Walking to work – Day 1


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It’s not quite the Camino, but it is a good walk…

Inspired by http://www.cleanairday.org.uk earlier this summer – and also the faint hope that I might shift a kilo or two to make it into a too-tight frock for a party this weekend – today marks the start of two weeks of walking to work.

And it was fab. After being dropped off at junction 45 and niftily negotiating the motorway roundabout I found a make-shift steel staircase leading down to connect with the footpath. Someone must have known I’ll be passing this way for the next ten days or so…

This morning’s glorious weather was a bonus for the first day, reminding me of all the long walks home I’d done in the opposite direction, back in Spring 2015 before setting out to walk the Camino de Santiago, all 780km, almost 500 miles.

Walking to work from here is a very direct route, following the East Leeds Link Road, past the huge Amazon distribution centre and the new Temple Green Park and Ride site, all the way into the city and over Crown Point bridge – all of which I normally drive past, round or over, without taking too much notice. This will be a very different daily commute – not least because I can enjoy a bit of my breakfast en route – there are masses of blackberry bushes, laden with super-ripe and juicy berries. It’s only August 7th – can anyone explain why they are in glorious fruit so early this year?

Missing my news intake – the Today programme – which accompanies the daily drive, I took to tree-spotting to see how many I can identify. Not too many – oak, willow, various different firs, ash & elder are just some. I’ll make it my aim to learn more about these trees over the next two weeks.

Other delights included seeing a breakfasting squirrel & a family of ducks; neither of which I expected to see in what is a fairly heavy traffic urban environment, early in Leeds rush hour. The big benefit however is just under 6km done before work. Fingers crossed for more sunshine tomorrow…



Final day at the end of the world

Well this has all come around a little too quickly. Just as your legs get used to walking 30,000-40,000 steps a day it’s time to go home. 

We have a whole host of wonderful images that we will try to publish when we get home and try to make WordPress do what it says on the tin.

We found the lovely Irish threesome we had met earlier in the week and had dinner with them last night. We were treated to a funny if bossy restaurant owner who decided what we were going to eat and drink was only what he decided we wanted.. Very little credit for what we actually wanted to eat.When Ed the pilot decided he wanted an Irish coffee they delivered it in a bucket and we all reminised about the days we ordered Irish coffee was that the 80’s?????

Lovely evening with Phillipe who is a real estate agent in the Napa Valley… Just read that and weep! Selling vineyards/estates/!/ IN F****** NAPA! We meet the most amazing people every day.

One of our Irish threesome is an award winning journalist! We get to sit next to her at the table and bask in her incredible talent and that is the Camino. 

Some nights like tonight we get 4 hours sleep but we don’t care because when we go home and reflect on all this we dont reflect that it’s a Ryanair flight home …..we have lived!

Myths misunderstandings and the road to Muxia

Straight off the bat we are going to Finisterre not Muxia but the headline wouldn’t have been quite as catchy!

A big walking day today with over 30 km of steep climbs and sheer rocky drops to the coast. Ask our feet and they will tell you we hurt a bit.. Well a lot really!

The good news is that around almost every bend in the path is a myth to contemplate. Two crackers today. Ermita Nosa Señora days Nieves or our lady of the snows with water that has healing properties for nursing mothers although how any nursing mum would have the energy or inclination to do that walk is beyond me.

Competing for prizes here is Ermita San Pedro Martir .. paul the martyr with a water fountain to cure bodily aches…..hello…… and rheumatism by placing diseased body parts in the holy spring.

Yesterday we had the springs that cured all eye ailments so Northern Spain has pretty much got it all covered, no need for a EU medical card just run from one stop to another on the Camino and come home glowing with health.

The most interesting start to the day involved Louise walking into a cafe only to return some time later screaming with only the confidence of someone who knows the ladies serving don’t understand English with”THEY NEED A SLAP”. It’s hard to describe the art form that is the bar staff who don’t want you to be there/ interrupting their conversation/ don’t want to use the very expensive coffee machine.

Lunch also had its highlights with teenager with face like a smacked arse! If Jaqueline Wilson ever auditions for a stage play based on a novel “teenager with a face like a smacked arse” look no further… her family work like troupers running a busy restaurant while she hides in a corner of the restaurant on her new iPhone 6 solving current world problems like the migrant crisis on Facebook. Occasionally sis, brother,mum or nan screamed at her to take out a salad.

We walked into Cee on the sea and are sitting down to seafood that looks like the description on the menu. Louise knows her hake from her turbot and trade descriptions could have a field day here.

Now to the misunderstanding

Walking through a pine forest remembering our previous Camino at Easter I commented that it reminded me of the processionals(caterpillars) louise concurred that she imagined processions of Christians, Pagans and Catholics all using the path for celebrations………..we are clearly taking our thought processes in different directions.

