Confidence – bringing my Camino-self home.

I still remember to this day the words a section manager at my workplace told me a number of years ago.

“You’re your own worst enemy”.

He knew me from working with me day in and out. And I agreed with him. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this. Having a lack of self-belief can stop us achieving goals. I certainly had a few goals I wanted to achieve, but a voice inside this little head of mine kept plugging away…”I can’t”, it said.

So I didn’t.

I’m sure I would be in a different position to where I am today – both in and out of work – if I had a little more self belief.

One evening, while watching one of Anthony Suzuki’s brilliant “Beyond The Way” videos before he walked the Camino Frances in 2015, he explained that he didn’t have a great amount of faith in himself to arrive in Santiago. It was then that he brought up the famous story by Dr. Suess “Oh, the Places You’ll go”. In it, Dr. Suess says:-

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go”.

Andrew used this piece as motivation, he gained a little faith in himself and he completed his Camino. I had never heard of this story until it was brought up in the video and it was a great eye-opener for me. The difference is, for me, while on Camino, I have no shortage of confidence or self belief. I open up and bloom. I love meeting people, telling stories and I suppose I am the opposite to who I am at home. So you can see why I return to the Camino year on year.

The trick is adopt this attitude to everyday life at home. The above few lines push me in the right direction.

 

26 days to go…

26 days until Camino numero siete. I can’t wait…no, literally! This feeling doesn’t get old.

And naturally enough, I want to bring you along with me…well, not carry you, but you know what I mean! I hope to write about my 2 weeks away and I hope it will be useful to most of you. But I won’t be doing that while in Spain. No, I plan to start writing when I touch back home in Dublin. The blog will be barren for a number of weeks from the start of September, but I hope you understand. The goal is to journal (write with a pen!!) while abroad and use those thoughts as part of my posts. So I don’t want to keep you out of the loop! No, quite the opposite!!

I will be posting quite a few photos of interest while on the Camino on Instagram (@clearskiescamino) and the occasional post on my Facebook group page. So if you want to follow me while I walk and you use either Instagram or Facebook, add me on either. Or even both if you wish :). If not, I hope you don’t mind sticking around until the 16th of September when I start to process my thoughts.

I’ll write more until I go on the 4th. Until then, Buen Camino!

It’s amazing how quick a week goes by…

Well it’s Friday again…where did that week go? I’m still trying to figure that out. Not that I’m complaining or anything! We have a Bank Holiday on Monday here in Ireland so that means an extra day rest and possibly a day’s walking with a full pack. I now have 30 days until I return to Madrid and on to Burgos.

This day last week I was chilling in Limerick on the west coast of Ireland with C & J whom I met on my 2013 Camino. I feel honoured to be still in contact with them and to have them part of my life. They very much live the peregrino way and every time we meet, we talk about our previous Caminos. There are so many good memories. We live in the moment, just like everyone does while walking on the trail. On the Saturday and Sunday, we walked a total of 45 kms despite downpours of rain. They weren’t a pleasent 2 days, but  I’m really happy with my rain gear. However, if the weather in Spain remains the same as it is now, I don’t think I will need them!

C & J are returning to walk the full Camino Frances the day I return to Ireland…so I can vicariously follow them as they walk to Santiago and on to the sea. My Camino looks like ending in Astorga but if I feel good and feet hold up, I may make it further..possibly to the Cruz de Ferro. But who’s rushing?! 🙂

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All Along The Banks of the Royal Canal

On Saturday, I took a stroll along the Royal Canal Way with the Camino Prep / Training meetup group. We started in Maynooth and made for Dublin, which is 28 kms in total. The Royal Canal Way is a 144-kilometre (89-mile) trail that follows the towpath of the canal from Spencer Dock in Dublin’s docklands to Cloondara in County Longford. It is typically completed in four to five days, however we decided to take in the final day. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail by the National Trails Office and is managed by Waterways Ireland. In 2015 Dublin City Council began extending the walking and cycling route along the Royal Canal Ashtown to Sheriff Street Upper in Dublin, and that is where we finished. The Royal Canal Way connects with other trails at Mullingar, and more excitingly, will eventually form the eastern end of the Dublin-Galway Greenway. The Royal Canal was originally built for freight and passenger transportation from the River Liffey in Dublin to Longford. The canal fell into disrepair in the late 20th century, but much of the canal has since been restored for navigation, thanks to Waterways Ireland.

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The Royal Canal

 

We started the day early by taking the train to Maynooth, 30 kms outside of Dublin City Centre. The train line follows the trail so we could see fellow walkers out for a stroll as we flew past them. Rain was forecast so I brought rain gear but as it was sunny in the morning, I was hoping it would stay. After a 40 minute trip on the train, we arrived just after half 9 and it wasn’t long before we saw the start of the trail.

