More practice required..

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When was the last time I walked more than 20k? It was probably in September before Burgos, watching the sunrise over the cathedral while the sun sets on my Camino. It was a good time and 20k was a breeze. I had good company and many good conversations.

Burgos cathedral

Since the New Year, I have barely walked more than 5k a day. Work has put a halt to that. Even the organised walks I join are far lower in distance to what I cover in Spain. I am so Camino unfit it’s not funny.

Anyhow, I have 4 months before myself and the brother travel to Ferrol and start off again. Luckily enough our days are not as long as they were back in September. Bring it on!

2018 becomes 2019…

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So here we are..2019! Happy New Year! The celebrations are over, the good cutlery has been put away and we have settled down to another year. I hope you had a good few weeks. Christmas has been good in the Smith household. Strangely enough, the last time I felt this way was January 2018 and I was preparing for a Camino #1 with the brother. As we all know, those few weeks went very well and we enjoyed our time walking into Santiago de Compostela. So much so, that we are going back this May.

Celtic Camino & Camino Finisterre

May 7th – we both fly to Santiago and aim for Ferrol. From there we walk to Betanzos, on the Ferrol leg of the Camino Ingles. The following day, we take a bus to A Coruna where we will walk to Santiago. I’m looking forward to these few days between A Coruna and Bruma as it is pretty quiet. Once in Santiago, we walk to Finisterre and the end of the world. I was here last in 2016 when I witnessed the sunset. It is the true end of one’s Camino. Just 122 days to go at the time of writing.

Hercules Tower and the statue of King Breogan
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Dabbling in Photography

Ok, to say this is a bit of a whim is an understatement. I have been thinking of taking up photography for quite some time and I have just purchased a DSLR camera (with thanks to some friends). I am waiting for it to arrive in the post but in the meantime, I have been watching “how-to” and “what-not-to-do” videos on YouTube. I chose Canon and didn’t buy too high-end. So, if I do enjoy it, I can upgrade the body or lens in the future. I will take it out on walks and see if it catches on. More from this in the near future.

One year in Donabate

Time flies when you are having fun eh? Well, I’m not sure about fun, but time is flying. I can’t believe it’s over a year since I moved into this new place. I’ve tried to make the place as homely as possible. I’ve got my compostelas hanging in my bedroom. There is a large Wise Pilgrim map hanging in my dining room and these large posters are hanging on the wall in front of the couch. I mean, I get to look at these every day! It’s great. I also have a large collection of fridge magnets with a Camino theme. So I’m quite happy with how it’s going. Just for the time being, that is.

Possible 2nd Camino for 2019?

I’m keeping my options open for a 2nd return to Spain in September. It will either be the Portuguese Coastal Route or the short snippet of the Via de la Plata. Nothing is set in stone yet. Updates will follow.

6 Things I Did in 2018


6 Things I Did in 2018

Another year has passed. So much has happened in the past 12 months involving the Camino. It’s nice to have the last few weeks free to reflect on the past and think of the future. I’ve decided to do another post where I look back on 2018. 

  1. The end of the year saw the first ever Camino Society Ireland Photo Contest on the 16th of December 2017 at St. James Church in Dublin. A photo I took near Ledigos was included in that exhibition and also in an exhibition in the Cervantes Institute in Lincoln Place. I wrote about the first exhibition here and the second exhibition in March here. These same photos have travelled from Ireland to Spain and back again and are currently situated in the Information Centre in St. James Street. 
  2. Another way of being a pilgrim on the Camino is to Volunteer. I gladly “give back” to the Camino through Camino Society Ireland. As well as giving information in the centre in St. James Street in Dublin, I edit their quarterly newsletter “Shamrocks And Shells” and help with social media. The newsletter is now a little over a year old and 4 issues have been produced, with over 20 thousand views. Something I am quite proud of.
  3. The first Celtic Camino Festival in Westport was a success. I was there from the 13th to the 15th of April 2018 and it was marked with talks, a showing of the Camino Voyage, and a Celtic Camino walk. I wrote an article here.
  4. December 28th will mark my 1st year in Donabate. A great little town but with so much work planned for the future, I’m not sure if I am to call this home just yet. Over 700 homes have been approved, but without the right facilities and infrastructure, it will be chaos going to and from work. The Northern Commuter train line is fine but there are no bus services. 
  5. I walked the Camino Portuguese with my brother from A Guarda in May. We walked into Santiago in the rain. I loved every second of it.
  6. Immediately on returning, I booked flights to return to the Camino Frances. I walked from Puente la Reina to Burgos in September.
6 Photo Memories of 2018
June pointing the way to the heart on the way to Ledigos. June was one of the many amazing peregrinos I met in September 2017. This photo was chosen for the exhibition.
Starting out at A Guarda in May. The waves were rough that morning.
At Susi’s (@conchasdelcamino) stall before Arcade on the Portuguese Camino. A gem of a woman
Back on the Frances – a look of guilt! 
With Carsten – a Camino brother – walking to Santo Domingo on a very hot day
Reaching a goal – Burgos Cathedral

