Blog admin post January 2020

This blog admin post in January 2020 is not intended for public consumption but to check everything still functions on this old blog, inactive since 2015.  The blog replaced this blog five years ago.

If you are still receiving posts by email from this blog and are not signed up to email posts from please do so.  Happy New Year from the donkeys and from me!  Rubi Donkey Reviews the Decade.


Morris, Matilde, Aitana, Rubí and me (Christmas 2019 at El Parral.)



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Last post

Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage ends here, on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Saturday 15th August 2015.

The new blog Equus Asinus can be found at and I hope all regular readers will join me there: same donkeys and same host as usual, but a new and different format. Comments are now closed on this blog but it will remain intact at this address for the foreseeable future.

EquusAsinus blog 1st day

Rubi Morris Aitana & Matilde

Rubi Morris Matilde & Aitana

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Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage

Brother Lapin’s Pilgrimage ceased operating at the domain name in July 2015.  Do not panic, faithful readers of the donkey blog: it continues on the new Equus Asinus blog:


Brother Lapin’s pilgrimage ran 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 many old archived pages from here, so you can see old pics of the foals, videos etc, as available here.

Gareth Thomas

New Year 2014 Blog Awards

New Year 2014

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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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