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Friday, July 8, 2011

England 2011: The whole story with Pictures (all former posts and newer ones)

Saturday, May 14, 2011, 4:48:51 PM

Barns and Noble Glendale AZ
Next Monday I’ll be heading back to England.  Well maybe not just England, maybe Austria and France again, maybe Ireland and Scotland?  Lots of Maybe’s but that the story of my life.   Since August my world has been a roller coaster ride.   Today, as I sit here writing, I’m not a happy camper currently filled with fear about what the future has in store.  I’m not focused, definitely distracted and stuck.  So I met with my therapist today where after shedding some tears, sharing a few laughs we came to the conclusion this is not a new place for me.  I’ve sat in her office with the same story only different charters, boy talk about not getting your process.

However, I do get the trick is to overcome the fear of changing it.  I had to laugh as she described me as putting on the John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood fa├žade of being in control of the situation hiding the timid, shy, and scared not in control me.   We laughed as she rolled her eyes and asked “How many times have we been here.”  So she sent me off to England for yet another spiritual quest.  Indeed each trip has been a kind of spiritual awakening to heal the hurts, boost self-confidence, and connect with what messages I’ve been missing that God has been sending.  We had a really good laugh as she pointed out that God has put messages right in front of my face, but fear has kept me from reacting as I’ve really want to.
So on Monday I’ll climb on the jet, with my friend Mark, and head off with the sinking feeling in my stomach that I should stay here.  My head telling me that if by staying the day will be saved, all will be well, and everyone will live happily ever after.   I’ll find a way to protect my kids from being hurt, or going down the wrong road.  I’ll be able to fix my sisters pain from losing her husband and best friend.  And, going back to the movie theme that after the trials and tribulations all problems are solved, and the hero rides off into the sunset with the heroine.   Honestly! This may happen somewhere, but it has not happened for me.

The problems don’t magically disappear, and the heroine rides off into the sunset with someone else.  Mostly because I’ve waited for some sign or message that will tell me it’s O.K. to express my feelings.  The message never comes, I never express which equals no Hollywood ending.  So I’ll go with my head, not to be confused with intuition, creating fantasy of what will happen while I’m gone.  Because you do know I have a crystal ball which will tell me the future, yeah right

Monday, May 16, 2011, 12:48:29 PM

Delta Airlines Flight 1546, 37,000 ft., currently over Oklahoma

On the way!  We left Phoenix at 11:00 am currently almost two hours into the flight to Atlanta.  So far so good as they say.   Texted Son, Daughter and Claudia prior to taking off from Sky harbor.   Had a very nice cab driver take us to the airport which reduced my worries about getting to the plane on time.  Getting to the airport is always an anxious event for me.   There is always this fear of missing the plane do to some unforeseen event on the Phoenix streets or highways.   So until I’m in the terminal at the gate my nerves are a jangle.  It does not matter whether or not it is a local flight or international I want to be at the airport long, very long, before it takes off.
My son was to take us to the airport, but after some discussion we decided that it would be better if I drove my car to Marks and we take a cab from there.  Of course that puts me back in control of getting to Marks house on time.   Having spent close to five years, running around Phoenix to every ER doing evaluations, makes me think that I can get places quicker the others.   Reality is that it’s probably not a true thought, but it gives me the illusion of control.  So many times, in my therapy practice, I talk with clients about the illusion of control most have.   Long ago it became quite clear to me that letting go of attempting to control events around me make life easier.  However, there are times that slipping back into that mode causes me much distress.

Controlling the environment, circumstances, and people in one’s life is pretty much an illusion.   One can attempt to cover all the bases yet the universe may have a different idea which is called getting thrown a curve ball.  Health issues, relationship changes, Divorce, Termination from a job, car breaking down etc… are all curve balls.  Life was going along fine, than sometimes something happens to make it even better, them BAM!   Everything changed in the blink of an eye leaving a mixed bag of unpleasant feelings.  Like a rollercoaster up you go feeling great, happy, and hopeful then down you go depressed, sad and hurt, but you’re not done yet because HOPE jumps in to save the day.  Up you go again only to realize there is no hope.

My world was rocked and I’m left with hope but nothing more.  The only thing I could do differently is hide in my house not coming out unless I had to go somewhere.  Kept to myself and not experience any of the wonder that was available for a short time.  I could have attempted to control the situation and mold it into what I wanted it to be.  This would have led to my attempting to manipulate in order to get my ends met, but not anyone else’s.  I use to do that and found it wanting and still not in control.  When I was a therapist I use to do an exercise with parents of Teens, and couples in relationships to help them understand that attempting to control rather than working together to reach a join resolution is not productive.  But, one person can’t do that all involved need to be on board.  It also helped them understand that sometimes you have to let go, move on, and be content with what was that can longer be.  Sad, depressed, numb, and hurt are companions for a while leaving me thinking that I’ll never do this again.

But, someday I’ll be taken by surprise fine I opened myself up for this to happen again.  Yet maybe, just maybe this time it will be different.  Darn hope.

6:12:21 PM

Delta Fight over Atlanta:
We have left Atlanta heading to London.  My seat mate is a professor of Art History in Kentucky who is heading to England to do research.  Mark is across the aisle trying to stay awake until we are served our dinner.   A few moments after sitting down the stewardess approached my set and asked if I were Mr. Cooke.  My heart immediately began to pound surely bad news was to follow my acknowledgement.  But it turned out to be a quite simple question of did I order a special meal which I had.  I can’t wait to see what my non-dairy vegetarian meal tastes like.   I had a nice pasta salad at the Atlanta airport so we’ll see how this goes.  So far I’m sticking to eating healthier than ever before and certainly have more energy.

Dinner was fruit, Green salad, Vegetable medley, 9 grain bread, water, and Promise spread.   Only thing I’m not sure of is the Promise spread other than that I think I did good.  I’ll have to check about the Promise spread.

11:04:29 PM

That’s’ it until tomorrow.  Good night, Gods speed, and Peace.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 10:29 am

Arrived England two hours early flashed through customs, collected our bags and purchased a bus ticket to Salisbury.  Originally we were to land in England at 11:00 am which meant 1/2 hour wait for the bus, but since we landed two hours early we now sat around for an 1 1/2.   The bus ride is about one and a half hours, which gave us both a bit of dozing time before arriving in Salisbury.  Every time I get off the bus here I am reminded of the first time I got off the bus with no idea where to go.  I wandered around for about an hour before I found a map and headed off to the YHA.  Today, without a second thought we picked up our 50 pound bags and off we went to the YHA.  After checking in it was time to head to the retrieve our bikes.

