Just beautiful

Happy Monday! For more info check out http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ie

Happy Monday! For more info check out http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ie

For a change, not a photo of my gorgeous donks but the gorgeous donks of   retweeted from @donkeysanct by @RifugioAsinelli  One of the most beautiful donkey photos I have ever seen. Mother and foal are both lovely.

COMING SOON TO THIS BLOG: 50 Years On and Off the Camino

I suddenly noticed that 2015 marks the fiftieth year since I first walked the Camino with a Spanish youth organisation (yes, THAT one…) in a totally different Spain under Franco. Soon I will put up the first instalment.  Obviously, my 2008 Worcester to Compostela pilgrimage will offer the best opportunity for a set of photos: all the way along the Thames, then France, then Spain…  WATCH THIS SPACE.

Heading to Compostela in May 2008. I got Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's seal in my pilgrim passport and it's just 2500 km still to go...

Heading to Compostela in May 2008. I got Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s seal in my pilgrim passport and it’s just 2500 km still to go…

PS If Margaret Butterworth is still trolling my blog, despising photos of donkeys, please do not comment on the fact that I have added another photo of donkeys.  It’s what we do here.  And next time you walk the Camino, stay in pilgrim hostels not luxury hotels, and try to walk all of it, eh?  The first time I walked it in 1965, we had to dig our own toilets and there were no showers anywhere. Be grateful for a bed in a pilgrim albergue!

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Spring is here

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The recent high winds have left hardly any almond blossom on the trees, but finally the wind has dropped and we can safely go for a walk without donkeys going loopy, for the wind sends them very skittish indeed!  Here are Morris and Rubí enjoying the sort of walk they like: just another opportunity to eat out.  Meanwhile, Aitana lounges around in the paddock, getting back into her summer routine of sleeping in the sunshine.

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For Grandpa Zeke, “piliersdelaterre,” Margaret Butterworth, those all those commenters who just like photos of the donkeys, here are some more of the self-portraits with Matilde and Morris.  Close up with the donks:

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And for those weird people who come to this blog just to see pictures of me, and do not want to be distracted by the donkeys, here is my latest attempt to take the Lenten fast seriously by eating in a Mexican restaurant in Vilajoiosa, where there is very little on the menu worth eating, but the restaurant owner continually pours brimming glasses of tequila until you genuinely believe that you have had a good meal.

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I shall be glad when this Lent fast is over and I can get back to proper food.

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Open letter to Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Athanasius Schneider,

I have been given your email address by a Catholic friend who hoped I would be able to express to you a problem that has concerned many Catholics this week.  Our hope is that you will be able to pass these thoughts up through the channels of the Church in a way our own bishops normally cannot find it interesting enough to do so.  Hopefully those out-of-touch people at the heart of the Vatican’s spin machine – who claim to be masters of the new tools of communication, but who cannot listen – may then hear our concerns.
We live and worship in hope.
Last week, Father Thomas Rosica issued through his lawyers a letter threatening a Canadian family man and blogger, David Domet, with legal action. Here is the letter: http://www.churchmilitant.tv/documents/spec-2015-02-19.pdf  As you see, Fr Rosica wishes Mr Domet to withdraw any remarks made about his alleged doctrinal errors by the end of the day on 22nd February: the First Sunday in Lent.
On that same First Sunday in Lent, the priest Fr Rosica says on his own blog http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/rosicareflections/the-ways-of-the-desert-2  “And in the midst of the desert we hear what God will do if we open our hearts to him and allow him to make our own deserts bloom. The ways of the desert were deep within the heart of Jesus, and it must be the same for all who would follow him.”
This seems to be a remarkable hypocrisy for one who is pursuing a litigious action on that same day against a Catholic blogger who simply takes exception to Fr Rosica’s heterodox views – personal opinions publicly expressed, in abuse of his Vatican position – and in a way that the faithful have every right to express their opinions.
It is my view (see my own blog) and the view of many other Catholics that this is a scandal and we have now reached a point beyond which we cannot proceed without some action.  Take for example the well-expressed blog page of Mark Lambert in England: http://marklambert.blogspot.com.es/2015/02/high-profile-priest-sues-blogger-over.html   The heterodox views of the liberal mafia now surrounding the pope, who calls himself the simple follower of brother Francis, the Bishop of Rome, the darling of the left wing press; such views of people like Rosica are now alienating solid Catholic opinion.
If such Catholic faithful are now to be sued in the courts for simply arguing back, supporting the doctrine of the Church against those who would tear down the walls and allow Satan to take his seat; what are we to do?  Bishop, we appeal to you to speak up.
Father, you are a widely respected bishop, and I ask you help in this matter.  I am sending this to you by email and also publishing it as an open letter on my blog.
Yours sincerely,
Gareth Thomas
Let's hope our Lenten discipline will not be a whole forty days of litigation from Fr Thomas Rosica

