The Final Total

Hi folks,

this will probably be the final post on the blog and it is to let everyone know about the approximate final figure reached with our fundraising effort.  Paul did a fantastic job around the hospital raising mostly cash, from his colleagues, friends and acquaintances and with Gift Aid added his total will reach over £1000.00.   The Just Giving sites similarly will reach over £1100.00 and with Gift Aid will be close to £1500.

We are therefore looking at a figure close to £2500.00 to be divided equally between The Severn Hospice and The British Heart Foundation; we are absolutely delighted with this, it was our pleasure to walk for such worthy causes in memory of Tony.

We want to say to all of you who contibuted a huge thank you.   We have been overwhelmed by your generosity.  In the current difficult economic climate people have put their hands in their pockets because they have seen that others needs are greater than their own and for that you all deserve our deepest gratitude.  You are too numerous to mention by name, you are spread around the world, you are all ages, but you have one thing in common, you care about others and you make the world a better place.


Peter & Paul

Paul and Peter adding up the last donations

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Peter’s Camino Story – Part 3

It is inevitable that I will have missed some names and I apologise for that but to everybody that I did meet, thank you for your company, your good humour, your friendship and if I bored you with my story, sorry, but to all of you Buen Camino on your journey through life.  Team Namibia arrived in Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday 4th May 2011 around 12.30pm, the tears flowed, the smiles were very wide, we all texted and phoned our arrival and waved like fools at the web-cam, we hugged and kissed and felt relieved that we had got there.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

From left - Connie, Peter and Hedwig at their destination

To sum up, the first ten days were good with Paul and the others. The middle was very tough for me personally, I could not have hung in there without Eileen and Rachel to get me through, the phone contact was expensive but so very necessary for me and my state of mind.  As for the last ten days I was privileged to meet two ladies who had a goal to do the Camino, who cheered me up and inspired me though they say the opposite!  Hedwig and Connie you are very special people I am so grateful that I had the good fortune to meet you and be part of Team Namibia.  We will meet again, that is a promise. God Bless.

To all those people who supported Paul and I in our Camino fund-raising, we are very grateful.  The final figure is not available as we are keeping the site open and there is money still coming in but it will be close to £2000. It will be divided between Severn Hospice and The British Heart Foundation.

To everyone who offered words of support via email and the blog – especially Tony’s wife Kath for her unstinting support – your kind words are much appreciated.  I did this in memory of a very good friend Tony Embrey, someone I admired, trusted and respected for twenty odd years, much missed, thanks for looking after me Tony.

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Peter’s Camino Story – Part 2

Now for one of the best days on the walk, at Hornillos I met Matthew a fellow English pilgrim (not many of us around) and later had stopped for coffee at Hontanas. The walk from there was down a valley, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, it was absolutely stunning and so peaceful it touched your soul, truly unforgetable.

Beautiful valley after Hontanas

I had dinner in Castrojeriz with Tommy, Monica and Mark from Colorado/New Mexico. After Castrojeriz, I met Sue from Wales and her husband Francois who is French, lovely people whom I was destined to meet again. At Carrillon de los Condes I had dinner with Roberto last seen at Estella or thereabouts. Ukke and Aiya were at the albergue at Ledigos, as was Matthew, and we all ate together.

Walking towards Castrojeriz

Meseta after Castrojeriz


Albergue at Boadilla, complete with storks nesting on the roof

Accomodation at the albergue in Boadilla - luxury by Camino standards!


Julia from Perth, Australia and I watched the Palm Sunday procession together in Sahagun and then walked on to Bercianos and met Gabriel and his dog Carlo, the first pilgrim I had seen with a dog, we met again in Arzua. I also saw a lady who was to play a much more significant part in my Camino than I could ever imagine, this lady was from Namibia and her full name is Cornelia Margarita Langford, but more of “Connie” as I came to know her later. Uneventful from here on. I met Roberto again and we walked into Leon together where we parted company again as he was staying in Leon and I was pushing on to Virgen Del Camino. Here I had a pleasant evening with a new face, Serge from France. This day and the one following were wet wet wet, but brightened in the evening with the reappearance of Monica,Tommy and Serge for dinner.

