After saying farewell to our Polish students I had a couple of days with the house to myself. But not for long.
Firstly I had to prepare for the arrival of Father Clement, my summer supply priest from Nigeria and then prepare myself to travel to Lourdes for our annual diocesan pilgrimage.
I welcomed Father Clement to Bury and celebrated the Friday 'Market Day' Mass with him and then set to in earnest to prepare for the pilgrimage. I am grateful that the major part of my luggage had already been taken by parishioners so I only has a small bag to pack with things for the journey.
On Saturday morning a kind parishioner came to take me to the airport to begin the first leg of pilgrimage - a flight to Bordeaux from Liverpool. I manage to complete the formalities of security without incident and then waited to board my flight.
having boarded the plane, two hours later I was stepping off the plane into the warm Bordeaux sunshine. Having pre booked my train ticket on the hairnet I knew I had five hours before the departure so it was time to search for lunch.
Having taken my viaticum (food for the journey) I ambled toward the train station for my direct train to Bordeaux. Well....it was a direct train when I booked it. For reasons that were not vouchsafed SNCF decided that the train was to be a semi direct train. It split somewhere en route with one half going direct to Lourdes and the other to an unnamed destination. You've guessed it. I was on the wrong half and ended up in Bayonne.
Realising that something was wrong I decided to get off the train at Bayonne and make enquiries. The SNCF staff were most helpful and told me I had just six minutes to run the whole length of the station to get the train on the opposite platform and stay on it till it arrived in Lourdes.
I made the train. It was the Paris sleeper train. As I was not planning on going to Paris or sleeping I ended up in the front carriage of the train with the French equivalent of the Legion of Mary, the CWL and the UCM rolled into one.
Needless to say a jolly time was had by all and I finally arrived at Lourdes station at five minutes past midnight.
I got to my hotel and checked in. I then thought it best to let someone know that I had finally arrived. Where would you find Salford Pilgrims at midnight.....Yes I strolled down to Miam Miams for 'one for the road.'