My bike, for the sixth year was locked exactly where it had been deposited the year before.  Mark’s bike however was no were to be found.  My bikes, two of them, had four locks holding them in place to my dismay the keys in my pocket only unlocked two of them.  Had I not brought all the keys with me?  I racked my brain for what I had done with the other two keys.  As we walked away from empty handed I hoped I’d not left the keys at home.  This would mean cutting locks while being watched by CCTV cameras.   I, slowly, remembered that I had put the keys on two separate key rings, but could only remember packing one of them.  I have to return to the YHA and dig through my stuff.  We stopped at a bike shop to check out prices and I was able to chat with Pip who helped my purchase my bike last year.

Back at the YHA I searched through all my bags emptying everything on to the floor of our teeny tinny room which sleeps four.     No key in that bag, no key in that bag, no key in that bag only one left.  I begin searching my handle bar bag nothing on the bottom now to empty out the side pockets.  Keys! I found keys, wait these are the keys I already have one pocket left.  At the very bottom of the last pocket I find the keys I need to unlock both bikes.  Life is like that isn’t it?  Searching for something in all the obvious places, then when we look in the least obvious place we fine gold.  Some people spend a great deal of energy looking at thing right in front of their faces missing the gold that God has but around them.  I’ve missed it time and time again.

It reminds me of a story about a wealthy prince in India who believed he was missing the most fabulous gem in the world.  The story goes something like this he set off to find this gem.  While he was searching his palace falls in to disrepair, his servants strip it bare using their new found wealth to build their own palace.   His family had to use whatever money was left to buy food, but that soon ran out.  One by one his family died and the palace was taken over little by little by the jungle.  After the many years of useless searching the prince returns home only to fine ruin.  He is in rags as he has spent the fortune he took with him to pay for his journey.  He wanders around then falls to his knees in sorrow having found the graves of his family.  He cries out “Why!” as he looks toward the sky.  Slowly he lowers his head and as he does so notices a statue that has been in his yard forever.  There imbedded in the statue is a huge gem.  In fact it is the most precious gem in the world.  But, it now means nothing as those thing that were really the most precious gems are now gone.  Look around your “backyard” before you go off in search of things that can be found there.

After returning to the YHA with both my bikes we had dinner.  While Mark was entertaining a group of kids from Cornwall I placed a call to Claudia to catch up on events of the last three days.  Her laughter is intoxicating, and she always able to put a positive view on things.  Our SKYPE call just ended when Mark returned with a picture of the group he had been telling a story to.  I tracked down my daughter who was returning to Phoenix from Las Vegas then let my son, via Facebook; know that we had arrived safely.  It had been a long somewhat stressful day time for bed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 11:56 pm

Mark buys a bike after much searching the stores here.  It will be awhile before the bike is ready so we wander around town.  We end up in Poundland, of course, pick up some absolutely necessary things then head to the Kings Head Pub.  I spend some time cleaning up my bike so it is ready to go.  After picking up Marks new bike we ride a little bit then it’s back to the YHA to get things packed so they are ready to load on the bikes.

 Thursday, May 19, 2011, 8:23 pm

Spent another day at the YHA to finish getting things in order to be able to ride and camp.  Tomorrow we will move to the campgrounds and I begin doing my Stewarding for the Festival.  My second bike is now completely put back together and I’ll attempt to sell it on Saturday at the town market. 
Dinner:                                                                 Breakfast:                                                           Lunch:

Precooked rice = 1.05                                     Cantaloupe = 2/2.50                                       Avocados = 3/1.00
Stir Fry veg       = 1.79                                       x4 breakfasts = .62 per meal.                      Cherries = 1lb/1.00

Total                     2.84                                                                                                                         1 Avocado and cherries = 1.33
Made 3 meals = .95 pence a meal

Friday, May 22, 2011, 11:15 am:

Today moved to campground after getting everything packed into panniers.  Mark suggested that we take trial ride with the packed bikes so off we went.  Mark managed to ride into a hedge and fall over, but was not hurt.  He was not distracted by a woman, but a horse.  Other than that the ride went well and we made good time should be able to cover more distance this year.  We arrive at the campground and receive a warm welcome from Nigel and Wendy. We are told our corner, where we set up our tens, is waiting for us..  By the time we set up I had to race off to the cathedral for my first volunteering stint.  I spend 2:30 to 5:00 pm in the entrance of the cloisters to be available to answer questions about the performance going on there.  Mark pays me a visit and we make plans for dinner.   Joined Mark for dinner at the Kings Head Pub prior to the next event.
I found on the menu a Vegan dish of one of my favorite meals in England; sausage and Mash.  They had meatless sausages which were quite good, mashed potatoes, and a very tasty cider.  No butter or milk used to make the mashed potatoes.  Now off to the market place for the beginning night of the festival.  After a bit of direction I was paired up with two very nice ladies Megan and Kate.  We were to guard the fencing around a sound booth and one of the spot lights.  We had a great time chatting, watching the show, Kate helped a person who swooned, and I attempted to chase a person who had climbed up on the stoplight platform, only to find out she was a member of the press. The show itself is composed of a group from Chili who preform after being hoisted in the air by a crane.  All in all it was a very enjoyable night. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 11:15 am:

Today is town market day and hopefully at good day to sell my old bike.  After moving around town to different spots we give up.  After dinner we managed to get the bike out to the campground where it now sits in front of the office for sale.  In between I talked to my daughter then headed to one the events I was to volunteer at.  However, I ended up being almost an hour late.  Upon arriving one of the Stewarts sent me to the spot I was to work.  There I met Megan again who had volunteered to fill in for me as they thought I was not going to show up.  Her partner was quite put out by my late appearance and made sure all knew it was just not proper.  I surely thought she would have me taken out behind the Cathedral and flogged.
She reminded me of the times I’d been so inflexible, demanding all go just as it was suppose to.  A time of being very put out by those who did not follow the rules, or arrive on time so to speak.   There are times that I catch myself still doing this behavior.  I’m sure now that this is part of the funk I find myself in.  Things are supposed to turn out, or go a certain way and I don’t want to repaint my picture yet again.  The canvas is extremely heavy do to the lays of repainting.  Will there ever be a time I don’t have to repaint the picture?  That all will be as what was painted?  I know how to do that just paint a safe picture with me surrounded by fences and walls that should do it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 11:15 am:

Mark is off to Canterbury and then Amsterdam today.  We were up early so he could get packed and to the station in time to catch his 10 A.M. train.  He would have to get off the train and bus part of the way to his destination.  Also, he’d have to ride across London to get from one train station to the other.  He let me know later in the day that he had arrived safely with little problems.  After he left I rode around town looking for a new front tire, but had no luck.  There is not much open in Salisbury on Sundays.  Went back to the campground took a nap then headed into town to spend time at the Kings head making SKYPE calls.  Spoke to my mother, Daughter and son catching up on doing here and there.  Today my son was holding a one year birthday party for my granddaughter Rebecca.  After that it was time to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Monday, May 23, 2011, 6:07 AM Arizona, 2:07 pm England


Mark discovered a bump and torn sidewall on the front tire of my bike.   Because of this my plan of heading to Southeast England has been put on hold.  This morning after porridge and coffee at the Kings Head I stopped in at Stonehenge Cyclery to get a new tire.  I spoke with Pip for a bit than asked Christopher to order me a tire called an Armadillo Cross Trail made by Specialized Bikes.  It will take two days to get the tire delivered so I’m not going anywhere this week which is just as well.  It is overcast today and quite windy again so don’t really feel like riding a fully packed bike in this weather.  Really don’t feel like doing much of anything and am hoping that once I can get on the road this will pass.   I’m allowing myself to do nothing right now in hopes of finding something to talk to my spirit.