Let’s hope our Lenten discipline will not be a whole forty days of litigation from Fr Thomas Rosica

Update 24 Feb:

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has been in touch today with Mr Domet:

“Dear Mr. Gareth, I just wrote a letter to Mr. Domet giving him some words of counsel and consolation. Let us always love and defend Christ the Truth and fear God alone. God bless you, + Athanasius Schneider”

“Bishop Athanasius,

Many thanks for writing to Mr Domet, father.  We are all amazed that the power-crazed liberals in the Vatican think this kind of legal action against traditional Catholics is constructive.  Their project is doomed to failure.
God bless you,
Gareth Thomas”
Update 10.30 pm SERT (Standard Europoean Rabit Time)
The best legal commentary on the pathetic power games of Vatican bully  Father Thomas Rosica can be found here: http://www.catholic-legate.com/the-priest-litigator-2/
Update Thursday 26th February
David Domet has written of the wonderful support he has had from thousands of Catholics, and he was clearly encouraged by Bishop Athanasius Schneider. http://www.voxcantor.blogspot.com.es/2015/02/what-wonderful-catholic-world.html  Sometimes the little things we do on this donkey field have effects far off.  Well done, donkeys!  We have a little quiet place of reflection here, where donkeys in Lent think forward to Palm Sunday and their historic charge.  And sometimes we reach out from here and act as best we can for what is right and true.
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First Sunday in Lent is now renamed “Litigation Sunday”

First Sunday in Lent, with donkeys

First Sunday in Lent, with donkeys

Like many other Catholics who keep up with news of the Church on Twitter and on various blogs and social media, I decided to quit the comment boards for Lent. But Sunday is not a fast day in Lent.  (See the interesting discussion on the matter on Fr Hunwicke’s blog: So when does Lent start for mathematicians? )  Today is the First Sunday in Lent, but it seems that some Vatican officials under the present Pope Francis are now renaming it Litigation Sunday.

Matilde spends the first Sunday in Lent quietly reflecting on the donkey's role in the Passion story

Matilde spends the first Sunday in Lent quietly reflecting on the donkey’s role in the Passion story

Father Thomas Rosica, a key spokesman in the Vatican, has set his lawyers on a Catholic blogger for criticizing his publicly stated views as being heterodox. This letter threatening legal action has been sent to a Canadian family man and blogger David Domet (who runs the blog Vox Cantoris that few of us in Europe had even heard of before this) and he has until the end of today, henceforth to be known as Litigation Sunday, to withdraw his remarks from his blog and apologize.