The joy is that most people who come on this journey with a friend or partner fall out, get divorced or have cross words and we never have(although people think we are sisters or lesbians and that’s just our kids!!) we choose to laugh…at Louise, we love to meet new people… Shout out to the three Irish fun people at Casa Jurjo read the blog and stay in touch(especially the lovely Aer Lingus pilot…please be my new best friend.. Dumping Louise if you agree!!!!)


Chicks, sticks, clicks and dicks!

Well I think I can guess which part of that headline you will all be scrolling down to find…..

Day 2 and it seems like only a few days ago I was looking forward to our walk without the flasher who you may remember was hung like a horse and so upset Louise who would not have seen him(how could you miss him?) had I not helpfully pointed him out lurking in a driveway.

Lovely little town to start with every home having chickens, geese and turkeys. Louise spots an 18th century church slightly off the Camino but well worth the detour(no prizes for guessing who said that). Obviously it was shut so a complete waste of time(again no guesses) and I busied myself with my sticks that despite being identical to Louise’s click with every step. Louise’s glide silently over every surface reward no doubt for the numerous church visits. Unincumbered by problem poles Louise emerged from the church yard and gazed directly into the lovely home opposite to see a man looking down on her whilst engaging in a full on ‘party in the pants for one’ although to be fair there were no pants! 2-1 to louise in the Camino competition to see semi naked men’s tackle…not a competition either of us want to be winning.

For the rest of the day I was treated to WHAT IS THAT MAN DOING AT THE BUS STOP? Me “waiting for a bus” you get the idea?

An over furtile  imagination is a dangerous thing on the Camino and Louise on the premise of writing a Camino novel involving she and I being kidnapped and held captive in a disused electricity sub station sees danger round every corner. I do try to reassure her by pulling holes in her plot lines “there are hundreds of pilgrims walking this path and if we shout help through all those missing bricks we might be OK!” However today she almost proved me wrong when apologising to a car driver she had casually walked in front of. He stopped his car and beckoned her over engaging in a conversation that neither understood while Louise explained with sign language/English/ English with a Spanish accent adding ‘o’ to the end of every word and a touch of charades that she was sorry. Had he not been 93,hard of hearing and driving a car we could walk faster than she could have been bundled into that car. Had he been a little more pro active Louise could have been 3-1 up by now.

Tonight we appear to be staying in a car park frequented by local lorry drivers but read well on TripAdvisor! Who knows what the scores on the doors will be tomorrow.


Interesting first day, photos sitting on a WordPress cloud!

Still struggling with the weeeeefeeeeee!

What a start to the day as yesterday’s sunshine was replaced by the Galician rain we know and don’t love. Louise has entertained in so many ways I wish I had a GoPro to record and put on you tube all those special fun moments provided at no cost to me…just like being at the Edinburgh festival watching a one woman show.

On waking Louise proudly showed off her brand new Osprey hydraulic water bladder while I whipped out the ancient cheap version from 3 years ago. Skip forward 20 minutes in full kit with backpacks quite rightly on backs and Louise appears to have had a little(well not so little actually) accident. Our room floor is flooded with the contents of the new super duper bladder.Louise, her backpack and all her clothes are now being submitted to the hairdryer treatment. Setting off a little later than expected with hopefully drier times ahead.

Lots of lovely countryside all of which you will hear about shortly in what Louise is excitedly calling her factual blog.

No cafes and restaurants were bothered to open until we had walked all the way to Negreira(well it is the second week in September no point in exploiting the commercial opportunity that is pilgrims wanting to EAT!) if there is one certainty in life it is that your salad will contain sweet corn,tuna,tomato,lettuce and the fresh from the tin spear of white asparagus. A safe bet when the dreaded polpo or octopus appears to lurke on every corner of the menu. When they arrived and knowing that Louise is quite the culinary expert I asked the question ‘why have I got worms in my salad/ where’s the sweet corn?) at this point the photo of the worm farm atop the lettuce would be a great visual but who knows when that will work?) Louise tucked in happily proclaimed them fishy and thought no more of it I searched the menu blackboards for clues as to what might have been left over from lunch( this was the last service at 4pm) and discovered bold as brass…….baby eels. When our tapas follow up of pie arrived it was full of octopus…over to Louise and then courgette and prawns. Nothing too untoward except chef had a new toy/ spirializer so all the courgettes looked like worms or as we know know to be the case baby eels!

Throughout the day of warm, cold, cool, muggy and wet I needed to put on a rain jacket once for 10 minutes then T shirt all the way. Louise has the on and off like a whores draws approach to layering constantly gauging temperatures and disrobing/robing/disrobing at will.