I sorted out my money which helped me feel better about being here as I am quite worried about having enough for the trip this year.  In November I resigned from 227 Tax Service dba as H & R Block after ten years of working the Block stores in Flagstaff.  The new owners refused to protect me from the under handed attacks by a co-worker.  They refused to protect a female employee in his store, and verbal abuse of other employees.  So it was time for me to head on down the road into my own business.  This was not something I ever expected to be doing again, but with the help of my friend Lisa and her partner Gene it’s a done deal.  My new office is in one of Flagstaff’s historic buildings.  When my customers came in they did nothing but rave about the building.  The tax season turned out to be not as good as I’d hoped for.  I was sad to leave my friends at Block, but soon found out that I only had one real friend there.  We are in contact and will get together upon my return from this trip.
I’ve been very sad, this trip and I think this is one of the reasons for the sadness  I put a lot of myself into makeing the Block stores successful only to have someone undermine everything, and the owners reduce the stores to nothing but tax return mills.  Everyone is expected to churn out 600 to 700 returns, and are allowed to take as many returns for themselves with no though for the others in the office.  The owners put nothing back into the community, taking as much as they can.  I am so glad I’m not working there any longer.
So many things happened since last November that has caused me to sink into this grand funk.  First my son-in-law decided he no longer wanted to be married.  He expounded on the reasons he no longer wished to be married which ended being a cover for the real reason.  He’d had a girlfriend for some time now and wanted to be with her.  Sadly this caused my daughter and grandchildren great distress.  Then my brother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer and given about six months to live.  I’ve known Victor since he was seventeen and was very much more a brother then brother-in-law.   Vic, my sister and their daughter Laura made the trip from Florida to California via car.  Victor wanted to spend what time he had left with his daughters and grandchildren.  My son and daughter wanted to see their uncle before he passed so I made a trip with each of them to California.  My daughter and I made yet another trip for his memorial service.  
My former wife fell out of her car in October breaking her foot.  This caused her to end up in a rehabilitation facility in order to regain strength in her legs and get some other health problems under control.  She was expected to regain her mobility and return home.  However, the first week in January she took a turn for the worst and I received a call from my son on January 9th she had died.  We set about making arrangements for the funeral and setting up room for friends and family who were arriving.  My former wife had a lot of friends and most showed up at the memorial service.  My children and grandchildren will hurt a long time from her loss.  Within two weeks I had two people with whom I had spent the better part of my life ripped from the world.  So many major losses not to mention several other events happening during that time have taken their toll.
As I said my therapist as suggested that I take the trip in the hopes of having yet again a spiritual renewal.  So far not much of anything happening which hopefully will change once my new tire arrives, or will I find yet another reason not to move from this spot?  As usual when I look around, and pay attention there is God talking to me though people, places and things.  When I pay attention understanding begins to take place
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Went for a ride just to see how long it would take to get there.  Stopped into the camp office and talked to Nigel who printed me a map showing the route to Danebury Hill Fort.  I figure the tire will hold out for a short ride because I’m only going 16 miles.  First oops!   Actually according to the map I’d be going 30 miles round trip.  However the map does not take into account getting misplaced from time to time.  Seems that the way of things you have the map all set then you get misplaced due to one thing or the other.   I leave the campground at 2:45 pm thinking I can ride a bit then turn back whenever I want.  Along the way I’m passed by a group of bike riders on sleek racing bikes.  Why is it that everyone passes me by?  I begin to speed up then remind myself that the tire is bad, and I’m in no rush to get anywhere.
They hit a hill and begin to slow down one actually gets off his bike and walks up the hill.  Not me I ride up reaching the top at the same time they do.  My head tells me this will cost you I check my map and head off as they rest.  At the next intersection one of the riders pulls up to me and asks directions.  Ha Ha!  I’ve got a map they don’t, knowingly I give directions.  He asks where I’m heading “We’re not going that far” says he.   About an hour into the ride I stop and look at the map.  Looks like I’m about half way there no problem.  Stopping again to check the map I spy a back way to my destination.  This is great as I’m riding on a very busy road with car zipping by very close to me.  After a couple of oops I’m on a road that could be the right one.  By now I’ve gone up and down about 10 hills all of which have been very steep.
The road ends at a “T” and looking around for direction signs there are none to be found.  I’ve been on the riding two hours now and am faced with which way to go as this could not be the road I think it is.  Well I’ll pretend it is so off I go.  Half hour later I arrive at the Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort elated.  Now to return back to the campground via a different route so I try to avoid the busy road that got me here.  It is now four hours into the ride and I stop to check the map.  This is not going well my little detour is going to require more time gong back the coming.  I ride on and have now climbed about 20 hills of very long and steep duration.  My legs are getting tired but I tell myself no problem.  Five hours and maybe 24 hills later it looks like I’m still an hour from the campground.  I’m walking up the hills and costing down the other side.  I remember my first ride here when I could no longer ride and walked about 20 steps at a time.
I can do this, this is not then.  So back on the bike I clime and look for that second wind I’ve heard about.  Nope no second wind as I walk up the last hill, well I think it’s the last hill.  I’m passed by to other riders and tell myself they have not ridden as far as I have makes me feel better anyway.  So back on the bike and ride the last hill slow and steady reaching the campground six hours after I started.  Takes longer then you think to get there, sometimes doing things differently is not the answer, you can always make it one way or the other
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tire arrived!  After sitting in the sun this morning enjoying a breakfast of fresh bananas, Strawberries and soy milk it was off to town to pick up my new tire.  Coffee at Starbucks while checking and sending emails then on to Facebook to see what the rest of the world is up to.  Lunch time found me back at the campground working on the bike as the sun started to be blocked out by the clouds. 
Thursday, May 26, 2011, 4:57 pm:
Rain, Rain go away come again another day!   Sun shine when I awake which slowly turns to overcast, then rain and wind.   I spend the better part of the day at the Kings Head Pub writing and planning routes on my computer.
Friday, May 27, 2011, 2:00 pm:
More overcast, more wind and some rain thrown in.  Just killing time and becoming frustrated at doing nothing which is not lifting my spirits at all.  Kings Head to Starbucks to King Head is what this day is made up of.
Saturday, May 28, 2011, 6:00 pm:
Today I’m to work the Cathedral again.  Yesterday an email was sent out stating that functions at the Cathedral required a suit, little late for that, tie etc…  The answer I received, after writing back that all I had was a white shirt and dark pants as stated in the original dress code email, was not to worry all will be fine.  I hurry to the Cathedral to take up my station and am there one hour early.  I take up my station at where I think I’m supposed to be and wonder why there is no one to relieve.  I pick up a Festival brochure and see that there are two events with the same name.   It appears the one I’m to be at is in the Cathedral not in the Cloisters. 
Shit I’m late now.  I’m five minutes late to the check in and John, the head Stewart, is already giving out information.  He looks at me and asks if there was anything he could do for me.  “I yours” is my reply to which he rolls his eyes.  Smile, play nice, I tell myself.  “Right and you are?” he says.  After telling him my name he rustles through some papers hands me a couple of sheets along with a badge and returns to giving instructions.  Meanwhile an older gentleman smile’s at me and says “This is the fellow for Arizona.”  I smile to all, but across from me is the grumpy puss lady for the other evening.  She does not smile and my heart aches to think how hard it must be to live in her unsmiling world.   I take up my post at the main door and do as the instruction sheet tells me.  I greet everyone, hold the door, and answer questions of which most I guess at.  I’m at the main door; I’m the first one everyone sees as they come in for their tickets.   I’m quite surprised that I’ve not been placed on the back door or something of the like.  But, nope I’m here right out front and certainly not dressed as the rest of the stewards are.  No suit, no tie, no socks, however, the dress code did not call for socks.
The show starts and after ten minutes I’m allowed to leave my post and enter the Cathedral to watch the show.   I’m motioned to come in by one of the other Stewards so I do and sit.  Grumpy puss lady is across from me scowling.  The show finished and I stand to take my place with the rest of the Stewards, however John walks over and says “I’ll have you badge now.”   Oh my being drummed out to the service.  As I head toward the doors the two stewards standing there say to me “That was very rude of John.”  I smile and say “It is what it is.”  As I turn to leave I think No he is not going to get away with this.”  I find him and say “Might I have a word in private.”   Of course he’s very busy but consents “John I’m sorry.  I’m not here to cause problems.  I told Helen, who sent out the email, that I had no suit.  She told me it would be fine. If you have a problem I suggest you take it up with her.”  He looks me up and down and says “That’s the problem with the Festival people.  We at the Cathedral just don’t dress that way.  I sure if you when to something like this in the states you’d not fine anyone dressed like you.”  My answer “John I go to Plays, Operas, and Symphonies dressed like this.  We do things different in Arizona and are not quite so uptight. Again I’m sorry I’ve offended you I’m here just trying to help out don’t mean to cause you problems. I understand you may be shorthanded for the second show and am willing to help if needed.”  He tells me there is no need for me to stay.  I shake his hand and leave.  Again on the way out the two of the other steward’s comment on how rude he was.
I’m sad for John and Grumpy puss to have to live in such a tight world.   I enjoyed the performance as it is always wonderful to here song in the Cathedral.
Sunday, May 29, 2011, 1:00 pm:
I’m up and begin to get my stuff ready to pack for my trip tomorrow.   After shower I’m off to the Cathedral for a Sunday service.  This is probably the only church service I go to and usually there is a message for me.    I enter the Cathedral and head toward the Stewards pick up a program, then I head to my usual seat in the Choir.  I see John presumable giving directions as he is the head of the Cathedral Stewards.   As I begin to settle in to my seat John approaches me, is he going to hassle me again, I think.  I smile.  He approaches then reaches out to shake my hand.  He does his best to make up for last night asking me about my travels.  When I tell him this is my usual seat when attending services he’s surprised at the number of years I’ve been coming to the Cathedral.  We have made up, I smile.
I have some lunch then head back to the campground to meet Tim who has offered to drive me out to the Kite event.  We arrived to kites already in the sky.  I’m given parking lot directing duty with a former Salisbury Police inspector who now lives in Scotland.  I have a fund time stopping the cars and then directing them where to park.  Everyone is polite and do as directed.  I’m relieved for my parking lot duty and return to the top of the hill which now is loaded with families having a great time flying kites.  It is fun watching these families enjoying this simple past time.   The cost of admission was 5 pounds which includes a kite if needed.  I’m requested to join three kite flyers from china as they are going to fly a very long Dragon kite.
Before the Dragon kite takes to the air I’m amazed to see that the cords attached to it look to be ¼ inch nylon rope.   After the kite takes to the air I find out why.  I’m allowed to fly the kite hanging on for dear life.  It feels as if it will lift me off the ground there is so much pull on the line.  This kite had to be about 30 ft. long and made only of bamboo strips and rice paper.  In the air you’d think it was made of steel.  This was a six hour event that when by very quickly as we were all having grand fun.  Upon returning to the campground it was time for doing a wash and packing the bike for my trip tomorrow.
Monday, May 30, 2011, 6:00 am:
Salisbury to Attleborough via London and Cambridge:
After breaking camp it was time to head to the train station to purchase a ticket for Attleborough.  Now I’ve done this trip maybe four years ago.  I’m doing it again because the pictures taken were all lost due to a computer clinch just after returning.  This is the area where my Father was stationed during WW II.  I had tracked down what was left of the airfield he had flown out of and was out to do it again so I could recapture the pictures lost.  The train would take me to London Waterloo station, from there I’d have to bike across London to Kings Cross Station where the next train would take me to Cambridge.  Upon arriving in Cambridge I’d change trains to Attleborough.
Arriving at Waterloo it’s time for the loo and directions after which I’m off to Kings Cross.  This seems to be a different route then the last time I’m thinking riding down London streets with a fully packed bike.  People do tend to stare.  Arriving at gate 6 I watch the train pull away from the station, darn loo stop.  The nice station person tell we it will be and hour before the next train so I take the time to rearrange some stuff, chat with a fellow about my bike and the load its carrying.  It is amazing how many folks I’ve talked to who are thinking about doing what I’m doing.  I give them my card telling them that reading my blog might help get them ready for the adventure.  It’s time to board the train to Attleborough via Cambridge.
After the switch in Cambridge I begin to think that I’d not taken the train to Attleborough, but to Thetford.  I’m remembering this because I when to the Halfords in Thetford so I must have ridden to the campground from there.  After getting off the train at Thetford it’s time to figure out which way to go to get to the campground.   I have a vague memory of being here, get off to a false start then get my bearing and Oh yes this I remember.  Riding brings back some dim memories of the last time I rode here.  Only four years ago and most of the memories of the place and ride are gone.   It is about three in the afternoon when I arrive at the Thetford Forest Campground.
