🎥 Brief Encounter 🎥

Days start was in the stylish understated Cycle Barn . My themed room ? – door shown below had a vast wetroom and thick stone barn walls . Who knew it would also end in stylish 1940’s nostalgia?

SURELY ! This has got to be my old Yellow Pages typestyle ?

Next door to Mont Ventoux – I asked to move from this room as after my day I want nothing with the word Mont ⛰ or French for Very Windy 🌬 in it 🤣

…. Following my tested Lakes Pub / Restaurant theme I was originally going to head to Cartmel to the Cavendish Arms. A favourite when we had a ‘van on the nearby Holker Hall site . But the Estuary coast won and so the days route took shape below …………

A welcome lack of elevation 😏

…..the last Crags of the Lakeland , behind in the distance as I headed south

… Takes me to my first stop – an early breakfast at Levens Hall – one of the more stylish caff’s on my tour ☺️

Through Milnthorpe the flatland opens up onto where the Kent Estuary joins Morecambe bay – and on a day like this it’s idyllic .

Heading into Arnside

…. and into an surprising coastal scene at Arnside with neat Edwardian Villas , self conscious galleries and “Dog Friendly” Spas . Paddle Boarders lazily drifting in the early Autumn sun – soooo Nice .

On the road out I spot a run down cottage with that warm Cornish country lane feel to it – running down to Silverdale beach.

The views from the back door – priceless

….. and on across the border – Cumbria and the Lakes now firmly behind me

Shortly after this I had a puncture- oh Joy 😕

… The cycle routes round here are fab – my route takes me on the Lancs Cycleway as I’m heading for a Stylish end to my day …

Head left for A Brief Encounter !

….and on to the 75th Anniversary of one of my favourite moody B&W romantic dramas .. made in 1945 … in who could have imagined it Carnforth , Lancashire !

It’s a strange thought that this enduring Noel Coward / David Lean movie was made in this obscure Northern town – but it had the right Victorian / Moody Steam rail station . Also there was a war on – they could hardly go on location 🎥

Moody AND Steamy 😏
Just moody –

– 2nd puncture 🙄

…. as I drag my punctured bike the last Mile ( no way was I taking the back wheel / gears etc off 10 mins away from getting the train ) when I could do it at home ! – It was a nice surprise that the bike got its own studio flat on the train 👍

All told it’s been a great few days – in a strange way the Exhaustion is Exhilarating .

It’s been fun posting this stuff and world willing – it won’t be too long until I fire up this Blog again .

Bye for now 👋

XxXx 🙂

☔️ 10% chance of Rain ☔️

When applied to the Lake District: –

Any weather forecasting app needs to understand that the child’s slide rule calculation they use to forecast rain DOES NOT APPLY To any area with LAKE in the title! It’s simple enough!🙄

10% forecast – Thankyou BBC = Constant unpausing drizzle from 8.00am until 5.00pm . Please be more accurate next time.

Elterwater, Skelwith Bridge , Coniston, Hawkshead, Near Sawrey , Bowness, Bolland Bridge , Witherslack . Not a bad days work 😊

Nevertheless/anyhoo The tour must go on. Today’s tour was currently designed to take in as many scenic villages that I could remember that had classic Lakeland pubs in them.

I must say that after the combined fell walking and cycling day yesterday – that it was tough going today. I made it even more so by pushing the bike up any incline that was remotely above average. But the one thing I’m good at is walking –so all was well.

The calm almost ridiculously picturesque view from my bedroom window this morning

The day started with the usual good intentions. The Elterwater Park Guest House is a real find and I recommend it – they manage to run a full service – fantastic breakfast and great customer care – All within the most strict health and safety guidelines that we all have to live with at the moment . And with views like the above to wake up to it couldn’t be better.

The bike is holding up –and I’m pleased to say surprisingly so am I . Here we are fully loaded ready for the off .

The lowest tech bike in the entire Lake District today

The bike might be low-tech but the satnav on my phone by Komoot which links by Bluetooth to the helmet to give me turn by turn instructions – Even on routes you have designed yourself is – bloody fantastic.

So I was a tad miffed when I asked for a mixture of road and gravel bike tracks – that the tech thought this was appropriate! It’s appropriate if I was on a camel !!

