Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage

Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage will cease operating at this domain name within the next week. I have purchased a new domain name for the donkey blog and will post details for regular readers soon.  Do not panic, faithful readers of the donkey blog: it will continue.


Brother Lapin’s pilgrimage has been running for five years. It began as a journey but has been, for a while now, about a settled life with donkeys.  The new blog which has the name “Equus Asinus” will reflect that and simply continue to celebrate the life with donkeys.  It will contain all the old archived pages from here that are relevant to that theme, so you can see old pics of the foals, videos etc, as available here.  Some content will not be transferred for reasons already mentioned in an earlier post.

If you are a regular reader, thanks for your continued support.  Thanks to those 3500 plus visitors to “The Last Catholic Blogpost” in the past two days: we don’t normally warrant such exciting world wide interest, and it is to be hoped we will not occasion it in future!

Gareth Thomas

New Year 2014 Blog Awards

New Year 2014 Blog Awards

Update Tuesday 28th July 2015

Readers of this blog are very welcome to join me on the new Equus Asinus blog for its launch on Saturday 1st August 2015.  The blog will go live at 8 am European time (7 am UK summer time). It will use the “Christopher” theme on WordPress – so, an entirely different look – and an edited history of past exploits of life with donkeys here will be saved on this blog. It will however lose its dotcom domain name on 9th August and revert to as I do not want to pay out for renewing two domain names at renewal billing time!

Where can you find the new blog? The link to the Equus Asinus blog will be posted here on 1st August: I’m still working to customise the new theme and I want the site fully ready before it gets any visitors.  I will also tweet the new address at the same time, if you are on Twitter.

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The last Catholic blogpost

1. This is a reduced version of the blogpost written here on 25th July 2015:

It is fitting, in a very ironic kind of way, that my last Catholic blogpost should be made on the Feast of St James, Santiago de Compostela.  Since 1965 – exactly 50 years ago, as recorded on this blog – I have walked and cycled the Camino de Santiago and walked the Catholic routes as a pilgrim in more recent times with donkeys, discovering the beauty of travelling with animals.  This blog will continue to speak of the beauty of animals and will occasionally touch upon matters spiritual, but any overt connection to the Catholic blogosphere – however mild and minimal it has ever been here – is over.

Why? My blog has been attacked by people who regard themselves as Catholics, and from my own home diocese of Southwark in England. This is a diocese in some confusion and lack of leadership in which recent scandal has led to understandable discussion on the internet, in blogs and comment boxes.  For me, what was different was the experience of having this donkey blog – on which none of these matters have been discussed – attacked by a malicious and threatening communication, and this was simply because I expressed a traditional view in discussions elsewhere, while the authors of this nasty comment on my blog had a different and liberal point of view.

2. Vox Cantoris in Canada has written about this and does not pull his punches.

Be prepared for very non-politically correct language… and a lovely donkey kicking photo!

Many thanks for that, Vox Cantoris.

3. Update 29th July 2015

Following new information which has come to light, I am now just as unimpressed by the comments from some traditional Catholics whose views I normally share, and I see that loyalty and friendship count for little.  I have deleted much of what I wrote about this matter on this blog now. It is no longer my battle and I have ceased my conversations with those with whom I have been allied for more than five years online in various forums and discussion threads. The situation sadly reminds me of the kinds of divisions which once afflicted the Church of England, which led to me converting to the Catholic Church in the 1990s: rampant factionalism in the end makes everyone into lesser people.  There are some strange Power games going on over at the Blackfen traddy supporters club, where some key players have tried for many months to bring others in to help fight their battles for them, and having used them, turn upon them and drive them out. It reminds me a little of Orwell’s Animal Farm and I find it slightly nauseating.

When I wrote the title “The last Catholic blogpost,” a few days ago, I had some misgivings, believe me, for I still had some very strong loyalties.  I have no such misgivings now, for I can see the devil is on the prowl in the Archdiocese of Southwark and the prayer of invocation to Saint Michael (see below) should be said for all who are part of that diocese, whether traditionalists or liberals.  Something is very wrong.  I am grateful for the support, and helpful input into my own Catholic pilgrimage, received from conversations with traditional Catholics in my former home territory of the South of England, over these past five years.  I remain convinced that I should continue to identify with a traditional Catholic outlook, even though by geographical accident I am unable to practise and follow it here.