Palm Sunday procession in Sahagun

Outside the albergue at Bercianos del Real Camino

Sleeping arrangements at the albergue at Reliegos

Gaudi building in Leon

Leon Cathedral

Peter looking rather damp, after Leon

I had another evening with Monica and Tommy at Santa Catalina, with Christina (from America, but studying in York) who I had last seen in Carrillon de los Condes.  Jim and his daughter Maria from Montana were also there.  I walked through more rain to Foncebaddon, and supper again with old friends Monica and Tommy, and Connie, they moved too quickly for me en- route but I usually caught up with them at the albergues and it was always great to see them.  Now onto Pontferrada and an encounter with another lady who was to change my Camino; I had gone into town to find a cashpoint, the lady in front of me had a problem at the machine, we had a brief conversation and went our separate ways.

Between Santa Catalina and Foncebaddon

Pontferrada with Hedwig in the foreground

The next day I went to Villafranca and met Enrique from Spain and Patrizia from Germany en-route and was delighted to have a complimentary slice of empillada and a glass of wine in a lovely bar at Cacabelos. We arrived in Villafranca and went for a beer with Patrizia where I was pleased to meet Connie again. That evening Enrique treated Patrizia and I to an authentic Spanish meal in a beautiful restaurant and insisted on paying the bill in spite of our protests. Enrique you are a gentleman and one day if you come to England I will return the favour, thank you so much. The following morning Patrizia took a more strenuous route to O’Cebreiro and I didn’t see her again, hope you made it Patrizia.

Patrizia and Enrique at Cacabellos

I did catch up with Connie and after the usual Pilgrim chat “where are you stopping tonight and what chance of coffee on the way” etc, we decided to stop at Ruitelan. This is about 10 km short of O’Cebreiro, and we decided send our packs ahead as this is one of the big climbs on the Camino.  Eventually we arrived at Ruitelan where lo and behold we met Hedwig (from Holland) the lady from the cash-point in Pontferrada!  It turned out that Connie and Hedwig had met before. We checked in to the albergue and were given a stern warning by the hospitallero, Carlos, not to get up before 6.30am when we heard the music.  We speculated whether we would hear the music and what sort of music it might be and then forgot about it.  Connie, Hedwig and I had a very amusing afternoon and decided to join forces for the walk up the mountain, but none of us realised then that the partnership was going to endure for much longer than a couple of hours.  We had a lovely dinner prepared by Carlos and went off to bed with the warning about not getting out of bed still ringing in our ears!  At 6.30am we were woken by Ave Maria at 200 decibels booming round the albergue, followed by the Three Tenors and Nessun Dorme and various other classical pieces, we all laid back in bed and enjoyed the music until Carlos appeared in his apron to tell us breakfast was ready.  Absolute magic!

Between Villafranca and Ruitelan

We set off up the hill but progress was slow as we had to keep stopping for laugh breaks, that was a first for me, I don’t know about the other two.  We were at ease in each others company, we walked at the same pace, we talked of our families, our problems, our joys and sorrows, life in general, about everything.  I am sure we solved most of the worlds problems.  There were many laughs and a few tears,  not just from the ladies in the party.  Whenever you meet a new face on the Camino almost the first question is “where are you from?” When Hedwig and I were asked, the answer “Holland” or “England” would usually produce a polite smile and something like “Oh yes I was there once,” but when they asked Connie and got the answer “Namibia” the response was always “NAMIBIA, WOW!” with eyes wide like saucers and mouth open.   At that point we formed Team Namibia.  Even though we live in a democracy I was appointed to lead, but I don’t actually recall a vote! Hedwig was in the middle, as she insisted that as she was only walking 350km she was a “student peregrina,” and Connie was at the back as rear gunner to watch out for enemy cyclists, a bit of a problem sometimes on the Camino. This is how it stayed for the rest of the journey.

