The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Written by Rachel Joyce published by Black Swan 

A tale of a walk of 627 miles in 87 days from Kingsbury to Berwick

book cover Harold Fry



The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, is a work of nonfiction. A story about a man who went for a very long walk. I would describe it as an old-fashioned English story; quaint, sweet, innocent & sad. In short the main character the elderly retired Harold is living an intolerable existence, his wife barely speaks or looks at him, they live separate lives both thwarted by the experience of their son’s suicide.

The story takes off really when Harold gets a letter from someone called Queenie to tell him she remembered his kindness and wanted to thank him and that she was dying.

He wants to do the right thing but isn’t sure what it is.  Initially, he is going to post a letter to her but just can’t face it and feels, in the light of someone dying a letter was nowhere near adequate. He starts walking to a letterbox not quite able to post it.

After meandering past 3 or 4 post-boxes he gets the idea to keep walking and personally visit Queenie. This mission starts in Devon where he lives, to Berwick (in Northumberland but on the border of Scotland) where she is dying in a hospice.

Walking from Devon to Berwick a free map image – Google Search

We are not too sure who this character Queenie is at this point. A lot of the background isn’t revealed until midway in the walk. At this point Harold is extremely undernourished and ill-prepared for an arduous distance of 600 miles.

The story of how his life became so unbearable becomes clear as the walk evolves.

Walking from Devon to Berwick. A long way indeed.


He meets waifs and strays along the way, and even becoming a minor celebratory with many people jumping on the bandwagon with their own reasons for being out there! There are pleasurable aspects and a newfound joy to be discovered in the simplicity of walking and living outdoors.


He discovers that life still holds many beauties under an English sky and countryside, something he had forgotten to take time to appreciate.
He encounters both a painful recollection of what it is he is escaping and the joy of not knowing 
where he is going, the unknown future he is moving towards. 
It is about reconciliation and redemption. A fantastic read.


For further reading to do with walking see my Best Reads Page. Good Reads



Until next time, we all have walks we can do for many reasons





























ÓJulie Connelly




Sharing Blogs

Sharing Blogs

Sharing Blogs other writers and journalists, can help writers to create a community. The idea is that we don’t hold on to our thoughts and words. We help each other to showcase our work. Opening up to other audiences can be beneficial for all writers. We are a lonely lot at times. Sitting alone with our thoughts.

 I went on a Yoga retreat a couple of years ago in Scotland where I met the  yoga teacher; writer and big music fan, Manjunaga. He is devoted to yoga and Buddhism in a way, I am unlikely to ever be. His blogs are enjoyable to read. He is a thoughtful, intuitive & natural writer. 

The Buddhist Centre is based in Scotland http://www.dhanakosa.com 

Some of my pictures from the retreat

a real quiet road

Spring Rites 

He writes about the riots that broke out in Paris. “On the 29th May 1913, a new ballet was premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The avant-garde nature of the music & the new modern form of choreography caused a riot.   Violence broke out in the audience. The music for the ballet was composed by an unknown composer called Igor Stravinsky with choreography by the famous Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.”

The ballet was called The Rite of Spring and it had a pagan theme.


 Artists such as Stravinsky and Nijinsky taught a dynamic invention, where they broke away from old traditions, This scared people. They risked and dared to explore new forms of music & dance. Something different emerged from this and a new art form was created. 

 “If we perceive our life with very rigid concepts then we will find ourselves challenged by our direct experience.”

 Yoga teaches us, because its very nature is open and flexible. Doing regular yoga movements on a daily basis can help to free us of our rigid stances. We learn to be flexible through movement and meditation. To move is to awaken, to stretch is to be alive. We all get rigid in our thoughts and movements. Shaking things up and getting rid of outdated beliefs helps us to stay in touch with a better, more fluid grasp of reality.

“All of the stability in our life is conceptual, & all of the change in our life is experiential”. – 

James Low Buddhist teacher


to see more from Manjunaga the link is here. www.manjunaga.com





Westgate to Margate

Westgate to Margate is a nice little walk WALK THE PATH
















 We parked up at Westgate -on -Sea and then walked to Margate along the seafront, heading to the Turner gallery. Westgate to Margate is about a couple of miles or so along the seafront, so a return walk clocks up about 5 miles which is a decent little stroll.


There are a lot of artist’s shops and galleries and it looks set to becoming very modern eventually.  We visited the (Winter Gardens. https://www.margate-live.com)to the right of Margate Town Centre. We checked out the up and coming acts that are going to perform there. Simple minds are a band I wouldn’t have expected to see playing there; but reassuringly they had a psychic show, which is the sort of thing you expect at a Seaside Resort. I always associate fortune-tellers and psychics with sea-side towns; the towns usually being a mixture of run-down, majestic and fun. My kind of town.



I just love this photo of the cat in the window in one of the old small town houses.  

We were convinced the cat was stuffed, we stood transfixed staring at this motionless cat, with closed eyes. We stood there for what seemed like ages looking at it, a woman walking up the hill then joined us!

The three of us were mesmerized -then the cat suddenly opened its eyes!  It was spooky!  What must the cat make of it? Even more strange was behind the net curtain we suddenly spotted the owner who seemed extremely amused at us all standing staring into her window. Luckily she took this with good grace!

Easy walk along the sea-front

Easy walk along the sea-front

I must just add thanks to Justin in Arizona who is a GO Daddy internet adviser who saved the day for me yesterday and rescued me from being without my dashboard! For some reason it was not available and this is the panel where I write my blogs, he assured me he could fix it and he did, I was so relieved.

