Pilgrim Snail: Busking to Santiago

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9780007104734: Pilgrim Snail: Busking to Santiago

Walking from Canterbury to Santiago de Compostela – with a trombone.

After the girl he loved was killed by armed robbers in Belize, Ben Nimmo did what any rational human being would and decided to walk from one of the greatest European medieval pilgrim sites to another – Canterbury to Santiago de Compostela in Spain – in her memory, taking with him his trombone and busking for charity.

His journey was packed with bizarre encounters and amusing incidents, unusual characters and touching moments. From pulling a corpse from a Belgian canal to teaching the five-year-old daugher of a Burgundian farmer to play the trombone in return for tractor driving lessons; from being invited to stay with a neo-nazi anti-bloodsports activist to the European championship of boules – with square balls; from discussing life, religion and Dixieland jazz with a lay brother in a Luxembourg monastery to chicken worship in a provincial Spanish cathedral. Nimmo explores the historical wealth of Europe – the wool farms of Flanders, the Cather castles of Languedoc, the twentieth century battlefields and pre-historic caves – considers Santiago pilgrims past, present and future, and makes new friends everywhere with the help of his trusty trombone.

The perfect escapist travel narrative, peppered with gloriously funny anecdotes, from a keen observer of people and places.

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Review:

The impetus behind Ben Nimmo's mammoth walk from Canterbury to Santiago de Compostela in Spain as described in Pilgrim Snail was a sombre one: he wanted to pay tribute to the girl he loved, murdered while working for charity in Belize. But Nimmo's odyssey became a life-changing one, and reading about it is anything but a sombre experience. This fascinating record of his adventure conveys the peaks and troughs with maximum vividness. Nimmo's sole companion on his eventful trip was a trombone, and for the nine months (and 2,000 miles) of his journey he struggled against injuries, massive storms and even a phantom bear--all the time weighed down by his mammoth rucksack. But what makes Nimmo's picaresque narrative so diverting is the panoply of colourful characters he encounters: smugglers with courtly manners, monks who are rather too fond of the communion wine and even a hospitable anti-bloodsports neo-nazi with whom he shares a sandwich. Nimmo lays his head down in everything from ruined castles to bat-infested caves, and engages in such surrealistic pursuits as watching a chicken-worship ceremony in a Spanish cathedral and a game of boules played with square balls. All of this is conveyed in prose that veers from the caustically funny to the sharply evocative, and it's to be hoped that Nimmo picks up his trombone again if his travels make for such quirky and entrancing writing as this. -- Barry Forshaw

Review:

"Nimmo is delightful and engaging company. This is his first book, yet the prose is polished and the narrative taut, funny and cleverly paced". -- TheGuardian

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Nimmo, Ben
Published by Harpercollins Pub Ltd (2001)
ISBN 10: 0007104731 ISBN 13: 9780007104734
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Ben Nimmo
Published by Harpercollins Pub Ltd (2001)
ISBN 10: 0007104731 ISBN 13: 9780007104734
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