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Some holidays are just that; others, by accident or design, become adventures. Not so many years ago, we set out on the old pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. With a little historical background it was possible to feel we were following Francis of Assisi, Henry II, and countless ordinary Europeans for whom the journey through France and across Spain became the most significant - and perhaps most dangerous - event of their lives.

For us it was all too easy: there was the discomfort of driving across northern Spain under the August sun, but the whole journey from Brittany to Galicia took less than a week, and we had the Santander ferry to carry us home in comfort.

I'm reminded of this by a friend who has just returned from Compostela. For large sections of the way his route was parallel with ours. But, more meaningfully, he covered almost a thousand miles on his bike!

So many pleasures of modern life - travel, entertainment, literature, music - demand so little input. I'm no ascetic or masochist, but experience has often taught that pleasure increases with the effort invested. If it's true of pilgrimage, it must be tr ue of life.

Frank Rock, Carrs Lane Church Centre.


200 YEARS AGO: Notice is given that Lord Dudley particularly requests all qualified gentlemen to refrain from sporting in that part of the manor which lies on the west side of the Turnpike Road leading from Dudley to Sedgley; and also that part of the Ma nor which lies on the south side of the Turnpike Road leading from Sedgley to Gospend; also in or near any of his woods.

Aris's Birmingham Gazette, September 1798.

100 YEARS AGO: On alighting from a tramcar in John Bright Street a policeman was struck to the ground by a bicycle. He was severely shaken and cut about the nose. No blame was attached to the rider but most people will agree that cyclists should exercise great care when passing tramcars which passengers are alighting.

The Birmingham Daily Post, September 1898.

50 YEARS AGO: A shortage of midwives and hospital staff is causing a serious position in Midland maternity services, it was stated at the first meeting yesterday of Birmingham's regional hospital board. It has led to the discharge of patients on the four th or fifth day after delivery.

The Birmingham Post, September 1948.


Birthdays: Theatre director John Caird, 50; American actress Catherine Oxenberg, 37; equestrian expert Captain Mark Phillips, 50; author Fay Weldon, 67.

Anniversaries: 1735: Sir Robert Walpole became first Prime Minister to move into No 10 Downing Street; 1791: Birth of physicist and chemist Michael Faraday; 1792: France declared a republic; 1862: Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, ord ering the freeing of slaves; 1920: London's Metropolitan Police formed the motorised Flying Squad; 1955: Independent television company, ITV, began operating in Britain; 1989: Death of American composer Irving Berlin.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 22, 1998
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