I have subscribed to Go Daddy to host my blog for another year and would totally recommend them as a host.


I’m planning on learning how to lead walks, starting with an introduction to how to do that in March. I hope to step up the pace in March and get out on at least a couple of walks. All in all, we clocked up about a 6-mile walk, on a really mild day in February, nice and easy does it.

Until the next exciting episode.

Keep it real….



The Author!


©Ms Julie





Winter Blues

 It’s January. Anybody got the winter blues?

Me too. I always feel depressed in January. Possibly not getting out on a good walk has contributed to that. The last walk was in November. That is somewhere away from London, into the countryside or down to the coast.

Losing my Mojo!

I did walk to work and back for a week when I thought I had a slow puncture  & I couldn’t be bothered to sort it out. That kind of sums up the bleak feeling. It’s not really achievable to be ‘on it’ all of the time. Some downtime is beneficial. But the winter blues seem to come around every year. I guess the only solution is to go somewhere and get away from it all. Staying indoors all month is a recipe for disaster.

Getting out into the wilderness? Who me? Not I.

A scheduled walk, Sunday the 27th of January has been written off due to snow all last week. Although the snow has gone, the ground will be damp, and as it defrosts it can get swampy.  It is still freezing cold, but at least the sky is clearing and the sun came out yesterday in London.

Phoenix Cinema

So if all else fails there is always the cinema. The Phoenix was built in 1910, the cinema finally opened in 1912 as The East Finchley Picturedrome, part of the first wave of cinema building happening across the UK in the early 1900s.


One of my favourite old art deco cinemas, so off I go to the Phoenix Cinema https://phoenixcinema.co.uk/PhoenixCinema.dll/Home to see a ballet broadcast live from Moscow. It’s not normally something I would do, and I enjoyed it much more than I could have imagined. It was in three parts with  decent 25 minute intervals . The sets costumes and coordination were beautiful, it was truly sublime. It has been years since I have seen anything so beautiful.







A scene from the ballet La Bayadere. Stunning costumes and sublime coordination.


                    I really must get out more.

Travelling back on the rail replacement service to Kings Cross wasn’t too bad after an afternoon at the cinema; the full moon was shining and I had forgotten how high up it was around Highgate. I have been down in the valley of Brixton far too long, and doing the cycle from Brixton to Camberwell South East London (work) Walking through St Pancras International just made me want to get away more. I longed to jump on the Euro Star and drift away.


So I guess it's time to start really digging out some routes to walk, and planning ahead. January is always the longest hardest month of all. 

Trudging around in the snow to get to work is a drag and those that travel on trains have to endure an extremely bad journey if there is a train at all!  

The Railway Services in the South of England, seem incapable of delivering any kind of reliable service when we get a bit of snow, it just adds stress to the whole month.

I’m personally ready to say goodbye to January and start looking forward to February and planning some days and weekends away.


Until then Happy readers

Adios &  farewell.




To Quote Bob Dylan, NO- Direction Back Home. 

 I had promised myself that I will do the Regents Canal walk before Xmas this year-but and let’s face it, the canal walk would likely end up in a pub.  Nothing wrong with that as such, apart from getting caught up with shopper’s en route back home. I am going to leave any walking trips until the proper bleak mid-winter, when the air is crisp and clean.  Less crowds, more space. My last canal walk, seemed like a busy highway, and we ended up dodging cyclists, joggers and prams. Such is London life.

Looking back at life in London

I have lived in London since about 1982 starting off in South Kensington, some time in North London, then to New Cross eventually settling into Brixton. I spent the years 1978-1982 going backwards and forwards from Newcastle to London, in those days I took off at a moment’s notice and had sudden pangs of homesickness where I would hitch up the M1. For some years this was my mode of travel. I wouldn’t dream of it now.  That was to be young careless and free. I hasten to add, and skint! and skinny!.

Brixton was a vibrant place back then and there were lots of squats and coops. Perfect for the time. It was easy to find somewhere a bit run down and do a bit of work in it and live there rent free.

A bit of a shambles but when your young you don’t care about things like that or at least our generation didn’t, we thought it was great. I would like to see the artificial reality crew dealing with that lifestyle.!

London Underground

London is a massive place and I probably spent over 20 years going to gigs/trying to get bands together and music generally ruled my life. I’m old enough to remember when you could sit on the circle line ran all night and you could smoke and drink.! I have since become accustomed to avoiding the tube if /when possible, but it is convenient.

1979 In these days you could smoke on the tube and the circle line went around and around all night!

1979 In these days you could smoke on the tube and the circle line went around and around all night!









Much to talk about through the night! This was always welcome after a night in the MUSIC MACHINE .
Typical flyer for the Music Machine..

The last two years have seen me looking for adventures close to home. The world has gradually become a smaller and more expensive place to live. I don’t enjoy travelling in the way I used to.


It’s a toss-up as to what’s worse- sitting in traffic in a car, or being held up in a train because of engineering works. I generally walk and cycle if I can. I understand other cities aren’t so bad. Living in London for all the fun I have had, it always had another side to it. Driven by a power, I don’t relate to. I have mainly lived on the side lines. Seeking out pleasure and fun, while juggling making some kind of a living. It is great to reconnect with my creative self, while still having a job to pay the bills.



Until next time keep on keeping on.