Over Sunday's Hill: The Return

Over Sunday's Hill: The Return

After leaving southern England's cold, grey, wet, windy weather behind I landed in Phuket in the height of high season. Warm days, cool nights, crowded and noisy beaches, busy and dangerous roads. It has taken me a few weeks to adjust and love being here on this island again. For a while I thought I loved it no more. But I still do.

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A standstill

A standstill

From Milngavie to York to Grantham to Folkingham where I spent 4 days with a Joy sister in a beautifully renovated grade 2 apartment.  Then Grantham to London to Grove Park to Bromley North to Old Netley where I am now standing still.

Old Netley is a small and quaint village near Southampton to the very south of England. It is not as cold here as Glasgow or Folkingham but it sure does get windy and rains a lot. It has rained almost every day since I arrived five days ago and it has rained solidly for the last 5 hours. Not that it really matters anymore. I am dry and warm and there is nowhere in particular I need to walk.

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11 days on: Vagabonding and the Post-Pilgrimage Transition

11 days on: Vagabonding and the Post-Pilgrimage Transition

My days in Rome passed by in a shroud of sickness. Outdoors I was almost constantly cold despite the sunshine and wearing all my layers.

On the Monday morning we returned to the Vatican to obtain our pilgrim certificates.  Once we found the right gate and passed through security we walked into an office, handed over our pilgrim passports and waited for the clerk to return with our certificates.  He spelled my name wrong, with an I instead of Y, something I often let pass by but not after walking 2,000 kilometres.  After he returned with my new certificate, we asked to be taken to the crypt to see St Peter's tomb.  We stood silently for a few moments before leaving the crypt and then handing in our security tag, reclaiming my passport and leaving the inner confines of the Vatican.

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Day 85: Roma

Day 85: Roma

We left La Storta without eating breakfast. Sunday. All the bars were closed.  At least it wasn't raining.  We walked 3 kilometres to the next town, La Giustiniana, where we finally found a cafe up a side street that was open. Two cappuccinos.  An apple and custard pastry.  A cornetto al cioccolato. I filled up on sugar and warmth to keep soldiering on

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Day 84: La Storta

Day 84: La Storta

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This was how I approached today.  We walked 4.5 hours in almost constant rain.  There was nothing we could do about except to decide to take shelter or to cover up as best we could and take one step after the other.  We chose the latter.

It was raining. It was 5 degrees and I was cold. My pants were wet from the knees down and cold against my skin not to mention that my camelbak hydration bladder leaked one litre of water inside The Devil this morning and my butt was now saturated to point of being soggy and cold. 

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Day 83: Campagnano di Roma

Day 83: Campagnano di Roma

It was a tough day for me. I went to bed with a sore throat and woke up with a full blown cold. I've been keeping just ahead of it for 4 weeks or more and it finally caught me.

I walked alone most of the day, unable to keep up with the guys. Well I could have kept up with them if  I really wanted to but it would have been too much for me physically and I would probably end up sicker than I was.

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Day 82: Sutri via Capranica

Day 82: Sutri via Capranica

Today we walked through more pretty autumn woodlands, hazel nut groves and through the beautiful old town of Capranica.  The Via Francigena signs were a little obscure and sometimes non-existent through the hazel nut groves.  We walked 500 metres in the wrong direction and had to turn around. Fortunately we had our maps to help us find our way and as today is a short walk day the extra distance didn't really matter.

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Day 81: Vetralla

Day 81: Vetralla

I was over optimistic about my clothes drying overnight in such a cold room.  I should have known better. Today I was a walking clothesline with pants, t-shirt, longsleeve top, socks, undies and a towel hanging off The Devil to dry as I walked.

All these days of walking have caught up with me.  Despite eating and sleeping plenty, my tank is empty.

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Day 80: Viterbo

Day 80: Viterbo

Despite a relatively early nights sleep last night partly because we were locked inside the convent from 8.30pm and partly because we were so tired, I found myself low on energy today.  Breakfast comprised coffee with warm milk and small toast-like biscuits that I covered in generous amounts of nutella and was perhaps not enough to give me the boost I needed.

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Day 79: Montefiascone via Bolsena

Day 79: Montefiascone via Bolsena

I decided weeks ago that while I am in Italy, I will eat like the Italians do.  One of the best things about this is that it means I am totally justified in eating sweet things for breakfast.  My current favourite is a bomboloni crema, a custard filled donut, and a cappuccino. This morning's bomboloni was the best I have eaten in Italy to date. Just from a small bar in Acquapendente filled with locals stopping in for breakfast on their way to work or dropping the kids off at school.

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