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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And there we have it. Another summary of my year. How was your 2018?
Over the last number of years, I have let my understanding of the Spanish language subside, mainly due to not using it. So I decided I would give it one more shot and see where it took me. I recently attended a conversational Spanish class in a busy Dublin city centre. The profesora gave us the challenge of talking about how we usually celebrate Christmas and what traditions we have, and we would present this to the class. All well and good.
Now I need to mention that the profesora has lived in the Basque region of Bilbao for quite some time before moving to Dublin so when it was her time to talk about how she and her family celebrate Christmas, my eyes lit up! There are so many differences to how the Irish celebrate the few days, however, everything is centred around the family. Which is the right way, I suppose.
One of the biggest surprises for me is the Basque tradition of Olentzero – the equivalent of Santa Claus in the Basque Country. Olentzero lives or lived (depending on what you believe) in the mountains, is a coal miner and descends to town to give presents to the children on Christmas Eve. He smokes a pipe, is normally dressed in traditional costumes and wears a Basque beret. If you are bad, it is believed that you receive a piece of coal from Olentzero. Better than a Playstation 4 so! In modern celebrations during the Christmas season, children dress in traditional peasant garb and parade through the streets with an adult-sized representation of Olentzero while singing humorous songs written in the mythical figure’s honor. It’s also a fairly common practice to hand out candy and treats to the costumed children, similar to the manner in which Halloween is celebrated.
I would like to wish all this blog’s readers a Happy, peaceful and safe Christmas. Also, whether you are on the Camino at present, or are with family and friends, I wish you a Buen Camino! Feliz Navidad!
Since my last post, I moved from the world of the thirty-something to the realm of the 4os. I feel like I’ve turned a new leaf, however people were quick to dismiss age as nothing but a number. I agree with their sentiments. It has been a good few days. I took some leave from work on Tuesday and Wednesday and while I was unable to get out walking (rain put paid to that), I was able to get the last few pieces ready for the Christmas period. The jigsaw is complete.
On the subject of birthdays, I’ve noticed a change in the type of presents I have been receiving over the years. In my twenties, the fashionable gifts were cassette tapes or VHS videos…maybe a voucher for pair of denim jeans. In my thirties, CDs were all the rage, before quickly being taken over by vouchers for online shopping. Towards the end of my thirties, I became more and more interested in outdoor gear, especially when I discovered the Camino. I have received a number of vouchers for a store in Dublin (which will remain nameless!), and already have a number of ideas for my next purchase when I visit town during the sales. I have been thinking of hiking poles, but the jury is out on them.
However, my favourite gift that I have received is not the obvious one. It is a dvd, entitled “The Monks of Glenstal Abbey”. Why? Well, I have a keen interest in the Benedictine monks ever since I stayed in Rabanal del Camino in 2012 and witnessed vespers being sung by the monks. It was only in 2013 after my 3rd Camino and after I met C and J that I learned that there is a Benedictine monastery in Ireland, in Limerick to be precise.
And when I was invited to visit Glenstal Abbey, I decided to go and listen to their vespers, which is usually sung at 9pm. Now, I am not a religious person, I’m not even a Sunday Catholic. But you don’t need to be to appreciate this music. I can’t wait to make the trip to Glenstal again, but this dvd will fill the gap in the meantime. I made a trip to the church in Rabanal this May and did the same as back in 2012.
As I write, we are just under two days shy of Christmas Day, and I suppose now is as good a time as ever to wish one and all a Happy Christmas. Whether you are a daily reader, or drop by occasionally, I get a great thrill knowing people read my blog.
I hope you all have a peaceful few days and that 2015 starts off just as you would like it to.
I finish up in the office tomorrow for the holidays, and have 6/7 days with the family. It’s going to be a good few days. I may even do some planning for my upcoming trip to Spain.
While I think of it, I want to wish “Feliz Navidad y Feliz ano nuevo” to those who are walking the Camino de Santiago at this moment in time and who plan to reach Santiago over the Christmas period. That’s one for the future in my books!
Nollaig Shona agus Bhliain nua sasta daoibh (Happy Christmas and New Year to you all….in Irish!)
So this is my first post since Christmas, and no better time to write since I am back to work tomorrow. I am expecting a busy day tomorrow after the high winds over the Christmas period. I hope you all had a happy and peaceful holiday and are looking forward to 2014. I managed to get through 2013 without breaking anything, or being convicted of anything (joking, of course).
I am looking forward to 2014 as I do with every year, but I have chosen not to make goals or resolutions. Over the last number of years, I have made two or three loose resolutions with the hope that I achieve any of them. I never do. I’m not a goal driven person, but I can understand why people make them.
The one idea I have, and this is a challenge, is to reduce my reliance on social media. I know a lot of people on twitter, and facebook, but very few I have met in person. I’m not trying to withdraw myself from them, but I want to go about meeting people in another way. I could tweet and post all day, 7 days a week, and it wouldn’t be fair on myself. So that is a resolution I have made for myself. I wonder how it will go..I shall keep you updated.
It is also close to 5 months before I pick up my backpack and head back to Spain for another few days. I had originally planned on leaving it for a year or two, but I think about Spain every day, it is close to an addiction. So I fly to Biarritz on May 28th, and start on May 29th from St Jean Pied de Port. I will walk for 10 days, so I reckon I will get to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I have no idea. I will get a bus back to Bilbao and fly back to Dublin after that. I just need to buy new shoes as the ones I own are coming close to the end of their lives.
So tomorrow I am back to work, and I am expecting it to be busy. I have had a very long break so I can’t complain. Oh, and I bought myself a new laptop..well I was forced to do so. The one I own crashed on me and I was unable to recover any of my files. Not happy with that. But this one is pretty sleek, and I kind of went over my means, but there is no harm in spoiling myself once in a while.