And in whose flaming end of the world scenario does this look like a suitable track for a touring bike – and there was 3 miles of it! MORE PUSHING 🙄

This might be a Pint 🍺 and Lunch themed day , so it was with great restraint that I waited until I reached Hawkshead – and headed for the Village Square to “admire the rustic buildings“ 😜

…. yeah 😆 Nothing to do with recalling that the excellent Kings Arms Pub was located there – so an early pint was compulsory.

😊 happiness in a glass

Route planning now had to take into account the complexities of Sunday lunch and I recalled the marvellous Cuckoo Brow Inn at Near Sawrey where I had stayed with Ciara , Bel and Jess in June 2019.

My marvellous satnav was happy to cope with this detail …. I zoomed past Beatrix Potters house at Hill Top and at 2.00pm … was safely ensconced studying the menu.

Decisions, decisions

Considering I still had a third of my tour to do today I couldn’t let rip on the full Sunday lunch / “oh go on then just one bottle 🍷🍷more between us“ – but I was more than happy with the fact that it’s all downhill from here to the little ferry across to Bowness.

Top planning – all downhill route
postSunday lunch !

The kicker about downhill runs especially down to Lake level is there’s always the uphill torture afterwards. The Ferry’s always fun though .

The best value £1 you will ever spend

The huffing and puffing – getting off and pushing from Lake level Bowness onto the High level Bowland Bridge Road had to be seen to be believed. But it was more than rewarded by the absolutely best run of the day as once on the top the lanes ran 90% down – a thrilling – (almost too thrilling ) 30 mph downhill dash through stunning South Lakes scenery .

🐑 And SHEEP – Maaaaany SHEEP 🐏

Which brings us to the red-faced jelly legged finish today at another place I’ll be happy to recommend. The cosy bunk house at the Witherslack Cycle Barn . Again super H&S safe – cycle themed , log burning , haven you need at the end of the day . 🤗

As Someone who lives in a town –I’m always amazed at the silence in parts of the country like this – and as the sun goes down on this last picturesque little scene – that silence is flipping deafening! :-)🤪

If I can still walk 😜 I’ll see you here tomorrow xxx

Lakeland “Tri-athlon”

As long as the word triathlon is used in it ls loosest sense then we’re in business 👏😘. Maybe that should by TRY not Tri – as I’m utterly blessed with misplaced confidence not necessarily the ways to achieve it .

Stage 1 . BLENCATHRA- No it’s not a medical procedure it’s a great humpof rock. A Lakeland Fell – which takes five hours to walk / climb / scamble up over and round it.

Some great views with Si and Estee

It started out SO well 👍

A lot of Amazing early views even after 10 or 20 minutes the Vista opened up beautifully.

Had legs at this stage 🙄

Whilst the view from the summit and the saddle across to the second summit or vantage point – showed a view to Thirlmere and Derwent water is never seen .

With last night’s Barolo 🍷🍷having an unsurprising effect on my energy – (Happy BIG / HUUGE birthday Greg – we stopped for lunch – mine was a surprise made by my youngest Jessica – thanks for that Jess💕- anything that involves chorizo , cheese and beef hulahoop‘s is a winner with me!

During lunch seeing as we were sat on a huge drop-off we were discussing the three different types of vertigo – my view on it is it simply commonsense finally kicking in – as I never suffered from vertigo up until the age of 40!

Taking time to stand and stare

Here’s the Stats after that walk REMEMBER- its not the Km walked its the FLOORS – that kill you

So – this at 3.30 pm

TRY-Athlon stage 2 – Now I had a rush of blood to the head a couple of days ago and decided to make a bit of a tour of this – so as the sensible duo head back to Southport to watch Leeds play some obscure team . I have decided to make a weekend of it and –and take my bike off the rack on the back of the car – swap hiking boots for cycling shoes – Hook up two panniers and away we go heading from Blencathra- 5K outside Keswick – through to Elterwater .

Of course it took longer than I thought – it’s a heavy touring bike – (where is the motor when you need one?) – OF COURSE it RAINED ☔️ ☔️.

But I finally end up here . My legs are like jelly – too late for dinner – I’ve just enjoyed the entire contents of the tea and biscuit tray in the room – Yum 😏

Elterwater Park Guest House

But with views like this you can forgive anything – the showers were Gorgeously Steamy Hot – the bed is super comfy and the silence remarkable.

I’d still have liked dinner though 😠

Tri Stage 3 – TRY To get to the pub ( 10 mins walk they said – LIES ! 😆 and Fail miserably – had to turn back – Night fell like an Anvil through glass . Legs just wouldn’t do it .

I’ve just pre-ordered the largest English breakfast 🍳 – I’m just triple everything – that’ll teach ‘em . I’ll find a place for the 5000 calories I used today 👍🍳👍🍳

It’s been nice dusting off the CaminoRamblings Blog –never really done it for a UK tour before – but with the strangest of strange years – UK tours are really all I’ve got left until the world opens up again.

I hope everyone is well – see you here tomorrow xxx

🏃‍♂️Siguerio – 2 – Santiago 🕍

An unusual end to to the walking part of my Camino – Yes – Over too Soon ?

I suppose it’s because the Camino Inglés is the shortest complete Camino.

A lot compressed into one week

Adventure, Exercise , Physical ✅

Mental , Wellbeing , Meditative ✅

Spiritual , Religious , Supportive ✅

******************

Groups formed , friendships made ,

Help given and received , open hearted support , shared goals and objectives,

Big laughs , deep conversations ,

Good food / just food ,

Good wine / hysterically bad wine ,

Achy feet / injured feet .

Good Sleep in a quiet room or So-So sleep in a squeaky , snorey , cramped and cut price Alberque .

IT’S ALL PART OF THE EXPERIENCE- and thank your “god” for that !

*******************************

Following last nights first aid for Christiana ; we checked and re-dressed the most impressive 😣 open blisters she had been walking on for some days now. Stoic and very determined she shouldn’t have been walking at all for 3 days – but in fine Pelegríno spirit ……. Santiago beckons ….. so she walks ……. credit due 👏.

(😱 Can you see from my expression to AnTonia just how bad this is ? – you’ll thank me for sparing you the details – : you’re welcome 😉)

Once finished and an amusing “Apodo del Camino” earned …….. thanks Sandra 👨‍⚕️

We start to measure our progress – from Spooky Pilgrim sculpture outside the still dark Alberque – and then from each Way Post …

As we count down the kilometres …… they take on an increasing importance.

Especially as we get below the magic 10k each stone sees a cluster of excited selfies 🤩 . Motivation is high – feet lighter – blisters forgotten. ( I hope 🤞)

And when you have energy – it’s no problem to jump into a nearby cornfield to visit the local Zombie-Rasta- Scarecrow…….. Bizarre 👻! – 😆

This leads to my favourite photo of the trip – at 9 k out – say hello to :- ( L to R )

Dr Bob , Chrissy , Joschka , Ebba , AnTonia , Christiana , Sandra . You would think they had known each other for ever ? Only 2 of this brilliant , close group had actually known each other before their Camino .

In the best traveller style , they had met on the plane or in the queue at the bus station; recognised a fellow Pelegríno , or a fellow adventurer , or simply just been open to the possibility that “hello” costs nothing , risks nothing but can enhance your life’s experiences in a thousand different ways.

….. it’s a new one on me – I’ve not approached Santiago from this direction before , new streets , new views , new glimpses of the Cathedral towers – is it or isn’t it ? Or just simply an elaborate church ?

(See the “we’re almost there” smiles ? )

And then – FOR SURE – NO DOUBT – the rain glazed streets reveal the famous imposing granite towers of the Romanesque Catedral Igrexa de Santiago

I’ve left out the more wonderful emotional scenes from the girls as we hear the famous piper . That’s for them to share 😘. I understand it’s just overwhelming to finally arrive for the first time after such a mental and physical trial .

Part of the strong Celtic / Galician tradition – I love this piper . Never met him before – so I thought I’d change that situation. What a top bloke ! 🤣🤣🤣

( There’s a video embedded here if you press ) 👍

Past him ( with one of the worlds most profitable busking sites ! 👏 ) and into Plaza de Obradoiro and there – the end :

………….. but also the start of Camino life as the girls will find out when they return home . Many things change from now.

Love these classic celebrations 💕💕

We part company until the evening – some in Hotels – especially Joschka in St Martin Pinario – an old monastery and also a living museum – 👍 very nice . Some in Hostels – one stage down – but still nice .

And me – in Alberqué land 😆 . I’ve wanted to try out this well known alberque called “Roots and Boots ” for some time as I’ve met people who loved it . A party atmosphere, classic camino people , a real melting pot of seasoned adventurers , first timers , hippys, 80 year olds , students and tech-strewn , lycra clad , muscular globe trotters.

Usual packed bunk arrangement BUT a rare garden to chill out , sleep , chat and drink beer 🍺 Yey !!

Except ( oh yes ) – it’s raining again so the alberque lounge is full instead , all drinking €1 chilled Estella Galicia from the vending machine 🤣 – by far the best end to this type of off-grid strole.

We meet up and grab some food – the Menu Pelegríno / Menu del Dia at a basic bar restaurant near the Pilgrims office .

I get a surprise phone call – I had previously added an extra stop-over in Vienna to my return home to have dinner and long overdue catch up with my good friends Brigitta , Martin and Carolina from the Camino Francés in previous years. They are spread across europe – Germany , Switzerland and Austria – so its a rare chance.

It’s an excited call to say it looks like Martin is with Devi still driving a camper van through Tuscany ( where else ? 😉) but otherwise they’ll all be there – but with a surprise .

Carolina has arranged to play with her orchestra , made it match my dates and the performance will be in Vienna – at the Opera house tomorrow night – OMG ! – Seriously ?? !!

Yes – it’s a “Camino Moment” – being a moment so far out of your normal life that you just have to laugh. It wouldn’t have happened unless you’d put yourself on the trail .

I go back into the restaurant and tell my friends ……….( One of whom AnTonia works at the Berlin Opera House remember ) ….. guess what ? I’m going to see 3.5 hours of Don Giovani at the Opera ! the Wien Oper Huis tomorrow . What ? !

A very elegant occasion I predict – and all I have is well worn hiking gear and the best I can do is zip the legs back on to my hiking shorts ! 😆🤣😆🤣 . Love it . Let’s see.

3 hours later , after a team tour of the city and the always moving moments in the Cathedral to visit the saint , hugging the statue , pray in the crypt , gently navigate the steps with 1000 years of wear from 30 generations of pilgrims whose travels and tribulations make mine insignificant.

Even with the renovations for 2021 celebrations – it’s such a monumental destination. It’s time to leave .

In my time I’ve 🔥 lit a few ( hundred) votive candles for people on my mind – In chapels , temples , shrines , edifices large and small across multiple faiths and the act of lighting a candle holds true across them all .

Not surprisingly after that suitably pensive moment the evening leads us to a bar for a farewell drink – hugs all round to this lovely walking group brought together by the trail . Each one has brightened my days , shared thoughts , stories and blisters.

Got to go ! …… Early is too small a word for how achingly , crushingly , guaranteed to forget somethingly early I have to get up tomorrow……….

Xxxxxxxx

Gear & Travel

Yesterday I responded to an interesting question on the premier Camino Forum https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/ run by Ivar out of Santiago 🇪🇸

I’ve had a few questions after my initial response and said I’d post some additional details here. Happy to 👍:-

Hieudovan wrote :-

I was fortunately enough to be able to buy a very cheap ticket through an Iberia Airlines sale. LAX – Madrid RT with direct and non-stop flights in both directions for only $310. As the ticket is so cheap, there’s no allowance for check-in luggage. If I were to check in my backpack, the cost would be $120 if bought online ahead of time. Instead paying to check-in my current backpack, I plan to buy a new backpack that can qualify as a carry-on. If you have or know of a backpack that fits my needs (carry-on size that can be used on a Camino), I would love to hear from you. Buen camino. /Hieu

[/QUOTE]

My reply :- with pics this time 😁

Hey everyone!

I’m a bit late to this thread but I’ve just got back from the Camino Inglés – I had to consider exactly the same “Carry On Conundrum” – so here is my solution :- even though my flight was from Manchester to O Corunna – I was taking five short hop and cross border flights as meeting Camino Pals.

That’s Ryan Air 1 , Iberia 3 , Austrian 1 – ( £315 – Yeah Kiwi.Com ! ) .

One of these connections was a narrow 40 minute transfer time – so absolutely no time for the baggage carousel tango. X

These airlines have the same measurement for hand baggage 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.All have a limit of 10 kg except for Austrian with a very tight 8 kg.

