A Camino Postcard: St. Jean Pied de Port

Today was my designated acclimatisation day before the big walk over the Pyrenees tomorrow. It has felt, however, a bit of a nothing Day: as beautiful as St. Jean Pied de Port is, I want to be on the road, pushing on step-by-step to Roncesvalles and Santiago de Compostela. As a result, my wandering around town took me only up and down the citadel (the down part being the descent of muddy and slippery steps) and to sundry benches where I stopped to listen to some music and write. I wrote a few notes for the Fixxbook. This was a mistake as it accentuated my Nothing Day blues. Tomorrow, I’ll leave at 6-6:30am. The pilgrims’ office said the Napoleon route will be unsafe due to the weather so I’ll take the Valcarlos. It won’t be spectacular but it will be safer.

I must break my one paragraph rule here to acknowledge the fact that today is the 55th anniversary of Evelyn Waugh’s death. As a man he had a lot to object to but he knew this and daughter God’s help. As a writer, he gave the world some beautiful and hilarious stories for which we owe him a great dent of thanks – EW: Requiescat in Pace.

click the sidebar link for more Camino photos on my Instagram account

The Tale of a Wren


The second of three posts today. The first post is here, and the third post is here.

After finishing my shopping at Cotswolds, I went to the counter to pay for everything. As the shop assistant checked everything out, my eye fell on a box of animal badges that were for sale on the counter in aid of the RSPCA.

One of the animals featured was a wren – my favourite bird. When I was younger – at the end of the 80s – I wrote a series of stories about a would-be rock and roll band in America. I was very into Guns ‘n Roses then. In time, I stopped writing those stories and moved on to other ideas.

Kind of. I took with me a character who had been a member of the support cast and as I grew up, so did Nicola Fixx. As a result, I have rarely finished a story in which she stars.

Not useful! But let me say no more about it – she is for another post. The reason I mention my stories here is that Nicola wasn’t the only carry over. Another character, one called Shelley Keagan at the start, and then Shelley Eddison when she married the lead singer, did as well. In time, I changed her surname to Wren (and her Christian name is now Elisabeth, but again, she’s for another post)

I don’t recall why I chose Wren as a surname but it fitted her perfectly and in the years since, I have become interested in the bird as well.

Admittedly, not on any deep level; more like, if I see a real life wren – or hear one sing – for a small bird it has an amazing voice – I smile extra wide, and I take care to read about them whenever I see them mentioned.

So, when I saw the wren badge, my heart yearned to donate the £1 and buy it. Unfortunately, I had no money on me – only my debit card. So, when I left the shop… dear reader, I went to the nearest cash machine, took out £10 that I should really have left there, returned to Cotswolds and bought a third bar of Kendal mint cake so that I use the change to buy the wren badge. Here it is:

A wren flying higher than an osprey

I tell you, of all the things I have bought this weekend, this badge is definitely the most precious. I love it! So much so that I don’t trust the airport people not to damage it when I fly out to Biarritz next month. I think I will detach and put it back on when I am safely ensconced in Saint Jean. Either way, I will certainly appreciate having this wren (maybe I will call her jenny) accompany me on the way.