There were 5 of us this day, and we hoped to arrive in Dublin before 4pm. The trail is mostly on gravel, or concrete pathways however there are sections with very little signage and the trail is non-existent. We passed through Leixlip in Co Kildare, before entering Dublin at Clonsilla, Castleknock, Ashtown and then Blanchardstown. Dublin City Council have done great work by creating a greenway from Castleknock to Ashtown and there were plenty of walkers and cyclists out while the sun was shining. However, as rain was predicted, it did rain heavily on two occasions. The rain gear was out pronto and served me well. But within minutes, the sun was out. It was a changeable day.

The closer we came to Dublin, the more built up it became and the more houses we saw. Drumcondra is the last town you pass through before arriving at Lock One on the canal. There were houses on both sides of the canal, along with a bustling street. As the sun was out, there were kids jumping into the canal to cool down. We then passed Croke Park standing tall above us. Many a battle have I seen in there!. And there it was, Lock One…the first gate and we had arrived at the end of our walk. It was a tough one, even though the trail was completely flat.

There were many highlights. We passed Brendan Behan’s statue in Drumcondra. Behan wrote the great “Auld Triangle”. In it he wrote “and the auld triangle went jingle jangle,
all along the banks of the Royal Canal”. Here is a great version of that song sang by Luke Kelly and the Dubliners.  We spotted many families of swans, and the odd duck too.  The Canal also actually flows OVER the M50, which is Ireland’s busiest motorway…I’ve never seen anything like it,

We have walked only a small section of the Canal, and in the coming weeks I hope to walk some more..possibly from Maynooth westward. It’s a great trail but it does get confusing in places, as you come closer to Dublin. Keep an eye on this blog for more on this great trail.

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The Rain Jacket Dilemma

Eureka!

Ahem…sorry if I scared anyone with my opening line there but I may have cracked the one quandary I have left with my kit…the rain jacket. And it was purely incidental.

After yesterday’s rains, I woke this morning to discover my phone was unable to charge. So I needed to bring it to the local phone repair store to have it checked out. There was a possibility that the charging mechanism was water damaged, although I hoped that wasn’t the case. So I brought it to the store and the guy behind the counter had a look at it. After waiting 5 minutes for the phone to turn on, I saw the charging icon. It was just a false alarm. Phew! That will teach me to leave my phone cover at home while it rains!

While leaving the shopping centre, my brother and I passed a new Regatta Great Outdoors store and decided to check it out. I have been on the hunt for a more effective rain jacket since yesterday so maybe…just maybe..they may have something in stock. The brother was looking for hiking trousers as well and he bought his first pair of zip-off trousers and quick-dry socks. I will have him on the Camino in no time 🙂

While he was making his purchase, I asked one of the guys working there if he has any hi-end rain jackets in stock. He had Craghoppers, DareToBe and Regatta (obvs as it is a Regatta store!!). My ears perked when he mentioned Craghoppers. There was a good selection in stock and I tried on a few. Of the lot, the Kiwi Classic was the best and with a 10% sale, I bought it. So now I have another jacket to test and if it doesn’t do the job, I have 30 days to bring it back and get my money back. Win-win. My only concern is that it is slightly heavier than the Helly Hansen. We will wait and see what it is like on my next hike on the Grand Canal next Saturday, the 3rd.

 

Up-to-date Packing List

It is quite normal to change your packing list if you are one to return to the Camino frequently. There may be items that just don’t work for you or a better item might be available for sale. So I’m just going to post what I have scribbled down for my Camino in September. I weighed this at 7kg last week, the lightest pack I have brought so far. This is without water and snacks.

Pack – 33 litre Osprey pack

Wearing:
North face microfleece 1/4 zip
Craghopper shirt
Craghopper trail trousers
Bridgedale socks
1 under armour underwear
Salomon trail shoes with superfeet insoles
1 baseball cap
1 buff
Small over the shoulder bag containing the following: Phone and Earphones, Passport, Flight details, Debit card, Small amount of money, Camino Society Ireland Credential

Within the backpack:
Vaude Backpack raincover
Silk liner
1 pair of Sandals
700ml Water bottle – attached to pack with carabiner
Small plastic folder containing: – Flight details – Prescription – E111 card

Top pocket of pack:
Craghopper Kiwi Classic Jacket – Hooded rain/wind jacket (replacing the Helly Hansen Loke Jacket)
Berghaus Rain trousers

Within a Compression sack:
1 pair of shorts
Helly hansen t shirt
Icebreaker coolmax t shirt
2 under armour underwear
2 pair of bridgedale socks

Within a dry sack:
First aid kit (ibuprofen, motillium, etc – includes blister kit, germoline, small swiss knife with scissors)

Within a dry sack:
Toiletry kit (Travel toothbrush/toothpaste, roll on deodorant, Lifeventure all purpose soap 100ml, disposable razor, hand sanitiser)
Quick-drying REI packable towel
Medication
Wet wipes

Within a dry sack:
Ear plugs
12 safety pins for drying clothes
Phone charger / lead / Adapter
Power bank for phone
(Still debating whether to bring my action camera with strap attachment)
Camino Shell (take out when I start walking)
Spork

Backpack Waist pockets
Headlamp / tiny torch
2 carabiners

If you have any questions about my packing list, please feel free to ask in the comments below.