I’d stayed in this campground four years ago when it first opened.  Then there were two gentlemen running the place both of whom seem to no longer here.  There are now six people running the campground who vaguely remember those fellows “What were their names?”  They ask each other.    I’m giving a spot about as far from the block house has you can get.  After setting up it’s time for a quick dinner as rain clouds are moving in.  The rain begins and it is time to get some shut eye.     
Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:00 am:
Thetford Forest Campground to Attleborough and Dapham Green:
Up early and on my way to Attleborough via back roads and not highways.  Again my memory is somewhat hazy things look familiar only just.  There is a nice fellow walking his grandkid down the road.  After inquiring he gives me directions and I’m off.  About an hour later I arrive in Attleborough and ride around the town.  Finding the post office and take its picture, then a Saintsbury where dinner is to be found, then to the local church.  Oh half a moe here’s the coffee shop that had Wi-Fi the last time I was here.  “Nope there’s no Wi-Fi here.”  She says as I order coffee and carrot cake which is quite good.   Now it is time to relax, read the paper, eat my cake and drink my coffee.  When finished it will be time to ride to the airfield and retake my pictures there.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 11:00 am:
Attleborough to Cambridge
Broke camp and rode into Attleborough to catch the train back to Salisbury.  Upon arriving in town it occurred to me to stop and have a coffee.  So after hitching my bike to a rail I head to the coffee shop.  Arriving at the door there are two prams blocking the door attempting to get in.  Now this is the same coffee shop from yesterday and it’s not the biggest place.  So after getting inside I find a lady with a pram leaving or at lease putting hers outside.  I enter the backroom where I know there is a plug to charge the computer battery.  In there I find two more prams and of course each has a baby of some size in it.  There are now no less than six mothers and nine kids stuffed into this small room.   I smile sit and plug in while I wait for my coffee and carrot cake to arrive.   I stay here for about a half hour then head over to the train station. 
I’m thinking of spending the night at a campground there and head back to Salisbury on Friday.  Since I have the time there’s no need to be back in Salisbury until Saturday.  As I ride up to the station the cars are stopped and backed up down the road.  There are two large gates blocking the cars from crossing the tracks.  After finding the correct platform I look around and again see the gates blocking the cars from crossing the tracks.  A train whips through the station and I expect the gates to open automatically open.  Across the there is a building that sits high up with windows all around much like a control tower at an airport, not quite as high.  From the building a trainman come out the door runs down the steps and manually opens both gates then runs back up the stairs into the control tower.  About five minutes later he comes out again closes the gates and goes back in the tower.  The Train passes out he come down the steps opens the grates and back up the steps.
I’ve got about a 45 minute wait for the train and during that time this fellow runs up and down those stairs about ten times.  He reminds me of figures in a clock that pop out one door and back in another when the hour is struck.  I can’t imagine doing that for eight hours a day, five days a week.  But then again sometimes my life has been like that.  Gotten into a doing the same things over and over get comfortable doing it, and become kind of like the man at the rail station.  Then become fearful of changing the routine for whatever reasons.  Sometimes events happen that push towards the need for change but are resisted even when that little voice tells you move on.
Off the train in Cambridge and it’s off to fine the campground.  After requesting directions to the general vicinity of the campground it’s time to ride my bike in Cambridge.  Now I thought Oxford had a large bike parking lot at the train station, but this one is three times as big.  Riding down the street I begin to notice bike parked along almost every inch of fence or wall.  Bike fly by, car fly my on the road leading out of the station.  I’m getting to be really good at riding in cities and being right out there on the road with busses and cars.  At times I follow other bike riders to learn the ropes not that they are doing the correctly.
After a bit of a ride I find the campground and after setting up I’m off to ride about Cambridge less my panniers.  The closer I get to town center the more bikes go zipping by along with cars and trucks.  They weave in and out fearless of the vehicle’s size or speed.  Now I’m liking this reminds me for driving in Manhattan.  So I start zipping also busses inches from my rear wheel down the road we go.  You have got to watch those corners bike riders just pop out hardly looking left or right.  I’m not speeding just riding along with everyone passing me by like I’m standing still.  But, no one blows there horn or yells.  I ride around for a bit up and down very narrow streets.  I find the town market and near by a Starbucks.  Time for a little computering.
Starbucks here has a new Soy Strawberry and “cream” drink.  So I ask if there is any dairy in it and am told there is not so time to try one.   These are very good I could get hooked on these.  Sitting at a bench my bike is tied outside to a section of post I manage to find.  Everything that a bike can be attached to has one.  Mark was here already and told me about the bikes and riding in this city but you have to experience it.  It’s time to head back to the campground for dinner and some rest.  Tomorrow I’m gona do some serious riding in this town because it is fun like an amusement park ride I think heading back to the campground.
Thursday, June 2, 2011, 9:00 am
Up early and I’m ready to ride.  Cambridge here I come!  I’ve spied a bike path that that’s you directly to city center down I go.  Peddling around a corner brings me head to head with a herd of cows.   No way in the middle of a city, in a park blocking the path is a herd of cows.  Carefully I walk around them and am off to Starbucks for a coffee and some internet catching up.   Now it’s time for some serious riding the streets of Cambridge.  With reckless, abandon, whipping up this street, then down the next one heading nowhere, but ending up seeing some interesting sites.  After passing Kings College, Queens College, Christ’s College, and two vast parks with bike paths chris-crossing them and finally ending up in front of the Cambridge Press book store.
While surfing the book shelves I find book after book to read.  I must stop reading all the paperbacks and start reading these.  Then I look at the prices and remember why I reading $5+ pulp books and not these.  There are some 5 pound books here, a special selection, none of which, of course, interest me.   But the history, psychology, Linguistics, religion and Science books oh my I want the all.  Well not buying them here at the pound price when I can get them in them for dollars at home.  Finding a Wetherspoons I decide to have dinner here so I can do some more riding around on this glories armament ride.   The weather is warm, the sun is out, and it is a beautiful day to be playing here.  For a short while the nagging of what I should be doing and where I should be.
My spirits fill from time to time especially during time like these.  However, I find myself not smiling much these days and know this has to do with my wants than anything else.  From time to time all that comes to mind is to go home.  Go home to what, to do what, I guess to find some of what has been lost, which might be lost only in my mind.  Realities come to me that make my no happier, but need to be paid attention to. It is time to return to the campground for some sleep.  Tomorrow I’ll pack and ride through Cambridge fully loaded as I’ve decided to return to Cambridge Print Bookstore for at least one book.
Friday, June 3, 2011, 11:00 am
