It’s Been Quite a While…

Apologies are in order I guess. I haven’t posted for close on a month now. I have been in hospital since the 9th of March undergoing tests. Nothing of a serious nature I may add. Since I was a child, I have had epilepsy and it has been more or less controlled with medication. However, the last two years has seen it getting progressively worse, to the point where my quality of life has been diminished. I wanted to get to the source of the problem. So, I asked to be admitted to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. It is a state of the art 4-bed facility with round-the-clock care. The aim while there is to provoke or induce seizures by reducing medication and depriving sleep while being video-monitored. Twenty days later, enough information was gathered and I was discharged yesterday with a plan, hopefully making life a bit easier for me. I can’t thank the technicians and nurses enough for their dedication and care.

The Camino was as far from my mind as it could be, but can now focus on my upcoming return to Spain in September, ¡gracias a Dios! I am already looking for yellow arrows!

April becomes September..

So I posted before before Christmas that I had planned to walk from Leon to Santiago. I couldn’t wait to heal up after my broken wrist, so I booked my flights and bought any other gear that I needed. There was much anticipation which is usually the case when I think about returning to Spain. I had decided on April as a good time as it’s not too warm and it’s not that busy at that time of the year.

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, I felt it would be better to postpone and cut short my Camino. I have a number of things that I need to give my attention to over the next 3-4 months and unfortunately, a trip to Spain isn’t high on that list. So I am putting it aside until September 4th when I fly to Madrid and catch a bus to Astorga. I have made a booking in Hotel Gaudi which I am looking forward to. The next morning I hope to march on to who knows where! I had to grin and bear the charge for changing flights but that’s a small sacrifice! I look forward to the Leon hills, the Cruz de Ferro, the Bierzo valley and of course, the climb to O Cebreiro!

 

Another passion of mine…

I’ll let you into a little secret..

lyricsIn another lifetime..well, not too long ago, I used to enjoy putting one word after the other to create sentences. From the age of 12 right up to my mid-20’s, I got great enjoyment out of writing and playing guitar on a regular basis. It was a pretty fun thing to do and I was even in a band at one stage. Sure, every 20-something was! It was a rite of passage in life.

However, in time, life got in the way and writing reports and reaching deadlines replaced this little obsession of mine. I have still listened to music all along, but my two guitars are now gathering dust in the corner of my room and my collection of songs are in a box alongside them. I haven’t looked at them in years.

But tonight something happened that hasn’t happened in quite a while. I put pen to paper and wrote eight lines. It’s not much, but it could be the spark. My inspiration? The Camino, walking and its memories.

I’ll probably forget about it tomorrow and leave these few lines lying where they are but this whole thing surprised me. Will I kick on from here? I’d love to. If I can write a part of a song without music I’d be pretty happy. It’s all about being creative I suppose and this is a great way. I had also thought about buying a ukelele before Christmas as it is so easy to learn (plus they only have 4 strings).

 

The Camino de Santiago goes on and on…

La Voz de Galicia published an article online detailing new figures released from the Pilgrims Office in Santiago. Predictably, the total number of compostelas issued to pilgrims in 2016 has already surpassed those issued to pilgrims in the whole of 2015. We are also stepping into unknown territory also, as we are close to “Holy Year” territory. Maybe the increase is due to this year being a Jubilee Year? But it will be interesting to see how many compostelas are issued in 2017.

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You can view the article on La Voz de Galicia in Spanish here, however it is translated (badly) below.

The number of pilgrims has already exceeded that of the whole of 2015 and will break the historic St. James ceiling of 2010.

The Pilgrims Office stamped the 262,913th Compostela of the year.

The Camino de Santiago goes on and on. On Friday, the 22nd of October, the Pilgrims Office stamped the 262,913th Compostela of the year, with the number of walkers already exceeding those of 2015, when 262,515 people made / walked any of the routes. So far the record of pilgrims follows 2010, the last Holy Year, with 272,412 stamps, but the days are numbered. The fact is that about 888 hikers per day, less than two weeks in 2016, can overturn the historical mark achieved six years ago.

Another piece of significant data from the figures provided by the Pilgrims Office is the nationality of the travellers, as it also reflects the universal nature of this route. 55% of those who come are from abroad, more than half, and nationalities are in their dozens. At the Cathedral of Santiago, 168 different nationalities have arrived this year; leading these statistics Italy, ahead of Germany, United States, Portugal, France, Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia, the eighth foreign country in number of pilgrims this year. In Spain, Andalusia and Madrid are the regions that total more walkers. For routes, the Camino Francés is still in the majority, which had over 165,934 pilgrims this year, but it is also important that the number on the Portuguese, 49,746; the Camino Norte, 16,566, or the Primitivo, 11,488.