Morris spends Lent braying and fasting

Morris spends Lent braying and fasting

Seeing a Catholic blogger attacked in this way by a bullying Vatican official using quite inappropriate legal methods, instead of taking the criticism of his heterodoxy on the chin and arguing back, I do not think those of us who had planned a quiet Lent retreat away from the Catholic comment boxes can now remain silent.  All should publish and republish the words of David Domet and put links to his blog on all our blogs.  Here are the criticisms of Fr Thomas Rosica action against David Domet and the Vox Cantoris blog:

http://www.lepantoinstitute.org/uncategorized/fr-rosicas-ironic-lawsuit/
http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.ca/2015/02/making-mess-and-medicinal-rebuke.html
http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/02/21/vox-cantoris-is-not-alone/
http://heresy-hunter.blogspot.ca/2015/02/rosica-v-vox.html
http://www.wopular.com/comment/reply/29712047
http://www.novusordowatch.org/wire/blog-of-war-rosica-domet.htm
http://thyselfolord.blogspot.ca/2015/02/porta-vox-do-vaticano-processa-blogger.html
http://biblefalseprophet.com/2015/02/19/must-watch-vatican-threatening-vox-cantoris-blog-for-commenting-on-synod/
http://throwthebumsoutin2010.blogspot.ca/2015/02/pope-francis-spokesperson-fr-rosica.html

[The readings for this Sunday are: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Mark 1:12-15]

[The readings for this Sunday are: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Mark 1:12-15]

 On this First Sunday in Lent, Fr Thomas Rosica reflects on the readings on his own blog, in a piece called (remarkably) The Ways of the Desert, in which he says: “And in the midst of the desert we hear what God will do if we open our hearts to him and allow him to make our own deserts bloom. The ways of the desert were deep within the heart of Jesus, and it must be the same for all who would follow him.”  Oh yes?  What hypocrisy!

So on this Litigation Sunday let us join Fr Thomas Rosica and sue all those whose criticisms of our religious views we disagree with.  This reflects very badly on the regime of Pope Francis, the idol of the liberals and the left.  But then, the authoritarian left always did have a bit of a problem with free speech, didn’t it?

Update:

1000 viewers of this blog post in 24 hours. More than any other topic I ever blogged about!  The Vatican internet bully Fr Thomas Rosica has become an overnight blog sensation. Oh dear, Pope Francis: this doesn’t look good for your  “Team Bergoglio” does it?

The Fr Thomas Rosica effect on blog hits

The Fr Thomas Rosica effect on blog hits

A very good account of this matter is to be found on Mark Lambert’s blog.

If you want an explanation of the issues in Spanish, go to http://catholicvs.blogspot.fr/2015/02/nuevo-escandalo-portavoz-de-la-santa.html  @FatherRosica is now generating a whole load of new contacts. Just found a list of Latin Masses in Spain thanks to this business!

Also there is a Michael Voris piece on video now…

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Fifty shades of grey

Matilde in Parcent December 2010: mostly dark grey and looking a bit stroppy already

Matilde in Parcent December 2010: mostly dark grey and looking a bit stroppy already. Clearly appreciates new owner wearing grey.

Matilde in Parcent in 2011 looking darkly grey with white bits and very challenging

Matilde in Parcent in 2011 looking menacingly grey with white bits and a little challenging. Let’s just say stroppy.

Matilde with mostly dark grey and some brown bits, with Rubí insisting than "brown is best". Brown legs good; grey legs bad.

Matilde with mostly dark grey and some brown bits, with Rubí insisting than “brown is best”. (Brown legs good, grey legs bad.)

Matilde in a rather darkish grey moment, worrying goats. Vigorously.

Matilde in a rather darkish grey moment, worrying goats. Vigorously.

Matilde looks grey-faced after arrival in horse box, delivered from Parcent with Rubí in March 2011

Matilde looks grey-faced after arrival in horse box, delivered from Parcent with Rubí in March 2011

On the second day after her arrival in March 2011, I discover a lighter side to Matilde: almost white in places.

On the second day after her arrival in March 2011, I discover a lighter grey side to Matilde: almost white in places.

Matilde has dark grey thoughts while waiting for the next feed.

Matilde has dark grey thoughts while waiting for the next feed.

Greyly tasting the forbidden fruit

Greyly tasting the forbidden fruit

Grey shades of Matilde with her new grey stable made of brushwood which she would soon enjoy eating.

Grey shades of Matilde with her new grey stable made of brushwood which she would soon enjoy eating.

