Distance: 12.3 km – Elevation +120 m – 90 m
Weather: Sunny. Temperature: High 20 degrees
I rose early for breakfast and was surprised to find a large group already in the breakfast room. I said “good morning”, and a chorus of voices replied “good morning” and whilst waiting for my breakfast a conversation began, “Why are you here in Canterbury” I enquired, “I am here to receive a blessing before starting a pilgrimage to Rome” came back the reply, “so am I” I replied and that is how I came to meet Steve Hackman and his wife, Tammy, and son, Ethan and his friend Chris Perks. Steve is an American working in Hong Kong and is walking to Rome to raise funds for a charity.
After breakfast, Jane a friend from my local church in Brushford had arranged to meet me in the Cathedral, and had also kindly arranged for the Revd Dr Tim Naish, who was the Canon Librarian to give a blessing before I left for Rome. It was a special moment to receive the blessing in the presence of friends. At the end of the blessing the Canon handed me the following prayer card.
It was on my pigrimage to Santiago de Compostela last year, when crossing the Pyrenees on the first day and I was wavering a little, I came to a cross with the words ” Je suis le chemin” and from that moment I never looked back.
I had decided for the first week of walking to keep my daily walks relatively short and had arranged for my first night, to stay in Barham at the home of Valery Caless. Valery had been offering hospitality to pilgrims for the past ten years. She is a wonderful host and I had the pleasure of meeting her daughter and baby son and her son in law who is a stone mason at Canterbury Cathedral, her daughter has a degree in theology gained at Oxford University. My stay coincided with a beerfest at the “Duke of Cumberland”, the local pub, to which I was cordially invited by Valerie and together with her family and friends I enjoyed a wonderful evening with live music and a hog roast.
Growing up in Kent I have great memories of picking hops with my mum. Kent in those days was the land of hops and the oast houses used for drying the hops before the beer making commenced in the local breweries – it was a way of life for the local people but much of that has disappeared now.