Friday, 26 October 2018

I’ve got a Great Idea

Hang on, lads; I've got a Great Idea.

Charlie Croker (played by Michael Caine) 
The Italian Job

Ciao a tutti !

Next year in 2019 it will be the Golden Anniversary of The Italian Job being released in 1969.

And what better by way of celebration than to take part in The Italian Job Secondo?

The Great Idea is simply told … It is

The 3Rs Walk : Rambling with Ric to Rome

  •          Wednesday 25 September to Friday 25 October 2019
  •          Returning to UK late on Sunday 27 October 2019

The Ramble
  •          We stroll along from Florence to Assissi and on to Rome.
  •          28 days of wandering along over 330 miles, about 12 miles per day 
  •          OK, we do climb 57,000 feet!

  •      Of course  - there will be 6 Rest & Half-Rest Days; Never In Doubt !
  •          At the end there will be time to wander round Rome on Saturday 26th October 2019 for The Seven Pilgrim Churches Walk.
  •          And on Sunday 27th at Noon to visit St Peter’s Square, hopefully to hear The Angelus, the Pope’s weekly blessing.

Support Team

I am delighted to tell you that once again - as on the Camino #ForeverYoung 2017 - we will benefit from Dianne on Logistics & Susan on Statistics.

The Way of St Francis

The Way of St Francis, also known as the Camino di Francesco, is a superb walking trail inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi. The Way takes an ancient Roman road from Florence to Rome, following in the steps of Saint Francis across stunning and peaceful countryside. 

This is a spectacular, sometimes challenging route.

It's downhill all the way to Rome from here; Honest !!

A pilgrim passport stamped along the way will allow you to get your St Francis Way certificate in Rieti and your Assisiana in Assisi; in addition to your Testimonium peregrinationis peractae when you finish in Rome.

You’ll Absolutely Love It

I can do no better than tell you what Sandy Brown, the author of the definitive guide book on The St Francis Way, wrote:

The Way of St Francis lays Central Italy at your feet and dares you not to love it.

When you finally arrive in Rome, your sense of accomplishment will be well-earned, having just completed one of the world's greatest pilgrimages.

But much more than that, you will have joined the countless pilgrims to Rome from over the centuries who've made a special place in their heart for this beautiful land, its deep and rich history, its food and people, and its humble patron saint who walked with you along the way.

A deeply moving physical, mental and spiritual experience.

Source: Trekking The Way of St Francis by Sandy Brown (published by Cicerone)

Florence: UNESCO-listed for its magnificent artistic and architectural heritage, Florence is not only a must-visit in Tuscany but also home to the world’s largest Franciscan church: the Basilica di Santa Croce.

La Verna Sanctuary: is located in a peaceful mountain location surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. It is here where St Francis and his followers meditated and where St Francis experienced the stigmata.

Assisi: is the home town, as well as the burial place, of Saint Francis and the most important Franciscan pilgrimage destination. A UNESCO-listed city-sanctuary, Assisi is unique for its rich spiritual heritage, as well as its medieval art and architecture. Assisi is the spiritual centre of the Way of St Francis.


Rome: “Rome is a wonderful place to visit, but nothing compares to the feeling of walking there. I sometimes feel pilgrims at St. Peter's who took a car or bus or train or plane look at us - sweaty, walking pilgrims - with a combination of pity and wonder. 
The many long days of walking to achieve the goal makes it even more precious. 

Our pilgrim credentials allow us to walk into places at the Vatican others aren't allowed and few joys compare with the feeling of accomplishment when we are finally handed our pilgrim Testimonium inside the Vatican walls.Sandy Brown

There’ll be wonderful views, fantastic buildings and  - best of all - people to meet along the Way, new friends to make.

Looking over the Tiber Valley

Some Tales to Tell … 

St. Francis is said to have taken literally the scripture passage, "preach the good news to all creatures."

In Gubbio residents were haunted by a wolf that had developed a taste for human flesh. They begged St. Francis to intervene with the fearsome creature and then were amazed when the wolf sat peacefully at his feet while the two made a bargain. If the townspeople would feed him daily, the wolf would leave them alone.
The bargain was upheld by both sides for the remaining two years of the wolf's life until he died of natural causes.
A church was dedicated in honour of this encounter and, in the late 19th century, during renovations, a wolf's skeleton was found under a stone slab outside the chapel.
The skeleton was exhumed and placed under the altar of the tiny church on the outskirts of Gubbio, right by the side of The Way.