However, the unedifying spectacle of English Catholics at war is a very uninspiring and, frankly, irrelevant feature on a far distant horizon.  It is time I looked elsewhere for inspiration.  That search will no longer feature on my blog.  Few people are interested in it anyway.


The prayer of invocation for the help of Saint Michael the Archangel.

St Michael Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

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La Vida es Bella: life with donkeys

At the end of the first full week of the holidays, I can say with great confidence as I look around my house and the donkey field, I have completed absolutely none of the things on my list of Things to Do.  It is in fact the least completed list of Things to Do in the whole history of lists of Things to Do.  The donkeys have mostly accomplished very little either.

Matilde considering her list of Things to Do

Matilde considering her list of Things to Eat


Morris of Arabia

Morris has been going around dressed as Morris of Arabia for the past week, in tribute to the actor Omar Sharif who died recently, so the only thing on his list of Things to Do is cross the desert and take Aqaba from the Turks in a surprise attack. But this is all in his head. Rubí only thinks about lists of Things to Do on Tuesdays, so I haven’t asked her what her plans are today because it is Monday.

I don't do thinking on Mondays

I don’t do thinking on Mondays

Aitana has accomplished her list of Things to Do

Aitana has accomplished her list of Things to Do

The really busy donk is Aitana, who has not only drawn up a rather ambitious list of Things to Do, but she has done everything on the list already: 1. Tip up the wheelbarrow; 2. eat the broom handle; 3. kick the plastic watering can till it splits; 4. break two panels in the stable wall; 5. chew the garden hose in half; 6. break the new headcollar; 7. kick the farrier; 8. roll over in a pool of wee and end up muddy and stinking. All accomplished in record time. Well done, Aitana.

There were a few other things I was going to mention here…  the farrier’s visit, stable extension work, diet changes, etc. But no.  No more lists. Here’s the video.  Scenes from everyday life with donkeys. The start of the summer holidays 2015.  A love affair with equines.  They are so beautiful.  Finally I can stop “doing”, and just “be”, for a few weeks… Gracias a Dios.

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Pope Francis visits the donkey field, nearly

It was very nice on the first Monday of the holidays not to have to go to work. That was good enough, but it got much better when we found that the Pope was going to pay a visit. Somebody posted the Flight Radar tracking details for flight AZA4001 carrying Pope Francis back from his trip to South America. It was clear he was on a direct flight path towards Benidorm!

Pope plane 1

Naturally the donkeys were very excited about this and I had intended grooming them later in the day, so I quickly got all the brushes out and smartened them up. Matilde was particularly excited because she is the tallest of the four, so would have the best view. She was getting so excited that she bit my shoulder.

Matilde looks up towards the south west to see the Pope

Matilde looks up towards the south west to see the Pope

Unfortunately, just as I was sending out our exciting news of the visit by Pope Francis via Twitter, the plane changed course by a few degrees and headed out to sea somewhere around Alicante.

Pope plane 2

Bruvver Eccles was slightly premature, tweeting what the Pope might have said to journalists as they flew over the donkey field.


But what the Pope actually said at that moment was recorded by journalists.

Pope explains

Obviously, it is not every day that we get a visit from the Pope. Or indeed at all.  But life goes on under the fig tree, whatever.

Matilde under the fig tree

Update 21.00 13th July

Let us thank God for the safe return of Pope Francis from his 24,000 kilometre journey, which has been his ninth international voyage.

The encyclical Laudato Si presents some very clear arguments about carbon reduction. I hope we are all on message

The encyclical Laudato Si presents some very clear arguments about carbon reduction. I hope we are all on message

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Morris of Arabia

Actor Omar Sharif, best known for his roles in classic films Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, has died aged 83. Morris pays tribute.


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Brother Lapin blog is five years old

Due to the recent fifth birthday celebrations of a quite different sort of blog last weekend, I was reminded that this blog began five years ago this week. I wasn’t sure whether I particularly wanted to mark the occasion because the blog has become quite a different sort of place than it was at the beginning, when it was simply a blog about a journey, or a “piligriminage” as I called it on the first post. The blog was also about leaving England on a bicycle and the reasons for leaving. It was journal-keeping at a very difficult time.