Today finds me up at 6 am, packed and on the road to Cambridge.  People staring at my fully loaded bike is nothing new, other bike riders coming up alongside me to ask were I’m heading or where have I been are not new.  Going back to the Cambridge Print bookstore and buying a book which is not pulp fiction is new.  It is also something I’ll be doing more of, but at the price there may be fewer books to read.  In Starbucks I’m reading my new book with coffee rather than internetting.   I’m going to stop typing now and go back to my book.
Saturday, June 4, 2011, 11:00 am
Salisbury: Closing Night of the Festival
This morning starts off with my doing wash at the campground.  I get things organized as I’ll not have time tonight because I’ll be working at the Closing Night.  Tomorrow I’ll leave early to meet up with Mark in Canterbury.   Around noon I ride into the town marked to get some fruit and look around for some bungee cords.  There may be a way to hold my panniers on other than the system they came with.   I hang out at the King Head then it is time to return to the campground and put on my working clothes and head to the Cathedral.
I arrive early and manage to run into a garbage truck alone the way.  My bike is fine but I’ve managed to put a dent in this huge machine.  The driver looks down and me and I motion to him all is well riding on quickly.  The volunteer begin showing up after which the meeting starts to tell us our contributions to making the evening a success.  There are two shifts and since I want to see all the entertainment on closing night I’m here early.   I’m asked if I mind starting early to which I agree.  Its fun walking around the grounds helping people find places to relieve themselves or fill themselves.  Several people look at me after I’ve answered then state “You’re not English.”  My answer to each with a surprised look on my face is “How could you tell?”  We laugh, chat and move on.
My last position of the night is directing traffic out to the close at the end.  I meet the head of security an ex-police inspector who “got tired of rolling around on the floor with drunks...”  We have a great talk waiting for the festival to end.  We then begin to stop traffic attempting to leave the close as we’ve been told all pedestrians leave before cars.  Most wait patiently, but some are special and expect to be able to leave sooner.  When I explain to them quietly in my best New Yorkease “Ya ani’t gon nowhere til I says!” most sit quietly and wait.  It is time to let the cars out and our job for the evening is finished.  Anna from the Festival office comes walking out and gives me a big hug as she’s on her way home.  My evening is complete.
Sunday, June 5, 2011, 8:27 am
Salisbury to Canterbury:
Arrived at the train station an hour early to catch a train from Salisbury to Clapton Junction where I’ll change trains for Victoria Station where I’ll change again for a direct train to Canterbury.  Arriving in Canterbury an hour early on a rainy day I head for the town center to see if I can find Mark.  After having a coffee at Starbucks and using the wireless to see if Mark was online somewhere in town.  I can’t fine him so I’ll head ou to the campground we stayed at last year.  Arriving at the campground I find that Mark has not yet arrived.    I get us a spot and begin to wonder where he might be as he was to be here before already.
Just as I’m finishing setting up my tent Mark arrives after riding down from Sandwich.  It is good to see him and now for the rest to the trip we’ll be riding together.  He has spent the better part of three weeks in Holland ending up in Calais where he ferried across to Dover.  It had stopped raining for a while but as Mark begins to set up it starts again.  We share some stories of our time apart and since it is a rainy, drizzly day and we decide to have dinner in town.  After a nice dinner, then spending some time on the internet we decide its time to head back to the campground for a night’s sleep.
Monday, June 6, 2011,
Mark is up before me and decides to head into town where I’ll meet him in a bit for breakfast.  After breakfast we roam around Canterbury during brief times of sun, but mostly rain or overcast.  Then it’s time for lunch, a bit more sightseeing before with head for a supermarket to purchase the makings of dinner.  Back to the campground, rain has stopped, sun is out we enjoy our dinner and plan to ride to Hasting which should take us about two days.  First we’ll ride to Ashford, spend the evening then on to Rye or Hastings.  I’ve mapped out the round and found a campground in Ashford which should be easy to find.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 9:00 pm
Canterbury to Ashford
Bikes loaded we had out to Ashford.  The ride is filled with up the hill and down the hill which covered 25 miles of country lanes.  We had agreed to follow the National Bike Route to get to point “B.” Arriving at Ashford we stop at a Wetherspoons for lunch then off to the campground.  We don’t get too far before the course decided on can’t seem to be found.  As we stand on the corner a fellow rides up and asks us where we want to go.  After a bit of explaining the route to us he must have thought there is no way these guys are going to find the campground.  He tells us to follow him and he will take us to the campground, but first he has an errand to do.  So he sends us off down the road and tells us he’ll catch up to us.  Yeah right I think.
We reach the end of his directions and are about to strike off on our own when he does indeed show up.  So we follow him across the street, then down that street, across the street again round and round she goes and where she stops nobody knows.   At last we arrive at not a campground, but a Holiday Park after checking in we set up our tents being very excited that we have a picknick table, a rare thing in English campgrounds, to have dinner on.  We have a pleasant dinner and I enjoy some nice Italian wine Mark has purchased for me.  There is Wi-Fi here so we purchase a day’s use for  5 pounds.  After some searching we find the best place to use it is in our tents. 
Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 9:35 am
Broadhembury Holiday Park:
This campground is really quite nice.  The showers have heated floors and are very roomy.  There is a TV room, game room, and outside two playgrounds one for children under four.  The laundry has heated towel dryers on the wall.  At breakfast we decided to spend the day here and head off to Hastings tomorrow.   As the wash gets done I watch a little British TV in the hope of find a channel with weather on it.  We find a map in the campground office which gives up directions to get back to town on a less hectic route then the one which brought us here.  Arriving in town we head to the Witherspoon settle in and spend most of the day catching up online.  I spend a great deal of time planning a route to get us from Ashford to Hastings using National Bike routes and other back roads.  The day is nippy with little sun and after spending the better part of the day it’s time to ride back to the campground for dinner and rest.
Thursday, June 9, 2011, 6:55 pm
Broadhembury Holiday Park to Rye:  28.5 mile ride.
We are up early enjoy a nice breakfast, pack and shower it’s off to Rye with the sun shining on us.  About half way through the ride rain clouds block the sun.  As we ride into open farm land the rain begins along with heavy winds.  There are times I’m almost stopped dead by the wind.  The rain stops, but the wind does not.  It has been mostly a flat ride, but the wind is taking its toll.  We stop at the Woolpack Inn to dry out and have some lunch while planning the rest of the route.  We have gotten off course which means we’ll have to ride the last bit into Rye via a very busy road.  After reviewing the map it seemed that any other route then the main road would take us mile out to the way.