And communal meals: 

Regular readers will not be surprised at all to see the Healthy Option: Salad with the Carbonara !!

What to do next: 1. Ask for the Plan

If would like to discover more…

***  Please ask me to send you the Plan. ***

It covers where we will be walking on each day, distances, ascents/descents & difficulty.
There are 8 Easy days, 13 Moderate days & 7 Hard days. 

As always, All Welcome !!

What to do next: 2.  Rambling with Ric

As with The Camino, it is definitely a case of getting plenty of Miles in the Legs !

*** Do come out Rambling with Ric ***

There are the regular Friday circular walks.
A great, entirely free source of walks right across the South East.
The South Downs
The North Downs Way – from Otford to the Channel
Including iconic walks to Canterbury Cathedral & along the White Cliffs of Dover

Saturday   2 March 2019: Canterbury Cathedral 

Saturday 16 March 2019: The White Cliffs of Dover

Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral
And the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars. 
James Jeans 

So, Bellissimi Amici, I really hope you will be able to join me on:

The 3Rs Walk – Rambling with Ric to Rome
The Italian Job Secondo

After all, as Charlie Croker himself said:

It's a very difficult job and the only way to get through it is we all work together as a team.

Ciao, Ricardo 


I know ... You're thinking:  

It is a long way to go for a Pizza !!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Why do you go away?

Laura Kate Piper
In our hearts forever

Why do you go away?

So that you can come back
So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours
And the people there see you differently, too

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett  

Hi Everyone!     

Well, after 34 days of walking and 864 kilometres, the Camino - #ForeverYoung 2017 is over.
I actually did reach Finisterre on Friday 27th October, on schedule.

Pipers * 3 : Dianne, Nicole & the Pilgrim

What was it Dylan said?

I’ve definitely made some great Memories to hold on to & cherish over the years ahead.

There is a very real privilege in being outside all day for 6 weeks in the wonderful Spanish sunshine.

Must be time to revive those long held plans to spend the British winters in Western Australia … 

Stunning countryside:

En route to Triacastella, Galicia

Amazing bridge & buildings:

Puente La Reina

Leon cathedral


The Pilgrim, near Burgos

And the never to be forgotten, “well-deserved” Estrella Galicia Grande por favor and tapas at the end of each day’s walk:


Of course, in the end it is all about the people along the Way …

My thanks to everyone who has followed my ramblings.
To Lady Piper who directed the logistics and also to Susan who ran the statistics.

And not forgetting the 27 friends (& 3 dogs) who travelled from the UK to join me out on the Camino.

Together we walked the equivalent of Lands End to John O’Groats – & back!! – or, if you prefer, climbed Everest – twice!!

On the cathedral steps, Santiago

And to those I met on the walk from so many countries and backgrounds - may your Camino have delivered all you hoped for and more!

From Sydney - via Bickley & Croydon - to Seattle

For those who are planning to visit the UK …
With the £ exchange-rate where it is compared to your currencies (I never managed to “explain” the Brexit result, did I?), I’m looking forward to strolling on the South Downs with you SOON!

Polly & Lexi 
Visiting the UK in 2018; hope so !!

For all those with whom I walked – old friends and new – I believe that you will agree that we can all do more, much more than we ever thought we could.

Markings by Dag Hammarskjőld

After the Camino, I recognise only too well that I have been strolling (no pun intended) through far, far too much of life.
I can do much, much more.
My challenge is to get up each day & #JustDoIt!

For if you are wondering what success might be for you, I can do no better than repeat what my old A-Level History teacher, Brigadier PF 'Foxy' Wells, used to say:

Success is simply being willing to give it your all

(He also used to regularly tell the Class of ’68 that, having read that week’s essays, he knew that we could all be a lot, lot more successful!!)

So, my award of ‘Star Walker’ goes to my favourite sister-in-law, Barbara, who on the walk into Santiago & then again on the long climb up to Finisterre gave absolutely all she had.
Top Girl, Barbara!

But what of Terry Pratchett’s assertion:

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

So now that I have come back, what do I see with new eyes and extra colours?

What have I learnt?
And what am I going to do differently ?
And what might you?

It turns out that it all comes down to 2 minutes on a bench outside the small town of Molinaseca.

Let me explain …

As you may know, our younger daughter, Laura, died in March 2016. She was 26.