My Lightest frame pack is an Osprey Talon 44 L at 900 grams

On its own with all its lumps , bumps , straps and harnesses it gets challenged as hand luggage and frequently catches on the hand luggage measurement cages. Plus from an airport operative point of view – it looks large.

So this trip I put my loaded pack into an ultra-light hold-all from “Roamlight” – Cabin baggage specialists –“guaranteed to fit” they claim. It did.

Actually looks smaller – less conspicuous.

Robust – which is important to hold a bumpy pack to the correct carry-on shape. Precisely 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm . ( U.S. 21.5 x 16x 8 inches )

An extra 400 g ( I know 😕 ) but worth it. I’m only at 1300 g for bag and a backpack together, that’s lighter than some packs on their own and I haven’t had to compromise on the long walk , eight hours a day, Multi day properties of the backpack – which you so often have to do with the cabin baggage style backpack specialities.

( BTW – I have the Osprey Farpoint 40 which is a great self-contained carry on / backpack alternative here . It’s very good but it’s Multi Day trek capabilities are as yet untested by me . I have a feeling it’s a compromise- but I hope to be happily surprised in the future )

Result – (see pics below ) – easy transfers – no questions- it turns a Loaded Talon 44 that looks LARGE into a protected non-descript black carry-on that actually has a label stating the measurements with an airplane “carry on” luggage logo . THAT LOOKS SMALL .

Turns this :-

Into this :-

To be honest – I was a little pushed by 2cm on the 20 cm width but it was okay after I sat on it for awhile at the airport in the queue to check-in 😆. Elegant.

So you put your bag – in a bag? – Is that what you’re saying? – Yep – I suppose it’s the same principle where you put your backpack into a custom cover before you commit it to hold luggage . But this time it’s a corset that constrains an unruly backpack into the precise three measurements you’re looking for for cheap , quick travel.

Magic 🤩

Refs and Sources below – they will be different in the U.S. .

The UK 🇬🇧 link :-

Roamlite Hand Luggage Holdall for Ryan-air and Easy-Jet Carry-On Bags – Exact Size and Shape Travel Duffle – 55 cm x40cm x20cm 40 Litre Flight Baggage – RL56K Black https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005ITOVV2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_lMAKDbR1JR54W

Buen Camino 🙏

Xxxxxx

Four Seasons to Sigüeiro

So – what Sort of day – faces us :-

* Rain to shine ? ~ Surely

* Dark to light ? ~ Certainly

* Aches and pains ? – Sometimes

* Opera education started ? – gradually

* Diplodocus to Horse ? – Evidently (😁read on)

It was a long 24k / up and down track day with hours to talk , Sohail called from Doobs UAE 🇦🇪 – great catch up , couple of good cafes , it was a Sunday so the villages came alive with Church and post church drink and high volume activity (Café Bar “Godsip” ) .

Past an amateur farmyard “Guggenheim”

And careful what you see in the dark – especially if the local farmer has a spare tree , some time in his hands and new chainsaw .

Much prefer the real thing as we find the Stallion called “Spirit” once again .

To our first re-fueling stop – where we form our own Sunday , High Volume Troup 😆 , 80% German / 20% English – I’m beginning to understand the nuances and meanings better – even if the language evades me 🤔 . I appreciate the girls patience and courtesy this way .

☀️Aber -was ist das? Sonnenschein? ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️✅

Yes it surely is !! – a rare moment 😆

You can judge for yourself the limited Photo – Ops – when this laconic – slightly confused – dog receives the royal 👑 attention from Meinen Damen 🤣🤣🤣

Past this arresting Church from 1737 with the patron being a man with a large blade halfway through his neck and a Quill pen in his hand . Must look it up when I have WiFi .

A good Sunday stop follows – busy on the Sabbath – maybe the menfolk use it as an excuse on a Sunday – … “Yes I am Sooo religious – I spent all day at the Sign of the Cross ! ” . Maybe this is why so many bars are called “O Crucerio ” ?

Good Photo Op’ with the piled high backpacks 🎒 – gets a little out of hand as AnTonia composes today’s team photo 🤣

Here is AnTonia – the – Camino Direktor der Fotografie – herself – and very creative at it too 😆👏 . Not surprising really as she lives and works in Berlin at one of the Opera houses – The Komische Oper Berlin , a fascinating job that she absolutely loves – and takes her all round the world 🌍

Rarely do I meet someone so enthusiastic , cultural and knowledgeable about their vocation.

