That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse - Walt Whitman

As of March 2013, I have three books that have been published and are available for purchase. Memoirs of a Pilgrim is the account of my walk across Spain, whilst the other two (Herbie and the Tune, Jebediah and the Book of Love) are children's books aged 4 - 9. Further details below.

BUY Memoirs of a Pilgrim - Zeus Publications

Memoirs of a Pilgrim has also been honoured as an award-winning finalist at the International Book Awards 2012. (Category: Travel Essay)

Wellbeing Magazine says..."will inspire you to take a risk and start achieving what you've always wanted to."

Cove Magazine says..."a remarkable tale of perseverence and self discovery." 

BUY Herbie and the Tune - Pick-a-Woo Woo Publishers

Herbie and the Tune has also been honoured as an award-winning finalist at the International Book Awards 2012. (Category: Children's, Mind, Body, Spirit)

The West Australian says..."a joy to share with a young child."

The Lifestyle magazine says..."beautifully written."

BUY Jebediah and the Book of Love - Pick-a-Woo Woo Publishers

Bluewolf reviews says..."a very gentle, loving story."

 

Note: For those outside Australia, purchases can be made through the usual online book distributors. (Amazon, The Book Depository etc)

Further reviews and interviews below:

 

LIP MAG book review - August 2012

Onya Magazine book review - November 2012

ABC Sunday Nights radio interview 

ABC Darwin Radio interview - Annie Gastin 

 

Prologue

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

 


 

Prologue

"Spain? I thought it was in Chile?" I hazily remember a conversation from many moons ago. It has been nearly a decade since the exchange took place, so it would be fair to say that the words may not be strictly accurate. Perhaps they were never even spoken. To be honest, I can't quite remember. Whether it was a lonely question in my mind waiting to be asked, or a bumbled query with my mouth wishing it hadn't, it was, beyond every shadow of doubt, my initial response when a friend mentioned the city of Santiago.

It was a warm sunny day in London, so with no disrespect to my home of five years, I can only assume that it was the height of summer. As was often the case, I met up with a friend of mine to blow the froth off a couple of Stella Artois beers. This particular day (due to the searing heat no doubt), we shared a beer-garden bench at a pub in Richmond. As I sat back enjoying the refreshing ale and the view of the mighty Thames, I was introduced to a friendly girl with a book in her hand. For the life of me, I cannot recall her name, so she will forever remain a friend of a friend.

Within moments, her vibrant enthusiasm morphed into the story of Santiago, and the pilgrimage she was about to undertake. It was the first time I had heard about either. After my initial response querying her destination, she excitedly leafed through her book (The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho) and opened the pages to a map detailing her exact route. With her finger, she traced over the east-to-west path on the double-page spread, sharing a glowing commentary on the mountainous challenges ahead.

The rest of the afternoon only registers in my memory as a blur of sunshine and beer bubbles. Whilst I was not struck-by-lightning inspired to quit my job and make the journey immediately, I must confess to being both intrigued at the undertaking and impressed with the passion on display. The seed had definitely been planted!

Fast forward about eight years and I had returned to my homeland down under. The Camino seed had not flowered into the realms of my consciousness since those early days, and for all intents and purposes, had been dead and buried for a number of years. As it turned out, it was only snoozing. Seeds have the uncanny ability to do just that.

My life had recently been turned upside down by the unforeseen death of my father in Melbourne, and I had returned to my home in Sydney feeling lost and without direction. A relatively short time earlier, I had quit my job in the corporate world, hoping to make a living in the field of alternative medicine. The burden of dad's death, along with a barrel load of crippling fears put paid to that idea. Similar to Hugh Grant's character in the film, 'About a boy', my day-to-day life was simply about getting through units of time. My life had no meaning and this seemed to be the best way to survive.

One such activity that always chewed through more than a handful of grisly minutes was a trip to the library. In addition to the gloriously time-munching plethora of pages on display, they even had free internet access. On these surfing-the-web occasions, I could easily whittle away another block or two from the day's quota. With great clarity, I remember waiting for my reservation time to commence on the computer. Not wanting to pressure the fellow until the clock had ticked over the hour, I stood at a respectful distance. As it happened, the biography section was to my right.