As I sat in Laura’s flat at just before 2 o’clock that Monday afternoon waiting for the Ambulance and the Police to arrive, I remembered that Laura & I had often spoken about the advice a friend of mine had given me a dozen or so years previously:

Treat life as a never-ending exam.
Don’t argue that an exam question wasn’t what you wanted,
Or that you hadn’t revised for it,
You must answer EVERY question.

I knew instantly what the first exam question was: Why did Laura die?

In her mid-teens Laura began her battle with balancing eating & exercise.
She got some tremendous professional help and in the next 10 years Laura got on with her life: she went to University, studied for a year ‘Down Under’ in Australia, lived independently in her flat near the Tate Modern in Central London & – as she had long hoped to - qualified as a Solicitor.

But Anorexia is a Relentless, Wicked opponent;
It attacked Laura - each trip to the Gym, every meal time. Each day … Every day …

Laura was determined, she never gave up, but by Monday 21st March the Anorexia had so weakened Laura’s body that it couldn’t fight back any more and pneumonia killed her.

Of course, I knew that there was a second exam question - one I was sure many other people would be asking:

Could I have helped Laura more?

However, as the days & weeks passed, and I struggled to answer that exam question like I had never struggled before, no one ever mentioned it to me and I began to think that questions which are unanswerable may be the ones that are unaskable too.

But you must answer EVERY question, and as I set off on the Camino I understood only too well that I must use my Camino to try (yet again) to answer that second exam question.

My pink laces – her favourite colour – were a reminder of Laura and those 100s of walks we had done together.

On the steepest of hills, on the hottest of afternoons, on the longest of days … I felt Laura walking with me.

Come on Dad: you can do it …

On Camino Day No. 22, I set off just before dawn from Foncebadon, high up on the Montes de Leon. I walked with Lisa, an erudite and wise advocate from Seattle, and as dawn broke we were passing the Cruz de Fierro which, at 1,500 metres, is the highest point of the Camino.
The next couple of hours provided both interesting conversation & stunning landscapes:

Montes de Leon

But when Lisa wanted to stop at Acebo for a coffee, I was feeling strong & said I would walk on; we’d catch up later.

A few minutes out of Acebo, a lady from the Ukraine called Yana caught me up.
Over the next three hours as we walked a dozen kilometres and descended some 800 metres, we discussed so many things: from what to seek to enjoy our professional lives, to the meaning of “range” and why Ukrainian companies don’t have Value Statements.

Yana & I looked for a café in Molinaseca, but we couldn’t see anything we liked so we sat on a bench by the side of the road as we were leaving the town.

On the Camino, a day’s walk will burn 4,000+ calories and you need to substantially up your normal food intake.

As I started to eat my banana (that great source of potassium) I noticed Yana wasn’t eating anything.

In truth, middle-class, rather reserved Englishmen of a certain age (who don’t give advice & never take it either!) wouldn’t dream of proffering unprompted help to 32-year-old Ukrainian ladies.

But Yana was painfully thin.

I wasn’t going to say anything … it wasn’t really any of my business … but then I heard Laura whisper to me:
Dad, you need to say something; please.

Yana, I said rather falteringly, you know you are not eating enough. You will eat properly, won’t you?

As so often had happened with Laura, Yana smiled wistfully.

I’ll try.

Promise me you will?

I promise you, Ric.

We walked on together for the next 8 or so kilometres to Ponferrada, where our paths separated.

I don’t know whether those few words on the bench have helped Yana.
Quite possibly they will have to be repeated many times by many other people … but it was also once said:

A waterfall starts with one drop of water
And look what becomes of that

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

And as for the second exam question: Could I have helped Laura more?

A few days after my walk with Yana, I was walking with Polly who hails from Billings in Montana and – like me – saw the Jigsaw on the hills behind Portomarin.
As we spoke about my struggles with the second question, I realised that I needed to re-phrase it:

What more can I still do to help others?

When you & I next meet Yana – whoever they are, wherever they come from, whatever they need - please, offer them help.

And if they ask why, say; Laura told me too!


I have had so many very generous donations for the 4 great charities I’m supporting on the Camino - #ForeverYoung 2017

If you would like to donate, please visit …

Buen Camino, Ric the Rambler

Camino - Final Thought

Tom Petty


If you are reading this Yana, you will eat properly, won’t you?

You promised me you would …