As we were due to leave the restaurant Louise went to the bathroom only to return straight away with a large wet patch on her rear. The super douper, did I mention new top of the range water bladder had leaked all over the booth we were sat in despite having stayed dry for 6 hours of walking. For those of you familiar with the squeeze and suck method of emptying a water bladder you may have guessed that Louise had sat on the water valve releasing its contents all over the seat. We left a generous tip to allow for mopping up and serve them right for substituting eels for sweet corn!

Unusually we are not staying where we finished for the day and headed back in a taxi to Santiago as Ella my youngest daughter has just completed a 130km of the Camino Frances.

Finding a taxi was difficult but when we stumbled on the rank and the drivers were all sleeping we coughed,loudly til one woke up.. Santiago by road is only 12 miles away but none seemed keen to make the journey. Eventually a man who can only be described as the ideal candidate for a channel 4 documentary entitled ‘ Spain’s fattest man.. Too big to leave my cab!) wake up for long enough to drive us to Santiago….. Or did he? So large and with laboured breathing he kept swerving alarmingly until we realised he had sleep  apnea and was dropping off and waking up at the wheel!

We are thankful to be back at the hotel and looking forward to another entertaining day. Louise is excited about something historical whereas I have already spotted something hysterical in the form of natural spring that legend has it cures all eye conditions…….Specsavers don’t have a branch for miles I can hardly wait.


Hoping that normal service will be resumed……

Apologies that we are not able to post photos yet but wifi(weeeeeefeeeeeeee in Spanish) is letting us down! A real shame because I have some lovely images of Louise’s latest shat…..sorry hat!! I have also managed to source images of Bill and Ben the flower pot men( under 40’s and international followers please google) to further enhance a snapshot of how bad this one is. For those of you offended by 2013’s khaki abomination …..brace yourselves!

A final goodbye until next time!

It must be lovely to have a photo with the Cathedral in all it’s glory but I am yet to manage it and fear I might be drawing my pension before this construction/renovation is complete. For those of you who have visited Barcelona you know how long these Spanish churches take to be restored to former glories or indeed just completed!
Leaving today has generated mixed emotions but watching more and more pilgrims arrive as we eat breakfast never loses its magic. I have to say that when you finish the Camino Frances you get an iconic tunnel but when you finish the Portuguese you get waylaid at the Frozen yoghurt shop and walk into the square eating it( or maybe that’s just walking with Ella)
The short trip to Finisterre may still be on the cards for later this year but don’t expect me to be doing the Primitivo any time soon as everyone we met who had walked it looked like they might not recover for months!

Not walking this time but loving the blog



A ship called Sarah

Sarah and Ella – what a fantastic achievement – well done both of you. I can’t say that I’m not slightly envious of you both being in Santiago. Ella I hope you love the Cathedral and do get to see the Botafumeiro. Looking forward to the snaps & the video.

We should have changed the title of the blog – Sarah and Ella’s trip from Porto to Santiago (with added tourism course and food culture white paper). It’s been fab reading about your exploits. And I’ve learnt more new uses of our beautiful old language. The only place in my world for a hammer is in the garden shed!

I’ve been in silent mode on a sunbed somewhere east of Bodrum in Turkey whilst you’ve been trekking through the latter stages of the Camino Portugues. As you were looking for the sunshine it was unseasonably hot with us – that’s not a complaint though. Our daily routine couldn’t have been farther from yours – breakfast in the sun / sunbed at the pool / lunch in the sun / sunbed / supper in a beach-side restaurant. Bed & repeat daily.

However, I did see a rather lovely little thing as we made out way back to the airport on Sunday. This small ship(!) just leaving the bay is called ‘Sarah’.

Can’t wait to see you both and hear more of your trip. Lots of love, both. L.x

PS Sarah (& Brad) – are you going to make it a Santiago Hat Trick this year – walking to Finisterre in September?


Some final moments

The whole point of a maze is that you can’t see over the top

20140630-183925-67165867.jpgthis one sort of misses the point”
Dinner was great

20140630-184017-67217341.jpg but at 2am when Ella realised her ability to eat cockles and mussels(cue a song?) is compromised it didn’t look anything like it did in the restaurant!
The Parador has not disappointed in its lack of service. When we arrived the receptionist clearly busy with a long queue of tourists everyone of whom was querying their bill passed us to the concierge who would show us to our room. He handed us the key pointed at the lift and helpfully said 4th floor before watching us haul our backpacks across the lobby knowing we had half a mile of corridors to drag them round upstairs.

The hotel managed to redeem itself at breakfast with the local Santiago cake but I fear it takes more than a nice bit of cake to solve a nations problems!