Travel Slowly and you may learn things – I did – and I’ll be going to visit this Oper Huis . Anything that mixes a 1960’s rebuild of the WW2 bomb damaged facade ( the fabulous 1880’s classical interior was largely untouched ) . To look like this – ; with reviews like this ……. ✅

And put on shows of Opera , Operetta and Musical …..

…….. in surroundings like this – ……. is automatically on my “Must visit” list .

*****************************************

😅 Achtung! – Tsunami 🌊 – The Galician weather reminds us – never to keep your “Oh So Fashionable” Rain Poncho too far away . …. Does my Bum look big in this ? 🤣

From Yin ☔️ to Yang 🌞 – this blog becomes a – Wetterbericht – a Weather report . Still it’s why this place is so green.

…….. but it gives a chance for more interaction- Lovely informal pics from AnTonia .

Until we reach our end point for the day – The Alberque Caminõ Real de Siguerio . A very good alberque , very well organised where I have an enjoyable catch up with someone who I’ve crossed paths with several times today – doing that typical Pelegrína thing – walking in Flats and carrying boots . 😮 👣👣 – Nevina aka #NomadNev . Originally from Belgrade Serbia 🇷🇸 – but really a World Citizen – Masters Degree , multi lingual – now heading off to teach English in Bolzano Italy 🇮🇹 for a year . Takes it all in her stride . Credit ✅

Early night – keeping Alberque hostel hours so lights out at 10.00 pm – 😎

Early start tomorrow

Xxxxxx

🎶 Singing in the Rain 🎶

I once saw a description of Galicia . The first question was – where!? . The second was – what?

Well simply put – Think of green Spain and you’re halfway there. As to its location think of Portugal and up or Cornwall and head down.

Either way the The climate is going to be wet and add to this the influence of the Atlantic and you have days like today.

My goodness did it rain ☔️. As I write this my clothes under my supposedly waterproof poncho are drying in the hotel dryer. And my credencialé looks like I’ve spilt beer over it.

To begin :-

A reasonable Galician morning – as I leave Betanzos. The Hotel Garelos was dragged up to an 8.0 by really good staff and a brilliant inc’ breakfast. Otherwise €20 overpriced – I’ll stick with Alberques I think 🤔.

I’m sure what you have come across obstacles in life that you found challenging – but didn’t seem to have a challenging reputation or a suitable name that Sustained a fearsome legend .The never-ending 45° hill that leaves Betanzos as part of the Camino is one such place .

It should be called things like Montanã del pie del Diablo , or Hill of the Pilgrims Suffering – something with a hint of gritty realism in it .

But no it’s called Rua Garcia -The Spanish equivalent of Smith Street – effectively a street with no name. And that means there is no justice to the 40 mins constant climb out of the valley of the Rio Mandeo. 🙁

It ends by this 60 K market on top of the high plain and the views start to open out under threatening skies.

We start to enter a series of small villages and farmlands in the sub region of Cos –

Where the main past times are religion, centuries old granary stores.

And Agricultural scenes you could’ve seen any time in the last 500 years – this really is a land that Time forgot – so different from the Camino Francés Or Portugués: –it’s a idyllic in an almost mediaeval context.

The valleys are deep now – the not so ancient village washing areas – “many actually rebuilt and used in the 1950s and 60s – deserted as they have been for the last 30 years .

The roadside bars (That look like green industrial units to the casual passers-by) – with noise of coffee cups and glssses clinking , steam hissing and food being served to solely locals only serve to enforce the sense of indifferent isolation from the modern world.

It’s not unexpected to find stretches of the Camino like this – and this is soon relieved by a very welcome – for some reason the medieval themed bar on the outskirts of Presedo

I had met a group of German girls further the road also looking for coffee after the constant bad weather – we all sheltered in this bar together for half an hour .

It had been lightly drizzling constantly for two hours now – As they left I was not going to be fooled by the rainbow outside bar – So went back inside.

To see my friend John turn up nursing a kitten his wife Beverly had rescued further up the road – apparently something she does a lot of at home. Video call to the family back home at that moment – my daughters Annabel and Jessica were charmed By the pitiful meowing over 2000 miles. ‘Aint technology grand!?

