Wednesday, 31 August 2011

LMS Ely-Walsingham Pilgrimage: Day 0


Further coverage from the BonesLMSChairman, the Catholic Youth and the Chaplain Abroad. As yet Smeaton's Corner has had nothing of interest to say on the matter, but I have it on good authority that he will do soon.

Part of a Series:

My experience of the pilgrimage was very much like that of Bilbo Baggins' in The Hobbit. I was just a silly, fat hobbit tricked by Smeaton the Grey into going on a long and painful adventure with a bunch of experienced and travel-hardened dwarves. Fortunately there were some other hobbits on the pilgrimage, so I was not alone.

Above: Me on the far right, and in the centre background, Dr Joseph Shawrin (son of Shrain, son of Shror, King under the Mountain). To his right is Fr Balin Rowe.

Above: Smeaton the Grey, planning the pilgrimage and my imminent downfall.
Day 0

Our Lady of Walsingham - ora pro nobis!

The pilgrimage began with me not having packed anything, and thus running around the house with my father having a stress. He furnished me with a useful pair of waterproof trousers and a bag big enough to carry at least 20 cats. Placated, I went on my merry way over to the train station to Balham Tube Station to get the St Bede's minibus from St Bede's Church, Clapham Park. On my way I decided that I wanted to go to Marks and Spencer to get a cheese and tomato roll. This entailed me going to Clapham South rather than Balham, but so be it. When I arrived I realised I'd only had one cup of coffee, and so popped into a coffee shop to have a nice little cappuccino and a lemon-and-poppy-seed muffin. I knew that we would be 'roughing it' in the upcoming days, and that getting a proper cup of coffee would be hit-and-miss so I thought that I'd better enjoy my last bit of indulgence before going on to obtain some actual indulgences.

When I had finished my lunch, I realised that I was lost in Clapham, but thankfully John Tennond Halfelven had my number and guided me to St Bede's, the Last Homely House this side of Norfolk. There I was greeted by Bones, two Australians, Smeaton, two female associates of Juventutem London and Lord Tennond himself. Having been derided for my tattoos by the girls, we hopped into the bus and Lord Tennond drove us on our merry way. On the journey it was revealed that one of the Australians, Ronan, was in possession of a relic of the True Cross, a fact that none of us could really comprehend. This of course led us to comment that if we couldn't comprehend a relic of the cross, how could we possibly comprehend the holy and august sacrament of the Eucharist?

The camp

We got a bit lost, and didn't stop for a coffee or anything. Eventually we arrived at the farm where we were staying. Fr Rowe was there waiting for us, replete with charmcasm and wit. I had decided to bring the cheapest and most glow-in-the-dark plastic rosary with me, which he blessed for me. Smeaton the Grey revealed that I had been exiled from his tent and replaced with an Australian. However, the kindly Bones allowed me to share his, which proved to be auspicious as the Bones Tent was by far the biggest, even bigger than Dr Shaw's Four-Poster tent. After we had pitched up we drove over to the Church, where everyone else was waiting to sup at the presbytery.

'The Tower of Winslow' - Antonio's chariot of fire

At the presbytery, Mrs Shaw and Mr Waddington had prepared supper, a fine array that reminded me of the sort of food we got at St Benet's Hall in Oxford for a garden party. Posh cold meat etc. Here I acquainted myself to new friends and reacquainted myself with old. Mrs Shaw proved herself to be a real mulier fortis by agreeing that we needed to get some proper coffee etc, and so Antonio drove me to Tesco in the Tower of Winslow to buy some.

When supper had ended, and I had put the coffee in the supply box, I had a brief chat with a nice family who were not from Liverpool. There were a couple of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate there, and we had a brief chinwag, before it was time to turn in. The girls, much to the chagrin of equality-minded Antonio, Baron of Winslow, were sleeping in the presbytery while we were camping, and they wanted to go to sleep. Thus we were exiled to the outer darkness. We returned to the farm, where Smeaton the Grey showed us the woefully inadequate bathroom facilities (a little cupboard on the other side of some dark and creepy stables). From the field we had a wonderful view of Ely Cathedral.

Everyone was actually going to sleep, being hardened dwarves who knew what to expect. Bones and I (being stupid, fat hobbits) thought it best if we kept the first watch, and also decided to have a little a night-cap. We were joined by another pilgrim and Lord Tennond, though eventually both these retired leaving us to put the world to rights over a pair of tealights. Oh how the darkness pressed in on us! We were lit simply by two tealights and a mobile phone propped up against a bottle of mouthwash, and with very little artificial light around. We were alerted to the onset of the rain by the pitter-pattering, but we were protected by the tree under which we were seated. Once we had accomplished the righting of the world, Smeaton the Grey re-emerged from his tent, unable to sleep. We saw him through the darkness because he had a head-torch on. Soon however, we were all back in our tents, dozing off to the sound of the rain.

Continues with Day 1.

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