John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Friday 27th June

Route: Wem to Knighton
Mileage: 50.25 miles; 1122 miles so far; 378 miles to go
Weather: Bright start, drizzle in afternoon

Kathy and Georgina were leaving this morning for the pre-wedding hen party, so Kathy was multi-tasking as she sorted breakfast out for me, while getting ready for the week-end away and dealing with the laundry. The other members of the outing turned up in matching T shirts, and were clearly ready for an adventurous couple of days and a lot of fun with the bride to be. I hope the sun shines on the wedding party on 12th July and that it's a day to remember for you all.

The weather looked promising as I headed off to Shrewsbury, at Phil's suggestion, to have the brakes looked at. It was an interesting place to visit, and I soon found David Mellor cycles who confirmed the blocks had plenty of wear left, even if they look quite thin. Thanks for your help, David, and for adjusting the brake and gear lever which had got bashed when I fell off the bike on Wednesday thanks to a pothole.

I was advised to take the Hope Valley route on the A488 and am glad I did, as this part of England is a hidden gem of rolling countryside Thanks to Derek of the Horseshoes Inn in Pontesbury (where there's an unusual one-way system around the parish church) for the complementary coffee. Further along the route I met Paul from Newport on his bike who warned me of some cows ahead on the road. Hope you made it back home OK!

Had I stuck to my originally planned route I would also have missed Bishop's Castle, a fascinating place perched on a hill which seems definitely worth a re-visit. Here I found a WiFi cafe in the form of the Happy Bap, run by Steve 'Whitting' who was closing early to go down to Glastonbury. I appreciated the chat, Steve, the sausage roll, and your kind sponsorship. Hope you didn't get too wet! As I left Bishop's Castle, the persistent drizzle seemed set in for the rest of the afternoon.

It was a bit of climb to Clun where I was caught up by Mike Plunkett from Bishop's Castle who was out on an afternoon bike ride. I joined him for a coffee at the Maltings, having tried the riverside cafe which was closed. It was here that we met Sue Dowell who happens to have been an active member of Pax Christi for some time, and who knew of L'Arche. Thanks for whatever help you can give to promoting my ride, Sue. Chatting to Mike, I discovered he had been Vicar of Speke where I had visited a couple of days ago, and he was clearly still active in the area setting up youth projects. He suggested I went round the hill to Knighton rather than over it which I was very happy to do, and we parted company at Purslow.

Again, I had written to the Parish Priest in Knighton to find accommodation, and had been put in touch with Carole and Peter Clare who live at Bucknell which was on the west side of Knighton and on the road I would be taking into the town. It was about 6.00 pm when I arrived at the Clare's house, in an attractive hamlet just round the corner from the Baron of Beef pub.

I was made very welcome and after a reviving bath soon sitting down to an excellent dinner cooked by Peter who is also an accomplished artist with a number of exhibitions to his name. I was amazed to discover that Clare had met Marion Hollis, from whom I took over as L'Arche Company Secretary, at a Llas Fasi workshop for Ignatian spiritual direction, and that she and Peter had been their guests when they had an exhibition at Norwich Cathedral when the Hollis family lived in Beccles. It was fascinating to share stories with Carole and Peter who had met Jean Vanier in Sligo in the 90s. They now work together giving retreats, Clare with her background of counselling and spiritual direction skills, and Peter providing the visual images for reflection and meditation.

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