Leaving Canterbury

Leaving Canterbury “Simply Inspirational” (?) in July 2010, with an overladen folding velocipede, heading for France

Three years earlier I had left my teaching post at the Archbishop’s CofE School in Canterbury to join the OFM Franciscan formation process, in an attempt to recover a religious vocation that had been dropped fifteen years earlier. Then I was in a seminary in Rome for a year. Then not in a seminary in Rome and attempting to get my teaching job back in Canterbury in 2010. At this point, in came [Enter stage left with a drumroll] the incompetent Big Brother British state with a CRB check that confused my computer records with someone born three days earlier, in Leigh-on-Sea instead of Westcliff-on-Sea, with exactly the same name and a drug smuggling conviction. Three months of misery and ruin followed while the muddle was slowly sorted out.

Perhaps I was not really ready to revisit all that stuff from five years ago?  I hesitated before marking the fifth birthday of this blog.  Then a mosquito sent by God woke me up at three o’clock this morning. After killing the Lord’s messenger, I made a cup of tea, then cautiously looked at the old blog posts from five years ago and I found that I was remarkably at peace with the chaos and pain of that time.  In fact I quite enjoyed reading the posts. So I decided to mark the fifth anniversary of my flight from England on the velocipede, and with it the fifth birthday of this blog.

Taize cross in Chateaudun

Taizé cross in Chateaudun on my “piligriminage”

It was a journey that led very quickly to a therapeutic encounter with Dalie the donkey in France, who sadly died earlier this year. Also it was a journey which started with despair but in a very short time led to redemption. A job offer in Spain took me into a totally different life than the one I had expected when I cast caution to the wind and left a good job in 2007 to place myself completely at the mercy of the Catholic vocations people, thus beginning a perilous three years that turned my life upside down. From my bleak experiences with the OFM Franciscans in Chilworth Friary and the crushingly oppressive power games of the Southwark Archdiocese and the Beda seminary in Rome, then the final stab in the back from the incompetent mechanisms of the computer state, I made my way to Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. I can’t remember where I saw it now, but somebody once quipped: I used to think a donkey was just a sad horse, then I was told it’s a totally different species.  When you’ve spent time with donkeys, there’s something very funny and very true about that, and the world of donkeys is sadly quite good fun.

phonetrs9jan 101

Rubí, Matilde, Morris and Aitana: I did in the end discover an unintended late vocation

So this has now become a blog about a life with donkeys in Spain. From time to time, I tend to “go off on one”, as with my recent posts about Pope Francis and climate change, or other themes that remind me the barbarians are no longer just battering at the gate, but running our civilisation (thanks to Patrick Reyntiens for introducing me to Alastair McIntyre); but whether this blog remains – or ever was – a Catholic blog, who am I to judge? Certainly it’s not intended to be pure and simple like some other Catholic blogs. The more “successful” posts on this blog in terms of numbers of visitors have been when I ventured off my usual territory, blogging on the daily routine of life with donkeys here, and entered more controversial topical arguments, such as the incidents when other bloggers have been bullied by authorities trying to shut them down or use their influence to stifle free speech.  In the case of Deacon Nick Donnelly in the diocese of Lancaster and more recently David Domet in Canada, bloggers have been disgracefully treated by bishops and priests, and I protested by removing the Vatican flag that I once displayed on this blog. But popularity measured in a few thousand hits over a couple of days, due to venturing off the normal territory of the donkey blog, always leaves me wondering what my small group of regular visitors make of it all.  The more “successful” posts in terms of visitors’ appreciative comments tend to be about the donkeys, and a life of dedication to the donkeys which they are inspired by and want to share in some way.

Rubí and Puig Campana

Rubí and Puig Campana

I’d like to thank everyone who has read and supported this blog during the past five years. All posts from 2010 can be seen in the archive in the sidebar. There will probably be much more straight focus on the donkeys and life in Finestrat from now on, and fewer flights of fancy into other areas of interest. Why?  Because all that stuff is going on a different blog (and no, not my geography blog either), so look out Bruvver Eccles for Climatology Pure & Simple, coming soon.*

*It won’t actually be called that, but inspired by Laudato Si’, it will celebrate the new  focus on the environment from an eco-liberationist Catholic Gramscian anti-globalist communitarian low carbon perspective.

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Islamic State upstages Vatican on climate change

As reported here on the Brother Lapin donkey blog last week, Pope Francis published an important statement about the environment and climate change.