30 minutes later I come across the band of sisters and as so often happens On Camino we walk and talk together for the next three hours in what is now torrential rain – and find so much in common and so much to talk about that the time just flashes by.

Waterproof clothing fashion done with style ✅

If possible it gets even wetter so even the photographs are steamed up and damp.

3:30 pm we arrive at our nighttime stops – some of us have been walking since 6:30 am so it’s damp and tired.

Some are here at the “Crossroads Motel “– 😆- in Meson do Vento – an Oasis of concrete . I’m staying below across the way in the “Bates Motel” – actually very nice people in such an unprepossessing place.

And The rest of the group took a chance Of not being able to book ahead – and maybe not having a room , But it all paid off and they are now staying in the rather more impressive Albergue de Peregrinos de Hospital de Bruma – It’s right on the Camino and a quarter of the price that the motels charge. Looks nice – happy for them 🤣🤔

Some light blister surgery on the feet of the young man you see below from the oversized surgical kit I carry with me. There are photographs of this taken by Antonia – but I will spare you these 😱

Followed by good dinner from the menu del Dia – with some slightly dodgy wine – (Oh and don’t touch the noodle soup) –more than makes up for it as I spend a fun and noisy evening with AnTonia and Joschka .

This could’ve been a day where nothing happened and it simply rained as I trudged along rainy path’s – but as you can see there’s always a story you can tell on the Camino.

Xxxxxxxxxx

Autumn follows

Mists and Fruit – such an Autumn theme and everywhere today .

Leaving Campolongo as the early workers share my – start early / finish early routine.

The hardworking couple who run O Crucerio have really looked after me , the lights from their bar illuminate the path. They have even planned for guests re-joining the Camino in the dark – a 3k detour ,so they painted dozens of their own Camino arrows on the road all the way !

Any help with direction is welcome as I rejoin the Camino itself – seeing my first marker post of the day is a relief after strange roads and narrow woodland paths .

Thankfully I packed a head torch otherwise navigation would not have been possible this morning ,

The fog created crystals in the air , perfect multi-sided shapes that reflected off my torch beam – a really unusual floating sensation – in the pre-dawn silence . Exactly the type of experience I value when traveling in unusual situations .

No more so than seeing fellow pelegrinos start to follow me with greetings of “Buen Camino” . Simple steps taking on an importance of their own when seen in this dawn back-light .

Sunlight didn’t reach the day until mid-morning today as mists persist – but it’s warm too – so comfortable for a long hike .

A chance encounter with a fellow traveller gives me one of those fascinating insights into the type of people who walk these ways . Meet Galia – from Russia – but not just any part – she’s from a part of that vast country that’s closer to Japan or Alaska. Her city is Magadan near Kamchatka. But nothing is near really this small part of her country is larger than France .

A fascinating conversation- with a lot of Google translate 😆 – Galia positions her city with the chilling line – ” you remember books by Alexander Solzhenitsyn? , about the Gulags ?” – ” Well Magadan is capital of Gulags” .

Amazing to meet such people – and another Camino Moment .

Her attitude to work and life there is engaging – but so is her attitude to any potential food growing near the road . On this one day we ate Oranges (bitter) , Grapes 🍇 (reasonable ) and Walnuts ( perfect ) . As we crushed over rotting fruit and sweet chestnuts , passing old fountains and village community clothes washing pools .

The colours of autumn in the tiny hamlets really bring home the end of summer in this green and fertile corner of Spain.

We were surprised by this free roaming friend who came to see what we were doing ……….

And stood intensely staring as we left – the one horse in a one horse town .

– all this without sun , muffled by mists and the lack of any signs of life as I pass though this chain of distant hamlets .

Creativity of a different type brings the 21st century crashing back . I rather think this is a good use of the vast concrete canvas created by an EU road reconstruction program.

As we visit this church dedicated to the Camino and the road slopes steeply into Betanzos

Crossing the bridge – amazed that the journey passed so quickly – well it does when you have good company and fascination conversation . Turns out Galia’s a mining engineer in a Gold mine 300k from Magadan – a monthly commute and frontier stuff !

I meet up with two friends of Galia’s – John and Beverly from Seattle and head to a well earned Cervesa as we explore the Betanzos Alberque for the nights stay – very nice it is too compared to some . ( The one in Pontedeumé was not so good 😊)

An afternoon ahead to recover and explore . All meeting up for dinner tonight – so until tomorrow………..

