionship of my brother Tom, Richard Pemberton, Alexander Matheson, Antony Wells, Michael Gurney, Geoffrey Probert and Nigel H-P on the walk, the wonderful messages on social media, the support and coverage of all the other media outlets especially Radio Norfolk’s Nick Conrad and the incredible work been done back home by Anna (Kasket), Chrissy Lloyd Owen, Michelle Corfield and the team at the Community Foundation who have been busy publishing all the material.

Some of the Mexicans

Well I have just spent the day ambling through the oak and eucalyptus woods of Galatia along paths padded with pine needles and bark. Lots of pilgrims including a few Australians who must have felt at home. I met a huge Mexican family of eight plus some sons and daughters in law and grandchildren. They had been to a family wedding in Barcelona and  been persuaded by Dad to do the last 150 ks of the Camino. There is also a splendid team of Camino hardened Frenchmen who I keep bumping in to who have come from Le Puy.

The French team

I have been thinking about the journey through England, the happy dinners had with all our hosts, the Bishop of Ely in his pinny (his promise to pray for me seems to have worked! Thank you Bishop) and the mud and slurry of Chequers and Dorset; about the journey through France beginning with the ‘orage’ at Mont St Michel and a real nervousness about what I had embarked upon, the happy days I spent with Geoff and the loneliness and tedium of certain stretches and more recently my journey through Spain and the endless examples of courage and endurance by fellow pilgrims.

How lucky I have been with my health and general fitness. Everything seems to have held up. Having said that every twinge causes a certain anxiety particularly in the early stages as it would have been disappointing to have retired early. But now apart from a stabbing sensation above the left shoulder blade all is in good order. I will have a lot to thank for when I arrive in the Cathedral.

I have no idea how I will react on arrival. I know the pilgrims’ mass can be very emotional and the singing sublime. My lovely German friend from the earlier Camino I did, said then ‘James .. you will end with a laughing and a crying eye’ . I think he will be right.

Finally I have been so privileged on this journey to wave a flag for the Unpaid Carers and those organisations who support them. I have learned so much about their challenges and the value of the contribution they make to our Social Care system. They deserve all the praise we can give them. Have a look at this video clip to understand what it is all about and if you have not done so already please press the ‘Donate’ button below and be as generous as you can afford.

Thanks for passing all this on Humphrey!

With love from

your friend and master

PS. I will of course be sending a post card from Santiago but I am thinking that will be in a more celebratory mode!

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