After a nice lunch and getting a little dryer we head off toward Rye on the main road.  The rain has stopped but the wind has not.  We reach an intersection with a sign pointing toward a campground.  I suggest we ride on at the campgrounds I’d found the previous day were south of Rye not north were we currently were.   Rye is perched on the top of a hill which we must now ride up against the wind.   After locking up the bikes we walk around Rye for a while then enter the information office.   We have ridden about 22 miles and are now told the closest campground is the one we road passed.  The one’s south of Rye do not accept tent campers and the one we passed did.  We are not going to ride the six miles to Camber and the Pontis’s Camber Sands Holiday Park.
This is by far the worst I’ve been in during all my adventures in England.  Talk about a tourist trap!  We were charged 24 pounds a night, for and “electric” hook up because they supposed had none electric hook up pitches available.  We were then led to filed and told we could pitch anywhere.  None of the pitches were remotely close to an electric box.  We would have had to carry a 100’ cord with us to hook up.  The wind was so bad the Mark’s tent was flat on the ground as he attempted to put it up bending some of his poles.  We then had to walk about half a mile to the camp recreation center where we had dinner that was just about palatable.  Mark asked if he could have some extra gravy for his potatoes and was told it would cost him an extra 80 pence on top of the high price he already paid.
We headed back to our tents the wind whistled through my tent all night with what sounded like rain patters from time to time.  Pontis’s Camber Sands Holiday Park is a place to avoid rude staff, none stop noise throughout most of the night, poorly prepared food, overpriced, and poorly kept restrooms for campers this is not a place you want to stay.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Rye to Hastings to Portsmouth:
We are out of the campground early and back in Rye for Breakfast.  We purchase tickets to Portsmouth, but will jump off the train in Hastings to see his historical site.  What a disappointment.  Weather turned from overcast to rain, we ended up down by the water only to find the place was far from historical.  It looked like a giant amusement park and reminded me of Coney Island in the 50’s when its hay day was over.  After lunch we boarded the train to Portsmouth.  I’m very disappointed tired of the cold and rain, and then find out that the battle of Hastings took place in a place now called Battle, go figure.  We arrive at Portsmouth station with the sun out and the wind blowing.
We are riding toward a campground I’d stayed at four years ago Called the Southsea .  It was a nice friendly place on my last visit
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Portsmouth to Romsey vicinity:
Up early time to shower back and cook up a bit of breakfast before riding off.  A nice lady whose name we find out later is Julie offers us tea as she feels bad that we spend the night in the rain.  We meet her son and husband, take some pictures and then we are off.  There is a nice bike path with lots of historical sites along the way to Portsmouth harbor.  Taking our time to sight see a little then we are off heading toward Romsey.  As we ride Julie and family cruse by honking their horn and we wave.  Finally we come upon Bike Route 2 which is not as clearly marked in places as it could be.
The day wares on and we are now heading toward Fareham where we will catch the train to Romsey.  Off the train in Romsey one false start, stop at supermarket and we are off to find the campground.   We run into some rain but manage to make good time then we ride around in circles for a bit until I flag down another bike rider.  He takes us to the road to get to the campground.  Very nice lady checks us in an we have enough time to cook dinner before the weather turns to heavy rain pattering down on the tent most of the night.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Totton to Salisbury:
Rained all last night and still raining upon wakening.  Mark wants to stay in his “warm” dry tent and wait until the weather lets up however my experience tells me that could be a long wait.  I’ve been up for about an hour now, had breakfast, showered and started taking down my tent.  Thankfully there is an open barn right next to where our tents are set up which gives some respite from the rain.   After attempting to dry off the rain fly and ground cloth we are riding in the rain toward the train station as we have decided to take the train back to Salisbury.  I disembark for the train looking around for Mark who has come out another door.  He calls for me to wait up as he has had an accident and didn’t “mind the gap.” 
There is a gap between the train and the station platform.  In some stations it can be quite large and I’ve always been fearful of having my foot go down with the weight of the bike on top of me.  This is not a new fear as it was instilled in me by my grandmother whenever we when into New York City to go shopping.  Trains had gaps, and so did subways.  There were new articles for time to time about someone missing the platform and getting their leg stuck in the gap.  Often if the person’s leg could not be freed amputation would be necessary.   On every trip to the city I received the warning that my leg could get cut off if I was not careful.  Luckily his leg did not go into the gap but he fell pulling the bike with him.  The bike was now refusing to move and after some inspection I found that the back wheel had been bent. On the train Mark suggested that we head to the YHA for the night when we arrived.  I now suggested that we head to The White Heart which I was sure he’d like better to recuperate from the last two days.
At first he was reluctant to spend the money, but the relented and we checked in for 100 pounds.  This is a very nice hotel in the heart of Salisbury with all the amenities.  We entered our assigned room and found that it had one queen bed in it.  We both did and about face heading back down to reception.  While they rectified the problem we were given complementary tea in the lounge.  There was a psychic fair which was just finishing up for the day which we perused for a bit.  Mark went up to the room for a shower while I finished my tea.  Then it was my turn for a long hot shower.  After that I went to the Cathedral Hotel for a nice hot bowl of soup while Mark remained in bed all warn and comfortable. 
Monday, June 13, 2011
I was up at 6 am to enjoy the wonderful breakfast which was included in the price of the room.  White linen table cloths, white china plates, flowers on the table, pressed coffee, water with ice, plus all the food you could eat.  I indulged in the fresh fruit salad, mesial cereal, beget with soy “butter,” beans on toast, apple juice, and pressed decafe coffee.  Lingering over breakfast it was decided that Mark would go to the shop where he purchased his bike and get a new wheel.  I was going to head to the Cathedral Hotel for coffee and Wi-Fi and would meet him there.
We have now moved into the YHA again.  We use my bike as mule to get mine and Marks bags moved over.  Then we begin working on drying all our equipment out and doing wash.  I begin thinking seriously about going home early.  I think about going up to Liverpool to spend time with my new family then head back home in about a week.  I send them an email that about my intentions.  Mark accompanies me to the Festival office where I am turning in a self-evaluation of the events I Stewarded and how then helped me accomplish some goal of self-improvement.  I’m hoping t get a picture with Anne and Gill to post, but Anne is not in the office today.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Marks last day here and we are warping up loose ends.   One loose end is putting the bikes somewhere safe for this year.  Haybills bike shop agrees to store the bike for a price until next year.  We store both bikes because I’ve made arrangements to go home early.  We’ll head to the airport together, but take different planes to get back to Phoenix.  I ride out to the campground to see Wendy and Nigel.  They have not been able to sell my bike and there is a place in town which may buy it, which turns out to be a bust.  So the bike goes back to where it’s been for the past six years.  If it is still there I’ll try to sell it again next year, but it’s time to go home.  My son is somewhat depressed that his mother will not be around this year for his birthday.  I think I should be there and will surprise him by showing up on his birthday which is Father’s day.
