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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, May 04, 2007
    Learning to listen, learning to see
    James Attlee came to realise that to make a pilgrimage you don't have to travel that far. He began to sense that there'd be no more to discover by travelling great distances across the world on tourist routes than there would be by taking a closer look at the road on which he lived. That road is Cowley Road, Oxford, which winds away from The Plain roundabout near Magdalen Bridge, through the inner city area of East Oxford, and into the industrial suburb of Cowley.

    Off the prescribed route for international visitors, nevertheless Attlee noticed that Cowley Road is lined with businesses from all around the world. Not where tourists are advised to spend time, Attlee noticed that this was a road full of variety and promise: from restaurants and sari shops to live music venues, centres of alternative medicine, various sorts of butchers, and a Russian supermarket, Cowley Road has a great deal to explore. So it dawned on him:

    These words form part of the introduction to Attlee's book Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, which describes his pilgrimage on the road where he lives.

    Reading this today, and reflecting on my own journey to come, I decided to change the strapline on my M62 website. It did read, In autumn 2007 I will walk the M62 motorway corridor, Hull back to Liverpool, in search of the True North of England. That was an impossibly inflated aim. Now it gives the reasons for my journey as being ... because I hope to learn to listen, because I hope to learn to see.