Xxxxxxxxx

Narōn to Pontedeumé

Getting into the swing of things now – up at 6 am – apply “moleskin” a padding to tender areas of feet – amazing stuff – Not tried it before – but it really stands the test and sticks like the “proverbial” to a blanket 😜 even with the hottest boots and the constant friction of 35,000 steps today.

Quiet at this time of day .

Breakfast on the road – great cafés open from 7.00am – Kickstarter + Coffee and meat filled pastries in a combined Café and Carnicero

It feels good getting the miles under your belt this early – the weather going to be hot today – aiming to finish walking before 2.00pm .

It has its own rewards as the last of the dark shows the Ria in reflection

It’s changing fast ……. there’s only 10 seconds between these two photos on the exact same spot –

“Rustic” can be over-used as a catch all description : NOT HERE 😆

Vistas start to open up as I move along the Estuary – and start a steep climb on dirt tracks through the forest – past a familiar fence of crosses woven by the Pelegrínōs.

The gardens on the descent – full of fruit – huge lemons – over ripe oranges – squished apples all over the road – it happens when you have such fertile climates.

Through an interesting village – just how to address your post without giggling if you lived here ?? 😆

But before imaginations run wild I found the “New House ” – so no passion palace after all –

Down through Cabanas – over a vibrant harbour .

And this impressive bridge – the “Ponte” in Pontedeumé .

And through narrow streets that follow the Camino past restaurants on shady squares , packed pavement cafés and historic buildings

Distracted by lunch and sightseeing it’s very hot now – said it would be 27c feels like 32c .

I’m headed for this place O Crucerio 3k Up the hill – in Campolongo .

A good place to start a 25k day tomorrow.

Xxxxxx

Day 2 – Ferrol to Xubia

I intended to have a shorter first day – 18 K to break my feet in

Dark at the start with a cool Atlantic maritime dawn . Café con leché to start – near to the Hostal .

with a nice surprise – the walking sticks I sent via Amazon to the Hostal as I couldn’t take them on the plane – were found behind reception – a good start !

– and the weather followed…..

Perfect walking weather for the longer of the 2 routes – if you wish to earn your Compostela- you need this route – the other from Corunña is too short .

Unless that is you start your walk / your pilgrimage in England ! – Yes that’s a thing – it always was on this route – from 13th Century- after all it’s the “English” way – seems typical it’s the shortest Camino 🤣 .

As long as you organise to have your Credencial del Pelegrino – the all important passport stamped in England – ( Durham , or Reading or Walsingham to Canterbury , Southampton, Plymouth etc ) the Pilgrims office will add those miles to your kilometres here. 👍 Neat .👍

A little sunlight on the way along the coast out of Ferrol ….. intersection of ancient and modern as it has quiet beaches and Abbé alongside a vast Spanish Naval Base.

Cool conditions before the day heats up .

Passing parks and sculpture….

…. and a simple Monastery and öffentlicher raum to the patron saint of conceptual & 3D video mapping artists – San Martin .

…. the way divides – it’s getting hotter so I stay on track – too early for sightseeing 👀

….. happy a did as the left hand route takes me past grazing goats and …

…… shoreline scenery as the Ria Ferrol gets narrower .

Vibrant walls , yellow arrowhead markers and ( credit to the Galicians ) every ancient water pump – dozens of them – work perfectly and is safe to drink .

I locate my target marker for today – the 100k stone all too soon –

I’ve enjoyed the walk so much I’m here in under 4 hours – It’s tempting to push in for a 30k day but stopping is sensible and gives me chance to explore Fené and Narōn .

Oh and an ice cold Cervesa and Tortilla !

Never one to pass up a decent Hostal – the welcoming bizarrely named Hotel Kensington – the owner’s an Anglophile 🤣 offers my favourite taste of Spain 🇪🇸- the Menu del Dia . Anti pasta , Fresh Maraxchia ( shark family ) and sweet rice – €9 ! – inc’ the carafe of wine you see on the table – ( always decent too )

A satisfied, completion to the day as it ends in the bar uncomprehendingly watching Real Madrid struggle against Paris St Germain – . It doesn’t matter who wins the locals explain to me as half the French side are Spanish anyway.😜

I like this attitude.

Xxxx