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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About Gareth Thomas

A fairly mixed career starting as an aircraft technician and later Franciscan friar eventually led into secondary school teaching. I settled in Spain where I teach Geography part-time and spend the rest of my time looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I have two blogs: a geography blog and a donkey blog.
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17 Responses to Brother Lapin blog is five years old

  1. JabbaPapa says:

    It’s the donks and your troubles and tribbles with them that make this blog worth reading.

    Here’s to another five years !!!!

  2. orthodoxgirl99 says:

    Happy Anniversary! May God keep watching over you and the donks and guide you gently along the path he has in mind for you. Keep writing about life with the donks and let me know where you are discussing other matters. I find them equally as enjoyable – you have a great wit, a real skill in writing and I appreciate reading your comments on RC Church and matters relating to that… I knows abart Orfodoxsi and sum abart Anglow-Caflicks but need to keep me edewkashon up wiv the RCs!…:)

  3. Congratulations, Brother Lapin. I look forward to more climatological nourishment from your Climatology Pure & Simple.

  4. Sandy Morris says:

    Congratulations!I regard your blog as a catholic blog.You very often say things that I totally agree with,but have no one to say it to……..and of course I love your donkeys,and the life you lead.I read your blog because it cheers me,and because Our Lady must smile often on you and your donkeys.Thanks for all the posts.Carry on blogging!

  5. Frere Rabit says:

    Thanks for greetings, Jabba, Orthodoxgirl99 and Eccles; also the likes . Good to see you, Fr Hugh. I see Eccles luvvly blog is heading for one and a half million hits, and very well deserved; but I haven’t done badly with nearly ninety thousand hits for a blog about four creatures eating straw in a field… But this blog was never meant to be successful, just fun. On the other hand, “Climatology Pure & Simple” will set a very low standard for bludgeoning daft satire of the worst kind, so watch out Eccles. The Catholic carbon footprint will be devastating.

    Thanks, Sandy: your comment came in just as I was writing this. I’m always especially glad when people say the blog cheers them, and I suppose in a way that is what I was trying to get at above: it’s really about about a life with the donkeys that is good to share. Sometimes I’ve used the blog for a message that goes a bit beyond that, and the balance is a tricky one. I’m glad you have a sense of it as a Catholic blog though. Rubí needs to explore these matters one Tuesday when it’s not too hot for a thinking day.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    I look forward to the ramblings of a mad englishman abroad with his donkeys, it brings a chuckle to my day. and of course its Catholic, whatever Rubi says

  7. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Jack (don’t all drop to the floor at once!)

    It gives me enormous pleasure to see that as many as eight people read this blog. I see that there is someone in Tierra del Fuego too. It is great encouragement.

  8. Alys says:

    I’m glad that you are feeling more at peace with past events. You must have enjoyed re-reading about your walk with Dalie! The blog is a sort of ‘donkey sanctuary’. I only have to think of you going down to the field to feed the Donks and immediately life makes more sense again! Happy anniversary to the blog and much more besides! Alys xxx

  9. Frere Rabit says:

    Thank you, Alys. That’s a nice idea, the blog as a kind of “virtual donkey sanctuary”. Should I add some virtual flies for authenticity? I know you don’t visit the Internet very regularly, so I shall get round to Skyping at some point, now the holidays are upon us. xxx

  10. grace says:

    Dear rabit, I read your blog everyday..never miss it!!! God bless you!

  11. Frere Rabit says:

    What a lovely comment. Thank you Grace.

    Now it is holiday time: first day today and nearly two months off! So I shall be putting on plenty more content, with new videos and photos. The cart project has to be revived, as Morris needs training again from scratch, and there is stable rebuilding to be done, as they need more space in the winter. All this will be recorded on the blog. I like Alys’s idea of the blog as a “virtual donkey sanctuary”, and I will try to get more basic everyday stuff on the blog: grooming the donks and feeding etc.

  12. Happy Anniversary to Rabits and donks! I am pretty sure donks are Catholic in the nature of things. Looking forward to all the new pictures to come over the summer. Ad multos annos I think is the correct expression. 🙂

  13. Annie says:

    Remember to take us with you on your journeys across the local landscape of Spain!

  14. Frere Rabit says:

    Maybe the expression is ad multos asnos …

  15. Morning Frere Rabit! Just seen that Donkey Sanctuary Uk have put up new donkeys for adoption…amongst whom…Gareth and Ruby…is this Matilde getting her own back?

  16. Frere Rabit says:

    Ha ha ha! That’s very funny. Good to hear from you. I’m just working on new blog post with video: up later today (Monday 20 July)

    I’ll quote you in my new post as a humorous point to end on!

  17. kathleen says:

    “Due to the recent fifth birthday celebrations of a quite different sort of blog last weekend,…”

    Yup! That was us, ‘Catholicism Pure & Simple’, of which you were one of its founders! (Many, many grateful thanks… and for looking up the original beautiful banner for our site. 🙂 )

    “Certainly it’s [your blog] not intended to be pure and simple like some other Catholic blogs.”

    Well, just to clarify… we try to keep ‘purely and simply’ to Catholic matters at CP&S, battling hard with your amphibian friend over five years in this endeavour 😉 . Besides, none of the contributors (starting off with me) presumes to be either ‘pure’ or ‘simple’ yet (unlike your lovely donks who weren’t born with Original Sin). With God’s grace, however, we struggle on with high hopes and good intentions…

    A belated CONGRATULATIONS on your five year anniversary from me too.x

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