Friday 13th.

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Today is Friday 13th, and there is an R in the month, but I'm not superstitious!

I can hardly believe that I am now in my 38th year of directing Pax Travel, the company I established in early 1978. In those days we doubled up organizing both pilgrimages and travel to and from West Africa. This juxtaposition of the two strands of travel derived from my taking over 500 Catholic pilgrims from Ghana to Rome and the Holy Land in 1977. I had organised my first charter flight from Accra to London in 1970, for expatriate university teachers in Ghana, British and other nationalities, who had used up their leave passages, and wished to travel to London. So I combined my lectures on Aristophanes, Lucretius and Horace with selling air tickets to London, and claiming the free place on the flight as my reward. My classical training still helps me to get to the heart of apparently insurmountable problems, and provide solution opportunities.

In 1973, I had to choose between Classics and travel. Uncertain which road to go down, I spun a coin and travel won! In running a tour company, as with everything else in life, there are good days and bad days, but there have been more good than bad. Having the privilege of first visiting, and then taking people to the Holy Land, Rome and Assisi, Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, Mexico, and many many places of pilgrimage, I am humbled by the 96% of my returning clients who tell me that they have had an excellent or good experience on their Pax pilgrimage. 3.75% had an average experience. What about the other 0.25% of our pilgrims who were unhappy? Out of nearly 3,000 Pax pilgrims each year, 6 unhappy folk are 6 too many.

I have spent much of this week putting together a splendid-looking pilgrimage to Egypt for Aid to The Church in Need, this November. They should have details ready to send out by next week. Then, a wonderful pilgrimage by train to Catholic Lancashire, for the Guild of St John Southworth at Westminster Cathedral. Full details of this by next week too!

On Wednesday,I am off to Assisi and Siena for a few days, courtesy of

Michael O'Leary, who is the only airline executive who has had the nous and guts to run scheduled flights to the likes of Perugia, Ancona and Bergamo. You may not be everyone's pin-up, Michael, but I'll keep flying with you, as well as with your 'friends' at BA, easyjet and Vuelling.

Oh, before I forget, there are a few places left on our pilgrimages to visit the Holy Shroud of Turin this April.

Philip Dean

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