Where did that go

IS IT just me or do camino anniversaries give you itchy feet and wanderlust.

It is a year today since I set off on my third Camino outing. How did that happen. Where are the brakes.

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I’m remembering all the amazing people I met and the experiences along the way.

Among the standout memories are the two fantastic women I walked with – both strong independent women who had been through plenty of pain in their time.  They enriched my walk and my memory bank.

I also met an amazing and inspirational man, Pietro Scidurlo, who though confined to a wheelchair was determined to open the camino up to all.

We had dinner with him and his team one night and he told me his story. I wrote a piece on him on this blog – One man’s ….. and you can find out more about his quest on his Facebook page.

Another social media friend was made along the way when my path crossed with a young girl at the start of her camino who was encountering difficulties which she overcame to complete her walk.

Isn’t that typical of pilgrims and the camino. It’s a microcosm of life and as my dad always tells me problems are “all part of life’s rich tapestry”.

I remember too one particular day I struggled and had to stop and rest in my hammock. It was hot but I couldn’t understand why I was finding it so hard. I later found out it has been 104C. Mmm.

I think it was a bad idea to walk in July. My other walks were in September and June which for me was much easier.

It’s nearly five years since I set foot on the camino for the first time and it really did open up a whole new world for me.

I enjoy reliving my experiences through other people’s blogs, videos and photos.

Thanks to all those who have made my walks the better for their company and who have given me so many great memories.

Buen Camino.

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You won’t believe what I did yesterday – I don’t

THE WELCOME to Blackpool sign had never been so good to see as I slumped over my handlebars.

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I had been on the road on my bike for nearly nine hours but I had made it.

It was not in the plan to cycle the 50 or so miles from Salford. Having a rare and precious two days off together I didn’t want to waste a second.

And with a 10-day bike ride looming it was time to see what a full day in the saddle felt like. With the weather set fair it was game on.

I was determined to make it enjoyable rather than an endurance tests so there were plenty of pit stops, photo opps and if necessary walking up hills – exactly the approach my riding buddy and I decided on for September.

The intention was to ride for three hours and re-evaluate but I was enjoying myself passing through some lovely Lancashire towns and villages and decided to press on.

Approaching Preston a phone call to my bessie mate secured a bed for the night and my plans for today – helping her paint. So it’s the train home minus bike which I will collect next week.

A mile or so from her house my friend pulled up in her car and slung the bike in the back just at the right time.

I had hit a wall physically and mentally but I has made it. I had cycled 30 odd miles three times before but I was a lot younger then. This was the furthest I have ever pedalled.

As tired as I was I felt a sense of achievement. How I will manage 10 consecutive days remains to be seen.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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In the bleak midwinter

AS THE car skidded around the corner to my mum’s house like a far less gracious Torville and Dean, the cold bit through me in spite of the four layers of clothing (the heater in my car breaks every winter – you could set your clock by it).

Just a short skate along the pavement and up the path looking like I was break dancing and the warmth of the house wrapped around me. Ah heat.

It would be so easy just to crawl into my pit and not come out until spring like a squirrel but I would need a good few more nuts for that to happen.

Then I remembered those oven-like days in the summer walking through northern Spain – one day in particular I discovered later it had been 104C. No wonder I took to my hammock until it had subsided. And I had wondered why I was struggling that day.

Anyway enough rambling. Here are a few memories from that trip which I was so sure would be my last Camino outing. Right now I would LOVE to pack my rucksack and do it all again. Oooh I’m getting pangs. For now it’s great to look back on the lovely folk I met and the scenery, the food, the language. Just to keep me warm you understand. They’re just pangs, nothing more. Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I hear rumblings of a far off adventure

OH HELLO. What have we here then. A Raleigh Royal tourer (I snaffled the saddle to put on my folding bike) and a mountain bike. Which would you take on say a Lands End to John O’Groats ride. Or an overnighter. If I was to do one. I might. And then again I might not. Just putting it out there.

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Where to next on the camino of life?

IT’S ALMOST three months since I finished my latest camino outing and it feels like another lifetime but it seems a good time to take stock.

I walked from St Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the French Pyrenees to Burgos, which meant I had completed the 500-mile walk in three sections done over four years.

The big question I am asking myself is would I go back again because I was really sure when I came back that I wouldn’t.

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I didn’t go in the best frame of mind and I wasn’t physically fit but the Pyrenees fettled that on day one – hill one actually. That first one out of St Jean was a shocker.

Now the dust has settled and I’m coming up for air after diving headlong straight back into family, work and other priorities, I’ve started reading camino blogs again and there is a faint stirring.

Perhaps I will perhaps I won’t – other adventures are calling. A friend and I have (very) tentatively spoken about a Lands End to John O’Groats bike ride which will have been nearly 30 years in the planning if it comes off next year.

There are also other caminos I might want to try, some perhaps by bike – the Via de la Plata, the Camino del Norte, and there are other parts of Spain and other countries I want to explore on foot and wheels.

The main thing is I’m not so adamant that I won’t go back as I was on my return.

I met some lovely people and the memories we share will live with me forever. Cathy and Michael, and Aileen, all from Ireland, who I started the walk with. I will never be able to drink a can of Aquarius without thinking of Mari Luz from Madrid, who introduced me to it, or eat cinnamon toast without remembering Texan Brenda making it for me in a frying pan in the absence of a grill – it was amazing. And there are many others from my three trips – Jose from Madrid, Juan Jo del sur, Varsha, Carlotta de Cataluna and her Sicilian suitor, and more with whom I shared my journey.

The camino has given me some amazing experiences. It shook me from my comfort zone four years ago, reinvigorated my appetite for new adventures, and called me back to complete the journey. Who knows whether it has finished with me after all it still niggles me that I wasn’t able to find the time to do it all in one go. I wonder.

Right now I’m open to ideas and suggestions of what my next walking or cycling adventure should be. Any thoughts?

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Women still being clubbed as Scotland votes

WELL there’s only one story in town today – the vote in Scotland. And what a load of balls it really is. Golf balls that is.

Because amidst the hue and cry (pun intended) about whether Scotland emerges from England’s shadow, there is another, equally archaic issue of control being decided today.

Should women be allowed to become members of the men-only Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the spiritual home of golf in the UK erm Scotland.

Women? In our club? Good grief hen have ye lost your mind?

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The club will reveal today whether it will allow women to become members for the first time in its 260-year history.

One might expect such a momentous event to be splashed across the club’s website, but if it is mentioned at all it is too well-hidden to find easily.

Could it be that the existing (read male) members of the club who will make the decision are a little coy about wanting to play a round with (whisper it) women.

More than 2,400 ballot papers have been sent out and no less a body than Electoral Reform Services will provide independent scrutiny of the vote. Heady stuff.

A majority in favour will see the first women members invited to join – those who have made a “significant contribution” to the sport, and could include St Andrews University principal Louise Richardson and Carol Semple, a former top amateur player.

This vote raises so many questions. Why has it taken so long, and why are this club and other men-only clubs like it – Muirfield, Royal Troon and Royal St George’s – allowed to host the Open Championship when they clearly anything but open.

But the biggest question could be why would women bother. As Groucho Marx said: I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member.”

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