A few weeks ago, we featured the story of Tom and his family who made the journey on foot with their horse Maggie all the way from the UK to the Pyrenees in northern Span – read The Incredible Journey.
Many of you wrote in commenting how much you loved the story and the spirit that inspired the family to set forth on a 1,000 mile trek.
Well, Tom and family have been hard at work putting together some content for us and I am delighted to be able to show you the first of that now. This Tom’s wife, Julia, with the start of the journey:
These are entries from Julia’s letters back to friends, which she has very kindly let us publish:
Well, I don’t want to go through that again! The emotional upheaval and the physical task of packing up a life and leaving family and friends was huge – maybe something I slightly underestimated!
We have been staying for the past 6 days in Normandy after our rather painful departure from the farm last Monday morning!
We completely fell on our feet, when a friend Emma Goodwin suggested that we could start our adventure at her mothers house on the coast between Le Havre and Caen. It is the ideal spot to rest and slowly prepare ourselves for the trip.
I underestimated just how exhausted we would all be by the time we got here. We have all (including animals), spent the first 4 days eating and sleeping, and only the last 48hrs have had the energy to start with the preparations that we need to do to the cart etc. before we set off.
Luckily, Emma’s mum, had been primed about what had been happening at the farm and therefore has been so considerate in giving us just the right amount of space that we need to recover! We already have our gypsy encampment set up (don’t let Mols get wind of that!), our cart, which arrived here a couple of weeks ago now is next to Daphne (our camper van) and there is a 4 berth caravan next to her that we are sleeping in. We use one of the many accommodation houses for a kitchen, bathroom and laundry. It’s perfect – maybe we should just stay here for a year!!!!
The universe, as always, is giving us what we need! It rained for the first 4 days which is slowing down all that we need to do on the cart, therefore, we are slowing down too, recharging our batteries and letting go of our old life slowly!
Tom already looks very different, as does Molly (I’m sure I do too), we were holding onto so much stress in those weeks leading up to our departure.
We’ve had time to enjoy going through all the cards and pressies (gifts) that we got. The thoughts and good wishes from you all, as well as touching gifts, (too many to list here but some that need recognition are the beautiful felt hat and scarves from Peter and Pupak, the 1000 mile socks from the NCTY mums), is completely overwhelming! It sets me off crying again just to think of it! I certainly did enough crying last weekend!
Our days so far have been centred around our needs and those of the animals. Maggie spends a lot of time looking out to the sea, in a kind of meditation. I wonder if she can feel this was the Normandy landings. Betsy and Floss are acclimatising to the new terrain, Betsy being more at home with the nomadic/travelling life I feel. Floss on the other hand is a bit insecure and needs to be with me at all times. In fact can’t let me out of her sight but then again she is a more needy character and I have to keep reminding myself that she has only ever known Plaw Hatch (our previous home in the UK). I am sure she will adjust in time, otherwise we’ll be sending in her back.
Yesterday we had a trial run, putting Maggie in her new harness and hitching her up to the vardo (cart), for a short strip down the road. Having loaded up with pretty much all that we will take, she pulled it easily and happily, but it was on the flat! It was the most blissful feeling as Tom and I sat up on the vardo, Molly walking along side being the official photographer. Just the sound of the hooves and the jingling of our pots, as we went down a quiet little lane, just like stepping back 100 years. Betsy and Floss were in their element, running along with us, darting into fields and hedgerow on the scent of rabbits.
I know it won’t all be that peaceful and maybe the honeymoon period will be over all too quickly but I have to say that the feeling of tranquillity and simplicity was wonderful! To have all that we need with us, all in one place was also a lovely feeling because I have felt like a ‘box lady’ with my belongings everywhere, for a long time now.
So, we will leave in 2 days time. We all feel ready and rested for the adventure. Emma arrives here tonight to see her mum and to also wave us off – our final goodbye! Then it’s us, on our own with a lot of France stretching before us. Daunting and very exciting! I have made the vardo really homely (true to my Cancerian nature), decorating and even making curtains! Tom has been amazing at knocking up shelves and cupboards and looking as if he is thoroughly enjoying making us a new home! We want to paint and personalise it as we go, giving us a great project on the road.
Molly is making the most of all the luxuries here before our departure, ie hot showers, electricity, etc. But I have to say that she is surprisingly game for this crazy venture, considering she is 14! Will keep you posted on this, as time will tell a different story maybe!?
Well, I am going to sign off now but before I do, I just want to thank you all again for the amazing support and encouragement you have given us for this life changing decision we have made – which is why it was so difficult to leave you all!
I will endeavour to keep you all updated, as frequently as seems possible for me, (not being a facebooker!).
With love to you all, from the 6 of us!
If you missed the other parts of the series, you can check on them here: