Here is the tale of two friends. One I met on the Camino, Terry. The other, Val, has been by my side for more than 30 years.
In my short time with Terry, apart from keeping me dry and, when the sun is blazing down, keeping my head cool, he has twice helped me out of a tricky situation.
The first was when, after walking 4km on the wrong side of a fence, I was confronted by a pair of locked steel gates topped with barbed wire. To reach the spot only inches away offered 2 solutions : walk 8km on a day when I had already covered close to 30 or to climb the gates.
First I climbed to the top and wrapped Terry around the barbed wire. Jumping down, I the climbed again to hook my rucksack to the top of the gate. (There was no point in me clambering over only to see me portable home stranded where I had just been!)
With everything prepared, I scaled the gates and, holding on to the highest rail, unwrapped Terry and lowered him to the ground. Then I had to pull my 25lb bag over to the other side. The weight was too much for the fragile hold my toes had on the criss cross fencing and I fell onto the stony ground with a thump. I cut my foot, hand and shoulder, but we had made it. Or maybe not….
Gathering my things I turned to see firstly a railway track and, beyond that an identical gate and fencing barring my from the town on 300 yards away. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Some days later, I found myself in a not too dissimilar situation. Once again, the wrong side of the fence but this time on the other side was a very steep bank about 40 feet from the path. The fence was relatively easy but the bank of prickly thistles and sharp stone was a tough proposition. Once again up stepped Terry.
This time I folded him in half, laid him down, put my rucksack into my lap and used Terry as a sled to slowly slide down the bank to safety.
As much as I am fond of Terry, it doesn’t compare to the deep 30 plus year love affair I have had with Val. In 3 decades of almost constant travel, through so many different countries in all corners of the world, she has been faithfully at my side. She is with me now as I embark on the last stretch of the Camino de Santiago.
I call her Val in honour of a great friend, Val Fifield who, along with her wonderful husband, Bobbies, I have know since I was a boy.
Over the last few years my traveling companion has suffered badly from wear and tear and sometimes looks like only a few threads hold it together. So, on my return from every journey I put her into the healing hands of her namesake, Val Fifield who, with love and skill restores her fresh for the next adventure.
The lining, the side panels and the back are all crafted from various sources from the home of Bobbies and Val. Most poignant of all for me is the shoulder strap. This was once the belt to Val Fifield’s ball gown worn as a young lady attending dances in our shared, beloved home town of Fulham.
Valerie Fifield, it pains me to tell you is currently unwell in hospital receiving treatment for cancer. So with a heavy heart I dedicate this post and the shoulder bag I named in her honour to a beautiful, kind and loving lady. Valerie Fifield.
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- The Long Road Home - August 5, 2016
- Terry and Val - July 27, 2016
- The House of Love That Leo Built - July 26, 2016
- Crocked on the #Camino - July 25, 2016
- Knights Templar - July 23, 2016
- Take Me to the River - July 22, 2016
- Hostel Heaven on the #Camino de Santiago - July 18, 2016
- An Atheist Among the Adoring - July 16, 2016
- Huerfano (Orphan) From The Crossing by #CormacMcCarthy – #TheKidsCamino - July 15, 2016