The Camino, by Shirley MacLaine instantly caught my attention, resurrecting the riverside memories from all those years ago. For several minutes, I wrestled with the thoughts that gave the author little credibility beyond a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film that I watched her in more than half my lifetime ago. She was an excellent Bat Lady, I must admit. But superheroine portrayal aside, I finally concluded that the accusing tones were not actually my own, but those I had taken on second hand. There was really only one way to find out for myself. I reached out and claimed the paperback as my own.

How this book ended up in the biography section is still beyond my wildest imaginings. But I am certainly thankful that it was. As I devoured the pages, my thoughts and emotions crystallised into one beautifully formed purpose. The message was simple and clear. I was to walk the Camino path to Santiago. In true Shirley MacLaine form (or so I am told), her pilgrimage story became so much more than cathedrals and blisters. Parts of it were beyond fantasy, but I loved it nonetheless. It was her unique story from her unique vantage point. So who was I to argue with that?

Within four short weeks, I was on a plane to the other side of the world. (back to top)

 

Excerpt 1

It is certainly a night to remember, and unfortunately, I am awake most of the night to remember it. It is a potent combination of leg pain, chiming bells from the clock tower, a clicking radiator, and crunchy covers on the mattress that keeps me conscious throughout the small hours of the morning.

My aching body drifts off into the land of nod just moments before the landlady bursts into the room and turns on the light. I breathe a sigh of disbelief. It is seven o'clock! With the morning curfew set at eight, I instantly assess that an hour is a rather excessive amount of time to brush my teeth, pack the bag, descend the stairs (okay, the stairs might take a while) and be on my way.

However, being stranded on a top bunk, I encourage a lower-bunk pilgrim to perform the ceremony that will plunge us again into beautiful darkness. One, two, three, four, five, six. It takes only six seconds for the lights to be switched on again. Impressive! No doubt, the lady of the manor has much experience in this area, and has conquered far more feisty pilgrims than we. Acknowledging defeat (and the uncanny resemblance between the bedding sounds and a bowl of Coco Pops), I crunchily sit up in my bed, perform the dreaded morning assessment on my legs, and prepare for the day. As the Kellogg's monkey swings from vine to vine through my mind, it announces the comical, yet redundant, words from an old advertising campaign. Apparently, I am in a coco-lossal amount of trouble.  

Leaving the albergue behind, I limp along the streets of Los Arcos, internally whimpering with each step, much like a dog that misses its owner. I feel embarrassed at using my walking sticks on this paved and flat surface, but I desperately need their help. So, like a wounded tap-dancer, I continue to click slowly along the path, despite the ongoing stares. (back to top)

 

Excerpt 2

It gives me great pleasure to report that at Casa Mari, there are no lights being switched on at seven in the morning. In fact, there is not a hint of encouragement to get me on my way. Perhaps Mari appreciates her sleep as much as I do, or perhaps she simply has a kind heart. Either way, I am hugely grateful for the morning treat. 

Speaking of treats, Alberto and I plan to share a Spanish pastry from the vending machine in the reception area. I can't ever remember a time of buying a vending-machine breakfast, but the distinct lack of both funds and local food shops force my hand on the matter. We choose the biggest, most delicious-looking chocolate-covered item, feed our coins into the slot, and push the buttons to our winning co-ordinates. A-3! The machine whirrs to life, and the coil that imprisons our morning sustenance, slowly withdraws its clasp.

The chewy bounty is soon to be upon us, as it teeters on the top row of tasty goodies, ready to take the plunge below. It is all very exciting! But teeter it does and plunge it does not. This is a tragedy of gastronomic proportions! Memories of similarly lost chocolate bars and potato chips from the heady days of my youth come back to haunt me, as I try in vain to wobble the machine and release our prize. Alas, there is no success.

But a sad story is just a story waiting for another ending, and that ending comes in the form of a huge, mystery man. I think he is German. He heeds our lamentations, and holds the vending machine in his two massive hands. With alarming ease, he shakes the iron monster, and the pastry falls like manna from heaven. A miracle! (back to top)