A List of What You Want to Change in the New Year

There are many things in my life I am happy with. I’m loving life in my new home, I have many good friends but I would be lying if I said I am 100% happy with my lot. I’m not. There are a few areas I want to better myself in and there is no time like the New Year to start. So here’s my list for 2018:

  • Focus on my blog. My blog has been slipping. I just need to allocate my time more evenly. I have upgraded the blog in the last few weeks so there is no excuse now for more content. With planned Caminos in May and September, I will hope to upload videos from my time in Spain.
  • Think of ways to walk a full 30+ day Camino, whilst still managing to pay a mortgage. 
  • Plan a trip to Canada to visit peregrino friends (for 2019 or beyond).
  • Improve my writing, maybe find a writing skills course.
  • Make more of an effort to meet new people and be more social.
  • Dig out my guitar again: it has been so long since I played a tune. I guess confidence comes into it. 
Your Resolutions?

And there we have it. Another summary of my year. How was your 2018?

Time stops for no one…

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The last few days have been tough. The death of a member of the family can put absolutely everything on hold and make you concentrate on the here and now. You put your life in perspective and answer a few questions that have been clicking around in the back of your head. Questions that I’d rather not answer. Well, until I go on Camino!

I mean the above in the least selfish way of course. When all the formalities were over, I arrived back in Dublin on Saturday after a pretty emotional mass and goodbye. I met family members I hadn’t seen in many years. We just had our own lives to live and did our own things. But what I am trying to say is we should live like today is our last. Forget the begrudgers, live your own life. If what you do doesn’t make you happy, find something else to work on! 

When I arrived home, I immediately jotted in dates for a 2nd Camino in 2019. I want to be in Spain as much as possible. Next September, I will start in Porto and walk along the coast. I probably will not reach Santiago but these things don’t bother me anymore. I have a feeling 2 Caminos each year will be the norm as long as I remain employable!! 

Buen and Healthy Camino!

May 2019: Walking in Medieval Pilgrims footsteps

I attended a talk given by Dr. Bernadette Cunningham last night at Lismullen Conference Centre, near Tara. It was such an appropriate place to hold the talk as the area is steeped in history..the hill of Tara, and not too far from Newgrange. The talk was on medieval pilgrimage from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela. Bernadette is due to have her book published shortly on the same subject, one that she has been researching since 2014.

 The book launch will be on December 6th in Kevin Street Library in Dublin and there is great excitement leading up to it. 

The book, along with the release of the Camino Voyage documentary in Irish cinemas today, highlights the evidence of how Irish pilgrims made their way to Santiago during the 14th and 15th centuries. I guess we will know more when the book comes out. 

I will be attending the cinema release of the Camino Voyage this evening (my third viewing). It’s been great watching it grow to what it is now. In 2019, it is hoped that it will be released on DVD worldwide.

And back to my plans and the Camino. I have booked flights for the 7th of May to Santiago de Compostela. I travel with my brother, not on a merchant ship but on Aer Lingus economy class. I then travel to Ferrol and walk for a few days to Betanzos. From there, we will catch a bus to A Coruna and walk to Santiago. If there is time, we will walk to the coast and watch the sunset at Finisterre. It will be magic!

A New Camino, and a return to Galicia

I thoroughly enjoyed my ramble through Navarra and La Rioja in September. The weather was fine, many people were met but the days spent there trickled away all too quickly. I hope to keep in touch with my new found friends electronically, and maybe we will meet in the months and years to come. On arriving in Burgos, I sat in the municipal albergue and had a few moments to myself. I thought about the next one, the next footstep to Santiago, or even if there was to be one!

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The majority of my Caminos since 2011 have been on the French Way, and I don’t see that changing as my main Camino in the near future. My feet are safe there. I will dip in and out and walk a week here and there. I’ve grown to like the people of La Rioja and Castilla y Leon and made friends in Burgos and Belorado. I get great joy from meeting people, staying in different villages, wandering through the meseta especially. But I have unfinished business.

On the 18th of June 2017, I walked from Bray to St. James Church (32km), the first part of the Celtic Camino and on the 19th of May this year,  I walked St Kevin’s way to Glendalough. So I have a Celtic Camino Compostela for the short distance walked in Ireland. The next stage is to walk the remainder (75km) to Santiago from A Coruña – hopefully, May 2019. This should take 3-4 days. This is a little too short for my liking so I will extend it by walking to Finisterre, another 3-4 days.

I hope I can bring my brother with me. It would mean a lot if he is available for the trip. He has the Celtic Camino Compostela also, having walked from Bray to St. James Church on two occasions.

For more information about the Celtic Camino and the Camino Ingles in general, check out the below links:

Information on the Celtic Camino on Camino Society Ireland
Guidebook to the Celtic Camino
Camino Ingles on Eroski

La-Coruña-arriba-Izqda-Galicia

Breogán and the Tower of Hercules / Source: Wikipedia