Sunday, 1 August 2021

on being a pilgrim

I went down to Belstone for the launch of the Archangel's Way. I arrived in time to see and hear the bellringers, who were spending the day ringing all the way along the Way, start up the peals in Belstone church, setting the little stone-coloured moths fluttering on the walls. Jim Causley sang a couple of special songs for the occasion and we all joined in with To Be A Pilgrim and Bread of Heaven. 

One of the church team recorded an interview with me and I said some blether or other that I felt daft about afterwards about pilgrimages. I do feel ambivalent about bandying the word around too freely. Like hygge and mindfulness. They should be just Things You Do without having to label them. And the adventures you have on the way make the arrival special and significant, like Cavafy's Ithaka

Jim Causley, and Paul Seaton-Burn Being a Pilgrim

My adventure started with fighting the inclination to bottle out of going at all. And then noticing that one of the car tyres was cracking because the rubber's perished, so I went on a side adventure to a tyre depot near Bruton, which was on a farm and had great piles of huge tractor tyres and, as it turned out, none that would fit Dilys. But seeing the piles of huge tyres like a rubber Stonehenge in the rain was memorable.

And then before I rejoined the A303 at Sparkford, home of the Haynes Manual, I stopped to refuel at a very busy petrol station, and I saw that the Macdonalds next to it was utterly rammed, a foretaste of what the road would be like all the way into Devon now. 

Passing Exeter, the voice of Satan, or, as I used to call it, the Sat Nav, helpfully whispered that it had found an alternative route that would save me 20 minutes. Fool that I was, I hearkened unto its words and went astray, up sunken lanes with no passing places in a convoy of other fools who'd listened to the same tempting advice.

We drove through picturesque villages where the natives scowled at us and I consoled myself with the thought that they were all retired civil servants from the Home Counties and serve 'em jolly well right. Which was probably entirely unjust. 

We drove past a couple of prangs. And a group of caravans that had given up the unequal struggle against this sudden jetstream of numpties and hauled up tight into a passing place, where they probably still are, brewing a consoling cup of tea and assuring each other that they mustn't grumble.

For the return journey, I used mindfulness and went across country to Crediton and Tiverton, and it was all very nice and hyggy. Except for Tiverton of course. So there. Who would true valour see, watch a good movie.

the morris team arriving

the sheep sang alto and very nice too

Sarah Cracknell and the Growing the Rural Church team 


  1. Thank you Dru, very enjoyable reading!

  2. Replies
    1. Always the best sort, if only in hindsight

  3. Hello Dru
    I am actually trying to contact Geraldine Taylor, on behalf of an old friend of hers in Scotland (Lise Bech) who would like to re-make contact. I can't find any contacts for Geraldine. Can you help, are you still in contact with her? I know you illustrated some of her books. Could you email me on:
    Thank you very much!
    Best wishes

    1. HI Marian - I've sent your message to Geraldine using the email address I have for her, and I hope she gets in touch with you!