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Showing posts from June, 2015


So I fill my pack. The buckles snap shut with a familiar click. The textures of clothing and folding metal; the rounded shape of the top pocket; the light press of the straps on my shoulders ; the weight of it; they are all so known and so redolent with the feel of senda under my shoes and the heat of the Spanish sun on my back. I am longing to be there, where each step is a simultaneous welcome and farewell. To hear a dozen different languages everyday and have my English met with uncomprehending stares.  Where everything I encounter will be seen for the first and for the last time. Where I am surrounded with antiquities and walking with familiar strangers. This time I wish to enter as fully as I can into the path. I have a deep sense of call to this journey. I don't know what it is going to mean but I know that it is something about endings and that will be significant.  So I don't intend to blog or tweet or facebook. It was difficult deciding whether or not to take a


This morning I assembled the gear I will be taking with me on the Camino del Norte in just under 2 weeks time. My gear list is: 1 Osprey Talon 44 pack, with hydration bladder, pack liner and pack cover 1 pair Salomon Cosmic boots. 1 pair Teva sandals 3 pair socks 2 pairs lightweight hiking pants with zip off legs. 3 T shirts (1x merino, 2x polypropylene) 3 pairs underpants (polypropylene) 1 lightweight merino pullover 2 lightweight hiking shirts Waterproof jacket (lightweight Marmot  Goretex ) Waterproof overtrousers 1 season sleeping bag (packs down REALLY small) Oilskin hat 2 neck scarves Large enamel mug Folding cutlery set Headlamp Clothespegs Lightweight hiking towel Toiletries Cell phone and charger Waterproof, shockproof camera and charger Small notebook and pen 1 copy of Perazzoli and Whitson's The Northern Caminos Various documents Small medical kit to treat blisters, headaches and other ailments I might be prone to. I also need a knife

All you need is...

An early foray into Photoshop. Or in this case Paint Shop Pro.  My trusty old Canon EOS 300D, my daughter Catherine's hand, a jigsaw puzzle overlay, a piece of clipart, .  Human beings bond in a number of ways. We have all manner of instinctual drives inherited from our evolutionary past; we have needs (for intimacy, pleasure, friendship, affirmation and a thousand more besides) which we depend on other people to fulfil. We have hidden parts of ourselves which we project on others so that we can, in relationship with those others, work  out our inner conflicts by proxy. We have our inner cravings for power or esteem or security which we imagine that others can satisfy for us.  Of course we usually don't, unless we are powerfully self aware, identify in ourselves these and all the other complicated  dynamics by which we are bound to others. Instead we feel that great, overwhelming sense of dependence on and attachment to, which we label "Love". This co

An Intentional Pilgrimage

Immediately after the apostle James, the brother of John, was killed, his disciples placed his body in a stone boat that had no oars and no sail and no crew. Guided by Angels the vessel traveled to Tarshish,  that is, to the end of the world. There, in the place we would now name the North Western coast of Spain, the miraculous craft was met by two disciples who took the body and buried it. The resting place of the great apostle was forgotten until, in 813, a monk named Playo had a dream in which a star fell to earth and landed in  a certain field. When Playo went to the field he had dreamt of and dug there, he found the remains of the apostle. The timing was perfect. The Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula was almost complete, but the discovery of these important relics emboldened the Asturian Christians. In a battle at Clavijo, which took place soon afterwards, James himself, mounted on a white horse, appeared before the Christians and led them to a glorious victory. Or so

An accidental pilgrimage

I have a new car. Not that you would have noticed because it is exactly the same make, model and colour as the old one. The crucial difference between old and new is the row of digits in the odometer, but there are a number of changes that Mr. Mazda has seen fit to implement over the last 3 years, mostly small, mostly cosmetic, which are probably only apparent if you have sat in the old one for 90,000 km. It is quieter, and has a newly designed gear lever, and a different font in the electronic read outs, for example. It  has a much improved stereo,  not that there was anything wrong with old one and there is a new and improved  navigation system. So last night I was at a meeting in Riversdale, exactly 2 hours and 19 minutes from home. The navigation system ascertained that I wanted to go home and plotted a route for me. It wasn't the one I would have chosen, i.e. the one I could drive blindfolded, but one that headed off in what seemed to me to be entirely the wrong direction

Beginning again

In exactly five weeks time we will be in Barcelona. The hotel is booked, though bookings for the train for the journey to Irun won't open for a week of two yet. Five weeks tomorrow we'll be on that train heading North to the coastal route of the Camino Santiago. It'll be hot but I hope not too crowded, at least until we join up with the Camino Frances at Arzua, which is about 40 km from Santiago. We should be doing that about 4 or 5 weeks after we start. Sometime in the next week or two we'll need to go through our Camino gear and see what needs replacing. After walking the Path of Miracles we'll be doing a few other things, including a pilgrimage to Auschwitz. I've looked at the best ways of getting to Krakow and we're trying to figure out how to fit all we hope to do into the time available. In the next day or two we'll have a schedule, will have decided between train and EasyJet for getting about in Europe, and will have made the necessary commun