BUSKING TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Our trombone-playing pilgrim enjoys the benefits of newfound fame

7 August

Market day in Le Puy. Every square in town has its own stalls - and buskers: Peruvian pipes compete with classical violins. I set up and add to the confusion. Approached by a very elegant Irish lady. "Oh, are you the chap I've read in the Independent?" Fame at last! Introduced to her god- daughter and the latter's husband and children (31/2, 11/2). Invited to their country retreat, as long as I promise not to betray its location.

The oath given, we drive off - to paradise. An ancient farmhouse by a medieval church, overlooking a broad valley. Outside, a spring, a stream, ducks. Inside, stone-flagged floors, beams, books and music everywhere. Welcomed like one of the family. Help husband tinker with the car. Take tea with the ladies. Act as a mobile climbing-frame for the young. Weekend culminates with a kids' party. Adults tire long before the infants. Oh, for a toddler's energy!

9-13 August

Resting in Le Puy, which has four claims to fame: 1) Green lentils. Connoisseurs rave about them. I try some but fail to die of ecstasy. 2) Chapelle St- Michel. Perched on a 200ft sheer volcanic pinnacle, a beautiful 10th- century chapel. Literally breathtaking - 258 steps up. Home to the fittest priest in Europe. 3) The cathedral. Also on a pinnacle, which it outgrew in the 11th century, so the builders put it on stilts. Main stairway now passes under Europe's most astonishing vault. Polychrome arches, carved 12th-century doors, colossal granite pillars, all supporting 10,000 tons of cathedral. 4) Pilgrims. They are everywhere, come to start the Santiago pilgrimage. Every morning little groups in boots and sunhats descend the cathedral steps after the blessing and head south-west.

On Friday 13th, it's my turn. A dozen of us climb to the cathedral, adrift above a sea of mist. The bishop introduces us all: French, Dutch, Irish, British, Catholics, Protestants, agnostics. The blessing is over in seconds. He hands us each a medallion, symbol of the pilgrim brotherhood. We head downhill, and into the mist ...

For more information on the charity trombone walk, visit the website at www.netplay cafe.co.uk/bonewalk.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power