Team Namibia in front of the Camino emblem

Walking through the fog from O'Cebreiro to Tiracastella

Lizard, near Portomarin

Horseback Peregrinos near Ligonde

Sign in a bar

Monte de Gozo (Mount of Joy) erected for a Papal visit

We continued to meet old friends and new ones too, namely Michael from Perth, and Julia, also from Perth. In Sarria we met Paul from Cheddar, who I met way back with his wife, but who was now walking with his son Chris. We met new friends Eleanor and Phillip from Tipperary, and in Ligonde an amazing German girl, Gloria, who walked 67k on her first day from Leon, that’s worth a “WOW”. Another new face in Melide, Jody, another Aussie, who had been ill for more than a week but battled on to the end, well done Jody, and the reappearance of cousins Clare and Doreen from Holland.

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Peter’s Camino Story – Part 1

I feel I should write a little about the last 6 weeks even though Rachel has done such a good job on the blog; thank you darling you are a star!

I must begin by thanking Paul for walking with me for the first 10 days; we have not walked together or been in each others’ company for more than the duration of a round of golf before, so there was potential for tension being together for 24 hours a day. I need not have worried; it was great.  I could not have had a better mate to be with, so cheers Paul, the next round of golf and drinks are on me!

Paul and Peter leaving the albergue in Arganon, Day 1

The first few days in France were excellent, slight hiccup in Arroue and no food in Ostabat but otherwise good and the Pyrenees were visible all the way, getting closer all the time! We met a Dutch lady Johanna, who we subsequently met again in St Jean Pied de Port and stayed in the same albergue on several occasions together with other pilgrims: Marty from Northern Ireland, John from Liverpool, John from Colorado, Roberto (Italy), Hank (Holland) Ukke & Aiya (Finland), some of whom I was destined to see again further along the way. The big climb over the Pyrenees was accomplished without too much pain and the next few days to Estella were uneventful – except that there was some disappointment at the wine fountain near Zubiri as it was not working when we arrived. 8.30 am is a bit early for a tipple even for hardened drinkers!

St Jean Pied de Port, a popular start point for the Camino Frances

Vulture in the Pyrenees

Pyrenean view

Pamplona Town Hall

Hank, Paul and Peter and van owner, stopping for a snack after Cizur Menor

Sculptures, looking north after Cizur Menor

en route to the albergue in Punta la Reina

Between Punta la Reina and Estella

The major problems for me came in Estella when Paul left to go home and then again in Viana when the others (see above) left because they walked quicker than I did. While there I also met Christina from Germany, who made a very generous donation to the charity, thank you so much Christina. I walked on but hardly recognised anybody and suddenly felt very alone and emotionally very fragile. Phone calls to Eileen and Rachel got me through a very bad patch and I soldiered on.

Things picked up a little in Ventosa at a lovely albergue where I met Hugh & Noel from Ireland, Eric & Simon (French Canadian), Claude (French) and Gertrude (German). A great communal meal was prepared and too much wine drunk but it raised my spirits a little, thanks to you all. The next few days I stayed at the same albergues as Claude & Gertrude and they were lovely people and great company.

Laundry time at the albergue in Ventosa

Dinner time in Ventosa, from left Simon, Jan, Lucca, Noel, Hugh, Peter, San, Eric, Nero

Rioja country between Ventosa and Ciruena

Probably the best albergue on the whole trip was at Viloria del Rioja, run by an Italian lady and a Brazilian man. Only myself ,Claude and Gertrude were there. The lovely food was prepared by the hospitaleros and because of their multilingual skills we had great conversation, a real highlight made better by the fact that they would not allow in any pilgrims who wanted to leave before 7.30am. BLISS!

