In terms of the biographical facts: my name is Tony Chan and I was 31 years old at the start of this project. I’ve done a few things in my life – having been born in Hong Kong and having lived most of my life in Sydney, Australia – but since arriving in the UK in 2007, I taught English and Latin at Stowe before moving to The King’s School in Canterbury.

In January 2015, I decided to ‘press stop’ on my teaching career and to try something different: I suppose there was some valid ridicule at my mid-life ‘gap year’. Still, there were multifarious possibilities ahead and more options presented themselves each day, each gleaming with its own attractions.

At Muxía, on El Camino de Santiago

At Muxía, on El Camino de Santiago

Taking on this trek was a way to consider the calling that lay ahead, and to fill some time before I moved on to the next job. But that’s a simplication of things: this was an experience of life and of faith, and importantly, it was a creative project. I had realised that much of what I had enjoyed over the past few years had drawn on my creative instincts. Even though I thought of myself as a mediocre poet, more likely to offend than to delight, I was very much looking forward to the creative challenge of composing a sonnet on each day of the walk.

Some years prior, I had developed an attraction for adventuring: I took a highly-organised and very-Westernised trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Despite the fact that the risk was low and there were (metaphorical) safety nets everywhere, I managed to see the snow cap before it disappears and it felt like an adventure for the novice explorer that was me. I followed this by walking El Camino de Santiago, and that was both memorable and significant. In fact, the idea for this project came from another pilgrimage: I had wished to walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, but the alpine passes make a walk before April very difficult indeed. This trek between the extreme points of mainland Britain seemed to be a good alternative.

Whatever came out of this trek – this project – at the least, it was an adventure.



2 thoughts on “Who

    1. Thank you, very much: I’m not quite sure about this being ‘inspirational’ but I’ll take the praise whilst it is offered, and I shall certainly take on the luck!

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