In 2007, Australian author & journalist Stephanie Dale joined her son Ben for the middle leg of his pilgrimage from Canterbury, in England, to Jerusalem. Her newly released travel memoir, My Pilgrim’s Heart, is the story of their adventures.
EXTRACT – CROATIA: Gatecrashing the family dinner
The road climbs steadily up into the spotted mountains. The view is spectacular, down the frilly sapphire coastline into the mists of perpetuity, over the rooftops of settlements large and small across the sea to Hrvatska’s blue islands.
The sun dips low and streaks the evening yellow. At the top of the highest mountain, we spy smoke pouring from an oven in a restaurant built from the mountain itself.
Heaven! Ben has finally arrived in time for his pig on spit. We enter the restaurant on sundown, the sun a dying blaze of gold. There is a family in the room and Ben makes a great show of admiring the oven and its sizzling supper.
Something’s not quite right, but we have no idea what it is. We take our seats in the wide empty room at a window that stares right into the sunset. We glance at our menus, Ben scouring for his roast.
We are confused.
They are confused.
They bring us wine.
I ask for pasta with tomato. The mother nods.
No-one can make sense of Ben’s order – until eventually we realise that the pig he has his heart on is chicken and not only is it not on the menu, the restaurant isn’t open!
We have gatecrashed the family dinner.
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“You won’t find Stephanie Dale in My Pilgrim’s Heart, you will find yourself.”
Leasher Robinson, Talk the Talk Ladies Book Club