Matilde feeling a bit grey after a very long walk with her new master. Now we know who is in control.

Matilde feeling a bit grey after a very long walk with her new master. Now we know who is in control.

Partly grey Matilde (with brown bits) at the medieval market in Finestrat 2011

Partly grey Matilde (with brown bits) at the medieval market in Finestrat 2011

Matilde admires herself in a mirror window at the Town Hall in Finestrat, and she discovers she is fifty shades of grey.

Matilde admires herself in a mirror window at the Town Hall in Finestrat, and she discovers she is fifty shades of grey.

Matilde tries on the traditional donkey gear at the Museo Finestrat (filmed in sepia for atsmosphere).

Matilde tries on the traditional donkey gear at the Museo Finestrat (filmed in sepia for atmosphere).

Hey guys: if you want to tie a girl up, get yourself a donkey.  If you want a relationship, find yourself an equal.

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Add to shopping cart

Donks on the field viewed from the place where I intended putting the webcam

Donks on the field viewed from the place where I intended putting the webcam

I have been very busy with work in these past few weeks, and also I had hoped to be able to post more news about the progress of the webcam, so I have been waiting for more feedback from the IT professionals advising me on the matter. Sadly, for technical reasons, it looks like the webcam is a non-starter at the present time. The main problem is the distance from the house to the webcam position on the field, apparently. I was quite surprised at this outcome: one gets the impression these days that technology is all around us and everything is possible. Apparently this isn’t, so there we are. You will have to make do with my photos and videos but no webcam for the near future.

Morris and the lemon tree

Morris and the lemon tree

Rubí following me around the field

Rubí following me around the field

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Matilde under the lemon tree

The vegetable patch is unsuccessful this winter but there is one red pepper

The vegetable patch is unsuccessful this winter but there is one red pepper

The one red pepper

The one red pepper

Maybe there is one advantage in the situation regarding the webcam: I had put some money aside to pay for the webcam and this is now available to spend on a replacement donkey cart.
The cart I bought in 2012 has been mainly used for training Morris. He was too small to pull it when I bought it, and Rubí was the intended work-donkey for the cart. Rubi never really learned to pull it, nor respond to commands, and Morris was the great bright learner once he was strong enough to pull it. We had a lot of fun last year going up the lane and Morris really enjoyed pulling the cart. Sadly, it was not very well made (I bought it secondhand from an English guy who probably constructed it himself and the welding was rubbish.) The left hand wheel support has now completely sheared off.

Ruined!

Ruined!

Replacement cart needed

Replacement cart needed

So, the money saved on the not-possible webcam project will now go towards a replacement donkey vehicle. “Add to cart,” as they say… I will start saving up and look around for a suitable replacement. There are a few local readers of this blog, so if you are local please keep an eye open for a suitable cart, if you see one that looks disused, sitting in a yard somewhere. It needs to be donkey or pony sized, not horse sized!

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Coming soon to this blog: the donkey webcam

I have been considering for a while setting up a webcam on this blog, so visitors can see the donkeys live. I am hoping to have the webcam installed on the donkey field in February. Ideally, the camera will be running live in daylight hours so Matilde, Rubi, Morris and Aitana can be seen during their everyday activities and you can watch what they get up to when I am at work.

Maybe you will be able to catch them on camera doing something very silly, and I will miss it because I am at work.  Then you can write and tell me in the comments what silliness you have seen.  The view of the field will be from under the fig tree, where the camera will be sited in a place that gives the best all-round view of the donkeys, and they are only out of sight when on the left of camera in the corner of the field by the lemon tree.  Here’s a still shot preview of the camera position, with the Puig Campana mountain above Finestrat providing a spectacular back drop.

Proposed webcam position: the camera will have a wider angle lens than this still shot.

Proposed webcam position: the camera will have a wider angle lens than the phone camera used for this still shot.

I will keep you updated on the progress of this project.  Meanwhile, here is a taster: three of the videos captured on the field in the past years:

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