A specially released copy from the now disgraced reporter Sandro Magister was reviewed here by Rubí donkey during her Tuesday thinking day last week.  Since then, most Catholics have carried on arguing about the Pope’s encyclical and Twitter has reported an unusually high level of traffic in intra-Catholic religious abuse, slander, legal action, blocking and unfollowing.  A spokespheasant for Twitter said, “In global warming history we haven’t seen anything like this since Nicea in Fahreneit 451. ”

However, very little has been written about the huge advances made by Islamic State in curbing carbon emissions in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS supporters demonstrate against climate change in Raqqa, 2014

ISIS supporters demonstrate against climate change in Raqqa, 2014

Among the many comments we have received here on the donkey blog regarding the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’, the most interesting came from a donkey called Mohammed working with the Department for the Environment, Climate Change and Population Reduction, in the territories controlled by Islamic State.

Islamic State, also called ISIL or Daish by news agencies who like to show a nuanced understanding of acronyms and incomprehensible pejoratives, is a new developing nation in the Middle East supported mainly by voluntary contributions from European countries.  Due to the ending of border controls in the Middle East to allow the free flow of Muslims, which reflects a similar movement across western European countries, a large swathe (sometimes pronounced and/or misprinted in the United States as a “swath” for reasons unknown) of territory across Syria and Iraq is now controlled by the environmentalist movement, Islamic State.  The following is an exclusive Brother Lapin interview with Mohammed the donkey, for the Brother Lapin blog.

Mohammed the donkey

Mohammed the donkey

BROTHER LAPIN: I am very pleased you have agreed to talk to us, Mohammed.

MOHAMMED: Allah be praised and reduce the carbon emissions.

BROTHER LAPIN: Yes quite.  Can I come straight to the point?  Many people have said that this is a cynical response from Islamic State to try and gain the moral high ground. While Catholics still argue about the climate change encyclical from Pope Francis, ISIS are now presenting a united front against climate change and there is no internal opposition within your ranks.

MOHAMMED: No, because we have beheaded everyone who disagrees.  That is quite obvious.  Allah be praised.  Beheading reduces population by significant numbers. Even your environmental papal scientist Hans Heinrich Scharnhuberhorst agrees that seven billion people need to be eliminated in order to achieve agreed carbon targets.

Most of these men are motivated to behead Christians because eof climate change

Most of these men say they are motivated to behead Christians because of carbon targets

BROTHER LAPIN:  This is terrible!  When you talk about reducing population that means killing people.

MOHAMMED: Yes, chopping their heads off.  It doesn’t involve any carbon emissions at all.


MOHAMMED: Totally carbon free.

Unnecessary human population on Mount Sinjar

Unnecessary human population on Mount Sinjar

BROTHER LAPIN: I want you to look at this picture of totally helpless people at the mercy of ISIS last August.  How can you justify starving them, shooting them, enslaving them and generally committing – if you don’t mind me using the word –  genocide?

MOHAMMED: It is environmentally sound.  The Nazis called it “Lebensraum”. In fact, your Pope’s favourite scientist Herr Scharnhuberhorst – only last week appointed to the Vatican Academy of Global Warming Science – used that very word himself.

Hans Heinrich Scharnhuberhorst

Hans Heinrich Scharnhuberhorst, the well known Malthusian

BROTHER LAPIN:  So, to summarise: you are basically telling me that ISIS has a better environmental policy than the Vatican and mass murder is an acceptable answer to climate change?

MOHAMMED: The only answer, yes.  Otherwise you are simply being dishonest. If you want to get the numbers down to one billion, as Herr Scharnhuberhorst and your Pope also advocate, then start beheading people.  It is the obvious solution.  Already we have many carbon free cities in Syria and Iraq with zero population growth and a complete absence of air conditioning. Only by returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages can carbon targets be truly met.

BROTHER LAPIN:  I begin to wonder if we all wasted our time building up civilisation again after the Second World War.

MOHAMMED:  Exactly. The Nazis would have met all the carbon targets and kept within one billion total population.  Simples.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY / NO MERCHANDISING For merchandising, please contact James Feltham,  Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV / Rex Features ( 874645mu )  'The Scarlet and the Black'  TV Film - 1983 - Gregory Peck  GTV ARCHIVE

“Ello, ello, ello?  Are you a traditionalist Catholic?  For you the war is over.”

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