June 15, 2011, 12:40 pm
Flight 145 Heathrow to Boston:
Well did not get to Austria, or France, or Ireland, or Scotland or even Liverpool this year.  And now I’m heading home early which feels like the right thing to be doing at this point.   Not having almost unlimited funds as I’ve had for the past two years is part or the reason.  Needing to get back and take care of a number to things having to do with getting ready for next year’s tax season.  Also feeling like I’m needing to be with my son on his birthday and Father’s day.  This year there was no mother for my daughter’s birthday, or to celebrate Mother’s day or her birthday in May and now no mother at his birthday.  So rather than spend any more money and dealing with not so nice weather I’m heading home.
Several things have come to mind this year as I traveled that will apply to my trip next year.   The first it that my previous trips all had some goal attached to them.  All those goals have been reached which is one of the reasons I floundered around this year attempting to find some purpose.   Next I felt stuck, gee there’s a new one,  by not doing better planning on the events I volunteered at during the Festival.  The time between them required me to spend more time in Salisbury than ever before.  There was really no need to wait for a special order tire, which if I had paid more attention/focus just by looking at the one good tire already on the bike.  Focus or the lack there of was probably the biggest problem.   Then the weather was the worst I’ve run into since coming over here.  In the past I’ve had lots of rain which was not a problem because it was warm and there was little wind.
This year was much colder and windier than any previous year.  Wind blowing so hard that it almost stopped me from going forward while riding.  Almost daily wind, rain, and cooler temperatures then on prior trips caused my bones to ache.  This along with a lack of direction or focus, my mind more back in the states then here left me unsmiling.  Not all the time, but a good deal of it I checked in on myself and found no smile or wonderment on my face.  I found that even the birds, which sang me to sleep and woke me up in the past, went unheard.    Each of my previous trips ended being a spiritual renewal that seemed not to be possible this year.  A thought that kept running through my head was too much death this year, too many lives cut short and mind goes on.  Where is my gratitude?
So I found on line this site that talks about the process of a Pilgrimage.   A pilgrimage is most likely what my previous trips turned out to be.  So the following are the steps:
1.        Feeling what it means to be a pilgrim.
2.       Reading the signs along the way as the journey takes on a life of its own.
3.       Awareness of companions along the way and why are they there.
4.       History of the story we witness as we journey: Spiritual, historical, and political.
5.       As you travel you become part to the story, no longer an observer.
6.       Seeing where heaven and earth touch, seeing with the eye of you spirit
7.       Affirmation.  Opening up to what needs to be confronted or what is revealed. 
In retrospect the pilgrimage this year did not reveal itself until I made the decision to return home early.  Then and only then did the bigger pilgrimage I’ve been on become visible from the smaller.   Gary and I talk often about things happening when they are supposed to not necessarily in tune with when we think they should.   People, time and time again, ask me what drove me to do this bike riding in England.   Each time I answer them only I miss the answer.  I’m saying I dreamed of doing this for a long time yet only just found a way to do it.  Which seems to say that other things had more priority then doing this so it could not have been a very important dream could it?  What I really mean is in my mind was a hope that this would come to pass when it was mean to.  Not after doing it I’d which I’d done it sooner because it would have meant the same.
The first trip happened at a time when it was most needed.  Subsequent trips happened because the first did not give me enough time to complete the pilgrimage, not that it is completed now.  The bigger pilgrimage, my life, will not be finished until I die.  The smaller pilgrimages which create the bigger one are by no means over either.  The England Pilgrimage may be over, or needs to be looked at in a different context.  So it will become, at this point, England Pilgrimage II, because I think England Pilgrimage I has been complete thus this year’s feeling of being lost may be the beginning of England Pilgrimage II.
Step One:  Feeling what it means to be a pilgrim.
I think back to Gary and me talking about his Pilgrimage to Spain and Walking the Camino of Santiago de Compostela.   
The feeling of being a bit lost at the beginning which is what I felt for the first time this year.  Unsure of where I’m going and why am I doing it.  It does not help to have someone second guessing you along the way.  So this pilgrimage begins with whatever I do not bring any joy or direction.
Step Two:  Reading the signs along the way as the journey takes on a life of its own.
In the past this has happened on almost all my odysseys here.  But this year the signs are hard to read obscured by thoughts which take me somewhere else rather than the present.  When I review the blog the signs begin to send a clearer message.
Step Three: Awareness of companions along the way and why they are there.
Several new people come into play here all seem to be dealing with endings and beginnings.  Mark comes and goes and there is awareness that there are parts of riding with him I enjoy, but there are parts that I allow to distract from the experience.  This becomes clearer after I’m home and attend a program where I’m left with some people who introduce me as the person who goes with Mark to Europe. 
Step Four:  History of the story we witness as we journey: Spiritual, historical, and political.
I’m drawn into politics between the Cathedral and Festival staff which distracts from the experience.  As much as I try to stay out of politics inadvertently at times I’m drawn in.   I was good at doing politics long ago, but have chosen to attempt to stay out as people get hurt when playing.  The history of my past, which could mean yesterday, interacts with the history going on around me.   There seems to be no spiritual aspect this time out, but is found as I board the plane home.
Step Five:  As you travel you become part of the story, no longer an observer.
This has happened every year I’ve gone on this quest.  Every year I’ve become part of other’s story and they have become part of mine.  New family members, new friends to keep in touch with all become part of the future story.
Step Six:    Seeing where heaven and earth touch, seeing with the eye of you spirit
This was a very hard this year.  My spirit eye was clouded by my mind’s eye of “what if, what could, what should, and why not?”  Heaven and earth touch more solidly upon arriving home which probably would not have happened had I not gone.
Step Seven:  Affirmation.  Opening up to what needs to be confronted or what is revealed.

This to me was clearly the message of this year’s Pilgrimage.   Several things were confronted which required me to readjust my thoughts and feelings.  Revelations along the way showed errors in thinking and feeling.   This trip cleared out the cobwebs alone the way which allowed for more clarity of goals for the future.   I now know that all my goals/dreams were fulfilled in prior trips.  This year’s trip was mean, in part, to give me new dreams for future trips.