A good pace

The arrival of autumn has not demotivated those who decide to undertake this adventure, religious for some, spiritual for others and vital for all. And it is that although the daily average this year stands at 888 walkers, last Friday, already at the end of October, the Pilgrim Office exceeded 1000 who came to seal the Compostela. Specifically , they were 1,075, of which 611, almost 57%, came from another country.

The Irish and the Camino..

Hi everyone, just some news that happened over the last week.

  • I went along to a talk given by Turlough of Donnell of the Irish Camino Society entitled “The Irish and the Camino de Santiago: 800 Years of History” as part of the Dublin History Festival. During the hour or so, Turlough talked about how Irish pilgrims made their way to Santiago through the ages, whether it be by horse or foot and more recently boat. There is also evidence of an old refugio used by medieval pilgrims in Dublin which is all news to me! I was motivated to look for more information online but I can’t seem to find it so far. I have emailed the Irish Camino Society for information on a book published by Leuvan University about the Irish and the Camino. I’d be really interested to read it. Turlough was interviewed by local radio station Near.fm about the talk on the 3rd of October. You can listen to this podcast here.
  • While looking for more information about the Camino and the Irish, I found this great article published by HistoryIreland.com from 1998 entitled “The Irish Medieval Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela“. You can read that in full here. It’s very interesting from an Irish point of view.
  • Who remembers writing a thesis in college? It’s one of those things we all have to do and it accounts for a large amount of your final score in your final year. I certainly remember mine..I’d rather forget it actually :). I have found a thesis on the subject of the Camino published online. The full title is “In Defence of the Realm : Mobility, Modernity and Community on the Camino de Santiagoand it’s fairly detailed. Have a read when you get some time. It was published in 2007 but may not as up to date as today.
  • And finally, I am taking my new rucksack out on her maiden voyage. Hopefully I will get to climb one of the many hills in Wicklow, depending on the weather that is. The more climbs I get before my Camino Ingles, the better.

 

 

Sad news..

In August of this year, I wrote about David Vidal and his Casa de los Dioses. He owns a plot of land about 2km outside of Astorga on the Camino Frances. Here, he offers drinks, food, fruit and words of encouragement to pilgrims who pass by. He and his Casa embodies the spirit of the Camino, in my opinion.

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However, I have heard sad news today that David is closing his Casa and moving on. According to Radiocaminosantiago.com (written in Spanish), it says that Casa de los Dioses – one of the purest places on the Camino will disappear. David found that “the door to happiness is simplicity; the simpler things are better. “However, he is tired living in the ‘theatre piece of hypocrisy’ that the Camino has become”.

Whatever he means by ‘theatre piece’, only David will know. However, there are a lot of people, including me, who are sad to see him leave. I have met him twice and I consider him one of the angels of the Camino. He has given so much and asked for nothing in return – the way it should be. Will someone replace him, or will he return at a later date, that remains to be seen.

Thank you David!

 

It’s been a quiet week..

Hi folks. I am home from Santiago just over a week now and I have been hit with a bad dose of the Post Camino BluesI find myself waking up earlier than normal and also wondering what I was doing this time last week. My backpack is never far just in case I need to throw it on. I guess the only way to counter-act this dreaded condition is to meet with people who feel the same and keep writing.

In other news:

My 2016 Camino Finisterre in one page: I have just finished writing about my times on the Camino Finisterre. The link to each day can be found in the Camino Finisterre 2016 at the top of the page. I will be posting a more general post about that route in the coming days.

The LWIBloggies: The Littlewoods Blog Awards were held last night and the travel award was won by a smashing travel blog called WanderingOn.com. Check out their site if you can. Congratulations to all winners on the night, they can be viewed hereI have quite bit of work to do to reach their level but I am happy plugging away here, doing what I love. And I’m delighted to have reached the final with all your votes.

A little look into the future: I have started browsing through the Brierley’s booklet for the Camino Portuguese. I really want to walk the Coastal route from Porto to Santiago, and then on to Muxia. This should take up to 18 days. Plans are afoot! It is meant to be a beautiful trail with very few peregrinos. That said, I missed the social aspect of the Camino Frances on the Camino Fisterra. Hmm…lots of decisions to make before the start of the New Year.

Dublin Festival of History: And finally, Dublin City Council are holding a number of free events from September 23rd to October 8th during the Dublin Festival of History. One such talk is “The Irish and the Camino de Santiago: 800 years of history” and is being held in Cabra Library on the Navan Road on October 6th. You must book in advance. Full details can be found here. So if you are from the area, it would be great to attend.