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Notes by Alan Dix on "An Accidental Jubilee"

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An Accidental Jubilee


This is a fun, traumatic and inspiring book. Alice tells the story of her pilgrimage by foot following the old Via Francigena route from Canterbury to Rome, 2083 kilometres, 1260 miles … about a quarter longer again then my recent walk around Wales, and including far more rugged terrain in the Swiss Alps and Italian Apennines.

This would be an impressive journey for anyone, but Alice undertook it as she was recovering from brain injury following a bicycle accident that had almost killed her. Tiredness and frequent headaches plague her during the journey, and it is only late in the book, in an almost missable side comment, that I realise she is also blind in her right visual field. I know she found the mountains difficult and frightening, but imagining even some of the cliff paths that I have recently walked with partial vision, makes this suddenly all too real.

Alice describes her fears, boredom, fevers and pains in graphic, but never self-indulgent, detail; a direct warts and all description of walking with no attempt to elicit sympathy, nor wallowing in self-sympathy.

These gritty details are interspersed with a wry style of writing that can be both comic and revealing picking up on both the external appearance and mannerisms of people she meets and some of the inner stories revealed by them.

The writing is self-reflective, but, where the occasional detail of her own prior life and concerns for the future emerge, it almost accidental as part of the meetings she has and the act of walking.

She is a true pilgrim, allowing the cataclysmic events of her life and the pain and commitment of the journey shape her, not through a superficial inner peace, but hard earned enlightenment.



passed half way and missed it. "What I have yet to discover is how much harder the distance becomes the less it gets."


"what could be so profound about walking for three months"


having a face-to-face conversation through Google translate :-)


"I believe inner happiness comes by remaining on one path."


blind right hand side


"for the first time ever I want to live"


numb soles - "Little did I know just how much rest it would take to get any feeling back in them."