The next day proved to be quite significant as I met Tommy and Monica from Sweden, two lovely people with whom I had some wonderful conversations, lots of meals and drinks and saw on many occasions along the way. I saw and celebrated with Tommy in Santiago, but Monica had gone on to Finistere, sorry I missed you Monica, bless you both.

My plan for the Burgos area was to get close to the city and then walk straight through and out the other side, I don’t like the cities and had seen Burgos previously in 2008. Alas it was not to be, the planned stop at Cardenuela was scuppered as the albergue did not open until June. The two young German girls I was with at the time were devastated as we faced a 12 or 13 km walk to Burgos and their feet were not up to it; we managed 5 k to Vilafria but faced with 35euros for a hotel or 85cents for the bus, we caught the bus into Burgos. It was the only time in 900km I used transport, and it was disappointing but the only sensible thing to do under the circumstances. Both Nicola & Antje recovered and made it to Santiago, as I saw Nicola there and she told me Antje made it also, well done girls!

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Home again!

Peter landed at Stansted at 11am on Friday, and was back in Shropshire by 5pm.  He is settling into his usual routine (still walking the dogs!) and is preparing a blog post so you can all read about his adventures.  It will be coming very soon so keep checking…

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Mission Accomplished!

Peter reached Santiago de Compostela yesterday, after walking 900 km.  He enjoyed a night in a hostel (a room to himself, with en suite!), today he attended the Pilgrims’ Mass in the Cathedral.  He flies back to the UK tomorrow morning, and we’re all very excited to welcome him home!

Your generous donations are very much appreciated, it’s not too late to add your contribution (links on the right of this page).

Peter will write a message and upload some photos at the weekend, so check back soon.

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Last day tomorrow…

Peter is 20km from Santiago de Compostela, and is looking forward to reaching his destination tomorrow.  He and his new friends Hedwig and Connie will be staying in a hostel, rather than an albergue, which means that they don’t have to be indoors by 9pm – they can go into the city and have a proper Spanish dinner, instead of chicken or boiled fish with chips or potatoes.  On Thursday he will go to the Pilgrims’ Mass at the Cathedral, and sort out his paperwork.  He flies back to the UK on Friday morning.

Peter’s friend Paul, who walked with him for the first part of the Camino, sent Eileen and I this message:

When Peter and I were talking about his past experiences on the Camino, his enthusiasm and tales became very infectious. He explained about the challenge set to him by his friend Tony, and I expressed an interest in joining him; I must admit at first probably not expecting Peter to take me seriously, thankfully he did. Over many a beer I found my self being more and more fascinated by the thought.

Peter did warn me that the Camino had a habit of grabbing hold of you, which at the time I didn’t take too seriously, I was looking forward to joining one of my best friends on a boys’ adventure, which in the end turned into memories that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Yes, Peter was right, it does get hold of you; so much so that I am now making plans to return to complete my pilgrimage to St James, for reasons that I don’t pretend to fully understand, all I know is that it’s something I have to do. Maybe it’s the lovely people that you meet along the way of which there were many, all nationalities, religious beliefs and social backgrounds all getting on together. Or it may be the fact that the experience presents you with the opportunity to have quality time, to realise what things are most important and precious to you.

Peter is now very close to completing his pilgrimage and I wish I were there, to complete it with him, but for me that’s for another day.  I will be forever grateful for the time that I spent with him on the trail, a time that turned out to be far more precious than I could of imagined.

Thank you Paul, Eileen and I really appreciate you walking with Peter, and we wish you all the best for your Camino in the future.

Paul also sent some photos of the early part of the trip, many thanks!

Wine fountain! (Brilliant invention)

Peter and Paul leaving Punta la Reina

Gathered for Paul's last dinner on the Camino

Peter on the road...

Many thanks to all who have donated, your generosity is very much appreciated by Peter, Eileen, Kath and I, and we know British Heart Foundation and Severn Hospice will appreciate it very much.

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