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One Dark Night...

Posted by on Nov 15, 06:15 AM
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1st half of October, 2009: Edinburgh marked the first vacation from bicycle touring that we had had in a while. Two and a half days were easily and delightfully Mrs Marshall and St Andrew'sdisposed of in the company of the Guest family. The youngest children were displaced by our still-soggy-from-the-Highlands carcasses taking repose in the bunk beds that belonged to them. They were not put off at the temporary change of lodging to the room of their older Highland shotsiblings since the excitement of having company in the house (if I may I presume) offset the inconvenience. And being guests of the Guest household was like an all too brief taste of home! When I was not working on travel logistics my time was spent in heated chess matches, games of kick the can and at warm family repasts. All to soon it was time to move on to the next chapter, but not before a successful fundraiser for the orphans at Saints Margaret and Leonard Catholic Church.

More HighlandsRandall and I caught the express train to London and bicycled in the darkness and ugly English traffic for three miles from the station to the home of our new friends, the Sheehans (*sp?). Their daughter had worked with Randall on Whidbey Island, and now Mr. Sheehan Masshad a job at the U.S. Embassy in London. Each night Mrs. Sheehan had a fine meal prepared, and we reminisced about life in rainy Washington State, just as we unwound in rainy England. Both of them having spent some months in London, they were had a Young Guestswealth of good advise for for the aspiring sightseer. Essentially, I spent a lot of time in the ‘tube’ around London and made a couple of edifying afternoons at the British Museum and another at the National Gallery, with a stop in Chinatown for some hot noodle soup to drive away the damp. To finalize the week we did some collecting of donations at XXXX’s Church. It was another success and likely our last until the two of us safely return to the English-speaking world.

Curiosity mingled with the fear welled up in my chest, and I kept my light fixed upon the specters, the regular roars not ceasing…

TriumphThe week in London was broken up by a day and a half in Canterbury. We stayed with Monica Marshall, non but the daughter of the Mrs. Marshall of Glasgow, who will, in January, be leaving to teach at the very school that is attached our orphanage in Palayamkotthai, India! The onset of the cold seasons makes me wish I were in her shoes right now… At the forefront of my concerns has been the passing of the Pyrenees before it becomes too late. I have heard more than one warning of the swift storms that assault the lonely traveler of those treacherous peaks. Hence, southward the march.

It took me three days of riding to arrive at Burghclere, Newbury. I took an established cycle route that loosely followed the mellow flow of the Thames. On the second night I found myself on a hilltop in an inviting forest of deciduous trees as darkness began to set in. “What better place to pitch for the night,” thought I. So, I hauled my CURTLO and luggage off of the trail and over a knoll and began to set Monumentup camp. No sooner was the tent upright, but a roar penetrated the stillness of the forest, which until that point had only been broken by the occasional swish of a bird as it left it’s perch on a tree branch. The night was thick now, and a second roaring screech came from another location. The two monstrous sounds answered each other, one after another, and seemed as though they were a little closer each time. I dug out my powerful Cygolite helmet lamp and shined it in the direction of the terrors. All that I could see was two sets of eyes reflecting my beam a distance off in the trees. Curiosity mingled with the fear welled up in my chest, and I kept my light fixed upon the specters, the regular roars not ceasing, as they moved a little, not nearer or more distant. They were just out of range to discern the shapes. It was time to pack up and move before they came too close into range. All packed in a hurry with my dry bag bursting at the hasty pick up, I pushed my caravan back to the trail, the beasts still a distance off. I camped in a farmer’s field a few miles down the road and was only disturbed by a bottle rocket shooting over the top of my tent and the laughs of the drunken English devils who set it off.

Leaving the UKI soloed along the canals all the day to arrive at Burghclere and Saint Michael’s School, where Father Summers, a former parish priest of ours, donated his hospitality (and a couple of pints at the pub!). Our ferry back to France was lined up for the morning forthcoming, so we pedaled to Portsmouth and stayed with some young Belgian/French students/professionals in Portsmouth the day after our stay at Burghclere. We enjoyed our last evening in England with these characters watching Star Wars and eating soggy fish and chips!

And I left my beard in Burghclere.


  1. Hi! I hope you are keeping well – keeping you both in our prayers. Cant wait to read the future blogs :)

    p.s I’m sure that the monument is dedicated to the scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

    — Elizabeth Guest · Nov 15, 08:43 AM · #

  2. The picture of that altar is really lovely. It must be such a comfort to be able to stop in at these churches around the globe and attend a traditional mass!
    You (both) have certainly slept out under the stars a great deal, it seems. Stay safe!

    “And I left my beard in Burghclere.”
    Surprise! Did I hear right? I’m sure you’ll share more about this little cliffhanger!
    God bless.

    Rachel W. · Nov 18, 11:34 AM · #

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